Molinari’s tweet prompted Tour’s new slow play penalties

Wentworth golf course

Edoardo Molinari identifying slow players on Twitter led to the European Tour’s measures to speed up play, says its chief executive Keith Pelley.

On Monday, a four-point plan was announced that includes giving players an immediate one-stroke penalty if they incur two bad times in a round.

There will also be increased fines for those who consistently fall behind.

Pelley said the ex-Ryder Cup player was “entirely right” to confront an issue that is golf’s biggest talking point.

In April, the Italian tweeted a list of players who had been timed, showing the number of breaches they had committed and the total fines handed out.

It came after his second round at the Hassan Trophy took five hours 30 minutes to complete.

“I spoke to Edoardo shortly afterwards, and while I didn’t necessarily agree with his chosen method, he was entirely right to confront the problem,” said Pelley.

“It prompted a discussion at the next tournament committee meeting, held at the British Masters in May.

“Thankfully, our tournament committee shared Edoardo’s belief that enough was enough, and they were prepared to make some hard decisions, accepting the need to be more punitive.”

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Thomas wins BMW by three shots while Woods misses Tour finale

Justin Thomas

BMW Championship final leaderboard
-25 Thomas (US); –22 Cantlay (US); -20 Matsuyama (Jpn); -18 Finau (US); -16 Rahm (Spa)
Selected others: -13 Fleetwood (US); -11 McIlroy (NI); -10 Casey (Eng), Koepka (US); -8 Poulter (Eng); -7 Woods (Eng); -5 Lowry (Ire); -4 Rose (Eng)

American Justin Thomas claimed the BMW Championship by three shots at Medinah.

Overnight leader Thomas, who set a new course record with a third-round 61, closed with a 68 to finish 25 under.

Fellow American Patrick Cantlay was his nearest rival on 22 under while Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama shot his second 63 of the week to finish two further back.

Tiger Woods finished on seven under and will not defend his title at next week’s season-ending Tour Championship after missing out on the 30-man field.

Only the top 30 on the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup points list are eligible to play at East Lake in Atlanta.

In order to qualify, Woods – who has struggled with injury and form since claiming his 15th major at the Masters in April – needed to finish 11th or higher at Medinah, but was tied for 37th after a closing 72.

“Last year culminated in a pretty special moment for me and it would’ve been nice to go back there,” Woods said. “But I’ll be watching the guys on TV.”

Thomas now leads the points standings after a 10th PGA Tour victory that was secured thanks to four birdies on the back nine.

England’s Tommy Fleetwood was tied for 11th on 13 under with Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy two shots further back.

Earlier in the day, five-time major winner Phil Mickelson almost missed his tee time after lightning set fire to the roof of his hotel.

The American had been evacuated from his hotel, but managed to retrieve his clubs from his room in time and eventually carded a 71 that left him at five under.

“Kind of a funny deal,” he said after his round. “There were 10 fire trucks. I got in my car and left and couldn’t get back. The roads were closed and the hotel was closed.

“But things cleared up pretty quickly. I was able to get back in and get my stuff. It all worked out great – except my score.”

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Czech Masters: Thomas Pieters wins first title in three years

Thomas Pieters

Czech Masters final leaderboard
-19 Pieters (Bel); -18 Arnaus (Spa); -16 Pavan (Ita), Horsfield (Eng); -14 Schwab (Aut), Johnston (Sco), Van Rooyen (SA), Karlberg (Swe), Leon (Chi)

Belgium’s Thomas Pieters won his first title in three years with a one-shot victory at the Czech Masters.

Overnight leader Pieters, 27, carded a three-under par 69 in his final round to finish on 19 under, with his Spanish playing partner Adri Arnaus on 18 under.

England’s Sam Horsfield finished in a tie for third on 16 under with Italy’s defending champion Andrea Pavan.

“I’m relieved,” said Pieters. “It’s been a long time since I last won.”

It is Pieters second victory at the tournament in Prague and his fourth European Tour title.

Pieters, who played in Europe’s 2016 Ryder Cup team, last won on the European Tour in 2016 and is ranked 111th in the world.

“It feels good to win again,” he added. “I never doubted myself but it’s just been a long road of not feeling that great with the golf swing. It feels good to get back on track again and get another win.

