Manny Pacquiao is set to return to the ring after an absence of more than two years in a welterweight title showdown with unbeaten Errol Spence Jr. 

Pacquiao and Spence announced the fight on social media Friday. It is set to take place on August 21 in Las Vegas, but the venue has not been determined. 

Spence (27-0) will put his WBC and IBF welterweight straps on the line against the 42-year-old Pacquiao (62-7-2), whose last fight was a July 2019 split decision win against Keith Thurman. 

Pacquiao's win made him the first four-time welterweight champion, but he was stripped of that WBA strap in January due to inactivity. 

The 31-year-old American Spence has successfully defended his IBF belt five times since winning it in May 2017 with a knockout of Kell Brook.

He added the WBC title with a split decision over Shawn Porter in September 2019, but did not fight for more than a year due in part to injuries suffered in an automobile accident the following month. 

Spence returned to the ring with a unanimous decision win over Danny Garcia last December. 

Louis Oosthuizen has come agonisingly close to a second major championship title several times over the past decade, and he is in contention once again at the US PGA Championship. 

The South African shot a 68 Friday under difficult conditions at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island to share the second-round lead with Phil Mickelson at five under par. 

Now more than a decade removed from his 2010 Open Championship triumph, the 38-year-old said he has grown more confident in his ability to handle the pressure that comes with contending for a major over the weekend. 

"Look, anyone playing last group or second to last group ... it'll be nervous. You'll be a little nervous," Oosthuizen said.

"But I know that, and I know how to deal with it or know what I have to do.

"I am definitely more comfortable playing in majors now than before.

"Hitting it well and knowing your game is there, it makes it a little less stress, but you still need to hit the shots and play in the moment and play well."

He did that throughout his round Friday, carding birdies on three of the first six holes before taking a share of the lead after a lovely chip to kick-in distance on the 11th, then taking sole ownership of the lead with a birdie at 12. 

A bogey on 18 was the only blemish on his scorecard, but he had no complaints about his round overall. 

"Drove it as good as I can drive it, and ball-striking was pretty good with the irons," he said. "With really windy conditions, you need that ball-striking to be on song."

Oosthuizen figures to need more of the same in the final two rounds as he looks to get over the hump and return to major glory. 

Since that stunning win at St Andrews, he has finished second or tied for second four times at major championships -- once at each -- falling in play-offs to Bubba Watson at the 2012 Masters and Zach Johnson at the 2015 Open. 

"I don't think it's a case of not being able to or thinking that I can't get the second," he said. "It's just both times I was outplayed.

"Look, it'll be great to get a second major. There's a lot of golf left, and I just feel whenever I get to a major, I sort of have my game where I want to have it, and mentally I feel very strong at a major week."

Two-time US PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka has rated his second day performance at this year's event as a "C-plus" despite remaining firmly in contention at the halfway mark.

Koepka shot a three-under-par 69 on Thursday for a tie for second, before a one-under 71 on Friday at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island in South Carolina.

The four-time major winner remains second, one shot behind joint leaders Phil Mickelson and Louis Oosthuizen who carded 69 and 68 respectively on Friday.

Koepka, who has been battling a knee issue, bogeyed twice in his opening six holes on Friday, before an eagle on the seventh got him back on an even ledger.

He eagled the 11th, birdied the 12th before bogeys on the 15th and 17th, needing a big putt on the 18th to finish one-under for the day.

"C-plus. I missed that short one on four, missed a short one there again on 16," Koepka said. "I thought I struck it great. I drove it a lot better but it's tough to putt in this wind.

"Sometimes you're playing the wind, and sometimes you don't. The wind might take it a little bit, but you're also not trying to firm it either, and have another three-footer coming back.

"I understand everybody else is probably going to miss a few short ones with this wind, but I ball struck my way around this golf course.

"One-under in these conditions, it's okay."

Koepka has battled injuries since his back-to-back PGA Championship titles, having undergone knee surgery in March.

The 31-year-old American had missed the cut in his past two events, including last month's Masters, but insisted injury would not be an issue this week.

"It's a major. It's going to be tough, especially with the wind blowing," he said. "It doesn't matter, just go out and go play.

He added: "This was all easy. Everything I did in rehab was a hell of a lot harder, I can promise you that."

Phil Mickelson and Louis Oosthuizen topped a leaderboard filled with major winners at the US PGA Championship, setting up a fascinating weekend at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island. 

Mickelson started early and roared to the finish, carding five birdies on the back nine on the way to a 69 that left him at five under par for the tournament before Oosthuizen shot 68 in the afternoon for a share of the overall lead. 

