Premier League Darts schedule and TV times: Michael Smith, Michael van Gerwen, Gerwyn Price and Peter Wright star

Darts’ biggest party is back in 2023 as the Premier League roadshow heads to a venue near you!; the SSE Arena in Belfast plays host as the first of 17 individual venues from Thursday February 2 with the Play-Offs returning to The O2 in London on Thursday May 25

Last Updated: 30/01/23 4:50pm


Michael van Gerwen and Michael Smith will clash on Premier League opening night in Belfast

Full schedule and TV times as Michael Smith takes Michael van Gerwen in a repeat of the World Darts Championship final on the opening night of this year’s Premier League.

This year’s tournament will see eight of the sport’s top stars contesting 16 mini-events during the season, with each league night comprising quarter-finals, semi-finals and a final over the best-of-11 legs.

The Premier League season gets under way at The SSE Arena in Belfast, with the opening night’s quarter-finals headlined by a blockbuster showdown between Smith and reigning champion Van Gerwen.

Van Gerwen was one dart away from a nine-darter before Smith nailed the hold grail in the World Championship final

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Van Gerwen was one dart away from a nine-darter before Smith nailed the hold grail in the World Championship final

Van Gerwen was one dart away from a nine-darter before Smith nailed the hold grail in the World Championship final

Dan Dawson looks at the growing rivalry between MVG and Smith

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Dan Dawson looks at the growing rivalry between MVG and Smith

Dan Dawson looks at the growing rivalry between MVG and Smith

This will be the pair’s first meeting since their Alexandra Palace epic on January 3, which saw Smith land a history-making nine-darter en route to clinching his maiden World Championship crown.

Two-time world champion Peter Wright plays newly-crowned Masters champion Chris Dobey, who celebrated his first televised triumph in Milton Keynes on Sunday night.

Gerwyn Price hit TWO nine-dart finishes in one night in Belfast

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Gerwyn Price hit TWO nine-dart finishes in one night in Belfast

Gerwyn Price hit TWO nine-dart finishes in one night in Belfast

Dimitri Van den Bergh marks his Premier League return with a clash against 2021 champion Jonny Clayton, while 2020 runner-up Nathan Aspinall plays Gerwyn Price – who famously landed two nine-darters in Belfast last year.

Night Two will take place at Cardiff’s International Arena on February 9, with Price pitted against Dobey on his homecoming, while Clayton makes his return to home soil with a tie against Smith.

Wright will headline Night Three at Glasgow’s OVO Hydro when he takes on Van den Bergh, with six-time champion Van Gerwen up against Aspinall in a repeat of October’s World Grand Prix final.

Michael Smith will be looking for Premier League success having claimed World Championship glory earlier this year

Michael Smith will be looking for Premier League success having claimed World Championship glory earlier this year

The sport’s biggest roadshow rolls into Dublin’s 3Arena on Thursday February 23, as Smith and Wright lock horns in a repeat of the 2022 World Championship final.

Night Five in Exeter will then see a repeat of two televised finals from 2022, with Van Gerwen meeting Price in a repeat of July’s World Matchplay decider, before Aspinall and Smith battle it out in a rematch of November’s Grand Slam showpiece.

Quarter-final fixtures for 14 of the 16 league phase nights are listed below in draw bracket order, with fixtures for Night Eight and Night 16 to be determined by league standings heading into each night.

All matches will be played over a best-of-11 legs format, with a £10,000 bonus on offer to each night’s winner.

Watch every nine-darter that has been hit in the Premier League

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Watch every nine-darter that has been hit in the Premier League

Watch every nine-darter that has been hit in the Premier League

2023 Premier League Fixtures

Night One – Thursday February 2
The SSE Arena, Belfast
Quarter-Finals

Dimitri Van den Bergh vs Jonny Clayton
Michael Smith vs Michael van Gerwen
Peter Wright vs Chris Dobey
Nathan Aspinall vs Gerwyn Price

Live Premier League Darts

February 2, 2023, 7:00pm

Live on Sky Sports Arena HD

Night Two – Thursday February 9
Cardiff International Arena
Quarter-Finals

Michael Smith vs Jonny Clayton
Nathan Aspinall vs Peter Wright
Gerwyn Price vs Chris Dobey
Michael van Gerwen vs Dimitri Van den Bergh

Live Premier League Darts

February 9, 2023, 7:00pm

Live on Sky Sports Arena HD

Night Three – Thursday February 16
OVO Hydro, Glasgow
Quarter-Finals

Nathan Aspinall vs Michael van Gerwen
Peter Wright vs Dimitri Van den Bergh
Gerwyn Price vs Michael Smith
Jonny Clayton vs Chris Dobey

Night Four – Thursday February 23
3Arena, Dublin
Quarter-Finals

Michael Smith vs Peter Wright
Gerwyn Price vs Dimitri Van den Bergh
Jonny Clayton vs Nathan Aspinall
Chris Dobey vs Michael van Gerwen

