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Woods on expectations for another major win: Absolutely

By Jimmy Golen, Associated Press SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (AP) — Hoist the anchor, and set sail the great ship Privacy on a course for Carnoustie Bay, Pebble Beach or some other future site of a golf major. Tiger Woods isn't going to win the U.S. Open this year. He still thinks he can win another major before he's done. "Absolutely," Woods said after shooting a 2-over 72 at Shinnecock Hills on Friday for a 36-hole total of 10 over that saw him miss the cut. "They're not easy," he said. "I mean, I've won a few of them over the course of my career, and they're the hardest fields and usually the hardest setups. So they're meant to be testers, and you don't win major championships by kind of slapping all around the place and missing putts. "You have to be on," he said. "You just can't fake it at a major championship." Woods couldn't even fake it for the first 34 holes in Southampton, and despite birdies on the last two holes, he needed a lot of help to avoid the cut for the fifth time in his last eight majors. That means he won't need to bunk for the weekend at the Sag Harbor Yacht Club on the 155-foot boat he jokingly calls "the dinghy." Woods also missed the cut when he brought Privacy to the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot in New York City's northern suburbs. He has not played the weekend at a U.S. Open since 2013, or won one since 2008 — his last major victory. He remains stuck at 14 in his career, four short of Jack Nicklaus' record. "Our whole careers are pretty much measured as if you can win four times a year," Woods said. Woods' chances were effectively eliminated after two holes. He shot a triple bogey on Thursday on No. 1 — a 399-yard par 4 that is the fourth-easiest hole on the course — needing three tries to manage a short rise to the elevated green and then two-putting. He entered the second round nine strokes behind the leaders and thought if he could shoot in the 60s on Friday he would have a chance to get back into it. Now he won't even have a chance to play. "I couldn't chase down the leaders right away. It's going to take me probably 2½ to 3 rounds to do it," he said. "Unfortunately, I went the other way." Starting the second round on No. 10, Woods made the turn at even par and came back around to No. 1. His drive was fine, but he yanked his approach shot to the right of the green into deep rough, and then rolled his third shot over it. After pitching to about 14 feet, he missed a bogey putt. He then bogeyed No. 2 for the second straight day. "I didn't play the first and second hole very well," said Woods, who started on No. 10 for the second round. "I was kind of hanging in there until, unfortunately, first and second hole kind of derailed it." Woods said he would take the week off before playing the National and then heading to Carnoustie, Scotland, for the British Open......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJun 16th, 2018

At the US Open, a battle among the best with only 1 major

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (AP) — Jordan Spieth considers himself lucky. As hard as he made it look, winning the U.S. Open three years ago felt easy. He was two months removed from his victory at Augusta National. No matter what happened at Chambers Bay, he was the Masters champion for the rest of the year, and a major champion for life. "House money," he described that week. And then he won another major with a birdie-double bogey-birdie finish, helped by Dustin Johnson three-putting from 12 feet to lose by one. Spieth was 22 when he became the first player in 74 years — Craig Wood in 1941 — to win his first major and then add a second major in his next try. It didn't come that quickly for Tiger Woods, even after a 12-shot victory at the 1997 Masters in his first major as a pro. Woods played 10 more majors, half of them while overhauling his swing, before he won his next one. Winning one major is great. Winning multiple majors commands a new level of respect. "You could make an argument that it could be harder to get the second one than it is the first," PGA champion Justin Thomas said Tuesday. "You could make an argument that every major is the hardest. But I just think that to be known as a multiple major champion as opposed to, 'He won the PGA,' it has a little better ring to it. So I hope to have that to my name, sooner rather than later." Identifying the best player without a major has been a topic for the better part of 30 years. Given the depth of talent, it might be time for a different question. The best with only one major. It's a long list, from as young as Thomas (24) to Henrik Stenson (42). All it takes is one week, one more major — perhaps this week at Shinnecock Hills — for such a player to enter a different conversation. Dustin Johnson might lead that list. He finally broke through for his first major at Oakmont in the 2016 U.S. Open, and given his 18 victories on the PGA Tour, he probably should have more. If not for getting in his own way, he might have more by now. There was the 82 at Pebble Beach when he had a three-shot lead in the 2010 U.S. Open. He hit an errant drive into a patch of sand that he didn't know was a bunker at Whistling Straits that same year in the PGA Championship. The bogey dropped him into a three-man playoff. Grounding his club in the sand for a two-shot penalty dropped him out of it. And then at Chambers Bay, he was 12 feet away for eagle and the U.S. Open until it took three putts and a par for a runner-up finish. He is No. 1 in the world, and wants to get major No. 2. "It's hard to get No. 2 right now, but it was hard to get No. 1," Johnson said with a smile. "I think it's hard to get any of them. It's just a tough task. There's only four majors, and to win a major you have to have everything working very well. You've got to play really good all four rounds. ... I'd love to get that second one. But it's one of those things where, like I said, everything has got to work well for four days." Jason Day has 12 victories on the PGA Tour, and only the 2015 PGA Championship among majors. He spent 47 consecutive weeks at No. 1 the year after winning his major, and had only one good chance. Justin Rose won the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion for his first major. Rose has won at least somewhere in the world every year since 2010, and he has won on prestigious courses — Muirfield Village, Congressional, Aronimink, Doral — and he was one putt away from adding Augusta National to that list. But he's still stuck on one. So is Adam Scott and Sergio Garcia, Brooks Koepka and Webb Simpson. Add to that list Louis Oosthuizen, who has been runner-up in all four majors since his 2010 victory in the British Open at St. Andrews. "I mean absolutely zero, no disrespect to guys that have won one — obviously, myself included," Thomas said. "But it's a lot easier to get hot one week than it is to do it again and win another major. Because when you're a major champion, you have more asked of you. You have more expectations on yourself, more expectations from other people to where if you do get in the hunt, then you're asked, 'How is it going to feel to get your second major?' You're constantly reminded of that." The top players when Woods was in his prime years were Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Vijay Singh. Woods rarely fails to mention Retief Goosen on that list, mainly because when Woods was at his best, Goosen was the only other player with multiple majors. He won his second U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills in 2004. Seventeen players at Shinnecock Hills this week have only one major and would love to add another. If they don't? It's still better than being on that other list occupied by the likes of Rickie Fowler, Hideki Matsuyama and Jon Rahm. They're young. But they would settle for one......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 13th, 2018

Federer, Nadal happy to play doubles, Borg to decide

em>By Karel Janicek, Associated Press /em> PRAGUE (AP) — With Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at the Laver Cup team tennis tournament, expectations are running high about the chance of seeing the two as doubles partners. The three-day competition at the O2 Arena in Prague starts Friday, pitting a team of the best six European players against the top six from the rest of the world. No ATP rankings points will be awarded. Alexander Zverev, Marin Cilic, Dominic Thiem and Tomas Berdych are also on the European team to face Sam Querrey, John Isner, Nick Kyrgios, Jack Sock, Denis Shapovalov and Frances Tiafoe. The tournament is to honor Rod Laver, an 11-time major champion who won two calendar-year Grand Slams. It will include three singles and one doubles match every day. Bjorn Bjorg captains Europe while John McEnroe does the same for the opponents. Federer and Nadal were clear about their choice of a possible partner. 'I've played a lot against Rafa on so many occasions, in big matches,' Federer said at Prague's picturesque Old Town Square. 'I think in nine Grand Slam finals. Finally, to have him on my side it's a joy. We talked about playing doubles a long, long time ago. It never happened. Of course, I would love to share the side of the net this time around. We have to see how practice goes and then at the end Bjorn will take the ultimate decision.' Nadal concurred. 'Of course, I would love (to play with Federer),' Nadal said. 'It will be amazing if that happens. We've talked about that years ago to play in some tournament together. It didn't happen yet. We're looking forward to playing here, hopefully. Let's see if the captain allows us to play.' Borg has yet to decide how to form pairs for doubles, but suggested 'there's a very good chance' for Federer and Nadal. 'He's the captain, he's the boss here now,' Nadal said. 'I am just here to try my best, every time the captain wants me on court, I am just here to try to help the team to win the Laver Cup.' Federer warned a victory was not a given even though the two are currently ranked No. 1 (Nadal) and No. 2 (Federer). 'There's a lot of expectations and everybody thinks we're going to win and play together then we bomb out,' Federer said. 'So, we better make sure we focus on just playing good doubles and if it works together at the same time, that'd be great. 'I'm sure that the crowd would go absolutely crazy.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 21st, 2017