“It’s difficult when everybody says you should be winning two or three times a year. It’s always nice to hear that but it’s almost a negative sometimes because I always felt like I was underachieving but hopefully there’s many more like this.

“I felt like I was in control today, almost the whole day and I kind of did my own thing.”

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Meadow beats Hull by one shot to win World Invitational

Stephanie Meadow

Stephanie Meadow earned an emotional home win at the World Invitational in Northern Ireland after holding off England’s Charley Hull by one shot.

Solheim Cup star Hull had a four-foot eagle putt on the 18th to draw level but missed as Meadow, 27, holed out for par to take victory at Galgorm Castle.

Playing in her first pro event in Northern Ireland, Meadow’s level-par 73 gave her a 10-under-par total.

Jack Senior beat Matthew Baldwin in a play-off to win the men’s event.

Both English players finished on 11 under.

For the first time in professional golf in Europe, the Northern Ireland event featured separate men’s and women’s tournaments with equal prize money.

Heysham man Senior and Meadow both picked up £33,000 for their wins with runners-up Hull and Baldwin earning just over £22,000.

German duo Laura Fuenfstueck and Olivia Cowan shared third in the women’s event – three off the pace – with Scotland’s Kylie Henry in fifth and Ireland’s Leona Maguire tied for sixth on five under.

Four ahead overnight, Meadow looked set for a comfortable victory margin as a birdie at the second increased her lead to five but hit trouble at the ninth as an errant fairway wood shot led to a double-bogey seven following a penalty drop.

The Northern Irishwoman recovered impressively with birdies at the 10th and 11th, which kept her three ahead of Solheim Cup star Hull.

With Hull getting a birdie at the short 12th before dropping a shot on 16, the margin remained three as the players stood on the 17th tee.

However, Meadow bogeyed the penultimate hole before finding the trees with her tee shot at the last as the pressure intensified.

After chipping out sideways, Meadow found the green with a brave third to 20 feet but a play-off looked on as Hull played a sensational approach to set up her short eagle chance.

But the Englishwoman missed as she had to settle for a final round of 69, with Meadow tapping in to complete a nerve-wracking win.

Jordanstown’s Meadow finished third on her professional debut at the Women’s US Open in 2014 but suffered a devastating blow a year later when her father died months after being diagnosed with cancer.

A back injury affected Meadow’s career in 2017 but she earned her sole previous professional win on the second-tier Symetra Tour in the US last year.

Senior takes men’s title

Senior, 31, was earning his second European Challenge Tour victory after a win in Scotland in 2015.

After Senior led for much of the back nine, Southport man Baldwin moved into the lead by birdieing four of the last five holes to complete a six-under-par 64.

However, Senior regrouped from a bogey at the 16th to birdie the last to force the play-off, which he won at the second extra hole with another birdie after he had signed for a 67.

The English pair finished two ahead of compatriot and joint overnight leader Todd Clements, who shot a 70, with France’s Damien Perrier slipping back to fourth after a 71.

Last year’s Northern Ireland Open winner at Galgorm, Scotland’s Calum Hill, shared seventh spot – six off the pace – with Cormac Sharvin, the only Irishman to survive into the final day, tied for 21st on two under.

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Thomas leads BMW by six after breaking Medinah course record

Justin Thomas

BMW Championship third-round leaderboard
-21 J Thomas (US); -15 T Finau, P Cantlay (both US); -14 R Sabbatini (Svk); -13 J Rahm (Spa); -12 B Snedeker (US), C Connors (Can), L Glover (US); -11 R Fowler, K Kisner, X Schauffele (all US), H Matsuyama (Jpn)
Selected others:-10 R McIlroy (NI), T Fleetwood (Eng); -9 P Casey (Eng); -7 T Woods (US); -5 I Poulter (Eng), B Koepka (US); -2 G McDowell (NI), J Rose (Eng)
Full leaderboard

Justin Thomas will take a six-shot lead into the BMW Championship’s final round after breaking the course record by two shots on a rain-affected day three.

Thomas, 26, made two eagles and eight birdies in a third-round 61 to finish 21-under-par at Medinah.

The new record was only set on Friday when Hideki Matsuyama shot a nine-under-par 63 in Chicago.

Tony Finau shot a four-under 68 to sit second on 15 under with Patrick Cantlay.

