Lexi Thompson shoots 68 to take 1st-round lead at the Women’s PGA Championship

Lexi Thompson of the US after making a birdie on the ninth hole during the first round of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship at Sahalee Country Club on June 20, 2024 in Sammamish, Washington. (AFP)
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Updated 21 June 2024
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Lexi Thompson shoots 68 to take 1st-round lead at the Women’s PGA Championship

  • Thompson made six birdies on her way to a one-shot lead over Nelly Korda and Patty Tavatanakit
  • She won the last of her 11 LPGA Tour titles at the ShopRite LPGA Classic in June 2019

SAMMAMISH: Lexi Thompson knew some form of the question was coming after shooting a 4-under 68 and taking the first-round lead Thursday in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

Would a major title change her plans about retiring from playing full-time on the LPGA Tour?

“I’m just taking it one day at a time. I made my announcement. I’m very content with it,” Thompson said. “Golf is a crazy game, so I’m not going to look too far ahead.”

Thompson made six birdies on her way to a one-shot lead over Nelly Korda and Patty Tavatanakit.

Teeing off in the afternoon as temperatures climbed into the 80s and dried out Sahalee Country Club, Thompson started hot with three straight birdies to open her round and built on last week when she lost in a playoff at the Meijer LPGA Classic.

The 29-year-old Thompson, who recently announced her plans to retire after the season, shot a bogey-free 32 on the front nine, capped with a 6-foot birdie on the par-3 ninth. After a bogey at No. 10, Thompson rebounded with birdies at Nos. 12 and 14 before another bogey at the 16th.

She won the last of her 11 LPGA Tour titles at the ShopRite LPGA Classic in June 2019. The 68 is her lowest round in a major since a 67 in the second round of the Women’s PGA two years ago at Congressional.

“My approach shots felt great,” Thompson said. “They felt really good last week, so just trying to simplify things and get in a rhythm with my swing.”

Korda shot 69 in the morning, and Tavatanakit matched it in the afternoon with a bogey-free round.

The top-ranked Korda missed the cuts in the US Women’s Open and the Meijer LPGA Classic in her last two starts after winning six of seven events, a run that started with a record-tying five straight victories.

Korda started on the back nine and made four birdies on her first five holes. But parts of the morning were a scramble for Korda as the Douglass fir, red cedar and hemlock trees of Sahalee played their role in making it a challenge. A double bogey on the par-4 fourth hole dropped her back to 2 under.

“If you try and be aggressive when you’ve hit it off line, it just bites you in the butt,” Korda said. “Overall, I think I played pretty well. I took my chances where I could and I played safe the majority of the round.”

Korda made a 15-foot putt on the par-3 ninth hole — her final hole — to take the early lead.

There was another group of players at 2 under, including Allizen Corpuz, Celine Boutier, Charley Hull and Leona Maguire. Maguire led this tournament after the third round last year at Baltusrol, but shot 74 on the final day and finished four shots back of the winner, Ruoning Yin.

Playing with Korda, Yin rebounded from a rough start and shot 33 on her second nine to shoot 71.

“Luckily hit it pretty straight today. Hit a lot of fairways and greens. But it does feel like a course where once you’re out of position it’s tough to get back on track,” said Corpuz, who has an outside chance of making the Olympics for the United States with a strong finish this week.

The third major of the year on the LPGA Tour returned to Sahalee, which previously hosted in 2016. And the tree-lined course showed its difficulty.

Lilia Vu, who won last week in her return from a back injury, shot 75. Yuka Saso, the US Open winner three weeks ago, made four consecutive bogeys on the back nine and finished at 2-over 74. Brooke Henderson, who won in 2016, shot 73.

Korda got off to a far better start than her last major, when she shot 80 in the opening round of the US Women’s Open three weeks ago.

Korda’s early run of birdies included three straight between Nos. 13-15 and she and went out in 33. She moved to 4 under after a birdie on the third hole — her 12th of the day — but dropped two shots on the fourth.

“This entire golf course is so demanding,” Korda said. “I had to make some pretty good up-and-downs.”


Riyadh to host African Super Cup between Egyptian rivals Al Ahly, Zamalek

Updated 13 July 2024
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Riyadh to host African Super Cup between Egyptian rivals Al Ahly, Zamalek

RIYADH: Riyadh will host the CAF Super Cup between two of Africa’s top teams in September, organizers announced on Friday.

The head-to-head will see the current African Champion League holders Al Ahly take on fellow Egyptian side Zamalek, who are the current African Confederation champions.

Confédération Africaine de Football President Patrice  Motsepe said: “The partnership between CAF and Saudi Arabia is based on the excellent relationship and mutual commitment of both parties.”

Turki Alalshikh said: "We are delighted to host the African Super Cup at Riyadh Season, which represents one of the most important tournaments on the African continent.”

The match will take place on Sept. 27, but the venue and kick-off time are yet to be announced.

