Jason Day ‘obsessed’ with new swing, leads Wells Fargo with 7-under 63

Jason Day of Australia lines up his putt on the 18th green during the first round of the Wells Fargo Championship at TPC Potomac Clubhouse on May 05, 2022 in Potomac, Maryland. (AFP)
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Updated 06 May 2022

Jason Day ‘obsessed’ with new swing, leads Wells Fargo with 7-under 63

  • The 34-year-old Day has been working with instructor Chris Como on a swing that will protect his chronically balky back

POTOMAC, Md.: Three years and 364 days since his last victory, Jason Day describes himself as “obsessed” with honing his new swing and improving his results, even if he never gets back to No. 1 in the world.

There wasn’t much room for improvement Thursday as Day shot a 7-under 63 to take the first-round lead at the Wells Fargo Championship. Joel Dahmen was a shot back on what could be the best day for scoring at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm, with rain, wind and unseasonably cool temperatures in the forecast through Sunday.

“Obviously, we’ve got some weather coming in, so I feel like we’re going to go into grind mode over the next few days, which I typically like,” Day said. “It’s going to be difficult.”

The 34-year-old Day has been working with instructor Chris Como on a swing that will protect his chronically balky back, and he says it feels solid with every club except the driver. His renewed dedication and relative good health are encouraging signs from a player who won eight times in a 15-month span in 2015-16, including the PGA Championship and the Players Championship.

“I think about the golf swing in the morning, I think about the golf swing during the day and I think about the golf swing at night,” Day said. “There’s been conversations at 12 at night with Chris just because I have an idea in my head and a certain sensation and a feel.”

Day’s last win came in this tournament at Quail Hollow. The Wells Fargo moved to the Maryland suburbs of Washington this year because its usual venue is hosting the Presidents Cup in September.

The International team at that event would surely welcome a resurgent Day, who made five of his eight birdies from inside 10 feet on Thursday. The Australian took the lead with a chip-in on the par-4 15th hole.

“The thing that’s different between now and when I was No. 1 in the world, even though the technique might not have been as crisp as it is right now, I had all the confidence in the world, especially on the greens. So that’s always the goal,” Day said.

Matthew Wolff, local favorite Denny McCarthy and PGA Tour rookies Aaron Rai, Callum Tarren and Paul Barjon were two shots back. Rory McIlroy, the top-ranked player in the field at No. 7, had an up-and-down 67.

Wolff’s previous two competitive rounds were an 81 and a 78 at the Masters, where the 23-year-old long-hitter finished behind every 60-something past champion in the field. He played a casual round at his home club a few days ago and lost every ball in his bag.

Beware the player with nonexistent expectations.

“I can go out and shoot 90 tomorrow and as long as I have a good attitude, I can put a check mark on this week and say that I’ve grown as a person and as a player and that’s just all I really care about right now,” Wolff said. “To be honest, it’s funny, but I’m not here to win a golf tournament, I’m here to have a good time.”

Dahmen enjoyed his quick surge to the top of the leaderboard. After a 7-iron from 173 yards to 7 feet on the par-4 eighth hole, he stared at the scoreboard behind the green while waiting for playing partners Patrick Reed and Jason Dufner. Then he holed the putt to reach 6 under.

“I like seeing my name up there. It’s something that, you know, that’s what we work for, right? To have a little bit of pressure in the first round I think is great,” Dahmen said.

Dahmen’s putter cooled on the back nine, but he finally made another birdie when he missed an ace by inches at the par-3 17th.

McIlroy’s only big mistake was a tee shot that started too far left and drew into the water on the par-4 fourth, his 13th of the day. A penalty drop and a sloppy chip led to double bogey, but he rebounded with birdies on the next two holes.

“I said to myself walking off the green, if I could just get back to 3 under for the day by the end of the day after that, I would be pretty happy, and obviously I did that,” McIlroy said.

Rickie Fowler hit two shots into the right-side wetlands on the par-4 sixth, then holed out from 134 yards to save bogey. He hit driver to 11 feet for eagle on the 305-yard, par-4 13th in a round of 66 that he summed up as “interesting.”

“There was a couple that were a little offline and cost me a little bit early in the round, but other than that, a lot of good stuff,” said Fowler, who is working through swing changes and has dropped to 146th in the world. “Definitely happy with today.”


