Advertisements


I wasn t good enough : Hamilton admits Bottas deserves Silverstone pole

Silverstone, United Kingdom | World champion Lewis Hamilton admitted he "wasn't good enough" after Valtteri Bottas showed just why champions Mercedes re-signed him for 2021 earlier this week by grabbing pole position at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix on Saturday.....»»

Category: sportsSource: thestandard thestandardAug 9th, 2020

Hamilton denied Brit GP pole by Bottas, takes on negativity

By Rob Harris, Associated Press SILVERSTONE, England (AP) — By only six milliseconds — 0.006 — Lewis Hamilton was left in an unusual position on Saturday: Missing out on pole for the British Grand Prix. The pause was a lot longer when the Formula One leader was later surprised to be asked why "people question your Britishness" in the post-qualifying news conference. Look around Silverstone at the flags and banners and there is little doubt who the home crowd of more than 100,000 wants to win on Sunday. But after being outpaced by Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton will not start from the front of the grid at the British GP for the first time since 2014. "It wasn't the best of qualifying sessions," Hamilton said, "but it is a long race tomorrow." It is a race Hamilton is trying to win for a record sixth time, further cementing the racing excellence of Britain's five-time world champion. But Hamilton still has to shake off some negativity. Hamilton was quizzed by a reporter from Britain's Guardian newspaper on why there is a "contention because people say you live in Monaco and your accent isn't maybe as British as others because you spend a lot of time in the U.S." "I don't have a good answer for that," Hamilton replied. "It is crazy because I remember growing up and watching Jenson Button and all the youngsters coming through and everyone migrated to Monaco. Nobody ever said anything about it. But, of course, when I did, they had something to say. "No matter how often that you go abroad or elsewhere in the world you come back to the U.K., see the countryside, and this great history of Formula One and motorsport and I see all my family who are also here and this feels where my heart is. I am fully British." The Silverstone circuit is also bedecked with Hamilton banners and Union Jack flags featuring his name. "Whilst there will be negative views, I feel every day there is an opportunity to turn those who have a negative view," Hamilton said. "I guess over time I will do more and more positive things for the country. I go to all these races and I lift the British flag proudly, and there is no one else in this sport that has raised it so high. At the moment it is not enough. I will keep looking for what else I can do." Having a 31-point lead in the drivers' standings shows Hamilton is on the right track. Escaping the F1 bubble by heading to California last week helped Hamilton. But Nico Rosberg, who had a four-year rivalry with Hamilton as Mercedes teammates, said such an approach wouldn't have worked for him. "Lewis is partying in Los Angeles and is the best driver in the world," Rosberg said at the central England circuit. "If I had been travelling the way he does, I would be 10th on the grid for Mercedes." But the German won the world championship only once, in 2016, before retiring. "I do have five world titles and they didn't come on their own," Hamilton said. "Valtteri parties way more than me. When I started doing the travel and focusing on these other things there was always the issue and comments and the pressure of having to arrive and deliver the same. "It took time to break that mold and I have done it time and time and time again. My preparation comes first and I have felt fantastic all weekend. The pressure is high being that it is a home grand prix and I don't look at that lightly. I prepare the best way I can ... and that is what led me to five world titles." And also victories in six of the nine races this season after shaking off the challenge from Bottas, who won two of the first four events. Bottas is back on pole for the first time since the fifth grand prix in Spain in May. Behind the Mercedes duo on the grid on Sunday will be Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, who qualified in third, and Max Verstappen of Red Bull......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 14th, 2019

Hamilton beats Ferrari front row to Mexico City win

By Jim Vertuno, Associated Press MEXICO CITY (AP) — Lewis Hamilton got the Mexican victory party he craved. He'll have to wait another week for a sixth career championship. The Mercedes driver overcame Ferrari's front-row start to win the Mexican Grand Prix on Sunday, pushing him so close to the season championship that he's all but guaranteed to win it next week at the U.S. Grand Prix in Texas. "I don't mind. I love racing," Hamilton said after climbing out of his car with a wave to the massive crowds at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. "This is a race I've wanted to win for some time. It came together nicely." It came together because Hamilton overcame damage to his car floor from an opening-lap collision with Red Bull's Max Verstappen, and then managed an early tire change for a shocking 48 laps to drive away with a comfortable win over Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel. Only Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas' third-place finish denied Hamilton the season championship by the slimmest of margins. Hamilton needed to beat Bottas by 14 points, but picked up 10 instead while earning his 10th win of the season and 83rd of his career. That sends the championship to next week's U.S. Grand Prix, where Hamilton has won five times since 2012. He clinched the 2015 title there. "It's been a good hunting ground for me," Hamilton said of the Texas race. But Mexico City was a big prize he badly wanted. Hamilton had won the 2017 and 2018 championships here, but fared poorly in both races and didn't make the podium either time. Drivers call the Mexico City winners' celebration the biggest and wildest of the season, and Hamilton hadn't stood there since his victory in 2016. "You could see someone else on the podium celebrating the win and you wanted to do that," Hamilton said. Leclerc and Vettel had started 1-2. Red Bull's Max Verstappen had been stripped of pole position for driving too fast under a yellow flag after Bottas' crash in the late stages of Saturday qualifying. That penalty also let Hamilton start third with a chance to chase a win and the championship. Ferrari protected the lead from the start as Vettel moved to edge out Hamilton on the long opening straight. Hamilton then fell to fifth after tangling with Verstappen on the second corner as they bumped tires and both cars went into the grass. Hamilton's tire change on Lap 23 proved pivotal as he inched toward the front, but it wasn't without worry. "It feels like we stopped too early," Hamilton radioed his garage. "This is a long way to go on these tires, man." Ferrari split its pit strategies with Vettel stopping once and Leclerc twice. Both drivers yielded the lead for fresh tires. Leclerc finished fourth. "I think we were confident if we split the cars we would cover both options," Vettel said. "Neither (Mercedes) or us expected their tires to last that long." And Hamilton just kept going. "He was cruising," Vettel said. "Our strategy could have been sharper." Bottas earned his podium in a car that had to be repaired overnight after his hard crash in qualifying. His pushing Vettel from behind late in the race helped ease pressure on Hamilton at the front. "The car felt good, as good as before the crash," Bottas said. "I had a small headache in the morning. I don't know if that was the tequila or the crash." Verstappen had a miserable start before rallying to finish sixth. Driving aggressive after getting bumped off pole, the two-time defending race champion fell to eighth after the clip with Hamilton. Verstappen fought back to pass Bottas on the second lap, but suffered a tire puncture on the move when he touched Bottas' front wing. The tire shredded off and Verstappen drove nearly an entire lap with a bare wheel as the field passed him by. "I always leave Max a lot of space," Hamilton said. "That's the smartest thing you can do.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 28th, 2019

Bottas beats Hamilton to take 70th Anniversary pole

Silverstone, United Kingdom—Valtteri Bottas outpaced his Mercedes teammate and world championship leader Lewis Hamilton by the finest of margins on Saturday (Sunday Philippine time) to claim a dramatic pole position for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsAug 9th, 2020

