Tyrrell Hatton produced a magnificent back nine to sit in a share of the lead following the opening day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

Hatton is looking to triumph in the tournament for a third time, having lifted the title in 2016 and 2017.

The Englishman was part of the European team that suffered a record-breaking 19-9 defeat by USA on American soil in the Ryder Cup last weekend.

However, he quickly overcame that disappointment with a hugely impressive back nine score of 29 at Carnoustie – aided by five birdies and an eagle – to move joint-top of the leaderboard on eight under.

"Obviously, we needed a big back nine and very happy that the putter worked well and hopefully that continues," Hatton said after his score of 64.

"It's always nice to start pretty good around this golf course. You go to the other ones and feel like you've got slightly more of a chance than here, so we'll see what the week brings."

Three-time European Tour winner Nicolas Colsaerts has also started well in his quest for a first triumph in two years.

The Belgian recovered from bogeying the second hole on the Old Course at St Andrews with five birdies and two eagles, also carding 64.

"Once you start to play well at the home of golf, it's a pretty nice feeling when you hit the shots," he said.

"Making two eagles on the two par fives and a birdie on 18, you basically tick every box on the Old Course, which is nice."

Meanwhile, China's Li Haotong and Spaniard Adri Arnaus carded bogey-free opening rounds to join Hatton and Colsaerts on eight under par.

Local favourite Ewen Ferguson is one of three players who are a shot behind the early leaders, along with Northern Ireland's Michael Hoey and Frenchman Romain Langasque.

Defending champion Victor Perez, who triumphed in 2019 before last year's tournament was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, had a steady start, carding an opening 71.

Anthony Joshua says he has "learned his lesson" following his defeat to Oleksandr Usyk last weekend.

The former IBF, WBA and WBO champion relinquished his titles after an inspired performance by his Ukrainian opponent at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Joshua failed to recover from a slow start and subsequently slipped to his second defeat in four fights, with Usyk prevailing after 12 rounds in a unanimous points decision to maintain his unbeaten record as a professional.

The two fighters are reportedly set to do battle once more in early 2022 after the dethroned heavyweight champion "activated in principle" a rematch clause.

Now 24-2, Joshua insists he knows where he went wrong as the Briton looks to reclaim his belts.

Posting on Instagram, he told his 13 million followers: "I've watched the fight, analysed my preparations and identified my mistakes.

"I've learnt my lesson. Thanks for sending love and checking in. 

"Don't worry about me. My spirit is strong!"

Tom Brady is rarely not front and centre in the NFL, but it is particularly difficult to get away from football's GOAT this week.

Thursday marked the 20th anniversary of the quarterback's first NFL start. On Sunday, he needs only 68 yards to pass Drew Brees for the most passing yards in league history.

"It's definitely a special record because it speaks to the longevity that he's been able to experience and the level that he's been able to play at," Brees said at the start of the week.

Of course, that record will fall as Brady takes the Tampa Bay Buccaneers back to Foxborough to play the New England Patriots for the first time.

The seven-time Super Bowl champion made history time and again in 19 years with the Pats and does not look like stopping now in the pick of the Week 4 Sunday matchups, broken down by Stats Perform.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New England Patriots

A win for the 2-1 Bucs would make Brady only the fourth starting quarterback to defeat all 32 NFL teams across their careers, joining Brees, Brett Favre and Peyton Manning.

The QB comes into this game in form, having thrown for at least 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns through his team's first three games of the year for the second time, having also done so with New England in 2011. No other QB has achieved that feat twice.

The Pats will hope they have found a long-term successor in Mac Jones, whose 81 completions are the third-most by any QB in the Super Bowl era through three career games – after Joe Burrow (91) and Kyler Murray (84).

Tampa Bay have a poor record against New England, too. The Pats are 7-2 in this matchup all-time and have held the Bucs to 11.9 points per game – the fewest any current franchise has averaged against another.

Seattle Seahawks @ San Francisco 49ers

The Seahawks are in a spot of bother in the NFC West with a 1-2 record, but they are 14-3 over their past 17 games against the 49ers, making them the first team to beat San Francisco 14 times over a 17-game span since the Los Angeles Rams between 1973 and 1981.

Russell Wilson will hope his team-mates can catch up this week, having become the first QB in the Super Bowl era to complete at least 70 per cent of his passes for 250 yards and no interceptions in each of his first three games of a season. In fact, Seattle's back-to-back defeats marked the second time in franchise history they have lost consecutive games with no turnovers in either (also November 2008).

If nothing else, expect this game to be tight, with the 49ers' past seven games all decided by eight points or fewer – tying a franchise record – although San Francisco certainly have the talent to hurt the Seahawks.

