Reigning champion Mickelson withdraws from PGA Championship

Reigning champion Mickelson withdraws from PGA Championship
Phil Mickelson after winning the PGA Championship golf tournament on the Ocean Course, May 23, 2021, in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. (AP file photo)
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Updated 14 May 2022

Reigning champion Mickelson withdraws from PGA Championship

Reigning champion Mickelson withdraws from PGA Championship
  • The 51-year-old American becomes just the third PGA champion not to defend his title after Tiger Woods in 2008 and Ben Hogan in 1949, both of whom bowed out due to injury

NEW YORK: Phil Mickelson said on Friday he will not defend his PGA Championship title after having stepped away from the game in February amid fallout from comments he made regarding a Saudi-backed golf league.

Mickelson had kept golf fans guessing about whether he would be at Southern Hills Country Club next week but the speculation ended with the PGA of America confirming he would not be in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The 51-year-old American becomes just the third PGA champion not to defend his title after Tiger Woods in 2008 and Ben Hogan in 1949, both of whom bowed out due to injury.

“We have just been informed that Phil Mickelson has withdrawn from the PGA Championship,” the PGA of America said. “Phil is the defending champion and currently eligible to be a PGA Life Member and we would have welcomed him to participate.

“We wish Phil and Amy the very best and look forward to his return to golf.”

Mickelson became golf’s oldest major champion at last year’s PGA Championship when, less than a month shy of turning 51, he held off Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen to triumph by two shots at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course.

Last month Mickelson filed for a release from the PGA Tour to play in the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational event, to be held June 9-11 near London, and also registered for the PGA Championship and June 16-19 US Open.

The PGA Tour on Tuesday rejected requests from several players, including Mickelson, for clearance to play the LIV opener. 


Giroud and Mbappe guide France past Poland and into World Cup quarter-finals

Giroud and Mbappe guide France past Poland and into World Cup quarter-finals
Updated 41 min 11 sec ago

Giroud and Mbappe guide France past Poland and into World Cup quarter-finals

Giroud and Mbappe guide France past Poland and into World Cup quarter-finals
  • Mbappe’s lethal strike in the 74th minute killed off any prospect of a Poland comeback and he netted again at the death to move to nine goals in just 11 World Cup appearances
  • The threat of Robert Lewandowski was snuffed out by the French defense although the 34-year-old Poland captain did get the consolation of scoring a stoppage-time penalty

DOHA: Kylian Mbappe set up a history-making goal for Olivier Giroud and then scored two himself as holders France eased into the quarter-finals of the World Cup with a 3-1 win over Poland on Sunday.
Giroud’s opening goal a minute before half-time was his 52nd for his country, allowing him to pass Thierry Henry and become France’s all-time record marksman.
Mbappe’s lethal strike in the 74th minute killed off any prospect of a Poland comeback and he netted again at the death to move to nine goals in just 11 World Cup appearances, the second-most for a French player at the tournament.
At the other end the threat of Robert Lewandowski was snuffed out by the French defense although the 34-year-old Poland captain did get the consolation of scoring a stoppage-time penalty.
France, though, march on to the quarter-finals and remain on course to become the first team to successfully defend the World Cup since Brazil 60 years ago.
France were overwhelming favorites against a Poland side who had limped through the group stage, but the memory of their exit from Euro 2020 served as a warning.
France had been 3-1 up and cruising in that last-16 tie against Switzerland only to concede two late goals and end up losing on penalties, with Mbappe missing the crucial spot-kick.
Mbappe returned on Sunday as one of nine changes following their inconsequential defeat by Tunisia, with goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris also returning to win his 142nd cap.
That saw him equal the record for most France appearances held by Lilian Thuram, whose son Marcus came off the bench here.
It was a history-making occasion for France but what coach Didier Deschamps wanted above all was a routine victory and progression to the quarter-finals.
The sky should be the limit for a French side led by Mbappe, but it is not just him.
Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann were lively in a strong start amid a hushed atmosphere at Al Thumama Stadium.
The fans were happy to sit back and be thrilled as the big screen at one point showed that Mbappe had reached a top speed of 35 kilometers per hour.
France’s pace and pressing was too much for Poland as Przemyslaw Frankowski gave possession away, leading to Dembele crossing to the back post for Giroud to somehow put the ball wide.
Poland, who have not won a World Cup knockout match since 1982, recovered from a tentative start to almost go ahead in the 38th minute as Lloris blocked a shot by Piotr Zielinski and Jakub Kaminski’s follow-up was stopped on the line by Raphael Varane.
Those misses proved crucial as France seized the lead a minute before half-time.
Patient build-up play ended with Mbappe having a glance as he received the ball just outside the box before playing in Giroud who took a touch and finished into the far corner.
Poland were left to chase the game in the second half and they sent on Juventus striker Arkadiusz Milik to support Lewandowski for the final half hour.
However, their attack was simply no match for France, who picked off Poland to make it 2-0.
A Griezmann clearance was brought down by Giroud and he released Dembele whose ball into the middle was controlled before being blasted home by Mbappe.
It was an emphatic finish and was followed by another of a similar calibre from a Thuram assist in stoppage time.
Only Just Fontaine, who scored 13 in 1958, has scored more World Cup goals for France.
Lewandowski then pulled one back right at the end, converting a retaken penalty that was awarded for a handball by Dayot Upamecano.


