Daly honors Mickelson’s ailing wife

John Daly wore bright pink trousers during the final round of the BMW PGA Championship in England on Sunday in a sign of support for Phil Mickelson’s wife after she was diagnosed with breast cancer last week.

According to their management group, Amy Mickelson will have major surgery for removal of the cancer within the next two weeks.

Daly on his decision to wear the pink trousers:

“I had a pair, so I figured I’d do that for her today. I thought it would be a good gesture,” Daly said of his trousers. “I know Phil very well and I know Amy. I’ve known them for a long time — we’ve played the Tour together. She’s a great lady. She has always been a sweetheart to everybody.”

Daly had not yet spoken to Phil Mickelson, but said he had been impacted personally by breast cancer.

“I sent out a media message,” Daly said. “He’s probably surrounded by callers right now and I didn’t want to bother him. I’m sure everybody on Tour and everybody in the world is thinking about her.”

Many in the golfing community have expressed their support and are eager to help in any way possible. Fellow golfer Darren Clarke has spoken to Mickelson recently, but wouldn’t reveal the details of their conversation. Clarke lost his wife to breast cancer in August 2006, and credits the Mickelsons in helping him through the tough times following her death.

Mickelson has suspended his PGA Tour schedule indefinitely.

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Nadal-Federer renew their rivalry at the Australian Open

Their epic Wimbledon final from last summer seems like a long time ago but Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer will renew their rivalry once again this evening as they vie for the men’s title at the Australian Open. This will be their seventh showdown in a Grand Slam final and it’s quickly becoming a must-see rivalry not unlike the Red Sox-Yankees or Lakers-Celtics for all sports fans.

Losing his #1 ranking in the world after Nadal’s thrilling victory in England has been a major catalyst in the revitalization of Federer’s career. He has added intensity and motivation to his smooth, effortless return volley game and hasn’t lost a match at a Grand Slam tournament (including a U.S. Open title last September) since Wimbledon.

Federer will be making his 18th appearance in a Grand Slam final and a victory Sunday evening in Melbourne will put him even with Pete Sampras at 14 Grand Slam tournament victories. His hard-court surface record is also very impressive, as Federer has won seven of the last eight Grand Slam tournaments played on that surface, including winning five straight U.S. Open titles.

The tennis world anointed Nadal as the new king of the sport last summer. The young Spaniard emerged at a time when tennis needed someone to challenge Federer’s dominance. Nadal will never emulate Roger’s play on the court, his sweating and grunting and his fist-pumping, emotional style are all big parts of his game. His top spin forehand shot will be taught to future generations for years to come.

The key to Nadal’s long-term success will be his play on hard-court surfaces. On clay, he has no equal, but Nadal’s improved play on the hard court and grass last year helped him take over tennis’ #1 ranking. Winning Wimbledon was a memorable moment in Nadal’s career, but winning on the hard-court in Melbourne tonight would be just as impressive.

The tennis world was bracing for an unknown to knock off Nadal or Federer, but for the past two weeks they reminded everyone just how good they are. The match is on in the wee hours of Sunday morning (3:30 AM ET) on ESPN2 here in the U.S., but the network is replaying the match later in the morning.

Four early season storylines in the NHL

The opening of the NHL season will take place overseas this weekend, and there are a few key storylines to keep an eye on during the first week of the season:

NHL invasion of Europe
A year ago, the Anaheim Ducks opened the season against the Los Angeles Kings in London, England. This season, four teams are kicking off the 2008-09 season in Europe: the Ottawa Senators will play the Pittsburgh Penguins in Stockholm, and the Tampa Bay Lightning open their season against the New York Rangers in Praque. The National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA) President Paul Kelly announced that the number of teams opening the season in Europe could double next year, as multiple European cities have expressed interest in hosting NHL games next season.

Selanne resigns with the Ducks
Forward Teemu Selanne signed a two-year contract worth $5.25 million with the Ducks after the club traded defenseman Mathieu Schneider to the Atlanta Thrashers to free up the necessary cap space. Selanne didn’t want to miss time in training camp like last season when he was contemplating retirement from the sport. With a two-year commitment to the team, Selanne is committed to getting the Ducks back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Possible trades due to salary cap restrictions
Rumors have been circulating that a number of teams are looking to deal players due to salary cap restrictions. The Chicago Blackhawks have solved their salary cap problem by putting goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin on waivers this week. The writing was on the wall that his days were numbered in Chicago when the team signed free agent goalie Cristobal Huet to a four-year deal worth $22.5 million in July. The San Jose Sharks are looking to trade defenseman Kyle McLaren and his 2.5 million dollar contract to avoid starting the season $225,000 over the salary cap. McLaren became expendable after the team added Dan Boyle and Rob Blake to the backline in the offseason.

Inventive marketing plan on the West Coast
In an unusual joint venture, the Ducks and Kings announced a ticket-sales package for games that will be played Oct. 14 in Anaheim and Nov. 16 in Los Angeles. The package will be called the “Freeway Face-Off” and $60 will get fans tickets to both games.

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