The Niners have had touchdowns from 11 different players this year, tied for the most in NFL history through three games (also the 1964 Houston Oilers, 1987 Chicago Bears and 2002 Patriots). Deebo Samuel is the chief threat right now, though, with his 334 receiving yards the most by a 49er through three team games since Jerry Rice's 341 in 1995.

Arizona Cardinals @ Los Angeles Rams

The four NFC West teams are playing among themselves for the coming two weeks, meaning another mammoth matchup as the division's two 3-0 starters meet at SoFi Stadium in a series the Rams have dominated with eight straight wins against the Cardinals. That is their longest winning streak against a single opponent since a run of nine against the 49ers from 1976 to 1980.

A 4-0 start brings back contrasting memories for these two teams. The Rams made the Super Bowl after winning their first four in both 2018 and 2001, but the last time Arizona jumped out to such a start in 2015 they lost 11 of their remaining 12 games to finish 5-11.

Cardinals QB Murray makes for an entertaining watch, with at least one interception and one rushing TD in each of his first three games in 2021. It is only the third time a player has done that since 1960, with Murray accounting for one of the other two examples in 2020 (also Charlie Frye in 2006).

Crucially, Murray has more options through the air this year. Arizona have a league-leading six players with 10 or more receptions, having only had eight players reach that mark in the entirety of the 2020 campaign – tied for the fifth-fewest in the NFL.

Elsewhere...

The Kansas City Chiefs visit the Philadelphia Eagles looking to avoid losing three in a row for the first time since Patrick Mahomes became a starter. Back-to-back defeats to the Baltimore Ravens and the Los Angeles Chargers already represent the Chiefs' worst run since a pair of losses in Weeks 5 and 6 in 2019.

Dak Prescott is in top form as the Dallas Cowboys prepare to host the Carolina Panthers, but that game may be decided on defense. The Panthers have allowed a league-low 3.8 yards per play this season, while the Cowboys' 6.7 yards allowed per play is fewer only than the Chiefs (7.0) and the Minnesota Vikings (6.8).

The Denver Broncos have made the most of a kind schedule to join the Panthers at 3-0 but now face a first real test against the Ravens. Teddy Bridgewater will aim to maintain his high standards, having become the fourth player in the past 60 years to complete at least 75 per cent of his passes in the first three games of a season, along with Brady (2007), Brees (2018) and Philip Rivers (2020). Brady did so in four straight.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have won five consecutive regular season games against the Green Bay Packers going back to 1998, but veteran QB Ben Roethlisberger has made an unconvincing start to the campaign. He is one TD shy of 400 in the NFL – Aaron Rodgers was the seventh and most recent man to that mark.

An inaugural Qatar Grand Prix has been added to the Formula One calendar this year and a 10-year deal has been agreed for the race to be staged from 2023.

The Losail International Circuit will stage a first grand prix on November 19-21, filling a space left in the schedule left by the cancelled round in Australia.

It will be the 20th race of this season, with only the Saudi Arabian GP on December 3-5 and the Abu Dhabi GP on December 10-12 to come after the event in Qatar.

Losail has hosted the MotoGP series since 2004.

An F1 statement said: "There was a strong will from Qatar to be helpful to F1, and in the course of this process, the vision for a longer partnership was discussed and agreed for 10 years.

"The step from the gesture to be helpful to F1 in 2021 to a long-term strategy was short and simple, and the vision for F1 to be the showcase for Qatar after the FIFA World Cup in 2022 was the driving force behind this long-term agreement.

"As part of the longer-term deal, discussions will continue regarding the location for the grand prix from 2023 with further details to be provided at a later time."

Abdulrahman Al-Mannai, president of Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation, said: "This is a very special day for Qatar motorsport and our nation's ambitions as a host of major sporting events.

"I'm very proud that we've been able to support Formula One by stepping in and hosting a race in our country in such a short time frame, while also securing a ground-breaking long-term deal with F1.

"This exciting agreement means that Qatar will be the home of both Formula One and MotoGP for the next decade, which are the pinnacle events in global motorsport.

"We have a proud motorsport history and this is the next chapter for us. Qatar will be a great destination for F1, and we look forward to welcoming all the drivers, teams, media and fans very soon."

Ian Foster says New Zealand must raise their game when they attempt to complete a Rugby Championship clean sweep by beating South Africa on Saturday.

The All Blacks defeated the Springboks 19-17 last weekend to maintain their 100 per cent record and seal the title.

New Zealand can complete a first Southern Hemisphere 'Grand Slam' since 2017 if they make it six wins out of six in their last game of the tournament against the world champions at Cbus Stadium.

Anton Lienert-Brown returns from injury at centre, with Rieko Ioane switching to the left wing and Sevu Reece starting on the right.

Luke Jacobson comes in at number eight, while Brad Weber gets the nod at scrum-half as Richie Mo'unga has to settle for a place on the bench along with TJ Perenara and Damian McKenzie.