France’s Kamara to miss World Cup due to knee injury

Updated 5 sec ago

France’s Kamara to miss World Cup due to knee injury

BIRMINGHAM, England: France midfielder Boubacar Kamara has been ruled out of the World Cup after sustaining knee ligament damage.
Kamara was injured while playing for Aston Villa in a 1-0 win against Southampton this month.
The 22-year-old Kamara was picked in France’s Nations League games this month but had to withdraw.
Villa manager Steven Gerrard confirmed the extent of Kamara’s injury on Friday ahead of an English Premier League game against Leeds on Sunday.
“Bouba will be missing until after the World Cup unfortunately, so that’s a huge blow,” Gerrard said.
Kamara joined Villa from Marseille on a free transfer in July and has started every game.
He forced his way into Didier Deschamps’ plans to successfully defend the World Cup.

IOC’s Bach eyes return to sports for anti-war Russians

Updated 38 min 42 sec ago

IOC’s Bach eyes return to sports for anti-war Russians

  • “It’s about having athletes with a Russian passport who do not support the war back in competition,” said Bach
  • Most sports followed International Olympic Committee advice in February and banned Russian team and athletes from their events

GENEVA: Russian athletes who do not endorse their country’s war in Ukraine could be accepted back into international sports, IOC president Thomas Bach said in an interview published Friday.
“It’s about having athletes with a Russian passport who do not support the war back in competition,” Bach told Italian daily Corriere della Sera, adding, “We have to think about the future.”
Most sports followed International Olympic Committee advice in February and banned Russian team and athletes from their events within days of the country’s military invasion of Ukraine.
With Russians starting to miss events that feed into qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics, an exile extending into next year could effectively become a wider ban from those Games.
In an interview in Rome, Bach hinted at IOC thinking after recent rounds of calls with Olympic stakeholders asked for views on Russia’s pathway back from pariah status.
“To be clear, it is not about necessarily having Russia back,” he said. “On the other hand — and here comes our dilemma — this war has not been started by the Russian athletes.”
Bach did not suggest how athletes could express opposition to the war when dissent and criticism of the Russian military risks jail sentences of several years.
Some Russian athletes publicly supported the war in March and are serving bans imposed by their sport’s governing body.
Olympic gold medalist swimmer Evgeny Rylov appeared at a pro-war rally attended by Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Gymnast Ivan Kuliak displayed a pro-military “Z” symbol on his uniform at an international event.
Russian former international athletes are being called up for military service in the current mobilization, according to media reports. They include former heavyweight boxing champion Nikolai Valuev and soccer player Diniyar Bilyaletdinov.
Russians have continued to compete during the war as individuals in tennis and cycling, without national symbols such as flags and anthems, even when teams have been banned.
In athletics, Russians have competed since 2015 only as neutrals approved by the sport’s governing body because of the state-backed doping scandal which tainted the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.
Bach and the IOC faced criticism in fallout from the scandal for not being strict enough with Russian athletes who competed at each Olympics since 2016 with extra vetting of their drug testing or as neutrals without their national team name, flag and anthem.
Bach told Corriere della Sera it was the IOC’s mission to be politically neutral and “to have the Olympic Games, and to have sport in general, as something that still unifies people and humanity.”
“For all these reasons, we are in a real dilemma at this moment with regard to the Russian invasion in Ukraine,” he suggested.
“We also have to see, and to study, to monitor, how and when we can come back to accomplish our mission to have everybody back again, under which format whatsoever.”
Bach was in Rome also for a sports forum hosted by the Vatican, where Pope Francis praised sports as “an educational and social good and it must remain so.”
“We should be committed to giving everyone the opportunity to play sports,” the pope said, “to cultivate — one could say to be ‘trained’ in — the values of sport and transform them into virtues.”
Vatican officials previously have said they would like to one day field a team recognized by the IOC in the Olympics.


Ten Hag committed to helping Maguire return to finest form

Updated 30 September 2022

Ten Hag committed to helping Maguire return to finest form

  • England international Maguire has been dropped at club level and is fighting for his place at the World Cup
  • Ten Hag is adamant protections are in place for all players and committed himself to returning Maguire to his finest form

