Archive For 02/16/2019

Day leads BMW Championship after flirting with a 59

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Day, seeking a fourth win in six starts, returned to Conway Farms Golf Club after overnight thunderstorms with a 44-yard chip shot from deep rough standing between him and a magical 59.

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But his attempt was short by nine feet and he failed to make the birdie putt, leaving the 27-year-old Australian with an opening 61 in the third of the PGA Tour’s four concluding playoff events in the season-long FedExCup race.

“Selfishly, a 59 would have been great and only a handful of guys have shot 59, and I understand what the history is, but right now winning the tournament is more important than shooting the 59,” said Day, who could reach the top of the world rankings with victory this week.

“Overall I hit a pretty good chip, but I thought it was just going to bounce a little bit more than what it did.”

Masters and U.S. Open champion Jordan Spieth, playing with Day, was in a six-way share of second place at six under along with fellow Americans Bubba Watson, Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger, Kevin Na, and Harris English.

World number one Rory McIlroy (68) was seven shots back.

Spieth also played the first two rounds of the last two FedExCup events with Day, the first of which the Australian won by six shots. And while Spieth played his final eight holes in six under this week, he was once again trailing Day who mixed nine birdies with an eagle and bogey.

“It is definitely challenging (to keep up with Day),” said world number two Spieth, who missed the cut in the first two FedExCup playoff events.

“It’s something that I struggled with. … It’s just hard to stay patient when you see Jason is four or five early into the back nine and then I try and force some stuff because I’m like, ‘hey, there’s birdies out there.’

“Normally my game revolves around being patient, being able to make some putts to get into a rhythm. I just wasn’t doing that, seeing the scores around me. It was tough.”

But Spieth brought a new approach to this week.

“Today I was kind of laughing at it. It was a different approach,” said Spieth. “I stayed patient, just kind of laughed it off. This is what he’s doing right now, and just try and play my game, and that was the difference.”

(Editing by Frank Pingue)

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Australia’s Tomic edges Britain’s Evans to level semi

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Australian number one Tomic won the day’s second singles 6-3 7-6(2) 6-7(4) 6-4 but he looked out on his feet towards the end after being rocked on his heels by the dogged Evans.

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World number three Andy Murray had given the hosts a dream start as they bid for their first Davis Cup final spot since 1978, playing sublimely to thrash teenager Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-3 6-0 6-3 in front of a packed house in Glasgow.

The winners will face Belgium or Argentina in the final.

Scot Murray, 28, has been the mainstay of Britain’s rise from the lower levels of the Davis Cup pyramid in the last four years, and is likely to play Saturday’s crucial doubles rubber.

It was always on the cards that the tie would be poised at 1-1 after Friday’s play, especially with surprise pick Evans, ranked down at 300, playing against world number 23 Tomic.

After being initially outclassed and falling two sets behind, Evans dug deep, breaking Tomic’s serve at 3-5 in the third when the Australian served for the match and eventually clinching a tiebreak when Tomic volleyed wide.

Both players were staggering after some gruelling rallies on the slow indoor court in the fourth and Tomic was left gasping when he again failed to serve out the match at 5-2.

At 5-4, however, with Australian veteran Lleyton Hewitt pumping his fist courtside, Tomic held his nerve and claimed victory when Evans sent a backhand wide.

“There was a big expectation on Bernie to win and the weight of it all was grinding him down into the court, but that’s Davis Cup!” Wally Masur, captaining Australia as they aim for a first final in 12 years, said.

With Murray favourite to win his singles on Sunday the tie could now hinge on the Saturday’s doubles.

Murray earned a crucial point with brother Jamie, a U.S. Open doubles runner-up last week, in the quarter-final against France, and the brothers may be let loose against Hewitt and big-serving Sam Groth on Saturday.

After Murray’s longer-than-expected rest before the tie after a fourth round defeat at the U.S. Open, and the ease at which he beat Kokkinakis, the Scot is ready to work overtime.

“It isn’t my decision. It’s up to the captain to decide that. Obviously, now I have the option to be picked because that match was quick. We’ll talk about it this evening,” he said.

Murray’s demolition of Kokkinakis took his Davis Cup singles record to 24-2.

(Writing by Martyn Herman in London, Editing by Alan Baldwin and Ken Ferris)

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Brave Crows beaten but proud

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Adelaide’s emotional roller coaster ride through the 2015 season came to a shuddering halt on Friday night but the brave Crows exit the finals with their heads held high.

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A 74-point semi-final belting by Hawthorn will sting for a bit but when the smoke clears the remarkable achievement of making it into the second week of the finals after the tragedy of Phil Walsh’s murder will remain.

“We could’ve went to water but we didn’t want that and it’s not what Walshy would’ve wanted either,” Ricky Henderson told AAP.

“He put in place some ideals throughout the club that we’ll continue to try to uphold.