Night Five – Thursday March 2
Westpoint Exeter
Quarter-Finals

Michael van Gerwen vs Gerwyn Price
Nathan Aspinall vs Michael Smith
Dimitri Van den Bergh vs Chris Dobey
Jonny Clayton vs Peter Wright

Night Six – Thursday March 9
M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool
Quarter-Finals

Gerwyn Price vs Peter Wright
Michael van Gerwen vs Jonny Clayton
Chris Dobey vs Nathan Aspinall
Michael Smith vs Dimitri Van den Bergh

Night Seven – Thursday March 16
Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham
Quarter-Finals

Dimitri Van den Bergh vs Nathan Aspinall
Jonny Clayton vs Gerwyn Price
Peter Wright vs Michael van Gerwen
Chris Dobey vs Michael Smith

Night Eight – Thursday March 23
Utilita Arena, Newcastle
Quarter-Finals

Fixtures based on league table following Night Seven

Night Nine – Thursday March 30
Mercedes-Benz Arena, Berlin
Quarter-Finals

Dimitri Van den Bergh vs Michael Smith
Nathan Aspinall vs Chris Dobey
Jonny Clayton vs Michael van Gerwen
Peter Wright vs Gerwyn Price

Night Ten – Thursday April 6
Utilita Arena, Birmingham
Quarter-Finals

Michael van Gerwen vs Chris Dobey
Nathan Aspinall vs Jonny Clayton
Dimitri Van den Bergh vs Gerwyn Price
Peter Wright vs Michael Smith

Night 11 – Thursday April 13
The Brighton Centre
Quarter-Finals

Dimitri Van den Bergh vs Michael van Gerwen
Chris Dobey vs Gerwyn Price
Peter Wright vs Nathan Aspinall
Jonny Clayton vs Michael Smith

Night 12 – Thursday April 20
Rotterdam Ahoy
Quarter-Finals

Chris Dobey vs Jonny Clayton
Michael Smith vs Gerwyn Price
Dimitri Van den Bergh vs Peter Wright
Michael van Gerwen vs Nathan Aspinall

Night 13 – Thursday April 27
First Direct Arena, Leeds
Quarter-Finals

Michael Smith vs Chris Dobey
Michael van Gerwen vs Peter Wright
Gerwyn Price vs Jonny Clayton
Nathan Aspinall vs Dimitri Van den Bergh

Night 14 – Thursday May 4
AO Arena, Manchester
Quarter-Finals

Peter Wright vs Jonny Clayton
Chris Dobey vs Dimitri Van den Bergh
Michael Smith vs Nathan Aspinall
Gerwyn Price vs Michael van Gerwen

Night 15 – Thursday May 11
Utilita Arena, Sheffield
Quarter-Finals

Gerwyn Price vs Nathan Aspinall
Chris Dobey vs Peter Wright
Michael van Gerwen vs Michael Smith
Jonny Clayton vs Dimitri Van den Bergh

Night 16 – Thursday May 18
P&J Live, Aberdeen
Quarter-Finals

Fixtures based on league table following Night 15

Play-Offs – Thursday May 25
The O2, London

Semi-Finals and Final



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Quad Series 2023: England head coach Jess Thirlby calls for more ‘maturity’ ahead of Netball World Cup

England sealed third in the 2023 Quad Series by beating hosts South Africa in Wednesday’s third-place play-off; the Roses suffered defeats to Australia and New Zealand to miss out on a place in the final

Last Updated: 25/01/23 9:02pm


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England head coach Jess Thirlby says it was important her team ended the Quad Series with a win ahead of the World Cup this summer.

England head coach Jess Thirlby says it was important her team ended the Quad Series with a win ahead of the World Cup this summer.

England head coach Jess Thirlby praised her side for showing “grit” to seal third place in the Quad Series but has admitted more “maturity” is needed ahead of this summer’s Netball World Cup.

The Roses came through a tightly contested third-place play-off against hosts South Africa to claim a first victory in their four matches at the tournament.

England had drawn with South Africa in the opening phase of the tournament, either side of defeats to champions Australia and runners-up New Zealand.

The competition marked the final opportunity for England – and their rivals – to prepare for the World Cup, which begins on July 28 in Cape Town.

“It was scrappy, it wasn’t the prettiest of wins,” Thirlby told Sky Sports. “But I think given the journey through the Quad Series that we’ve had, I thought it was a good way for us to finish and show the grit, in particular, that I think this team have become known for.”

Watch the highlights of the third-placed playoff between England and South Africa in the Netball Quad Series.

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Watch the highlights of the third-placed playoff between England and South Africa in the Netball Quad Series.

Watch the highlights of the third-placed playoff between England and South Africa in the Netball Quad Series.

“It’s been a good journey. We’ve just got to keep finding away to compete with those ranked above us.

