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Luke Schultz of Palisades wins City Section individual golf championship

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Luke Schultz of Palisades wins City Section individual golf championship

Luke Schultz picked a perfect time to shoot his lowest score.

The Palisades High junior shot a four-under par 68, including an eagle on No. 18 that forced a playoff, then sank an eight-footer for birdie on the sixth playoff hole to beat Isiah Kim of Van Nuys and win the City Section individual golf championship Wednesday afternoon at Griffith Park’s Harding Course.

“I’ve hit that same putt from that exact distance a thousand times,” Schultz said. “Same old putt and the same result. My personal best was a 74 here and today I shoot 68. Can’t explain. There’s no rhyme or reason to why I shot what I did today. Putts were just falling.”

No putt was bigger than the one Schultz curved in from 15 feet on his third shot at the par-five 18th to catch clubhouse leader Kim, who ultimately had to settle for the runner-up medal for the second straight year, having carded a one-under to finish one shot behind Granada Hills’ Jahan Battu last spring.

Playing in the first group alongside Granada Hills’ Joseph Wong, who was fourth a year ago, Kim pulled off the shot off the day after driving the green on the 17th hole. He drained a 75-foot eagle putt to take a two-stroke lead after Wong had pulled even with a birdie at one-under with a birdie at 16. Kim then birdied the 18th to give himself a seemingly safe cushion.

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“It was a double breaker from the back of the green that started to the right, came back left, then came back right,” Kim said. “ I had zero intention of making that putt. It was 100% about speed. I hit it a little harder than I wanted. so when it dropped I just froze and was like ‘Did that really just happen?’ ”

After bogeying the first hole, Kim parred the next five before back-to-back-to-back birdies at seven, eight and nine. Kim bogeyed No. 13 but shooting three under on the last two holes left him waiting nervously to see what Schultz would finish, several groups behind.

Several foursomes were still on the course when Kin and Schultz returned to the 18th tee box to begin a sudden death playoff. Both made short birdie putts and headed to the 17th, where Schultz had to blast out of a bad lie on his second shot with his opponent safely on the green. He eventually saved par and watched as Kim’s title-clinching putt stopped an inch short of the cup.

“There are so many par fours and par fives at my home course at Mountaingate,” Schultz said. “The key shot was that second time that we played 17 when I had a 30-yard chip that was all dirt and I told myself to choke down on the club and I pulled it off.”

They returned to No. 18 for the third playoff hole, where Schultz again scrambled after an errant drive landed right of the cart path. The fourth and fifth playoff holes were at No. 17 and on the fourth, Kim extended the match with a clutch birdie putt from 12 feet after Schultz had rolled in a 17-footer moments before.

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They returned to No. 18 for the sixth extra hole and this time Kim hooked his tee shot into the weeds next to the fairway. He chipped back onto the green but it gave Schultz the slim opening he needed to win the title.

Wong finished third after birdies on two of the last three holes, but afterward he lamented a few missed opportunities. “I lost a lot of strokes with my putting, I had three three-putts and I had a birdie at 16 to get back in contention but I three-putted 17 and Isiah had that amazing eagle so that was that.”

Schultz’s marathon effort also helped Palisades secure its 23rd team crown and third in the last four years with a 10-stroke triumph over defending champion Granada Hills.

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At another hockey worlds, European support of Russia ban holds firm

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At another hockey worlds, European support of Russia ban holds firm

PRAGUE, Czechia — With three men’s world championships now played since the International Ice Hockey Federation banned Russian athletes, the global hockey community appears to have completely moved on without one of the sport’s most decorated countries.

This year’s IIHF World Hockey Championship was a success by any measure, smashing the previous attendance record while delivering a compelling competition and memorable gold-medal final.

There was certainly no feeling on the ground that anything was lacking or missing.

From the European nations, in particular, there continues to be heavy support for the IIHF’s ban of Russia and Belarus. Those two countries have been excluded from all international hockey competitions since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022.

Asked by The Athletic during the world championship if he felt those sanctions were still appropriate, Finnish coach Jukka Jalonen said: “Yeah, sure. No doubt about that.”

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“I think given the circumstances it’s pretty reasonable,” said Finnish forward Ahti Oksanen, who played four years at Boston University before carving out a pro career closer to home. “I know the situation in North America is a little different than here in Europe because in Europe we’re really close to Russia and dealing with them all the time. Right now I think it’s reasonable.”


Finland coach Jukka Jalonen reacts during a preliminary round game against Canada in Prague. (Robert Hradil / RvS.Media / Getty Images)

There is no end in sight to the ban with the Ukraine invasion continuing.

In fact, the possibility of Russia returning for the 2026 Milan Olympics grows dimmer with each passing day the conflict continues.