Two-time US PGA winner Brooks Koepka (71) was one stroke back after recording a pair of eagles on Friday, followed by 2021 Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama (68) at three under. 

Oosthuizen's fellow South Africans Branden Grace (71) and Christiaan Bezuidenhout (70) also were two back of the leaders. 

First-round leader Corey Conners (75) and 2019 U.S. Open winner Gary Woodland (72) were at two under, with reigning U.S. open champion Bryson DeChambeau (71) dropping back to one under after a bogey on 18. 

Players battled windy conditions throughout the day and had an especially difficult time with the last two holes.

Oosthuizen lost his chance to stand alone atop the leaderboard with a bogey on 18 that ensured no one would post a bogey-free round on the first two days of competition, while Grace dropped three strokes on 17 and 18 to mar an otherwise stellar round.

Rory McIlroy (72) saw a move for contention disintegrate with bogeys on the final three holes that left him eight back of the leaders entering Saturday, and Jordan Spieth (75) was in the same spot after bogeys at 17 and 18.

The four-time major champion Koepka had perhaps the most erratic day of any contender, carding just one birdie to go with his eagles at the seventh and 11th and four bogeys. 

Among the notables missing the five-over cut line by one stroke were Dustin Johnson (74), Sergio Garcia (73), Adam Scott (72) and Justin Thomas.

Former major winners also missing out on the weekend include Zach Johnson (78), Jason Dufner (81), Martin Kaymer (77), Rich Beem (77), Charl Schwartzel (79) and John Daly (86). 

The 2009 US PGA Championship winner, Y.E. Yang, was disqualified after signing an incorrect scorecard but would have missed the cut anyway. 

The play-in tournament may be here to stay with NBA commissioner Adam Silver stating that his personal preference is for it to continue beyond this season.

Teams ranked seventh to 10th in both the Western and Eastern Conference have faced off in the play-in tournament for the seventh and eighth seeds in the 2020-21 season.

The additional spots available for the playoffs added intrigue late in the NBA season, with 24 of the 30 franchises maintaining the possibility of playing in the postseason in the final fortnight.

The play-in tournament has been criticized for being unfair, with Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James publicly vocal in his dislike of the concept.

"Whoever came up with that needs to be fired," James said earlier this month.

But Silver defended the play-in tournament, insisting it added vital viewership interest to the season, given the incentives for teams to compete.

"I haven't made any secret that I want it to be [around long term]," Silver told ESPN Radio.

"I have two constituencies I need to convince of that. One is the 30 teams, and I think for the most part they've supported it. I understand the sentiment if I were a team - a seven-seed in particular - the notion [that] after a long season, you could potentially play out of the playoffs. I understand those feelings.

"I think at the same time, the teams recognize the amount of additional interest we've created over the last month of the season plus those play-in games make it worth it.

"Of course, the other constituency is the players. For example, one player, who is on the executive committee of the union, said to me yesterday that he really likes the play-in tournament but he felt it could potentially be a bit unfair.

"For example, if you were the seventh seed and you were a significant number of games ahead of the eight-seed, the notion that you could somehow lose two games and be out of the playoffs seems unfair."

The sides who finished seventh in both conferences won their play-in games to claim seventh seed, while the Washington Wizards eventually took the eighth seed in the East with victory over the Indiana Pacers after finishing eighth.

The Golden State Warriors, who finished eighth on the Western Conference standings, play the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth seed in the last play-in game on Friday.

Silver said it is possible that the league will tinker with the current play-in format.

He added: "I'm going to wait only because I know there's people on both sides of it.

"Beyond the individual ratings, and some games have been pretty good and some haven't been as close, but putting aside those games and adding those games to our schedule and the amount of interest in them is where I think the play-in tournament had an impact.

"[It] was causing teams who frankly otherwise may have thrown in the towel some number of weeks back to fight for those last playoff spots."

For the second season in a row, the Los Angeles Clippers and Dallas Mavericks meet in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

It is the same, only different.

A year ago, when the league moved en masse to Florida to finish a season badly disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, the Mavs went up against a team expected to not only make it beyond the first round, but several more after that.

The Clippers were tested, eventually prevailing by a 4-2 scoreline. However, they fell at the next hurdle, letting slip a 3-1 series lead in the Western Conference semi-finals against the Denver Nuggets. That defeat, and particularly the nature of it, has loomed over them since. Their attempts to bury the memory of such a dramatic collapse begin on Saturday against familiar foes.

Dallas ended the regular season as the fifth seeds in the West, though their 42-30 record was not a huge improvement on a year ago, when a 43-32 finish was good enough to only get seventh spot.