“We’re respectful of the likes of New Zealand and Australia, but we’ve actually found ways to get a foothold against them, which is a little bit of new territory for us that we’ve got to grow a maturity around how to finish those games and punish them more.”

The Quad Series quickly followed England’s three-match home contest with Jamaica, against whom Thirlby’s side delivered an impressive 2-1 triumph.

England are ranked third in the word, a place ahead of Jamaica. Australia top the rankings from New Zealand, while South Africa are fifth.

Thirlby reflects on a 'bittersweet' loss against New Zealand but says several players have stood out for selection to play in the netball World Cup this summer.

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Thirlby reflects on a ‘bittersweet’ loss against New Zealand but says several players have stood out for selection to play in the netball World Cup this summer.

Thirlby reflects on a ‘bittersweet’ loss against New Zealand but says several players have stood out for selection to play in the netball World Cup this summer.

“In the couple of weeks after this, there’s going to be so much information for us to take, and it’s important to acknowledge that,” Thirlby said.

“These games are here for a purpose. We put ourselves out in two back-to-back series, it’s a big ask of the group but it’s exactly what we needed ahead of the summer.”

The Quad Series brings to an end a congested period for England, which saw them miss out on a medal at a home Commonwealth Games in the summer, and then beat Uganda at home before losing 3-0 as they toured Australia in October and November.

Highlights of the Netball Quad Series clash between England and New Zealand.

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Highlights of the Netball Quad Series clash between England and New Zealand.

Highlights of the Netball Quad Series clash between England and New Zealand.

“I don’t think I can combat all of the noise and the criticisms, but I will absolutely defend this group to the hilt,” Thirlby said.

“Their cohesion, togetherness and loyalty to one and other is unquestionable. They review wins and losses exactly the same way, which is exactly what any championship winning side that’s on track to try to learn to win more consistently should be doing.

“So this team for me, they’re the most together group that I’ve worked with and it’s an absolute joy to see their team resilience grow over the course of January.”

‘No ignoring Fadoju’ | ‘Wrap her up in cotton wool’

Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of England’s performances during the Quad Series was the continued emergence of Funmi Fadoju, who has established herself as a key player ahead of the World Cup.

Having made her senior international debut against Uganda in October, the 20-year-old defender looks set to become one of the biggest stars in the sport.

Funmi Fadoju showed off her quick reaction skills with two stunning interceptions against South Africa in the netball Quad Series.

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Funmi Fadoju showed off her quick reaction skills with two stunning interceptions against South Africa in the netball Quad Series.

Funmi Fadoju showed off her quick reaction skills with two stunning interceptions against South Africa in the netball Quad Series.

Her brilliance was on show against South Africa as a series of turnovers helped England to victory.

“There’s no ignoring Funmi Fadoju,” Thirlby said. “If there’s anyone to give a little bit more credit to, I think it’s Funmi today.

“She really picks her moments, with such maturity, to sense that intuition when in the game we need it the most.

“I just think her contribution was excellent, but those around her really allow her to flourish.”

Fadoju reflects on England's win over South Africa in the Quad Series third place playoff and praises teammate Jade Clarke on her 200th cap for England.

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Fadoju reflects on England’s win over South Africa in the Quad Series third place playoff and praises teammate Jade Clarke on her 200th cap for England.

Fadoju reflects on England’s win over South Africa in the Quad Series third place playoff and praises teammate Jade Clarke on her 200th cap for England.

Former England player Pamela Cookey agreed with Thirlby’s assessment that the Roses have found the ideal setup to allow Fadoju to thrive.

“This was the defensive team that we know and love,” Cookey said on Sky Sports.

“That support that Fadoju had from Geva (Mentor) at the back allows her to go and play out the front – she had Jade (Clarke) at centre and Layla (Guscoth) at wing defence.

“That combination is safe, it’s tried, it’s tested and we’ve seen them get so much ball, so once you put that on there, she can then fly.”

How can England prepare for the World Cup? Tamsin Greenway and Pamela Cookey discuss ahead of England and South Africa in the semi-final in the Quad series.

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How can England prepare for the World Cup? Tamsin Greenway and Pamela Cookey discuss ahead of England and South Africa in the semi-final in the Quad series.

How can England prepare for the World Cup? Tamsin Greenway and Pamela Cookey discuss ahead of England and South Africa in the semi-final in the Quad series.

Former Roses player Tamsin Greenaway was also wowed by Fadoju’s performance, but expressed concern over England’s deficiencies in attack.

“Defensively, they were brilliant,” Fadoju said. “I can’t fault it all through the court, they are doing such a good job.

“But attack was static at times, the highest quarter was a 13-goal quarter. Even if that last quarter where Funmi got us about seven balls, we still only put 13 on the board.

“We’re going to have to look it and adjust. I think playing the strongest line-up just helps you get a good run.

“Defensively brilliant, and just wrap Funmi in cotton wool (until the World Cup).”