“It was a shocking season, to be honest. It’s been really hard with everything that we’ve been through. We didn’t finish the way that we would’ve liked but I think we can hold our heads high … just with where we’ve been and where we managed to get to.”

The Crows were put on the back foot early by the Hawks, who were stung into action after a poor showing against West Coast last week.

Brilliant first-quarter goals from the boundary by Josh Jenkins then Patrick Dangerfield – who was outstanding in what could be his final game for the club – had their many travelling fans on their feet but it wasn’t a sustainable avenue to goal.

“We were expecting a hot start but we couldn’t stand up to that pressure,” Henderson said.

“They put a fair bit of scoreboard pressure on us and we couldn’t recover from it.

“I think this really shows us where we need to get to. They showed us how to play finals football. We’ll learn a lot from that.

“We have a young group and we have a lot of learning to do. A lot of blokes played tonight in what was only their second final.”

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Scotland players lament bagpipe ban

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Speaking to reporters on Friday ahead of Scotland’s opening match against Japan on Sept.

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23, the country’s most-capped hooker Ross Ford called on organisers to exert some “common sense”.

“It’s our national instrument and our national sound. I think there has to be some form of common sense in play here. It’s not a massive issue – it’s bagpipes,” said Ford.

“It’s great to hear them at matches. When you are warming up and you hear them, it’s a big boost to the players.”

Tournament organisers have also banned large flags, oversized hats and other noisemakers such as the vuvuzelas — a plastic horn that was prominent during South Africa’s football World Cup in 2010.

But for Scotland’s talisman Stuart Hogg it is the familiar din of bagpipes he will be longing for. He said they helped urge on his team to a record 48-7 victory over Italy last month.

“Obviously, you love hearing the bagpipes being played and obviously it’s a shame,” said Hogg.

“I love playing in front of a passionate crowd and, for me, the best crowd I have been involved in was the Italian game just gone by at Murrayfield. It was a great atmosphere with the bagpipes playing.”

The bagpipe, a musical instrument with reed pipes that are sounded by the pressure of wind emitted from a bag squeezed by the player’s arm, has been played in Scotland since the 16th century.

While some say they conjur up patriotic images of kilted highlanders, critics compare the noise to that of a cat being strangled.

Fans will not be allowed to bring their own bagpipes into the ground, but World Rugby told The Telegraph newspaper that bagpipes will play a “prominent role at all Scotland matches.”

Scotland kick off their campaign against Japan in Gloucester. They will also face United States, South Africa and Samoa in Pool B.

(Reporting by John Geddie; editing by Justin Palmer)

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Pyrotechnic extravaganza lights up opening of World Cup

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While England and Fiji’s players went through their final preparations in the bowels of the famous arena, more than 80,000 noisy fans marvelled at an opening ceremony played out on a Twickenham pitch dressed to appear torn up by giants.

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Lights dimmed as deafening fireworks exploded into the London night sky and drummers thundered their beat around the cavernous arena.

An enormous rugby ball sat centre stage among the huge clods of earth and turf, and was flanked by 20 former greats representing each of the World Cup’s 20 finalist nations.

The loudest cheer from the excitable crowd was reserved for Martin Johnson, England’s World Cup-winning captain in 2003, who appeared last on a plinth raising a ball triumphantly skywards in his bear-like grip.

A stirring rendition of the tournament anthem ‘World in Union’ roused the capacity crowd further as they eagerly counted down the minutes to the first kick-off of the 48-match tournament.

“In six weeks’ time one team will take its place in history,” Britain’s Prince Harry said, prompting another huge roar from the crowd.

“It is up to us to raise the roof in each match on this unforgettable journey.

“We are ready — game on!”

World Rugby head Bernard Lapasset declared the event open with the words, “Let the tournament begin”, as dozens of workers sprinted onto the pitch to clear the playing surface for the Fijian and England players due to kick off in less than 30 minutes’ time.

Almost half a million tourists are expected to visit Britain for the tournament, whose four dozen matches involving 20 teams will take in traditional rugby venues like Cardiff and Gloucester, but also football grounds in Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle.

The six-week event is being billed as the first billion dollar rugby festival.

More than 2.2 million tickets have been sold, and the tournament is expected to contribute some 869 million pounds to Britain’s economy.

New Zealand open the defence of their title on Sunday against Argentina at Wembley Stadium.

(Editing by John Geddie)

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Argentina’s Mayer levels Davis Cup semi with Belgium

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Mayer won the second rubber 7-6(5) 7-6(1) 4-6 6-3 after a gruelling four-hour tussle in which he took a timeout to tend to a thigh problem.

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World number 15 David Goffin gave Belgium a good start in their bid to reach the final for the first time in over a century when he beat Federico Delbonis 7-5 7-6(3) 6-3.

The winners will face Australia or Britain in the final which will be held in Belgium.