Hamilton to start 5th at US Grand Prix as he chases F1 title

By Jim Vertuno, Associated Press AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Lewis Hamilton's race start at the U.S. Grand Prix will be far from ideal. His position in the season championship is still just fine. The Mercedes driver will start a distant fifth Sunday after a disappointing qualifying where teammate Valtteri Bottas grabbed the pole position with a lap record at the Circuit of the Americas. Hamilton has been a dominant force on the Texas track where he's won five times since 2012, but none of those victories came from starts behind the front row. So Hamilton will be chasing Bottas for the win, but he could just settle in for a cruise to a sixth career Formula One championship. Bottas has to win to extend the championship. Hamilton only needs to finish eighth or better to secure the title. He could even do it if he finishes ninth but grabs the single point awarded to the driver with the fastest lap. Hamilton hasn't finished lower than ninth this season and was down there only once — in the rain in Germany. "It was nothing to do with the car, it was just me," Hamilton said after qualifying. "I just didn't pull the laps out. The car had the capability to be on the front row. I just didn't do it today. I'll try to rectify it tomorrow." Bottas is the only driver still mathematically alive in the championship, even if just barely. He expects Hamilton to drive to win, at least for a while. "From what I know about him, he'll be there fighting hard. Lewis hates to lose. He wants to win like all of us do," Bottas said. "He doesn't need many points. He'd like to win the championship in a nice way. Obviously, I'll try to delay that." Bottas won his 11th career pole with a lap record of 1 minute, 32.029 seconds that beat Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel by just 0.012 seconds. Hamilton has called the U.S. Grand Prix "good hunting ground" for him based on his past success. He race win in clinched the 2015 clinched the season championship. That was the last time he's ended the title chase with a victory. His 2017 and 2018 championships were secured in Mexico City despite running some of his poorest races of those seasons, and didn't finish on the podium either time. After winning last week in Mexico City , Hamilton said he'd like to clinch this year's title with a win. The Texas track seemed the ideal place to do that considering Hamilton's record there, but now he's trying to buck a trend: No winner at the Circuit of the Americas has started from behind the front row. Germany's Michael Schumacher has the most F1 championships with seven won between 1994 and 2004. A sixth title would move Hamilton into second place by himself, breaking his tie with Argentina's Juan Manuel Fangio, who won five titles in the 1950s. In front of Hamilton to the first turn Sunday will be Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc. Verstappen hoped to challenge for pole position but a tire lockup early in his final lap killed his chance. Leclerc put in a solid qualifying after engine trouble in Saturday's final practice. Ferrari had put a new engine in his car for this week's race, but it had an oil leak that caused smoke to billow out of the rear end. Ferrari put Leclerc's old engine back in the car to avoid taking a grid penalty and he still finished ahead of Hamilton. Qualifying was all kinds of stressful for Hamilton. He nearly collided with Verstappen early in the session, an incident that could have doomed both cars had they hit each other. Verstappen said he was lining up behind Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat as the cars were getting ready to start a lap when Hamilton suddenly drove between them. Verstappen swerved and drove through the grass to regain position in front of Hamilton. It was the latest dustup between the drivers. "Everybody was lining up to make space and Lewis drove by like nobody was there," Verstappen said. "He didn't care.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 3rd, 2019

Leclerc takes 4th straight pole at Russian GP, Hamilton 2nd

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Charles Leclerc clinched his fourth straight pole position and championship leader Lewis Hamilton was second in qualifying at Formula One's Russian Grand Prix on Saturday. Leclerc finished 0.402 seconds clear of Hamilton, with Leclerc's Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel third fastest at the Sochi Autodrome. Hamilton is bidding for his first win since the summer break and his Mercedes team is often the dominant force in Russia, having won all of the five races staged here. Hamilton is 65 points ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas in his quest for a sixth world title, but looks to have his work cut out against Leclerc. Alex Albon crashed out of qualifying. The London-born Thai spun at the slow-speed Turn 13 before slamming into the barriers. The driver was unhurt. Vettel finished ahead of Red Bull's Max Verstappen but the Dutch driver will be bumped back five places following a grid penalty for changes to his engine. Ferrari, winless in the opening half of the season, is now the team to beat as it seeks a fourth consecutive victory. While Vettel ended his 13-month losing streak in Singapore last weekend, it is Leclerc who continues to impress in his opening season with the Scuderia. This marked his sixth pole this season and it is also the 10th straight round Leclerc has out-qualified Vettel, the four-time world champion, who was 0.425 slower in qualifying. "It definitely feels great to be back on pole," said Leclerc, who became the first Ferrari driver since Michael Schumacher to claim four straight poles. Leclerc is 96 points behind Hamilton in the championship, with a total of only 156 to play for in the remaining six races. Hamilton has not been on pole since the German Grand Prix in July, a streak of five races, but was delighted to have split the Ferraris with his final effort. "I gave it everything I could in the end and I am so glad it came together," Hamilton said. "I wasn't expecting to be on the front row so I am really happy." Bottas finished fifth in qualifying. The Finn will join Vettel on the second row following Verstappen's penalty. Earlier Saturday, McLaren said the team will be powered by Mercedes from 2021, ending its association with Renault at the end of the 2020 campaign. The long-term agreement will run until at least 2024......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 29th, 2019

Leclerc hopes to convert 3rd pole position into 1st GP win

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium (AP) — Charles Leclerc hopes to make it third time lucky from pole position and finally give Ferrari its first win of a difficult Formula One season in the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday. He qualified comfortably ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel on Saturday in a dominant weekend so far for Ferrari. Leclerc beat his own leading time to finish .748 seconds clear of Vettel and .763 ahead of five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton. "It obviously feels amazing," Leclerc said. "The gap is quite big today, but it doesn't mean it will be like that tomorrow." Still, it was another impressive performance from Leclerc, adding to his poles in Bahrain and Austria. He won neither race, hit by a sudden engine failure when seemingly coasting to victory in Bahrain, and then out-muscled late on at Spielberg by a rampaging Max Verstappen. Although Leclerc is in his first season with Ferrari, and only his second in F1, he leads four-time champion Vettel 3-1 in pole positions this year and has out-qualified his senior colleague in six straight races since Vettel's pole in Canada. "I have made some changes in qualifying," Leclerc said. "I definitely feel the difference and feel it's going the right way." Hamilton, F1's record holder with 87 poles, rates Leclerc highly. "Charles did an exceptional job," Hamilton said. "He's been so quick all weekend." Ferrari has looked significantly faster than Mercedes in terms of straight-line speed on F1's longest track at 7 kilometers (4.3 miles), placing 1-2 in all three practice sessions and all three sections of qualifying. Leclerc beat Vettel in five of those, although cooler conditions expected for Sunday's race could negate some of Ferrari's speed advantage. The most famed team in motorsport desperately needs a win. Ferrari's last was by former driver Kimi Raikkonen's at the United States GP last October; while Vettel's last was on this track last year. There have been 20 GPs without one since for the German driver, who has led and lost the past two F1 championships to Hamilton following clumsy errors. This time it was Hamilton making a surprisingly sloppy mistake, mangling his Mercedes when crashing under no pressure in the third and final practice earlier Saturday. Hamilton almost had another incident in qualifying when he narrowly avoided bumping into his teammate Valtteri Bottas, who starts the race from fourth on the grid. Hamilton felt he needed to apologize to his team after his rare crash. The runaway championship leader lost control coming out of the Fanges chicane, veering left at full speed into the protective tire barriers and crumpling the nose of his car. "It was a terrible session for me when you know how hard these guys work to build a car," said Hamilton, who leads second-place Bottas by 62 points in the standings. "I was just trying to pay them back with a good qualifying session." Hamilton later played down the mistake, saying, "You're looking at it way too deeply ... I'm only human." But for a driver who rarely makes mistakes on any track — let alone one that was bone-dry — it was nonetheless a glaring error. That session was interrupted as Hamilton's car was taken away. The British driver walked slowly back to the team garage and Mercedes mechanics faced a race against the clock to get the car ready for qualifying. "There's so much pressure on these guys," Hamilton said. "They relish the challenge (and) did an exceptional job." The front corners — the suspension and wheel assemblies — the nose and floor all needed fixing in a little more than two hours. "When I looked at the car, I thought, 'Oh no!'" Hamilton said, feeling guilty at the damage he had caused. Mechanics were still working on the bashed-up Silver Arrow when qualifying started. They got a bit more time than expected after the first part of qualifying — Q1 — was held up after the back of Robert Kubica's car caught fire following an engine combustion failure, sending a cloak of smoke around his Racing Point car. Q1 was halted a second time with seconds remaining when Italian Antonio Giovinazzi pulled up with a power failure. In third and final practice, Leclerc was .451 seconds quicker than Vettel in warm and sunny conditions in the Ardennes Forest. It set the tone for another impressive display of speed, and now he must convert that into a victory on race day......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 1st, 2019