Young and united, England looks good as a title contender

By Graham Dunbar, Associated Press MOSCOW (AP) — A famous song lyric neatly describes the upbeat feeling around England's rejuvenated national soccer team. It's not "football's coming home." Instead, try the old punk rock line: "If the kids are united, they will never be defeated." The positive emotions of England's young players are evident toward coach Gareth Southgate despite the 2-1 loss to Croatia in extra time in the World Cup semifinals. "You've brought belief and the love of football back. Thank you boss from the whole nation," 20-year-old forward Marcus Rashford wrote on his Twitter account Thursday. You’ve brought belief and the love of football back. Thank you boss from the whole nation ❤️⚽️ pic.twitter.com/2meUAFlIN5 — Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) July 12, 2018 Over-achieving in a first major international test for Southgate and many of the squad has banished the anxiety that harmed too many England teams in recent years. Rashford, a sharp and fast second-half substitute in Moscow on Wednesday, is not even the youngest of Southgate's players in Russia. At 19, Trent Alexander-Arnold impressed in the Champions League final for Liverpool in May, and weeks later started his first World Cup game, against Belgium. "It has been an honor to be a part of this special team. We will be back stronger," Alexander-Arnold wrote on Twitter early Thursday. Absolutely devastated that our journey is over! We enjoyed every moment as a nation, I’d like to thank all the staff and fans for being behind us. It has been an honour to be a part of this special team. We will be back stronger 💔🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 pic.twitter.com/LErwj4QqZm — Trent Arnold (@trentaa98) July 11, 2018 Alexander-Arnold, a quick, right-sided defender, will need to force his way into the team past Kieran Trippier, perhaps the standout success of England's tournament. Trippier delivered world-class corners, crosses and free kicks, including the fifth-minute goal against Croatia that raised hope of a first World Cup final berth since 1966. The Tottenham player gave an emotional endorsement of Southgate, who seems likely to guide England's team to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. "It all comes from the manager, unbelievable manager for me personally, the way he handles the team," Trippier said at the Luzhniki Stadium. "He sets the tone, he brought this team together." A relatively late bloomer at 27, Trippier is a rare England player who will turn 30 before kickoff in Qatar on Nov. 21, 2022. The four attackers who started Wednesday, including 24-year-old captain Harry Kane, are between 22 and 25. The heart of the defense — John Stones, Harry Maguire, plus goalkeeper Jordan Pickford — are in the same age bracket. It's a talent pool setting up England as a serious title contender in the coming years. There is still room for envy if England can bear watching the World Cup final on Sunday. In the midfield duels, France fields the elegance and power of Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante against Croatia's precise pair of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic. There isn't likely to be a Modric-type player in England's team ahead of the 2020 European Championship to help retain the ball, pace the play, and manage the toughest games. Those are the kinds of qualities England needed after halftime against Croatia. "If we're in the position again, we'll be better off because of the experience of what we've just had," said 28-year-old Jordan Henderson, who was Liverpool's captain in that Champions League final loss to Modric and Real Madrid. The incentives are huge. Euro 2020 is being hosted across 12 countries, but England could qualify and be placed in a group based at Wembley Stadium, travel for two knockout rounds, then come home for the semifinals and final at Wembley. "The aim if we're at the Euros in two years' time is to go again," said Kane, who should be Southgate's chosen captain for years to come. Before qualifying starts next March, England is in a fascinating group for the inaugural UEFA Nations League, which starts in September. Spain, under new coach Luis Enrique, visits Wembley on Sept. 8. England then travels to face Croatia on Oct. 12. The return games will be completed by November......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 13th, 2018

The British Open returns to the nasty links of Carnoustie

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press Carnoustie is known as much for the calamity it causes as the British Open champions it crowns. Any mention of Carnoustie immediately brings back that image of Jean Van de Velde, equal parts tragedy and comedy, standing in Barry Burn on the 18th hole with water up his shins and rising. He made triple bogey to lose a three-shot lead, and then completed as great a collapse as can be found in a major championship by losing in a three-man playoff in 1999. Just don't get the idea Van de Velde owns all the rights to bad endings at Carnoustie. Jose Jurado was the first victim. He had a three-shot lead going into the final round in 1931 and was still two shots clear late in the round until coming undone in the brutal closing stretch, topping one shot on the 17th hole into the burn. He lost out to Tommy Armour. More recently was Padraig Harrington , only it worked out well for him in 2007. Playing the 18th with a one-shot lead, the Irishman hit his tee shot into the Barry Burn. He took a penalty drop and then hit his next shot into the winding stream. Harrington managed the best double bogey of his life. It got him into a playoff when Sergio Garcia made bogey from the bunker, and Harrington went on to win his first major. Of the six previous Opens on these menacing links, Ben Hogan is the only winner to hold a 54-hole lead. For most everyone else, Carnoustie always seem to dish out its share of carnage. Rod Pampling once opened with a 71 and had the lead. He followed with an 86 and missed the cut. Phil Mickelson still hasn't seen a weekend at Carnoustie. Garcia made his major debut as a professional at Carnoustie. He shot 89. "That's a brutal course," Bernhard Langer said. He speaks from experience in 1999, when Langer had his third-highest score of the 23 Opens he completed. He shot 297, and he tied for 18th that week. The first time Tiger Woods went an entire round without a birdie in a major was in 1999 at Carnoustie. "I think I made one birdie on the weekend and I finished three or four back of the playoff," Woods said. "That was ridiculous how hard it was." One month after Shinnecock Hills was punishing as ever in the U.S. Open, golf's oldest championship doesn't figure to be much of a reprieve. Scotland has been going through a warm, dry patch of weather, which figures to make it firm and bouncy. Mickelson, who played Carnoustie a week before the Open, said it was unlikely he would even carry a driver. "I'm either going to carry a driver or that hot 3-wood, but there's only two or three holes — there's actually only two holes I plan on using it, both par 5s. I have a low 1-iron that I've been putting in the bag and ... it's very low. Gets on the ground quick. I'll hit that on probably the last ten holes, almost every hole." Carnoustie in any conditions is regarded as a beast, with a reputation as the toughest links in the world. Sir Michael Bonallack, the former R&A secretary, might have sized it up the best when he said, "When the wind is blowing, it is the toughest course in Britain. And when it's not blowing, it's probably still the toughest." In recent Opens, it has picked up a nickname: Car-nasty. For so much of the field, it will be a new experience. Only two players from the top 10 in the world have played a British Open at Carnoustie — Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy , who was an 18-year-old amateur in 2007 and immediately showed his potential when he opened with a 68. He tied for 42nd that week. Only 33 players in the 156-man field have played an Open at Carnoustie, and only 12 have played it twice. Defending champion Jordan Spieth only knows it from television. He was 13, just starting to blossom as a junior, and he watched the Open from home as Garcia and Harrington tried to survive the finish. "I remember ... how good of a score par was on that hole and will continue to be for Opens going forward," Spieth said. "It's one of probably the toughest closing holes in the Open Championship anywhere, and that creates some drama when it comes down to Sunday, as we've seen. And I don't think it will be any different this year." Carnoustie gets its mean streak from the way the course was set up in 1999, with narrow fairways and high grass. But its strength comes from the wind, like most links courses, and this course near the North Sea is particularly exposed. It measures 7,402 yards, which is 19 yards shorter — yes, shorter — than it was in 2007, the last time the Open was at Carnoustie. Spieth will try to become the first player in 10 years to repeat as British Open champion, and right now he'd simply settle for a chance. Since his closing 64 at the Masters to finish third, Spieth has finished at least 12 shots out of the lead in four of his seven tournaments. He missed the cut in the other three. Like most majors these days, the Open figures to be wide-open. Dustin Johnson, who lost a four-shot lead over the final two rounds at Shinnecock, is back to No. 1 in the world and eager to pick up another major. He has not played since the U.S. Open. The next three players behind him in the world ranking — PGA champion Justin Thomas, Rose and U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka — all have a chance to replace him at No. 1. Recent history would suggest a young American — the last five majors have been won by Americans in their 20s. "It's definitely been pretty one-sided, and the Americans are dominating," Rose said. "So it would be lovely to turn that around next week." Woods is happy to get another crack at it. Carnoustie was his first experience with links golf in 1995, when he was still at Stanford and came over for the Scottish Open at Carnoustie ahead of the British Open at St. Andrews. He opened with a 69, closed with a 78 finished 48th. "Carnoustie is an unbelievable driving golf course," Woods said. "You have to drive the ball well there, but also it's not your traditional in (and) out golf course. It's a lot of different angles, so a lot of different crosswinds. I have to be able to maneuver the golf ball both ways there efficiently. You just have to hit the golf ball well." There is no faking. Nothing comes easily. No one really conquers Carnoustie. It's more about survival. The highest compliment might have come from Tom Watson, who won his first major at Carnoustie in 1975 in a playoff over Jack Newton. "Carnoustie is like an ugly, old hag who speaks the truth no matter how painful," Watson once said. "But it's only when you add up your score, you hear exactly what she thinks of you.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 13th, 2018

