Xander Schauffele produced a late birdie spree to hold onto a slender lead at the PGA Tour’s Travelers Championship Saturday with a 3-under par 67.
Schauffele, who led by five shots after Friday’s second round, will take a one-shot advantage into Sunday’s final round at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut.
But the 28-year-old from California left it late to ensure he would remain on top of the leaderboard on Saturday with a pair of birdies on the 16th and 17th holes to drop to 17 under for the tournament.
He rolled in a 16-foot birdie putt at the par-3 16th and then drilled an iron from the fairway to a few feet for a further birdie on the 17th.
That ultimately allowed Schauffele to finish the day just in front of red-hot Patrick Cantlay, who had a bogey-free 7-under 63 to move to 16 under.
Schauffele is looking forward to a final round duel against close friend and Ryder Cup playing partner Cantlay.
“It will be fun. I’ve been looking forward to playing with Pat in a final round,” he said.
“We don’t get paired together very often in regular tournaments, only in those team ones.
“So there’s a certain level of comfort we have playing with each other and hopefully that pays off and hopefully we can make a lot of birdies.”
Cantlay was similarly enthused by the prospect of a final day shootout with his friend.
“We actually haven’t played that much together in tournament play, maybe only three times in the last three, four years. So it will be good to go out there again with him,” Cantlay said.
“It’s always nice to be out with him, if he’s on my team or if he’s not. I’m going to go out there tomorrow and try as hard as I can and let the chips fall where they may.”
Sahith Theegala is three off the lead on 14 under after his six-under-par 64.
The highlight of Theegala’s round came with a brilliant eagle three on the par-5 13th, when he reached the green in two before rolling in an 11-foot putt.
The only blemish on an otherwise flawless round came at the 18th, where he made bogey.
Kevin Kisner is one behind Theegala on 13 under after his four-under-par 66.
Scotland’s Martin Laird is tied for fifth with Lee Kyoung-hoon on 12 under. Laird and Lee both carded four-under-par 66s.
Four players including first round co-leader J.T. Poston are tied for seventh on 11 under, while Scottie Scheffler heads a quartet on 10 under after a five-under-par 65.
But there was more disappointment for Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy.
The four-time major-winner who shot an 8-under 62 in the first round had fallen away on Friday after a second round that included a quadruple bogey eight on the 12th hole.
McIlroy navigated his return to the 12th safely on Saturday with a par, but was already struggling after making a double-bogey and bogey on the front nine.
Two more bogeys on the 14th and 16th holes left him tied for 31st place on six under, 11 shots off the lead.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe: Billionaire wants to buy Manchester United
British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe wants to buy Manchester United.
News of the 69-year-old’s interest said that the Glazer family are willing to sell a minority stake in the club.
“If something like this was possible, we would be interested in talking with a view to long-term ownership.”
United, 20-time English champions, are bottom of the Premier League after losing both their opening games of the season under new manager Erik ten Hag.
The woeful start has intensified criticism of the Glazers and their perceived lack of investment in the team.
This summer has seen new signings fail to materialise, including a fruitless pursuit of Barcelona’s Dutch midfielder Frenkie de Jong, while superstar striker Cristiano Ronaldo could leave Old Trafford.
The club has struggled since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 and has not won a trophy since 2017.
There have been multiple protests against the Glazers’ ownership in recent years, including one in May 2021 which caused the Red Devils’ home league match against Liverpool to be postponed.
Murray falls in Washington opener while Halep, Pegula win
Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray of Britain crashed out in the opening round of the ATP and WTA Washington Open on Monday, falling to Sweden’s Mikael Ymer.
The 35-year-old Scotsman fell to 115th-ranked Ymer 7-6 (10/8), 4-6, 6-1 after two hours and 50 minutes at the US Open tuneup tournament.
“I’m excited,” said Ymer, who saved four set points in the first set. “A lot left to do but it’s a very good start of the American swing.”
World number 50 Murray, the 2012 and 2016 Olympic champion, is trying to earn a seeding at the US Open, which he won a decade ago.
“It’s still possible,” Murray said. “I would just need to have a good run in Canada or Cincinnati really. It’s pretty straightforward if I was to make a quarterfinal or a semifinal, which right now — after a loss like that — doesn’t seem realistic.
“I do feel like if I play very well that I could do that. But I’ll need to certainly play better than I did today.”
Ymer, who lost his only career ATP final last August in Winston-Salem, will next face 15th seed Aslan Karatsev.
Ymer won 75 percent of his first-serve points, 49-of-65, and smashed 37 winners past Murray, who made only 25 with 35 unforced errors, five more than Ymer.
Murray had a set point in the 12th game of the first set but sent a backhand wide and Ymer held into a tiebreaker.
Murray had three more set points in the tiebreak but Ymer smashed two forehand winners and a forehand volley winner to pull level at 7-7, prompting Murray to toss his racquet in frustration. Ymer, 23, took the set on a backhand volley winner.
“Had chances in the first set to close that out,” Murray said. “Didn’t get it. Yeah, frustrating.”