Verstappen takes 1st career pole position at Hungarian GP

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Max Verstappen produced a near-perfect lap at the Hungarian Grand Prix to take the first pole position of his Formula One career on Saturday. The Red Bull driver set a track record with 1 minute, 14.958 seconds and then beat it again with 1:14.572. It was another boost for the 21-year-old Verstappen, who has won two of the past three races to creep into outside contention for the title race. "This feels good, this feels really good," said Verstappen, who became the 100th F1 driver to take a pole. "This one was missing. ... It was only a matter of time." Verstappen is the youngest driver to win an F1 race — he was 18 when he won the Spanish GP in 2016 — and is the fourth youngest to take pole. He sits behind Fernando Alonso, Charles Leclerc and record-holder Sebastian Vettel, who were all also 21. Valtteri Bottas qualified in second place ahead of his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton, the five-time F1 champion who was chasing a record-extending 88th career pole and record-equaling seventh at the Hungaroring circuit to match F1 great Michael Schumacher. Leclerc, who took his first career pole in Bahrain in March, placed fourth ahead of his Ferrari teammate Vettel. The Ferraris were quickest in the first sector of qualifying but both tailed off. Leclerc recovered well after spinning the car in the first part of qualifying, known as Q1, sliding backward into the barriers and drifting back onto the track as a Williams car came flying past. Verstappen's Red Bull teammate Pierre Gasly qualified sixth ahead of McLaren's Lando Norris, who has impressed in his debut season. But Daniel Ricciardo, a winner of seven F1 races, was among the five drivers eliminated from Q1. Ricciardo, who left Red Bull and made a surprising move to join Renault, starts from 18th place. Renault struggled again as German driver Nico Hulkenberg was among the five eliminated from Q2. Earlier, Hamilton had the fastest time in the third and final practice ahead of Verstappen. Hamilton leads the championship by 41 points ahead of Bottas, who is fighting for a new Mercedes contract next year, with Verstappen 63 points behind in third place heading into the mid-season summer break. After Sunday's race, F1 resumes at the Belgian GP on Sept. 1......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 3rd, 2019

Bottas, Verstappen crashes overshadow Austrian GP practice

By Eric Willemsen, Associated Press SPIELBERG, Austria (AP) — Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen both crashed and seriously damaged their cars during the second practice ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix as the high-altitude track in the Alps showed its perilous side on Friday. Mercedes and Red Bull blamed gusty winds in the montane surroundings for the incidents, which caused the 90-minute session to be red-flagged twice. A third big-name driver narrowly avoided a similar crash as Sebastian Vettel also spun off the track but his Ferrari came to a standstill just before the barriers, limiting damage to his tires only. Before his crash, Bottas posted the second fastest time of the session, trailing Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc by 0.331 seconds. Championship leader Lewis Hamilton, who led the first session in his Mercedes, had the fourth best time, 0.443 behind Leclerc. Bottas slammed his Mercedes into the barriers after he lost control of the rear and spun off the track at Turn 6, leaving the front of his car heavily damaged. The mishap came less than 15 minutes after Verstappen slid off the track backward in Turn 10, badly damaging the right rear of his Red Bull. "Hard to say what happened, maybe it was the wind," Verstappen said. "It's still only Friday so we have time to repair everything for tomorrow." Bottas and Verstappen are the last two winners of the race, in 2017 and 2018, respectively. Neither was hurt in the crashes. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said Bottas couldn't be blamed. "Suddenly you have three, four kph more and you are beyond the limit," Wolff said about the strong wind affecting the drivers. Red Bull motorsport adviser Helmut Marko added that Verstappen "wasn't driving faster as before in that turn but the gust just swept away the rear." The incidents made for probably the most eventful practice of the season, hours after Hamilton posted the fastest time in the first practice. The British five-time world champion led Vettel by 0.144 seconds, with Mercedes teammate Bottas 0.161 slower in third. Bottas, who earned his first career podium on this track in 2014 and started the last two years from pole, had missed the first half hour as his power unit had to be replaced to fix an oil leak. Leclerc and Verstappen were ranked fourth and fifth, respectively. Practice was cut short after Niko Hulkenberg lost the left front wing of his Renault on the curb. Many racers, including Hamilton, damaged their front wing on the high edges of the track, called "yellow sausages" by many. TIRED OF TIRES While the opening practice showed Mercedes' unbeaten streak might continue this weekend, an attempt from various teams to create a more level playing field failed earlier in the day. At the center of the discussion was the new type of tires introduced by supplier Pirelli this season. They have a reduced tread gauge which should cut down on blistering. While most teams have found them unpredictable and have struggled to adapt to them, the new tires seem to perfectly fit the strategy of Mercedes, which has won all eight races this season, including six 1-2 finishes. To open up the battle for victories and make the races more appealing again, various teams, led by Red Bull, have been suggesting a midseason return to last year's rubber. But in a meeting with all team principals, Pirelli, and governing body FIA, the proposal failed to get the mandatory support of at least seven of the 10 teams. Apart from Mercedes, the idea was also rejected by Williams, Racing Point, McLaren and Renault. One of the reasons for the dismissal was the lack of data, as teams could only guess how the 2018 tires would work under the 2019 cars. Hamilton initially had been critical of the new tires during preseason testing, but has meanwhile slammed the idea of switching back to the old ones. "Last year you had to manage the tires to a temperature, which means you had to do more lifting and coasting. It was a lot worse," said Hamilton, who attended Friday's meeting. "That's an example again of different teams pushing for different things for their own personal goals rather than for the sport's." Tire management will become a key factor during Sunday's race with temperatures expected to rise up to 33 degrees Celsius (91 F) in thin air......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 29th, 2019

Hamilton roars to sizzling Spanish GP pole

Lewis Hamilton roared to a record-increasing 92nd Formula One pole position of his career on Saturday when he outpaced Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas in a sizzling qualifying session for the Spanish Grand Prix......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsAug 16th, 2020

Hamilton says British GP was & lsquo;hardest turnaround& rsquo;