A thunderstorm forced play to be temporarily halted, with the leaders’ tee times delayed for more than an hour.

Reigning Masters champion Tiger Woods, who is continuing his return from back surgery, shot his lowest round since February with a bogey-free five-under 67 on the course where he won the 1999 and 2006 US PGA Championships.

Woods, 43, says he now “has a chance” to qualify for the season-ending Tour Championship, which begins on August 22.

US Open champion Gary Woodland was one shot off equalling Matsuyama’s record with an eight-under-par 64, but missed a seven-foot birdie putt at the 18th hole.

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BMW Championship: Hideki Matsuyama breaks Medinah course record to take lead

Japanese golfer Hideki Matsuyama lines up a putt at the BMW Championship

The BMW Championship second-round leaderboard
-12 H Matsuyama (Jpn); -11 P Cantlay, T Finau (both US); -10 J Thomas (US); -9 A Hadwin, C Conners (both Can), L Glover, C Reavie, X Schauffele (all US), R Sabbatini (Svk)
Selected others: -8 T Fleetwood (Eng), R McIlroy (NI), -5 B Koepka (US); -4 P Casey, I Poulter (both Eng); -3 J Rose (Eng); G McDowell (NI); -2 T Woods (US)
Full leaderboard

Hideki Matsuyama broke the Medinah course record by two shots with a stunning nine-under-par 63 to take the BMW Championship lead after round two.

The Japanese, 27, hit nine birdies and no bogeys to move to 12 under overall, one shot in front of Americans Patrick Cantlay and Tony Finau on Friday.

Justin Thomas and Jason Kokrak had both equalled the previous course record of 65 on Thursday.

“It seemed like every birdie chance I had I made the putt,” said Matsuyama.

Matsuyama was superb with the putter, sinking five birdie chances from beyond 15 feet, including a 30-foot effort at the 18th hole.

Having started the tournament 33rd in the FedEx Cup play-offs, Matsuyama is now projected second in the rankings. The top 30 players after this tournament will qualify for the Tour Championship on 22 August for the chance to become FedEx Cup champion.

Thomas shot a three-under 69 to move to 10 under overall, but fellow overnight leader Kokrak fell back to six under after a 73.

England’s Tommy Fleetwood carded an impressive 66 to move up to eight under alongside Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, who shot 67. McIlroy is currently projected fourth, having come into the tournament in third place.

Tiger Woods hit five birdies but also four bogeys in a second consecutive round of 71.

The 15-time major champion said he would need to shoot “something in the mid-60s” in the two remaining rounds to move up into the top 30 and have the chance to defend his Tour Championship title.

World number one Brooks Koepka remains in projected first after a 71 moved him to five under overall, level with Patrick Reed, who won the first FedEx Cup play-off event, The Northern Trust, last week.

Defending FedEx Cup champion Justin Rose slipped back to three under after a 73, one shot behind fellow Englishmen Paul Casey and Ian Poulter.

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BMW Championship: Justin Thomas equals course record despite ‘worst’ warm-up

American golfer Justin Thomas prepares to hit a tee shot

The BMW Championship first-round leaderboard
-7 J Thomas, J Kokrak (both US); -6 J Furyk, J Dahmen, L Glover, B Snedeker (all US); -5 R Sabbatini (Svk), S Piercy, T Finau, X Schauffele, C Morikawa, R Fowler, C Reavie (all US), A Scott (Aus), A Hadwin (Can)
Selected others: -4 J Rose (Eng), B Koepka, P Reed (both US); -3 R McIlroy, G McDowell (both NI), -2 P Casey, T Fleetwood, I Poulter (all Eng); -1 T Woods (US)
Full leaderboard

Justin Thomas says he had the worst warm-up of his life before tying the course record at Medinah to share the BMW Championship lead after round one.

Americans Thomas, 26, and Jason Kokrak, 34, both hit a record-equalling seven-under par 65 in Illinois on Thursday.

Despite carding a round of seven birdies and no bogeys, Thomas said he “couldn’t hit the ball” in practice before teeing off.

“I had the worst warm-up I’ve ever had in my life,” he said.

“I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know how I was going to hit it.

“I’ve had that happen plenty of times, just not quite that extreme. I’m usually pretty good at finding my way around a golf course and finding something, but definitely didn’t expect that.”