Tiger’s fiery finish boosts confidence ahead of Open

POTOMAC, US: Tiger Woods produced his best final round since 2012 for a fourth-place finish on Sunday (Monday in Manila) at the US PGA Quicken Loans National, a new putter reviving his game ahead of the British Open. The 14-time major champion fired a four-under-par 66 at TPC Potomac, his lowest final-round score since a [...] The post Tiger’s fiery finish boosts confidence ahead of Open appeared first on The Manila Times Online......»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsJul 2nd, 2018

Tiger’s fiery finish boosts confidence ahead of Open

POTOMAC: Tiger Woods produced his best final round since 2012 for a fourth-place finish Sunday at the US PGA Quicken Loans National, a new putter reviving his game ahead of the British Open. The 14-time major champion fired a four-under-par 66 at TPC Potomac, his lowest final-round score since a 63 at the 2012 CIMB [...] The post Tiger’s fiery finish boosts confidence ahead of Open appeared first on The Manila Times Online......»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsJul 2nd, 2018

Ronaldo, Portugal unable to continue great run at World Cup

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo couldn't carry the team by himself this time. The five-time player of the year, who scored four goals in his opening two matches at the World Cup, was eliminated from the tournament on Saturday after Portugal lost to Uruguay 2-1 in the round of 16. "We gave our best," Ronaldo said. "The team played well. As the team captain I am proud of this group." Portugal won the 2016 European Championship and came to Russia with high expectations following the surprise title in France two years ago, its first in a major tournament. Ronaldo started off this year's tournament with a hat trick against Spain and then added another goal against Morocco. But on Saturday, it was Edinson Cavani who scored twice to earn victory for the Uruguayans. "No team can win with one player alone," Portugal coach Fernando Santos said. "He tried. The team didn't win because Uruguay scored twice." Portugal hasn't reached the World Cup quarterfinals since 2006, when a young Ronaldo led the team to the semifinals. Back then, Portugal lost to France and eventually finished fourth after losing to Germany in the consolation game. Ronaldo, now 33 and still playing some of the best soccer of his life, failed to provide the spark Portugal needed against Uruguay. Ronaldo's great start in Russia allowed him to surpass the combined total of three goals he had scored in his previous three World Cups. He also joined Pele, Miroslav Klose and Uwe Seeler as the only players to score in four World Cups. The four early goals in this year's tournament had put him in position to contend for the "Golden Boot" trophy, but he was surpassed by England striker Harry Kane's five goals in the group stage. Despite his fast start in Russia, Ronaldo missed a penalty in the 1-1 draw against Iran in the third game. He also was nearly given a red card when his elbowing of an opponent was reviewed on video. Prior to the World Cup, Ronaldo led Real Madrid to its third straight Champions League title, but he arrived in Russia surrounded by distractions about his club future and a tax fraud accusation back in Madrid. He had said he would talk about his club future after joining the national team, but avoided the subject from the start. He only spoke briefly with the media in Russia. "Now it's not the time to talk about the future," Ronaldo said. "I'm sure that the national team will remain as one of the best in the world. We have great players, a fantastic group.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 1st, 2018

Woods happy with new putter

POTOMAC, United States — Tiger Woods was pleased with a new mallet putter he used competitively for the first time Thursday despite only firing a level-par 70 in the opening round of the US PGA Quicken Loans National. The 14-time major champion, playing his 11th event in a comeback year after spinal fusion surgery, stood […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsJun 29th, 2018

Belgium, team of tomorrow, hopes to finally win now

By Ronald Blum, Associated Press MOSCOW (AP) — Belgium is the team of tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. De Rode Duivels, as the Red Devils are known, have been playing for 114 years and remain in search of their first major title. A polyglot known for waffles, chocolate and beer, the nation of 11 million hopes for soccer to join the national identity, boosted by a golden generation that includes Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bryune. Belief is growing. Philippe, King of the Belgians, was on hand wearing a bright red tie and team scarf. "Belgium is a small country, you know? So we're very happy that we have this kind of talent," defender Toby Alderweireld said after Saturday's 5-2 rout of Tunisia all but clinched a round-of-16 World Cup berth. "Hopefully we can do something special." Lukaku tied Cristiano Ronaldo for the tournament lead with four goals, becoming the first with consecutive two-goal games in the World Cup since Diego Maradona and Gary Lineker in 1986. Hazard also scored twice , and Michy Batshuayi added a 90th-minute goal after failing to convert a trio of prime chances. Belgium opened with a 3-0 victory over Panama and has an 8-2 goal difference. Ranked third in the world behind defending champion Germany and Brazil, the Red Devils have become a chic choice to join the exclusive club of eight World Cup winners: Brazil (five), Germany and Italy (four), Argentina and Uruguay (two), and England, France and Spain (one). "Belgium was not the favorite because of the history of the country — and especially the history of the other countries," said former Dutch midfielder Clarence Seedorf, now a Fox analyst. "They're growing. Also, they're playing with important team spirit. So for me, it's not really a big surprise what they're doing at the moment." Training is conducted in English under Spanish coach Roberto Martinez, who spent a decade managing in England. Postgame interviews sound like a corridor at European Union headquarters in Brussels, with players alternating among English, French, Dutch and Spanish. Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has picked up a Scouse accent after five seasons with Liverpool. Seventeen of the 23 players were on Champions League clubs last season, a glamorous group that includes Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain. "That gives them the confidence and the experience to play at the highest level. That is what a World Cup is about," Mignolet said. "For us, it's now the third tournament in a row where we play, which gives you the experience, so nobody's really fussed about the occasion anymore. Maybe the two tournaments were a bit different where we arrived and we were thinking about what was going to happen. Everything was new." After completing the group stage against England on Thursday, Belgium would face Colombia, Poland, Senegal or Japan in the second round, and then could have a possible quarterfinal against Germany, Brazil or Mexico. Since losing their first match under Martinez to Spain two years ago, Belgium is unbeaten in 21 games (16 wins) and has outscored opponents 72-17 during the run. But while outscoring Panama and Tunisia by 8-2, the defense and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois looked like they could be exploited by better opposition. "Today what I saw is a team that it was prepared to suffer, prepared to work for each other, and we look well-balanced in that respect," Martinez said. "So when you've got that, then the individuals can show their talent." Lukaku has 15 goals in his last 10 international matches but left in the 59th minute after injuring an ankle ligament. Hazard came off nine minutes later with a calf problem, and forward Dries Mertens came out in the 86th after an ankle issue. Belgium came closest to a title at the 1980 European Championship, losing 2-1 to a German team that got a pair of goals from Horst Hrubesch. It has reached semifinals twice at major events, losing 2-1 to West Germany at the 1972 Euros and to Maradona's Argentina at the 1986 World Cup. After missing two straight World Cups, the Red Devils returned four years ago, beat the U.S. in extra time in the round of 16, then lost to Argentina in the quarters. At the 2016 Euros, they wasted an early lead in a 3-1 quarterfinal loss to Wales. Given the past and the sound and fury that would follow any misstep, Martinez wants to manage expectations. "To be a favorite in a World Cup, you need to have the know-how of winning a World Cup," he said. "The World Cup is something that probably gives you an advantage psychologically when you've won it before.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 24th, 2018