In February, the IIHF extended its ban on Russia and Belarus through events in 2025, citing safety concerns. A decision that covers the first Olympic tournament featuring NHL players in more than a decade will be reached next winter, IIHF President Luc Tardif told reporters Sunday at a press conference in Prague to close the world championship.

“We will make a decision next February, as we always do,” Tardif said. “It doesn’t matter what the International Olympic Committee decides. This is how we have acted before, and we have not waited for the Olympic Committee’s decision, although of course we talked with them.”

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A limited number of Russian and Belarusian athletes will be permitted to participate in this summer’s Paris Olympics, although they’ll be required to compete without their flag as individual neutral athletes and must pass a vetting process that ensures they’ve not actively supported the war in Ukraine.

No Russian or Belarusian teams were allowed to qualify for the Paris Games.

While the topic remains a somewhat sensitive one to discuss publicly among hockey players and executives — many of whom continue to work with individuals from those countries in the NHL, or elsewhere — the national federations they played for spoke loudly with their actions at the world championships.

Kazakhstan was the only country of the 16 in the competition to bring a player from the Russian-based KHL.

Sweden, Finland, Czechia, Latvia and France have explicitly banned those who remain in the KHL from being eligible for national team duty since after the Ukraine invasion began in 2022. Slovakia joined them ahead of this year’s world championship, ruling in April that those employed in the KHL wouldn’t be eligible because they hadn’t played or practiced with the national team all season.

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The Swedish Ice Hockey Federation was much more direct than that when issuing its indefinite national team ban on KHL players in August 2022, with chairman Anders Larsson saying in a statement that it sent an important message to the hockey world because, “it is about our fundamental values.”

Russia last competed in the 2021 world championship, losing to Canada in the quarterfinals during a tournament played under bubble-like conditions in Latvia because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Overall, the country has won 27 world championship golds in men’s hockey — second only to Canada’s 28 — while traditionally being one of its top draws. The tournament was so important to Russians that they would almost always produce a star-studded roster, with top players willing to jump on a trans-Atlantic flight immediately after being eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs even if it meant only getting a game or two in at the worlds.

However, international competition is a privilege, not a right, and it’s hard to see anyone welcoming a Russian team back before the war in Ukraine is over.

“I think the whole situation has to calm down,” Oksanen said. “They need to stop whatever they’re doing. After that, we can rethink the situation, the whole hockey world can rethink everything. Then hopefully they can come back after.”

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Added Jalonen: “The war has to be stopped and then maybe it takes some time to get them involved again.”

It took eight years after the end of the Second World War before Germany was permitted to return to an international hockey competition at the 1953 world championship, where it competed as West Germany.

How to handle Russia is particularly front of mind right now in Finland, a country that endured the Winter War in 1939 when the Soviet Union invaded its territory. Those countries share a land border that stretches 1,289 kilometers from north to south.

“They are our neighbors,” Jalonen said. “We have more than 1,000 kilometers together with them. Of course, we have to be ready because anything can happen. I don’t think we are afraid, but we are ready for anything.”

(Top photo: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images)

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Steelers QB Justin Fields shuts down kick returner rumor: 'I'm not here to do that'

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Steelers QB Justin Fields shuts down kick returner rumor: 'I'm not here to do that'

Justin Fields is one of the more athletic quarterbacks in the NFL, but don’t expect to see him fielding kick returns in 2024.

The Pittsburgh Steelers signal caller threw cold water on the idea that he would participate in any kick-return experiments. “Nah, I’m not here to do that,” Fields said on Tuesday, according to The Post-Gazette.

Fields was responding to the rumors that seemed to be sparked by Steelers running back Jaylen Warren’s recent appearance on his other teammate Cam Heyward’s “Not Just Football” podcast. 

Warren suggested that Pittsburgh’s special teams coordinator had floated the idea of putting Fields in the returner position during kickoffs this upcoming season.

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quarterback Justin Fields #1 of the Chicago Bears warms up prior to an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field on October 15, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. (Todd Rosenberg/Getty Images)

But, Fields asserted that those comments were taken out of context.

“Nah, I think everybody kind of interpreted it wrong,” said Fields. “Coach Danny (Smith) was basically just trying to send a message that no matter who you are, you could be on special teams. He just used that as an example.”

JEROME BETTIS CONFIDENT STEELERS WILL BE ‘TOP-TIER’ TEAM OPPONENTS FEAR IN 2024

The 25-year-old also implied that the whole ordeal was a joke.

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“It’s funny how serious social media takes everything,” Fields continued. “It was kind of funny to me when everybody was making a big deal about it for no reason.”

Justin Fields warms up

Justin Fields #1 of the Chicago Bears warms up before a game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on January 07, 2024 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

The Chicago Bears decided to trade Fields to the Steelers in March in exchange for draft picks. He is expected to back up presumed starter Russell Wilson, although Fields said he will compete for the starting job.

