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Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka: A rivalry to ignite golf?

McIlroy (left) says the two players are still “good friends” and that only if Koepka’s comments are taken out of context can they be viewed as an issueGolf is a sport that gives you a proverbial kicking just when you least expect it.A player can believe they have the game sussed, only to find that…

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Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka: A rivalry to ignite golf?

McIlroy (left) says the two players are still “good friends” and that only if Koepka’s comments are taken out of context can they be viewed as an issueGolf is a sport that gives you a proverbial kicking just when you least expect it.A player can believe they have the game sussed, only to find that when the pressure is dialled up they are as fallible as ever. A wayward drive, a duffed chip or a three-putt arrives out of the blue.It applies at any level, even to the blessed few at the very top. Such is the character of this simple ball and stick game, where the only people who can muck it up are the players themselves. When we hear the crowing of a cocky golfer, we are sure they are not far short of a fall. And this perhaps explains why the sport rarely generates much hostile trash talk among its competitors.But world number one Brooks Koepka is a refreshing change from the norm. Here is someone perfectly happy to speak without compromise, even when he is talking about his own talents and those of his rivals.McIlroy says Koepka ‘didn’t need to remind me’ about last major winWoods’ recovery from surgery ‘ahead of schedule’The 29-year-old Floridian has become well worth a listen as well as a look. He dishes out verbal jabs and ensures the perceived chip on his broad shoulders continues to feed undoubted ego and a fearsome competitive edge. His comments might be more restrained than from boxers hyping their next bout, but by golf’s standards Koepka is increasingly outspoken. He talks with the psyche of a fighter while his words set much of the sport’s narrative.The contrast between him and his peers was illustrated by his recent comments on a potential rivalry with Rory McIlroy. While Koepka gave blunt bombast, the man he discussed responded with respectful diplomacy.”I’ve been out here for, what, five years? Rory hasn’t won a major since I’ve been on the PGA Tour,” Koepka asserted before last week’s CJ Cup. “So I just don’t view it as a rivalry.”This is pretty stinging stuff. Pundit Brandel Chamblee on the Golf Channel said it was “disrespectful” and it was certainly not from the more well-mannered traditions of the game.It is not the way the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Bobby Jones, who historically set the ambassadorial template, ever spoke of fellow players. And McIlroy – sometimes not short of an opinion himself – was careful not to add fuel to Koepka’s flames. “What Brooks said wasn’t wrong,” the 30-year-old Northern Irishman admitted. “He’s been the best player for a couple of years, with four majors. I don’t think he had to remind me I hadn’t won one in a while, but you know,” McIlroy smiled.In fact, the last encounter the Ulsterman had with Koepka resulted in McIlroy pocketing the $15million PGA Tour playoff jackpot in Atlanta. It was a notable victory against his American rival.

Nicolas Colsaerts claimed his first victory for seven years in Paris, to ensure he keeps his European Tour card for next season”I said a couple of things after the Tour Championship in terms of how I approached that final round like a little bit of a rivalry because he got one over on me at Memphis and I sort of wanted to get him back,” McIlroy added. And the world number two is not averse to genuine duel between the two developing. “I think that’s good for the game,” he said.For it to develop into something seriously big though, McIlroy is going to have to step it up at the majors as Koepka has suggested. Men’s golf could then thrive off an exciting, headline-generating dynamic.That said, it is not always needed. The beauty for the purist is that smaller storylines, ones that might not grab massive attention, abound at most tournaments. An example is Nicolas Colsaerts’ emotional French Open victory last Sunday, the popular Belgian’s first triumph for seven years coming at a time when he was fighting to retain his European Tour card. Another performance of note came at the CJ Cup in South Korea, where Tyrrell Hatton finished in a share of sixth place behind Justin Thomas, which allowed the Briton to clamber back into the all-important top 50 in the world.Currently 49 in the standings, he will surely take nothing for granted. No-one ever should, of course, even the world’s best player.Fresh off his comments on McIlroy, it is worth noting Koepka carded rounds of 69 and 75. He then slipped on wet concrete and aggravated a long-standing left knee injury which prompted withdrawal from the Korean tournament.That is the way with golf, something will always get you. But hopefully he will be back in action soon. It is never dull when Koepka is around.

