Round of 61 leads Hope Classic

Pat Perez shot a 61 on Wednesday and took the lead in the Bob Hope Classic on a day so perfect for scoring that his 11-under round got him only a one-stroke lead. Mike Weir and Bubba Watson opened the five-day tournament, played on four courses, with 62s, and six players were another shot behind.

Perez played the Palmer Course at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif., the same course where David Duval shot 59 in 1999. Weir and Watson also played the Palmer course.

Perez didn't let his score excite him because he has previously shot 60 and 61 on the Palmer course. "The number is 30 under, 30 plus," Perez said, noting what it often takes to win the Hope when conditions are good. "You don't try to get there too fast. You try to get there over five days.

"So yeah, it's nice, it's a good round, the conditions are perfect. That's all."

He did get excited after a 28 on his front nine, but it didn't last.

"I was thinking 58 for sure," Perez said.

• Seve Ballesteros said test results following his first course of chemotherapy came back "quite good," an encouraging sign for the 51-year-old golf great. Ballesteros, a five-time major winner, underwent four surgeries in October to remove a cancerous brain tumor .

• Ryo Ishikawa, a 17-year-old Japanese golf sensation, has agreed to participate in two PGA Tour events. He will make his PGA Tour debut Feb. 19 in the Northern Trust Open at Riviera in Los Angeles. He also accepted an invitation from Arnold Palmer to compete in the Arnold Palmer Invitational March 23-26 at Bay Hill Club in Orlando.


Russians win title in Euro pairs

Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy soared to their third consecutive pairs skating title at the European Figure Skating Championships in Helsinki, Finland. The Germans made up nearly three points on Marina Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov of Russia with their free program.

In the men's short program, Brian Joubert of France took a commanding 5.45-point lead over defending champion Tomas Verner of the Czech Republic. Joubert amassed a personal-best 86.90 points.


Armstrong says give him a year

Lance Armstrong says his comeback to cycling will last at least a year. Beyond that, the seven-time Tour de France champion isn't sure. It all depends on age, health and his campaign to raise cancer awareness. He addressed his future Wednesday during the Tour Down Under near Adelaide, Australia, in which he was nowhere near the lead. He finished Wednesday's stage 45th.

"The comeback, so to speak, is at least a year," he said. "It's not three or four, I don't think, but it could be two years. I've got to get through the first part of this season and then decide."


College football: Air Force and coach Troy Calhoun have agreed on a five-year contract that will keep him at the school through the 2013 season. Calhoun is 17-9 in two seasons at Air Force.

Horse racing: Peppers Pride, a New Mexico thoroughbred who set a North American record of 19 victories in 19 career starts, has been retired and will enter a breeding program in Kentucky.

Olympics: The British government released $634 million in public funds Wednesday to bail out two key venues for the 2012 London Olympics that have been set back by the global economic downturn. Also, officials for the 2010 Winter Games in British Columbia said budget cuts were being made but didn't get specific.

Boxing: Manny Pacquiao's refusal to accept terms already agreed to by his promoter has scuttled the planned May 2 fight between him and British fighter Ricky Hatton. Promoters for both fighters said there is little chance the bout will be revived.

Fishing: A Hayward, Wis., man has set a world record for catching a muskie on a fly rod. Wisconsin wildlife officials said the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame and Museum has notified Brad Bohen that the 511/4-inch muskie he caught in October was a record for a released fish on a 36-pound tippet. Bohen caught the fish on the Chippewa River above Lake Holcombe.