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Brooke Henderson goes wire-to-wire to win LPGA season opener

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ORLANDO, Fla. — Brooke Henderson sets a goal of winning multiple LPGA titles at the outset of each season. She didn’t wait long to collect her first trophy of 2023.

Henderson was dominant throughout and delivered a 2-under 70 on Sunday at Lake Nona to complete a wire-to-wire victory in the season-opening Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions.


Full-field scores from the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions


In windy and sometimes difficult conditions, the 25-year-old Canadian played steadily, making sure not to give much hope to a group behind her trying to mount any sort of challenge. She began her day leading by three and eventually won by four, finishing the event at 16-under 272. It was her 13th LPGA victory.

“It is so exciting,” Henderson said. “I always try to win a couple times each year, so to get one right way out of the gate takes a little bit of pressure off. … It’s exciting to be in contention, and even more exciting to hoist trophies.”

Henderson has had her eye on a Tournament of Champions title for a while. She hadn’t finished outside of ninth in the event the past four seasons, and she was a runner-up to Danielle Kang a year ago. Sunday marked her 16th consecutive round under par on the LPGA dating to 2022, and her 16th consecutive score under par in this tournament.

Winning also helps her put to rest a frustrating end to 2022. She withdrew with a back injury in her second-to-last start at the Pelican Women’s Championship in November, and managed the pain enough to tie for seventh in the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.


Highlights: Hilton Grand TOC, Round 4


From there, it was rest and rehab before switching into new clubs. There were 14 new clubs in the bag at Lake Nona, including the putter, which helped to produce 19 birdies on a very strong test of golf.

Henderson entered the week at No. 7 in the women’s world ranking. She was asked if her season-opening triumph might open the door to other big goals, such as being No. 1, or being the LPGA’s player of the year.

“That would be awesome,” Henderson said. “Obviously, I had the dream start.”

Second-year LPGA pro Maja Stark of Sweden showed a nice finishing kick by shooting 5-under 31 on her final nine. She tied for second alongside England’s Charlie Hull. Both shot 69, Hull doing so for the fourth consecutive day.

Stark has committed herself to adding multiple hours each week to her time spent practicing putting, and it showed in her hot play over the final nine holes. Three over through seven, she birdied six of her final 10 holes.

“It gives me a lot of confidence,” Stark said. “I feel I’ve had a good week with my driver and some good irons. The putting, too. I feel like if it keeps going like this, could be the best year yet.”

Hull was pleased with her finish given the challenges of trying to get her game ready in England in mid-winter. She spent three days practicing in Morocco before continuing on to Orlando.

Henderson was patient on Sunday, doing most of her damage on Lake Nona’s par 5s, making birdies on three of them. When she birdied the ninth hole, she had a four-shot lead over Nelly Korda, and she rebuilt the lead to four once again with one last birdie at the par-5 15th.

 

 

 

While Korda is still shaking some rust off, her little brother, Sebastian, a rising tennis talent, is firing on all cylinders Down Under.

 

Korda, at No. 2 the highest-ranked player in this winners-only field because No. 1 Lydia Ko skipped the tournament after getting married, made only three birdies and settled for fourth for a second consecutive year. For Korda, the week was a tale of two nines; she played the front nine in 1 under par for the week, and the second nine in 10 under. Henderson was 10 under on the front nine.

“Yeah, the front nine and I didn’t really get along too well,” said Korda, who shot 72 on Sunday. “Hopefully next year we’ll become better friends.”

Korda said she was disappointed with the outcome, but having played her first tournament with new equipment, at least she had a game plan going forward.

“What’s good is that I have a lot to work and I’m very excited about it,” she said. “I have four weeks (off from the tour) to kind of grind and see where my game is.”

Tennis player and former Davis Cup captain Mardy Fish ran away with the celebrity division, making 152 points in the Modified Stableford format. Fish also won the title two years ago. Former MLB pitcher Mark Mulder (136 points) was runner-up.

Annika Sorenstam, a 72-time winner on the LPGA and Lake Nona resident who played among the celebrities and athletes, tied for third with military veteran Chad Pfeifer.