While Murray clawed back to force a third set, Ymer raced to a 4-0 lead, they exchanged breaks on double faults and Ymer ended the match on a backhand crosscourt winner.
Murray said he will explore why he has had cramping issues in his past two matches when he often thrives in heat and humidity.
“I started cramping at the end of the first set, Murray said. “After that you’re just trying to find a way to get through the match.
“Need to have a little look at that with my team and maybe see why that is, make a few changes.”
Two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep, coming off a Wimbledon semifinal run, beat Spanish qualifier Cristina Bucsa 6-3, 7-5.
Simona Halep of Romania plays a shot against Cristina Bucsa of Spain during Day 3 of the Citi Open at Rock Creek Tennis Center on August 01, 2022 in Washington, DC. (AFP)
“Always the first round is difficult when you change the surface,” third seed Halep said. “I know it’s going to take time to make the game more solid.”
US top seed Jessica Pegula cruised 6-2, 6-2, over US wildcard Hailey Baptiste.
Pegula won the most recent WTA Washington event in 2019 after two missed years due to Covid-19.
“It definitely feels weird,” Pegula said. “It’s great to be back.”
Britain’s Kyle Edmund made a triumphant return to ATP singles after three left knee surgeries and a 20-month layoff by defeating Japanese qualifier Yosuke Watanuki 6-4, 7-6 (10/8).
Edmund, who next faces British 16th seed Daniel Evans, played in his first tour-level singles match since October 2020 at Vienna, a month before his first operation.
“I didn’t find it easy today,” said Edmund. “I hung in there and I got my reward in the end.”
Man City, Liverpool renew title fight as Premier League clubs flex financial muscle
Premier League clubs have splashed an estimated £1 billion ($1.2 billion) in the arms race for new talent ahead of the start to the 2022/23 season on Friday, but champions Manchester City remain the side to beat.
After winning four league titles in five years, Pep Guardiola’s squad has been bolstered by the biggest name arrival of the summer in Erling Haaland.
The Norwegian had his choice of Europe’s top clubs after scoring 85 goals in 88 games for Borussia Dortmund and followed in the footsteps of his father Alf Inge — a former City captain — to the blue side of Manchester.
Haaland may have had a debut to forget as he missed a glaring opportunity toward the end of City’s 3-1 Community Shield defeat to Liverpool on Saturday, but Guardiola warned the pretenders to his side’s throne that “the goals will come.”
“There is no reason not to be confident,” added Guardiola. “What these guys have done, not just in the Premier League, but in the cups, the steps we have made in Europe and in many things.”
In a window of significant change at the Etihad, Argentine forward Julian Alvarez and England international midfielder Kalvin Phillips have also arrived.
But Guardiola has let plenty of experience go to Premier League rivals with Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko heading to Arsenal and Raheem Sterling joining Chelsea.
Liverpool are best placed to pounce on any slipping of City’s standards.
Jurgen Klopp’s side were denied a historic quadruple by the finest of margins last season as they were pipped to the title by a point and lost the Champions League final 1-0 to Real Madrid after winning the League and FA Cup.
The Reds have also refreshed their front line with the imposing presence of Darwin Nunez coming in to compensate for the loss of Sadio Mane to Bayern Munich.
Nunez did make an immediate impact in the Community Shield, winning a penalty and scoring to turn the game in Liverpool’s favor late in the game.
City and Liverpool have dominated English football for the past five years, but if there is to be a challenge from the chasing pack, it could come from Tottenham.
Ahead of Antonio Conte’s first full season in charge, the Italian has been heavily backed by the normally thrifty Spurs board with the signings of Richarlison, Yves Bissouma, Ivan Perisic, Djed Spence, Clement Lenglet and Fraser Forster.
Crucially, Tottenham have also retained the star duo of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min as they aim for a first league title in 62 years.
Arsenal have been in blistering pre-season form with Jesus on fire in thrashings of Chelsea and Sevilla.
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel blasted his side as “not competitive” after losing 4-0 to the Gunners in Orlando and the Blues are a team in transition following Todd Boehly’s takeover.
There is also plenty of work ahead for new Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag with the uncertain future of Cristiano Ronaldo hanging over start of a new era for the Red Devils.
Amid the scale of big spending from English clubs, Newcastle have been surprisingly quiet in their first summer window since a takeover from the Saudi sovereign wealth fund.
The Magpies have spent just short of £60 million on Dutch defender Sven Botman, England goalkeeper Nick Pope and a permanent deal for left-back Matt Targett.
New boys Nottingham Forest have splashed over £70 million on 12 new signings in the two-time European champions’ first season back in the top flight for 23 years.
That sum does not even include a one-year deal for Jesse Lingard worth a reported £200,000-a-week after he joined on a free transfer from Manchester United.
Aston Villa’s transfer business is arguably the best example of the growing financial gulf between the Premier League and the rest of Europe.
French international midfielder Boubacar Kamara and Brazilian center-back Diego Carlos have turned their backs on Champions League football with Marseille and Sevilla respectively to join Steven Gerrard’s side, who finished 14th in the English top flight last season.
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