However, since the All-Star break, they have gone 24-14. In Luka Doncic, they have a superstar who has shown little interest in sticking to the schedule, developing at such a rate that, despite averaging 27.7 points per game in his third season, it is perhaps a little surprising he did not force himself more into the MVP conversation.

Doncic had to carry much of the burden against the Clippers a year ago. Kristaps Porzingis' impact diminished due to a knee injury that eventually forced him to miss the final three games. He had also managed to get thrown out in the opener too, having taken umbrage at the attention his young team-mate was receiving to get a second technical foul.

Still, even with a healthy Porzingis available this time around, Dallas will ride or die on the performances of Doncic, whose first playoff experience saw him finish up averaging 31.0 points and 8.7 assists.

Looking back, it seems astonishing that two teams passed up the opportunity to select the dynamic, do-it-all guard in 2018, while a third – the Atlanta Hawks – opted to trade him away to get Trae Young.

At 22, the Slovenian has scored 5,115 points through 199 regular-season games. To put that number into context, LeBron James had 5,097 to his name when he reached the milestone of 200 outings.

Indeed, since 1985-86, the only player to manage 4,000 points, 100 or more assists and hit at least 500 three-pointers though their first 200 games is Damian Lillard – and Doncic is well ahead in all three categories.

His buzzer-beating shot at the end of overtime in the fourth game against the Clippers tied the series at 2-2 in 2020, but that was as good as it got for Dallas. This time around, they hope to make sure the outcome is different.

For that to happen, though, they will have to find a way of keeping quiet a superstar coming off a career year – and whose name is not Kawhi Leonard.

Paul George admitted to finding life difficult in the bubble. "I was just in a dark place," he said after helping the Clippers edge ahead 3-2 in the Dallas series. "I'd checked out. These past couple of games it was just difficult but shout out to the people who stood behind me and were in my corner."

While averaging 18.5 points in the end, he was successful with only 20 of his 69 attempts through the opening four games against the Mavs, including going 2-of-15 from deep in the third and fourth meeting.

This season, however, he has looked far more at home, in more ways than one.

The seven-time All-Star finished the regular season averaging 23.3 points, including shooting an impressive 41.1 per cent from beyond the arc (up on his overall mark of 38.4 per cent). Under Ty Lue, the team as a whole averaged 41.1 per cent from beyond the arc, ranking them first in the entire league.

Leonard remains the number one for the Clippers – he was the only player to average at least 24.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.5 steals per game in the regular season – but George will be pivotal to his team's hopes of making a deep run, in the process exorcising their playoff ghosts.

Forget familiarity breeding contempt: these teams getting acquainted again in a seven-game series offers up an absorbing clash where both have a point to prove.

Phil Mickelson played himself right into contention to become the oldest major champion in history after taking the clubhouse lead on day two of the US PGA Championship.

The 50-year-old looked in good shape in his first round on Thursday and he went a step further on Friday, finding himself top of the leaderboard having gone around the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island in 69.

It meant the American was on five under for the tournament, and he was leading by two shots shortly after he had finished for the day.

For much of Friday it looked as though Branden Grace was going to be in charge, the South African sitting pretty at six under for the tournament as he stepped up to the tee on the 17th.

But he finished his round with a double-bogey and a bogey as the breezy conditions took their toll on the two holes regarded as the toughest on the entire course, meaning he walked off after his final hole three under for the tournament.

Mickelson had similar issues on the same two holes earlier in the day after starting on the 10th, though the five-time major winner only dropped two shots across the 17th and 18th – it clearly was not enough of a wobble to really impact his mood.

The 2005 US PGA Championship winner has not had a single top-10 finish on the PGA Tour this season, but he has a great chance to end that here.

Opening up on his brilliant start at Kiawah Island, he said: "Physically I've felt as good as ever, I've been able to perform to play the shots, but I haven't been able to be as present or sharp mentally to visualise the shots I want to play.

"Meditation has been a big part of me being able to play the shots I want. It's gotten more difficult as I've got older to focus. Your mind is like a muscle, you have to exercise.

"That's what I've been doing, some days playing [as many as] 40-45 holes to make sure I can concentrate longer than just 18."

Mickelson carded five birdies after the turn, playing a huge role in putting him into contention to surpass Julius Boros as the oldest ever major winner at 48 in 1968.

Additionally, he is the first man aged 50 or over to be in top-five contention after 36 holes at a major since 2013.

His form here is made all the more remarkable by the fact he needed a special exemption to even qualify for next month's US Open, given his current ranking of 115.

"I'm having a lot of fun," he added. "To play well, to know I'm playing well heading into the weekend, to be in contention, to have a good opportunity, I'm having a blast. I'm excited for the weekend."

