Tagged in: australian

Cameron Smith to play Australian Open, PGA

Newly crowned British Open champion Cameron Smith will make an emotional return home to Brisbane in November to contest the Australian PGA Championship.

Smith will bring the famous Claret Jug with him when he returns to Australia for the first time since 2019 and also contest the Australian Open in Melbourne from December 1-4.

Triumphant at the landmark 150th Open at St Andrews last month, Smith is now intent on capping off his unforgettable 2022 with more silverware on Australian soil.

The 28-year-old gained back-to-back Australian PGA Championships in 2017 and 2018 and will be chasing a third when he tees up in his home city from November 24-27.

“I’ve had an unbelievable year and to be coming home to play tournaments is the icing on the cake,” said the world No.2.

“I’m so excited to see friends and family again. Some of them I haven’t seen for years now and once I get to the golf course, I’ve got my eye on some more trophies.”

Smith’s record-setting victory at the Old Course in Scotland was his third of the year after also taking out the prestigious Players Championship and the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.

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The Queenslander continues to be linked to an impending move to LIV Golf.

But even if he joins Greg Norman’s Saudi-backed breakaway league after the PGA Tour’s final FedEx Cup playoff event starting on Thursday night in Atlanta, Smith will still be free to contest Australia’s two biggest events of the summer.

Australasian tour officials have ruled out following the lead of PGA and European Tour bosses in banning any players who join LIV Golf.

Smith is the latest big-name drawcard to commit to the Australian Open and PGA Championships.

He joins fellow PGA Tour stars Marc Leishman, Lucas Herbert and Min Woo Lee.

Former Women’s US PGA Champion Hannah Green is also teeing up at the mixed-gender Australian Open being staged at Kingston Heath and the Victoria Golf Club.

South Africa’s newly crowned Women’s British Open champion Ashleigh Buhai also revealed on Thursday that she’d play the Australian Open, which is offering a $3.4 million in prize money to be split evenly among the men and women.

Golf Australia Chief Executive James Sutherland stated securing Smith and Buhai was a massive boost to Australian golf fans.

“Over the last few years Australians golf fans have loved following the rise of Cameron Smith,” Sutherland said.

“He delights fans of all ages and even young kids have been inspired by him, turning up to golf sporting mullets and dreaming of playing like him.

“For Australian golf fans this is a great opportunity to come and watch Cameron – and to recognize his brilliant achievements, including his most recent Open Championship victory.”

Announcing the two recent men’s and women’s British Open champions in one day is a sign of the star-studded fields that are building for the Australian Open.

“Ashleigh Buhai is one of those stars and her commitment to the event highlights how well-received our new format has been internationally. She is a major champion and she wants to not only be a part of it,” Sutherland said. “The presence of this year’s Open champion and AIG Women’s Open champion is a great coup for the event.”

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Rafael Nadal enters Wimbledon on good footing after procedure to relieve pain

Rafael Nadal on Saturday stated the procedure he had on his chronic foot injury after Roland Garros has meant he is largely pain-free, but he is unsure how long the treatment will be effective.

“The feeling and overall feelings are positive, no, because I am in a positive way in terms of pain, and that’s the main thing,” Nadal said.

Nadal has been suffering with Muller-Weiss syndrome, a rare condition which causes chronic pain in his left foot. He numbed the injury at Roland Garros by injecting the nerve to allow him to play.

The injury causes him to be in pain when walking, let alone playing. After Roland Garros, Nadal underwent a radiofrequency nerve ablation, which targets the specific nerve leading to the painful area of his foot.

At the time, Nadal said the success of that procedure would dictate whether he was going to play at Wimbledon, as he was not willing to again undergo daily injections.

If the procedure didn’t work, Nadal said he then would have either required major surgery or would have looked to alternative solutions or outcomes.

However, it has proven effective enough to allow Nadal to keep his charge for a calendar Grand Slam, having already taken the Australian and French Open titles this year.

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“Well, is obvious that if I am here, it’s because things are going better. If not, I would not be here,” Nadal said. “So quite happy about the things, how evolved. I can’t be super happy because I don’t know what can happen.

“First of all, I can walk normal most of the days, almost every single day. That’s for me the main issue. When I wake up, I don’t have this pain that I was having for the last year and a half, so quite happy about that. And second thing, practicing. I have been in overall better, honestly, no? Since the last two weeks, I didn’t have not one day of these terrible days that I can’t move at all. Of course, days better; days a little bit worse.”

