Rory McIlroy takes one-shot lead in WGC-Mexico Championship

Rory McIlroy in first-round action in the WGC-Mexico Championship

WGC-Mexico Championship first-round leaderboard
-8 R McIlroy (NI); -7 D Johnson (US); -5 J Thomas (US), M Kuchar (US); -4 T Hatton (Eng), G Coetzee (SA)
Selected others: -3 I Poulter (Eng); -2 S Garcia (Spa); -1 A Rai (Eng), T Fleetwood (Eng); level D Willett (Eng), T Woods (USA); +1 R Knox (Sco), +2 L Westwood (Eng); +4 J Spieth (US); +8 P Mickelson (US)

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy carded an eight-under 63 to take a one-shot lead after the opening round of the WGC-Mexico Championship.

The 29-year-old world number eight began his round at the 10th and posted seven birdies and an eagle.

American Dustin Johnson, winner in 2017, is second after a bogey-free 64.

Englishman Tyrrell Hatton compiled four birdies on the back nine in a 67 but defending champion Phil Mickelson had eight bogeys and a double in a 79.

McIlroy, who won the last of his 14 PGA Tour titles at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March last year, eagled his 10th after sending a two-iron tee shot to five feet at the 307-yard par four.

He was two clear after pitching to three feet from 123 yards at his 13th before dropping his only shot of the round at his 15th after both his drive and second were affected by trees down the left.

Ian Poulter returned six birdies in a 68, while fellow Englishman Tommy Fleetwood, runner-up to Johnson two years ago, dropped two shots in his final three holes in a 70.

Tiger Woods, winner of 18 WGC titles from 1999-2013, also began at the 10th at Club de Golf Chapultepec and after a double bogey at his 10th, made three successive birdies en route to a level par 71.

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McIlroy to miss Irish Open to prepare for return of The Open to Northern Ireland

Rory McIlroy's presence attracted huge crowds to last year's Irish Open at Ballyliffin in county Donegal

Rory McIlroy has confirmed he will miss this year’s Irish Open at Lahinch in order to focus on his preparations for The Open at Royal Portrush.

McIlroy, 29, says missing his national open, which takes two weeks before the major, will give himself a better chance of winning The Open.

The Open is returning to Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951.

“If there is ever a year when I feel I can miss this Irish Open, it’s this year,” said McIlroy.

Speaking to BBC Sport Northern Ireland, McIlroy said that his plan to “tune up” for the Portrush event by competing in the Scottish Open a week earlier, meant that he was forced to miss the Lahinch tournament, in order to keep himself fresh for the major.

“If I was to play the Irish Open, The Open Championship would be my third event in a row.

“For me, that’s not the best way to prepare for what could be the biggest event of my life.”

McIlroy has been Irish Open tournament host since 2015 although Paul McGinley will undertake that role at Lahinch this year.

The former world number one will maintain his European Tour membership for next year.

Earlier this year, the world number eight said that he was considering playing only two regular European Tour events this year which would have meant him losing his tour membership.

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Ryder Cup: Steve Stricker named US captain for 2020 against Europe

Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk

Steve Stricker will captain the United States as they try to reclaim the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in 2020.

The 51-year-old was on the winning side as a player in 2008, but also played in the 2010 and 2012 losses to Europe.

He was selected as a vice-captain last year by Jim Furyk, as the US lost 17½-10½ at Le Golf National in France, their seventh defeat since 1999.

Irishman Padraig Harrington, a three-time major winner, has already been chosen as Europe’s captain.

Stricker lives in Wisconsin, the same state as the venue for 2020, and was second at the US PGA Championship in 1998 – his best finish at a major.

He captained the US team to victory in the 2017 Presidents Cup.

Stricker and Harrington

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Lawrie faces ‘mental battle’ in competitive return

Paul Lawrie in action last April

Paul Lawrie says he still has a “mental battle” to overcome as he prepares to return to competitive golf after eight months out through injury.

The 1999 Open champion had surgery last summer on his foot and also suffered a back problem.

Although he feels physically fit, he admits that the injuries have affected his confidence.

“Physically my foot is 100%. I’m getting there,” said Lawrie.

“The injury is good. The foot has been brilliant.

“I have had a little problem with the confidence of going on to my foot. Not because its not ready, but just because I’ve had an operation and mentally I’ve been backing out of it when I play.

“It’s been a mental battle more than anything else. My back is not great because I’ve not played a lot of golf. So I will play in Oman next week, then Qatar, and see where we are then.

“I’ve had an eight-month break and I’m now dying to get back playing golf.”

Lawrie will make his competitive return to golf next week in Oman, his first tournament since April last year.

Now 50, the Aberdonian is eligible to play Seniors golf, joining the likes of Colin Montgomerie and Bernard Langer.

And he “will back himself” to be a success when he joins the Senior Tour, adding that it will now likely dominate his schedule.

“They beat me my whole career so I am not saying I’m going over there to clear up,” said Lawrie.