The BMW Championship is the second of three events in the US PGA tour’s FedEx Cup play-offs. The top 30 players in the rankings after this tournament will qualify for the Tour Championship on 22 August for the chance to become FedEx Cup champion.

Thomas, who won the 2017 FedEx Cup, has moved into projected first place in the rankings after his opening round.

He is without a victory this year, having been hampered by a wrist injury that caused him to miss the US PGA Championship, which he won in 2017.

The other golfers to hit 65 at Medinah all did so during a US PGA Championship – Skip Kendall in 1999, Mike Weir in 2006 and Tiger Woods in winning the title, also in 2006.

“It’s been an odd season just because I’ve missed three tournaments, but the difference with this season and any other season is I’d won,” said Thomas.

“I’m playing every bit as good as I have any other year this year, for sure.”

Americans Jim Furyk, Joel Dahmen, Lucas Glover and Brandt Snedeker are tied for third, one shot off the lead.

Defending FedEx Cup champion Justin Rose bogeyed the last to finish on a four-under 68, level with Brooks Koepka, who started the tournament in first place, and Patrick Reed, who won The Northern Trust last week.

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, who started the week third in the FedEx Cup standings, is a shot further back on three under alongside compatriot Graeme McDowell.

Woods finished with a one-under 71 to leave him projected 47th in the rankings and needing three strong rounds to reach the Tour Championship, which he won last year.

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Men’s and women’s events at World Invitational

Charley Hull will compete for Europe in next month's Solheim Cup at Gleneagles

A genuine first for tournament golf in Europe takes place at the World Invitational starting in Northern Ireland on Thursday as it encompasses separate men’s and women’s events.

English star Charley Hull is in a women’s field which includes European Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthew.

The men’s event retains the European Challenge Tour status that predecessor the Northern Ireland Open had.

European Tour winners in the men’s field include Australia Richard Green.

Green’s partner Norwegian star Marianne Skarpnord is in the women’s field while the family element to a week, which has equal £207,000 ($250,000) prize funds for both sexes, includes the participation of last year’s Northern Ireland Open runner-up, Scotland’s Scott Henry and his wife Kylie.

Skarpnord, who narrowly missed out on Solheim Cup selection on Monday, and Green have both previously competed and emerged victorious at the Vic Open in his native Australia, which has the same format as the new Northern Irish event.

“The model worked in Australia and I think it can work here in Northern Ireland,” said 48-year-old left-hander Green, whose last European Tour win came at the 2010 Portugal Masters.

The women’s entry also includes talented German duo Olivia Cowan and Laura Fuenfstueck, Sweden’s former Solheim Cup player Linda Wessberg plus home hopes Stephanie Meadow and Leona Maguire.

Rio Olympian Maguire, the former world number one amateur, is joined in the field by her twin sister Lisa who is also being tipped for big things in the pro ranks despite not making the same impact to date.

Leona has earned two wins on the second-tier Symetra Tour in the USA this year and is on course to earn her full LPGA playing privileges for 2020.

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“It’s great to showcase such a unique week, a first for Europe,” said Maguire of this week’s event which sees action at Massereene in addition to previous Northern Ireland Open venue Galgorm Castle.

Pop star Niall Horan, through his Modest Golf management company which guides the careers of a number of top young players, is maintaining the involvement that he had with Northern Ireland Open and was instrumental in the decision to transform the tournament in to a men’s and women’s event.

“The only way to grow the game is through women’s golf,” Horan told BBC Sport Northern Ireland.

“Once girls are into it, everyone is into it.”

Hill’s chance for instant European Tour promotion

Scotland's Calum Hill won the Northern Ireland Open at Galgorm Castle last year

Other European Tour winners joining Green in the men’s field include French duo Gregory Bourdy and Gary Stal, England’s Ross McGowan and home hope Michael Hoey.

Calum Hill will be aiming for a repeat Galgorm triumph on Sunday after benefiting from compatriot Henry’s late collapse last year to win the Northern Ireland Open.

Hill also has the incentive this week of knowing that victory will ensure immediate progression to the European Tour under the three wins in a season rule after his Made in Denmark Challenge triumph last Saturday added to his success in Austria last month.

