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Bob Weeks: Corey Conners hopes steady game shines at Match Play – TSN

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Watch out Bryson DeChambeau. Look out Jon Rahm. Corey Conners is here and looking to take you down in match play again.

No, Conners isn’t about to go all Stephen Ames on his opponents before play begins at the WG Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Texas, but he is hoping to draw on past experiences in the mano-a-mano format.

“We don’t play a lot of match play on tour, obviously, so have to remember some of the good memories in the U.S. Amateurs that I played,” stated Conners.

Conners played in three U.S. Amateurs and among the foes he conquered are DeChambeau and Rahm. He lost the final in 2014 to Gunn Yang of South Korea and was knocked off in the semi-finals of the 2013 edition by eventual champion and current PGA Tour player Matthew Fitzpatrick.

That was a long time ago, of course, and for DeChambeau, about 40 pounds ago.

Conners is making his first appearance in the World Golf Championship event that brings together 64 of the top golfers in the world in a break from stroke play. But good golf is still good golf and will shine through no matter the format, he believes.

“It’s a different game, different beast,” he stated. “I think the top players would still do really well at match play. You’ve got to get the ball in the hole as quickly as possible. I think from my experience in the past, it favours steady players, where if you don’t make a lot of mistakes, don’t give away any holes, I think that’s definitely going to be important.”

Conners might be the epitome of a steady golfer. He is known to wear out the middle of fairways and greens. He’s currently 12th in driving accuracy and 15th in greens in regulation on the PGA Tour. It can be almost monotonous to watch him play.

The biggest difference of late has been on the greens where his putting has been spectacular by his usual standards. Last year, Conners was ranked 175th in putting average on the PGA Tour. This year he’s 43rd.

That has come thanks to a grip change, plenty of practice and some teamwork on the greens in reading the line.

“It’s definitely been a lot of hard work to get to where I am now making that change,” admitted Conners, “and it’s been my main focus over the last, whatever, eight months or so that since making that change, and I think my caddie, Danny, we both read the greens really well and I think that’s helped as well add some confidence, add some trust and it kind of allows me to hit it freely when I’m on the greens when we both agree on the break and we both kind of see the same thing, so he’s added a lot of confidence to that, as well.”

The 29-year-old comes into this week off two strong finishes, a third at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and a seventh at the Players Championship. Those, along with seven other top-25 finishes this year, have pushed him to 41st in the Official World Golf Ranking. It’s also elevated him into some of the bigger tournaments including this week’s extravaganza.

“I’ve been playing well for a long period of time and sometimes just don’t see the results in tournaments,” said Conners, “but over the last number of events I have found things that have came together a little more consistent I’ve been hitting the ball a little bit better, putting a little bit better, which is a good combination to shoot lower scores.”

Conners starts Wednesday in one of 16 four-player pods with Matthew Wolff, Jordan Spieth and Fitzpatrick. He’ll play each once and hope to advance to the Round of 16. Despite the format change, he won’t alter his usual game plan too much.

“I think almost treat it like preparation for any other week,” he stated. “Build a good plan and for the most part stick with that. Obviously we’ll be aware of what’s going on with our opponent, but I think something that I’m going to focus on is just trying to stick to my game plan and play my game and not sort of get thrown off or change my strategy too much if I can help it.”

His first match will be against Wolff, starting at 11:53 CT on Wednesday.

Mackenzie Hughes is the only other Canadian in the field. He will face Paul Casey in his opening match, scheduled for 2:05 PM CT.

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UEFA threaten to ban breakaway clubs from all competitions

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By Simon Evans

MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – European soccer‘s governing body UEFA has warned clubs linked to a breakaway Super League that they face being banned from domestic and international competitions if they set up a rival to the Champions League.

In a joint statement https://www.uefa.com/insideuefa/mediaservices/mediareleases/news/0268-12121411400e-7897186e699a-1000–statement-by-uefa-english-fa-rfef-figc-premier-league-laliga-le with Spanish, English and Italian leagues and federations, UEFA said it will consider “all measures”, including the courts and bans from domestic leagues, in opposition to plans for a breakaway competition.

UEFA said it had learnt that clubs from those countries “may be planning to announce their creation of a closed, so-called Super League”.

“If this were to happen, we wish to reiterate that we….(and) also FIFA and all our member associations – will remain united in our efforts to stop this cynical project, a project that is founded on the self-interest of a few clubs at a time when society needs solidarity more than ever,” UEFA said.

