Masters champ, Ping aid hospital

Masters Tournament champion Bubba Watson and golf equipment maker Ping presented $250,000 to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital on Thursday for use in the construction of Arizona’s first pediatric gait lab.

The money was raised as part of the “Bubba & Friends Drive to a Million” effort in partnership with Ping’s “Bubba Long in Pink Driven by Ping” campaign. To help raise funds for Phoenix-area charities, Ping has donated $50 for each of the 5,000 limited-edition, pink drivers sold.

The Bubba Watson and Ping Golf Gait Lab will serve pediatric patients with neuromuscular diseases and disabilities.

• Watson and Phil Mickelson have committed to play in the Phoenix Open.

Former Clemson golfer and defending champion Kyle Stanley, 2011 winner Mark Wilson and 2010 champion Hunter Mahan also are entered in the Jan. 31-Feb. 3 event.

So are Rickie Fowler, Nick Watney, Carl Pettersson, Nicolas Colsaerts and former Clemson golfer Lucas Glover.

Mickelson won at TPC Scottsdale in 1996 and 2005. The former Arizona State star will open his season Jan. 17-20 in the Humana Challenge in La Quinta, Calif.



US teen captures World Cup event

In Are, Sweden, Mikaela Shiffrin showed that the American ski team can live without Lindsey Vonn, at least for a little while.

In the first World Cup race since Vonn said she was taking a break from the circuit, the 17-year-old Shiffrin picked up the slack quite nicely. She won a night slalom ahead of Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter for her first World Cup victory.

Shiffrin has been touted as the next American ski star, and she performed like one under the floodlights on Are’s Olympia course. An outstanding second run gave her a combined time of 1 minute, 45.36 seconds.



US women face Scotland twice

New U.S. women’s coach Tom Sermanni will see a familiar foe in his first two games in charge of the Americans.

The Olympic champion U.S. will play Scotland in a friendly Feb. 13 at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn. The Americans said last weekend they will open their 2013 schedule with a friendly against the Scots on Feb. 9 at Jacksonville, Fla.

Born in Scotland, Sermanni spent the past eight years as Australia’s coach and led the Matildas to the quarterfinals of the past two Women’s World Cups.

He was hired by the U.S. Soccer Federation in October to start at the beginning of 2013.

The second game was announced Thursday.



USOC plans to meet with cities

The U.S. Olympic Committee will hold meetings with cities interested in bidding for a future Olympics and is promising to streamline the domestic selection process if the federation does, in fact, decide to try to play host to the Games in 2024 or 2026.

At its quarterly meeting Thursday, the USOC board voted to move forward in exploring a possible bid but stopped short of committing to one.

The 2024 bidding process doesn’t begin in earnest until 2015.

“We’re just trying to get smarter and see which cities we might want to have serious discussions with,” CEO Scott Blackmun said.