Woods, Mickelson named in PGA Championship field

Woods, Mickelson named in PGA Championship field
Phil Mickelson is the defending champion at PGA Championship to be held next week at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma, while Tiger Woods has won the PGA Championship in 1999, 2000, 2006 and 2007. (Getty Images)
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Updated 10 May 2022

Woods, Mickelson named in PGA Championship field

Woods, Mickelson named in PGA Championship field
  • The buzz about Woods’ possible participation at Southern Hills intensified after he played a practice round at the course recently

LOS ANGELES: Former world No. 1 Tiger Woods and defending champion Phil Mickelson were both named in the field for next week’s PGA Championship on Monday.

Woods, who made a dramatic return from injuries sustained in a 2021 car crash at last month’s Masters, has not played since his final round at Augusta.

The 15-time major winner — including the PGA Championship in 1999, 2000, 2006 and 2007 — is yet to confirm he will tee it up at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for the second major of the 2022 campaign, on May 19-22.

The buzz about Woods’ possible participation at Southern Hills intensified after he played a practice round at the course recently.

Reports have said Woods plans to play the tournament barring setbacks.

Woods has said he hopes to play in the 150th British Open in July at St. Andrews and a two-day tune-up event in Ireland before that, but has not been firm about other tournaments, including the PGA Championship and the US Open in June in Boston.

Mickelson, meanwhile, has not played since triggering uproar in February following publication of his remarks made last year concerning the new Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf Series.

US reports said Monday that Mickelson has held talks with PGA of America officials about his schedule but has not decided whether he would defend his title.

“I think he’s trying to figure out when the right time is for him,” PGA of America chief executive Seth Waugh told the “5 Clubs Conversations” podcast.

“I think the game is trying to figure out the right time for him, too. How long is enough? And is he ready mentally and physically to do it?“


Wimbledon quarterfinalist Kyrgios due in court in Australia

Wimbledon quarterfinalist Kyrgios due in court in Australia
Updated 05 July 2022

Wimbledon quarterfinalist Kyrgios due in court in Australia

Wimbledon quarterfinalist Kyrgios due in court in Australia
  • Attorney Pierre Johannessen wrote that “the allegations are not considered as fact” by the court
  • The Canberra Times reported that Kyrgios is supposed to appear in court on Aug. 2

WIMBLEDON, England: Wimbledon quarterfinalist Nick Kyrgios is due in court back home in Australia next month.
A lawyer representing him said Tuesday the “precise nature of” the allegations “is neither certain at this moment nor confirmed by either the prosecution or” the 27-year-old professional tennis player.
“While Mr. Kyrgios is committed to addressing any and all allegations once clear, taking the matter seriously does not warrant any misreading of the process Mr. Kyrgios is required to follow,” attorney Pierre Johannessen wrote in a statement emailed to the media.
Johannessen wrote that “the allegations are not considered as fact” by the court, and Kyrgios is not “considered charged” with an offense until a first appearance in court.
The Canberra Times reported that Kyrgios is supposed to appear in court on Aug. 2. The newspaper cited local police as saying that a 27-year-old Australian man is involved in a case about “common assault following an incident in December 2021.”
Canberra police did not immediately respond to an after-hours request for comment emailed by The Associated Press.
Kyrgios is scheduled to play Cristian Garin at Wimbledon on Wednesday. It’s the third Grand Slam quarterfinal of the Australian’s career — he is 0-2 in the others — and first in 7 1/2 years.
An ATP spokesperson said: “The ATP is aware of the Australian case involving Nick Kyrgios but as legal proceedings are ongoing it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”


Christophe Galtier latest coach to try his hand at PSG job that Zidane shunned

Christophe Galtier latest coach to try his hand at PSG job that Zidane shunned
Updated 05 July 2022

Christophe Galtier latest coach to try his hand at PSG job that Zidane shunned

Christophe Galtier latest coach to try his hand at PSG job that Zidane shunned
  • The former Real Madrid coach was most people's first choice to replace Mauricio Pochettino

It’s official, Christophe Galtier is the new PSG coach. The latest man tasked with bringing home the club’s Holy Grail, the Champions League.

The former Nice coach will arrive in the French capital for around $10m, meaning the club has made loss of $20m euros on their managerial change after Mauricio Pochettino’s $10m compensation.

Galtier has been a thorn in PSG’s side in the last two years. In 2021, the 55-year-old took away the Ligue 1 title from the Parisians after a spectacular season with Lille.