Head coach Foster is demanding improvement from the newly-crowned champions on the Gold Coast.

He said: "We've achieved the Championship title, which we're really proud to have achieved.

"The fact that we now have the chance to achieve a potential Grand Slam against our Southern Hemisphere opponents is pretty special. I'm excited by that, and it has already given this weekend's Test an edge."

He added: "We learnt some lessons last week.  We didn't look after the ball as well as we could have and some of our work at the ruck wasn’t as good as we wanted. We have to lift our performance in that area and the team is keen to get that right this weekend."

Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber made two injury-enforced changes, with Ox Nche starting at loosehead prop and Trevor Nyakane switching to tighthead after Frans Malherbe was ruled out due to a neck injury.

Jasper Wiese comes into the matchday squad as a replacement as third-placed South Africa attempt to end the tournament on a high note.

 

New Zealand: Jordie Barrett, Sevu Reece, Anton Lienert-Brown, David Havili, Rieko Ioane, Beauden Barrett, Brad Weber; Joe Moody, Codie Taylor, Nepo Laulala, Brodie Retallick, Scott Barrett, Akira Ioane, Ardie Savea (captain), Luke Jacobson.

Replacements: Asafo Aumua, George Bower, Ofa Tuungafasi, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ethan Blackadder, TJ Perenara, Richie Mo'unga, Damian McKenzie.

South Africa: Willie le Roux, Sbu Nkosi, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi, Trevor Nyakane, Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager, Siya Kolisi (captain), Kwagga Smith, Duane Vermeulen.

Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Franco Mostert, Jasper Wiese, Herschel Jantjies, Elton Jantjies, Frans Steyn.

Tyson Fury says he was "absolutely wounded" by Anthony Joshua's defeat to Oleksandr Usyk last weekend.

Usyk claimed Joshua's IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles on Saturday, outclassing the champion at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The 19-0 Usyk mastered Joshua, earning a unanimous points decision to leave the prospect of a unification fight between Fury and his fellow Briton in tatters.

With Joshua now looking set for a rematch with Usyk, Fury will put his WBC belt on the line when he faces Deontay Wilder for a third time at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on October 9.

Fury revealed he was rocked by the second defeat Joshua has suffered in his career.

He said: "Did I watch the fight? Yes I did. Was I absolutely wounded that he won? Yes I was. I was hoping Joshua could win the fight, but he couldn't – and that’s none of my business.

"The only thing I'm bothered about is beating Deontay Wilder, and that's the most dangerous heavyweight out there. In my opinion, Wilder beats Joshua, Usyk, all the rest of the division, comfortable – but he cannot beat me."

Fury stated that he has "no interest in slating anybody or kicking anybody while they are down".

He added: "It ain't my style. I like to pick on someone who is doing well, successful, on top of the game – I don’t like picking on people who are down and probably at their lowest point and probably mentally unstable and unwell with a big loss after such a long reign.

"Usyk did his job, he had to do what he had to do, and that's that, and Joshua has got to do what he has got to do."

Fury is focused on beating Wilder for a second time rather than who he might fight after doing battle with the American.

"I don't care about anybody else – they are not on my radar, only the 'Bronze Bomber', aka the big dosser," he said.

"After him, we will talk, the promoters will do their job, and I will always do mine. Never worry about the 'Gypsy King' fulfilling his end of a bargain – I will always f****** fight until there's not a fight left in me.

"You just worry about the other people doing their end of the bargain."

Fury warned Wilder he has no chance of gaining revenge.

"I'm in fantastic shape, fit as a fiddle. I'm absolutely ready, today, tomorrow and forever. I'll always be ready, and I'll never make excuses," he said.

"When I beat Wilder, I'll be on to the next one, so on and so forth. It's never about the opponent. It's the Tyson Fury show until I hang those gloves up. Until that day, it's all about me, and the roadshow continues. All these years, 2008 to 2021, and I'm still undefeated.

"There ain't a man out there born from his mother that can stop me or beat me. I haven't seen one yet anyway. Maybe he’s not born, or maybe he is but he hasn’t got the guts to come and fight me."

Six Argentina players have been ruled out of facing Australia in the Rugby Championship on Saturday after making an unauthorised trip to Byron Bay.

Pablo Matera, Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, Felipe Ezcurra, Santiago Medrano, Santiago Socino and Sebastian Cancelliere were stopped at the state border when they attempted to return to their Gold Coast base from New South Wales on Wednesday.

Manager Lucas Chioccarelli and video analyst Rodrigo Martinez were also prevented from entering Queensland due to coronavirus rules.

The Argentine Rugby Union stated that the players will not be available to face the Wallabies in their final match of the tournament at Cbus Stadium this weekend.

Rugby Championship organiser SANZAAR said in a statement: "SANZAAR has informed Argentina Rugby that all members of this group are now ineligible to participate further in The Rugby Championship as they have breached tournament rules.

