Horschel’s big eagle secures a big win at the Memorial

Billy Horschel of the US poses with Jack Nicklaus and trophy after winning the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday at Muirfield Village Golf Club on June 05, 2022 in Dublin, Ohio. (AFP)
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Updated 06 June 2022

Horschel’s big eagle secures a big win at the Memorial

  • Horschel moves to just outside the top 10 in the world, the highest he has ever been, thanks to a year that finally has brought some consistency in a hit-and-miss game

DUBLIN, Ohio: Billy Horschel ended any doubt about his victory at Muirfield Village with an eagle putt from one end of the green to the other on the 15th hole, sending him to a four-shot victory Sunday at the Memorial.

Horschel was staked to a five-shot lead at the start of a sun-soaked final round and no one ever got closer than two shots. He closed with an even-par 72.

There still a few nervous moments.

Horschel’s streak of 49 consecutive holes without a bogey ended on the sixth hole. He didn’t make his first birdie until the 10th hole. He had to scramble for bogey on the par-3 12th that dropped his lead to two over Aaron Wise.

Before the long eagle, Horschel saved himself with par putts of 12 feet on the 13th hole and 8 feet on 14.

And then it was over. From the front of the green on the par-5 15th, Horschel’s putt from just inside 55 feet had the perfect line and perfect speed, bending left and dropping in the left side of the cup as he stretched out both arms in a quiet, disbelieving celebration.

“Just like you, big man,” Horschel said to tournament host Jack Nicklaus when it was over.

His lead was up to four shots, and it was a comfortable finish. Horschel finished at 13-under 275 and won $2.16 million, the largest paycheck of his career. As an elevated event, the win comes with a three-year exemption.

Horschel said he has learned from Tiger Woods and Nicklaus that he didn’t need to do anything special with a five-shot lead unless the moment called for it. It was calling on the 15th hole after Wise stuffed a wedge into 2 feet for birdie.

“If I had to do something special, I was ready for it,” he said. “Making that was huge.”

Wise did what he could in a final round so difficult that no one shot better than 69. He and Joaquin Niemann were the only players to apply any serious pressure on Horschel. He opened the back nine with a pair of birdies sand saved par from the back bunker on the 12th. But he dropped a shot on the 13th just as Horschel was looking shaky.

Wise made a meaningless bogey on the final hole for a 71 to finish alone in second.

Cameron Smith, who had the 36-hole lead, also started five shots behind. He had a pair of double bogeys for a 42 on the front nine and was never a factor.

Niemann, who won another elevated event at Riviera in the Genesis Invitational, made a strong move and was creeping within range until his wedge on the 14th found a bunker, leading to double bogey. He answered with two birdies, finished with a double bogey and shot 71. He tied for third with defending champion Patrick Cantlay (71).

Before the handshake with Nicklaus, Horschel was mobbed by his three children. He now has seven PGA Tour victories. His wife has watched him win. His parents have seen him win. This was the first time his children were there, and they were bouncing on the firm greens.

That might have been as great as any pressure as Horschel felt.

“Having a five-shot lead, knowing it was mine to win, I really wanted to get the monkey off my back,” he said of winning with his kids in attendance.

Horschel moves to just outside the top 10 in the world, the highest he has ever been, thanks to a year that finally has brought some consistency in a hit-and-miss game. He has three victories in the last 15 months, all of them against strong fields — the Dell Match Play and the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth last year, and now this.

It might even be enough to finally be considered for a US team with the Presidents Cup later this year.


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.