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Inspired by tough love and true love, Lydia Ko is on top of the world | CNN



CNN
— 

Last year, Lydia Ko’s mother joked that she would retire if her daughter made it back into the top three of the women’s golf world rankings – a position the New Zealander hadn’t occupied in over five years.

Based on what happened next, it can only be assumed that Ko was desperate to put her parent out of work. Because forget third; as 2022 draws to a close, she is streaking clear at the summit.

Victory at the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Florida, earlier this month provided a fitting end to what has been a spectacular season for the newly crowned world No. 1. Having climbed back into the top-three at the turn of the year, Ko never once dropped below fifth.

With 14 top-10 finishes in just 22 LPGA Tour starts, she secured wins at the Gainbridge LPGA and BMW Ladies Championship before adding her 19th LPGA title at the season-ending Group Tour Championship. Triumph in Naples earned her a winner’s check of $2 million, the largest payout in LPGA history.

As well as securing her return to world No. 1, Ko was subsequently crowned the LPGA’s Player of the Year and – with $4,364,403 in seasonal winnings – the Tour’s Money Winner. It marked a repeat of her double swoop in 2015, when a teenage Ko dominated the Tour with five wins and a major triumph at the Evian Championship.

On top of all that, she finished with the Tour’s lowest scoring average of 68.988 to lift the LPGA Vare Trophy for the second consecutive year. Only Swedish great Annika Sörenstam, who averaged 68.70 in 2002, has ever shot a lower average over a season.

“I think this is probably the best I’ve played,” she told CNN’s Alex Thomas.

“In 2015, I had just won more frequently in that season … but I think this is the most consistently I’ve played.

“It’s a double-edged sword when you are playing consistently, but you don’t get the win … At the end of the week, it’s very marginal differences that get you from first place to second place, second place to 10th place.”

Ko is glad that her mother did not follow through on her retirement wager, which was perhaps an example of a – very successful – tough love strategy.

“My mom does joke to me at times,” Ko told reporters ahead of her final round in Naples. “She’s like, ‘You played so much better when you were 15.’

“I was like, ‘Thanks, Mom. What am I meant to do with that information?’”

But after closing out the win, Ko praised her mother for keeping her grounded.

“I know that she might be one of my toughest critics, but at the same time I know that she says that because she wants me to just keep growing, and I think she keeps me really humble,” Ko told reporters.

“I should say thank you more often, but I don’t end up saying that. It’s easier to say it when she’s not here. But I have to thank her because she does everything for me.”

Ko became the youngest golfer to win on the LPGA Tour with victory at the Canadian Women’s Open at just 15 years old in 2012, accelerating a meteoric rise for the child prodigy. In 2017, she became the youngest golfer to reach world No. 1, but by August 2020 she had slid outside the top-50 for the first time since her rookie season.

It seems ludicrous to describe an athlete as having a renaissance at 25 years old, but given she was a two-time major winner before her 19th birthday, Ko has already lived a long career – though not that long, she insists.

“Some people, they look at me and say, ‘Oh, you must be, like, 30 by now, right?’ and I’m like, ‘Thank you, but no thank you, I’m still 25,” Ko said.

“My golf game is very different to then. My long game was a strength but when I was struggling through the middle of my career, that was the part that wasn’t as good – I feel like I’m getting those feels back again.

“My strategy around some of the golf courses that I’ve played in my rookie year to now is very different, just because my game is different. But it’s good, it’s like I am evolving.”

A 12-year-old Ko tees off at the New Zealand Men's & Women's Amateur Championship in April 2009.

For all her excellence on the fairways, Ko chalks up much of her improved form to factors away from the course. Paradoxically, more breaks and holidays than before have helped spark more focused, quality practice, consolidating a finely tuned work-life balance.

In August, Ko publicly confirmed her engagement to Chung Jun, the son of a prominent Korean businessman, according to Reuters. In finding love with her fiancé, Ko rediscovered her love for golf.

“I came on tour at such a young age – all I knew was golf. If I had a bad day on the golf course, I was a bad person, if I had a great day on the golf course, I felt like a better person,” Ko said.

“But now I don’t think that affects me as much, because there is obviously my family and the people I love, but there is (now) this one special new person that has come into my life, and I think through him I’ve been just able to enjoy life, enjoy the process.

“He’s helped to make me love the game again – it’s not just work. I think it takes somebody very special to make me realize that.”

Ko celebrates her haul with her fiancé Chung.

After rolling home her putt to secure a two-stroke win over Leona Maguire at the Group Tour Championship, a tearful Ko was embraced by her husband-to-be. It marked the first time Chung had seen his future wife win in person, and yet another emotional success in 2022.

