Tokyo Olympics: LaVine cleared to join Team USA along with NBA Finals trio

By Sports Desk July 21, 2021

Related items

  • Ryder Cup: The last five contests on US soil Ryder Cup: The last five contests on US soil

    The United States are favourites to make home advantage count and regain the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits this weekend.

    An emphatic 17.5-10.5 victory at Le Golf National in September 2018 saw Europe regain the trophy under Thomas Bjorn, as the likes of Francesco Molinari, Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter played starring roles.

    Yet while Europe have won six successive home Ryder Cups, their recent record on American soil has been mixed.

    We take a look at the last five editions of the event in the USA.

     

    2016 - Hazeltine

    Result: United States 17 - 11 Europe

    Europe had won three Ryder Cups in a row ahead of the 2016 event, but they were in for a shock at Hazeltine.

    Darren Clarke's hopes of masterminding victory suffered a hammer blow on the first morning as the United States, captained by Davis Love III, pulled off a clean sweep of the Friday foursomes.

    Rookies Thomas Pieters and Rafael Cabrera-Bello impressed as Europe narrowed their deficit, but the USA regained control in the second fourball session and went on to triumph by a six-point margin, the talismanic Patrick Reed defeating Rory McIlroy in a dramatic opening singles match to set the tone for the hosts.

    2012 - Medinah

    Result: United States 13.5 - 14.5 Europe

    Is it really nine years since the 'Miracle of Medinah'?

    In the first Ryder Cup since the death of European icon Seve Ballesteros, the Spaniard's close friend Jose Maria Olazabal oversaw the most remarkable of comebacks to ensure Europe retained the trophy they had claimed at Celtic Manor two years earlier.

    The USA were 10-4 up on Saturday afternoon, having won five of the day's first six contests.

    However, Europe crucially won the last two fourball contests, with Poulter the architect of an astonishing turnaround in the anchor match.

    Poulter and his team-mates then overhauled a four-point deficit in the singles, something that had only happened once before in Ryder Cup history, with Martin Kaymer sinking the winning putt to spark emotional scenes of celebration from the visiting team.

    2008 - Valhalla

    Result: United States 16.5 - 11.5 Europe

    No European golfer in the professional era has claimed more major titles than Nick Faldo's six and the Englishman was also the most prolific points scorer in Ryder Cup history before Garcia moved past his tally of 25 at Le Golf National.

    However, Faldo was nowhere near as successful in a miserable stint as Europe's captain, which yielded a heavy defeat to Paul Azinger's United States team at Valhalla.

    The infamous 'sandwich-gate' incident - in which Faldo was photographed holding an apparent list of pairings only to then claim, somewhat unfeasibly, it was a list of lunch requests - was not the only gaffe made by the former world number one before the event had even begun.

    Europe were then handsomely beaten when the action did get under way, trailing throughout on their way to a 16.5-11.5 loss.

    Hunter Mahan was the leading points-scorer for the USA, who prevailed in seven of the 12 Sunday singles contests, but the likes of Anthony Kim, Boo Weekley, Justin Leonard and J.B. Holmes were among others to play starring roles.

     

    2004 - Oakland Hills

    Result: United States 9.5 - 18.5 Europe

    In contrast to Faldo, the meticulous Bernhard Langer did not put a foot wrong in 2004 as Europe stormed to victory by a record margin at Oakland Hills.

    Every member of Langer's team contributed at least a point, with wildcard selections Colin Montgomerie and Luke Donald among those to excel in a stunningly one-sided match.

    In contrast, a USA team led by Hal Sutton and featuring three of the world's top 10 failed to deliver, with Chris DiMarco the only player to score more than two points for the hosts.

    Montgomerie, in his penultimate Ryder Cup appearance as a player, famously holed the winning putt and went on to say: "That singles win over David Toms, in fact that whole week, rejuvenated me and my career."

     

    1999 - Brookline

    Result: United States 14.5 - 13.5 Europe

    Prior to Europe's fightback at Medinah in 2012, the only previous instance of a team coming from four points behind in the singles came at Brookline, in distinctly fractious circumstances.

    Mark James was Europe's skipper for an event sadly overshadowed by boorish abuse of visiting players by a partisan crowd and raucous scenes on the 17th hole on Sunday.

    A mammoth putt from Leonard prompted an invasion of the green from the US team, even though Olazabal still had a putt of his own to come.

    Ben Crenshaw's USA ultimately triumphed 14.5-13.5, but the 'Battle of Brookline' would be remembered for the wrong reasons.

    In a subsequent autobiography, Sam Torrance - a vice-captain for Europe that week - described the final day of the 1999 event as: "the most disgraceful and disgusting day in the history of professional golf."

  • Ryder Cup: Winners and losers as pandemic caused Harrington and Stricker to think again Ryder Cup: Winners and losers as pandemic caused Harrington and Stricker to think again

    As Europe and the United States go through the motions, the ceremonies and the practice rounds that precede the serious business at Whistling Straits, spare a thought for those Ryder Cup heroes that might have been.

    This will be officially the 2020 Ryder Cup, but the pandemic impact has not been merely to delay the showpiece by 12 months. The teams have taken a hefty shake-up too, since last season was so unexpectedly interrupted.

    There are players that looked destined to play a big part on the Straits Course last year that will instead be far from Wisconsin, their hopes of starring having been scotched by the postponement.

    Qualifying criteria were necessarily changed, to ensure it will be in-form players who line up for each team, and both the US and European teams would likely have looked radically different in September 2020.

