GvB: Tough to lift players for cup | Lundstram: We let fans down

Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst said it would be tough to pick his players up for Saturday’s Scottish Cup final after their Europa League heartbreak in Seville.

Rangers were a penalty shootout away from winning European silverware for the first time in 50 years before Aaron Ramsey’s miss at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium allowed Frankfurt to edge to victory after 90 minutes plus extra time had failed to separate the two sides.

Van Bronckhorst’s side collected their runners-up medals barely 64 hours ahead of taking to the pitch at Hampden Park against Hearts in Saturday’s Scottish Cup final, a trophy they have not lifted since 2009.

With the Europa League final finishing past midnight local time, Van Bronckhorst and his players face a quick turnaround ahead of the domestic showpiece, both physically and mentally after an exhausting – and ultimately disappointing – night in Spain.

“It’s difficult [to pick the players up for the Scottish Cup final],” he told BT Sport. “It’s short days because we play on Saturday. But we will have to face this challenge as well. The emotions are very down but we have to change that quickly to be prepared for Saturday.

“Next season we have to start all over again. We came so far because we played well, we had the belief. But next year it starts again. It’s not certain we’ll be on this level. We’re going to work hard and make sure we develop as a team and we want to be on this stage. Next year we have to do it again and we’ll work hard to get silverware next season.

“When you play the final you’re very close to winning silverware and we were today. When you don’t win the emotions go from possibly very high to very low. I’ve had those moments in my career, losing big games, losing the World Cup final. It hurts. For us it’s now to look ahead. It’s difficult but we have to make sure we’re ready for Saturday. A big game against Hearts for the cup.”

Aaron Ramsey is consoled after his missed penalty
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Aaron Ramsey’s missed penalty proved decisive in the shoot-out

Lundstram: We’ve let everyone down

John Lundstram was perhaps lucky not to face further punishment following an early accidental but potentially dangerous high foot on Sebastian Rode, before continuing to put on a typically all-action performance which saw him go down with cramp late on.

The Liverpudlian was left emotional after the final whistle in front of a Rangers crowd far in excess of their official allocation of 9,500.

“I don’t think both teams performed great. We could have played better – it’s hard to perform on a big stage like this,” he told BT Sport.

“It’s nervous for everyone. I’m just severely disappointed to let everyone down. The Rangers fans have travelled out here and given us three quarters of the stadium. It’s heartbreaking.”

Steven Davis, who was part of the Rangers squad beaten by Zenit St Petersburg in the UEFA Cup final in 2008, said his side had given their all but conceded reaching the heights of a European final would be a tough feat to repeat.

Ryan Kent
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Ryan Kent was denied in the final minutes of extra-time by Kevin Trapp

“It’s a huge disappointment. It’s hard to reflect straight away,” he said. “The boys have been tremendous, but it hurts tonight. Unfortunately we were on the wrong side of [the penalties]. Whenever you get to a final it hurts if you don’t come away with the trophy.

“But I couldn’t be more proud of the lads, staff and fans. We left everything out on the pitch. It’s going to be a sore one to take. We know how difficult it will be to get to this stage again.”

Captain James Tavernier took – and scored – Rangers’ first penalty in the shoot-out, and said the dressing room would rally around itself ahead of Saturday’s Scottish Cup final.

He said: “I’m devastated. It hurts but I’m proud of every one of them who stepped up and took one.

“We went toe to toe with them, I’m disappointed because we took the lead. Their keeper made a fantastic save with Kent towards the end.

“I’m proud of every single person involved in Rangers. We’ve got to use this fuel to push us on. We want to be back in finals and have a massive game on Saturday. We’re a close-knit dressing room, we’ll get around each other.”

Rangers player ratings: Bassey brilliant in defeat

Allan McGregor – 6

A painful night for the veteran goalkeeper, whose emotion was plain to see at the end. He was close to a couple of penalties in the shoot-out, getting his hand to one, but it wasn’t to be. Earlier in the game, he had been sharp to keep out Ansgar Knauff’s early strike and could do nothing with Rafael Borre’s equaliser.