This year, PSG were eliminated by Nice in the round of 16 of the Coupe de France, in addition to drawing in Ligue 1 at Parc des Princes and losing 1-0 in the return match played at Allianz Rivera.

The former Lille manager has gone five straight games without conceding a goal against PSG in what is a record since Qatar took over the team's management in 2011.

Paris Saint-Germain is not an easy club to coach, arguably the toughest in the world considering the expectations. Just winning the French title is not enough and failure in the Champions League almost certainly gets you fired.

Just look at Mauricio Pochettino. The Argentinian was able to win a Coupe de France title and a Ligue 1 title, but was still sacked despite still having a year on his contract.

Before Galtier became the latest chosen one, one man’s shadow was ineveitably cast over proceedings; Zinedine Zidane

And despite Nasser Al-Khelaifi having told “Le Parisien” newspaper several weeks ago that “we never spoke to him, either directly or indirectly”, Zidane was the primary choice from the start to replace Pochettino. The former Real Madrid coach, however, doesn't see the Paris Saint-Germain bench as an ideal place to work and develop his methods, having witnessed the fate other coaches who came before him.

They needn’t have bothered talking to him. They already knew the answer.

Zidane is very clear about where he wants to be, where he can feel fulfilled, free and happy. And right now, that is not PSG.

With a star-filled squad that includes Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi and Neymar at his disposal, it would have been easy for Zidane to accept the job. But the financial riches  - both for himself and to spend on the team - is no longer the sweet deal it was. As Pochettino found out, you often seem to be managing an unmotivated group of players who only have eyes for the Champions League.

Winning Ligue 1 at canter does not guarantee a club that is united and committed, that tactical discipline. Pochettino is another one who will leave with a feeling of failure that is arguably not his fault. It is yet another case of a coach overcome by the power that the players have, and especially the team’s biggest stars.

This project is not, for now, the right one for Zidane. Several coaches passed through the club, some of them his friends, and all have left unsatisfied, unfulfilled and very often unloved.

The list is long. Laurent Blanc, Carlo Ancelotti, Unai Emery, Thomas Tuchel, and now Pochettino. All arrived with the illusion and ambition of building a solid and lasting project and left disenchanted.

Zidane's profile - calm, charismatic and French - fits the criteria  for the management of PSG perfectly. It’s PSG's profile that doesn’t fit.

Unlike Christophe Galtier, Zidane has urgent desire to be European champion. He remains the coach who won three consecutive Champions Leagues, and in very recent memory.

Any new coach at PSG knew he would be surrounded by by Messi, Neymar, Mbappé, Sergio Ramos, Marco Verratti and many others. All very good players, but many of them worn out, and Zidane hardly needs the headache of managing the decline of some of those stars.

Zidane knows all of this, so it's really not the time for him to try his hand at football’s poisoned chalice. Not yet at least.

For now, the burden is all Galtier's.

 


Police probe racism claims after fan abuse at England-India Test

Police probe racism claims after fan abuse at England-India Test
Updated 05 July 2022

Police probe racism claims after fan abuse at England-India Test

Police probe racism claims after fan abuse at England-India Test
  • The Bharat Army said "many" of its members at the Edgbaston ground had been targeted by "a very small minority" in Monday's fourth day of play
  • Inquiries are being made to identify an alleged offender whose image was circulated on social media

BIRMINGHAM, United Kingdom: Police have launched an investigation after India fans claimed they were racially abused during England’s fifth Test victory in Birmingham.
The Bharat Army, the official India supporters’ club, said “many” of its members at the Edgbaston ground had been targeted by “a very small minority” in Monday’s fourth day of play.
A post on the group’s Twitter account read: “Sad to say many of our members experienced racist abuse from a very small minority of individuals. We will work with @Edgbaston to share all your feedback.
“Thank you to those England fans who stood by us.”
West Midlands Police on Tuesday said they were liaising with officials at Edgbaston to understand what happened.
Inquiries are being made to identify an alleged offender whose image was circulated on social media.
The England and Wales Cricket Board said: “We are very concerned to hear reports of racist abuse at today’s Test match. We are in contact with colleagues at Edgbaston, who will investigate. There is no place for racism in cricket.”
Stuart Cain, chief executive at Edgbaston, added: “I’m gutted by these reports as we’re working hard to make Edgbaston a safe, welcoming environment for all.
“Having seen the initial tweets, I’ve spoken personally to the gentleman who raised them and we’re now speaking to the stewards in this area to establish what happened.
“Nobody should be subject to any form of abuse at Edgbaston. So, once we’ve got all the facts, we will make sure this issue is addressed swiftly.”
Former Yorkshire spinner Azeem Rafiq retweeted a thread detailing some of the alleged incidents along with the comment: “Disappointing to read.”
His evidence to a parliamentary select committee last year sparked an investigation into his claims of institutional racism at Yorkshire which resulted in ECB charges and major reforms.
England won the fifth Test on Tuesday’s final day after centuries from Yorkshire pair Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow.