    Here is a look at some of the winners and losers of the team-picking puzzle from each side of the Atlantic.

    EUROPE

    Winners: Englishman Paul Casey had made a sketchy start to his bid to qualify for the team, with little to shout about before the COVID-19 crisis struck. He had time to make up ground, certainly, but Casey needed results quickly. He has since had them in abundance, with a tied-second finish at the US PGA Championship last year a reminder to Padraig Harrington that he wanted in on the action. Ten top-10 performances in 2021 catapulted the 44-year-old to automatic selection and a fifth appearance on the team.

    Norway's Viktor Hovland was not in the conversation 18 months ago, when the tours ground to a mid-season halt, although a win at the Puerto Rico Open in February 2020 saw him leap from 100th to number 60 on the world rankings. The Oklahoma State University alum's form since golf resumed has been nothing short of spectacular, with 24-year-old Hovland climbing to a career-high ranking of 10th in August. Since the turn of the year, he has had seven top-five finishes, including a win at the BMW International Open, and his hot form could mean the heavy metal fan cranks up the dial for Europe.

    Losers: Danny Willett and Victor Perez were firmly in the picture when the tours halted in March 2020, but neither will be making an appearance. Englishman Willett, the former Masters champion, has slumped from inside the world's top 40 golfers to outside the leading 150 on the rankings after a wretched run of results that meant he stood no hope of a wildcard.

    Perez's form dipped at an inopportune moment, after he previously stayed firmly in the mix. Across his last five tournaments, Perez has endured five missed cuts – at The Memorial and all four of the majors – and no top-10 finishes, meaning the Frenchman could also not realistically be thought of as deserving of a call from Harrington.

    Perez wrote on Twitter: "I am, of course, disappointed to not be selected to the team. However, this is an opportunity for me to evaluate, become stronger and apply new lessons to all parts of my career, and for that I am grateful."

    UNITED STATES

    Winners : The US were planning on picking four wildcards but switched that to six amid the COVID-19 uncertainty, meaning the automatic selections also shrank from eight to six, and their line-up for Whistling Straits looks markedly different to how it surely would have turned out a year ago.

    On the fringes of the world's top 50 and emerging as a bright talent, in March 2020 Collin Morikawa still needed to get a move on to come into captain Steve Stricker's thinking. The 24-year-old is now a two-time major winner, ranked the number three best golfer on the planet, and he led the final US points list, reflecting his dramatic surge. Bryson DeChambeau would likely have found the results to make the team, given he was coming into form after a rocky spell; now he is a U.S. Open champion and has the big personality to take the Ryder Cup by storm. Patrick Cantlay also eventually qualified by right, winning the Tour Championship and consequently the $15million FedEx Cup, earning a debut.

    Losers : All-time great Tiger Woods was still in the picture when global sport called a hiatus, yet the last time the 15-time major winner was seen in public he was struggling by on crutches after the February car crash that police said he was lucky to survive. Three-time Ryder Cup man Patrick Reed – 'Captain America' – was in the frame for an automatic pick, too, along with Gary Woodland and Webb Simpson, until the world changed.

    Eighteen months down the line and those four have been usurped, with Stricker taking the players ranked seven to 10 on the points list (Xander Schauffele, Tony Finau, Jordan Spieth, Harris English) as wildcard picks but deciding against choosing 11th-placed Reed or 13th-placed Simpson. He also selected the players in 12th and 14th (Daniel Berger and Scottie Scheffler).

    Reed, having been troubled by pneumonia and an ankle injury lately, took his omission "like a true champion", Stricker said. Six rookies feature for the US, Stricker looking to the future but backing his team to succeed in the present.

  • Thompson making 'good progress' in injury recovery, Wiseman to miss pre-season Thompson making 'good progress' in injury recovery, Wiseman to miss pre-season

    Klay Thompson is making "good progress" to return in the new NBA season while James Wiseman will miss pre-season according to the Golden State Warriors.

    The franchise provided an injury update on the pair on Monday, ahead of the new season due to commence on October 19.

    Five-time NBA All-Star Thompson has missed the past two seasons due to a torn left anterior cruciate ligament and a torn right Achilles.

    Wiseman, who went pick two in last year's NBA Draft, underwent surgery on a meniscus tear in April.

    "Thompson… has made good progress during his rehabilitation over the course of the summer and is on pace to return for the 2021-22 season," the Warriors update said.

    "The exact time for his return this season will be based on his continued progress.

    "Thompson, who underwent surgery on his right Achilles on November 25, 2020, is expected to participate in various controlled drills during training camp. His return to full practices will be determined at a later date."

    The Warriors did not put a return date on Wiseman either, but confirmed he would begin full jumping six months after surgery, being October 15, only four days before the new season starts.

    Wiseman will join the team in their training camp, but the timeframe means he has been effectively ruled out of playing in pre-season.

    "The exact time for his return this season will be based on his continued progress," the update said. "He was expected—and is still expected—to begin full jumping six (6) months from the date of surgery, which would be October 15.

    "Wiseman is expected to participate in individual shooting and other individual on-court activities during training camp. His return to full practices will be determined at a later date (after October 15)."

    The Warriors are scheduled to start the 2021-22 NBA season against the Los Angeles Lakers on October 19.

    Golden State last season lost to the Lakers in the Western Conference play-in tournament, failing to reach the playoffs for the second straight campaign in Thompson's absence.

    The Warriors stormed back into playoffs contention with a strong second half in 2020-21, finishing 39-33, after ending the 2019-20 season last with a 15-50 record.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.