James Tavernier – 6

Frankfurt's Filip Kostic, left, challenges Rangers' James Tavernier
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Frankfurt’s Filip Kostic, left, challenges Rangers’ James Tavernier

The captain led the way in the shootout and did his bit but, after his heroics on the road to Seville, he hadn’t quite been at his best during the game. Uncharacteristically gave the ball away on a few occasions in the first half and, while he did grow into the game, he wasn’t able to come up with a moment of magic like he has done in previous rounds.

Connor Goldson – 6

A yard or two out of position when Frankfurt’s cross came in for the equaliser and that gave Borre the opening he needed. Goldson was among the Rangers players who looked a little nervy during a frantic start and had his side’s supporters worried on a couple of occasions, nibbling at Borre in the box before his poor first touch led to Daichi Kamada lifting the ball onto the roof of the net. But did limit Frankfurt to few real openings.

Calvin Bassey – 8

Just beaten to the ball for Frankfurt’s equaliser but Bassey was Rangers’ standout performer in Seville. At just 22, Bassey produced a brilliant display, despite the pressure of the occasion. Clearances, one-on-one defending, recovery tackles, blocks… he did it all in a manner which suggests he will have more big nights like this in his career.

Borna Barisic – 6

Looked devastated to make way deep into extra-time with an injury. Frankfurt had limited his attacking output to a couple of encouraging crosses in the first half and a shot at goal in extra-time and Barisic had allowed a couple of their attackers too much space early on. But otherwise a solid performance.

John Lundstram – 7

Gave Rangers supporters an early scare when his high foot just five minutes in drew blood from Frankfurt captain Sebastian Rode but he escaped punishment. Went on to test Frankfurt keeper Kevin Trapp with a first-half header and was all over the pitch playing his part. It was no surprise to see him struggling with cramp late on given the work he’d gone through.

Ryan Jack – 6

Put his foot in and picked up the loose balls for Rangers in midfield but had his hands on his head when he shot over from the edge of the box when he was unmarked on the stroke of half-time. Replaced with 15 minutes to go and Frankfurt beginning to take control.

Ryan Kent – 6

Ryan Kent
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Ryan Kent had a great chance to win it


What could have been. With extra-time almost up, Rangers’ big chance came his way but Kent, who had surged ahead of his marker, couldn’t divert Roofe’s cross past goalkeeper Trapp. A chance which came and went in a flash – but one he will feel he had to score. He’d been persistent throughout the contest, offering an outlet early on and slashing another good opening wide in the second half. But his night will be remembered for that moment.

Glen Kamara – 7

Stepped up to the challenge in midfield with an exhausting effort in the Spanish heat. Cleverly drew fouls in the first half and for a second looked like he might repeat his semi-final goalscoring feat when he linked up with Aribo but had his effort well blocked. Subbed off at the end of normal time.

Scott Wright – 6

A good early turn almost got Aribo in and repeatedly helped Rangers move up the pitch – but didn’t overly trouble the Frankfurt defence. At the other end, he had to do better to stop the cross for the equaliser. Subbed off with 16 minutes of normal time remaining.

Joe Aribo – 8

Joe Aribo slotted home to give Rangers the lead
Image:
Joe Aribo slotted home to give Rangers the lead

It looked like he might be the surprise hero. Unexpectedly continuing as the false nine, despite Kemar Roofe’s return from injury, Aribo pounced on Tuta’s slip to superbly convert a goal which will go down in Rangers’ history books. But not as a final-winning goal. It was his first strike in the competition this season. Talk about seizing your chance. Didn’t have it easy up against a physical Frankfurt backline for the rest of the game.

SUBS

Steven Davis – 7

Rangers turned to his experience with 15 minutes to play of normal time and he was in the thick of the action, seeing a shot blocked and another fly over the bar in extra-time before converting a brilliant penalty.

Fashion Sakala – 6

Went on with Davis and brought pace and direct running to Rangers’ frontline and looked like the ideal sub with Frankfurt’s defenders tiring. But didn’t cut through as hoped and was subbed off himself late in extra-time for Ramsey to take a penalty…

Scott Arfield – 6

Fair to say playing as a false nine is unfamiliar territory for Arfield but that’s where he ended up for the final stages after Aribo came off. Sent a powerful drive over the bar and scored an excellent pen.