Stefanos Tsitsipas sorry for disparaging Andrey Rublev, still positive about 2022 season

Stefanos Tsitsipas sorry for disparaging Andrey Rublev, still positive about 2022 season
Updated 04 December 2022

Stefanos Tsitsipas sorry for disparaging Andrey Rublev, still positive about 2022 season

Stefanos Tsitsipas sorry for disparaging Andrey Rublev, still positive about 2022 season
  • Greek has failed to make top 3 this year
  • Player now readying for Mubadala champs in UAE

Greek tennis star Stefanos Tsitsipas feels he owes fellow top-10 player, Russia’s Andrey Rublev, an apology.

After losing to the world No. 8 in the ATP Finals last month in Turin, Tsitsipas said he felt like he was the better and more creative player on the court that day compared to his opponent, adding that Rublev “prevailed with the few tools that he has.”

Rublev’s group-stage triumph secured him a ticket to the semifinals in Turin and spelled the end of Tsitsipas’ 2022 season.

Tsitsipas, understandably, drew lots of criticism online for the statements he made about Rublev’s game and in response taunted his critics in an Instagram post that read: “Dear haters, I have so much for you to be mad at, just be patient.”

Two weeks have passed and the Greek now admits he regrets what he said about Rublev and explained why he made such comments in the first place.

“What I said in that press conference against Rublev was very unfair towards him and not correct,” Tsitsipas told Arab News in an interview on Thursday ahead of his upcoming participation in the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi.

“I saw it from a sort of different approach; I wanted him to be mad going into his next match (against Casper Ruud), trying to play even better. I’m not going to declare the reasons why because I think it’s quite obvious the situation I was dealing with in the next match if (I) had played that opponent.”

 

 

Tsitsipas had wanted to finish the year ranked in the world’s top three but that loss in the ATP Finals, coupled with Rublev’s subsequent defeat to Casper Ruud in the semifinals, meant the Greek fell just short of his goal and concluded his campaign in the No. 4 spot behind Carlos Alcaraz, Rafael Nadal and Ruud.

“I really wanted Andrey to win the next match and my approach was to add fuel to the fire a little bit, to make him want to be more hungry and more concentrated on his next match,” Tsitsipas continued.

“I think that was wrong to do, because it felt like, I don’t know, he wasn’t able to perform, I saw the match, I don’t think he performed as good as I would have expected him to perform. That was my only way to finish in the top three if he had won that match.

“I just played a little bit with it and tried to use my chances as much as I could. But of course the best thing would have been to win my match.”

Tsitsipas and Rublev have established a tight on-court rivalry over the last four seasons and they have evenly split their 10 tour-level meetings so far.

“Andrey is an excellent player. He has a great array of weapons that he uses extremely well on the court. He can hit the ball really hard, he’s sort of like the Marat Safin of the new generation,” said Tsitsipas.