After a frustrating flurry of near-misses on Tour, victory at the BMW Ladies Championship in South Korea in October saw the South Korean-born Kiwi triumph in the country of her birth for the first time. It had been two and a half years since her Dad had last seen her compete in person, and after surging to a dominant four-shot lead at Oak Valley Country Club, tears welled in Ko’s eyes before they were swiftly doused in champagne.

Ko is showered in champagne after winning the BMW Ladies Championship in October.

“I feel very privileged to have two cultures,” Ko said. “I don’t think I would be the same if I was just a South Korean-born Korean, or just a Kiwi. I think both of those cultures make me who I am.

“When that putt sunk I was about to cry, but there was so much champagne those tears went straight back in. When I started talking about my family and how much South Korea means to me, I think that’s where I got really emotional, and I also just realized how special this win was going to be.”

If her 2023 is anything like her 2022, then there will be plenty more champagne coming Ko’s way.

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Scotland recognized as world’s best golf destination | CNN




CNN
— 

It remains to be seen whether football will come home for England at the World Cup in Qatar next month, but for neighboring Scotland, golf has officially – and finally – returned to its motherland.

Having hosted the game for almost six centuries, “the home of golf” – as Scotland is known – was recognized as the World’s Best Golf Destination for the very first time at the ninth edition of the annual World Golf Awards in Abu Dhabi this week.

Despite the dominance of its legendary St. Andrews Old Course in the World’s Best Golf Course category – with five successive wins after the award’s inception – Scotland had never been recognized as the sport’s best destination.

Portugal had held an iron grip on the title for the award’s first five years, before a victory for Australia was sandwiched between wins for Vietnam in 2019 and 2021.

Yet after a landmark year, which saw Scottish links courses play host to two historic majors – the 150th Open Championship at St. Andrews and the first ever Women’s Open at Muirfield – the country finally scooped the prize, as well as the award for Best Golf Destination in Europe.

The sole European contender for the World award, Scotland trumped rival nominees Argentina, Australia, Canada, Dubai, Jamaica, Morocco, and last year’s winner Vietnam.

Scotland’s golf industry is worth upwards of $1.3 billion (£1.1 billion), with an annual golf tourism market bringing in $339 million (£286 million) and supporting over 4,000 jobs, according to Visit Scotland.

“These awards are a fitting end to an extra special year for golf in Scotland and fantastic recognition for all the people who work so hard to grow and enhance our reputation as The Home of Golf,” said Visit Scotland Chief Executive Malcolm Roughead.

“Golf tourism is a significant boost for the economy and raises Scotland’s profile on the international stage.”

In October, the fabled Alfred Dunhill Links Championship saw professionals and celebrities alike rotate around St. Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns – three of Scotland’s flagship links courses which help attract almost 220,000 annual golf visitors to the country, according to Visit Scotland.

In August, Muirfield staged the Women's Open for first time after hosting 16 editions of the men's tournament.

“Scottish golf tourism is thriving, and Scotland is a bucket list destination for most golfers around the World,” added Dermot Synnott, Director of Global Partnership for the World Golf Awards.

“It offers a vast range of parkland and links options across all its regions, so the travelling golfer really is spoilt for choice.”

Shinnecock Hills Golf Club on Long Island, New York, was crowned the World’s Best Golf Course, continuing a strong American run after back-to-back wins for Augusta National.

Meanwhile, JA The Resort Golf Course in Dubai won Best Nine Hole Golf Course and Costa Navarino in Greece was recognized as the World’s Best Emerging Golf Destination.



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Golfer gives fans $100 to buy beers for moving out of shadows | CNN




CNN
— 

The beers were well and truly on Pádraig Harrington on Sunday.

Surging towards an emphatic victory at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship – the PGA Tour Champions season finale – drinks were already set to flow for the Irishman, but Harrington seemed determined to start the party early.

Lining up his opening drive at the par-three 15th, the three-time major winner paused to turn to the onlooking grandstand to politely ask a group of fans to move seats.

There had been no major disturbance, the issue was simply the long shadows that the spectators had been casting over the tee.

“They’ve been sitting there, I assume all day, waiting for this,” Harrington told reporters. “I hope they were waiting for me.

“I got them to move, they still had a good view.”

As if to say thank you, Harrington proceeded to smoke a flawless approach shot onto the green, the ball rolling up within birdie-striking distance.

Flashing a grateful smile and wave towards the grandstand, the 51-year-old had one more token of appreciation to pass on. Approaching one fan at the sideline, Harrington handed over a wad of cash – to be spent specifically on beers.

In May, Justin Thomas admitted to being blown away by the eye-watering $18 price of beer at the PGA Championship in Tulsa, and it seems similar calculations were on Harrington’s mind in Arizona.

“I gave it to one guy, but it was for everybody in the area,” Harrington said.

“I actually went in with 50 and then I kind of said, ‘Probably only get a few beers for 50, I better go back with 100.’”

The good cheer continued as Harrington sealed a dominant victory three holes later, finishing seven strokes ahead of runner-up Alex Cejka of Germany.