James Sands – 6

Didn’t make too much of a mark after coming on in extra-time until his ball over the top put Roofe through to set up the big Kent chance.

Kemar Roofe – 7

Battled to be fit to play a part and looked like he might have set up a dramatic winner with his first touch, crossing for Kent, who was denied by an incredible stop from Trapp. Scored his penalty too. But his heavily strapped right leg suggested calls for him to come on earlier were not realistic.

Aaron Ramsey – 3

Aaron Ramsey missed the decisive spot-kick as Rangers were beaten on penalties in the Europa League final
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Aaron Ramsey missed the decisive spot-kick as Rangers were beaten on penalties in the Europa League final

Subbing players on to take penalties has not worked out well for a lot of teams over the past year or so. And here was another example. Should Giovanni van Bronckhorst have used Ramsey’s talents earlier in the contest? Perhaps. But his contribution was three minutes of extra-time and then the decisive miss in the shoot-out.

Issy Wong shines as Sparks beat defending-champion Stars

England hopefuls Issy Wong and Lauren Bell impress in wins for Central Sparks and Southern Vipers; teenager Grace Scriven fires maiden fifty and takes four wickets but can’t prevent last-gasp defeat for Sunrisers against Western Storm; Thunder beat Northern Diamonds in cross-Pennine clash

Last Updated: 19/05/22 12:05am

Issy Wong smashed 48 off 25 balls in a pinch-hitting role at the top of the order for Central Sparks

Issy Wong smashed 48 off 25 balls in a pinch-hitting role at the top of the order for Central Sparks

Issy Wong smashed 48 off 25 balls in a pinch-hitting role at the top of the order for Central Sparks

England hopeful Issy Wong starred with bat and ball as Central Sparks beat holders South East Stars by 34 runs in the Charlotte Edwards Cup.

Wong, more renowned for her quick bowling, excelled in the role of pinch-hitter as she smashed 45 off 28 balls opening the batting.

SCORECARD

Well-supported by England wicketkeeper Amy Jones (40 off 28), Sparks racked up an imposing score of 170-6 from their 20 overs after being put into bat.

Wong then claimed an economical 1-14 from her four overs, before handing over to Sparks spin twins Hannah Baker (2-19) and Sarah Glenn (2-22), with Grace Potts (4-36) mopping up the tail in fine fashion as Stars finished well short on 136 all out.

Elsewhere, Lauren Bell underlined her own England credentials with a spell-binding 3-12 as Southern Vipers swatted Lightning aside by 31 runs.

SCORECARD

Lauren Bell, pictured in action for Southern Brave during The Hundred last year, has been touted for an England call-up Lauren Bell, pictured in action for Southern Brave during The Hundred last year, has been touted for an England call-up

Lauren Bell, pictured in action for Southern Brave during The Hundred last year, has been touted for an England call-up

Towering right-arm swing bowler Bell is considered among the favourites to replace the internationally-retired Anya Shrubsole and make her debut for Lisa Keightley’s team this summer. Here she put on a new-ball clinic to claim 2-2 from her first two overs, on her way to returning career-best T20 bowling figures.

Maia Bouchier, meanwhile, continued her fine start to the season with 41 from 34 balls as Vipers posted a score of 155-5, before Lightning sputtered to 124-8 in reply thanks to Bell’s heroics with the ball.

Vipers now have two comprehensive victories from two in this year’s tournament, while Lightning are still to secure a point across two seasons.

Finally, teenager Grace Scrivens’ heroics with bat and ball proved fruitless as a last-gasp overthrow handed Western Storm a dramatic victory over Sunrisers.

SCORECARD

Grace Scrivens cracked a maiden fifty for Sunrisers and claimed four wickets with the ball in a losing cause Grace Scrivens cracked a maiden fifty for Sunrisers and claimed four wickets with the ball in a losing cause

Grace Scrivens cracked a maiden fifty for Sunrisers and claimed four wickets with the ball in a losing cause

The 18-year-old struck her maiden Sunrisers half-century with 56 from 42 balls, anchoring her side’s total of 160-5 – their highest since the tournament launched last year.