Silverstone, United Kingdom—Lewis Hamilton admitted his recovery on Saturday (Sunday Philippine time) from a spin to claim a record-smashing pole position for the British Grand Prix had been his “hardest turnaround”......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 2nd, 2020

Rahm s wild day ends with Memorial win and No. 1 ranking

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — The drama was more than Jon Rahm wanted. The result was what he always imagined. Rahm became the No. 1 player in the world Sunday with a victory in the Memorial in which he watched an eight-shot lead at the turn shrink to three shots with three holes to play, and then hit what he called the greatest shot of his life that turned into a bogey because of a penalty. All that mattered was that fist-bump — not a handshake — with Jack Nicklaus, and taking his place along his idol Seve Ballesteros as the only Spaniards to reach No. 1 in the world. With a two-shot penalty for his ball moving the length of a dimple on his chip-in behind the 16th green, Rahm closed with 3-over 75 for a three-shot victory over Ryan Palmer. Rahm got up-and-down on the final four greens, which made it feel even sweeter. “One of the best performances of my life,” Rahm said. “Yesterday was probably one of the best rounds of my life, and finished today with some clutch up-and-downs. As a Spaniard, I'm kind of glad it happened that way.” The fiery emotion is his hallmark. He showed it with a tee shot that sailed left into a creek on the 11th hole, Rahm slamming his club into the ground in a pique of anger. And it was evident with that ferocious fist-pump when his flop shot from deep rough behind the 16th green rolled into the cup. Birdie or bogey, it was a winner, a shot that would have made Ballesteros proud. “I still can't believe it, I'm not going to lie,” he told Nicklaus off the 18th green. With the penalty — Rahm had no idea it was an issue after his round, but accepted the penalty when he saw a video that zoomed in close on the ball — he finished at 9-under 279 for his 10th career victory, fourth on the PGA Tour. Muirfield Village played its toughest in 42 years, with only five players under par, the fewest for the final round since this tournament began in 1976. Rahm's 75 was the highest finish by a winner since Roger Maltbie shot 76 the inaugural year. The rough wasn't cut all week. The greens were allowed to go to the edge because they are being replaced. Crews already had stripped the entire fifth green as the leaders were on the back nine. Rahm looked to be playing a different course. He played bogey-free on the front nine with birdies on the two par 5s. That put him eight shots clear on his way to No. 1. And then he made bogey on the 10th. Not a problem. He yanked his tee shot into a creek on the par-5 11th, and that was a bigger problem based on how hard he slammed the club into the ground in a pique of anger. He made double bogey. Palmer made birdie on the 12th, and then Rahm made another bogey from the bunker on the 14th. Just like that, the lead was three shots. Only a week ago at Muirfield Village for the Workday Charity Open, Justin Thomas had a three-shot lead with three holes to play and wound up losing in a playoff to Collin Morikawa. Rahm was worried his tee shot might find the back bunker, though the rough was not a great option with how fast the greens were running. Rahm was thinking anything inside 10 feet would be good. This was perfect, the ball landing on the fringe and sliding down the slope into the cup. As for the penalty? “It doesn’t change the outcome of the tournament,” he said. “It just puts a little bit of an asterisk in it in the sense of I wish I could just keep that birdie because it was one of the greatest shots of my life, right?” The chip was similar — but from a different angle — to Tiger Woods chipping in from behind the 16th green when he won the Memorial for the fifth time in 2012. Woods, in his first competition since Feb. 16 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, shot 76 and tied for 40th. “Tough, tough conditions to start out my first week back, Thursday and Sunday,” Woods said. “But it was good to get the feel and the flow of competing again.” Matthew Fitzpatrick had a 68 for the low score of the final day to finish third. The consolation prize went to Palmer (74) and Mackenzie Hughes (72), who earned spots in the U.S. Open at Winged Foot in September as the leading two players from the top 10 who were not already eligible. Henrik Norlander could have taken the final spot with a par on the 18th, but he missed the fairway well to the right, couldn't reach the green and made bogey. Norlander and Hughes tied at 3-under 285, but the spot went to Hughes because he had the better world ranking. That ranking now starts with Rahm, who only four years ago was at the Memorial to receive the Jack Nicklaus Award as the nation's best college player. Now he's the best in the world, a ranking that McIlroy had since Feb. 9. “He deserves it,” McIlroy said after his tie for 32nd. “He's been playing great for a long time. Even the display this week, it's pretty impressive.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 20th, 2020

Verstappen stripped of pole at Mexican Grand Prix

By Jim Vertuno, Associated Press MEXICO CITY (AP) — Max Verstappen was fastest on the day. Ferrari will still start from pole position at the Mexican Grand Prix. Red Bull's two-time defending race champion was stripped of the No. 1 position for the race Saturday after race stewards determined Verstappen violated safety rules when he didn't slow down final lap when Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas crashed ahead of him. Bottas' hard crash ended qualifying in the final minutes and Verstappen thought he had snatched a surprise pole from a Ferrari team that had been dominant in qualifying the last five races. Instead, Ferrari gets another 1-2 front row with Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel while Verstappen drops to fourth behind Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton. That's a key bump for Hamilton, who can clinch the season championship with a podium and he finishes 14 points ahead of Bottas, the only driver still mathematically alive in the title chase. Verstappen had surprised the field with the speed to overtake the Ferrari and he'd already run a lap fast enough to get pole position. But with the Ferraris still out, Verstappen was gunning for another fast lap. Bottas was just ahead of him and slammed hard into the wall rounding through the final corner. Verstappen zipped past him and later admitted in the post-qualifying news conference that he didn't slow down. That drew a summons from the race stewards and the penalty about three hours later. The entire scenario gives Hamilton a better chance to close out the championship on a race track that has not been kind to him in recent years. Hamilton clinched the 2017 and 2018 championships in Mexico City but ran poor races both times. Bottas' car took extensive damage and the overnight rebuild could bring grid penalties that knock him from his sixth place starting position. A sixth career championship would put Hamilton just one behind the record seven won by Michael Schumacher. If he doesn't close it out this week, the championship will extend to next week's U.S. Grand Prix in Texas, a race Hamilton has won five times since 2012......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 27th, 2019

