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Who Is The Front-Runner at the Masters?

Thursday, 10 April 2014 07:10 Published in Sports

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) -- If you're looking for someone not to pick at this year's Masters, go with Ryan Moore.

By winning the Par 3 tournament, he surely sealed his fate. After all, no one has ever taken the just-for-fun prelude Wednesday and gone on to collect a green jacket Sunday evening.

Then again, if there was ever a year to break with tradition, this might be it.

Tiger Woods is on the sidelines. A bunch of brash Augusta rookies are eager to fill his shoes. And the last two dozen majors have been divvied up among 21 winners.

Good luck making sense of it all with the Masters beginning Thursday.

"You never know," Moore said, savoring his two-stroke victory on the picturesque nine-hole course tucked away in a corner of Augusta National.

"Someone has got to break that (Par 3) curse at some point in time, so hopefully it's me. Who knows? I might go shoot 8 under or something, make a couple of hole-in-ones."

As unlikely as that sounds, pretty much everything else is up for grabs at this Masters. Recovering from back surgery, Woods is sitting out the opening major of the year for the first time since turning pro.

Even as his dominance waned in recent years, he was always the clear-cut favorite coming into Augusta, where he has won four times.

Now, as Moore said, who knows?

Jason Day, Sergio Garcia and former Masters champion Zach Johnson are the only players from the top 10 who have won anywhere in the world this year. Only one of the past seven winners on the PGA Tour was ranked in the top 75.

"I think if you're outside the top 50 in the world this week, you've got a great chance," U.S. Open champion Justin Rose said with a laugh.

Woods is out of golf until the summer, but the show goes on at a tournament that rarely fails to deliver plenty of drama.

"We miss Tiger, as does the entire golf world," Masters chairman Billy Payne said. "Nevertheless, this is the Masters. This is what we hope is the best tournament in the world, one of the greatest sporting events. And I think we will have a very impressive audience and have another great champion to crown this year."

That could be Phil Mickelson, who last year won the British Open at age 42 and now has a chance to join Woods and Arnold Palmer with a fourth green jacket.

It could be Adam Scott, trying to take over as the world's No. 1 player and join Woods, Nick Faldo and Jack Nicklaus as the only back-to-back winners.

While Woods last won a green jacket in 2005, he had finished out of the top six only once since then.

That's what made him such a compelling figure at Augusta.

He always seemed to be there.

"It's a huge loss," Scott said. "But, as every year here, this event produces something special no matter what. It just has a way of doing it. It's not going to involve Tiger this year, but it will involve someone else and it will be a memorable event anyway."

Rose falls on the side of experience - knowing where to miss, knowing where you can't afford to miss, where the hole locations tend to be on the contoured greens and using the slope to get the ball close.

"Always you can have the unknowns," he said. "But I would say 15 guys are pretty strong favorites."

Fuzzy Zoeller was the last Augusta rookie to claim the green jacket in 1979, and the only other ones to do it were the first two: Horton Smith and Gene Sarazen.

Then again, there are 24 first-timers in the 98-player field, a record (except for the first tournament), and none of them will concede an insurmountable learning curve.

Besides, no one is dominating golf at the moment. Jimmy Walker has the most PGA Tour wins (three) this season, but this is his first Masters. Scott had a chance to go to No. 1 three weeks ago at Bay Hill, but he lost a three-shot lead in the final round to Matt Every, who had never won in his career.

"Doesn't matter if you've played here once or if you've played here 50 times," said Patrick Reed, who has won three times in the past eight months. "When it comes down to it, it's just going to be that whoever is playing the best is going to walk away with the trophy."

Who knows? Maybe it will be Moore.

He's certainly not fretting over a supposed curse.

"I'm not afraid of it," he said.

