Keegan Bradley's latest tie in Match Play feels like a win

Keegan Bradley's latest tie in Match Play feels like a win

AUSTIN, Texas — Keegan Bradley extended his dubious streak to 16 matches over 11 years without winning in the Dell Technologies Match Play. He sure felt like a winner Wednesday.

Bradley was 4 down with five holes to play when he rallied to scratch out a halve against Denny McCarthy in the opening round at Austin Country Club.

“Gosh, that felt good,” Bradley said. “That was a grind. That has the possibility of going a long way, so I’m excited about it.”

Defending champion and top seed Scottie Scheffler missed two putts inside 5 feet over the last five holes before making a 12-footer for birdie on the 18th to beat Davis Riley in a rematch of their U.S. Junior Amateur title match 10 years ago that Scheffler won.

Jon Rahm, the No. 2 seed, was the only player from the top four seeds to lose. Rickie Fowler took him down on the 17th hole, the first time Rahm has lost in the opening round.

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Matt Kuchar, at 44 the oldest player in the field, outlasted Viktor Hovland and won his 35th match, one short of the career tournament record held by Tiger Woods. Rory McIlroy had a shorter shaft in his driver and a new putter, and both worked just fine in his 3-and-1 victory over Scott Stallings.

Nothing was decided Wednesday in the first of three rounds of group play. One player from each of the 16 groups will move on for the knockout stage on the weekend. But every point helps, and even a half-point felt big for Bradley.

Match Play Golf

Jordan Spieth chips on the fifth hole during the first round of the Dell Technologies Match Play Championship in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday.

He made his Match Play debut in 2012 by beating Geoff Ogilvy, who has the highest winning percentage (80%) in tournament history. That was Bradley’s last win. He has lost nine and halved seven matches since then, and it wasn’t without a fight. This was his 11th consecutive match dating to 2015 that it was decided on the 18th hole, lose or draw.

“Man, it was looking pretty bleak there for a while, but I just put my head down,” said Bradley, who drove into the water on the reachable par-4 13th to make bogey, going 4 down and running out of holes.

“I finally started hitting some good shots coming in, and it definitely paid off,” he said.

He won the 14th when McCarthy missed a 4-foot par putt. Bradley won the 15th with a birdie putt from 6 feet, the par-5 16th with a 6-foot eagle. After they halved the par-3 17th, Bradley hit wedge to 6 feet to win the last hole for a halve.

Adam Scott felt even better. He never led the entire match against Seamus Power until he made a 25-foot birdie putt on the final hole.

“Just to win something feels good. I haven’t won anything in a long time,” said Scott, whose last PGA Tour victory was three years ago at Riviera.

Scheffler, who has won and lost in the championship match in his two appearances in the Match Play, never trailed against Riley. It was never easy, particularly the pillow fight that ensued at the end.

Scheffler drove to the edge of the green on the 13th and made a 25-foot eagle putt for a 2-up lead that seemingly put him in control. But then he hooked his next tee shot into the Colorado River and still had a chance to halve the hole until missing a 5-foot putt.

The Masters champion missed a 10-footer on the 15th. Riley had a chance to square the match on the 16th until he missed a 3-foot putt. Scheffler returned the favor when he missed a 3-footer on the 17th that would have closed out the match.

With Riley just 8 feet away for a birdie attempt on the 18th, Scheffler made his 12-footer and gave a light fist pump and a big sigh of relief.

“I’m going to remember the putt on the last hole and take that energy into tomorrow,” Scheffler said.

A long day offered plenty of great shots, from J.J. Spaun holing out from the 13th fairway during his win over U.S. Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick to Jordan Spieth ending his match by chipping in for birdie from a squirrelly lie to beat Mackenzie Hughes, 4 and 3.

Kuchar would not even be eligible for the 64-man field if not for nine LIV Golf players being ineligible. Now he is taking aim at Woods, who was 36-12 with three titles. Kuchar won the opening three holes and then had to hang on against Hovland, the No. 8 seed who made too many mistakes to catch up.

“I’ve been out here a while,” said Kuchar, whose Match Play record improved to 35-11-4. “Any time you’re in a conversation with Tiger Woods, this is a very cool thing.”

McIlroy has struggled with the driver this year, so he went to a 44-inch shaft that was slightly softer (he was at 44 1/2 inches) to get more spin. He also had a replica putter similar to the one he used to win his first two majors a decade ago.