"SANZAAR is very disappointed that such a breach has occurred given the clear rules that are in place to ensure the health and safety of all players and staff, and compliance with all relevant health orders."

The Pumas are bottom of the table, having failed to pick up a point from five matches.

Meanwhile, Greg Holmes will become the oldest player to feature for opponents Australia since World War II at the age of 38 after the prop was named among the replacements by Dave Rennie.

Darcy Swain and Pete Samu come into the side, while back-rower Sean McMahon will also start on the bench as the Wallabies eye a fourth successive win to secure second place behind champions New Zealand.

 

Australia: Reece Hodge, Jordan Petaia, Len Ikitau, Samu Kerevi, Andrew Kellaway, Quade Cooper, Nic White; James Slipper, Folau Fainga'a, Taniela Tupou, Izack Rodda, Darcy Swain, Pete Samu, Michael Hooper (captain) Rob Valetini.

Replacements: Lachlan Lonergan, Angus Bell, Greg Holmes, Matt Philip, Sean McMahon, Jake Gordon, James O'Connor, Tom Wright.

Argentina: Juan Cruz Mallia, Matias Moroni, Lucio Cinti, Santiago Chocobares, Emiliano Boffelli, Santiago Carreras, Gonzalo Bertranou; Rodrigo Martinez, Julian Montoya (captain), Enrique Pieretto, Guido Petti, Tomas Lavanini, Juan Martin Gonzalez, Marcos Kremer, Rodrigo Bruni.

Replacements: Facundo Bosch, Thomas Gallo, Eduardo Bello, Matias Alemanno, Francisco Gorrissen, Gonzalo Garcia, Domingo Miotti, Mateo Carreras.

Patrick Mahomes is looking forward to working with Josh Gordon in Kansas City after the Chiefs capitalised on "a heck of an opportunity" to sign the reinstated wide receiver.

Gordon was reinstated by the NFL this week after a series of suspensions for violations of its policies on substances of abuse and performance-enhancing substances.

Most recently, the 30-year-old saw a return with the Seattle Seahawks halted in January when the league rescinded his conditional reinstatement.

Gordon recorded 1,646 receiving yards and nine touchdowns on 87 catches with the Cleveland Browns in 2013 but has since seen his role restricted by his various absences.

After spells with the New England Patriots and the Seahawks, he is back again and hoping to play a part for AFC champions the Chiefs.

Gordon must earn his place on Kansas City's 53-man roster but is linking up with outstanding quarterback Mahomes and a highly talented receiver room.

"We like bringing in good football players," Mahomes said. "It was a heck of an opportunity to bring him in here, involve him in that receiver room, and he'll have his role.

"He's a great football player. In this offense, everybody gets a chance to make plays.

"He's a big receiver, and even when he's covered, he's not covered. I'm excited to work with him."

The Chiefs led the league in net passing yards last year (303.4 per game) and are on pace to beat that mark in 2021 (306.0), although they rank fifth through three weeks.

Tight end Travis Kelce is leading the way on 20 receptions for 289 yards and three TDs, ahead of top WRs Tyreek Hill (19 catches, 267 yards, one TD) and Mecole Hardman (11 catches, 107 yards, one TD).

Seven players have scored receiving TDs this year, while Mahomes has targeted 14 different team-mates.

Gordon is unlikely to be a primary option unless he returns to his early-career form, although he did make a competitive 15.8 yards per reception in his last season in the league in 2019 – ranking 21st among WRs with 20 or more targets.

He was targeted on a relatively low 17.0 per cent of his routes, however, and got open on just 56.5 per cent of his targets – the 12th-worst rate among the same group of players.

The 1-2 Chiefs face the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 4 on Sunday.

The Toronto Blue Jays kept the American League (AL) Wild Card race wide open after ending the New York Yankees' seven-game winning streak with an entertaining 6-5 victory on Wednesday.

Bo Bichette homered twice as the Blue Jays recovered from blowing a 4-0 lead after the Yankees tied the MLB clash up in the seventh inning midweek.

Bichette's second home run of the game, with scores tied at 5-5 at the bottom of the eighth inning, proved decisive, with the 23-year-old getting a curtain call.

The result improved the Blue Jays to 88-70 to be a game adrift of the second and final Wild Card berth, while the Yankees are 90-68 in the four-team race for two spots, alongside the Boston Red Sox (89-69) and the Seattle Mariners (89-70).

Earlier, Blue Jays star Marcus Semien hit his 44th home run of the season, meaning he has the most homers in a season by a primary second baseman in MLB history.

Bichette and Semien both ticked over 100 RBI for the season, meaning the Blue Jays are the first team with four players (Teoscar Hernandez and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.) with 100-plus RBI in a season since the Atlanta Braves in 2003.

