Tagged in: england

Brandon Hagy, Chad Ramey share lead at wind-blown Bermuda Championship

Brandon Hagy and Chad Ramey evaded the worst of the wind Thursday afternoon, each with a 6-under 65 to share the lead in the Bermuda Championship when the opening round at Port Royal was halted by darkness.

For those who started in the morning, it might have been easier playing in the dark.

“You see winds like this, but normally you don’t play in them,” said Matt Fitzpatrick of England, who had every right to be satisfied with his even-par 71.

The wind and spots of heavy rain were so fierce that play was suspended briefly in the morning. And while it eased slightly in the afternoon, the gusts were strong enough that short putts were nervy and judging the distance on approach shots was key.

Ramey managed to finish off a bogey-free round right before play was halted. Hagy made nine birdies to offset his bogeys, one of which was a 2-foot par putt he missed on the par-5 seventh hole.

There was not much he could about it — the result was largely due to a gust.Vincent Whaley had a 66, while Palmetto Championship winner Garrick Higgo, Seamus Power of Ireland and Danny Lee were among those at 67.

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The group at 68 contained Patrick Reed, at No. 24 the highest-ranked player in the field.

He opened with three straight birdies only to give most of it back with a double bogey. This was a day for fighting the ball, such as the chip 8-iron from 118 yards. For so much of the day, the actual yardage was irrelevant.

Reed was coming off a bogey on the 16th when he drove into a hazard on the par-5 17th. He took a penalty drop, and then hit 6-iron that plopped down near the hole and dropped for a most unusual eagle.

His playing partners all drove into the hazard on the 17th and they managed to collectively play the hole in 3 under.

When play was stopped, 33 players were under par, some having to return Friday morning to complete the first round. Only six of those scores under par came from the morning.

Russell Knox, who grew up near Inverness in Scotland, was among the early starters and had few complaints with a 72. He was happy to be standing up.

“We were down on the ground holding an umbrella. My fingers were cramping I’m holding on so tight, and it was pouring rain as hard as it’s ever rained,” he said. “It was an interesting day.”

Hagy got a sense of that when he began in the afternoon and saw so few scores under par. Greyson Sigg and Austin Eckroat had the best rounds of the early starters at 68. They played with Seth Reeves, who had a 69. They represented half of the scores under par from the morning side of the draw.

“I think it laid down a little bit for us, but it was still pretty stout,” Hagy said. “But I hit a lot of good putts and they went in. I think there’s going to be some times where you get gusts and the ball doesn’t go in, but you kind of have to keep your head down and keep trying to hit some good shots.”

It has already been a week like no other at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship, which is offering full FedEx Cup points because it is not opposite the World Golf Championship in Shanghai, canceled for the second consecutive year due to the pandemic.

That means the winner gets into the Masters, and only four players in the field already are eligible for Augusta National in April. The 132-man field started with only 126 players because of so many withdrawals, some by players who rarely play anymore.

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England’s perfect World Cup qualifying run ended by late Poland equalizer

Poland scored a stoppage-time equalizer to bring an end to England’s perfect start to World Cup qualification and secure an important 1-1 draw in Warsaw.

Gareth Southgate’s side, who lost the Euro 2020 final to Italy on penalties in July, had won their opening five matches in Group I.

Harry Kane’s long-range effort in the 72nd minute had them on course to extend that to six games before Damian Szymanski struck in the 92nd minute to earn Poland an unlikely draw.

“An amazing feeling. I’m glad we managed to score that goal in the last minutes. I’m happy,” Symanszki said. “I’ve worked hard for this, struggled with injuries. To play against England, to score a goal, it’s a dream come true.”

This was England’s toughest test in Group I so far with Poland set up to frustrate through defensive play and gamesmanship but the visitors looked set to come through and take a big step towards next year’s World Cup finals.

England’s efforts were frustrated in the opening 45 minutes as they failed to trouble Wojciech Szczesny in goal for Poland.

The hosts’ main threat, Robert Lewandowski, meanwhile, was restricted to one half-chance, which was tidily dealt with by Jordan Pickford.

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A fast-paced but uneventful first-half burst into life just as the referee whistled for half-time with England and Poland players coming together. 

Harry Maguire appeared incensed about something, while Poland defender Kamil Glik was called back by the referee as he tried to leave the pitch. Eventually things settled down and both players were cautioned.

There was an incident just before half-time which has been reported to the FA guys,” Kane said postmatch. “They’re taking care of it and investigating it and we’ll go from there. Allegedly it was something that was done, not said. We haven’t chance to look at the footage and talk to the lad.”

England stepped things up after the break with Jack Grealish and Raheem Sterling troubling the Poland rearguard but, again, without really causing Szczesny too much cause for concern.

That was until the 72nd minute when Kane’s powerful, swerving shot flew past the former Arsenal goalkeeper from 32 yards out to put England in front.

It was the 15th consecutive qualifier, for Euros and World Cup, in which Kane has scored and it looked to have brought a sixth straight victory in this campaign.

England have 16 points from six games with Albania second on 12 points, Poland on 11 and Hungary on 10 points. The top team in the group qualifies for next year’s World Cup in Qatar with the second place team heading into the playoffs.

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