“I needed to go to a slightly softer shaft and I can hit more shots with it and feel a bit more comfortable,” he said. “So it was good to see. It was good to put it in play today and have to perform pretty well. Drove it well, especially on the back nine.

“Obviously this part of the season you’ve got one eye on what you’re doing now and one eye on Augusta.”

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Knicks legend, HOF center Reed dies at age 80

Knicks legend, HOF center Reed dies at age 80

Willis Reed, the legendary captain and star center for the New York Knicks who led the franchise to its only two championships and was the author of one of the signature moments in NBA history, has died. He was 80.

“The Knicks organization is deeply saddened to announce the passing of our beloved Captain, Willis Reed,” the Knicks said in a statement issued Tuesday afternoon. “As we mourn, we will always strive to uphold the standards he left behind — the unmatched leadership, sacrifice and work ethic that personified him as a champion among champions.

“His is a legacy that will live forever. We ask everyone to please respect the family’s privacy during this difficult time.”

Reed, a burly, physical presence in the post across his 10 years in the NBA — all with the Knicks — was the NBA’s Rookie of the Year in 1965 and its Most Valuable Player in 1970, as well as a seven-time All-Star and a five-time All-NBA selection. He was also eventually named to the NBA’s 50th and 75th anniversary teams.

But his place in history was forever etched on May 8, 1970.

New York was set to face Wilt Chamberlain and the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 7 of the NBA Finals that day at Madison Square Garden in the hopes of winning the franchise’s first-ever championship. Reed — who had missed Game 6 with a severe thigh injury — wasn’t expected to play.

But Reed stunned the sellout crowd at the World’s Most Famous Arena by walking out of the tunnel to the iconic call of “Here comes Willis” by radio broadcaster Marv Albert.

Reed then scored the first two baskets of the game — the only two he would score across 27 minutes of action. But the emotional lift he gave the Knicks — coupled with fellow Hall of Famer Walt “Clyde” Frazier scoring 36 points and dishing out 19 assists in the greatest game of his career — delivered New York its first NBA title in what became known to history as “The Willis Reed Game.”

“Willis Reed was the ultimate team player and consummate leader. My earliest and fondest memories of NBA basketball are of watching Willis, who embodied the winning spirit that defined the New York Knicks’ championship teams in the early 1970s,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “He played the game with remarkable passion and determination, and his inspiring comeback in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals remains one of the most iconic moments in all of sports.”

Reed was named Finals MVP for that series, and then, after the Knicks lost to the Lakers in five games in 1972, led New York to a second title. He won a second Finals MVP award as the Knicks got revenge on the Lakers in five games in 1973.

Reed would retire after the 1973-74 season having spent his entire 10-year NBA career in New York, and would forever be known simply as The Captain for his leadership and commitment to teamwork.

Harvey Araton, the author of “When the Garden was Eden,” a book on those 1970s Knicks, said those values were summed up to him when, as part of the reporting for the book, he left Reed a copy of a video of Game 5 of the 1970 finals — one that Reed had told Araton, prior to watching it with him, he’d never seen before.

“A few weeks later, an envelope shows up at my house with a note attached to the video that Willis said, ‘Thanks for the video. Our greatest victory.’

“That’s a hell of a thing, for a guy who was the MVP of two NBA Finals and was a Hall of Famer player, to say that the team’s greatest victory was one achieved without him. That kind of summed up who he was. He was totally about team. That manifested itself in so many ways. Just those three words — ‘our greatest victory’ — left an impression on me.”

Reed’s No. 19 became the first retired by the Knicks in 1976, and he was elected to the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in 1982. He went on to be the head coach of the Knicks for a little more than a year, and later spent four years as the head coach at the University of Creighton, before working for more than a decade in the then-New Jersey Nets’ front office, first as general manager and then as senior vice president of basketball operations.

“What I remember about Willis is he would always carry a blue Sharpie with him wherever he went, and he’d always have a stack of pictures with him from when he played for the Knicks,” said ESPN’s Bobby Marks, who spent several years working for Reed when he was an executive with the Nets. “And he’d go out of his way, whether it was those pictures or a basketball, he would never turn anyone down. It’s a lasting remembrance I always think about, giving back to people who are less fortunate.”

Reed also worked as an assistant coach for the Atlanta Hawks from 1985 to ’87, when current 76ers coach Doc Rivers played point guard for the team.

“I loved this man… He was my assistant coach when I was a player with the Hawks,” Rivers said in a tweet. “He was simply a great person, A man !!! A leader!!! A Winner!!!”