Ian Poulter looked to be putting himself into contention as well only to fall apart in the latter stages of his round, carding four bogeys in his final five holes – he was previously six under for the day.

Similarly, overnight leader Corey Conners' dropped down to two under for the tournament thanks to a difficult three-over second round.

Meanwhile, world number one Dustin Johnson will almost certainly not be returning on Saturday as he followed up a shocking first day with comparatively poor two over on Friday, leaving him on six over.

Jordan Spieth faces a nervy wait, he sits at four over following a second-round 75.

Stefanos Tsitsipas insists it must be purely business when he tackles Italian teenager and fellow tennis artisan Lorenzo Musetti in the Lyon Open semi-finals.

Ahead of a tilt at the French Open, for which he is among the favourites, world number five Tsitsipas has been tuning up his game at this week's ATP 250 tournament.

The Greek star was sharp in posting a 6-3 6-4 win over Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka, and 19-year-old Italian Musetti awaits him on Saturday.

Tsitsipas dropped just four games when he crushed Musetti in an Acapulco semi-final in March, but he senses more of a threat this time from the exciting youngster.

"We played in different conditions. Acapulco was a hardcourt match and with altitude," said Tsitsipas, speaking on Amazon Prime. "The conditions here are different. He's someone who enjoys playing on clay.

"We share a similar game style I think with a one-handed backhand, which is beautiful to see, but tomorrow it's going to be serious business I knew he can play good on this surface. I know he can elevate his game, so it's important for me to be in the semi-finals."

Musetti overcame Slovenian Aljaz Bedene 6-3 7-6 (7-2) in their quarter-final, scrambling through a chaotic second set in which he trailed 5-2 at one stage but then reeled off four straight games, only to fail to serve out.

Thankfully for the youngster, he pulled through the tie-break.

"It was a crazy end," said Musetti. "I was 6-5 up, and at 30-30 played a really bad volley and hit an underarm serve. Sometimes I go out of my mind. I am really proud of myself as I was 2-5 down in the second set and I stayed focused. I tried to play each point at my best."

Russian Karen Khachanov marked his 25th birthday with a 6-1 7-6 (7-3) win over Frenchman Richard Gasquet, veteran doyen of the single-handed backhand.

Khachanov faced a wait to learn who he must face in the semi-finals, however, with Cameron Norrie and Arthur Rinderknech level at one set all overnight, after rain forced an early end to play.

At the Geneva Open, Norway's Casper Ruud will tackle Canadian Denis Shapovalov in Saturday's final.

Ruud saw off Spaniard Pablo Andujar 6-3 6-2, while Shapovalov earned a 6-4 7-5 win against Uruguayan qualifier Pablo Cuevas.

Coco Gauff battled through to the second WTA final of her burgeoning career as the 17-year-old American sank the title hopes of Katerina Siniakova in Parma.

At the Emilia-Romagna Open, Gauff scored a 7-5 1-6 6-2 victory over the player who shocked top seed Serena Williams in round two of the clay-court tournament.

It means Gauff faces a first final appearance since landing the Linz Open title as a 15-year-old in October 2019, with Wang Qiang awaiting her in the title match after a dramatic win over former US Open champion Sloane Stephens.

Gauff served eight double faults against Siniakova, a familiar weakness in her game, but her opponent was similarly afflicted and coughed up 10 doubles across the two hours and eight minutes of their contest.

Having reached the semi-finals of the WTA 1000 event in Rome last week, Gauff is enjoying her stay in Italy ahead of competing at the French Open.

"I need to play more aggressive. I learned to trust my shots and they ended up working out," she said on Amazon Prime. "The Italians, they cheer me on and bring me good luck, and hopefully I can keep this going tomorrow."

Wang beat Stephens 6-2 7-6 (7-3), but the scoreline barely told the story of the second semi-final. It seemed sure to go to a third set as Stephens raced to a 5-1 lead in the second, but Wang reeled her in before easing through the tie-break.

Chinese star Wang, coached by former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash, said: "I just tried to hang in there and focus on the court, try to hit every ball back. It will be my first time to play [Gauff] and I will make a plan tonight."

At the Serbia Open, promising Colombian teenager Maria Camila Osorio Serrano set up a semi-final against Croatian Ana Konjuh by beating world number 50 Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

Osorio Serrano secured a 6-4 6-2 success, while Konjuh saw off Argentinian Nadia Podoroska 6-4 6-3. In the top half of the quarter-final draw, Spain's Paula Badosa was a 6-2 6-4 victor over Swedish player Rebecca Peterson, and Bulgarian Viktoriya Tomova edged out Hungarian Reka-Luca Jani 6-1 2-6 7-5.