---

Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at WWW.TWITTER.COM/PNEWBERRY1963

© 2014 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

POLICE SEEK MOTIVE OF SCHOOL STABBING RAMPAGE

Thursday, 10 April 2014 07:08 Published in National News

MURRYSVILLE, Pa. (AP) -- It was just before the start of class and the hallways were packed as usual with students at their lockers or chatting with friends.

Nate Moore was walking to homeroom, book in hand, when a classmate he knew to be quiet and unassuming tackled a freshman boy a few feet in front of him. Moore thought it was the start of a fistfight and went to break it up.

But 16-year-old Alex Hribal wasn't throwing punches - he was stabbing his victim in the belly, Moore said. The suspect got up and slashed Moore's face, then took off down the hall, where authorities said he stabbed and slashed other students in an attack that injured 21 students and a security guard - and might have been even worse but for the "heroes" who Pennsylvania's governor said helped prevent further injury or loss of life.

An assistant principal tackled and subdued Hribal, who was charged Wednesday night with four counts of attempted homicide and 21 counts of aggravated assault and jailed without bail. Authorities said he would be prosecuted as an adult.

The suspect's motive remained a mystery.

"He wasn't saying anything," Moore recalled hours later. "He didn't have any anger on his face. It was just a blank expression."

At a brief hearing Wednesday night, District Attorney John Peck said that after he was taken into custody, Hribal made comments suggesting he wanted to die. Defense attorney Patrick Thomassey described him as a good student who got along with others, and asked for a psychiatric examination.

At least five students were critically wounded in the attack, including a boy who was on a ventilator after a knife pierced his liver, missing his heart and aorta by only millimeters, doctors said. He had an additional surgery overnight, they said.

The rampage comes after decades in which U.S. schools have focused their emergency preparedness on mass shootings, not stabbings.

While knife attacks at schools are not unusual, they're most often limited to a single victim, said Mo Canady, executive director of the National Association of School Resource Officers.

Nevertheless, there have been at least two major stabbing attacks at U.S. schools over the past year, the first at a community college in Texas last April that wounded at least 14 people, and another, also in Texas, that killed a 17-year-old student and injured three others at a high school last September.

The attack in Pittsburgh unfolded shortly after 7 a.m. Wednesday, a few minutes before the start of classes at 1,200-student Franklin Regional High School, in an upper-middle-class area 15 miles east of Pittsburgh. By Thursday morning, the school was no longer being treated as a crime scene, according to police and school officials, who said they expected it to reopen Monday.

Mia Meixner, 16, said the freshman boy who was tackled tried to fight back, then, when his assailant got off him, stood up and lifted his shirt to reveal a midsection covered in blood.

"He had his shirt pulled up and he was screaming, `Help! Help!'" said another witness, Michael Float, 18. "He had a stab wound right at the top right of his stomach, blood pouring down."

As students rushed to the boy's aid, the attacker slashed Moore before taking off around a bend.

"It was really fast. It felt like he hit me with a wet rag because I felt the blood splash on my face. It spurted up on my forehead," said Moore, whose gashed right cheek required 11 stitches.

The boy ran down about 200 feet of hallway, slashing and stabbing other students with kitchen knives about 8 to 10 inches long, police said. The assault touched off a "stampede of kids" yelling, "Run! Get out of here! Someone has a knife!" according to Meixner.

Assistant Principal Sam King heard the commotion and found a chaotic scene in the blood-soaked hall.

"I've been stabbed," he heard a student say.

King then saw Hribal stab a security guard, who leaned against the wall, bleeding from his stomach, according to a police affidavit. King tackled Hribal and kept him on the floor until a school police officer handcuffed him.

The rampage lasted about five minutes.

"There are a number of heroes in this day. Many of them are students," Gov. Tom Corbett said in a visit to the stricken town. "Students who stayed with their friends and didn't leave their friends."

He also commended cafeteria workers, teachers and teacher's aides who put themselves at risk to help others.

Looking for a motive, Murrysville Police Chief Thomas Seefeld said investigators were checking reports of a threatening phone call between Hribal and another student the night before. He didn't say whether the suspect received or made the call.

