A safe return for golf as Berger claims Colonial in playoff

Daniel Berger after winning the Charles Schwab Challenge golf tournament at Colonial Country Club. (AFP)
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Updated 16 June 2020

A safe return for golf as Berger claims Colonial in playoff

  • From no positive tests to a dynamic finish at history-rich Colonial, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan sized up the week by saying, ‘This has been a phenomenal start to our return’

FORTH WORTH, Texas: Daniel Berger was playing some of the best golf that no one noticed. Three months away because of the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t slow his momentum, and he made it pay off Sunday with a victory at Colonial.

The PGA Tour made a healthy return to golf at the Charles Schwab Challenge with a somewhat sickly finish. Berger saved par from behind the 17th green on the first playoff hole and won when Collin Morikawa missed a 3-foot par putt.

Berger closed with a 4-under 66, his 28th consecutive round at par or better dating to Oct. 11 at the Houston Open.

Even over the final hour, a half-dozen players were still in the mix. All that was missing was the sound and energy of a gallery, with the PGA Tour not allowing spectators for the opening five events in its return.

Berger won for the third time — all victories during this week on the calendar, just not in circumstances like this. It was the first PGA Tour event since March 12 when the spread of the new coronavirus shut down golf and other sports.

From no positive tests to a dynamic finish at history-rich Colonial, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan sized up the week by saying, “This has been a phenomenal start to our return.”

Morikawa has been equally steady. Since graduating from Cal a year ago, he has won and made every cut, a streak now at 21 events, the longest streak by a newcomer since Tiger Woods.

He took a share of the lead with a 50-foot putt on the 14th hole. It was the short ones that hurt. Morikawa also missed a birdie putt from 6 feet on the 18th hole in a 67.

Berger was the only one who delivered, making a 10-foot birdie on the final hole that put him at 15-under 265. The last time Berger was in a playoff, Jordan Spieth holed a bunker shot to beat him at the Travelers Championship. So he could feel for what Morikawa felt in the loss.

“It’s going to hurt for a little while, but he’ll get over it and he’ll be winning again,” Berger said.

Even the optimism of being back to golf didn’t eliminate the sting, and more than Morikawa felt it.

Xander Schauffele gave new meaning to the phrase “Horrible Horseshoe” at Colonial.

He hit into the water on the 15th from a fairway bunker, hit a poor chip after the penalty shot and then made a 30-footer to escape with a bogey. He followed with a 25-foot birdie to regain a share of the lead. And then his 3-foot par putt on the 17th hole dipped in one side of the hole and spun out of the other.

His 25-foot birdie putt to join the playoff came up just short and he shot 69.

Bryson DeChambeau cringed when his 12-foot birdie putt on the 18th narrowly missed, giving him a 66 and leaving him one shot out of the playoff. Ditto for Justin Rose, whose 18-foot birdie on the last hole was a turn short. He also had 66. Jason Kokrak finished well ahead of everyone else. he also missed a birdie on the last hole in his round of 64.

Spieth, trying to end three years without a victory, left with a consolation prize of progress. He missed a 2-foot par putt on the sixth hole — part of three bogeys in a four-hole stretch — but was still in the mix until a tee shot out of bounds on the 14th. Even then, he made a 35-foot putt to save bogey. He wound up with a 71 and tied for 10th.

Rory McIlroy had seven straight tournaments no worse than fifth, a streak that came to a stunning halt. Starting the final round three shots behind, he was 5 over through seven holes and closed with a 74 to tie for 32nd.

The final round was as wild as expected with eight players taking turns or sharing time in the lead, all without having any idea without fans to give a hint of what was going on.

“If there are fans and everything with the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs,’ I’d probably be a little more (ticked) off,” Schauffele said. “Maybe that’s a good thing for me right now. But it was definitely weird. It was sort of an internal battle, which it always is for me, but more so internal this week just with no fans.”