Giacomo Nizzolo finally came out on top in a sprint finish at the Giro d’Italia to win stage 13 as Egan Bernal retained his overall lead in the race.

Nizzolo had finished second on 11 occasions previously in the race, including missing out this year to Tim Merlier on stage two and Caleb Ewan at the end of stage five.

However, the Italian made sure he would not be denied on Friday, overhauling Edoardo Affini following a 198-kilometre journey from Ravenna to Verona.

"Finally I've got a stage victory at the Giro!" Nizzolo said. "Today I decided to launch a long sprint.

"I chose to risk staying too long in the wind rather than wait for too long behind other riders with the chance of being blocked. My choice paid off."

Affini appeared set to be rewarded for his late attack from long range, yet the Jumbo-Visma rider did not quite have enough to hold off the fast-finishing Nizzolo and had to settle for second place, just ahead of Peter Sagan.

As for the general classification, Bernal was able to stay safe and conserve some energy ahead of Saturday’s potentially pivotal stage that finishes on a climb up the famous Monte Zoncolan.

The Colombian crossed the line with the peloton to remain 45 seconds clear of Aleksandr Vlasov in the battle for the maglia rosa.

"Finally we had an easy day," Bernal said.

"It would be special to win atop the Zoncolan tomorrow but that means controlling the whole peloton, so I'd be happy if I just keep the maglia rosa."

STAGE RESULT

1. Giacomo Nizzolo (Team Qhubeka Assos) 4:42:19
2. Edoardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma) +0:00
3. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) "
4. Davide Cimolai (Israel Start-Up Nation) "
5. Fernando Gaviria Rendon (UAE Team Emirates) "

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) 53:11:42
2. Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) +0:45
3. Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) +1:12

Points Classification

1. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 135
2. Giacomo Nizzolo (Team Qhubeka Assos) 126
3. Davide Cimolai (Israel Start-Up Nation) 113

King of the Mountains

1. Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroen Team) 96
2. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) 48
3. Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix) 24

Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares has been discharged from hospital following a head injury suffered on Thursday that will see him out indefinitely.

Off balance following a collision, a prone Tavares was caught by the knee of passing Montreal Canadiens winger Corey Perry during the opening game of the playoff series.

Tavares initially rose to his knees before then slipping back down to the ice. He was taken from the rink on a stretcher, though did offer a thumbs-up upon his departure midway through the first period.

The Leafs announced on Friday that, following thorough checks, the 30-year-old was cleared to return home and rest. There is no timetable for his return to action, though.

"Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares has been discharged from hospital this morning," read a statement released by the team via social media.

"He was thoroughly examined and assessed by the neurosurgical team at St Michael’s Hospital and the club's medical director.

"He was kept overnight for observation and is now resting at home under the care and supervision of team physicians.

"Tavares will be out indefinitely."

The Maple Leafs lost 2-1 at the start of the best-of-seven series in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Game two takes place in Toronto on Saturday.

Tavares had 19 goals and 31 assists in the regular season, helping his team finish top of the North Division. He has 819 points in his NHL career, having previously played for the New York Islanders.

The Hurricanes made it two wins from two in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman as they scored five tries in a bonus-point defeat of the Rebels.

Julian Savea (two), Billy Proctor and Wes Goosen all crossed for the home side in Melbourne in a clinical 35-13 victory on Friday.

The Rebels, who lost prop Cabous Eloff to a 16th-minute yellow card, were only 11 points down at the break thanks to a Matt To'omua penalty sandwiched between tries from Savea and Proctor.

Michael Wells reduced the deficit further three minutes into the second half, the flanker touching down in the corner at the end of a clever passing move.

Savea scored his second of the match only for Campbell Magnay to give the visitors hope, but two further tries in seven minutes from Goosen and Asafo Aumua at last killed the contest as Jordie Barrett finished spotless with the boot.

The Highlanders also earned their second win in the Trans-Tasman competition as they won 25-15 against the Western Force in Perth.

There were 30 points scored in a frenetic first half, the Highlanders cruising ahead through tries from Jona Nareki, Ayden Johnstone and Scott Gregory before Tomas Cubelli reduced the arrears.

The second half proved a more attritional contest as the men from Dunedin showed real discipline in their defending. They won 63 of 63 rucks and 10 turnovers in the match, while only giving up nine penalties.

A second Gregory score 19 minutes from time put them firmly in control until replacement Angus Wagner went over in the dying moments for the Force, who lost narrowly to the Chiefs last week.

Simona Halep will miss this year's French Open due to a calf injury.