The FBI went to the boy's house, and local media reports said agents removed at least one computer along with other items.

Meixner and Moore called the attacker a shy and quiet boy who largely kept to himself, but they said he was not an outcast and they saw no indication before the attack that he might be violent.

"He was never mean to anyone, and I never saw people be mean to him," Meixner said. "I never saw him with a particular group of friends."

During the attack, the boy had a "blank look," she said. "He was just kind of looking like he always does, not smiling, not scowling or frowning."

---

Associated Press writers Michael Rubinkam in northeastern Pennsylvania, Joe Mandak in Pittsburgh and JoAnn Loviglio in Philadelphia contributed to this report.

© 2014 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

MUDSLIDE SURVIVOR HOLDING SON DESCRIBES TERROR

Thursday, 10 April 2014 06:59 Published in National News

SEATTLE (AP) -- The lights in Amanda Skorjanc's home started to flicker and shake. When she looked outside, she saw a cascade of mud and debris crashing down the hillside and nearby houses "exploding" from its force.

Moments earlier she was watching videos with her infant son, and now she saw a neighbor's chimney barreling toward her door. Skorjanc gripped her son tightly and turned away.

"I held onto that baby like it was the only purpose that I had," she said. "I did not let that baby go for one second."

When it was over, the powerful mudslide had destroyed Skorjanc's entire rural Washington community, killing at least 36 people and destroying dozens of homes.

Skorjanc and her baby were among the few pulled from the rubble alive. On Wednesday, the 25-year-old mother gave her first interview about the March 22 ordeal from Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where she remains hospitalized.

Skorjanc is starting to recover physically from several broken bones and six surgeries, but she and her doctor acknowledged the emotional healing will take a very long time. Certain sounds bring Skorjanc right back to that frightening Saturday morning.

"If the wind blows too hard. If someone is pushing a bed past me, and it rumbles the floor a bit. It brings back the same sight over and over again," Skorjanc told a pool of reporters from The Daily Herald, KOMO-TV and KIRO Radio.

When the earth stopped moving after the mudslide, Skorjanc was trapped in a pocket formed by her damaged couch and pieces of her roof. She had two broken legs and a broken arm.

Skorjanc said she called out to God to save her and her baby and prayed rescuers would arrive quickly and find them.

"I started to hear sirens - the most amazing sound I ever heard," she said.

Skorjanc remembers hearing the voices of several men coming to her aid. They lifted her son from her arms and cut her from the debris.

"I had my eyes closed," Skorjanc remembers. "I didn't want to see what was going on. I was scared and in so much pain."

One of her ankles was crushed and might not recover fully. She also suffered injuries to her face, including an eye socket. Her doctor said she will need to be off her feet for another 10 weeks, then likely will struggle to start walking again.

Skorjanc said she considered the destroyed community of Oso home, although she grew up in Indiana and has lived in Washington for just the past two years. But she has no plans to return to the rural community 55 miles northeast of Seattle, not even for a visit.

She said she struggles with guilt daily, because she has her family - including her partner, Ty Suddarth, the father of her child - and others who lived in Oso don't. Suddarth had left the house to run an errand when the mudslide hit.

Dr. Daphne Beinggessner, a University of Washington orthopedic surgeon, operated on Skorjanc three times and estimated her physical injuries will take a year or more to heal.

She added that the recovery of Skorjanc's son, Duke Suddarth, seems to be really making a difference in the young mother's improvement: "As he's been getting better, she's been getting better."

Skorjanc said she will work hard to get better to be there for her son, who is being treated at Seattle Children's Hospital. She said his injuries included a skull fracture. "He's my motivation."

The rest of her energy will go toward giving back to the community.

"I'm so overwhelmed with the amount of love and support we get every day," Skorjanc said. "We will pay it forward for the rest of our lives."

© 2014 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

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