Reed was born on June 25, 1942 in Dubach, Louisiana. After playing high school ball in Lillie, Louisiana, he starred at Grambling State University from 1960 to ’64, averaging over 26 points and 21 rebounds as a senior, before New York selected him in the second round of the 1964 NBA draft.

He would go on to finish his career with averages of 18.7 points and 12.9 rebounds per game.

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Russia barred from all hockey worlds in 2023-24

Russia barred from all hockey worlds in 2023-24

ZURICH — Russia and Belarus teams were excluded by the International Ice Hockey Federation on Wednesday from all its world championships next season, including the women’s event in the United States.

The IIHF cited security concerns for players, competition staff and fans — because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — to extend the exclusion that will stretch beyond two years when the 2023-24 season is over.

“It is too soon,” IIHF president Luc Tardif said about letting Russia return. “Too many risks.”

The women’s worlds is set to be played in U.S. cities in March or April next year and the men’s event in the Czech Republic is scheduled next May.

Ice hockey is a favorite sport played by both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

The Russian Hockey Federation dismissed the IIHF’s security concerns as a “contrived reason” to keep its teams out of competition.

“It is a decision which is neither constructive, nor beneficial for world hockey,” the federation said in a statement.

The IIHF has followed guidance given by the International Olympic Committee within days of Russia starting the war in February last year to remove Russian teams from international competitions and to find new hosts for events the country was to stage.

However, the IOC is now pushing Olympic sports governing bodies to find ways to include Russian and Belarusian athletes as neutrals in qualifying events for the 2024 Paris Games. The international governing bodies for judo and fencing have said this year that they are prepared to readmit Russian and Belarusian athletes.

The IOC executive board is due to discuss the Russian issue at a meeting next Tuesday in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Tardif, speaking after a decision by the ruling council he chairs, said the IIHF must decide in the next year if Russia and Belarus can take part in the 2026 Milan-Cortina d’Ampezzo Winter Games.

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IBA World Boxing Championships | After Sena Irie's retirement, Japan on course to finding new champion

IBA World Boxing Championships | After Sena Irie's retirement, Japan on course to finding new champion

Japan’s Sena Irie, who won the first-ever Olympics gold for her country in women’s boxing in Tokyo, is quite a character. At just 20, after already doing the unprecedented, it wasn’t boxing she wanted to pursue but dreamt of producing video games instead. All this, after having picked up boxing at the age of seven, with her inspiration being a character from a sports manga — Ganbare Genki.

It has been a year since she signed off from her amateur career with a silver medal at the Asian Championships, and Team Japan seems to have finally come to terms with her decision, with coach Ida Takeshi developing the new line of boxers. Irie’s close friend, Rinka Kinoshita, who also hails from Tottori and trains at Nippon Sports Science University like the gold medalist, has already moved into the semis of the flyweight category, assuring herself of a bronze. This makes Ida a relieved man and allows him to focus now on bigger tournaments, as the World Championships medal is just not enough.

“It’s a bit unfortunate that Irie retired so young. But her thought process is totally different from others and she wants to do well in other fields, after her Olympic gold. She said ‘I’ve moved on with my life but I would still do my best to support boxing and keep on cheering for upcoming athletes’.

Irie, who grew up watching manga, ended up pulling off something worthy of a Bollywood script but there have been instances in the past where athletes just didn’t want to restrict themselves to one sphere of life. Australia’s Ash Barty ended her tennis career abruptly after winning three Glam Slam titles and an Olympic bronze. She was a cricketer too and had played professionally in the Women’s Big Bash League, before making a return to tennis again, eventually taking a retirement from both. Perhaps this is the sign of a new-age champion.

“She won a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics and the Japanese team was really happy when she did. I think that what she did as an Asian person was huge. She proved to everyone that even Asians could win gold medals at the Olympics in boxing. That has paved the way for the younger generations in Japan at least.

“That is how some of the players think nowadays and we can’t complain. If having an alternate career in mind while playing gets you gold at the Olympics, we ideally should not be complaining,” he continued.  

For now, the coach is focussing all his energy on getting Rinka a finals berth, but again, the Olympics remains the ultimate dream, and he says it with a twinkle in his eyes.

“She has already confirmed a bronze medal here and is a really strong boxer. We would want a medal from her at the Olympics as well, just like her childhood friend Irie did. There is still a long way to go for her, but we have a sound system in place back home, so getting more champions is a matter of time, hopefully.”