“I don’t think he’s limited in his game, I think he’s put himself over many years now on the tour that he’s capable of competing against the best. He’s one of the most disciplined guys out here, who is very professional towards his work. He’s a very funny guy, a very nice soul, I enjoy being around him. He’s extremely friendly and likes to make fun of himself.

“So if I regret saying that? I do regret saying that, yes. It was not very good for me, I was extremely hurt that I wasn’t able to go all the way at the ATP Finals, it hurt me a lot, I tried to let some bad energy out but that wasn’t the responsible or the good way, even if I wanted something out of it, it wasn’t the right way to do it.

“Definitely if I would see him I would like to apologize to him for thinking like this about him because it’s definitely not how I think about him in reality.”

This is the fourth consecutive season that Tsitsipas has ended inside the top six and the Monaco resident is not dwelling too much on the fact he missed out on a top-three finish.

“There are a few things I can improve and manage better in order to get there, but overall if you think about it, I was literally two matches away (from) finishing (as) world No. 1,” he said.

“If I would have won 63 instead of 61 matches — but of course selective, if I had to select which matches I should have won, I could have ended No. 1 this season. So that is to show that I was extremely close to get that privilege of being world No. 1.”

 

 

Tsitsipas, who will face Cameron Norrie in his Abu Dhabi opener on Dec. 16, amassed a 61-24 win-loss record in 2022, including two title runs in Monte Carlo and Mallorca.

“I think maintaining that kind of base and taking the right initiatives tournament after tournament is eventually going to give it to me one day,” he said of the No. 1 ranking.

“But I’m not here really for the sprint, I’m here for the marathon. I’m going to be on the tour for many more years and finishing in the top 10 is no easy feat, and it’s extremely challenging to be doing it year after year.

“You need consistent good results to get there, you need to be very focused on your job and have zero to no distractions during the year and you have to be a soldier. You have to wake up thinking about tennis and be extremely disciplined in what you do and include that with some hard work and some dedication to your craft. It never gets easier.

“You might want to make it easier in your mind, you try to find small exits and ways to make this process easier, but trust me it never gets easier. You cannot cheat codes on the ATP tour to make your way through.”

https://twitter.com/MubadalaWTC/status/1596053686408470528

Not so long ago, Tsitsipas was the young up-and-comer trying to pose a threat to tennis’ “Big Three” of Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.

He has posted wins against all three of them but has yet to secure a maiden Grand Slam title — his runner-up showing at Roland Garros last year was his best result at a major so far.

At 24, Tsitsipas is now facing a new generation of talent rapidly rising through the ranks with 19-year-old Alcaraz occupying the No. 1 spot and 19-year-old Holger Rune cracking the top 10 last month (he is a combined 0-5 head-to-head against them).

Djokovic, 35, and Nadal, 36, are also still around and winning majors and Tsitsipas finds himself grappling with both generations, the teenagers and the veterans.

“They’re extremely talented and good at what they do,” he said of the younger crew.

“They’re the most challenging thing we have ahead of us going forward. They can hit the ball extremely well, move very good around the court, athletic, have good intuition when it comes to their tennis.

“Of course I was kind of the new generation when I walked in facing Novak and Roger and Rafa the very few first times. I felt like I didn’t have much to lose because I was young and I kind of realized it early on and I was able to perform well against them.

“But now we have to deal with the even younger generation, I’m not 18 anymore, I’m 24 years old and that’s a different phase in my career now, a different step and a different approach that I need to take.

“I see it as a color index, before I was in the blue index where I’m really young and getting to know the tour and now I’m more like in the yellow index. And the next index, which will probably come at the age of 27 or 28, it will be the red index where more experience kicks in, you’ve been around and you’ve seen a lot of things. So I’m still somewhere in-between the middle I would say.”


Viktor Hovland shoots 64 in the sun and mud of Bahamas for 3-shot lead

Viktor Hovland shoots 64 in the sun and mud of Bahamas for 3-shot lead
Updated 04 December 2022

Viktor Hovland shoots 64 in the sun and mud of Bahamas for 3-shot lead

Viktor Hovland shoots 64 in the sun and mud of Bahamas for 3-shot lead
  • Hovland was at 13-under 203, and he made it look easy

NASSAU, Bahamas: The warm sun in the Bahamas brought out plenty of mud on the rain-soaked fairways and created some wild shots for just about everyone but Viktor Hovland. He made 10 birdies Saturday to build a three-shot lead in the Hero World Challenge.