 

Brewers thwarts Cardinals' winning run

The St Louis Cardinals' extraordinary winning streak ended at 17 games after a 4-0 defeat to the Milwaukee Brewers. The Cardinals secured their postseason berth on Tuesday with their 17th straight win but home runs from Daniel Vogelbach and Manny Pina earned the National League (NL) Central division winners the run-ending victory. St Louis' winning streak will go down as the third longest by any team in the expansion area, behind the Cleveland Indians (22 in 2017) and the Oakland Athletics (20 in 2002).

The Braves moved a step closer to securing the NL East title thanks to a 7-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies, with Dansby Swanson starring with a three-hit game including a two-run single in the seventh inning.

AL East champions the Tampa Bay Rays clinched top seed and home-field advantage via a 7-0 shutout of the Houston Astros aided by Ji-man Choi's three-run jack in the fifth inning. The victory also brought up the Rays' 98th for the season, setting a new franchise record.

World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers piled on five runs in the eighth inning to keep pace with the San Francisco Giants for NL seeding courtesy a come-from-behind 11-9 win over the San Diego Padres. The Giants stayed two games clear following a 1-0 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Mariners stayed firmly in the AL Wild Card hunt with a 4-2 win over the Athletics. 

Reds season fizzles out

The Cincinnati Reds' promising season has petered out, with the NL Wild Card hopes officially over and a 6-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox underlined that. The Reds managed just four hits for the game, with their only run coming in the ninth inning.

 

Red Sox snap their skid

The Red Sox boosted their AL Wild Card aspirations as they ended their four-game losing span with a 6-0 triumph over the Baltimore Orioles. J.D. Martinez had three RBI, including a 444-foot home run, while Nathan Eovaldi had six scoreless innings and seven strikeouts on the mound.

 

Wednesday's results

Colorado Rockies 10-5 Washington Nationals
Chicago Cubs 3-2 Pittsburgh Pirates
Boston Red Sox 6-0 Baltimore Orioles
Toronto Blue Jays 6-5 New York Yankees
Miami Marlins 3-2 New York Mets
Atlanta Braves 7-2 Philadelphia Phillies
Minnesota Twins 5-2 Detroit Tigers
Milwaukee Brewers 4-0 St Louis Cardinals
Los Angeles Angels 7-2 Texas Rangers
Kansas City Royals 10-5 Cleveland Indians
Tampa Bay Rays 7-0 Houston Astros
Chicago White Sox 6-1 Cincinnati Reds
San Francisco Giants 1-0 Arizona Diamondbacks
Seattle Mariners 4-2 Oakland Athletics
Los Angeles Dodgers 11-9 San Diego Padres

 

Yankees at Blue Jays

On Thursday, the Blue Jays host rivals the Yankees for the penultimate time in their series in a critical game for the AL Wild Card race. After that, Toronto face the Orioles, while the Yankees meet the Rays.

Top seed Andrey Rublev brushed aside Brandon Nakashima in just over an hour to clinch a spot in the San Diego Open quarter-finals.

Rublev – the world number five – won 6-2 6-1 over local 20-year-old Nakashima at the ATP 250 tournament on Wednesday.

Nakashima claimed only two of 18 second serve points for the match, with Rublev breaking him six times and triumphing in one hour, two minutes midweek.

The result improves 2021 Australian Open quarter-finalist Rublev's record to 45-15 this calendar year.

Rublev will take on sixth seed Diego Schwartzman, who rallied to defeat Lloyd Harris 4-6 6-3 6-2 in San Diego.

Fifth seed Hubert Hurkacz moved into the next round with a 7-6 (7-2) 6-1 victory over Australian qualifier Alex Bolt.

Hurkacz will face Russian and 2021 Australian Open semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev in the round of 16.

Daniel Evans – the eighth seed – overcame former Wimbledon and US Open runner-up Kevin Anderson 7-6 (13-11) 7-5 after more than two hours on court.

Evans will meet countryman Cam Norrie next.

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan insisted there is no "quarterback battle" between starter Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance as calls for the latter to be given more gametime grow.

The 49ers are 2-1 to start the NFL season, going down 30-28 to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday after wins over the Philadelphia Eagles and Detroit Lions.

Lance, who was selected at pick three in the 2021 NFL Draft, has been used sparingly, attending seven snaps in two games, including running a one-yard touchdown against the Packers.

The 49ers' offensive display against the Packers, having been held scoreless until Lance's touchdown on half-time, fuelled the calls for the 21-year-old to get more opportunities ahead of Garoppolo – who made 25 of 40 passes for 257 yards, two TDs and an interception against Green Bay.

"There's not a quarterback battle right now," Shanahan said on Wednesday heading into the Week 4 clash with the Seattle Seahawks. "We're going with our starting quarterback who I think is playing very well.