“We will consider all measures available to us, at all levels, both judicial and sporting in order to prevent this happening. Football is based on open competitions and sporting merit; it cannot be any other way,” the statement added.

In January, FIFA had said that a breakaway league would not be recognised and that “any club or player involved in such a competition would as a consequence not be allowed to participate in any competition organised by FIFA or their respective confederation” – meaning players would be banned from the World Cup.

Sunday’s UEFA statement said: “The clubs concerned will be banned from playing in any other competition at domestic, European or world level, and their players could be denied the opportunity to represent their national teams.

“We thank those clubs in other countries, especially the French and German clubs, who have refused to sign up to this. We call on all lovers of football, supporters and politicians, to join us in fighting against such a project if it were to be announced. This persistent self-interest of a few has been going on for too long. Enough is enough.”

 

(Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Ed Osmond and Christian Radnedge)

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Netherlands and Poland seal narrow Billie Jean King Cup playoff wins

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(Reuters) – The Netherlands and Poland both needed deciding doubles wins to battle through their Billie Jean King Cup playoffs on Saturday but Britain, Italy and Canada all enjoyed easier passages.

In Den Bosch, the Dutch were without world number 11 Kiki Bertens for the second day because of injury and found themselves trailing China 2-1 after Wang Xiyu beat Lesley Kerkhove in Saturday’s opening singles.

But Aranxta Rus beat Wang Xinyu to level the tie and then teamed up with Demi Schuurs to defeat Zhang Shuai and Zu Yifan to send the hosts through.

It was equally tight in Poland where the hosts were pushed to the brink by Brazil.

Brazil’s Carolina Meligeni Alves took the tie into a deciding doubles with a win over Katarzyna Kawa but the Poles prevailed 3-2 as Kawa and Magdalena Frech came back from a set down to beat Meligeni Alves and Luisa Stefani.

Kazakhstan also won a deciding rubber to see off Argentina.

Britain led 2-0 overnight against Mexico in London but Marcela Zacarias beat Heather Watson to keep alive the tie.

Katie Boulter proved too strong for Giuliana Olmos though to clinch the tie for the hosts.

Italy beat Romania 3-1 while Canada‘s teenager Leylah Annie Fernandez sealed her country’s path as she gave her side an unassailable 3-0 lead over Serbia thanks to a three-set win over Nina Stojanovic.

Ukraine eased past Japan 4-0 while Anastasija Sevastova secured Latvia’s 3-1 victory over India.

The eight winners move forward to next year’s qualifying round where they will hope to reach the 2022 Billie Jean King Cup Finals.

The old Fed Cup was re-branded last year and named after the American great and 12-times Grand Slam singles champion who won the inaugural tournament nearly 60 years ago.

This year’s 12-team Finals were postponed because of the pandemic and a new date has yet to be finalised.

 

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Clare Fallon)

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Motor racing-Canadian Grand Prix cancelled for second year

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(Reuters) -The Canadian Grand Prix scheduled for June 13 at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal has been cancelled for the second year in a row, CBC Radio reported on Thursday although Formula One said discussions remained ongoing.

With the spread of new COVID-19 variants and Canada battling to contain a third wave of the virus, Montreal public health authorities concluded that even if run behind closed doors without spectators the risks were too high, reported the CBC.

F1 officials, according to the CBC, wanted to bypass the mandatory 14-day quarantine for the hundreds of staff, crew members and drivers and rely on private medical staff and have the entire operation run in a bubble.

The race is scheduled to follow on immediately from Azerbaijan, whose grand prix is scheduled for June 6 in Baku and is due to go ahead after also being cancelled last year.

“We are continuing our discussions with the promoter in Canada and have no further comment,” an F1 spokesperson told Reuters.

The Autosport website quoted a spokesperson for the Canadian promoter as saying the radio report referred to “a document of recommendations from public health.

“We as an organisation have not had confirmation from our public health officials and won’t comment until we get an official confirmation.”

Canada, with some of the world’s toughest travel rules, obliges its citizens and residents arriving from abroad to self-isolate for 14 days.

International arrivals are required to quarantine for up to three days in a hotel.

One of Canada‘s biggest sporting events, it would mark the second consecutive year the grand prix has been removed from the F1 schedule due to the spread of COVID-19.

Media reports have suggested Turkey is on standby to be slotted in as Canada‘s replacement.

The Istanbul circuit is logistically convenient for freight coming from Baku and was brought in last year also at short notice to bolster a calendar ravaged by the pandemic.

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto/Alan Baldwin in London; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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