Scrivens’ off-spin then appeared to have wrecked the Storm reply as she dismissed Danielle Gibson and England captain Heather Knight within the space of three deliveries, finishing with figures of 4-33.

Yet Storm’s last-wicket pair of Alex Griffiths and debutant Sophia Smale – needing three off the final ball – snatched an incredible victory as the throw in from long-on sailed over the head of despairing wicketkeeper Scarlett Hughes and away to the fence.

Thunder survived a manic lower-order collapse to win a pulsating cross-Pennine clash with Northern Diamonds by 56 runs.

SCORECARD

After half-centuries for Thunder openers Emma Lamb (50 off 41) and Georgie Boyce (65 off 56), both sides suffered major batting problems thereafter on a pitch offering signs of uneven bounce.

The pair put on an entertaining 95 inside 13 overs, but from 136-1 in the 18th over, Thunder ultimately posted 148-7, Katie Levick (4-22) taking three wickets in three legitimate balls.

Diamonds, however, were about to undo all of their good work as, including the loss of returning England star Nat Sciver for two, they collapsed to 33-6 in the seventh over of their reply. They were unable to recover and were ultimately bowled out for 92.

Left-arm spinner Hannah Jones claimed an excellent 3-23 from four overs as Thunder claimed all five points on offer for a bonus-point victory.

Poulter: Controversial LIV Golf event remains attractive

Poulter joins Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Phil Mickelson as the most high-profile players known to have asked for the required release to play the 54-hole event at Centurion Club, which boasts a total prize fund of £20.2m and £3.2m to the winner

Last Updated: 18/05/22 10:24pm

Ian Poulter on the LIV Golf Invitational Series: 'It's a big attraction, for sure. There's lots of pluses to it.'

Ian Poulter on the LIV Golf Invitational Series: 'It's a big attraction, for sure. There's lots of pluses to it.'

Ian Poulter on the LIV Golf Invitational Series: ‘It’s a big attraction, for sure. There’s lots of pluses to it.’

Ian Poulter admits the first LIV Golf Invitational Series event retains “lots of pluses”, despite being denied permission to play by the PGA Tour.

Poulter joins Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Phil Mickelson as the most high-profile players known to have asked for the required release to play the 54-hole event at Centurion Club, which boasts a total prize fund of £20.2m and £3.2m to the winner.

However, PGA Tour members were informed last week that releases had not been granted, leaving them open to sanctions if they do tee it up in St Albans from June 9-11.

Those could include fines or bans from the PGA Tour and DP World Tour, placing future participation in the Ryder Cup as a player or captain in jeopardy, although LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman has pledged to “defend, reimburse and represent” any players hit by sanctions.

It remains to be seen how many play at Centurion Club regardless – Richard Bland told BBC Radio Solent he will definitely compete – but asked if it was a difficult decision, Poulter said: “It’s a big attraction, for sure. There’s
lots of pluses to it.

LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman, pictured here with Phil Mickelson, has pledged to "defend, reimburse and represent" any players hit by sanctions. LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman, pictured here with Phil Mickelson, has pledged to "defend, reimburse and represent" any players hit by sanctions.

LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman, pictured here with Phil Mickelson, has pledged to “defend, reimburse and represent” any players hit by sanctions.

“I’m going to play this week, I’m playing next week and then we will see.”

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The severity of potential sanctions remains uncertain and, speaking ahead of the US PGA Championship at Southern Hills, Poulter added: “We’ve no idea.

“I’m focused on playing well this week. I need to play well to get into the US Open. I’m 83 in the world and I’d love to play in the US Open (the top 60 on May 23 and June 6 qualify).

“I want to play as many tournaments as I possibly can. For me it’s simple. Play well this week, play well next week and see how potentially things pan out.

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“There’s so many unknowns and it’s hard to talk about unknowns.”

Asked specifically about the threat of a Ryder Cup ban, Europe’s talisman in the biennial event added: “Speculation. No-one knows the ifs or buts.”

PGA of America chief critical of ‘flawed’ Saudi breakaway league

PGA of America chief executive Seth Waugh reiterated the organisation’s support for golf’s current “ecosystem” and has questioned the “flawed” format of the Saudi-backed breakaway circuit.