“The standard over there is very, very high. Monty [Montgomerie] thinks I will do OK, but I know the competition is fierce at every level. But if I’m fit I will back myself to try and win a few events.

“It will be exciting to get out there and try and nick a few events.”

He added: “I have a few invites lined up in America. Not an awful lot, but they play for good money over there with 54 holes.

This summer will mark the 20th anniversary of his Open Championship success at Carnoustie and his plan is to play in this year’s event at Royal Portrush.

Before then, he will host a Celebrity PRO-AM at Gleneagles with the aim of raising a six-figure sum for three charities: Paul Lawrie Foundation, My Name’5 Doddie Foundation and Beatson Cancer Charity.

Lawrie hopes many of the Pros who will be playing in the Scottish Open the previous week will attend, with a number of celebrities already confirming they will play.

“I’m just trying to get all the celebrities tied up,” he said. “So far I have had a lovely response from Neil Lennon. I couldn’t not have my all-time favourite footballer Willie Miller.

“Gordon Strachan, Len Goodman, the Evans brothers [Max and Tom], Rory Lawson, and there is a pile of people still to get back to me.”

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Scotland’s Matthew receives HSBC invite in Singapore

Catriona Matthew

Europe’s Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthew has been invited to play at the HSBC Women’s World Championship, which starts next week at Sentosa.

The Singapore event starts on 28 February and runs until 3 March.

Matthew, 49, has won four LPGA Tour events, including the Women’s British Open in 2009.

“I have been working hard on my game and am feeling refreshed after the Christmas break so can’t wait to return to Sentosa,” the Scot said.

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McIlroy secures another top-five finish as Holmes wins Genesis Open

McIlroy chipped in on the 16th hole and was within two shots of the lead

Genesis Open final leaderboard (US unless stated)
-14: JB Holmes; -13: J Thomas; -12: S Kim (S Kor); -11: R McIlroy (NI), M Leishman (Aus)
Selected others: -6: T Woods; -5: P Casey (Eng); -4: T Fleetwood (Eng); -3: D Willett (Eng); -2: S Garcia (Spa)

Rory McIlroy secured a third successive top-five finish at a PGA Tour event as JB Holmes won the Genesis Open.

McIlroy, 29, moved 19 places up the leaderboard in the final round and was just two shots off the lead after chipping in from a bunker on the 16th.

But a par and bogey left him fourth, as Holmes closed out the California event.

The American, 36, overturned a four-shot deficit in the final 18 holes as Justin Thomas paid for a four-over par round to miss out by a single shot.

Like McIlroy, 14-time major winner Tiger Woods also chipped in from a greenside bunker on the 16th hole during a one-over-par round which saw him finish tied for 15th on six-under overall.

Were Holmes slow play accusations justified?

Holmes had not won on Tour since claiming the Shell Houston Open in April of 2015

It was Holmes’ first win on Tour since 2015 and owed much to him dealing with the blustery conditions and disruptions from bad weather at the Riviera Country Club course.

Both Holmes and compatriot Thomas played 33 holes on the final day as a result of suspensions to play earlier in the week, with just 30 minutes separating the end of their third round with the start of their final 18 holes.

And Holmes – who finished on 14-under-par thanks to a one-under final round – found key putts, notably on the 13th when he drained a 12-foot par putt, while Thomas needed four putts to close out a double-bogey.

“Two three-putts and a four-putt on my back nine,” Thomas said after signing for a four-over 75. “The third putt on 13, I could feel the wind coming and I got scared so I tried to hit it harder – and I did hit it harder and that’s why I missed it.”

Holmes, who made seven pars on his final seven holes, described his win as “huge” but faced criticism from commentators and on social media for slow play.

“You play in 25-mile-an-hour gusty winds and see how fast you play,” he said afterwards. “You can’t just get up there and whack it when it’s blowing that hard.”

McIlroy’s two-under-par final round of 69 saw him finish tied for fourth with Australia’s Marc Leishman on 11 under.

An eagle on his opening hole provided early momentum but three dropped shots on the back nine proved costly.

The Northern Irishman finished in a tie for fifth at both the Farmers Insurance Open on his last PGA Tour start and the Sentry Tournament of Champions in early January.

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American Nelly Korda wins Women’s Australian Open in Adelaide

Nelly Korda

ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open final leaderboard
-17 N Korda; (US); -15 J Ko-young (Kor); -12 H Wei-ling (Tpe); -11 H Nomura (Jap), A Yin (US); -10 A Munoz (Spa), A Sharp (Can); -9 J Ewart Shadoff (Eng), M Steen (US)
Selected others:-7 B Law (Eng); -6 M MacLaren (Eng); -5 Y Liu (Chi); -1 C Hull (Eng)

American Nelly Korda continued her family’s remarkable success in Australia by winning the Women’s Australian Open in Adelaide.

Korda finished on 17 under par, two clear of South Korea’s Ko Jin-young.

Korda is the daughter of former tennis player Petr Korda who won the 1998 Australian Open men’s singles title.