"I'm happy that he is, so Trey is not thrown into any situations he has to do too early. If he ever is thrown into that, then I know Trey will deal with that and he'll get better as it goes, but we have a luxury where we don't have to do that yet to Trey or to our team."

Garoppolo has a completion rate of 67.37 per cent this season, collecting 760 yards with four touchdowns in three games this season.

The 29-year-old has completed 64 of 95 attempts, run for a score, thrown an interception and lost a pair of fumbles.

"Trey's our backup quarterback," Shanahan said. "This isn't the preseason. We're not just going back and forth all the time."

He added: "We have put him [Lance] on the field. We do it in situations.

"You can go with whatever you want what I say in training camp and you can expand on that or not. But I think I was asked coming off the field of our third [preseason] game if we'd see this in the regular season, I said, 'probably not.'

"I've been pretty consistent with what I've said."

The 49ers' last seven games dating back to last year have all been decided by eight points or fewer, tied for the longest streak in franchise history (also in 1988).

San Francisco have had 11 different players score a touchdown this season – tied with the 1964 Oilers, 1987 Chicago Bears and 2002 New England Patriots for the most in NFL history over the first three games of a season.

Los Angeles Lakers recruit Russell Westbrook labelled Anthony Davis as "the ultimate weapon" and said it is his job to bring out the best of the eight-time NBA All-Star.

Davis was below his best during the 2020-21 season as the Lakers were dethroned and eliminated in the playoffs in the first round, with injuries forcing the 28-year-old to miss 36 games.

An NBA champion in 2019-20, Davis – the number one draft pick in 2012 – averaged 21.8 points per game last season, which was his lowest return since his second campaign with the New Orleans Pelicans in 2013-14, along with a career-low field goal percentage of 49.1.

Defensively, Davis had a career-low season averaging 7.9 rebounds per game and 1.6 blocks per game, but former MVP Westbrook was bullish about maximising his talent in the 2021-22 season.

"[He is] The ultimate weapon," Westbrook told reporters about Davis on Wednesday, having arrived via a trade from the Washington Wizards.

"It's my job to supervise it to the best of my ability to make sure that AD, LeBron [James], whoever is in the pick and roll are put in positions to be successful.

"He's one of a kind. There's nobody like him who can do everything he's able to do at his size.

"My job is to make sure I continue to push him each day, each practice, each game, so he can be at the top of his game each and every night.

"He's been in this league a long time, so he understands how to play the game. He knows what he needs to turn up, and I know now he wants to turn up. So it's my job to make sure that's up every single night."

Davis, who is a four-time All-NBA First Team member and has led the league for blocks on three occasions, said the demanding presence of players like nine-time All-Star Westbrook was good for him.

"I like team-mates who are going to push me," Davis said. "Encouragement -- I don't need encouragement. I want to be pushed.

"I want guys to tell me when I'm messing up. Me and Russ had numerous conversations in this first practice alone about things we can do together as a duo when we're both on the floor."

Davis added that he expects to play center for the Lakers this season, which Westbrook endorsed saying his team-mate can "pretty much do everything" in the role.

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick backed Tampa Bay Buccaneers superstar Tom Brady to play in the NFL until he is 50 ahead of the pair's reunion.

Brady will lead Super Bowl champions the Buccaneers (2-1) against former team the Patriots (1-2) on the road in Foxborough on Sunday.

The 44-year-old Brady won six Super Bowls with Belichick at the Patriots before leaving for the Buccaneers via free agency ahead of the 2020 season.

With Brady showing no signs of slowing down, long-serving Patriots coach Belichick hailed the five-time Super Bowl MVP.

"Nothing Tom does surprises me," Belichick told reporters on Wednesday.

"He's a great player, works hard, takes care of himself. He's talked about playing until 50. If anybody can do it, he probably can.

"Tom's had an unbelievable career. There's not enough superlatives and adjectives to compliment him on everything that he's achieved and continues to achieve.

"It's unbelievably impressive."

Brady has thrown for at least 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns through his team's first three games for the second time in his career (also 2011). He is the only quarterback in NFL history to do that twice.

Tampa Bay's Brady will be looking to join Drew Brees, Brett Favre and Peyton Manning as the only starting quarterbacks to defeat all 32 teams in their careers.

Brady is also on the cusp of history, with the QB requiring just 68 yards to surpass Brees' NFL career passing yardage record of 80,358 yards.

"He's as tough as any quarterback there is or ever has been. Enough said. His numbers are incredible," Belichick added.

"He's about to pass the all-time passing record. He's done more than any other player at that position in whatever measurement you want to take – whether it's yards, completions, touchdowns, championships, you name it. Put anything out there that you want; it doesn't get any tougher than that."

The Milwaukee Brewers have been dealt a blow with reliever Devin Williams likely to miss the remainder of the MLB season after breaking his hand punching a wall.