US Open hopes ultimate test doesn t feature trick questions

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (AP) — The U.S. Open wants to be the ultimate test in golf, and sometimes that leads to a series of trick questions. One of them was 14 years ago at Shinnecock Hills. A year after Jim Furyk tied the U.S. Open scoring record at Olympia Fields, the 2004 U.S. Open was so bone dry and lightning fast that only three players broke par on the weekend, none on Sunday. Fans having to move to the side because of a golf ball rolling toward them is not unusual, except when the player hit the shot with his putter from the green. Tee shots that landed on the seventh green rolled off the putting surface and into a bunker. One year after Rory McIlroy broke the U.S. Open scoring record at Congressional, no one broke par at Olympic Club in 2012 when Webb Simpson won. Moments like this lead to criticism that the USGA overreacts. Justin Rose sees it another way. "When everything is in balance, it's kind of boring," he said. "And I think in life, the closer you get to the edges, that's where the excitement is. So I would say the USGA is not reactionary. It's counterbalancing. So if you go too far one way, you've got to come back the other way. You don't want to fall off the edge." That's the question going into the 118th U.S. Open that starts Thursday. Might the USGA lean toward going easy on players because of what happened the last time at Shinnecock Hills? Or will it make it tougher on them because of the record scoring last year at Erin Hills? Brooks Koepka tied the record to par at 16 under, and six other players finished at 10 under or lower. "We're confident this should be a marvelous test," said Mike Davis, the chief executive of the USGA who has been in charge of setting up the courses for the U.S. Open since 2006 at Winged Foot, when the winning score was 5 over. Davis believes Shinnecock Hills is right where the USGA wants it, even with a light, steady rain on the final day of practice. Wednesday is never the measure of how a golf course presents itself. McIlroy is among those who likes what he sees. It's not a U.S. Open if players are not complaining, but it's been a quiet three days ahead of competition. The biggest question is whether the fairways are narrow enough. They are tighter than last year at Erin Hills, for sure, and an average of 15 yards wider than in 2004. "Honestly, I think they've got it right," McIlroy said. "It presents guys with options off the tee. You have to make a decision basically on every tee box what you're going to do. I'm obviously not that old, but when I watched U.S. Opens on TV and saw these long, narrow corridors of fairways and thick rough, that's what I was used to at a U.S. Open. ... If you look at the venues that are coming up, they're very traditional venues like Oakmont, Winged Foot, Pebble Beach. "Maybe you'll see more of what we perceive as a traditional U.S. Open setup." Rain was expected to yield to plenty of sun over the next four days, with the strongest wind on Thursday. Davis said he already has called several audibles on the original plan of where to put the pins on the greens, an example of the USGA not wanting the course to get on the wild side. Davis also said the winning score is not an issue at a major where par tends to be at a premium. "Never since I've been at the USGA — and it's been almost 30 years — I've never heard anybody at the USGA say we're shooting for even par," Davis said. "But we talk incessantly, 'How do we get the course to be really a great test of golf?' As we say, get all 14 clubs dirty to make sure that these players are tested to the nth degree." And what makes a good championship inside the ropes? The quality of the winner? Different players have won the last 15 U.S. Opens, the longest stretch of the four majors. The margin? The last playoff was 10 years ago when Tiger Woods won at Torrey Pines. Three of the last four U.S. Opens have been decided by three shots or more. "You need some great players in the mix," Rose said. "You need some great story lines." This U.S. Open is not lacking for either. Five players have a chance to replace Dustin Johnson at No. 1 in the world this week. Woods is hitting the ball well enough to win any week if he ever gets all parts of his game working together. To win a record-tying fourth U.S. Open would cap off an unlikely comeback following four back surgeries. Phil Mickelson, in the USGA record book with his six runner-up finishes, needs only this trophy to complete the career Grand Slam. "And then just a good test of golf where people think, 'Wow, they've really stepped up and played great golf under pressure,'" Rose added. "I think that's what people would like to see in this tournament is that guys are tested to the ends of the ability, to whether they can cope or not. And I think that's part of the charm ... not charm, but part of the allure of this tournament." The ultimate test starts Thursday. Results won't be available until the end of the week......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 14th, 2018

Rose practicing patience, perspective in the majors

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (AP) — Justin Rose was coming up on 15 years as a pro and still didn't have a major. What he found was perspective. "Between 30 and 40, that's going to be my opportunity to go really out and get things done," Rose said. "That's 40 major championships. I'm going to create chances with those 40. I'm going to be on leaderboards." More than getting into weekend conditions, however, was realizing that it wasn't always going to work out. It was OK to fail. That was the secret to playing so well under pressure at Merion, where he broke through in the 2013 U.S. Open. "I think what happened to me at Merion, I also realized I'm going to win majors, and I'm also going to lose majors," he said. "You can't skip through your career without one or two slipping through the net. It's a byproduct of being on the leaderboard that those things happen. So I wasn't scared of losing, and that helped me win my first major championship. I wasn't shying away from the pressure of trying to win my first major." Rose had top 10s in the majors, but he didn't have a lot of chances in his 20s. The lone exception was 2007 at the Masters, where he started the final round one shot out of the lead, closed with a 73 and finished three shots back. Since his victory at Merion, he played in the final group at the 2015 Masters and couldn't make up any ground on Jordan Spieth's four-shot lead, and he lost a two-shot lead on the back nine in the 2017 Masters before losing in a playoff to Sergio Garcia. He also started three back on the final day at St. Andrews in 2015. "Ideally in your career, you grasp more than slip away, right?" he said. "But it's a byproduct of being a good player and being on the leaderboard that both things are going to happen." The message applies to Rickie Fowler, who finished one shot behind Patrick Reed at the Masters. Fowler also had a share of the lead on the back nine at Valhalla in the 2014 PGA Championship, and he played in the final group at two majors that same year. A year ago at the U.S. Open, Fowler started the final round two shots behind. "He's creating those opportunities," Rose said. "He played plenty well enough at the Masters that it could have been his year. He will let one or two go in the future. He's going to be on the leaderboard for a long, long time, and I'm sure things are going to line up for him more than once." ___ WEDDING BELLS Rickie Fowler was lugging around something and it was high time he got rid of it. So he asked girlfriend Allison Stokke to marry him while they were on a Long Island beach. "There was nothing planned out," Fowler said Wednesday, four days after he and Stokke, a former track and field athlete at Cal, got engaged. "I just really didn't want to carry the ring around any longer." That comment drew hearty laughter at a news conference for the U.S. Open. "So it worked out perfectly," he added. "We kept things very, very casual. And like I said, I didn't have anything planned out. ... I didn't want to have to keep toting that thing around for that long." Fowler got traditional, getting down on his knees to ask for her hand in marriage. Waves broke against the shore just behind the couple as Fowler's friend and PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas snapped photos. ___ PEBBLES IN THE SAND The USGA has a local rule for Shinnecock Hills in this U.S. Open that allows players to remove stones and pebbles from bunkers without penalty. Phil Mickelson could have used that 14 years ago. Tied for the lead with two holes to play, Mickelson made double bogey from the bunker on the 17th hole and finished two behind Retief Goosen. Mickelson never talked about the bunker shot after his round, but Fred Funk revealed what happened in a 2014 interview. There was a small rock under his ball. "We didn't know the rock was there, but you could hear it," said Funk, who played with Mickelson in the final round. "Phil showed me his pitching wedge. But he never said anything about it (to the media)." Mickelson's shot ran out about 5 or 6 feet above the hole. The bigger problem was running the putt by 4 feet and missing the comebacker. Funk thought small rocks could be removed as long as the player could see it, though the USGA confirmed the local rule was not in effect in 2004. ___ ALL-AMERICAN This year's U.S. Open will be a chance to celebrate the state of golf in the country. Americans hold all four of golf's major trophies for the first time since 2004. Patrick Reed won the Masters this year, joining PGA champion Justin Thomas, British Open champion Jordan Spieth and last year's U.S. Open winner, Brooks Koepka. The last time that happened was 2004, when Phil Mickelson won his first major. At the time, Jim Furyk (U.S. Open), Ben Curtis (British) and Shaun Micheel were the reigning champions. But it's not just the majors. The United States also won the most recent Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup, Solheim Cup and Walker Cup. Rory McIlroy, who hopes to end the streak, attributed it to golf going in cycles. And he said some of the credit goes to Tiger Woods. "European golf was very healthy a few years ago for a long time," he said. "It seemed every major, someone from the island of Ireland turned up to, we were winning it. It doesn't seem that long ago. But the great young players from this country, they're playing well. They have probably a couple of guys, but one in particular that they try to emulate who's back out here playing, and he's become a friend of theirs. "I think that's been a huge part of all this," he said. "A lot of these guys have gotten to know Tiger. And being able to say, 'OK, this is what he does, and we might not be able to achieve everything that he has, but you can at least try to do that.' I think that's been a huge thing for Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups, and them as individuals." ___ AP Sports Writers Barry Wilner and Jimmy Golen contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 14th, 2018