LeMahieu, Hicks lift Yanks over Astros, close to 3-2 in ALCS

By Ronald Blum, Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — James Paxton was filled with nerves, and so were New York Yankees fans, worried the season was slipping away. Tension only surged when the top of the first featured a little grounder that got away, a passed ball and a run-scoring wild pitch. No worries. Boom! DJ LeMahieu drove Justin Verlander's second pitch over the wall to tie the score. Clang! Aaron Hicks hit a three-run homer off the foul pole later in the inning. Just like that, the Bronx Bombers were back — in the game, and in this matchup of powerhouses. A day after a brutal loss, and with little margin for more errors, the Yankees played like a 103-win team. Paxton chilled Houston's bats and the bullpen followed with shutdown relief to beat the Astros 4-1 Friday night, cutting New York's AL Championship Series deficit to 3-2. "I wasn't ready to go home yet," Paxton said, "so I wanted to go out and give my team everything I had and just battle away." Now the teams rush to Texas, where the series resumes Saturday night without a day off. With pitching plans disrupted by a rainout earlier this week, both teams plan all-bullpen efforts in Game 6. But Gerrit Cole, 19-0 since May, looms as the Astros' starter on Sunday if New York manages to extend the matchup to the seven-game limit. "We've just got to go back home and finish the job," Houston's Carlos Correa said. Paxton, a fishing aficionado born outside Vancouver in Ladner, British Columbia, wore three-quarter-length sleeves on a night with a game-time temperature of 52 degrees. That was the coldest for a Verlander start since last year's ALCS opener at Boston, according to STATS — he had on long sleeves and half of Houston's fielders had hoodies or balaclavas. After lasting just 2 1/3 innings in Game 2, Paxton struck out nine in six innings, allowing four hits and four walks. Punching his pitching hand into his glove after big strikeouts, he saved his biggest emotion for his 112th and final pitch. Manager Aaron Boone had just made a trip to the mound, unsure whether he would make a change. "He just said, 'Are you ready? Do you have anything more left in the tank?'" Paxton said. "And I said, 'Yeah, let's go. I want this.'" Robinson Chirinos hit a first-pitch fastball that Brett Gardner caught in front of the left-field scoreboard with a runner on. "When it first left the bat: 'Oh, no!'" Boone remembered thinking to himself. After Tommy Kahnle allowed George Springer's one-out single in seventh and walked José Altuve, Zack Britton retired Michael Brantley and Alex Bregman. Britton struck out two in a perfect eighth, and Aroldis Chapman finished with a 1-2-3 ninth for the save. Paxton outpitched Verlander, an eight-time All-Star and former AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner, on a night when each team had five hits. Verlander opened with a JV first inning — not Justin vintage, but junior varsity. He allowed a pair of first-inning homers for the first time in 28 postseason starts and gave up four runs in an inning for the first time since Houston acquired him from Detroit in August 2017. "Fastball command wasn't very good, and the slider was just hanging," Verlander said. Verlander retired 10 in a row after Hicks' homer and wound up allowing five hits in seven innings with nine strikeouts and no walks. "We took advantage of his missed locations when he was a little vulnerable," LeMahieu said. "And that's the difference in the game." A night after the Yankees made four errors in one of their messier games this season during an 8-3 loss, Paxton fell behind after 14 pitches. Springer reached on an infield hit, took second on Gary Sánchez's passed ball, advanced on a groundout and scored when Paxton bounced a breaking ball off Sánchez's glove for a wild pitch. "A lot of nerves," Paxton said. "I was just overthrowing a little bit early." New York came out swinging against Verlander, who had been 4-0 with a 2.38 ERA against the Yankees in seven postseason starts. LeMahieu fouled off a pitch, then drove a fastball 355 feet to right-center for New York's first postseason leadoff homer since Derek Jeter in the 2009 ALCS against the Angels. "Woke up the building," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. Aaron Judge singled and Gleyber Torres doubled. Verlander struck out Giancarlo Stanton, who went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts after missing three games with a strained right quadriceps. Hicks was sidelined for more than two months by a right elbow injury that made him wonder whether he would need Tommy John surgery, then made a surprise return for the ALCS and re-entered the starting lineup for Game 3. He fell behind 0-2, took three straight balls and sent a chest-high slider down the right field line. He dropped his bat, turned and watched the ball, took a half-dozen slow steps toward first and started jogging after it clanked off the pole for his first home run since July 24. "It curved a lot more than I thought it would," Hicks said. New York had never hit a pair of first-inning homers in 404 previous postseason games. Verlander could only crouch on the infield grass as Hicks circled the bases. Hicks ended a stretch of 15 straight hitless at-bats for the Yankees with runners in scoring position. New York has relied on the long ball, scoring 12 of its 17 runs against the Astros on seven homers. "We just always fight back," Judge said. "That's what we talked about in our meeting today. Let's go back to being ourselves." FIRSTS This was the 1,609th postseason game in major league history, and the first in which both teams scored in the first inning and neither scored the rest of the game. SABATHIA CC Sabathia dislocated his left shoulder while pitching in Game 4 and was replaced on the Yankees active roster by RHP Ben Heller. That ended the 19-season career of the 39-year-old left-hander, who is retiring. He was given a big ovation when shown on the video board in the sixth and waved to fans from the dugout. UP NEXT Neither team announced a Game 6 starter. Rookie RHP José Urquidy is Houston's most likely option, and New York could go with RHP Chad Green as an opener or start LHP J.A. Happ. New York would start RHP Luis Severino in a Game 7......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 19th, 2019

ONE Championship: Brandon Vera super excited for matchup with Aung La N Sang

The world will soon witness potentially one of the greatest bouts in ONE Championship history when two of the greatest warriors, ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon “The Truth” Vera and two-division ONE World Champion Aung La N Sang, square off at ONE: CENTURY in October for the light heavyweight title.   Vera made a decision to challenge Aung La earlier this year, so he sought the permission of ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong.   Aung La successfully defended his title against Ken Hasegawa at ONE: A NEW ERA last March. Vera congratulated him on his win before humbly and respectfully challenging “The Burmese Python” for the light heavyweight title.   “I wasn’t very comfortable doing that inside the cage. It was Aung La N Sang‘s time to shine, but I’ve been wanting to become a double titleholder – a champ-champ – and I’ve always wanted to challenge for the ONE Light Heavyweight World Title,” said Vera.    “I just happened to be in Tokyo, the next event I wanted to compete on is in Tokyo, and I think it would be a beautiful main event or co-main event.”     “When I went in there, I was very nervous – not about challenging, but doing it in the most respectful way that Aung La deserves – especially after he just won his ONE Middleweight World Championship bout against Ken Hasegawa,” he explained.    “It was super weird and super nerve-wracking – kind of awkward, but kind of awesome at the same time. I got to talk to Aung La after we got out of the cage and now I’m feeling more comfortable about challenging him like that.”   During that moment, Vera referred to Aung La as a “man among men,” describing him as a father, a good role model, and a true martial artist -- a person everyone can look up to and aspire to become.   “Aung La is younger than me, but as a whole, he is a man among men, and I do put him in a different category to other people. He’s very well-rounded in life. He’s an alpha male in the most respectful and polite manner. If the world was full of Aung Las, the world would be a better place,” said Vera.   The Filipino-American heavyweight is looking forward to his match with Aung La in October if they’re both healthy. Vera, who is on a four-bout winning streak, shared that he is excited to next face Aung La, whom he believes can take him past the first round.     With a professional record of 25-10-1, Myanmar’s hero is currently enjoying a six-bout winning streak through five knockouts and a submission. Vera respects Aung La’s power, skill, and heart and has studied and analyzed his fighting style.   “This is really hard to break down because I can’t really pick apart Aung La’s game. We’re almost related. His coach came from my coach. We train the same, we know the same hardships, we’ve been through that grind,” Vera said.  “His new coach [Henri Hooft] was training with my former head kickboxing coach Rob Kaman – they’ve been sparring with each other since they were 17 – so our style is almost the same.”   A win means Vera will hold both the light heavyweight and heavyweight championship titles. Having fought some of the biggest names in martial arts, he is confident that he has the upper hand in the upcoming bout.   “I think the biggest difference between us is our experience,” he said.    “During his matches, I look for those little holes he still has because of his lack of experience. I’m not going to outpace Aung La, I’m not going to outwork Aung La. I’m not going to be a bully because that’s impossible. He’s been through the same system.”   “I have to find holes in Aung La’s game and exploit them while he’s doing the same thing to me. We come from the same school, the same train of thought, so this is why I’m super excited for this match,” he added.     ONE: CENTURY will be available on multiple platforms for every Kapamilya viewer!  Catch ONE: CENTURY in it’s entirety on LIVESTREAMING on Sunday, October 13 starting at 8:00 AM (Part 1) and 4:00 PM (Part 2) via sports.abs-cbn.com/livestream/one and on iWant Sports as well as on the ABS-CBN Sports Facebook Page and the ABS-CBN Sports YouTube Page! Catch ONE: CENTURY Part 2 LIVE at 6:30 PM on ABS-CBN S+A channel 23! ONE: CENTURY Part 2 will air on Friday, October 18 at 8:30 PM on ABS-CBN S+A channel 23!.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 20th, 2019