Nadal has won 22 Grand Slam singles titles and is aiming to win his third Wimbledon crown entering Tuesday’s first-round match versus Francisco Cerundolo.

He said he will try to park any thoughts of the foot injury over the next fortnight.

“I can’t tell you if I going to be in that positive moment for one week, for two days, or for three months,” Nadal said. “Of course, the treatment that I did, didn’t fix my injury. Not improving my injury at all but can take out a little bit the pain. That’s the main goal.

“Sometimes the things in the medical world, mathematics is not predictable 100%. But in theory that can help the foot because it’s about the nerve. You touch the nerve, so then the nerves is like asleep in some way for a while, but then recovers. So how long the nerve is going to be that way, I can’t tell you. It’s something that we need to discover.”

But this procedure is a good step, and has brought a smile back to Nadal’s face.

“Today I feel good. Happy for that,” Nadal said. “… Tennis is the second part of your life. Probably the most toughest part is having pain on your life on a daily basis. The problem that I have is I have pain walking every single day. That sometimes affects you to your happiness and in some way the positive and how the attitude is not that positive all the time.

“[It is] positive now. Let’s see what can happen in the future.”

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Naomi Osaka, ‘just happy to be here,’ posts first-round victory at Australian Open; Coco Gauff upset by Wang Qiang

Defending champion Naomi Osaka posted a relatively trouble-free 6-3, 6-3 triumph on Monday over Camila Osorio in the first round of the Australian Open.

Osaka, the four-time Grand Slam singles champion, won at Rod Laver Arena and did so by taking the first five games of the match, before Osorio finally scratched one out herself.

Osaka will take on Madison Brengle — the American player defeated Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine 6-1, 0-6, 5-0, ret. — in the second round as she looks to build some momentum for what could be a lengthy tournament run.

The former No. 1 player in the world, Osaka slid down the rankings last year after taking time off following her withdrawal at the French Open.

She is seeded 13th at the Australian Open, where she won in 2019 and 2021.

“It always feels special to come back here,” she said after Sunday’s victory.

The early success seems promising for Osaka, as Osorio is ranked 50th in the world but was making her main draw debut at Melbourne Park.

“I thought she played amazing,” Osaka said of her opponent. “Overall, I’m just happy to be here, I’m happy to see everybody in the audience, and I hope we gave you a great performance.”

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After winning here last year, capturing her second Australian Open title in three years, Osaka pulled out of the 2021 French Open before the second round then sat out Wimbledon. She played at the Tokyo Olympics, where she lit the cauldron, but ended her 2021 season early after a third-round loss and a teary news conference at the US Open.

Two of her goals for 2022, she stated last week, were to stay completely composed on the court and off, and to enjoy the game.

The first test of Osaka’s new approach to tennis might have been when she completely whiffed on an overhead to give her opponent a break point. Osaka didn’t chuck her racket. She didn’t roll her eyes. She smiled.

“There are situations where I previously would get upset. But at this point in my life, like, I’m here because I want to be here and because I find that it’s fun for me,” Osaka said. “Might as well enjoy it while I still can.”

Elsewhere on the women’s side, China’s Wang Qiang secured her first victory over a top-20 player since defeating Serena Williams at Melbourne Park in 2020 after upsetting 18th-seeded Coco Gauff 6-4, 6-2.

It was Wang’s first victory on tour since last year’s French Open, where she beat Su-Wei Hsieh in the first round before losing to Gauff in the second.

Gauff saved four match points from 5-0 down on Monday, but that was the only good news in a match in which the American made 38 unforced errors.

“You know I lost two times against her last year, so I just tried my best to focus on court,” Wang said.

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Emma Raducanu ‘optimistic’ to find new coach before Australian Open

U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu stated on Sunday she is “optimistic” about finding a new coach before the Australian Open starts in January and will be relying on her own instincts at this week’s Transylvania Open in Romania.

Raducanu, who stunned the sporting world when she won the Flushing Meadows title in September as a qualifier, revealed after the Grand Slam that she would no longer be working with former Davis Cup player Andrew Richardson.

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The 18-year-old confirmed reports she had a trial last week with Johanna Konta’s former coach Esteban Carril among others as she continues her search for a mentor to guide her during the next phase of her career.

Raducanu has travelled to Cluj-Napoca with physiotherapist Will Herbert, agent Chris Helliar and her father Ian, who is Romanian.

“I am feeling optimistic about trying to have something in place for the off-season and the Australian Open. No, I haven’t decided on the coach. But things are moving forward,” Raducanu stated.