Spieth in mini-slump heading to Shinnecock Hills, US Open

By Barry Wilner, Associated Press SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (AP) — Lots of folks have become accustomed to seeing Jordan Spieth's name atop leaderboards, particularly at golf's majors. So has Spieth. Yet since winning the British Open last July, Spieth barely has been a factor on the weekends. He believed third-place finishes in Houston and at the Masters had indicated a turnaround heading into this week's U.S. Open. But since Augusta, his best showing in five tournaments is a tie for 21st at the Byron Nelson, and he twice missed cuts, including most recently at the Memorial. Not quite the stuff that rocketed Spieth to the top of golf, with Masters and U.S. Open wins in 2015, and his third major last summer at Royal Birkdale. "Yeah, I think my patience has been tested, just not going into Saturday or Sunday with a legitimate chance to win but maybe once," Spieth said Tuesday at Shinnecock Hills. "Technically the Masters, I didn't really have a chance. The back nine, I ended up giving myself a chance. "Yeah, just the limited number compared to previous years of chances I've had on the weekends has been frustrating." Spieth, 24, always has been mature as a competitor and person. When he went after the career Grand Slam for the first time last year at the PGA Championship, he wound up 10 shots back. No one contemplated he wouldn't have won another PGA Tour title since, missing two cuts before the Masters and two more after. While exasperated, Spieth, as always, believes he is close to the way out of this mini-slump — for him, at least. "Over the last, since probably in between Austin (a first-round elimination by Patrick Reed in match play) and Houston was a really big weekend for me of settling down and getting back on the right track with things," he said. "And recognizing that it's a long career, and, you know, results aren't going to come by wanting them to come. They're going to come by being obsessed with the process, getting back to the basics, being an athlete, figuring out within the swing, the intricacies of the game. Kind of the stuff — the reason I love to practice — that's what's going to kind of bring it back, and results aren't everything." Maybe not, except that when the results have been so spectacular so quickly, they become how you are measured by the public. Spieth has won 11 times in his first five full seasons, including those three major championships. His putting skills are envied by many of his peers. So are his analytical breakdowns of shots, holes, his swing. His optimism that all will be right again is praise-worthy — and probably accurate. "I feel like my game is in the best shape it's been in a long time, including last year," he said. "And my results don't necessarily speak towards that, but I feel that way, and so I'll stick with the process, and they'll surely come at some point." If that point is this week, Spieth must outshoot not only the sentimental fan choices (Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson) but all of those young guns who have begun to grab majors: Reed, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka. "It almost feels like I'm back in high school and college," Spieth joked. "These are the same guys we used to battle it out with then, and I'd win one, then they would win one. It's just blown up now because there was no coverage; no one really cared to watch us back then, and now people do. "But it's nothing different than what we've kind of been doing with each other for a number of years. It's really cool to be out here doing it, but I don't think we ... think of it as a totally different experience than anything we've always kind of done.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 13th, 2018

Tiger Woods digs for the week is more than a dinghy

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (AP) — Tiger Woods brought his yacht, Privacy, to a U.S. Open in New York and missed the cut for the first time in a major. That was 12 years ago when the Open was at Winged Foot. He can only hope for a different outcome at Shinnecock Hills. "Staying on the dinghy helps," Woods said with a grin. The 155-foot yacht is said to include a Jacuzzi, gym and movie theater. It doesn't sound as though Woods has spent much time ashore except for being at Shinnecock Hills for his first U.S. Open in three years. "Sag Harbor is a cute little town," he said. "I've only been there for a few days now. I haven't really got a chance to walk about a little bit, but certainly will this week. So far, it's been nice to kind of get away from the tournament scene and go there to my dinghy, and just really enjoy it." Woods at least has been able to avoid the traffic that has led to commutes of close to two hours from the official hotel depending on the time of morning. Most players have rented homes in the Southampton area. Woods said he stayed with Shinnecock Hills members when he played as an amateur in the 1995 U.S. Open, and near the course in 2004. The Hamptons has no shortage of yachts, and someone suggested to Woods that it must feel odd not to have the biggest ship in New York. "I'm not opposed to that," Woods said. ___ PLAYOFF FEVER Jordan Spieth now knows that when he's tied for the lead after 72 holes on Sunday, his work is not done. The USGA has changed its playoff format for all its open championships. If the U.S. Open goes to a playoff, it will be a two-hole aggregate playoff (followed by sudden death if still tied), instead of an 18-hole playoff. Spieth was asked about the two-hole playoff. "It's the first I've heard of that being an option," he said. "It's still 18 holes, right?" Wrong. "I guess the strategy changes a little from an entire round, but I honestly had no idea that it even changed," he said. "I was even looking at a weather forecast for Monday, thinking, 'What's it look like if you happen to work your way into a playoff?' So shows you what I know." He wasn't alone. Justin Thomas was asked about the new format and conceded that he wasn't aware it changed to a two-hole aggregate until he was at lunch. It wasn't clear if he read a memo from the USGA or the transcript of Spieth's news conference about four hours earlier. ___ BACK TO NO. 2 If you blinked, you might have missed Justin Thomas' reign atop golf's world ranking. The PGA champion took the top spot in May. It's gone, with Dustin Johnson's win at Memphis last weekend catapulting him to No. 1, with Thomas just behind. Of course, a win at Shinnecock Hills in the U.S. Open this week would push Thomas back to the top. "It didn't affect me, or it wasn't that hard on me because I couldn't do anything about it," Thomas said. "I wasn't playing. I played one tournament and had a good tournament, finished eighth. And D.J. won, so it's not like he didn't play well and didn't earn it or anything. He won a golf tournament and a great tournament. So there's nothing I can be upset about for that." Thomas could even laugh a bit about the ranking. "I saw something that was just hysterical on social media," he explained, "how a lot of the times, you know, when teams or players or whatever it is go on long runs, like the last time this happened. I mean, a little biased but often a scenario is last time Tennessee beat Alabama in football, you know, like iPhones weren't alive yet and stuff like that." So what was Thomas' "last time" moment? "I saw something so funny yesterday," he said. "It was like the last time that I wasn't ranked No. 1 in the world, and it was like (Alex) Ovechkin didn't have a Stanley Cup and Rickie (Fowler) wasn't engaged. That was it. I thought it was pretty funny, whoever came up with that." ___ SPIETH AND HIS PUTTER For all the attention on the short putts Jordan Spieth has missed this year, he still is regarded as one of the best putters in golf. That's the club that effectively won the British Open for him last summer. Spieth faced a tough question Tuesday, however, when asked if there was someone he regarded as better. He paused. "A lot of great putters out here," he said, buying time. "That's why they're out here," he said, buying even more time. He finally took the safe way out by saying that no single players come to mind, though he made it clear his confidence isn't shaken on the greens. "I'd still like to bet on myself, if I can," he said. Spieth said he prefers to think about who makes putts in big moments, and whether the ball is holed with the right speed and right break. He has made plenty of those, not only at Royal Birkdale last summer but at Chambers Bay on the par-3 16th and even at the Tour Championship in 2015 when he won the FedEx Cup. And he hasn't forgotten Tiger Woods. "Nobody's done that better in the last 20 years than Tiger as far as clutch putting goes," he said. ___ TRAILER LIVING Jason Day has learned that life in a motor home can be rewarding on the PGA Tour. He also has learned it can be messy when Bubba Watson is around. Day is staying in what he calls "the bus" in a parking area close to Shinnecock Hills for the U.S. Open. The Australian uses the RV for about 15 tournaments a season, and several other tour golfers have joined him. One is Watson. "Bubba just got one this year, and I'm very kind of more private, and he's, yeah, he's a little bit more outgoing," Day recalled, a wide smile on his face. "And I think we're at Augusta, and he walks under my bus, and he's like, 'Hey, man, what are you doing?' "I'm just sitting in the bus watching TV. He's like OK. And he's standing there. And I'm like, do you want to come inside? And he's eating a burrito, and he decides to come in and talk to me for about 30 minutes. He gets his burrito all over the ground and then just leaves. "Actually, it's nice to have people like that around, you know, to mess your bus up when you need them to." ___ AP Sports Writer Barry Wilner contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 13th, 2018