MANCHESTER, England: Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has revealed measures are in place to protect players’ mental health at a time when club captain Harry Maguire has been the subject of intense criticism.
England international Maguire has been dropped at club level and is fighting for his place at the World Cup following an alarming dip in form.
It has seen him suffer growing abuse on social media and raised questions about his future at United.
But Ten Hag is adamant protections are in place for all players and committed himself to returning Maguire to his finest form.
Addressing concerns over the 29-year-old defender’s mental health, the United manager said: “But it’s an aspect of top football. It’s an aspect of our work. We set conditions for that, to manage it.
“We also have experts around to help, to coach the players, the team in the right direction.
“I think he is doing quite well, but every player has room for improvement and if he believes in his skills he will quickly be back on the level and even more than he did. I am convinced of that because I see his capabilities and it’s really high.”
Maguire has endured a miserable start to the season – losing his place to Raphael Varane at United, before making high-profile mistakes in England’s 3-3 draw with Germany on Monday.
It prompted the center back to publicly apologize on Instagram, adding: “The tough times will make us stronger.”
Fellow defender Luke Shaw aired his own concerns for his club and international teammate.
“He’s taken a lot of stick — probably more than I’ve ever seen before in football,” Shaw told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“Everybody knows he’s an unbelievable player. At the moment the confidence might not be there because it could feel like the whole world is against him.”
United legend Rio Ferdinand tweeted: “Feel for Harry . . . every mistake being punished and scrutinized — comes with the territory though.
“Needs to be strong mentally to get through this!”
Maguire is out of Sunday’s derby against Manchester City with a thigh injury – but is unlikely to have started even if fit after being dropped following the 4-0 defeat to Brentford last month.
Ten Hag had initially shown faith in him when retaining him as captain after taking over the club at the end of last season.
And he insists he still has belief in the player.
“First of all, of course I have to coach him,” he said. “I have to back him. But I back him because I believe in him.
“In the period I worked with him in pre-season was good. Really good, training and games. So then he fell out — but it’s also to do with the good performance of the center backs who are playing now. But I can see even after he wasn’t in the team he trained really well, but more important, the quality was there.
“You see his career, almost 50 caps for England. For Leicester and Man United he’s performing really well. What you see is he has a high potential. Then it is about him.
“The players in the dressing room, the coaches, the manager, we all believe in him. Now it is about him. That’s what I told him. I’m sure he can do it. He will turn around this. I am really convinced of that.”


Everton fined for field invasions last season

Updated 30 September 2022

Everton fined for field invasions last season

  • The club were fined $334,000 for on-field invasions during and after a 3-2 win against Crystal Palace on May 19
  • The dramatic victory secured top-flight safety for Frank Lampard’s team

LIVERPOOL, England: Everton are counting the cost of the jubilant but raucous scenes sparked after they avoided relegation from the English Premier League last season.
The club were fined 300,000 pounds ($334,000) for on-field invasions during and after a 3-2 win against Crystal Palace on May 19.
The dramatic victory secured top-flight safety for Frank Lampard’s team – and prompted wild celebrations at their Goodison Park home.
Fans ran onto the field when Dominic Calvert-Lewin struck a late winner. Everton had been trailing 2-0 at halftime and was closer to relegation from the league for the first time in their history.
Supporters ran on again after the final whistle, with one involved in an ugly altercation with Palace manager Patrick Vieira.
Everton were charged with misconduct in July, and on Friday the English Football Association confirmed sanctions imposed by an independent regulatory commission.
“Everton FC admitted failing to ensure that their spectators – and all persons purporting to be their supporters or followers – conducted themselves in an orderly fashion and refrained from using threatening and violent behavior whilst encroaching onto the pitch area,” the FA said in a statement.


Portuguese coach suspended after harassment accusations

Updated 30 September 2022

Portuguese coach suspended after harassment accusations

  • Famalicão said they were suspending coach Miguel Afonso “until the truth of the facts is ascertained”
  • Público said that it had contacted Afonso but he declined to comment on the accusations

LISBON, Portugal: Portuguese soccer club Famalicão suspended the coach of its women’s team on Friday after a leading newspaper in Portugal published accusations of verbal sexual harassment by him of his players at a previous club.
Famalicão said that “in view” of the report published by Público newspaper that they were suspending coach Miguel Afonso “until the truth of the facts is ascertained.”
The club said they were putting themself at the “total disposition of all parties involved and the competent authorities to assist in obtaining the truth.”
The alleged verbal harassment of players, some of which were 19 years old at the time, reportedly took place while Afonso coached fellow Portuguese club Rio Ave during the 2020-21 season.
Público said that it had contacted Afonso but he declined to comment on the accusations.
In a statement, Rio Ave acknowledged that they had been “aware of some circumstantial comments reported by athletes regarding alleged inappropriate approaches by the coach.”
But, Rio Ave said they took no action because “the coach denied such situations and, at the request of the athletes, the matter was not followed up.”
Famalicão, in a separate statement preceding the suspension of Afonso, said that when they hired Afonso they were not aware of the accusations.