McIlroy admits 18th hole gamble

first_imgRory McIlroy has revealed how he gambled on rivals Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler not making an eagle in a frantic finish to the US PGA Championship on Sunday. Press Association With daylight fading fast following a rain delay of almost two hours, Mickelson and Fowler stood aside on the 18th hole to allow the final group of McIlroy and Bernd Wiesberger to tee off. That ensured they would have the option to finish the hole and is common practice, but what was not so common was McIlroy hitting his approach to the 18th as well before Mickelson and Fowler attempted to catch him with an eagle three on the par five. center_img “We were cool with hitting the tee shot,” Fowler said. “We weren’t expecting the approach shots. It changes things a little bit. Obviously, there is no waiting. Phil and I waited on the tee for a good amount of time and had to hit tee shots. “In a way, they [McIlroy and Wiesberger] never got out of rhythm as far as hitting the golf shots.” Mickelson, who came agonisingly close to holing his pitch, stopped short of criticising the situation in a television interview but was clearly agitated on the green. “It didn’t affect the outcome I think,” the left-hander said. “It’s not what we normally do but it’s not a big deal. It’s a courteous thing to let the guys tee off in case they blow the horn. It gave everyone a chance to finish just in the nick of time.” McIlroy was quick to acknowledge the act of sportsmanship after hitting his second shot into a greenside bunker and securing the par which sealed a one-shot win over Mickelson and a second major title in four weeks. “They could have just left us on the tee box there and just play normally,” McIlroy said. “But they showed a lot of class and a lot of sportsmanship doing that. I thanked Rickie and Phil in the scorer’s area and reiterated what I said in my speech out there on the 18th green. “At that point in time, I had a two-shot lead. I saw both their second shots and I saw that they had finished down on the bottom right side of the green. I knew it was tough. “I know Phil came awfully close to holing that third shot but at the same time, I knew par was probably going to be good enough, and if I had to and try and make birdie with that third shot out of the bunker, I would have been a little more aggressive with it and obviously tried to get it up on the top level and try and make a four. “But I just sort of weighed up the probability of everything and I was 75, 80 per cent certain that those guys were not going to make eagle. So it made my job a little easier.” last_img read more

Slaven Bilic brushes off Sam Allardyce criticism of Andy Carroll

first_img “We tried to explain to him that he needed to work for six weeks and have a pre-season, not to train for 10 days, roll up his sleeves and play the game,” he added. “He did his time and we should all benefit from that.” Carroll has shaken off the knock which kept him out of the 2-2 draw at Sunderland a fortnight ago and is fit to face Crystal Palace on Saturday. He could be joined in the squad by fellow forward Enner Valencia, who was injured during the Europa League tie against Astra Giurgiu in July, and defender Angelo Ogbonna following a hamstring injury. Slaven Bilic has brushed off Sam Allardyce’s criticism of Andy Carroll and claims the striker is totally focused on getting fit this season. In his autobiography, being serialised in The Sun, former West Ham boss Allardyce questioned Carroll’s dedication during his injury-hit spell at Upton Park. Current Hammers chief Bilic, who replaced Allardyce in the summer, admitted he was aware of Carroll’s reputation before taking over in east London. But Bilic insists the 26-year-old, who has made three appearances since finally overcoming a long-term ankle injury, has been a model professional this term. “I did not have to become West Ham manager to know about Andy Carroll,” said Bilic. “I heard about that before, that sometimes he got injured because he was not totally dedicated to being a footballer. “From my first day, he was injured. But the way he was working – in six to eight weeks of struggle that was boring and not ideal and not fun – he did it as a great professional and now we are expecting big benefits out of that. “Those stories are definite, there is something behind them, they are true. It is very rare that people are making up stories. “There is something there, but it looks much worse. I don’t want to comment on the stories. “He’s been out a few times, but his rehabilitation and training, especially in that period, was top class.” Bilic made Carroll undergo his own mini pre-season, rather than rush him back into the team, in a bid to avoid the frontman breaking down again. Press Associationlast_img read more

Receivers take center stage during Tuesday’s football practice

first_imgFollowing a scrimmage on Howard Jones Field Saturday, the Trojans were back to regular practice on Tuesday. In the early weeks of camp, the USC defense stood out with its speed and forced turnovers. But on Tuesday, the offense took center stage. “Offensively, it’s probably been our best practice of spring thus far,” head coach Clay Helton said. The Trojans have holes to fill at the wide receiver position. With JuJu Smith-Schuster, Darreus Rogers, De’Quan Hampton and Isaac Whitney leaving, younger players now have an opportunity to step up, and they impressed their head coach with a strong practice.“I was really proud of the young wide receivers,” Helton said. “The light really clicked on for them today.”After redshirt sophomore quarterback Sam Darnold struggled the first few weeks with interceptions, quarterbacks coach Tyson Helton stressed that timing develops over time, and at this point in the spring, mistakes are understandable.“You’ve got to talk things over about what the quarterback sees, what the receiver sees,” Helton said. “It’s timing more than anything. The receiver has to understand what the quarterback’s thinking, where he’s going to go and the timing of all of that.”While spring practice has been a transition phase, Darnold appears to be getting more comfortable with the younger targets. When asked who has stood out the most to him in spring practice thus far, Darnold did not single anyone out.“All the receivers have been standing out the most to me,” Darnold said. While Darnold already has chemistry with junior wideout Deontay Burnett and his tight ends, redshirt sophomore Daniel Imatorbhebhe and junior Tyler Petite, the likes of sophomore Michael Pittman Jr. and redshirt freshmen Velus Jones Jr. and Tyler Vaughns look to make strides in the receiving game.“We’re looking forward to keeping it going and keep rolling through spring,” Darnold said. “And then hopefully it continues into summer workouts.”Pittman impressed in practice on Tuesday, consistently making plays and catching several of Darnold’s passes in the 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. One of the more experienced wideouts, Pittman drew praise from his coaches.“[Michael] had a good scrimmage on Saturday,” offensive coordinator Tee Martin said. “He made some, what I like to say, ‘Big boy plays’ … and today he was really strong [and] played physical.”Jones has also continued to impress coaches with his playmaking ability. In the 7-on-7 portion of practice, Jones made an impressive touchdown catch over junior safety Marvell Tell III. With so many pass catchers turning heads, Helton praised Darnold’s work.“He’s really playing against the defense, and he’s not focused on one particular guy,” Helton said. “He’s really mixing the ball around nicely, and he did that again today.” While it will take time for chemistry to develop in the passing game, Darnold will rely on his talented supporting cast to power the Trojans through the upcoming campaign — one with championship aspirations.last_img read more