McIlroy chasing first back-to-back at Players Championship

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland putts on the 17th green during a practice round prior to The PLAYERS Championship on The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on March 10, 2020 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images/AFP)
Updated 12 March 2020

McIlroy chasing first back-to-back at Players Championship

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, US: Rory McIlroy has his eye on a piece of PGA Tour history this week as he targets a successful defense of The Players Championship.
The world number one arrives at Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida aiming to become the first player to go back-to-back at TPC Sawgrass.
"I don't think you ever need an extra motivation when you come to this golf tournament, but to be the first one to defend here would be very cool," McIlroy told reporters on Tuesday.
McIlroy will tee off on Thursday after an encouraging start to the season that has seen him post five top-five finishes in six starts.
He was in the hunt for victory at last weekend's Arnold Palmer Invitational but slid out of contention after two double-bogeys on the final round.
Nevertheless, the Northern Irishman sees similarities between his start to this season and last year, when he bagged the first of four wins in 2019 at The Players after a run of consistent performances.
"It's nice to be back," McIlroy said. "A lot of similarities between this year and last year in terms of how I've played the first few events of the year, given myself some chances, haven't quite been able to capitalize, and yeah, obviously would be wonderful to replicate what happened last year."
Webb Simpson, the 2018 Players Champion, will not be surprised if McIlroy ends up walking away with the $2.7 million winner's cheque this weekend.
Simpson believes the 30-year-old McIlroy is comfortably the world's best player.
"Not needing to say this, but he's certainly the best player in the world right now," Simpson said. "He's floated in and out of the best player in the world for his whole career it seems like.
"His bad play and bad stretches is better than most every guy out here. And when he's playing his best, he's hard to beat.
"He's already created the opinion that he's going to go down as one of the great players ever in golf, which is great for him, great for us, great for our Tour. He's one of those guys that you expect to be in contention every week."
This week's tournament -- often described as golf's fifth unofficial major -- is taking place against the backdrop of the coronavirus crisis that has decimated the global sporting landscape.
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said the tour had set up a task force of officials who were monitoring the outbreak on a day-to-day basis.
"I think it goes without saying that the health, safety, wellbeing of our players, our fans, our tournaments, everybody that's involved in our ecosystem is of utmost importance," Monahan said.


LaLiga Academy UAE launches 2020/2021 season at new home at Dubai Sports City

Updated 05 August 2020

LaLiga Academy UAE launches 2020/2021 season at new home at Dubai Sports City

  • Over the past three seasons, Liga Academy UAE has changed the face of youth football training in the nation

DUBAI: LaLiga Academy UAE, developed by Spain's LaLiga, announced on Tuesday the launch of its 2020/2021 season, welcoming all players at its brand-new home at Dubai Sports City.

Over the past three seasons, Liga Academy UAE has changed the face of youth football training in the nation, with over 2,000 male and female players learning to play football the LaLiga way.

With the move, LaLiga Academy is bringing LaLiga’s global brand to Dubai Sports City, along with its superior youth football training program, executed to the Spanish league’s high standards, and with the same methodology that has developed the world’s best football players.

Moreover, the Football Academy at Dubai Sports City will be upgraded as a result of the LaLiga Academy high professional standards, offering young players the same training and development curriculum and methodology used at LaLiga clubs and delivered by a team of highly qualified LaLiga UEFA-Pro certified coaches.

Maite Ventura, LaLiga’s Managing Director for the Middle East and North Africa said, commenting on the announcement: “With the move of LaLiga Academy, we are delighted to bring LaLiga’s brand and gold standard in training to Dubai Sports City, harnessing the venue’s world-class facilities. This reflects our commitment to advance youth football in the UAE, and we are confident that the Academy’s football program delivered to the highest standards at the hands of our LaLiga coaches, will create a pipeline of professional players right from the Academy.”

Hussein Murad, CEO of Inspiratus Consulting LLC, the sports management agency for LaLiga Academy said: “We are delighted to announce Dubai Sports City, which boasts one of the region’s best sports facilities, as the new home of LaLiga Academy in Dubai, in line with our mission to offer young players an immersive and professional football academy experience with a LaLiga high-level training and development program.”

He added: “In three short years, LaLiga Academy has established itself as a football academy in a league of its own, powered by LaLiga, and we look forward to continue growing in line with the UAE’s goals to elevate the standard of football in the nation.”

Open to boys and girls from 4 to 17 years of all abilities, LaLiga Academy, delivers the highest standard of Spanish football training, while providing a pathway to professional football careers and scholarships to top universities. Players will improve their football skills and develop their technical, tactical, physical, social and mental abilities through age-specific coaching sessions and personalized development programs.