Shan Masood ‘has proved himself in England’ as marathon century puts Pakistan on top

Updated 07 August 2020

Shan Masood ‘has proved himself in England’ as marathon century puts Pakistan on top

  • Masood becomes one of just six Pakistan batsmen to have scored a hundred in three consecutive Test innings
  • His Test-best 156 was the cornerstone of Pakistan’s first-innings 326 all out, with England slumping to 12-3 in reply

Manchester: Pakistan coach Misbah-ul-Haq said Shan Masood had “proved himself in England” after the opener’s superb hundred helped leave the tourists well-placed in the first Test at Old Trafford on Thursday.
Masood’s Test-best 156 was the cornerstone of Pakistan’s first-innings 326 all out, with England slumping to 12-3 in reply.
The hosts ended the second day on 92-4 — a deficit of 264 runs — with star all-rounder Ben Stokes out for a duck and England captain Joe Root falling for 14.
Masood batted for nearly eight hours in difficult conditions and in the process joined Misbah and team batting coach Younis Khan as one of just six Pakistan batsmen to have scored a hundred in three consecutive Test innings.
This century following Masood’s 135 against Sri Lanka in Karachi in December and 100 against Bangladesh in Rawalpindi in February.
Yet the 30-year-old left-hander averaged a meagre 17.75 during Pakistan’s 2016 tour of England.
Masood stood firm in Manchester even though he was twice reprieved by Jos Buttler on 45, the wicketkeeper dropping a catch and missing a stumping off spinner Dom Bess.
“It was an excellent performance by him, especially against a seam attack of (Stuart) Broad, (James) Anderson, (Chris) Woakes and (Jofra) Archer, and against an off-spinner (Bess) that was bowling well on a pitch where there was turn,” said Misbah of the English-educated Masood’s fourth hundred in 21 Tests.
“It was good application and his hard work has paid off.
“Now he has proved himself here in England, so I’m really pleased, especially as it’s not (just) a hundred, (but) a big hundred.
“Still, we would have been in trouble if he only scored a hundred. But hundred-and-fifty plus, and through the innings, that was really special.”
A good day for Pakistan got even better with Stokes clean bowled for nought by Mohammad Abbas during a slump that had the hosts three down inside six overs.
Abbas also removed opener Dom Sibley on his way to close figures of 2-24 in seven overs, with towering left-arm quick Shaheen Afridi making the initial breakthrough with just the fourth ball of the innings when Rory Burns was plumb lbw.
“I’m so happy — it’s crucial for you to take wickets with the new ball especially when the game is like this and you are playing with just 326 runs on the board,” said Misbah.
Ollie Pope was 46 not out at stumps, with Buttler unbeaten on 15.
Archer, who took 3-59, backed the fifth-wicket duo to stage a recovery.
“I rate Jos highly, he’s a very talented batter and there’s no doubt him and Popey can dig us out of a hole and put on a really big partnership and swing the momentum in our favor,” said the fast bowler.
The day started brilliantly for England when, with Thursday’s sixth ball, James Anderson had Babar Azam edging to first-slip Root for 69 without Pakistan having then added to their overnight 139.
But the resolute Masood remained and received excellent support from Shadab Khan (45) in a stand of 105 after Pakistan had been struggling at 176-5.
Pakistan managed just 48 runs for the loss of three wickets in Thursday’s first session to reach 187-5 at lunch.
But with five overs until the new ball, Root then bowled his own occasional off-breaks in tandem with Bess immediately after the interval.
Masood and Shadab responded by adding 27 in those overs as they ran England ragged.
Shadab holed out off Bess but Masood cruised through the 90s, with two late-cut fours off Broad taking him to 96 before he completed his first Test hundred against England.
Playing a textbook opener’s innings, he then upped the tempo by hoisting and driving Bess for two sixes.
Masood eventually fell lbw after tea to Broad, having faced 319 balls in an innings that also included 18 fours.