The Greg Norman-fronted LIV Golf said the organisation’s full league of 14 events had been ready to launch until Phil Mickelson’s comments cost him several sponsors and resulted in some players backing out, with a revised schedule of eight events beginning at Centurion Club in Hertfordshire next month.

“We are big supporters of the ecosystem as it stands,” Waugh said. “We think the structure of – I don’t know if it’s a league – it’s not a league at this point, but the league structure is somewhat flawed. We do think that for a lot of reasons, bringing outside money into the game is going to change it forever, if that, in fact, happens.

Claude Harmon III claims that LIV Golf and the Saudi Series is the 'elephant in the living room of golf' and adds that ‘players are like penguins, sitting on the edge of ice waiting for one to jump’.

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Claude Harmon III claims that LIV Golf and the Saudi Series is the ‘elephant in the living room of golf’ and adds that ‘players are like penguins, sitting on the edge of ice waiting for one to jump’.

Claude Harmon III claims that LIV Golf and the Saudi Series is the ‘elephant in the living room of golf’ and adds that ‘players are like penguins, sitting on the edge of ice waiting for one to jump’.

“The Tour is owned by the players, and that means that everything ultimately flows back to the players, and as soon as you put any money into it, it’s going to create a need for return, a need for exit, and a lot of things that change the dynamics of it, which we don’t think is necessarily good for the ecosystem.

“I’ve lived in a world of disruption my whole life, or whole career I should say, and it was inevitable. Golf has never been hotter in every way, from a participation standpoint, from a viewership standpoint. Golf for the first time ever is cool, and that is going to bring more and more eyeballs to it, which I think is ultimately great for the game.

“It’ll cause disruption, but the disruption is happening already internally. It’s not us, but the purses are obviously up, there’s lots of money going on, the affiliation between the European Tour and the PGA Tour is very real. So all of that disruption is kind of happening but happening internally, which we think is good.”

Who will win the PGA Championship? Watch throughout the week live on Sky Sports. Live coverage begins on Thursday from 1pm on Sky Sports Golf.

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DeChambeau withdraws from PGA Championship

Bryson DeChambeau underwent surgery on his left hand days after missing the cut at The Masters last month; following a practice round on Tuesday, the world No 22 had posted on Twitter: “Held up nicely today. Lets see what tomorrow brings”

Last Updated: 18/05/22 10:16pm

Bryson DeChambeau has withdrawn from this week's PGA Championship at Southern Hills

Bryson DeChambeau has withdrawn from this week's PGA Championship at Southern Hills

Bryson DeChambeau has withdrawn from this week’s PGA Championship at Southern Hills

Bryson DeChambeau has decided to withdraw from this week’s PGA Championship as he continues his recovery from surgery to repair a bone in his left wrist, tournament organisers said on Wednesday.

DeChambeau, who has been limited to six worldwide starts this year due to wrist and hip injuries, underwent surgery on his left hand days after missing the cut at The Masters last month but was looking to make a return this week.

The big-hitting American, whose prodigious length off the tee has prompted many to wonder whether he is pushing his body too hard, played a practice round at Southern Hills on Tuesday with a wrap on his left wrist.

Following his practice round DeChambeau posted on Twitter that he “Held up nicely today. Lets see what tomorrow brings.”

DeChambeau has not competed on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut at The Masters where he posted a 12-over score in the first two rounds.

World number 22 DeChambeau had been scheduled to play the first two rounds of the year’s second major in the company of Englishman Tyrrell Hatton and Max Homa.

Stenson taking inspiration from Mickelson's 2021 PGA win

Henrik Stenson: “No matter what your age, if you play your best game and you use all that experience and mental abilities and everything else, you can certainly be up there and win”; Watch the PGA Championship live on Thursday from 1pm on Sky Sports Golf

Last Updated: 18/05/22 8:32pm

Henrik Stenson says he hopes to take inspiration from Phil Mickelson's 2021 PGA Championship win

Henrik Stenson says he hopes to take inspiration from Phil Mickelson's 2021 PGA Championship win

Henrik Stenson says he hopes to take inspiration from Phil Mickelson’s 2021 PGA Championship win

Phil Mickelson may have dominated the build-up to the 2022 PGA Championship for the wrong reasons, but Henrik Stenson hopes to take inspiration from the absent defending champion this week at Southern Hills.