The 2018 champion at Roland Garros suffered a tear in her left calf while playing against Angelique Kerber at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome last week.

Halep posted a statement on Twitter on Friday confirming she will not recover in time to take part in the second grand slam of the season, which begins in Paris on May 24.

"It's with a heavy heart that I announce my withdrawal from Roland Garros this year,” the world number three said.

"Unfortunately the tear in my left calf muscle needs more time to recover and the timeline is just too short.

"Withdrawing from a grand slam goes against all my instincts and aspirations as an athlete, but it is the right and only decision to make.

"The thought of not being in Paris fills me with sadness, but I will focus my energy on recovery, staying positive and getting back on court as soon as it is safe to do so.

"Roland Garros 2022, I am coming for you! A bientot [see you soon!]"

Halep defeated Sloane Stephens to win the clay-court tournament three years ago, having previously lost finals in 2014 and 2017.

The 29-year-old Romanian – who also won Wimbledon in 2019 – made the quarter-finals at the Australian Open back in February, her run in Melbourne ended by Serena Williams.

Justin Burrowes overcame three bogeys to shoot a one-over-par 73 and assume the early lead at the Alliance National Golf Championships at the Caymanas Golf Club on Thursday.

Burrowes also had three birdies and an eagle on the day that gave him a one-shot lead over William Knibbs. Owen Samuda had a 75 while Zandre Roye shot a 76 to be tied with Mark Newnham. Sean Morris and Shamar Wilson are both tied on 78.

Burrowes said he was happy with his first-round score even though he bogeyed the last two holes to end the round a stroke above par.

"Today was pretty good.  I knew that I had to post a good number to keep myself in the tournament which I felt like I did today,” he said.

“Didn't putt as well as I wanted to but there are still a lot of positives to build on going into the next three days.  I feel like I played well and there is a lot to build on and with the conditions being tough, it's always good to hit the ball well which I feel like I did today and I look forward to the next couple of days."

Meanwhile, many-time women’s champion Jodi Munn-Barrow led juniors Samantha Azan and Winni Lau with an even-par 72.  She was also pleased with the day's play.

"(I am) very happy with today's round, didn't make a lot of mistakes which was good because the course was playing very tough.  Conditions were hard, so overall happy, still have two more days to go so I have to focus on day two and day three so and hopefully the outcome will be good," she said.

In the Ladies 13 - 24 category, Valerie Grant had a score of 101 while Suzan White shot 106.

In the Men Senior 0-12 category, Vikram Dhuman leads with an 80 and is followed by Tony Allison (82), Nigel Davy (84) and Dave Cameron (87).

In the Men 7-12, Thajae Richards shot 88 while Richard White had 97.

The Men Super Senior 0-12 is led by former JGA president Wayne Chai Chong (79) and is followed by Teddy Alexander (80), Robert Chin (81), Stephen Chang (81) and Bert Tomlinson (82).

 Desmond Brown scored a 97.

The golfers will take to the Caymanas Golf Course at 7:30 am today for the second day of the championship.

 

 

 

Albert Pujols is confident the Los Angeles Dodgers remain the best team in MLB and was happy to help the World Series champions with his first home run since signing.

City rivals the Los Angeles Angels designated Pujols for assignment this month, but the future Hall of Famer quickly found a new home.

The Dodgers have since gone 4-0 to improve to 26-18, although they are still only third in the NL West.

Injuries to Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager have not helped the team, but Pujols believes they are still the best around.

"Just because I'm here, that doesn't change anything," he said when asked about the recent upturn in form. "These guys are a heck of a ball club.

"Before I got here, this team is probably the best team in the major leagues.

"You look up and down the lineup, the bullpen, the starting pitcher, even though they've got a couple of guys hurt. The quality guys we have here, they know how to win.

"The young guys, the energy that they have, I'm just excited to be part of this group.

"Just because I'm here we have a winning streak? I don't believe in that. I believe this is a great team."

The Dodgers' wins with Pujols on the team have all come in a series sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks, concluding with a 3-2 victory on Thursday.

Pujols set them on their way to that success with a two-run homer in the second inning.

It was his first for the Dodgers but 668th of his career, including five for the Angels this season.

The 41-year-old therefore became the first player in MLB history to homer for two different teams in the same metropolitan area before the end of May.

"Coming through here for 20 years-plus, I saw the energy that these guys have," said Pujols, who now has 3,256 hits, 13th on the all-time list.

"Whether with the Cardinals or the Angels, it always seemed like these guys were ready to play every day.

"I'm just glad to be on this side now and enjoying the energy and jumping on the wagon with some of these guys.

"I'm just excited to contribute and obviously to help this ball club continue to win."