Woods to play with No. 1 and 2 in the world at US Open

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press Tiger Woods will play the opening two rounds of the U.S. Open with Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson, which feels like a grouping of Nos. 1-2-3 in the world ranking. Except that Woods is No. 80. The USGA released its tee times Thursday for the U.S. Open next week at Shinnecock Hills, and it offered two stacked groups for the morning and afternoon. Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy tee off together in the morning of the first round. Woods, Johnson and Thomas are together in the afternoon. This is the 10-year anniversary of the USGA first putting together the Nos. 1-2-3 players in the world at Torrey Pines — Woods, Mickelson and Adam Scott. Woods is playing the U.S. Open for the first time since he missed the cut at Chambers Bay in 2015. He has been out of golf for most of the past two years recovering from back surgeries, and his world ranking fell as low as No. 1,199 until returning to competition last December. In nine PGA Tour events, he has a pair of top 10s and had missed the cut only one time. It will be the first time Woods and Johnson have played together in a major, and their first time in the same group since the opening two rounds of Torrey Pines in 2017 when both missed the cut. That doesn't include the round they played with President Donald Trump the day after Thanksgiving last year. Woods and Thomas have played together only once in competition, at Riviera in the Genesis Open, the only cut Woods has missed this year. But they play occasionally at home in south Florida. Mickelson gets his third crack at Shinnecock Hills, where he was in position to win in 1995 and in 2004. In his first appearance, Mickelson played the par-5 16th in 6 over for the week and finished four shots behind Corey Pavin. The previous time, he briefly had a one-shot lead with two holes to play when he made double bogey on the 71st hole and lost by two shots to Retief Goosen. The U.S. Open is the only major Mickelson lacks for the career Grand Slam. McIlroy and Spieth also have three legs of the career Slam, with McIlroy missing the Masters and Spieth lacking the PGA Championship. This will be the fifth time Spieth and McIlroy, the two biggest attractions among the younger generation, play together in a major. Mickelson previously has played with McIlroy four times in the majors, including the 2011 U.S. Open that McIlroy won by eight shots for his first major, and the 2013 British Open that Mickelson won at Muirfield. The USGA went with an All-Spain group for Sergio Garcia, Jon Rahm and Rafa Cabrera Bello; and All-Asian group with Li Haotong of China, Si Woo Kim of South Korea and Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand; and an All-England group featuring Tyrrell Hatton, Danny Willett and Ian Poulter. Six spots have been set aside for those who get into the top 60 in the world this week, though only two players, Emiliano Grillo and Byeong Hun An, are assured of that and only one other player can make the top 60 by winning the FedEx St. Jude Classic. The top of the order for alternates come from Japan (Rikuya Hoshino), Tennessee (Scott Piercy) and Ohio (Ted Potter Jr.), but that's only to fill vacant spots. If a qualifier were to withdraw, his spot would be taken by the alternate from his sectional site......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 8th, 2018

Pondering lunch, Sascha Zverev saves match point in Paris

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Talented and pegged-for-success as Alexander Zverev might be, there he was in the French Open's main stadium Friday, on the precipice of a third-round defeat and yet another Grand Slam disappointment. A loss would have left the No. 2-seeded Zverev with an 0-8 record at major tournaments against men ranked in the top 50. A loss also would have left his resume still with merely one trip as far as the round of 16 at any Slam — and zero such runs at Roland Garros. In the fourth set, his opponent served for the victory. In the fifth, the circumstances were more dire: Zverev faced a match point. Both times, he proved steadier and sturdier than Damir Dzumhur, a Bosnian ranked 29th and seeded 26th, and Zverev eventually prevailed 6-2, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6 (3), 7-5 in 3 hours, 54 minutes. It gave the 21-year-old German his second consecutive five-set win; he trailed two sets to one in each. It also showed — not just to others but, perhaps more importantly, to Zverev himself — that he can handle such occasions, that he is capable of doing what's necessary when the sets and hours add up, and that he is perhaps finally ready to stride into the very last days at a major. He's the only active player outside of the "Big 4" of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray with three Masters titles. But Grand Slam success has been elusive. As for what sort of internal strife was happening in Zverev's head Friday? "None," Zverev said. "Mainly, I was thinking (about) what I was going to have for lunch." Well, then. He acknowledged drawing a dose of confidence from managing to win two five-setters in a row, "knowing that I'm fit enough to last as long as I want." In contrast, No. 4 Grigor Dimitrov was unable to pull off back-to-back five-set wins. The two-time major semifinalist fell to 0-7 against top-50 foes at the French Open with a 7-6 (4), 6-2, 6-4 loss to 35th-ranked Fernando Verdasco. "I lost my nerves early on," Dimitrov said. "He played an absolutely stunning match. What can I say?" Verdasco's seventh career fourth-round match at Roland Garros — he's never won one — will come against 2016 champion Djokovic, who seemed to come alive after obliterating his racket in the second-set tiebreaker and wound up eliminating No. 13 Roberto Bautista-Agut 6-4, 6-7 (6), 7-6 (4), 6-2. "Sometimes emotions get the worst out of you, you know," Djokovic said, "or the best out of you, whatever you want to call it." In Dzumhur's case, he was afflicted by jitters while on the verge of making it to a major's last 16 for the first time. Dzumhur served for the match leading 6-5 in the fourth set. But everything fell apart with this sequence: forehand into the net, forehand wide, drop shot into the net, backhand into the net. Just like that, he'd been broken at love. A later errant backhand ended the tiebreaker. "I was not mentally ready to win that match in the fourth set. And I just was rushing a little bit in that service game," Dzumhur said, before offering some credit to Zverev. "He was playing very smart in that moment. He let me do mistakes." Ahead 5-4 in the fifth, Dzumhur was one point from winning while Zverev served at 30-40. But Zverev — at 6-foot-6 (1.98 meters), he is 9 inches (20 centimeters) taller than Dzumhur — came up with the goods, a 118 mph service winner. Dzumhur again helped Zverev, putting a pair of easy backhands into the net, then later said of the first of those: "That's the point that I will probably remember." Perhaps Zverev will, too. More likely, he won't fuss too much over the details, including that Dzumhur entered the French Open with a losing record this year. Instead, it's the outcome that matters. That didn't used to be the case, when Zverev was 12 and coached by Dad. His father taught Sascha, as Zverev is called by many, and brother Mischa — in third-round action Saturday — the importance at that age of process over results, preparing them for success not as juniors but as pros. And now? "I'm trying to win. That's all that matters. It doesn't matter how long it goes. It doesn't matter how much time I'll spend on court," Zverev said. "It doesn't matter if it goes 9-7 in the fifth or it goes 6-1, 6-1, 6-2." He seems more equipped for the former now than ever......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 2nd, 2018