Verstappen doubtful he can catch Hamilton in F1 title race

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium (AP) — Even the devoted legions of orange-clad fans forming a wall of noise may not be enough to convince Max Verstappen he can catch Lewis Hamilton and win the Formula One title race this season. Making up a 69-point gap to Hamilton is a tall order even for Verstappen. Tens of thousands of Dutch fans are expected to descend on the Spa-Francorchamps circuit nestled in the Ardennes forest, travelling in from the nearby Netherlands to cheer on Verstappen at Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix. They've attended every race in droves this season, but the sea of orange will be even bigger in Spa given the proximity to Belgium. "It's amazing to see the big following. Obviously with the orange it's quite easy to spot a Dutch fan. Here we created our own grandstand, they're going crazy already before the race is even (started)," Verstappen said Thursday. "They get a bit crazy with flares and stuff, I remember going up the straight and it was almost turning orange. It's great to see and I'm happy to have such a big following, and I hope over the years it will only get bigger." The way things are going for the 21-year-old Verstappen, that seems a certainty. His popularity has soared in recent weeks thanks to an astonishing drive to win the Austrian GP , an ice-cool victory at the rain-soaked German GP in Hockenheim , and a fabulously long duel against Lewis Hamilton in Hungary where he held off the faster Hamilton right until the end, when Hamilton overtook him to clinch victory. Still, one look at the leaderboard and Verstappen is realistic enough to acknowledge that it will be difficult to catch Hamilton, a five-time world champion driving for a faster Mercedes car which has experienced very few reliability issues. Especially since Spa and the Monza track for the Italian GP which follows are more suited to Mercedes than Red Bull. "I think it's just going to be a bit track-dependent for us, where we are going to be more competitive. I'm expecting (Spa) to be a bit more tricky and especially Monza," Verstappen said. "From there onwards with upgrades coming to the car, we'll have a few tracks where we can have a good go. But for (winning) the championship I don't think so." Verstappen is touted as a future F1 champion and shares the unshakeable self-confidence of Hamilton and others before them, like seven-time F1 champion Michael Schumacher and the late Ayrton Senna — arguably F1's two best-ever drivers. The unflappable Verstappen seems to take even his rise to the top in his stride. "It's quite natural, you get older and more experienced so for me it's not a big surprise what is happening at the moment," he said. "I think it's a natural process. I think it would be bad if you were already declining at 21." But even with his exceptional driving skills, winning at Spa remains complicated. Spa is the longest circuit of the season at 7 kilometers (about 4.3 miles) and Red Bull is expected to be the third-quickest car overall behind Mercedes and Ferrari, which won here last year after an accomplished drive from Sebastian Vettel. "It will be a bit tougher for us because of the long straights. We just need to find a good balance in the car," Verstappen said. "It's flat out and then in sector two there are a lot of corners; so you have to find the right compromise." Hamilton leads the championship by 62 points ahead of his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, but thinks Bottas and Verstappen can still push him. "It could be either of them. Max is catching (Bottas) up and getting quite close on points," Hamilton said. "Red Bull have a couple of really strong tracks. Look at the end of last year; they were really strong towards the end. So I see them being a threat throughout the rest of the season." Verstappen's race-day craft, uncommon speed and ability to withstand pressure is something to be wary of. "You have to look at all the possibilities," Hamilton said. "If I don't turn up this weekend or the following one, if I don't deliver in the next races, if I make mistakes, I could easily lose the championship. There are points (available) to turn the tables.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 29th, 2019

Vettel under increasing pressure heading into German GP

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press HOCKENHEIM, Germany (AP) — Given Sebastian Vettel's lack of form, the last place he might want to race this weekend is his home grand prix in Germany. Hockenheim serves as a painful reminder to Vettel because his title bid started to unravel at the track last year. He was leading Lewis Hamilton in the Formula One championship, and comfortably leading the race heading into the closing stages. Then, he crashed into the barriers and gifted Hamilton a win. Although the rain was falling hard it was a mistake unbefitting of a four-time world champion, especially considering he was under no pressure from Hamilton at the time. "I won't forget that race, that moment," Vettel said. "That was a mistake and it was costly. Very costly." It proved to be a turning point. Hamilton took command in the title race, just like in September 2017 when Vettel's title bid crumbled following a crash from pole position in Singapore. The errors have been piling up for Vettel, while the wins have not, and his composure remains a talking point in F1. That's all despite Vettel having 230 races and 115 podiums, including 52 wins in a career spanning 12 years. At the British GP two weeks ago, he misjudged an overtaking move and slammed into the back of Max Verstappen's Red Bull. Vettel apologized in person to the irate Verstappen, a winner in Austria the previous race, but it was yet another baffling error from Vettel. Unfortunately for Ferrari, which last won the drivers' championship with Kimi Raikkonen in 2007, these mistakes are becoming commonplace. Vettel was in contention to win the Canadian GP last month, too, but seemed to panic when Hamilton's Mercedes appeared behind him and he swerved off and back onto the track. Vettel was handed a time penalty for unfairly impeding Hamilton, costing him the win. Vettel's last victory was at the Belgian GP last August, a barren run of 18 races. "I always put myself under pressure so I can't be happy with things going wrong. The pressure I put on myself is bigger than any external factors," Vettel said Thursday. "For me it's the most straightforward way to deal with (things) myself. Because I know what I've done wrong, what I've done right. You are always your best judge." The pressure on Vettel to start delivering for Ferrari is mounting. He has one year left on his contract after this season, and questions are being asked as to whether he should be the team's No. 2 driver behind Charles Leclerc. The 21-year-old Leclerc is only in his second year in F1, having replaced Raikkonen at Ferrari after impressing with Sauber. Leclerc has not won a race, although he came close in Bahrain and in Austria, but has shown greater speed and composure than Vettel in recent weeks. Vettel, although the vastly more senior driver, leads Leclerc by only three points — with Vettel fourth and Leclerc fifth in the standings. Leclerc is aiming for a fifth straight podium finish and a third pole position of the season. By comparison, Vettel has no podiums in the past three races and four in 10 so far, with one pole position. Vettel's ongoing woes, and the ongoing debates at Ferrari, are great news for Mercedes. Hamilton's main rival is not Vettel or Leclerc, but Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas. Although Bottas started the season strongly, Hamilton leads him by 39 points approaching the halfway point of the season. Bottas, who is second overall, has not won since Azerbaijan in April. Hamilton's quest for a sixth world title, which would move him one behind German great Michael Schuamcher's F1 record, is gathering momentum. The 34-year-old British driver has won five of the past six races, and counts 80 overall as he chases Schumacher's all-time record of 91. Ferrari seems powerless to stop him. "We are trying a lot of things to make it better. The motivation is high to get the job done with Ferrari," Vettel said. "Mercedes does have an edge over everybody else. In terms of raw speed, they're the benchmark ... I want to win but also I'm realistic, coming here I don't feel we're the favorites.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 26th, 2019