In carding 27-under, the Irishman matched the PGA Tour Champions record score in relation to par, equaling Jack Nicklaus’ effort at the Kaulig Companies Championship in 1990.

“I didn’t realize that,” Harrington said.

“It’s nice to hold the record with Jack Nicklaus, I believe he’s done it as well. Kind of glad I didn’t beat him.”

However, the victory wasn’t enough to see Harrington crowned overall Charles Schwab Cup champion, as Steven Alker’s third-place finish clinched the New Zealander the points needed to take the title.

Harrington poses with the Charles Schwab Cup Championship trophy.

Meanwhile, Tony Finau continued his stunning 2022 journey with a similarly convincing triumph at the Houston Open.

Shooting 16-under, the American cruised to a four-shot triumph for his third PGA Tour victory of the calendar year at Memorial Park, a margin of victory that could have been even more dominant had it not been for three bogeys down the back nine.

Having ended a five-year wait for a PGA Tour win with victory at the FedEx St. Jude Championship in August 2021, the 33-year-old has now clinched four in his last 30 starts. Once labeled the ‘nearly-man’ of golf, he lifted two titles in July in the space of a week with back-to-back wins at the 3M Open and Rocket Mortgage Classic.

Finau poses with the Houston Open trophy alongside his family.

“I’ve always had belief, but confidence when you win is contagious,” Finau told reporters. “I’m starting to put together a full-package game.

“It was one of those days I fought and fought, and I made a lot of nice putts that calmed me. I’ve never been in this position. I had a lot of nerves.

“Overall, as the round went on, I felt better. I was happy to get the W today.”

Compatriot Tyson Alexander finished second on 12-under, a stroke ahead of England’s Ben Taylor, while ninth-placed Scottie Scheffler failed to register the win he needed to retake world No. 1 spot from Rory McIlroy.



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Portugal Masters: England’s Jordan Smith closing in first win since 2017


Jordan Smith is two shots clear of Gavin Green heading into the final round of the Portugal Masters; “I’m just going to go out there and play the attacking golf that I’ve done the last three days, hitting driver everywhere and taking advantage of the soft greens”

Last Updated: 29/10/22 8:08pm


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Highlights from round three of the Portugal Masters at Vilamoura

Highlights from round three of the Portugal Masters at Vilamoura

England’s Jordan Smith will take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Portugal Masters as he goes in search of his first win since 2017.

The 29-year-old remains on course for a wire-to-wire victory at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course after carding a spectacular eagle, eight birdies and one bogey on Saturday to get to 22 under par – his best 54-hole total on the DP World Tour.

Smith carded a 62 for the second time this week, having also achieved the feat on Thursday, and looked on course to go even lower before a closing bogey meant he had to settle for just a two-shot buffer.

Live DP World Tour Golf

October 30, 2022, 12:00pm

Live on Sky Sports Golf HD

His nearest challenger was fellow halfway co-leader Gavin Green, who managed to prevent the in-form Englishman from running away with things as he made an eagle, six birdies and a solitary bogey in his 64.

Green was then three clear of third-placed Sebastian Heisele, who is preparing to play his last round on Sunday ahead of his retirement from playing.

Smith made a hat-trick of birdies at the second, third and fourth before taking advantage of the par-three eighth to lead by two at the turn.

After making further gains on the 11th, 12th and 14th, Smith chipped in from the rough at the 15th for an eagle to move to 22 under.

A birdie on the 17th briefly moved Smith to 23 under before he bogeyed the last after sending his tee-shot into a fairway bunker.

An emotional Sebastian Heisele confirms that he will be retiring from the sport following the final round of the Portugal Masters

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An emotional Sebastian Heisele confirms that he will be retiring from the sport following the final round of the Portugal Masters

An emotional Sebastian Heisele confirms that he will be retiring from the sport following the final round of the Portugal Masters

He said: “I’m close to my best. If (the win) happens, then brilliant, it’s the cherry on the cake this year. If it doesn’t then there’s going to be another week when it might happen.

“I’m just going to go out there and play the attacking golf that I’ve done the last three days, hitting driver everywhere and taking advantage of the soft greens. If it happens, it happens.”

Watch the Portugal Masters throughout the week live on Sky Sports. Live coverage continues on Sunday from midday on Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports Main Event.

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Heir to cricket and rugby excellence, New Zealand golfer Ryan Fox blazes his own trail | CNN




CNN
— 

Pursuing a career in professional sports is hard. Following in your family’s footsteps is hard.

Now imagine doing both at the same time.

For Ryan Fox, shouldering the legacy of two generations of New Zealand sporting greats was a daily reality long before he rose to become one of the world’s best golfers.

First, there was Merv Wallace. To Fox, he was grandad, but to the rest of the country, he was a renowned former national team cricketer and later, coach.