Zidane quits as Real Madrid coach after Champs League treble

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Zinedine Zidane quit as Real Madrid coach on Thursday, less than a week after leading the team to its third straight Champions League title, saying the club needed a change in command. The 45-year-old Zidane, who was coach for two and half seasons, said he felt it was the right moment — for him and for the team — to make the move. "This club needs a change to keep winning," Zidane said. "With me it would have been complicated to keep winning." It was a surprising announcement by Zidane, who won nine titles as Madrid coach, including the three Champions League titles, one Spanish league title, one Spanish Super Cup, two UEFA Super Cups and two Club World Cups. "It was a completely unexpected decision," Madrid president Florentino Perez said. "Today is a sad day for me, for the fans and for all the people who work at the club. I wish we could always have Zidane by our side, but we know that when Zizou makes a decision, the only thing we can do is to accept it and respect it." Zidane said there wasn't a specific reason that led him to his decision. "You have to know when to quit," he said. "After three years, (the club) needs a change in speech, a new work methodology." Zidane mentioned the struggles the team faced this season, including in the Spanish league and the Copa del Rey. Madrid finished third in the league — 17 points behind champion Barcelona — and was eliminated at home by Leganes in the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey, a moment which Zidane said was the worst of his coaching career with the club. "We went through good moments but also complicated ones, and I don't forget them," Zidane said. "I want to leave when everything is going well. This is a good moment to end it well." Zidane spoke little about his future but said he is not immediately looking to coach another club. Perez also didn't talk much about the club's search for a new coach. Zidane said his best moment with Madrid was when he was signed to play for the club in 2001. "As a coach, there were a lot things, like winning the Champions League, but if there was one specific moment, it was to win La Liga (in 2017). It was the greatest thing," the Frenchman said. Zidane's decision to quit came after Cristiano Ronaldo hinted he could be leaving the club. The star forward said after the Champions League final against Liverpool in Kiev that "it was very beautiful" to have played with Madrid. He has yet to make any announcements about his future since then. Zidane was hired in January 2016 for what was his first major head-coaching job. The former star player arrived surrounded by doubts because of his lack of coaching experience but quickly surpassed expectations. Zidane replaced Rafa Benitez after a stint with Madrid's "B'' team. He had been an assistant to Carlo Ancelotti when Madrid won the Champions League in 2014. As a player, Zidane was in two consecutive Champions League finals with Juventus, losing both times, including to Madrid in 1998. He finally won the European title as a Madrid player in 2002, scoring an amazing volley in the final against Bayer Leverkusen. With France, he won the 1998 World Cup. In the 2006 final, he was sent off for headbutting Italy defender Marco Materazzi. "It could be a 'see you soon,' because Madrid has given me everything and I'll be linked to this club my entire life," Zidane said. "The decision may not make a lot of sense to many, but it does to me. It was time to make a change.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 31st, 2018

Tiger Woods hopes he’s close to putting his game together

DUBLIN, Ohio --- The two biggest figures at the Memorial, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, managed to carve out some private time at the back of the 10th tee amid a mass of people Wednesday at Muirfield Village. Some of it was just catching up. The two most prolific winners of major championship had not seen each other since April at the Masters. And the tournament host had some encouraging words. Nicklaus complimented Woods on his swing, and then told him what Woods has felt for the last few months. "He was saying that my swing is starting to look a little bit better," Woods said. "And I said, 'Yeah, I'm really not that far away,' and he totally agreed. He just kept urgi...Keep on reading: Tiger Woods hopes he’s close to putting his game together.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsMay 31st, 2018

Sargent & Weah, both 18, score as US beats Bolivia 3-0

By Ronald Blum, Associated Press CHESTER, Pa. (AP) — Josh Sargent became the fourth-youngest American to score, making an audacious interception of a goalkeeper's pass over his head to put the ball into the net in his international debut at just 18 years, 102 days. Tim Weah, two days younger than Sargent, got his first goal seven minutes later. With no World Cup to play for, the United States gave youth a chance and they came through in a 3-0 exhibition win over an equally inexperienced Bolivia team on Monday night. "It's great feeling both of us getting to do this together," Sargent said. Walker Zimmerman, a relative geezer at 25 but making just his third international appearance, put the Americans ahead in the 37th minute with his first international goal , on a header from Joe Corona's corner kick. Sargent doubled the lead in the 52nd. "We've come such a long way," said Weah, a son of former FIFA Player of the Year and current Liberia President George Weah. "We just want to impress our fans. We just want to play with our hearts." Christian Pulisic, playing exactly two years after become the youngest American to score — also against Bolivia — struggled to make sharp touches in the 19-year-old's first national team match since the loss at Trinidad and Tobago last October that ended the U.S. streak of seven consecutive World Cup appearances. Interim U.S. coach Dave Sarachan gave six players their debuts, raising the total to 15 in four matches since he took over after the loss in Trinidad. Defenders Erik Palmer-Brown and Antonee Robinson and goalkeeper Alex Bono joined Sargent as debutants in the starting lineup, and defender Matt Olosunde and midfielder Keaton Parks entered in the second half. The U.S. starting lineup averaged 22 years, 160 days, and 6.7 international appearances. Fans always have sky-high hopes prospects will become stars, and Sargent and Weah raised the anticipation even higher. "They're reading a lot about themselves and so on," Sarachan said. "They're still steps. If you want to get to A, you still start at D and then to C, then to B. We're very quick to jump them up into the A category. I think that's a process that we have to manage, with expectations, with a lot of noise on the outside." Only three Americans have scored at a younger age than Weah and Sargent: Pulisic (17 years, 253 days), Juan Agudelo at South Africa in 2010 (17-359) and Jozy Altidore against Mexico in 2008 (18-96). Agudelo is the only younger player to score in his debut. Weah has played just three first-team matches for Paris Saint-Germain, one of his father's former clubs, entering twice as a second-half sub in March and getting his first start on the final day of the season this month. Sargent hasn't played any. Sargent scored four goals at last year's Under-20 World Cup and three at the Under-17 World Cup, where Weah was a teammate. He signed a pro contract with Werder Bremen on his 18th birthday, Feb. 20. That was after the international transfer window closed, making him ineligible until next season. "I was very nervous to be honest coming out," Sargent said. "It was my first professional game ever." He made up for lack of experience with daring. Goalkeeper Carlos Lampe rolled the ball to Luis Haquin on the right flank, and the defender returned it. Lampe lofted the ball back toward Haquin. Sargent turned toward the touchline to follow the flight of the ball, stuck out his right leg near the edge of the penalty area to redirect it back toward the center of the field, and then ran onto the ball for an 11-yard right-footed shot that deflected in off the keeper's leg. "I saw him start to chip the ball over, so I started backing up a little bit, and had a good touch to turn it around and good shot," Sargent said. Weah scored after Antonee Robinson beat a defender down the left flank and made a one-hop cross into the penalty area. Weah made a perfect cut and volleyed the ball with his right foot. "Once I saw the service come in, I was like, I got to get there. I got to get this. This is my opportunity to get the goal," Weah said exuberantly. He had felt pain in his right knee after a challenge about 15 minutes in and signaled he needed to come off. "He was all over the shop," Sarachan said. "He looked like a kid that has never played at a higher level, to a guy that was looking to come out a game where he wasn't sure if he was even hurt to flying and beating guys. And so he was the prototypical young, nervous guy." NOTES: Nico Romeijn, the U.S. Soccer Federation's chief sport development officer, said the USSF intends to hire the GM before the World Cup, a position expected to go to former American forward Earnie Stewart, currently sporting director of Major League Soccer's Philadelphia Union. The new GM will head the search for a new coach, whom the USSF hopes to have in place ahead of September exhibitions. "But maybe it takes more time. You never know," Romeijn said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 29th, 2018