Ryder Cup behind him, Jim Furyk still going strong

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland (AP) — Nothing short of an eagle on the 592-yard seventh hole at Royal Portrush was going to win the hole in a friendly fourballs match during practice for the British Open. Leave it to 49-year-old Jim Furyk to have the best chance. "Don't do anything crazy here," Patrick Cantlay, born the same year Furyk turned pro, said to his opponent. Furyk's 18-foot putt from below the hole paused on the right edge of the cup before dropping, and he looked over in Cantlay's direction with a grin. These are good times. Under the circumstances, not many people would have been surprised if Furyk was past his time by now. He was last seen at the British Open in 2016 at Royal Troon when he finished 29 shots behind the record performance of Henrik Stenson. Furyk played only two majors last year, both on exemptions. He wasn't eligible for any of the World Golf Championships last year for the first time since they were created in 1999. Small wonder that fans who recognized him in the airport on his way to Northern Ireland asked if he was playing. "I thought that was kind of funny," Furyk said. He has heard a lot of questions over the last decade that he found funny, if not irritating. One that still sticks with him was a writer who asked him 10 years ago if he feared the game was passing him by. "I wouldn't say it (ticked) me off, but I kind of chuckled," Furyk said Tuesday. "I said, 'Yeah, it's going to pass me by some day, but not now.' The next year, I had my best year and was player of the year." It's not just about age. Phil Mickelson is 49, born a month after Furyk, and he won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Mickelson is a special talent, with five majors and one of his 47 victories worldwide coming when he was still in college. Part of it is devoting nearly two years of his life as Ryder Cup captain, with players appointed in their late 40s toward the end of their careers. Most are rarely heard from again on a big stage, with one exception being Davis Love III — another power player — who won at age 51 during his second stint as captain. Furyk never had great length off the tee, and it stands out even more now. He is a pea shooter in an era of cannons. And he's still going strong. "So impressive," said Brooks Koepka, the No. 1 player in the world. "I've played with him a little bit. He really understands his game. And I think when you fully understand what you can and can't do is when you reach your maximum potential. He's doesn't have the big miss. He doesn't have really any weakness. He's very solid all throughout the bag. ... That probably won't be me when I'm 49, I can promise you that." Furyk was determined to press on after Europe won the Ryder Cup in France last fall. He was coping with a shoulder injury that no one paid much attention because there was more interest in his captain's picks. Now that's sorted out. He had every reason to go into ceremonial mode, especially with the PGA Tour Champions — golf's greatest mulligan — available to him next year. Instead, Furyk toiled in the offseason to find balance at home and work, to give himself the best chance to win. "You have to have a motivation and a drive and a hunger to still compete," Furyk said. "And as you get older, you run through different phases of your life. When I first came out on tour, golf was the most important thing in life. I got married, started a family, and the realization we're going to be empty-nesters in a few years has hit me." His daughter, a pole vaulter, will be a senior in high school. His son will be a sophomore. He wants to watch them compete. Furyk said he was pacing the field at the Florida state high school championship in May when she finished ninth. He's coming up on 50. He's short off the tee. And his time is stretched thin. It all changed in March when he tied for ninth in the Honda Classic to get in The Players Championship, and then was runner-up at the TPC Sawgrass, one shot behind Rory McIlroy. That got him into a World Golf Championship. He nearly made it into the Masters, but returning to the top 50 in the world put him in the next three majors. He now is No. 48 in the world, giving him another World Golf Championship next week. He is No. 36 in the FedEx Cup, and the Tour Championship is in sight. "I enjoy seeing the game change," Furyk said. "I don't want to be that old, crusty guy that says, 'Back when I was a kid, the game was different.' It was. The game is always changing. But the best players will always evolve. ... Right now, I'm trying to figure out how to keep adapting." And it keeps working. He is one year older than his world ranking. At his age, with his length, that's not a bad thing......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 17th, 2019

Lillard, Blazers clinging to pride at playoffs edge

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com PORTLAND, Ore. — He’s top-10 in the NBA in talent, perhaps top-five in likability and there’s no question where Damian Lillard ranks in the only place he has ever called home in the NBA. Taken as a bundle, the Trail Blazers guard presents an impressive case for himself as a player worthy of your respect, something he craves and certainly deserves to a large degree. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] Lillard had his Playoff Moment when he sank the buzzer-and-series-winning shot from nearly half-court to erase Oklahoma City and his nemesis, Russell Westbrook, from the first round. It was the kind of play that separates the truly great players from the very good. It was as if the casual basketball fan discovered Lillard overnight, or rather, the next morning on social media and TV highlight replays, since that game ended well past bedtime for much of the country. But as Kenny Smith, the former player and popular commentator on TNT once said: “The regular season is when you make your fame. The playoffs is when you make your name.” And so, with that in mind: Since Lillard has since been unable to duplicate those heroics of three weeks ago and is struggling mightily here in his first taste of the Western Conference finals, what do we call him in this, his seventh season? Great? Or very good? Right now he gives the appearance of a marathon runner who wheezes toward the finish line only to see someone cruelly push it forward another mile. His ribcage might not be totally intact (to what extent only he knows) after Warriors forward Kevon Looney fell on Lillard while they chased a loose ball in Game 2. The Warriors are causing additional problems for Lillard by trapping him constantly with elite defenders Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala, making him work for shots and space. "I'm seeing Draymond Green, and he's behind that kind of like tracking my movements," Lillard explained. "So it's like a next layer of defense that I'm paying attention to... I'm not, I guess, wanting to explode and get around that guy because I see what's waiting for me, and then just the crowd, and I put myself in a tough position." Clearly, he’s not right physically. The Warriors are singling him out defensively, and the Blazers are one loss from elimination partly, if not mainly, because Lillard’s impact has been minimized. His pain goes beyond his ribs and frustration. To know Lillard is to know his pride is certainly aching as well. This is his chance to get his due, to shine deep into May for once, and do that against the two-time defending champions, and yet it’s all going wrong for him. Even if healthy, Lillard lacks a high level of championship savvy talent around him, and elimination from the conference finals was probably destined to happen regardless of Golden State riding without Kevin Durant. The Warriors are that good and the Blazers are that raw. But with Lillard shooting 33 percent in the series, they might get swept, and that’s too bitter of a pill for any player with Lillard’s credentials. He’s one of the most complete shooters in the game, someone who mixes three-pointers, mid-range jumpers and rim attacks to rank annually among the top scorers in the NBA. He’s also smart with the dribble and deadly in isolation. This season was one of his best, when he averaged nearly 26 points and helped the Blazers to a No. 3 seed. This will surely place Lillard on one of the All-NBA teams, perhaps even First Team, which is difficult to do in a league rich with standout combo guards. Even more admirable is Lillard doing this on a team largely of role players, with the exception of CJ McCollum. Even including the other half of their backcourt, the Blazers have only one player with All-Star honors: Lillard. He’s the rare player under 6'4" who carries a team. On that note, Lillard always bristled when he felt he wasn’t getting his proper respect, be it All-Star mentions or MVP discussions. And most of the time, he had a point. Lillard suffers from two issues: his regular season games tip at 10:30 ET and, until now, he never took the Blazers beyond the second round. His playoff record is 19-31. Last spring was especially agonizing: Lillard was outplayed by Jrue Holiday and the Blazers were swept by the Pelicans in the first round. He made redemption a goal and this year’s first round was a smashing success made sweeter by the series-winning shot. And yet, did the grueling seven-game second round against Denver drain the energy from Lillard? Including the last game of that series, he’s shooting just above 30 percent in his last four games. Against the Warriors, he has one more basket than turnovers (15 to 14). The rib injury certainly hasn’t helped (although Lillard downplayed it). "It's there, but it's not something that's affecting anything that I'm doing,” he insisted. “Obviously you feel it, but that's it." Although he’s averaging more career points against the Warriors than any other team, those were mainly regular-season numbers. It’s an entirely different level in the postseason and particularly this deep into it. The Warriors are forcing the ball from his hands, daring other Blazers to take shots, and when Lillard does keep the ball, his looks aren’t always clean. "It's tough,” he admitted. “They're doing a good job in their coverages.” So what’s left of the Blazers? Unless there’s a premium performance coming from Lillard and McCollum in Game 4, their season is likely done after Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time). With Green and Stephen Curry looking nostalgic, the Warriors have that 2015 feeling when they won a title without Durant. The Warriors also know they’ll get nine days’ rest with a sweep, as if they need any further motivation. At this point, all the Blazers have is their pride, with none bigger than Lillard’s. Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here, and 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 20th, 2019