Her sister Jessica also won the golf Australian Open in 2012 while her brother Sebastian won the tennis junior singles title last year.

The 20-year-old took a three-shot lead into the final round at The Grange and shot a five-under-par 67 to win.

England’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff finished in a tie for eighth on nine under.

‘Dad called to say you’re part of the Korda Slam now’

Nelly Korda

Korda was born six months after her father won the Australian Open in Melbourne, the Czech’s only Grand Slam title.

At the start of the week she said she felt “so left out” when her family discussed their Australian titles and when she completed her own victory she celebrated with her father’s trademark scissor kick.

“I’m finally a part of the club,” Korda said.

“I mean this win was really special for my family.

“I think there’s something in the air here, we love coming down under.

“I just got off the phone with my dad and he said, ‘Well, congratulations, you’re part of the Korda Slam now’.”

Petr Korda

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Genesis Open: Justin Thomas edges ahead of Adam Scott at start of third round

Justin Thomas and Adam Scott both had early starts to complete their second rounds on Saturday

Genesis Open latest third-round leaderboard
-13 J Thomas (US); -12 A Scott (Aus); -11 JB Holmes (US), P Rodgers (US); -10 M Thompson (US); -9 K Jones (US) -8 R McIlroy (NI), P Casey (Eng), T Finau (US); -7 J Spieth (US), K Kraft (US), B Watson (US), Jon Rahm (Spa)
Selected others: -6 T Woods (US); -5 B DeChambeau (US), -4 T Fleetwood (Eng); -3 D Johnson (US); -1 P Mickelson (US), D Willett (Eng)
Full leaderboard

American former world number one Justin Thomas holds a one-shot lead over Adam Scott after an eagle on the first hole of the third round at the Genesis Open.

The pair only managed two holes before bad light intervened at a tournament which has been hampered by rain delays.

They started the round level on 11 under, but Australian Scott’s birdie on the first allowed Thomas to edge ahead.

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy and Englishman Paul Casey are five shots off the lead on eight under.

Four-time major winner McIlroy also birdied the first, while two birdies for Casey in his first four holes kept him in contention.

Tiger Woods made a blistering start to his third round after beginning on the 10th, hitting three birdies and an eagle in his first four holes to move to six under par.

The American 14-time major winner had only just made the cut at one under after two rounds at the par-71 Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles.

JB Holmes is two shots behind the leaders, alongside fellow American Patrick Rodgers.

Officials are confident of completing 72 holes on Sunday with play set to start at 06:45 local time (14:45 GMT).

Thomas and Scott had similarly early starts on Saturday in order to finish off the remaining holes of their second round in chilly conditions.

Both players carded second-round 65s.

Australian Scott said: “It wasn’t that easy early. It was very cold and hard to have any feel in the hands.”

Tiger Woods

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Genesis Open: Justin Thomas & Adam Scott share lead after second round

Justin Thomas

Genesis Open latest second-round leaderboard
-11 J Thomas (US), A Scott (Aus); -10 JB Holmes (US); -9 P Rodgers (US), M Thompson (US); -8 J Spieth (US), T Finau (US); -7 K Jones (US) R McIlroy (NI)
Selected others: -6 P Casey (Eng), B Watson (US); -3 T Fleetwood (Eng); -1 T Woods (US), Evens D Willett (Eng)
Full leaderboard

Former world number ones Justin Thomas and Adam Scott shared the lead at 11 under par after the second round of the rain-delayed Genesis Open.

Half the field only began their second round on Saturday, after heavy rain had affected play on Thursday and Friday.

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy is four shots off the lead after a bogey-free 63 that included eight birdies.

The field also started the third round on Saturday with only a few hours of daylight left in Los Angeles.

Officials are confident of completing 72 holes by late Sunday at Riviera Country Club.

JB Holmes is one shot back at 10 under while Tiger Woods just to make the cut at one under.

Thomas had to finish off six holes of his second round on Saturday, while Australian Scott had seven left.

American Thomas, who was one of the day’s earliest starters, complained about the cold conditions saying: “I couldn’t feel my toes. In that shade, it was really, really chilly.”

Scott added: “It wasn’t that easy early. It was very cold and hard to have any feel in the hands.”

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Women’s Australian Open: Jodi Ewart Shadoff four shots off lead in Adelaide

Jodi Ewart Shadoff

ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open third-round leaderboard
-12 N Korda; (US); -9 H Nomura (Jap); -8 J Ewart Shadoff (Eng), L Jeong-eun (Kor), H Wei-ling (Tpe)
Selected others: -7 B Law (Eng), K Jin-young (Kor), Y Liu (Chi); -1 C Hull (Eng)

England’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff is four shots off the lead after the third round of the Women’s Australian Open in Adelaide.

America’s Nelly Korda leads on 12 under par while Ewart Shadoff is in contention after a round of 70.

The 31-year-old, who had shared the lead in the first round, is level with Lee Jeong-eun of South Korea and Taiwanese Hsu Wei-ling at eight under.

England’s Bronte Law is in a group at seven under after also shooting 70.

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