Al-Ittihad name Nuno Espirito Santo as head coach

Al-Ittihad name Nuno Espirito Santo as head coach
Updated 05 July 2022

Al-Ittihad name Nuno Espirito Santo as head coach

Al-Ittihad name Nuno Espirito Santo as head coach
  • Portuguese tactician has reputation for producing teams that are hard to beat
  • Familiar faces from English Premier League likely heading to the Red Sea port

LONDON: Al-Ittihad appointed Nuno Espirito Santo as head coach on Monday, with the former Valencia, Porto and Tottenham Hotspur boss replacing Cosmin Contra at the eight-time champions of Saudi Arabia.

The Portuguese tactician, who spent four years in charge of Wolverhampton Wanderers before heading to North London in the summer of 2021, has been available since being dismissed by Spurs in November after just four months in charge. He has been handed a two-year contract by the Jeddah giants with his main task to deliver a first title since 2009.

After spells with Valencia and Porto, the former goalkeeper took over at Wolves in 2017. After securing promotion into the English Premier League, he then established the West Midlands club as a force in the top tier. That record took him to Tottenham but after three wins in the first three games of last season, it all started to go wrong at White Hart Lane with just nine goals scored in the first 10 league games. After damaging defeats at the hands of Arsenal and Manchester United, he received his marching orders.

Unlike at Tottenham, however, when Nuno arrived after a number of other coaches had turned the job down or were unavailable, he has been Al-Ittihad’s number one target after the decision was made not to offer Contra a new deal.

The club announced the departure of the Romanian, whose contract ended last week, earlier in the day and wasted no time in announcing their new man.

Contra had talked openly of his desire to stay at the club and of his plans for next season. After his appointment last August, the former Dinamo Bucharest coach took Al-Ittihad clear at the top of the table to the extent that, in February, they were 16 points clear of Al-Hilal. It all went wrong as the Tigers dropped 13 points from the final eight games of the season, a ruin that allowed Al-Hilal to take the title on the final day.

“I would like to apologize that we let you down at the last minute, and although we did our best, we did not live up to the aspirations of our fans,” Contra said on social media. He highlighted that great champions bounce back from big disappointments by learning from their mistakes. “Al-Ittihad will return next season stronger to achieve the title that we have been waiting for a long time,” he added.

They will do so without him. The way the team threw away the title has led management to believe that a firmer pair of hands was needed at the helm. There was particular disquiet at the hugely damaging twin defeats against Al-Hilal in the run-in and the way Ittihad threw away a 3-1 lead against Al-Feiha to draw 4-4 on May 6. That the latter result came just three days after Al-Hilal had surprisingly been defeated by Al-Fateh, giving Al-Ittihad an opportunity to take a huge step toward the title, was painful and a sign, so those in charge believe, of a problem with the team’s mentality especially in pressure situations.

Nuno’s reputation for producing pragmatic teams that are hard to beat has earned him plus points within the Jeddah hierarchy. His goal is clear: To deliver a first league title to this corner of Jeddah since 2009, a dry run that has gone on too long for all involved with the two-time Asian champions.

He has, according to those behind the scenes at the club, already made it clear as to which players he wants to bring in, and there should be some familiar faces from the English Premier League heading to the Red Sea port. There will already be talent waiting. The club are keen to keep Brazilian attacking duo Romarinho, who scored 20 goals last season, and Igor Coronado. Moroccan striker Abderrazak Hamdallah is also wanted though there is interest from elsewhere in the region as well as Europe. Egyptian center-back Ahmed Hegazi is also likely to stay.

With Nuno Santo’s arrival at Al-Ittihad coming just days after Rudi Garcia took charge of Al-Nassr, who finished third last season and Al-Hilal’s announcement that they have renewed the contract of head coach Ramon Diaz, next season is already shaping up to be exciting. Al-Ittihad have got their man and have their sights set upon going one better in 2023.