Though a prolific batting career in Auckland was disrupted at international level by the World War II, with Wallace playing only 13 Test matches, his legacy in the sport was still notable. When he died aged 91 in 2008, one obituary described him as “one of the best batsmen New Zealand has ever produced.”

Then came Wallace’s son-in-law Grant Fox, a name that needs no introduction to anyone familiar with rugby.

Winner of the inaugural World Cup in 1987, the legendary flyhalf played 56 times for the All Blacks, carving a reputation as one of the greatest goal-kickers in the game before retiring as the country’s all-time leading test points scorer.

Both Wallace and Fox were individually honored during Queen Elizabeth’s reign for services to their sports.

If that wasn’t enough family sporting heritage, Wallace’s brother and son – George and Gregory – both played first-class cricket for Auckland.

Grant Fox kicks during the All Blacks tour of Britain in 1989.

Now, there is Grant’s son, Ryan. It’s a tough family act to follow, but with a world No.26 rank and three DP World Tour wins to his name, the 35-year-old is fronting up quite nicely.

“It’s pretty cool to be the third generation of my family to represent New Zealand,” Fox told CNN’s The Jazzy Golfer. “I don’t think there’d be too many other families that could say that.

“I’m sure there’s families that have done it over the same sport, but different sports is quite cool.”

Growing up, cricket and rugby seemed natural choices to Fox, and he played both well into his school years.

He didn’t even up pick up a club until he was 10-years-old. In true family fashion, it was to play a round in Auckland among sporting royalty; dad Grant plus cricketing trio Ian Botham, Martin Crowe, and Mark Nicholas. Soon after, Wallace crafted his grandson his first clubs from wood, and Fox was hooked.

Weekends and school holidays would be consumed by golf, and when the teenager was passing up on parties to hit the fairways, he realized he was in deep.

By the time he was at Auckland University starting a law degree, golf was rapidly overtaking studies, as well as other sports.

Men’s cricket didn’t offer the same enjoyment, and as for rugby, “too many concussions.”

“Looking back on it, golf was the sport I enjoyed the most,” Fox said.

“I’d always wanted to be a professional sportsman, it just took a fair while to figure out what sport it was going to be.”

Fox lines up a putt at the 2008 New Zealand Amateur Championship.

Not playing his first tournament until 18, Fox was a late bloomer, but made up for lost time emphatically. Two years later he made the national squad, and as a 24-year-old in 2011 he clinched the New Zealand Stroke Play, with none other than Dad as his caddy. Within a year, he had turned professional.

Having started on the PGA Tour of Australasia and the Challenge Tour, by 2019, Fox was a regular face on the European Tour, floating around the world No. 100 mark. Yet after his maiden Tour win at the World Super 6 Perth in February, that rank had slid steadily to No. 211 by early 2022.

The travel implications of New Zealand’s strict response to the pandemic saw Fox’s tournament appearances drop, with the birth of his daughter in December 2020 having a similar impact on his playing mindset.

“When you add that in with all the travel restrictions and not knowing whether I could get back home to see them [family], I’d have left home not knowing when I’d see them again,” Fox said.

“I think that makes it pretty hard to play good golf on the course with all that stuff in the back of your mind.”

Grant Fox caddied for his son at various tournaments during his early career.

To say Fox has rebounded since is, even in his own words, an understatement.

Having sealed a dominant five-stroke victory at the Ras Al Khaimah Classic in February, he secured seven top-10 finishes before claiming more silverware at the renowned Alfred Dunhill Links Championship earlier this month.

His roughly €2,621,000 ($2,627,000) earnings across 22 European Tour events this season mark an almost two-fold increase on purses gained across the previous three campaigns.

Fox celebrates victory at the Ras Al Khaimah Classic in the United Arab Emirates.

Only Rory McIlroy and Matt Fitzpatrick sit above him on the European Tour rankings and at world No. 26, he is the sole New Zealand golfer inside the top 250. All in all, Fox believes he is comfortably playing the best golf of his career.

“When you take the off the golf course stuff out of it, it certainly makes it easier to play well and I think that’s been the biggest thing this year,” he said.

“I’ve had patches where I’ve contended in tournaments and felt like I’ve competed with the best players in the world, but it certainly hasn’t been consistent.

“I’ve felt a lot more comfortable out there, a lot more comfortable in contention and felt week in week out that the golf game’s never that far away which has certainly been a nice place to be.”

Fox poses with the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship trophy with mother Adele Fox, father Grant Fox, wife Anneke Fox and their daughter Isabel Fox on the Swilcan Bridge at St. Andrews.

Given his form, a few eyebrows were raised when Fox didn’t receive a Presidents Cup call-up from International Team captain Trevor Immelman ahead of the September tournament.

The New Zealander has since spoken of his disappointment at missing out, though he is determined to use the hurt as motivation in pursuit of other goals – above all, stamping his ticket to The Masters at Augusta in April.