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NBA Returns to Montreal with Raptors vs. Wizards Pre-Season Game

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Montreal, QC – The NBA is set to make an exciting return to Montreal. The league announced on Thursday that the Toronto Raptors will face off against the Washington Wizards at the Bell Centre on October 6, marking the 10th edition of the NBA Canada Series.

This annual series has featured 15 teams playing 18 pre-season games across six Canadian cities. Notably, this will be the eighth NBA Canada Series game in Montreal, the highest for any city outside the Raptors’ usual home in Toronto.

Last year, Montreal fans witnessed the Detroit Pistons take on the Oklahoma City Thunder, featuring Canadians Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Luguentz Dort. The Raptors’ previous game in Montreal was in 2022.

This year’s game will be particularly special as it will showcase several Canadian players. Montreal natives Chris Boucher and Quincy Guerrier are both on the Raptors’ training camp roster. Additionally, Kelly Olynyk and RJ Barrett, who are set to represent Canada at the upcoming Summer Olympics, are also expected to play for the Raptors.

The Wizards bring their own Canadian connection with Kyshawn George, selected in this year’s NBA Draft. George, born in Switzerland, is the son of Montreal’s Deon George, a former member of Canada’s men’s basketball team.

The October 6 game will cap off the Raptors’ Montreal-based training camp, promising an exciting end to their preparations.

For more updates and coverage on the NBA Canada Series, visit Canada News Media

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Fafa Picault Leads Vancouver Whitecaps to Victory Over Sporting Kansas City

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Vancouver, BCFafa Picault emerged as the hero off the bench, scoring in the second half to secure a 2-1 victory for the Vancouver Whitecaps against Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday.

The Whitecaps (11-7-5) dominated the first half, with two goals being disallowed due to offside calls. Vancouver’s breakthrough came in the 34th minute when Kansas City defender Robert Valoder accidentally scored an own goal, giving the ‘Caps a 1-0 lead.

Sporting Kansas City (6-14-5) showed more vigor in the second half, equalizing in the 69th minute with a goal from Willy Agada. However, Picault’s decisive goal in the 76th minute ensured the Whitecaps extended their unbeaten streak in Major League Soccer (MLS) to five games (4-0-1).

Yohei Takaoka delivered an outstanding performance with 16 saves for Vancouver, while Tim Melia made 12 stops for Kansas City, whose three-game winning streak came to an end.

First Half Dominance

The Whitecaps were aggressive from the start, creating several early scoring opportunities. Brian White nearly scored with a header in the seventh minute, but Valoder cleared it off the goal line.

Ali Ahmed had a notable moment in the 27th minute, maneuvering past defenders to set up White for a goal that was disallowed due to offside. The Whitecaps’ pressure paid off in the 34th minute when Valoder deflected the ball into his own net, attempting to intercept a pass from Ryan Gauld to White.

Ahmed seemed poised to increase Vancouver’s lead eight minutes later, but his goal was also ruled offside. Despite these setbacks, Vancouver outshot Kansas City 9-2 in the first half.

Kansas City’s Resurgence

Sporting Kansas City made three substitutions at halftime, revitalizing their performance. Stefan Afrifa, substituting for Alenis Vargas, struck the crossbar in the 63rd minute, and Daniel Salloi’s follow-up shot was expertly saved by Takaoka.

Kansas City equalized six minutes later when Agada capitalized on a rebound after Takaoka’s save, slotting the ball into an open net.

Picault’s Winning Goal

The Whitecaps regained the lead in the 76th minute through Picault’s sixth goal of the season. Sebastian Berhalter, who replaced Ryan Raposo in the 67th minute, delivered a perfect cross to Picault, who headed it past Melia to make it 2-1.

Kansas City had a chance to level the score in injury time, but Erik Thommy’s free kick went over the bar following a foul by Mathias Laborda.

The victory solidifies the Whitecaps’ position as a formidable team in the MLS, with Picault’s performance highlighting their depth and resilience.

Stay tuned for more updates and coverage on the Vancouver Whitecaps at Canada News Media.