Mickelson became the oldest winner in major history at Kiawah Island last year, but is sitting out a second major of the year as part of an extended break from the game following a backlash to explosive comments he made about the PGA Tour and a Saudi-backed rival league that came to light in February.

Long-time rival Tiger Woods said he was “disappointed” by Mickelson’s absence this week, with many other players describing his exile from the game as “sad”.

Tiger Woods admitted he was disappointed at defending PGA Champion Phil Mickelson's absence from this year's tournament at Southern Hills in Tulsa

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Tiger Woods admitted he was disappointed at defending PGA Champion Phil Mickelson’s absence from this year’s tournament at Southern Hills in Tulsa

Tiger Woods admitted he was disappointed at defending PGA Champion Phil Mickelson’s absence from this year’s tournament at Southern Hills in Tulsa

Stenson, when asked if Mickelson’s victory last year at the age of 50 gave him hope of winning a second major title in the future, the 46-year-old joked: “Yeah, I’ve got four more years to prepare, I guess.”

The Swede, who got the better of Mickelson in a memorable duel to win The Open in 2016 at Royal Troon, added: “Certainly for us guys who are a little bit on the older side, of course that was great to see Phil winning at 50 last year and give that inspiration that it’s certainly not too late.

Phil Mickelson became the oldest winner in major history when claiming the PGA Championship last year Phil Mickelson became the oldest winner in major history when claiming the PGA Championship last year

Phil Mickelson became the oldest winner in major history when claiming the PGA Championship last year

“We see the younger generation, the kind of firepower they have off the tee, but there’s more to it than just distance.

“No matter what your age, if you play your best game and you use all that experience and mental abilities and everything else, you can certainly be up there and win even at a later age. It was certainly inspiring and good to see.”

Stenson has not won a full-field event since 2017 and has fallen outside the world’s top 200, while he now has the added responsibility of leading Europe’s bid to regain the Ryder Cup in Rome next year.

Henrik Stenson says he is delighted to take the position as Europe's Ryder Cup captain and is looking forward to the challenge

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Henrik Stenson says he is delighted to take the position as Europe’s Ryder Cup captain and is looking forward to the challenge

Henrik Stenson says he is delighted to take the position as Europe’s Ryder Cup captain and is looking forward to the challenge

“I’m sure it will be occupying my mind a bit more than I would like it to at times,” Stenson admitted, although he would not be drawn on whether he would opt for more than three wild cards for the contest at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club.

“I think that’s me as a person. I want to do a good job. I want to be there for the players, making sure that we’ve done everything we can in preparation.

“It will take up a lot of time, but it’s fun time.

“It’s going to be an interesting journey and we’re going to do everything we can to get the right result in Rome and for me to be able to perform as well as I can along the journey as well.”

Who will win the PGA Championship? Watch throughout the week live on Sky Sports. Live coverage begins on Thursday from 1pm on Sky Sports Golf.

Lowry looks to channel 2019 Open win at PGA Championship

Shane Lowry: “If I was to finish with no more majors, would I be okay with that? Yeah. But I do want more”; Watch the PGA Championship live on Thursday from 1pm on Sky Sports Golf

Last Updated: 18/05/22 7:43pm

Shane Lowry became the fifth Irish player to win The Open when he lifted the Claret Jug in 2019

Shane Lowry became the fifth Irish player to win The Open when he lifted the Claret Jug in 2019

Shane Lowry became the fifth Irish player to win The Open when he lifted the Claret Jug in 2019

A “recharged” Shane Lowry believes he is in similar form to when he won The Open in 2019 as he targets a second major title at the PGA Championship this week.

Lowry has finished no worse than 35th in his nine starts this season and has made the journey to Southern Hills having finished third at The Masters and at the RBC Heritage in his last two individual events.