“I think having a coach is great, but you are on your own on the court. I don’t think it is great to be dependent. You need to coach yourself. That is something I am learning.

“Part of the experience I am having is being able to learn to coach myself. Sometimes it won’t always work, like in Indian Wells, but in the long-term if I keep doing that then I will be better in the situations in the future.”

The Transylvania Open started on Monday and was held without spectators due to COVID-19 restrictions imposed by the Romanian government.

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Jordan Mailata, Philadelphia Eagles reach 4-year, $64 million extension

The Philadelphia Eagles are signing left tackle Jordan Mailata to a four-year, $64 million extension, Mailata’s agents confirmed to ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Saturday.

The deal, which runs through the 2025 season, could be worth up to $80 million and involves $40.85 million guaranteed, agents Jeff Nalley and Graylan Crain told ESPN.

It was completed Saturday, just before the team left its facility to fly to Atlanta for its season-opener versus the Falcons. “Excited to be here for another four years, representing this team and city,” Mailata said in a video posted to Twitter by the Eagles.

“I can’t wait to keep representing my family and everything that I have in me. Give it to you guys to get this championship here. Remember, Go Birds, baby!”

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Mailata’s ascension has been nothing short of remarkable.

A former Australian rugby player, he had no prior football experience and could barely name an NFL team when he arrived at IMG Academy to train in January 2018 as part of NFL’s International Player Pathway program.

Standing at 6-foot-8 and 346 pounds, his athletic gifts were obvious, but he didn’t even know how to put on or take off a helmet at first, let alone grasp the complexities of a pro offense.

He was selected by the Eagles in the seventh round (233rd overall) of the 2018 draft.

Mailata, 24, did not play his first two seasons in the NFL, but he showed marked improvement under the tutelage of offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland.

He started 10 matches last season as the Eagles’ offensive front was hit hard by injuries and proved himself well.

He entered this summer in a competition for the starting left tackle spot with former first-round pick Andre Dillard, who was held back by multiple injuries. Mailata became the clear favorite to win the job as the weeks went on.

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Australian Grand Prix cancelled for second year in succession

The Australian Formula One grand prix has been cancelled for a second consecutive year, with Melbourne now set to lose its prestigious season-opening status.

The multi-million dollar race had already been rescheduled from March to November before it was scrapped altogether on Tuesday, while the October Australian MotoGP will also not go ahead at Phillip Island.

The 2020 Australian GP at the Albert Park street circuit was called off at the last moment at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Victorian Sports Minister Martin Pakula stated Formula One and MotoGP management needed assurances this week that Australia was unable to deliver on.

He said the country’s low vaccination rate and the Federal government’s recent decision to slash international arrivals had forced their hand. The motorsport organizations have a set of conditions for each race and that could not be managed if drivers and their crews were required to quarantine.

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“Formula One and MotoGP required assurances and undertakings and guarantees this week about the conduct of those events,” Pakula said on Tuesday.

“There’s a few months to go, but they need to plan, and they need to have contingencies in place.

“Given the very low national two-dose-vaccination numbers, and given the decision of National Cabinet on Friday, we’re simply not in a position to give F1 management or MotoGP the sorts of assurances they require.

“Some 1600 visitors in November, with the bespoke quarantine arrangements needed … really makes it extremely difficult for us to give those organisations the guarantee they require.”

Formula One already has a race programmed in Brazil for November 5-7, leaving little time for a two-week hotel quarantine before November 19-21 when the Melbourne event was scheduled, while there was no wriggle room with the final two races in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi in early December.

Australia is not alone with Singapore and Canada both cancelling their races for a second year due to safety and logistic concerns connected to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Pakula said he had spoken with Formula One boss Stefano Demetocarli and there was an expectation the event would go ahead in 2022.

Pakula said April was a prospective date, meaning Melbourne would lose its prestigious season-opening status.

Bahrain jumped in to host round one this year when the Australian event was rescheduled and will be rewarded with hosting the race in 2022.

“We’ve been talking April with F1 for some time, ” Pakula said.

“As you know this year other events went into that first and second slot and I think F1 are keen to continue with those events.”

Pakula downplayed losing the first race on the calendar, saying there were always changes and the later date suited Melbourne.

He said he didn’t have figures available on the economic impact of surrendering the fixture for a second year.

Formula One and the Victorian government have a contract to run the race in Melbourne until 2025 while the MotoGP is contracted to 2026.

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