Both teams clashed in the Egypt Cup in the Saudi capital in March, with Al Ahly beating their city rivals 2-0 and winning the trophy for the 39th time.

Al Ahly finished third in the Saudi-hosted FIFA Club World Cup in December, with English champions Manchester City defeating Brazil’s Fluminense in the final.


Saudi PIF increases stake in Newcastle United as co-owner Amanda Staveley departs

Updated 13 July 2024
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Saudi PIF increases stake in Newcastle United as co-owner Amanda Staveley departs

  • The Public Investment Fund’s stake in the English Premier League club increases from 80% to 85%, while co-owner RB Sports and Media holds the remaining 15%
  • Club chairperson Yasir Al-Rumayyan says: ‘The ownership group … will continue to build on these foundations for long-term sustainable success for the team and our amazing fans”

NEWCASTLE: Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund has increased its ownership stake in English Premier League football club Newcastle United from 80 to 85 percent.
The agreement, confirmed by the club on Friday, marks the departure of husband-and-wife co-owners Amanda Staveley and Mehrdad Ghodoussi. As part of the consortium that took over the club almost three years ago, Staveley’s company PCP Capital Partners initially held a 10 percent ownership stake, though this was reduced to 6 percent last year when co-owner RB Sports and Media increased its stake from 10 to 14 percent; it will now rise to 15 percent.
The deal is expected to be completed this month, with the PIF and RB saying it is part of their long-term plans to develop the club and ensure it can be a consistently credible competitor in domestic and European competitions.
The PIF, RB and the Newcastle United board thanked Staveley and Ghodoussi for the key role they played in the acquisition of the club from former owner Mike Ashley, and for their dedication to the development of a framework for long-term success over the past two-and-a-half years.
Newcastle’s chairperson, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, said: “Amanda and Mehrdad will forever have our tremendous thanks and well-wishes as they move on to focus on their other business interests. We have achieved so much together since 2021, including achieving Champions League football in our first full season as stewards of this incredible club.
“The ownership group, together with CEO Darren Eales and the club’s executive team, will continue to build on these foundations for long-term, sustainable success for the team and our amazing fans, and we are excited about the future prospects for Newcastle United.”
Staveley described Newcastle as a special, unique club and said being its co-owner has been an honor.
“Mehrdad and I have loved being part of this club and community and are extremely proud of the progress Newcastle United has made in recent years,” she added.
“Our ambition has always been aligned to the brilliant fans of this club: to create consistently successful teams that regularly compete for major trophies and generate pride across the globe.
“We are grateful to have played our part in setting up the club for even more future success. We will remain fans for life.”


Defending champion Alcaraz into Wimbledon final

Updated 12 July 2024
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Defending champion Alcaraz into Wimbledon final

  • World number three Alcaraz beat his fifth-ranked opponent 6-7 (1/7), 6-3, 6-4, 6-4
  • He will face either seven-time champion Novak Djokovic or Lorenzo Musetti

LONDON: Defending champion Carlos Alcaraz reached his fourth Grand Slam final at Wimbledon on Friday when he recovered from a set down to defeat Daniil Medvedev.
World number three Alcaraz beat his fifth-ranked opponent 6-7 (1/7), 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 and will face either seven-time champion Novak Djokovic or Lorenzo Musetti for the title on Sunday.
Twice Medvedev led with breaks in the first set only to be pinned back by Alcaraz.
Such was his frustration that he was handed a warning for unsportsmanlike conduct by umpire Eva Asderaki for an apparent foul-mouthed reaction to a ball called for bouncing twice as he was broken in the ninth game.
The tournament referee was even summoned to Center Court by Asderaki, but Medvedev shrugged off the incident to sweep through the tie-break and take the opening set in which he committed only eight unforced errors to the Spaniard’s 15.
It was the third time at this year’s Wimbledon that Alcaraz had dropped the first set.
Alcaraz recovered impressively, breaking Medvedev for a 3-1 lead in the second having come out on top in the previous game on the back of a 27-shot rally.
The 21-year-old then hit 14 winners in the third set, pocketing the only break in the third game.
Medvedev, who had knocked out world number one Jannik Sinner in the quarter-finals, retrieved a break early in the fourth set.
But Alcaraz kept up his assault, edging ahead again for 4-3 on his way to victory.


England great Anderson retires with one final flourish

Updated 12 July 2024
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England great Anderson retires with one final flourish

  • Anderson signed off from international cricket with his 704th and final wicket on Friday, ending a glittering 21-year career
  • West Indies skipper Kraigg Brathwaite said he was a “legend of the game,” but understandably would not miss facing him

LONDON: James Anderson signed off from international cricket with his 704th and final wicket on Friday, ending a glittering 21-year career during England’s emphatic win over West Indies and prompting tributes from teammates and fellow greats.