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NFL game postponed over Covid-19 cases

Tennessee Titans’ long snapper Beau Brinkley (left) and defensive tackle DaQuan Jones (right) have been put on the reserve/Covid-19 listThe NFL game between the Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday has been postponed because of Covid-19 cases.The game will be rescheduled for Monday or Tuesday after the outbreak among Titans players and staff.On Tuesday,…

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NFL game postponed over Covid-19 cases

Tennessee Titans’ long snapper Beau Brinkley (left) and defensive tackle DaQuan Jones (right) have been put on the reserve/Covid-19 listThe NFL game between the Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday has been postponed because of Covid-19 cases.The game will be rescheduled for Monday or Tuesday after the outbreak among Titans players and staff.On Tuesday, defensive tackle DaQuan Jones, long snapper Beau Brinkley and practice squad tight end Tommy Hudson were put on the reserve/Covid-19 list.The NFL has since shut down the team facility.According to the NFL network, a fourth player also returned a positive test on Wednesday.The Titans played the Minnesota Vikings in Minneapolis last Sunday.The Vikings’ facility was also closed on Tuesday and Wednesday and it is unclear whether their scheduled game with the Houston Texans will take place on Sunday.
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Pliskova survives scare at French Open

Karolina Pliskova reached the Italian Open final earlier in SeptemberCzech second seed Karolina Pliskova came from a set down to avoid an upset against Egyptian qualifier Mayar Sherif in the French Open first round.World number four Pliskova, 28, had eight set points in the opener, before losing to Sherif – ranked 172nd in the world…

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Pliskova survives scare at French Open

Karolina Pliskova reached the Italian Open final earlier in SeptemberCzech second seed Karolina Pliskova came from a set down to avoid an upset against Egyptian qualifier Mayar Sherif in the French Open first round.World number four Pliskova, 28, had eight set points in the opener, before losing to Sherif – ranked 172nd in the world – in a tie-break.The 2017 semi-finalist wrapped up a quick second set against the 24-year-old after winning four games in a row.Pliskova came through a tense decider to claim a 6-7 (9-11) 6-2 6-4 victory.”It was super tough,” she said. “Especially after losing the first set after having set points.”She played a great game, especially in these conditions.”Sherif kept up an impressive level throughout and the pair exchanged breaks at the start of the second set.But Pliskova then won four games in a row, eventually holding serve to level things.The Czech was made to work much harder for the final set as she failed to convert five break points before winning the sixth to go 4-3 up.She held serve and wrapped up the match after two hours and 15 minutes with an ace down the middle.Pliskova, who has never won a Grand Slam, will face Latvian world number 43 Jelena Ostapenko in the second round.Live scores, results and order of playAlerts: Get tennis news sent to your phone
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Williams overcomes slow start to win

Serena Williams is a three-time champion at Roland Garros, having won the 2002, 2013 and 2015 titlesSerena Williams began her quest for a 24th Grand Slam title with a hard-fought win over fellow American Kristie Ahn in the French Open first round.Sixth seed Williams, who turned 39 on Saturday, overcame a rusty start to win…

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Williams overcomes slow start to win

Serena Williams is a three-time champion at Roland Garros, having won the 2002, 2013 and 2015 titlesSerena Williams began her quest for a 24th Grand Slam title with a hard-fought win over fellow American Kristie Ahn in the French Open first round.Sixth seed Williams, who turned 39 on Saturday, overcame a rusty start to win 7-6 (7-3) 6-0 in Paris.Once she came through a 74-minute opener, Williams began to play with more belief and clarity as she swept Ahn aside in a one-sided second set.Williams will play Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova in the second round.Pironkova, 33, was handed a wildcard by Roland Garros after a memorable run to the US Open quarter-finals – where she lost to Williams – in her first tournament since 2017 after giving birth.More to follow.Live scores, results and order of playAlerts: Get tennis news sent to your phone
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