Hovland ran off six birdies on the back nine at Albany and finished with a bogey from a mud-shot on the 18th for an 8-under 64, putting him in position to join tournament host Tiger Woods as the only back-to-back winners of this tournament.

“I hit a lot of just good quality iron shots to give myself 7 to 12 feet. It wasn’t like I hit one just incredible shot and stuff it or make it like I did the other days, but it was just kind of consistently giving myself looks,” Hovland said.

He was at 13-under 203, and he made it look easy. It wasn’t that way for the rest of the 20-man field, even with some of the best scoring of the week.

Scottie Scheffler, who can go to No. 1 in the world with a win, dropped only one shot and had an eagle on the par-5 15th for a 66 that put him in the final group with Hovland. It was a good day on his card. It was tough on the emotions seeing so much mud on his ball that he had no idea where it was going.

“Who’s good at those? You pretty much have no idea what the golf ball’s going to do,” Scheffler said. “It’s not something that I would practice at home just because it’s not something that I believe should happen on the golf course.”

The Masters champion’s best work was not so much his five birdies and his eagle, rather not letting the mud balls get in his head.

Everyone had to deal with it, some worse than others. Justin Thomas figures the one guy who caught a break was PGA Tour official Rick Wild, who records all the scores at the end of the day. Good thing it’s a small field.

“Only 20 people coming in and complaining versus 120. I think that’s probably a little easier on him,” Thomas said. “It’s unfortunate. And you can get some really, really unlucky breaks and unfortunate situations. But like I said, everybody has to deal with it and the more you let it get to you, probably the worse off you are.”

Thomas was bogey-free for a 66, tied for third with Cameron Young (68).

Young, the PGA Tour rookie of the year, handled his misfortune well. With a 31 on the front nine and his sixth birdie of the round on No. 10, he was leading by two and in the middle of the fairway on the par-5 11th.

He went to lay up with a 4-iron and saw the ball shoot straight out to the right and into the bush, leading to a penalty shot before playing the next one and making bogey. He had another bogey on a par 5 and had to settle for a 68, leaving him five shots behind.

“The one that really hurt me was on 11,” Young said. “I feel like I made a pretty good swing and it was into the weeds. It just takes a mediocre shot there to give yourself a pretty good look at birdie. So that definitely, definitely hurt. Yeah, there were a few.”

Kevin Kisner had a hole-in-one on the 12th hole with a 6-iron, the lone bright spot on a day when he shot 77.

“I was putting probably the worst of my career today so I decided just to make it from 189 yards,” Kisner said. “But it was a lot easier on par 3s because you got to hit a clean golf ball.”

Because a majority of the course was in reasonable shape, the PGA Tour decided to play the ball down. Officials were concerned about four or five fairways, but the mud made its presence felt from fairways that were deluged with rain on Wednesday.

Hovland carded three straight birdies early on the front nine, all from 15 feet or longer, and then he really took off on the back nine. He twice two-putted for birdie. He hit 6-iron to 12 feet on the par-3 12th, hit 9-iron to 7 feet on the next hole and then got some separation with an 8-iron to 15 feet on the 16th and a 7-iron to 8 feet on the par-3 17th.

“He played so good I almost felt bad about my round,” Xander Schauffele said after a 69 left him six back. “It was clean. It was so good I didn’t even realize what he was doing until he got to the end.”

Woods won the World Challenge in 2006 and 2007 when it was at Sherwood Country Club in California. He is not playing this week because of plantar fasciitis in his right foot that caused him to withdraw on Monday.


Big day at World Cup looms for France, Poland goalkeepers

Big day at World Cup looms for France, Poland goalkeepers
Updated 04 December 2022

Big day at World Cup looms for France, Poland goalkeepers

Big day at World Cup looms for France, Poland goalkeepers
  • Lloris is a naturally quiet and courteous leader of this talented France team
  • Szczęsny is the only goalkeeper at this World Cup to have saved two spot kicks — one against Saudi Arabia and the second against Lionel Messi

DOHA: It’s a huge day for goalkeepers with big reputations when defending champion France face Poland in the round of 16 at the World Cup on Sunday.