Thompson, Warriors force inevitable Game 7

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com OAKLAND, Calif. -- The final game of the Western Conference season will tip on the last Monday in May (Tuesday, PHL time) at the Toyota Center in Houston, as it should. This is the route the GPS mapped out back in October and never had any reason to recalculate from since. Warriors at Rockets in a winner-take-all. Never in doubt, no? A pair of championship-quality teams will go 48 minutes and the previous six games in this series tells us to expect a tense jump ball-to-buzzer affair. With or without Chris Paul. Paul’s inflamed right hamstring is a significant flaw, no question, yet the Rockets do have home-court advantage and will hear a crazed crowd trying to fill the void with noise if as expected Paul misses a second straight game. The Rockets didn’t have their point guard and spiritual leader Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) and still sent an early chill through the defending champions on enemy soil, going up 17 after the first quarter and 10 at halftime. Oracle Arena and the Warriors were confused. Then Game 6 flipped suddenly and drastically in the second half, as the Warriors rolled to a 115-86 victory. and here we are. Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni: “We got what we want, a seventh game on our home court, now it’s up to us to go get it.” Warriors guard Klay Thompson said: “I feel like we’re the best team in the world.” The Rockets constructed this team specifically to challenge and beat the Warriors. Meanwhile, the Warriors paced themselves through the regular season partly to conserve their attention and energy for Houston, which has Golden State’s attention like no team before in the West playoffs. Both are causing each other irritating problems. The Rockets’ defense with its switching and hand-in-the-face pressure is forcing Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry to work hard for their shots. The Warriors’ ability to thrive even if not all four of their All-Stars are clicking is testing Houston’s limits; such was the case in Game 6 when Thompson, the No. 3 Guy, broke loose for 35 points with nine threes. That’s what makes the Warriors tough to erase: They don’t need to be perfect, and good for them, because they haven’t been in this series, with the exception of their 41-point victory in Game 3. About Thompson: He was locked in, emotionally and physically, popping off screens, catching and shooting, creating space to get good looks and punching the air after big three's. The energy and the shots saved the Warriors from a lackluster and potentially deadly start. Thompson stayed in rhythm most of the night while Curry (29 points) and Durant (23) went through off-and-on cold stretches and afterward joked how he was “born” for this. “Man, that felt good, to be honest,” Thompson said. “I just wanted to play with as much passion as I could. I probably sounded more vocal than I am.” There was a natural link to the last time Thompson was this splashy in a Game 6 elimination game, two summers ago when he dropped 41 on Oklahoma City to trigger a comeback from 3-1 down. Durant was on the wrong side of that performance. “Please don’t go there,” begged Durant, bowing his head. “Next question.” Mindful of what happened right after that series -- the Warriors would blow a 3-1 lead of their own to Cleveland -- Curry said: “I think we both blocked that whole year out of our memory.” Actually, that volcanic performance by Thompson helped convince Durant to leave Oklahoma City, which led to last year’s championship and helped build a solid case for the Warriors to repeat next month. Thompson’s latest piece of work helped awaken the Warriors from being trapped in an extended state of stun, courtesy of how fierce the Rockets came at them right from the start. The Houston lead grew to double digits within minutes and stayed that way through the break. This was further evidence that the Rockets, in this game and actually for the series so far, refuse to concede anything and believe this West title is realistic even with Paul’s status uncertain. “I saw a lot of things that I liked,” said D’Antoni, “and I think we’re in a good position.” Eric Gordon, a strong candidate to win the Kia NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award, started in place of Paul and was a concern for the Warriors, drilling deep shots and scoring 19 points. Also, Harden rediscovered his own touch from that distance; he’d missed 22 straight threes in this series but made four and scored 32 points. Houston missed Paul’s composure and steady point guard hand, which could be expected. The Rockets had 22 turnovers, with the Harden-Gordon backcourt combining for 14. The other issue for the Rockets was depth. With Gordon in the starting lineup, D’Antoni was forced to give minutes to Luc Mbah a Moute, still struggling after hurting his shoulder just prior to the playoffs. He wasn’t a factor and neither was the bench. Assuming Paul sits another game, the Rockets will undoubtedly need major scoring and playmaking from Harden, solid shotgun work from Gordon and at least two members of the support group -- Trevor Ariza, P.J. Tucker, Clint Capela -- to break loose in order to make Game 7 interesting. Remember, the Rockets have now gone four straight games without breaking 100 points, and Harden appeared beaten in the fourth quarter Saturday where he went scoreless. The Warriors are also dealing with a missing part, with Andre Iguodala’s inactive streak now at three. They’re crossing fingers whenever Kevon Looney, Jordan Bell and/or Nick Young are pressed to play more than 15 minutes. None of them have distinguished themselves since Iguodala suffered a bone bruise on his left knee in Game 3. So that’s the tale of the tape. Between now and tipoff, the Rockets’ therapy staff will work on Paul’s hamstring, hoping for some intervention from the Medical Gods. In the perfect basketball world, Paul and Iguodala would be fit to play; why should the finish of this series be deprived of them, of less than what it should be? Last fall, before training camp, Paul, Harden and Tucker vacationed in the Bahamas for one last moment of chill before preparations for a season of big expectations. Obviously, they talked shop. They set goals and their sights on the Warriors. Tucker asked Paul and Harden: Imagine if we get them on our court for a Game 7. They all nodded and agreed it would be a logical scenario to launch themselves into the NBA Finals. “Obviously we hope to have our starting point guard back,” Tucker said. “If not, we need to be ready.” The Warriors held no such pre-camp huddle -- champions have what others want -- yet knew that once the Rockets added Paul, Houston would be their toughest test since Durant signed up. Warriors vs. Rockets in a single-game elimination is the proper stage, then, to determine who reps the West in the NBA Finals. D’Antoni said: “It should be a great game.” Curry: “It should be fun. This is what you play for, to be in a situation where you’re one win away from going to The Finals. You’ve got to want it.” Truthfully, neither team would rather be in a winner-take-all. Sweeping would be vastly preferred. But the other part about what Curry said is definitely true: Who wants it? Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 27th, 2018

2018 WORLD CUP: England looks to beak cycle of pain

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press MANCHESTER, England (AP) — England is attempting to break a cycle of heartache and humiliation at major tournaments that plunged the birthplace of football to its lowest ebb. A loss to Iceland in the last 16 of the 2016 European Championship was perhaps the ultimate embarrassment. Or maybe that came when the English endured their shortest World Cup campaign two years earlier whey they were only in contention for eight days. Before that, there were penalty shootout losses in 1990, 1996, 1998, 2004, 2006 and 2012. And before that, who could forget Diego Maradona's "Hand of God" goal that denied England in the World Cup semifinals in 1986? It's no surprise that the nation's expectations are low heading to Russia. England coach Gareth Southgate has long been tempering his team's prospects. Defender Kyle Walker even acknowledged it would be a "miracle" if England won football's biggest prize this year. England won the 1966 World Cup, but has only reached the semifinals of a tournament twice since then. What next for one of the underachievers of international football? Encouraging draws in recent friendlies against Brazil, Germany and Italy show the English are heading in the right direction but they have been here before in the run-up to tournaments. Here's a closer look at the England team: COACH Southgate was promoted from England's under-21 team to become coach of the senior side in September 2016, with the appointment widely viewed with skepticism because of his lack of managerial experience in top-level soccer. However, opinions are changing on the former England defender who missed the decisive penalty in a shootout against Germany in the European Championship semifinals in 1996. He has made brave selection decisions — dropping Wayne Rooney, for starters — and has implemented a bold approach that has seen the team adopt a three-man defense and play the ball out from the back as much as possible. GOALKEEPERS Long-time starter Joe Hart has lost his place after a tough two years on loan at Torino and West Ham from Manchester City, with Jordan Pickford and Jack Butland moving ahead in the pecking order. Pickford, whose distribution is superior to Butland's, is expected to begin the World Cup as first choice. Hart should still be in the squad as third-choice goalkeeper, with Southgate valuing his experience gained playing for City and at international level since 2010. DEFENDERS Kieran Trippier and Ashley Young — attacking full backs with good delivery and energy — look to be England's starting wing backs, so it is the center-back combination that will be occupying Southgate's thoughts. John Stones and Harry Maguire are favorites to start even though the former is fourth choice at Manchester City and has barely played in 2018, while the latter is inexperienced. Kyle Walker, a pacey right back, has impressed in recent friendlies as a right-sided center back and other options include Joe Gomez, James Tarkowski and Alfie Mawson. MIDFIELDERS England will play with either two or three central midfielders, depending if the team is deployed in a 3-5-2 or 3-4-3 formation, and they are likely to be functional, hard-working players. It's a far cry from the days when the country could call upon stars of the Premier League like Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Paul Scholes. Instead, Southgate will rely on selfless players such as Jordan Henderson, Eric Dier, Jake Livermore and the unheralded Lewis Cook, who will keep their shape and allow the wing backs and forward players to offer a goal threat. With Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain definitely out injured and Adam Lallana unlikely to prove his fitness, the injury-prone Jack Wilshere could again make the plane as a wildcard midfielder. FORWARDS The most straightforward department for Southgate: Harry Kane will start as the central striker, with Jamie Vardy and Marcus Rashford as backups. Kane has been hit and miss for Tottenham this season, especially in recent weeks after returning quicker than expected from an ankle injury, but is England's most lethal striker and arguably its most important player. Raheem Sterling will be the main support for Kane, maybe along with either Jesse Lingard, Dele Alli or even 22-year-old Ruben Loftus-Cheek if Southgate opts for a 3-4-3 formation. GROUP GAMES England, which is based just outside St. Petersburg, opens Group G against Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18. The team then plays Panama in Nizhny Novgorod on June 24 and finishes against Belgium in Kaliningrad on June 28......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 1st, 2018