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Man United could hand Liverpool major transfer boost this summer with midfielder deal

Man United could hand Liverpool major transfer boost this summer with midfielder deal

Man United could hand Liverpool major transfer boost this summer with midfielder deal

Liverpool transfer news: According to recent rumors, the Reds could enjoy a little transfer windfall this summer thanks to Manchester United.

Jeremy Ten Hag and Jurgen Klopp
Liverpool may be in line to earn additional funding this summer as a result of Manchester United.

If the most recent transfer rumors that have surfaced this week are to be believed, that is. A wide range of players who appear to be interested are still being linked to the Reds as potential new additions.

Man United could hand Liverpool major transfer boost this summer with midfielder deal 2 Sportelo

Marko Grujic(Getty images)

But it’s not just Liverpool that is dominating the gossip columns; Man United, another one of their fiercest rivals, is also being linked to players. And those from Anfield will recognize the most recent.

Reports from Serbian news outlet Telegraf have claimed that Man United are interested in signing Marko Grujic this summer. It has also been reported that AC Milan have also joined the race to sign the Porto midfielder.

The report goes a step further by claiming that contact has already been made between “intermediaries” and interested clubs. It has also been stated that United are “serious” about signing the former Liverpool midfielder.

Grujic signed for Liverpool in January 2016, before officially moving to Anfield a few months later for the 2016/17 season. He was Jurgen Klopp’s first signing at Anfield, with the Reds agreeing a £5.1m deal with Red Star Belgrade.

However, things did not go fully to plan for the midfielder. Grujic would have loan spells with Cardiff City, Hertha Berlin and Porto, before the move became permanent in the summer of 2021. Liverpool banked £10.5m from the Portuguese club, and struck an agreement which could help them in the future.

Liverpool also agreed that a 10 per cent sell-on clause was included as part of the deal. It is likely that would apply only to any profit on the £10.5m which was paid by Porto nearly two years ago.

In other news, Done Deal: Liverpool now have advantage in four-horse race to sign Chelsea star

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Worrying fade outs haunt Dragons and Sharks

Worrying fade outs haunt Dragons and Sharks

Josh Morris talks about the Dragons-Sharks round 4 clash. Morris has been on both sides of the St George Illawarra-Cronulla rivalry and is well placed to give his thoughts on Sunday night’s encounter. He joins Fox Sports Lab NRL host Eloise Sohier to dissect the final game of the weekend.

It will be a case of ‘who fixes it, wins’ when Cronulla and St George Illawarra attempt to rebound from last-start defeats in their NRL local derby on Sunday evening.

The Sharks’ clunky attack was at the core of their loss to Canberra, while St George Illawarra need to desperately pinpoint the reason behind their late-game fade out against Brisbane that led to them conceding 22 points in the final 10 minutes.

Speaking inside the Fox Sports Lab, NRL great Josh Morris said the return of Nicho Hynes from a calf injury was a difference maker for the Sharks.

Morris had a foot in both camps as a player. He made 46 appearances for St George Illawarra to start his NRL career and 25 for Cronulla in his latter years as part of his glittering 325-game career

He questioned whether the Dragons could end their five-game losing streak against the Sharks.

“The Sharks bring back Nicho Hynes this week, he’s a massive inclusion, the Dally M Medallist,” Morris said.

“They’ve been a little clunky. Hynes will bring back that attack.”

Cronulla lost their way in Canberra after their 6-0 lead turned into a 24-10 deficit midway through the game.

“(Coach) Craig Fitzgibbon wouldn’t be happy with the way that they faded in last week’s game, defensively,” Morris said.

NRL Rd 21 - Sharks v Dragons

Nicho Hynes cuts through the Dragons’ defence last season. Picture: Matt King/Getty Images

“He’ll have them humming. He knows how important these clashes are and I think the Sharks are a good thing.”

The Dragons suffered an even bigger defensive lapse, conceding four tries in 10 minutes after scores were tied 18-all to go down 40-18.

“They were right in the game until the 70th minute and then you saw the Broncos run away with it,” Morris said.

“They need to figure out where they went wrong and make sure it doesn’t happen again because these rivalries are so close, one mistake could be the difference between winning and losing.”

There were some positives for coach Anthony Griffin’s side, particularly the development of fullback Tyrell Sloan, winger Mathew Feagai and five-eighth Jayden Sullivan.

“I thought their young fellas performed really well and they’ll need them to perform really well again if they’re to win,” Morris said.

Watch the Fox Sports Lab NRL video segment above.

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