The seamer, aged 41 years and 348 days, had Joshua Da Silva caught behind on his final day of test cricket. He spurned a golden opportunity to make it 705 wickets, shelling a simple catch from Gudakesh Motie and smiled ruefully at the miss.

“I am still gutted I dropped that catch,” he told Sky Sports as he sat in the England dressing room with a pint.

It was the only negative for Anderson on a day in which he demonstrated his skill one final time for an appreciative Lord’s crowd, repeatedly beating the outside edge with seam and swing.

Anderson, who finished with match figures of 4-58, said he would miss competing at the highest level, adding that there was “no better feeling” than winning a test match.

Asked what he was going to do next, Anderson – who is joining the England coaching set-up – added: “I’ve not really thought that far ahead.

“I’m going to stick around with these guys for the rest of the summer, try and help the bowling group out as much as I can and we’ll see where life takes us after that.”

Anderson has certainly earned a rest, having sent down his 40,000th delivery in test cricket late on day two, more than any other seam bowler and putting him fourth on the all-time list.

England captain Ben Stokes described Anderson as “an incredible inspiration for so many people,” adding: “He’s really keen to help the fast bowlers (in his coaching role). I don’t think I could think of a better person to be able to do that.”

West Indies skipper Kraigg Brathwaite said he was a “legend of the game,” but understandably would not miss facing him.

England & Wales Cricket Board chief executive Richard Gould said in a statement: “Jimmy has rightly earned a place as one of the all-time iconic names from world cricket.

“It is testament to the way he has combined his rare talent with outstanding professionalism and work ethic that he bows out still bowling so well more than 20 years after his Test debut.”

India great Sachin Tendulkar said on X: “It has been a joy to watch you bowl — with that action, speed, accuracy, swing and fitness. You’ve inspired generations with your game.”

While Anderson leaves big shoes to fill, Gus Atkinson took 12 wickets in an impressive performance on debut as England cruised to victory by an innings and 114 runs.

Anderson was full of praise for Atkinson, despite the paceman’s wickets denying him a chance to catch Shane Warne (708) in second on the list of all-time test wicket takers.

“He’s going to be an amazing cricketer for England,” Anderson said.

And Stokes told reporters that Atkinson had even apologized to Anderson for taking the final wicket, which led to one last example of the 41-year-old’s competitive spirit.

“Jimmy told him to eff off,” Stokes said.
 


Spain winning Euro priority not Golden Boot race with Kane: Olmo

Updated 12 July 2024
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Spain winning Euro priority not Golden Boot race with Kane: Olmo

  • Olmo and Kane are tied on three goals with four other players and if either score in the final on Sunday in Berlin they will likely claim the prize
  • However, with Spain angling for a record fourth European Championship, Olmo said the team’s target was far more important than his own individual glory

DONAUESCHINGEN, Germany: Spain playmaker Dani Olmo is vying for the Euro 2024 golden boot with England’s Harry Kane, but said Friday he doesn’t care about winning it as long as his team lifts the trophy.
Olmo and Kane are tied on three goals with four other players and if either score in the final on Sunday in Berlin they will likely claim the prize.
However, with Spain angling for a record fourth European Championship, Olmo said the team’s target was far more important than his own individual glory.
“It’s an extra motivation, if there’s even room for that, but look, as long as we win, I don’t care if I score or if (Spain goalkeeper) Unai Simon does,” Olmo told reporters.
“I don’t care at all, the important thing is winning the game, but I always have the objective of helping to chip in.”
Olmo has also created two goals for his team-mates but unlike in the past when that was used as a tie-breaker, the award will be shared by any players joint-top of the charts.
The RB Leipzig midfielder did not start the tournament as part of Spain coach Luis de la Fuente’s first choice side but made a strong impact off the bench when given the chance.
Olmo replaced the injured Pedri in the quarter-final win over hosts Germany, scoring and setting up the winner for Mikel Merino.
The midfielder also struck against France in the semifinal and has scored in all three knock-out rounds Spain have played.
“In this tournament I feel very good, in a great moment of form, so I have to keep taking advantage of it,” continued the 26-year-old.
“It’s true (Kane and I) are tied, but there are other players too who have helped us get here, with goals and good play.
“Speaking of goals, Fabian (Ruiz) has two goals, Alvaro (Morata) has one — if he scores a hat-trick then he will win it, and we’d be just as happy — it doesn’t matter who scores, the main thing is the team.”
Olmo scored a hat-trick for Leipzig as they beat Bayern Munich 3-0 in the German Supercup final on Kane’s debut for the Bavarian giants last August.
The England captain has still not won a trophy in his career at club or international level, finishing a runner-up with England in the Euro 2020 final.
Kane, 30, has struggled for form and peak fitness at the Euros despite managing three goals.
“Of course it would be a dream to score a hat-trick (again) and win it,” added Olmo.
“But I repeat, the goal is just to win it.”