The 35-year-old was also 13th with partner Ian Poulter in the Zurich Classic before taking three weeks off ahead of the year’s second major in Tulsa, where the run-off areas around the greens and windy conditions could play into his hands.

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“I feel recharged and ready to go for the rest of the summer,” Lowry said. “I do feel good where my game is at and I’m excited for the week ahead.

“I can deal with the wind. I can chip. I don’t mind it around here, let’s just put it that way.

Shane Lowry offers some advice on chipping around the greens and tries to replicate his pitch-in eagle from the DP World Tour Championship

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Shane Lowry offers some advice on chipping around the greens and tries to replicate his pitch-in eagle from the DP World Tour Championship

Shane Lowry offers some advice on chipping around the greens and tries to replicate his pitch-in eagle from the DP World Tour Championship

“It’s a good opportunity for me to go out there and show people what I’m made of again this week, and hopefully I can be there or thereabouts come the weekend.”

Lowry recorded three top-10 finishes in his last five starts before his emotional triumph in The Open at Royal Portrush three years ago, where he defied miserable conditions in the final round to become the fifth Irish player to lift the Claret Jug after Fred Daly, Padraig Harrington, Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy.

“I think my form is pretty similar,” Lowry added.

Shane Lowry sent the Sawgrass crowd into a frenzy when he produced a sensational hole-in-one on the par-three 17th during The Players Championship

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Shane Lowry sent the Sawgrass crowd into a frenzy when he produced a sensational hole-in-one on the par-three 17th during The Players Championship

Shane Lowry sent the Sawgrass crowd into a frenzy when he produced a sensational hole-in-one on the par-three 17th during The Players Championship

“I’d won early in the year in Europe, finished third in Hilton Head and second in Canada, so I was playing quite good, consistent golf that summer.

“I wouldn’t say it’s better (now). It’s probably the same. Hopefully I can get some similar results in the next few months.

“Obviously I’d love to win more majors, but I don’t think that’s a given. I think that’s just kind of something that you need to go out and work towards, and if it comes your way, you need to take it.

Shane Lowry got back to level par on the 13th hole at Augusta with a chip in for eagle

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Shane Lowry got back to level par on the 13th hole at Augusta with a chip in for eagle

Shane Lowry got back to level par on the 13th hole at Augusta with a chip in for eagle

“You get four of them a year, it’s hard to peak your game for those weeks. It’s hard to peak your mental attitude for those weeks. You just need everything to be in the right place to win those tournaments because it’s so hard to win out here in regular events, let alone majors.

“If I was to finish with no more majors, would I be okay with that? Yeah. But I do want more.

“I am very driven and a very competitive guy. I know I want to win more majors, and I want to win more tournaments.”

Who will win the PGA Championship? Watch throughout the week live on Sky Sports. Live coverage begins on Thursday from 1pm on Sky Sports Golf.

Toney on family suffering racist abuse: 'It's disgusting'

Brentford striker Ivan Toney says “it’s disgusting” how members of his and team-mate Rico Henry’s family were racially abused in their Premier League match with Everton at Goodison Park.

The 26-year-old played the full 90 minutes as Brentford beat relegation-threatened Everton 3-2 last weekend, tweeting after the game: “For the man that racially abused my family Il (sic) do everything I can to get you the punishment you deserve!”

Toney’s team-mate Henry also tweeted, saying: “I never usually speak out on things that don’t physically harm me or my family but to see my mom upset after being racially abused by a few Everton fans brought fire to my stomach! I will do anything for them & whatever it takes to get the small minority punished! This is not acceptable & must be investigated immediately.”

Everton confirmed they are assisting Merseyside Police “to ensure the individual is identified and dealt with appropriately” while Toney has told Sky Sports News discrimination must stop.

“You don’t expect that in this day and age at a football match to happen to anybody, let alone your parents, that are coming to support you – mine and Rico’s parents,” he said.

“Off the back of winning, you’re just thinking about getting the three points and it was a good feeling. Hearing that straight away, you switch to anger and being upset that your family, which has come to support you all those miles, experience that straight after a victory.

“It’s sad that I’m still having to sit here and talk about racism without my family just going to a game like any normal person and having a normal day. Emotions sometimes get the better of people but it should never come out that is a reason for being racist. You can be angry with certain results but never should you jump to discriminate someone by the colour of their skin or whatever.