Hugo Lloris will tie a national team record for Les Bleus four years after lifting the trophy as captain. Opposite number Wojciech Szczęsny is a penalty-saving, wise-cracking No. 1 who seems to be enjoying the tournament more than any other player.

Both get a stage to shine at Al Thumama Stadium trying to deny two of the most feared forward in Qatar — Kylian Mbappe and two-time FIFA player of the year Robert Lewandowski.

“The key to stopping Mbappe? It’s me,” Szczęsny quipped when Poland’s place in the knockout bracket was confirmed.

Lloris will face Lewandowski in an international game for the first time when he matches France’s record of 142 appearances held by Lilian Thuram, the right back in the 1998 world champion team.

“It’s quite something and I’m very honored,” Lloris said Saturday. He was in the same France squad as Thuram as an uncapped 21-year-old in 2008 though was never played with him.

France coach Didier Deschamps, who played often with Thuram and was captain in the 1998 final in Paris, paid tribute to them.

“They have shown exemplary professionalism for the national team,” Deschamps said Saturday.

Lloris is a naturally quiet and courteous leader of this talented France team and he praised Szczęsny, who he previously faced at opposite ends of the north London rivalry between Tottenham and Arsenal.

“He’s playing a magnificent tournament,” Lloris said. “Poland deserve to be here at this stage and they’ve got a great goalkeeper as well.”

Szczęsny is the only goalkeeper at this World Cup to have saved two spot kicks — one against Saudi Arabia and the second against Lionel Messi. Szczęsny himself conceded the latter one for brushing the Argentina great’s face with his glove when stretching for a cross. It was scoreless at the time in a game Argentina won 2-0 on Wednesday.

Szczęsny’s told the story of how he bet Messi during a lengthy video review that the penalty wouldn’t be awarded, only adding to his quirky time in Qatar.

The character of the 32-year-old Juventus goalkeeper, who is set to play his 70th game for Poland, is no surprise to long-time teammates.

“It’s not that Wojciech Szczęsny started to be such a great goalkeeper in this tournament — he’s been a great goalkeeper for years,” forward Arkadiusz Milik said Saturday through an interpreter. “It’s not a coincidence that in his career he played for wonderful clubs.”

Poland likely will need Szczęsny and Lewandowski to excel in their first knockout game at a World Cup since 1986. Since that 4-0 loss to Brazil, France won both their world titles and also was a beaten finalist.

Deschamps highlighted Lewandowski’s qualities as clever, technically gifted and knows how to use his body intelligently against defenders.

“He didn’t get a lot of the ball in the group stage, but with just one chance he can be very dangerous,” the France coach said.

Giving Poland some hope is that France lost in the round of 16 last year at the European Championship against Switzerland. Mbappé had the decisive penalty saved in a shootout after a 3-3 draw.

“We talked about that a lot,” said Lloris, who couldn’t stop any of the five Swiss spot kicks that night in Bucharest. “You have to be confident, but if a penalty is well taken, then the goalkeeper has no chance of stopping it.”

In Qatar, Szczęsny might be just the one to prove that wrong.


Fury stops Chisora to retain WBC heavyweight title

Fury stops Chisora to retain WBC heavyweight title
Updated 04 December 2022

Fury stops Chisora to retain WBC heavyweight title

Fury stops Chisora to retain WBC heavyweight title

LONDON: Tyson Fury retained his World Boxing Council heavyweight title with a decisive stoppage win over British rival Derek Chisora on Saturday.
Fury, still unbeaten as a professional, dominated from the start, and with Chisora's eyes starting to close, referee Victor Loughlin stopped the fight shortly before the end of the 10th round at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
The 34-year-old now boasts a record of 33 wins from 34 fights with one draw.
Fury's latest win also paved the way for a unification bout with Oleksandr Usyk, the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight champion.
Usyk was at ringside on Saturday as he returned to the venue where he deprived Britain's Anthony Joshua of all those titles in September last year before defeating him again in Jeddah this July.
Soon after Fury's hand was raised in victory, he was involved in a ringside face-off with Usyk with only the ropes separating him from the Ukrainian.