The event’s title sponsor ISPS Handa have been at the forefront of attempts to make golf a truly inclusive sport and to that end, one of the world’s leading disabled players, Dundalk man Brendan Lawlor is in this week’s field.

Lawlor, 22, was born with a bone growth disorder which leads to shorter limbs, but the four foot 11 inch County Louth man plays top level amateur golf in Ireland in addition to having a long-term ambition of representing his country at future Paralympics.

The amateur entry, meanwhile, includes Northern Ireland talent Tom McKibbin.

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Solheim Cup: Suzann Pettersen, Bronte Law, Jodi Ewart Shadoff get wildcard spots

Suzann Pettersen

Suzann Pettersen is a surprise wildcard inclusion in Europe’s Solheim Cup team to face the United States at Gleneagles in Scotland from 11-13 September.

The Norwegian, ranked 620 in the world, has missed the cut in the only two events she has played since taking time off in November 2017 to have a baby.

Captain Catriona Matthew also picked Bronte Law and Jodi Ewart Shadoff of England and France’s Celine Boutier.

England’s Charley Hull and Georgia Hall are also in the 12-strong team.

Hull and Hall qualified via their world ranking, along with Spain’s Azahara Munoz, Caroline Masson of Germany and Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist.

Caroline Hedwall of Sweden, Spain’s Carlota Ciganda and Dutchwoman Anne van Dam qualified through the Solheim Cup points list.

Van Dam, 23, will be making her debut after securing her place by finishing joint sixth at last week’s Ladies Scottish Open, the final qualifying event for Europe’s players.

Ciganda is the highest-ranked European in the world rankings, at 13th, with Hull 28th and Hall 32nd.

Law – ranked 25th after her first LPGA Tour victory in May – needed a wildcard pick because she had not played enough events on the Ladies European Tour.

Pettersen, 38, has played in eight Solheim Cups. She missed the last event in 2017 because of injury and had initially been selected as a vice-captain for this year’s edition.

She missed the cut at her first event back a month ago, and again at the Ladies Scottish Open.

Boutier strengthened her claim for a wildcard pick by finishing sixth at the Women’s British Open this month.

US captain Juli Inkster will name her squad after the CP Women’s Open, which finishes on 25 August. She will select two wildcard players, with 10 qualifying through their points system and world ranking positions.

The US, who have won 10 of the previous 15 Solheim Cups, are favourites to claim a third straight victory.

Europe have won both times the event has been held in Scotland, at Dalmahoy in 1992 and Loch Lomond in 2000.

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‘Medinah has good memories for me’ – McIlroy relishing return to Ryder Cup course

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy says returning to Medinah for the first time since the 2012 Ryder Cup will “rekindle some fond memories”.

The world number three will tee off on Thursday in Illinois after finishing four shots behind winner Patrick Reed in the first FedEx Cup play-offs.

Seven years ago, Medinah hosted one of the most memorable sporting comebacks of recent times as a remarkable final day saw Europe retain the trophy.

“Medinah has got some good memories for me,” said McIlroy.

“Unbeknown to us at the time, but it was where I met my wife for the first time.

“It was an incredible Ryder Cup with everything that happened there.”

In what became known as the ‘Miracle at Medinah’, the USA led 10-6 lead after two days, needing just four and a half points from Sunday’s singles to win.

McIlroy, who arrived at at the course just 10 minutes before his tee-off time, beat Keegan Bradley 2&1 as Europe won eight and tied one of the 12 matches.

“We have been sort of excited to get back there all year. If I play next week how I played at Medinah that week, I’d be very happy,” said McIlroy.

“I played some great golf.”

‘The good stuff is in there’

McIlroy shot five bogeys and seven birdies in a final round of 69 at The Northern Trust on Sunday, and now sits third in the FedEx Cup standings behind Brooks Koepka and Reed.

The four-time major winner managed a below-par score in each of the four rounds, including a 65 on the first day.

“Even if I’m not playing that well I’m still able to get myself somewhat in contention,” McIlroy said.

“Even when one part of my game is off, I am sort of making up for it with other parts of my game, whether it be driving, chipping or putting.

“The good stuff is in there; I’m just hitting too many loose shots and they are costing me.

“I don’t think the frustrating thing is not winning the tournament, the frustrating thing is just not quite being in control of what I’m doing out there.”

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