Rory McIlroy eyes Masters glory after getting back on title-winning trail

Updated 18 March 2019
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Rory McIlroy eyes Masters glory after getting back on title-winning trail

LONDON: Rory McIlroy has won four of the five biggest events in golf after his one-stroke victory at the Players Championship in Florida on Sunday and is slowly turning his sights on the fifth — next month’s Masters at Augusta National.
A victory at the April 11-14 tournament would make him the sixth man to complete the modern grand slam of all four Majors — the Masters, US Open, The Open and PGA Championship — and the second this century after Tiger Woods.
McIlroy, who won his last mMajor in 2014, has had four cracks at completing the grand slam, but he has never gone to Augusta with quite the sort of consistent form he has displayed in 2019.
The Northern Irishman had not finished worse than sixth in five starts and he finally closed the deal on St. Patrick’s Day at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach.
He also leapt to fourth in the world rankings, his highest position in almost 18 months, and collected more than $2 million for the victory, but it did not take long for talk to turn to another type of green, namely the Green Jacket.
“If I go to Augusta with a similar golf game to what I have now and the attitude I’ve shown over the first few weeks of the year, I think I’ll have a great chance,” he said.
If nothing else, Sunday’s victory will silence the critics who had observed that McIlroy for all his consistency had appeared to have lost the closer’s instinct, having not won for almost a year.
“Even with some noise around me, ‘he can’t close, he can’t plays on Sundays’, blah, blah, blah, I’ve just got to do my thing,” he said.
“And if I go and I concentrate on me, control what I can do, good golf and good attitude takes care of the rest.
“(But) I don’t want to look too far ahead.
“I really want to enjoy this. I’ve actually got an interior design meeting tomorrow morning to pick out some stuff for our new house, so that’s the next port of call.
“I’ll turn my attention to what’s coming up in a few days’ time.”


Embiid returns to help 76ers beat Nets for 3-1 lead

Updated 5 min 15 sec ago
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Embiid returns to help 76ers beat Nets for 3-1 lead

  • The 76ers seized a 3-1 lead in the first-round series against the Nets

NEW YORK: Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid returned from injury to score a game-high 31 points and grab 16 rebounds, powering the 76ers to a 112-108 NBA playoff victory at Brooklyn on Saturday.
Despite a third-quarter incident that saw two players ejected, the 76ers seized a 3-1 lead in the first-round series against the Nets and could advance in the Eastern Conference best-of-seven matchup with a home victory Tuesday.
In the other Eastern Conference game, Khris Middleton finished with 20 points and nine rebounds as the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks put the Detroit Pistons on the brink of elimination with a 119-103 win. The victory give the Bucks a 3-0 lead and they can wrap up the series with a win on the road in the Motor City on Monday.
Philadelphia, down by 10 points early in the third quarter, battled back most of the second half before taking the lead on a run of eight points by Embiid, who missed game three with a sore left knee.
A slam dunk and layup by Embiid gave the 76ers their first late lead at 102-101 but, after an exchange of layups and three-pointers as well as turnovers, fell behind 108-107 on a basket by Brooklyn’s Joe Harris with 25 seconds remaining.
On the next 76er possession, Embiid flipped the last of his seven assists to Mike Scott, whose corner three-pointer put Philadelphia ahead to stay 110-108 with 19 seconds remaining.
Australian Ben Simmons — who added 15 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the 76ers — stole the ball from Brooklyn’s Jarett Allen and Tobias Harris sank two free throws for the last of his 24 points to clinch the triumph.
Caris LeVert led the Nets with 25 points while Brooklyn had 21 points each from Allen and D’Angelo Russell.
Cameroon star center Embiid was issued a flagrant foul in touching off an altercation 4:18 into the third quarter that saw Philadelphia’s Jimmy Butler Brooklyn’s Jared Dudley ejected. Embiid, who had elbowed Allen in the face in game two, was whistled for a hard foul on Allen that prompted Dudley to rush at Embiid, taking down the Sixers big man. Butler swung his left arm at Dudley, who wound up in the front row seats with Simmons at one stage, to earn his ejection.
In Detroit, Brook Lopez tallied 19 points and had seven rebounds and five blocked shots and Eric Bledsoe scored 19 points for the Bucks.
Giannis Antetokounmpo delivered 14 points and 10 rebounds for his third straight double-double in the series and Nikola Mirotic chipped in 12 points.
Detroit’s hobbled star Blake Griffin had 27 points in 31 minutes after he missed the first two games of the series with a sore knee.
Griffin was cleared with his leg heavily wrapped but it didn’t change the outcome.
The Pistons have now lost 13 straight playoff games dating back to 2008. In the Western Conference, the Denver Nuggets — led by game highs of 29 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists from Serbian playmaker Nikola Jokic — pulled level with San Antonio at 2-2 in their opening series with a 117-103 road triumph over the Spurs.