“I ticked off the goal to get in the top 50, but the big one would be to stay in the top 50 for the end of the year and get that Masters invite for next year. Another win would certainly help in securing that,” he said.

“Obviously there’s a lot of good players and still a lot of golf to come, but hopefully the good form from this year continues into that.”



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From childhood hero to playing partner, Adrian Meronk’s fairytale Open meeting with Tiger Woods | CNN




CNN
— 

Never meet your idols, the saying goes. Try telling that to Adrian Meronk.

At the Open Championship in July, the Polish golfer tracked down Tiger Woods for a photo. Twenty-four hours later, he was chatting away with the 15-time major champion for nine holes of the legendary St. Andrews Old Course.

The fact Meronk was even at the same tournament as his childhood hero was itself a pinch-me moment. Just two weeks prior at the Irish Open, the 29-year-old had made history as the first Pole to win on the DP World Tour, stamping his maiden ticket to the 150th edition of the major.

Spotting Woods on the putting green on the Monday, Meronk holed his picture opportunity, believing that another chance would be unlikely to arise once the competition began Thursday.

Imagine his shock then when, strolling on to the 10th tee for his practice round at 8:45am the following morning, he saw none other than a lone Woods, readying his opening drive. After asking him if it was ok to join, Meronk spent the rest of the morning side-by-side with golfing royalty.

“That was probably one of my childhood dreams, so I received a lot of messages from back home and that was very exciting for me,” Meronk told CNN’s The Jazzy Golfer.

“I picked his brain a little bit. He was very kind to me, quite talkative as well, so I was quite surprised.”

What would you ask your idol? For Meronk, it was important to begin with competition advice, especially as Woods is a two-time Open champion at St. Andrews.

With the Open potentially not returning to St. Andrews until 2030, speculation had been swirling that the 150th edition would be Woods’ last at the Scottish venue, especially given his physical struggles.

The 46-year-old had made a remarkable comeback to the sport following injuries sustained in a car accident in 2021, with returning to St. Andrews his main focus during a punishing recovery process.

“I started with some advice on the course, some lines and stuff like that,” Meronk recalled. “Some advice on how to deal with putting when it’s really windy.

“Then he was telling me about his first Open at St. Andrews, because he asked me if that was my first Open.

“I asked him how he was feeling, how is his health and stuff like that, just casual stuff. He was very open.”

Meronk and Woods stroll past the St. Andrews Old Course Hotel.

The legendary golfer’s tournament ended in moving scenes on the Friday as, having missed the cut, a tearful Woods was serenaded down the 18th fairway by a heaving St. Andrews crowd. For Meronk, it was an ovation fit for the greatest of all time.

“Probably to most of the guys here he was the idol and still is to be honest,” he said. “With what he has achieved, I’d say he is the greatest in our sport for sure.”

Unlike Woods, Morenk’s time in St. Andrews went the distance. Enduring a nightmare three-over 75 start, the Pole roared back with an impressive 68 to make it to the weekend, where two strong rounds of 70 and 69 saw him record a solid 42nd place finish on his Open debut.

Meronk plays from the tee during the third round at The Open.

It marked the latest highlight of an excellent season for Meronk, his best on the DP World Tour since turning professional in 2016. After three-runner up finishes among a string of top-10 placings, the Pole emphatically laid his near-misses to rest with a three-shot victory in Kilkenny, Ireland.

“To be able to win on the DP World Tour was always a goal of mine, always a dream,” Meronk said. “To able to do it in Ireland, at the Irish Open, at such a historic event, it was a very great feeling for me.

“I had a great season this year, I was very close a couple of times, so it was also such a relief for me that I finally got it done.”

Meronk celebrates his Irish Open win in July.

As well as writing a winner’s earnings check for over €974,000 ($947,690), the triumph also penned Meronk into the history books as the Tour’s first-ever champion from Poland, a country not famed for its golfing prowess.

Comfortably Poland’s highest ranked golfer at 64th in the world, Meronk’s best ranked compatriot is Mateusz Gradecki at No. 341. After that, there is currently no Polish golfer inside the top 2,700.

“It did [feel historic],” Meronk said. “More and more people are following me back in Poland but also all around the world. There’s a lot of Polish people everywhere.

“There was a lot of Polish people in the crowd congratulating me and I received a lot of messages from back home, so that was really exciting and also motivates me to go even further.”

Meronk poses with the Polish flag after his first Tour win.

At 6ft 6 inches tall, Meronk uses clubs that are longer and have different lie angles to accommodate his towering frame. To counterbalance his natural bend over the ball, Meronk repeats a rigorous posture drill five times before each session. While his longer levers allow him to drive the ball greater distances, he believes his height presents a tradeoff in the short game.

“I’ll probably have to catch other guys with accuracy,” he said.

“I have to be working on that a little bit more, especially around the green and short game. So there are drawbacks as well, but I think I can hit a little bit further with the longer levers for sure.”



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