Williams – last season's National League (NL) Rookie and Reliever of the Year – sustained the injury after celebrating Milwaukee clinching the NL Central division title with a few drinks on Sunday.

The Brewers placed Williams on the 10-day injured list on Wednesday, but he will require surgery.

Milwaukee president of baseball operations David Stearns said surgery will likely "keep him out for the remainder of the season."

"I went out to have a few drinks and [at] my home I was a little frustrated, upset, and I punched a wall. That's how it happened," the 27-year-old Williams told reporters.

"I'm pretty upset with myself. There's no one to blame but me. I feel like I've let the team down, the coaching staff, the fans, everyone.

"I know how big a role that I play on this team and there's a lot of people counting on me."

Right-hander Williams is 8-2 with a 2.50 ERA and 87 strikeouts from 54 innings this season for the Brewers, who clinched a postseason berth for the fourth successive season.

The Brewers are in line to play either the Atlanta Braves or the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL Division Series (NLDS).

NBA players unvaccinated against COVID-19 risk losing salary if they are not able to play in games due to non-compliance with local health protocols.

NBA spokesperson Mike Bass confirmed on Wednesday that players will not be paid should they miss games for that reason, as vaccination status continues to be a thorny issue for some of the league's high-profile stars.

Major cities such as New York and San Francisco have laws that restrict unvaccinated persons from entering sports arenas, restaurants and other public spaces.

That means players such as the Brooklyn Nets' Kyrie Irving and Andrew Wiggins of the Golden State Warriors face being unable to play home games and losing significant portions of their salary.

Players travelling to those areas would also miss out on pay for failing to comply with local mandates.

Both Irving and Wiggins have salaries over $30million for the 2021-22 season.

"Any player who elects not to comply with local vaccination mandates will not be paid for games that he misses," Bass said.

Wiggins this week saw his request for a vaccine exemption on religious grounds rejected by the NBA, having previously said he would not get the vaccine unless he was forced into doing so.

 

Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from the Indian Wells Open, the tournament confirmed on Wednesday. 

World number one Djokovic was set to return to action at the rescheduled event after losing the US Open final to Daniil Medvedev in straight sets. 

However, the Serbian – one of two five-time winners of the competition alongside Roger Federer – has decided to pull out for an unspecified reason.

"I am sorry I won't get to see my fans in Indian Wells and play in the desert, my favourite place to go. I hope to see you next year!" Djokovic said in a statement. 

Tournament director Tommy Haas added: "We are disappointed that Novak will not be able to joins us at the BNP Paribas Open this fall. 

"We hope to see him back in Tennis Paradise next March to contend for a record-setting sixth title in the desert." 

Djokovic's defeat against Medvedev in Flushing Meadows ended his hopes of claiming a record-breaking 21st major title, the 34-year-old having already won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon in 2021. 

He fell short in his aim to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win all four majors in a single season but has already booked his place at this year's ATP Finals. 

The NFL season is heading towards the quarter mark and it's likely desperation time for those fantasy owners who are yet to claim a win.

Thankfully there are several matchups in Week 4 that figure to be very high scoring and deliver huge fantasy performances.

Which players should you be looking at slotting into your lineup for the upcoming slate of games?

Stats Perform looks at four offensive players and a defense that can help propel you to glory this week.

 

Quarterback: Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans @ New York Jets

Tannehill followed up a 300-yard performance in Week 2 against the Seattle Seahawks with a three-touchdown display in a win over the Indianapolis Colts.

The Jets' defense is the strength of their winless team but still ranks 17th in the NFL in yards per pass play allowed with 6.79.

Given the ineptitude of New York's offense, which has committed the second-most turnovers in the NFL (7) through three games, the Jets' defense is likely to eventually wear down and provide Tannehill with plentiful opportunities to enjoy another strong fantasy outing.

Running Back: Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers vs. Las Vegas Raiders

The Chargers have their own problems with run defense, allowing the highest rushing average in the league at 5.8 yards.

However, fourth on that list are the Raiders, who have given up 4.81 yards per carry through three games.

Ekeler's yards after contact per attempt average of 2.5 is sixth among running backs with at least 10 carries and he is again a focal point in the passing game having made 15 receptions over the last two games. 

In a game likely to be dominated by high-powered offenses, Ekeler figures to play a pivotal role and, taking the favourable matchup into account, is a must-start in points per reception fantasy leagues.

Wide Receiver: Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks @ San Francisco 49ers

Lockett has never had a 100-yard game against the 49ers, but caught 12 of 14 targets for 90 yards and two touchdowns in the regular-season finale against San Francisco last year.

Registering a burn, which is when a receiver wins his matchup on a play where is targeted, on 68.4 per cent of his targets Lockett is second among wide receivers that have been thrown to at least 10 times with a burn yards per target average of 19.29.