Russell Westbrook has revealed how he inspired the Washington Wizards to turn their season around in a run to the playoffs that concluded with Thursday's play-in win over the Indiana Pacers.

The Wizards, who signed Westbrook in a trade from the Houston Rockets for John Wall last year, made a miserable 6-17 start to 2020-21.

However, that form was flipped on its head at the end of the campaign, with Washington 17-6 over their final 23 games to finish eighth in the East with a 34-38 record.

Westbrook and Co could not carry that momentum into the initial seven-eight play-in, going down 118-100 to the Boston Celtics, but the Wizards recovered to thrash the Pacers 142-115 and reach a first-round series against number one seed the Philadelphia 76ers.

It means Westbrook, who had 18 points, 15 assists and eight rebounds against Indiana, will appear in the playoffs for a sixth consecutive year, having missed the postseason only twice in a 13-season NBA career.

"We were struggling and everybody was doubting us on the outside and we had to figure out a way to knuckle up and make the playoffs," he said of Washington's regular season turnaround. "Simple as that.

"I didn't care what happened in the previous games. Moving forward, we had to figure ourselves out, look at ourselves in the mirror, starting with myself.

"I made it clear to the guys that we'll make it."

The Wizards still had work to do on Thursday, though, with Westbrook dismayed by his performance in the defeat to the Celtics.

Having averaged a triple-double this season – 22.2 points, 11.7 assists and 11.5 rebounds – to pass Oscar Robertson's record with 184 career triples, Westbrook felt he could have offered more than his 20 points, five assists and 14 rebounds in Boston.

Asked about his mood after that loss, he said: "You should ask my wife, my mom, my dad, my brother, everybody, they're so annoyed with me right now.

"I was so p***ed at my performance. I just wasn't feeling the best when my team needed me the most, but everything happens for a reason.

"I knuckled down and took care of my body and made sure that my mind was right coming into tonight and made sure that my energy and effort was there and my team could follow me."

Bradley Beal led Washington on Thursday with 25 points.

The ninth-year guard trailed only Stephen Curry with his 31.3 points this season, yet he had played only 40 career playoff games heading into this postseason.

Although Beal insists he was always happy on the Wizards – his only team – it is a relief to return.

"It feels that much better knowing that you're playing for something and you're winning," he said. "Obviously, you always want to be on the other side of that and win.

"So, in that regard, it definitely feels great to be back in a playoff position, but it doesn't change my happiness one way or another.

"You're obviously going to be happy to be in the playoffs and be happy to win games. When you're losing, you're not going to be that way. So, I'm definitely happy we are where we are."

The 76ers are next and Westbrook added: "They're the number one team in the East for a reason.

"They've been playing well all season long. They're a good team overall, with a lot of different talent on the team.

"We've got to make sure we prepare the right way and go and win the series, taking one game at a time."

Future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols hit his first home run for the Los Angeles Dodgers as the World Series champions extended their winning streak in MLB.

Pujols – acquired on a one-year deal on Monday, having been designated for assignment by city rivals the Los Angeles Angels – launched a two-run homer in the second inning of the Dodgers' 3-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday.

It was Pujols' 668th career home run as the Dodgers celebrated their fourth consecutive victory.

Pujols – a two-time World Series champion, three-time MVP and 10-time All-Star – now has 3,256 hits, 13th on the all-time list.

According to Stats Perform, the 41-year-old Pujols became the first player in MLB history to homer for two different teams in the same metro area before the end of May.

Elsewhere, the San Francisco Giants showed no mercy in a 19-4 demolition of the Cincinnati Reds, who suffered a four-game sweep.

Steven Duggar hit his first career grand slam in a nine-run third inning, while Brandon Crawford drove in six runs for the Giants.

The Giants, who had season highs of 19 runs and 16 hits, now own the best record in the majors amid a five-game winning streak.

 

Cubs roar as Happ homers

A pair of Ian Happ home runs helped the Chicago Cubs beat the Washington Nationals 5-2. Happ also drove in three runs at Wrigley Field.

The Tampa Bay Rays routed the Baltimore Orioles 10-1, extending their winning streak to seven games, thanks to Joey Wendle's two homers.

Sandy Alcantara produced a two-hit performance of six innings as the Miami Marlins shut out the Philadelphia Phillies 6-0.

 

Mahle struggles

It was a game to forget for Tyler Mahle and the Reds. Cincinnati pitcher Mahle allowed seven runs, seven hits and two walks in just two innings. His ERA rose from 2.93 to 4.20.