Darcis fought hard during a gruelling first set until Mayer pushed it to a tiebreak after 74 minutes on court.

The second set saw Darcis keep up the fight, although Mayer sailed through the second tiebreak.

The Belgian battled back in the third after losing the first game to lead 5-1 only to falter as Mayer clawed his way back to 5-4 before Darcis clinched the set 6-4.

Mayer went ahead in the fourth and, despite a time out to treat his leg problem, he held off a resurgent Darcis at 5-3 to claim the set.

“We’re still in it and we will be here on Sunday,” said Darcis. “It’s not catastrophic, it’s a shame because there would have been a way.”

Argentina are playing in their 10th semi-final in 14 years, reaching the final three times in that period, but have lost all of their four finals including their 1981 appearance.

Belgium, who are looking to reach the final for only the second time, the last being in 1904, are pinning their hopes on Goffin picking up a second singles win on Sunday.

Delbonis proved a tricky opponent for Goffin and broke back in the opening set after falling behind, only to falter at 5-5.

Goffin also broke in the second set but was again pegged back and needed a tiebreak to take control before gliding through the third set.

“It was a tough one but the atmosphere is always amazing here in Brussels,” Goffin, who enjoyed noisy support, said.

“Always when I was a break up he was playing so good and was really aggressive so it was always tough to finish the sets but in the end I’m really happy with the way I won today.

“The pressure is on their shoulders now.”

(Reporting by Julia Fioretti; editing by Martyn Herman and Ken Ferris)

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Van Gaal praises Shaw’s attitude after double fracture

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Shaw, 20, is still in hospital in Eindhoven after his leg was broken in two places by a flying tackle from PSV Eindhoven’s Hector Moreno in the early stages of their Champions League match.

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Van Gaal, speaking to reporters before United play Shaw’s former club Southampton in the Premier League on Sunday, said: “I called him last evening and he sounds very strong.

“Amazing for me. Big surprise. A good signal.

“It is not easy but his family is there. We have sent people to him. Maybe he shall come back tomorrow but then there will be a long period of rehabilitation. There is still a long way to go.

“I am always looking at the whole human being, saying that it is not just physical but also mental.”

The immediate cost of the injury for United is the end of the developing left-wing partnership between the defensive Shaw and the more attacking Memphis Depay ahead of him.

Van Gaal continued: “For us it is a big loss, a big loss for the team because I said already that it shall be the season of Luke Shaw and now its finished.

“He started so well and we built up the left wing with Memphis Depay and we have to restart and build it up again because we have to fill that position. We will have to cope with it, but it is a big loss.

“It’s also difficult for the player who has to replace him. But we have in (Daley) Blind, ((Marcos) Rojo and in Ashley Young, good replacements.”

The game brings Van Gaal face to face with Saints manager Ronald Koeman — a compatriot, former friend and ex-Ajax Amsterdam and Barcelona colleague — and United will start as favourites to win.

They are third in the table after winning three of their opening five matches while Southampton are 11th after winning one, drawing three and losing one of their opening games.

Van Gaal was non-committal over whether he would have a drink with Koeman after the match, but was more forthcoming when he was asked about Wayne Rooney’s hamstring injury that kept him out of last week’s 3-1 win over Liverpool as well as the 2-1 defeat at Eindhoven.

“He is back, it was a minor injury and we didn’t want to take any risks, but he has had his treatment and his training sessions so I think he can start.”

(Reporting by Mike Collett, editing by Alan Baldwin)

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All Blacks name strongest team for opener

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All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has stayed true to his word and named the strongest possible team for their opening World Cup match against Argentina.

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A vastly experienced side will begin New Zealand’s defence of the Webb Ellis Cup at Wembley on Sunday.

The starting 15 is the first from any nation to boast more than 1000 Test caps.

Captain Richie McCaw, playing his 143rd Test, will lead a starting side who have experienced 1012 internationals between them.

It sets the tone for a campaign which Hansen believes will be won on experience.

There is one starting change from the side who won their most recent Test, the 41-13 thumping of Australia in Auckland.

Sixty-Test flanker Jerome Kaino returns from injury in place of Victor Vito.

Kaino will also be charged with covering lock, with Hansen naming two loose forwards on his reserve bench – Vito and Sam Cane – suggesting he is targeting the breakdown as a crucial element of the tournament.

Eleven of the 23-strong team will experience their first World Cup game, including an exciting-looking back three comprising Ben Smith, Nehe Milner-Skudder and Julian Savea.

Six of the starting forward pack began the 2011 final, an 8-7 win over France at Eden Park.

“There’s real excitement, enthusiasm and hunger in the group,” Hansen said.

“We’ve selected what we believe is a very strong team. We have the utmost respect for Argentina who we know a lot more about now because of their involvement in The Rugby Championship. But it also means they know a lot more about us.”