Going up against a banged-up San Francisco secondary, Lockett's ability to create consistent separation could prove pivotal in a matchup where Seattle may have to get into a shootout to prevail given the porous nature of the Seahawks' defense.

Tight End: Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills vs. Houston Texans

Still the most difficult position in fantasy football to judge, managers can often find themselves in a difficult spot if they do not own one of Travis Kelce, George Kittle and Darren Waller.

However, those lacking a dependable option at tight end may find Knox a worthwhile pickup for this week. He has a touchdown in each of his last two games, hauling in four of his five targets last week against the Washington Football Team, and gets an extremely enticing matchup in Week 4.

The Texans are allowing the fourth-most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends and, with the Bills' offense beginning to fire on all cylinders, Knox could prove an extremely astute addition to fantasy lineups if he is still available on your waiver wire.

Defense: New Orleans Saints vs. New York Giants

The Saints' defense had a field day in Week 3, picking off rookie Mac Jones three times, including one interception returned for a touchdown, in a bounce-back win over the New England Patriots.

This week, New Orleans gets to play a game at the Superdome for the first time this season, and the impact of a raucous home crowd will surely only make things more difficult for the Giants' offense and quarterback Daniel Jones.

He has been pressured 53 times already this season, the Giants allowing the 11th-most in the NFL, while the Saints' defense has racked up 56 pressures, putting New Orleans seventh in the league.

While the Giants' signal-caller has only committed one giveaway in 2021, that is a recipe for a disastrous day for a quarterback known for his lack of ball security. Should this go to form, the Saints will make life miserable for a quarterback named Jones for the second successive week.

Fifth seed Filip Krajinovic made a comfortable start to his Sofia Open campaign on Wednesday, defeating Alexandar Lazarov 6-0 6-3.

Krajinovic was the only seeded player in action and he was dominant against home hope Lazarov, who is ranked 462 in the world.

The Serbian swept the first set without conceding a break point and finished the job by claiming the last four games in the second despite Lazarov putting up more of a fight.

Elsewhere, Krajinovic's compatriot Miomir Kecmanovic crashed out to Italian Gianluca Mager, who fired down 11 aces and forced 10 break-point opportunities to earn an impressive 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 win.

Australian James Duckworth, meanwhile, had to launch a comeback before ultimately prevailing 3-6 6-4 6-4 against Finland's Emil Ruusuvuori to book a round two match with Benoit Paire.

The number one seed and defending champion Jannik Sinner will begin his campaign on Thursday with a last-16 contest against Egor Gerasimov.

Second seed Gael Monfils will play Ilya Ivashka, who defeated Pablo Andujar in straight sets, with the winner to face Mager, who is the first man in the quarter-finals.

Alex de Minaur will also be in action against American Marcos Giron.

Shane Lowry has criticised the "drunken idiots" among the Whistling Straits crowd at the Ryder Cup and said his wife was abused.

Europe went down 19-9 to the United States on Sunday – a record margin in the Ryder Cup between the two teams – with Lowry collecting a point in a memorable four-ball win with Tyrrell Hatton on Saturday.

The Irishman explained that the majority of the Wisconsin crowd were welcoming and courteous as Steve Stricker's side marched towards regaining the trophy.

However, the 2019 Open champion was left unimpressed by a "small percentage" of fans across the first two days, especially in the afternoon sessions where he suggested alcohol had taken its toll.

"I didn't think it was that bad until I asked my wife what it was like for her, and they got abuse coming around as well," Lowry told reporters ahead of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

"So it's not very nice is it? And it's not very nice for them to have to listen to this. But that was a small percentage of the crowd.

"I finished my match on 16 on Sunday and I was walking back down to follow the other groups and I got a huge ovation off the crowd and in the grandstand on 16, that was pretty cool. And I thought I got on well with the crowd last week as best I could.

"But they are obviously a home crowd and they are going to be a partisan crowd. Some of the stuff is not very nice, but that's just the way it is.

"Some people are idiots, especially when they drink. Nobody turns into a genius drinking, and that's what they were doing last week. Especially if you were out in the afternoon matches, it was loud."

Lowry was a captain's pick by Padraig Harrington, and his performance in the four-balls sparked faint hope of a 'Miracle at Medinah' inspired comeback.

However, Patrick Cantlay dispatched Lowry 4 and 2 in the singles matches to leave Harrington's men staring at a thrashing.

Despite the loss, Lowry hailed the memorable debut outing, while expressing his frustrations that he and his team-mates could not perform for captain Harrington.

"I thought about it quite a bit on the way home on Monday, and I'm just so disappointed for Paddy to be honest," he continued.

"But as regards the week itself, I couldn't have envisaged what it would be like for me. It was amazing. It was one of the best experiences of my life, and it's the only thing I want to do for the next two years.

"I don't care what I do for the next two years now as long as I'm back in Rome to try to take the trophy back off them."

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