 

Martinez the hero in Dunedin

J.D. Martinez hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in a three-run ninth inning as the Boston Red Sox rallied past the Toronto Blue Jays 8-7. Martinez's 250th career home run snapped a 12-game streak without a homer as the Red Sox held onto the American League (AL) East lead.

 

Thursday's results

San Francisco Giants 19-4 Cincinnati Reds
Tampa Bay Rays 10-1 Baltimore Orioles
New York Yankees 2-0 Texas Rangers
Chicago Cubs 5-2 Washington Nationals
Houston Astros 8-4 Oakland Athletics
Los Angeles Angles 7-1 Minnesota Twins
Minnesota Twins 6-3 Los Angeles Angels
Miami Marlins 6-0 Philadelphia Phillies
Pittsburgh Pirates 6-4 Atlanta Braves
Boston Red Sox 8-7 Toronto Blue Jays
Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 Arizona Diamondbacks

 

White Sox at Yankees

AL Central leaders the Chicago White Sox (26-16) will visit the streaking Yankees (25-19) on Friday. The Yankees have won three straight games following a slow start to the season. White Sox ace Carlos Rodon takes to the mound at Yankee Stadium, where the hosts counter with Jordan Montgomery.

Brooks Koepka dismissed concerns over his knee, insisting he does not have to be "100 per cent" after impressing on day one of the US PGA Championship.

Koepka ended the opening round two strokes behind leader Corey Conners and tied for second position following his three-under-par 69 on Thursday.

American star Koepka has been plagued by injuries since winning back-to-back PGA Championships in 2019 and a fourth major title in three years, undergoing knee surgery in March before missing the cut at last month's Masters.

Koepka overcame a slow start after double-bogeying his opening hole in windy conditions as he made history in South Carolina.

The four-time major champion has opened the PGA Championship with a score in the 60s in each of the last six years, the longest such streak at any major in the modern era (since 1934), eclipsing Jack Nicklaus (five – 1972-1976 Masters).

"It's a major. I'm going to show up," Koepka said when asked about his fitness and whether it was the best he has felt since returning from injury. "I'm ready to play. I've been itching to do this since Augusta.

"I mean, I feel so much better now. I don't need to be a hundred percent to be able to play good."

"I love it when it's difficult," said Koepka. "I think that's why I do so well in the majors. I just know mentally I can grind it out. Like when it's windy like this, it's not so much putting, it's more about ball striking, and I felt like I struck it really well today. I feel like that's why I've done really well.

"You've got to understand that sometimes par is a good score. You've got to understand that 30, 35 feet is a great shot sometimes, and you've just got to accept it and move on."

Defending champion Collin Morikawa closed out day one a shot further back at two under.

Morikawa mixed five birdies with three bogeys to end the round three strokes off the pace at Kiawah Island Golf Resort.

He played alongside big-hitting Bryson DeChambeau (72) and praised the reigning U.S. Open champion.  

"I think people need to give him credit, starting today, that he's actually picking up the pace," Morikawa said. "It was amazing how fast he actually played. I'm not going to say fast, but he wasn't slow. You weren't just waiting on him to figure out whatever.

"Kudos to him because it was windy and he had to figure out some stuff for sure. But I enjoy it. He's a character. He's his own person. That's what makes Bryson, Bryson. I think that's why people love him. I enjoy playing with someone like that. It's not going to faze me that he hits it a hundred past me. I know I can still hit it and play golf."

DeChambeau, who heads into the second round tied for 31st, added: "The wind just kicked my butt. It's hot. Just grinding out there, it takes a lot out of you. Working really, really hard to hit every shot the exact way I want to, and then it doesn't happen, and you've got to be comfortable with it and going, okay, how do I get up-and-down.

"It's windy and you're over a four-footer. Wind is blowing really hard, and you think it's going to break. When the wind stops, it's not going to break. It's all just a really difficult thing that you've got to control out there. It's a lot of work."

The Washington Wizards will face Eastern Conference top seeds the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the NBA playoffs after crushing the Indiana Pacers in the play-in tournament.

Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook combined as the Wizards eased past the Pacers 142-115 on Thursday to earn the eighth seed in the east.

Beal posted a game-high 25 points, while Westbrook added 18 points and 15 assists in a double-double display to end Indiana's season.

A triple-double from Domantas Sabonis (19 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists) and Malcolm Brogdon's 24 points were not enough for the Pacers, who had won their opening play-in game against the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday.

After a tense first quarter, the Wizards moved clear as they carried a 14-point lead into half-time and never looked back, outscoring the Pacers 48-31 in the third period.

The Wizards will open their first-round series against the 76ers in Philadelphia on Sunday.

Washington are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2017-18, when they were beaten in the opening round by the Toronto Raptors.

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