Steelers sign Big Ben

to deal through 2021

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers have reiterated repeatedly during an eventful offseason that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger remains the team's unquestioned leader. They have handed him a new deal to prove it.

The Steelers and the two-time Super Bowl winner agreed to terms on a contract extension Wednesday that will keep Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh through the 2021 season. Roethlisberger had been set to enter the final year of a contract he signed in 2015. Financial terms were not disclosed, but Roethlisberger figures to get a significant pay bump over the $12 million he was due (with a $23 million cap hit) in 2019.

Roethlisberger, who turned 36 last month, is coming off the finest statistical season of his 15-year career. His 5,129 yards passing led the NFL and his 34 touchdown passes broke his own franchise mark. But a late slide and a 9-6-1 finish caused the Steelers to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2013.

Els infuses Zurich Classic

with Presidents Cup subplot

AVONDALE, La. (AP) — As captain of the 2019 Presidents Cup's international squad, South Africa's Ernie Els decided to see if the PGA Tour's only team tournament could serve as a useful prep event.

So while Els has played at the Zurich Classic many times before, this latest trip to the cypress swamps southwest of New Orleans is different.

There's more at stake for Els than winning a share of $7.3 million purse. There's also a chance to see how the golf games of certain tandems — such as Australia's Jason Day and Adam Scott — might complement one another when the biennial Presidents Cup tees off in Melbourne, Australia, in December.

"This event is the only one of its kind, and players that were able to play, we thought we'll look at, you know, getting some of them paired up," Els said Wednesday.

Els, who shares the nickname, "The Big Easy" with the host city, is teaming up with fellow South African Trevor Immelman at the par-72, 7,425-yard TPC Louisiana. He won't be playing at the Presidents Cup, but will be overseeing strategy in the team event, which pits non-European international players near the top of the World Golf rankings against an American team every other year. So Els encouraged higher-ranked internationals to play in New Orleans — and many have.

In addition to Scott and Day, others include: South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace; South Koreans Si Woo Kim and Sungjae Im; Canadians Corey Conners and Adam Hadwin; Australia's Cameron Smith; Taiwan's C.T. Pan (winner of this past weekend's RBC Heritage in South Carolina); and Venezuela's Jhonattan Vegas.

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