Red Bull threatens Ferrari s status as 2nd best team in F1

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press MONTMELO, Spain (AP) — Ferrari has a fight on its hands. Just not the one it wants. Red Bull is threatening to replace it as Formula One's next-best team behind a dominant Mercedes after Max Verstappen outperformed Ferrari's drivers at the Spanish Grand Prix. Verstappen took third place on Sunday behind race winner Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas. That allowed the Red Bull driver to move past Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel into third place overall with 66 points to Vettel's 64. Hamilton and Bottas are far in front with 112 and 105 points, respectively. "I knew we could take the fight to Ferrari," Verstappen said after being cheered by the large number of Dutch fans who had come to the race decked in orange T-shirts. Verstappen and his supporters have good memories of the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit. His win here in 2016 made him F1's youngest race winner at age 18. While another victory was out of the question given Mercedes' pace, Verstappen didn't have too much trouble staying in front of the Ferraris. "We were close to Ferrari in qualifying," he said. "I am happy to be back on the podium and third in the championship. It is good to close the gap." As F1's most successful team, Ferrari entered the season with renewed hopes of challenging Mercedes after rising talent Charles Leclerc joined Vettel in a potentially potent driving lineup. Ferrari was faster on this same track during two weeks of preseason testing this winter and had brought in a new engine for the race. But Mercedes was unfazed and stormed to a fifth one-two finish in as many races to further demoralize its rivals. Vettel tried to get the jump on the Mercedes at the race start from third on the grid. But the move only succeeded in making Bottas flinch and letting Hamilton go clear. After Vettel's tires locked up, Verstappen slipped past into third place. Even though there are 16 races left, it looks like Ferrari will likely have to wait another year to end its constructors title drought that dates back to 2008. "The updates we brought here to Barcelona, both on the aero front and on the engine, worked well and we are more than pleased with them, but they proved to be insufficient," said Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto. "Now we have to analyze and think about what did not work. And when it comes to that, as of today I don't think we have a precise answer." As for Hamilton, he said he had taken notice of improvements that Red Bull had made after switching to a Honda engine this season. The defending champion also said he missed a better effort from Ferrari. "We welcome a battle and it would be great to fight with Ferrari and Red Bull," said Hamiton. "I prefer it when they are in the mix with us. It is much better when we can compete with another team.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 13th, 2019

Bottas takes pole at Spanish GP ahead of Hamilton

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press MONTMELO, Spain (AP) — Valtteri Bottas is poised to become a major threat to teammate and defending Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton after clocking a scorching lap at the Spanish Grand Prix to take his third consecutive pole position on Saturday. Bottas smashed Hamilton's track record at the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit in qualifying, finishing the 4.6-kilometer (2.5-mile) track in 1 minute, 15.406 seconds to better Hamilton's mark from 2018. More importantly for Bottas' hopes in Sunday's race was the gap of more than half a second over Hamilton's best effort. With Hamilton second on the grid, Mercedes is in great position to extend its record start after the pair swept the top two spots at the first four races. Bottas, who failed to win a race last season, leads Hamilton by one point in the standings after they have alternated places in their run of one-two finishes. "I really enjoyed that adrenaline rush from those laps," Bottas said. "It started well, this season. Just the way I hoped for. I am feeling better and better in the car." Hamilton praised his teammate, who after two years as a second fiddle has emerged as the No. 1 challenger to stopping him from winning a sixth world title. "Valtteri did a fantastic job. He has been quick all weekend," said Hamilton, who took pole in Spain in the previous three years. "I just didn't do the job on my side." Hamilton was quick to add he hoped to celebrate another Mercedes team victory on Sunday, but with him on top. "I'll be giving it everything. Great for the team to have a one-two. If I can reverse it (in the race) I'll be happy." Hamilton will look to turn the tables on Bottas in a race that he has won three times, including the last two years. But Hamilton is getting accustomed to seeing the back of Bottas' car. Bottas won the last race in Azerbaijan from pole position. He was fastest in practice on Friday, and the Finn showed no jitters in qualifying after spinning into gravel in the final practice. Bottas shouted an emphatic "Yes!" over the car radio when he knew the top spot was his after Hamilton came up short on his last run, with some gravel strewn on the course possibly slowing him down. Bottas and Hamilton both said that the 66-lap race could be decided in the opening meters. "The start and Turn 1 will be particularly important," Bottas said. "Tomorrow, Lewis and I both want to win, so I'm looking forward to a hard and fair fight." Hamilton said: "My starts have been decent so far this year, so hopefully that will continue on Sunday as it's not that easy to overtake on this track." Sebastian Vettel in his Ferrari will start from third, just in front of Red Bull's Max Verstappen. Ferrari's other driver, Charles Leclerc, will start from fifth. Vettel has yet to top qualifying, and it is clear Ferrari has made up no ground despite bringing a new engine to Spain. Vettel is 35 points behind Bottas in third place. "The car doesn't feel bad, but the car is not quick enough," Vettel said. "We are struggling a little bit to bring it together." Pierre Gasly had the sixth best time in his Red Bull, ahead of Haas pair Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen. Nico Hulkenberg was the only driver to go off the track in an otherwise clean qualifying session. The German ran into the barrier and bent one side of his front wing under his Renault. After hasty repairs, Hulkenberg could not make it out of the first qualifying section, which culls the slowest five drivers. Renault partner Daniel Ricciardo finished qualifying 10th but will have to serve a three-place grid penalty that he carried over for causing an accident with Daniil Kvyat in Azerbaijan. Williams' woes deepened after George Russell lost control during practice before qualifying. Damage from the rear-end impact into the wall required a gearbox change, which incurred a five-place grid penalty. Russell and teammate Robert Kubica were again at the bottom of qualifying with the slowest cars......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 12th, 2019