Justin Fields runs the ball

Justin Fields #1 of the Chicago Bears takes off running during the first half against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on January 07, 2024 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (John Fisher/Getty Images)

“I’m definitely competing,” Fields told reporters earlier this month. “Russ knows that. We’re competing against each other every day.

“I definitely don’t have the mindset of me just sitting all year. I’m coming in here every day giving it all I got and pushing him to be his best, and he’s pushing me to be my best every single day.”

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The NFL is set to introduce wholesale changes to its kick-return rules in 2024. The move comes following a series of rules changes to make kickoffs safer. But, those changes also had the unintended consequence of making returns virtually obsolete.

Follow Fox News Digital’s sports coverage on X, and subscribe to the Fox News Sports Huddle newsletter.

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Rams' Stetson Bennett is getting back in form after improving mental health

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Rams' Stetson Bennett is getting back in form after improving mental health

During the final rep of practice Tuesday, Rams quarterback Stetson Bennett dropped back and — under the watchful eye of coach Sean McVay — completed a long pass to a receiver.

It was only a developmental drill.

Still, it was another step forward for Bennett, who has returned to the Rams after spending his rookie season away from the team while on the NFL’s non-football injury/illness list.

“It’s been cool to get back,” Bennett said afterward, adding, “Great to get back to football. It’s what I love and so it’s been pretty sweet.”

Bennett, a two-time national champion at Georgia, declined to specify the reason for his season away from football, saying several times he preferred to keep it “in-house.”

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A reporter asked if it would be accurate to say it fell under the umbrella of mental health, and improving his mental health.

“Yeah,” Bennett said, “I’d say that.”

Bennett’s future with the team remains to be determined but McVay said last week that Bennett “had a couple good days and it’s been good having him out here.”

The Rams selected Bennett in the fourth round of the 2023 draft to serve as Matthew Stafford’s backup and, possibly, his successor.

Bennett showed positive signs during the first two preseason games but struggled in the preseason finale at Denver. Before the season opener, he was put on the nonfootball injury/illness list because of an unspecified issue, and McVay remained vague throughout the season about Bennett’s situation.

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Rams quarterback Stetson Bennett (13), who started strong last preseason and struggled in the finale, runs from Chargers linebacker Brevin Allen (90) in a preseason game.

(Ryan Sun / Associated Press)

At midseason, the Rams cut veteran Brett Rypien after he played poorly in place of Stafford during a loss at Green Bay. The Rams signed veteran Carson Wentz, and Stafford returned to lead the Rams to a 10-7 record and playoff appearance.

But the Rams’ need for a capable backup remained pressing, especially as they prepared for a season in which they will be regarded as a possible Super Bowl contender.

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Stafford, 36, has two years left on the extension he signed after leading the Rams to a Super Bowl victory. The 15-year veteran is pressing for guaranteed salary beyond this season, however, an issue that came to light during the draft, and one that McVay has acknowledged the Rams are attempting to work through.

In March, the Rams signed Jimmy Garoppolo, giving them a proven veteran who has won regular-season and playoff games. Garoppolo is suspended for the first two games, however — against the Detroit Lions and Arizona Cardinals — for violating the NFL performance-enhancing substances policy while playing for the Las Vegas Raiders.

So Bennett’s ability to step in for Stafford early in the season could be more important than last season.

On Tuesday, Stafford and Garoppolo took reps during full-squad drills, with Bennett and Dresser Winn getting most of the work during individual periods.

Bennett is in “a good place” Rams offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur said.

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“He’s come to work every single day focused, with the intent of getting better, and that’s all you can ask these guys,” LaFleur said. “If their intent is right, which Stet’s is right now, that’s all you can ask, and it’s definitely showing.”

Bennett, 26, said he was nervous last week during his first day of practice.

“Hadn’t played football in a while and hadn’t talked to dudes in a huddle,” he said. “A lot of nerves the first day, but it’s gone, I wouldn’t say seamlessly, but it’s gotten better each day just like you try to make it.”

Bennett, a Georgia native, said his time spent at home was valuable and that he was thankful general manager Les Snead and McVay, “and everybody involved” allowed him to leave and now return.

The time away, he said, reinforced that he loved football.

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“You get to kind of see the world for the first time without football — like the first time ever and what that might be like,” he said. “It did make me, like, ‘Hey, this is, you want to do this and you want to work hard every single day and get better. It was different without it.‘ ”

How did he know he was ready to return?

“I’d say that one’s probably ‘piss or get off the pot,’” he said. “You kind of had to get back at some point.”

Now he is happy to be back, and playing the game he said he always has loved.

“I saw it for I think how I’ve always seen it,” he said of how he viewed football during his time away, “just a beautiful game, create relationships with your teammates, and then you go and you compete against the best and find out if you can, which I’m excited to get back to doing.”

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