 


Rafael Nadal into Wimbledon quarters as Nick Kyrgios lurks

Rafael Nadal into Wimbledon quarters as Nick Kyrgios lurks
Updated 05 July 2022

Rafael Nadal into Wimbledon quarters as Nick Kyrgios lurks

Rafael Nadal into Wimbledon quarters as Nick Kyrgios lurks
  • Rafael Nadal shows no mercy to Dutch 21st seed Botic van de Zandschulp in their evening clash on Center Court

LONDON: Rafael Nadal swept into the Wimbledon quarterfinals on Monday, staying on course for a crunch meeting with Nick Kyrgios, who was on his best behavior in a battling five-set win.

In the women’s competition, 2019 champion Simona Halep demolished Spanish fourth seed Paula Badosa in just 60 minutes to set up a meeting with Amanda Anisimova.

Nadal, chasing a rare calendar Grand Slam, started his campaign at the All England Club slowly but is now in the groove as he hunts a third Wimbledon crown.

He showed no mercy to Dutch 21st seed Botic van de Zandschulp in their evening clash on Center Court, overcoming a late wobble to seal a 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (8/6) win.

“I think I continued in a positive way until the end where I played a bad game,” said the Spanish second seed.

“In a personal way, for me to be able to be in quarterfinals after three years (away from Wimbledon) it’s amazing for me so very, very happy.”

Nadal broke his opponent five times in the match, capitalizing on his fourth match point to reach the Wimbledon quarters for the eighth time.

If the 22-time Grand Slam champion beats 11th seed Taylor Fritz and Kyrgios gets past Chile’s Cristian Garin, they will meet in a mouthwatering semifinal on Friday.

Kyrgios earlier shrugged off a shoulder injury to beat US player Brandon Nakashima 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/2), 3-6, 6-2.

The maverick Australian was a changed man just two days after his stormy third-round victory against Greek fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Kyrgios looked to be in trouble when Nakashima broke for 4-3 in the fourth and took the set courtesy of a lazy Kyrgios service game.

But he rallied in the decider, passing the 100-ace mark for the tournament and breaking twice to secure the win.

Kyrgios, who needed regular physio treatment, hammered 79 winners, including 35 aces.

The last time the 40th-ranked player reached the last eight at a major was at the Australian Open in 2015, a year after he reached the same stage on his debut at the All England Club.

But he is seen as a major threat to Nadal, whom he beat on his way to the quarter-finals in 2014.

The Australian, 27, said he was trying to stay “in the moment.” 

“I’m not thinking about lifting a trophy or making semifinals or making the final,” he said.

“I’m just thinking about my habits every day, just trying to put in a good performance on the court, then put in a good practice session, try to stay positive, try to really separate.

“You know, once I’m off the court, enjoy time with my team, my girlfriend, and just really enjoy that, then get into the game mode.”

The unseeded Garin pulled off an astonishing comeback against Australia’s Alex de Minaur, whom he had not beaten before.

The Chilean recovered from two sets down and saved two match points in the fifth set to beat the 19th seed in a gruelling contest lasting four hours and 34 minutes.

America’s Fritz, who beat Nadal in the Indian Wells final earlier this year, cruised past Australian qualifier Jason Kubler for the loss of just eight games.

Former world No. 1 Halep is looking increasingly dangerous as she makes stately progress toward a second Wimbledon crown in a draw now short of big names.

The Romanian’s match against Badosa appeared tricky on paper but proved anything but, with the 16th seed coming through 6-1, 6-2.

Halep, yet to drop a set at Wimbledon this year, will face Anisimova of the US for a place in the semifinals.

Anisomova, seeded 20, ended the dream run of French player Harmony Tan, who shocked Serena Williams in her opening match, winning 6-2, 6-3.

Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina beat Petra Martic of Croatia in straight sets and will face Ajla Tomljanovic after the Australian ended the run of French veteran Alize Cornet.

Earlier, Wimbledon chief executive Sally Bolton said tournament bosses had lodged an appeal against fines handed down by the WTA women’s tour for bans on Russian and Belarusian players.

The All England Club imposed the sanctions in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and players were also prevented from playing in Wimbledon warm-up events.

Both the ATP men’s tour and the WTA reacted to the Wimbledon ban by stripping the Grand Slam of ranking points.