“We can’t paint all the Everton fans the same way, I’m sure it’s just one, silly individual and the embarrassment of it is I believe his son had to grab him away from doing further damage. It’s just disgusting and we need to put an end to it as soon as possible.”

In a club statement, Brentford said: “We are aware of an incident where racist abuse was directed towards family members of our players. A report has been made to both the police and to Everton FC.

“Brentford FC condemns all forms of discrimination and racist abuse in the strongest possible terms. We will offer our support to Rico’s and Ivan’s families and will fully co-operate with the investigation and any subsequent legal proceedings.”

Merseyside Police said in a statement: “We are investigating reports that the families of two Brentford players were racially abused in Liverpool on Sunday [15 May].

“Allegations that a man directed racial abuse were made following the Premier League match between Everton and Brentford at Goodison Park.”

Detective Inspector Catherine Cox said: “No matter what football team you support, there is absolutely no place for hate anywhere in Merseyside under any circumstances.

“Merseyside Police has investigated and successfully prosecuted so-called fans for racial abuse inside football stadia, and offenders have been handed football banning orders along with a criminal record for their behaviour.

“We will support the victims in this case and work with Everton Football Club to find those responsible and bring them to justice. Their views and their abuse is not welcome here in Merseyside, and they do not represent the overwhelming majority of football fans.

“I would like to take this opportunity to encourage any football fans with information on racial abuse to speak with officers or stewards at the ground, or call 101 so we can identify and locate offenders, and ensure they face the consequences of their actions.”

Kick It Out head of player engagement Troy Townsend said on Monday: “Whilst investigations are ongoing, we cannot comment on the specifics of cases. However, the events of the weekend once again highlight the fact that hate is still alive and well within football.

“Our support goes out to the victims. We will not stop fighting until hate is eradicated from our sport. Football is a game for everyone.”

Everton took the lead through Dominic Calvert-Lewin, but after Jarrad Branthwaite was sent off, Seamus Coleman’s own goal brought the hosts level.

Richarlison then put Everton ahead from the penalty spot before the break, but Brentford hit back in the second half with quickfire goals from Yoane Wissa and Henry, before Salomon Rondon’s late dismissal left Everton with nine men.

Hate won’t win

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Kick It Out reporting racism

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Kick It Out is football’s equality and inclusion organisation – working throughout the football, educational and community sectors to challenge discrimination, encourage inclusive practices and campaign for positive change.

Sheff Utd's McBurnie accused of 'stamping' on fan during pitch invasion

Sheffield United’s Oli McBurnie has been accused of “stamping” on a Nottingham Forest fan during the Championship play-off semi-final on Tuesday night.

Footage emerged on Wednesday of McBurnie appearing to confront a fan on the pitch as he lay on the floor, and a Nottingham Forest fan is heard saying “the Sheffield United player just stamped on him”.

It is not clear whether McBurnie connected with the supporter or not.

Sky Sports News have verified from separate sources, including an eye-witness, that the Sheffield United player involved is McBurnie.

Nottingham Forest fans invaded the pitch after their victory over Sheffield United on penalties on Tuesday, earning them a place in the Championship play-off final.

The Scotland international did not feature in the game, having been ruled out for several months in April with a foot injury.

Neither Sheffield United nor Nottingham Forest are commenting on the incident at present.

Sheff Utd's McBurnie appears to kick fan during pitch invasion

Footage has emerged of Sheffield United striker Oli McBurnie appearing to kick out at a fan following Tuesday’s Championship play-off semi-final second leg at Nottingham Forest.

Sky Sports News have verified from separate sources, including an eye-witness, that the Sheffield United player kicking out at the fan is McBurnie.

Nottingham Forest fans invaded the pitch after their victory over Sheffield United on penalties on Tuesday, earning them a place in the Championship play-off final.

The Scotland international did not feature in the game, having been ruled out for several months in April with a foot injury.

It is not clear whether the kick connected with the fan or not.

Neither Sheffield United nor Nottingham Forest are commenting on the incident at present.