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Canada announced its Olympic team — here are some fun facts about the athletes

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The Canadian Olympic Committee today unveiled its team of 338 athletes for the Paris Summer Games. That’s fewer than the 371 named for the Tokyo Games three years ago, but still one of the country’s largest Olympic delegations ever.

Competition in Paris begins next Wednesday with some men’s soccer and rugby sevens games, but Canada doesn’t have a team in either event. Canadians see their first action the following day in archery and a women’s soccer match vs. New Zealand.

The opening ceremony is on Friday July 26, featuring a first-of-its-kind boat parade of athletes on the Seine river. Canada will announce its flag-bearers (expected to be a woman and a man) sometime in the coming days.

Here are some interesting facts and figures about the Canadian Olympic team:

The clear majority of them are women. Excluding the 22 alternates on the team, 61 per cent of the athletes named today “identify as female or are competing in women’s events,” according to the COC. Women are also expected to win the bulk of Canada’s medals. They account for 13 of the 20 (65 per cent) projected by the data company Nielsen’s Gracenote.

The oldest athlete is 61-year-old equestrian rider Jill Irving. The first-time Olympian will compete in dressage after helping Canada to a team gold at the 2019 Pan American Games. Irving is two years older than men’s equestrian rider Mario Deslauriers, who’s back for his fourth Olympics after being Canada’s eldest athlete at the 2021 Tokyo Games. Deslauriers made his Olympic debut way back in 1984.

The youngest athlete is 14-year-old skateboarder Fay De Fazio Ebert. She won gold in the women’s park event at last year’s Pan Am Games, when she was still 13. De Fazio Ebert is 24 years younger than fellow Canadian Olympic skateboarder Ryan Decenzo, who turns 38 in a few days. She’s 36 years younger than British rider Andy Macdonald, who will be 51 by the end of the month.

Canada’s best athlete is also a teenager. Seventeen-year-old swimming sensation Summer McIntosh is favoured to win two individual gold medals and could add a few more in solo and relay events at her second Olympic Games. She debuted as a 14-year-old in Tokyo, where she placed fourth in both the 400m freestyle and 4x200m freestyle relay and cracked the top 11 in her two other individual events. Since then, she’s won back-to-back world titles in both the 200m butterfly and 400m individual medley.

The most experienced Olympian is table tennis player Mo Zhang. The 35-year-old will be competing in her fifth consecutive Games after finishing a career-high ninth in both singles and doubles in Tokyo. 142 of Canada’s athletes have Olympic experience, including 38 medallists, while 174 are rookies.

The most decorated Olympian is swimmer Penny Oleksiak. She collected an all-time Canadian record seven medals over the past two Summer Games. That includes her stunning four-medal performance in 2016 in Rio, where she won an individual gold as a 16-year-old. Now seemingly in the winter of her career at the age of 24, Oleksiak did not qualify for any individual events in Paris but could add to her medal collection in the relays. If she doesn’t, Andre De Grasse will have a better chance to catch her. The track star hopes to contend for the podium in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m events after winning a medal in all three of them at two straight Olympics.

There are 10 children of past Olympians. They include men’s basketball star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, whose mother, Charmaine Gilgeous, was a sprinter for Antigua and Barbuda at the 1992 Barcelona Games; and his fellow NBAer RJ Barrett, whose father, Rowan, played with Steve Nash in 2000 in Sydney and is now the team’s GM. Equestrian rider Amy Millar’s dad, Ian, appeared in a world-record 10 Olympic Games in that sport, while Summer McIntosh’s mom, Jill Horstead, swam in the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

There are five sets of siblings. And they each compete in the same sport. Women’s judo sisters Christa and Kelly Deguchi are, thankfully, in different weight classes. Melvin Ejim and his sister Yvonne Ejim can cheer for each other in men’s and women’s basketball, while mountain bikers Gunnar and Isabella Holmgren are also separated by gender. Twin sisters Katherine and Michelle Plouffe share the court in women’s 3×3 basketball, while sailors Antonia Lewin-LaFrance and Georgia Lewin-LaFrance are quite literally in the same boat.

Read more about the Canadian team in this story from the COC.

 

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