“We’ve had a great preparation and there will be no excuses for not performing on Sunday.”

ALL BLACKS

Ben Smith, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Julian Savea, Dan Carter, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (capt), Jerome Kaino, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Owen Franks, Dane Coles, Tony Woodcock. Reserves: Sonny Bill Williams, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Sam Cane, Victor Vito, Charlie Faumuina, Wyatt Crockett, Keven Mealamu.

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Red Bull, Ferrari take the fight to Hamilton

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The Mercedes driver has a 53-point lead with seven rounds remaining but hopes of dominating his rivals at the Marina Bay Street Circuit were dampened by the resurgent Red Bulls and competitive Ferraris.

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While Hamilton’s team mate and closest rival Nico Rosberg led a Mercedes one-two in the first session, both men were outpaced in the second as Russia’s Daniil Kvyat put Red Bull on top for the first time this season.

Kvyat lapped the 23-turn floodlit circuit in one minute, 46.142 to edge out Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari by just 0.039 seconds.

Red Bull’s Australian Daniel Ricciardo was third fastest after lapping in 1:46.256.

Hamilton was fourth, 0.337 seconds off the pace, while Rosberg languished in seventh place behind Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Sergio Perez’s Force India.

Red Bull, who with the exception of a double podium appearance in Hungary have endured a miserable season with their underperforming Renault engine, looked to have found real pace around the streets of Singapore.

Ferrari also looked up for the fight in the muggy Southeast Asian conditions with very little between the top three teams in terms of lap times over the longer, race simulation runs with heavy fuel loads.

Rosberg complained over the radio that he had problems with his drinks bottle but the German generally enjoyed a trouble-free first 90-minute session to lap more than a second faster than a year ago.

Hamilton, however, endured an erratic evening. He went off the track three times as he pushed his Mercedes to the limit at the start of his quest to emulate boyhood hero Senna’s haul of race wins in the same number of starts (161).

Fortunately for the double champion, the mistakes occurred on parts of the track with run off areas with Vettel also venturing off in the first session after running wide at the quick Turn Five but stopping short of the barriers.

American rookie Alexander Rossi crashed as he prepared for his first weekend as a race driver for tailenders Manor Marussia after flying in at short notice to replace Spaniard Roberto Merhi for five of the remaining seven grands prix.

He completed 18 laps at the back of the field before losing control and slamming into the barriers after Turn 18, his broken Manor stranded and unable to continue as the session was halted with three minutes remaining.

He managed 20 minutes of action in his repaired Manor in the second session but only after team mate Will Stevens had crashed out early on.

(Editing by Amlan Chakraborty/Alan Baldwin)

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Bulldogs face another NRL summer of regret

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Canterbury spent all year vowing to go one better, but in the end they fell two games short.

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For the second time in Des Hasler’s tenure, the Bulldogs failed to return to the NRL decider in what is now becoming an elusive title for the two-time premiership-winning coach at Belmore.

This year they bombed out with a 38-12 semi-final defeat to the Sydney Roosters, literally throwing away an opportunity avenge last October’s grand final heartbreaker to South Sydney.

Not even a refereeing howler that handed Kane Evans a try for the hosts in the second half could stop Hasler from expressing his disappointment in his side’s error-riddled display on such a huge occasion.

For just the second time this year, the Bulldogs coughed up more than 14 turnovers in a match.

“Whether it was or wasn’t a try, it was more the focus on the whole game with the ball,” Hasler said following Friday night’s loss.

“To come up with 18 from 30 (sets) on one of the biggest nights of year was just really disappointing for the side and for the fans.”

Hasler’s men will now spend the entire summer ruing such a promising season that began with prized signing of fullback Brett Morris finally re-uniting with twin brother Josh.

Their trophy prospects only grew after opening with three wins inside the first month.

However a controversial Good Friday defeat in the grand final rematch cost the side more than just the two points.

Skipper James Graham, David Klemmer and Sam Kasiano all received suspensions from the last-gasp loss, while Morris and Tim Lafai both suffered long-term injuries.

From there the Bulldogs lost four of their next five games and sunk to a season-low 13th spot on the ladder.

“Looking back now, it probably rocked us a bit harder than everyone thought it would,” Morris told AAP of the aftermath from the game.

But, led by Hasler’s finals ability to deliver in the clutch, Canterbury moved back into contention by winning it’s final six games of the regular season to seal fifth spot.

Another title shot loomed, even withstanding season-ending injuries to key men Trent Hodkinson and Michael Lichaa.

However the Bulldogs spluttered at the business end, stealing a golden point win over St George-Illawarra in the elimination final, before being punished by the Roosters in the second week.

“That’s what was really disappointing about tonight – I just don’t think we gave ourselves a chance at all to get into the game… we’ve got an off-season to think about it,” Hasler said.

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