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PGA Championship tips 2020: Koepka and Rahm leading the pack… but Oosthuizen and Willett worth an outside shot

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pga championship tips 2020 koepka and rahm leading the pack but oosthuizen and willett worth an outside shot scaled

THE first Major of the year finally tees off on Thursday.

We have seen enough of the top players since the PGA Tour shutdown ended to get a good idea of their form.

NINTCHDBPICT000596780043

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NINTCHDBPICT000596780043Credit: AP:Associated Press

Well, apart from Tiger Woods that is…

Woods is a 33-1 shot to win his 16th Major title.

But he has played just four competitive rounds since mid-February, finishing down in 40th place at the Memorial, an event he has won five times.

He did not manage a single round in the 60s – carding two 76s.

Woods had to fight back pain AND birdie the final two holes in round two just to make the cut.

His odds would be closer to 100-1 if his name wasn’t Tiger, so it’s hard to back him at that price.

But here are a few players who are a little more appealing…

*All odds from Ladbrokes, as of 12pm Tuesday August 4, 2020…

HOT-SHOTS

Brooks Koepka – 9/1

Brooks Koepka may be amongst the favourites but there's a reason for that

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Brooks Koepka may be amongst the favourites but there’s a reason for thatCredit: AP:Associated Press

I hate to put up favourites, but it’s THAT time of year again.

And the man who has won four of the last ten Majors he has contested is looking mean and magnificent again, judging by his return to form in Memphis.

Koepka is going for an unprecedented hat-trick of USPGA titles.

No-one has managed that since it became a stroke play event in 1958.

And Koepka’s form figures in the Majors last year read 2-1-2-4.

He seems certain to be involved in the finish on Sunday.

Jon Rahm – 12/1

Jon Rahm is certainly within a shout of stealing victory

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Jon Rahm is certainly within a shout of stealing victoryCredit: EPA

His first tournament as the world No1 did not go well and he surrendered top spot to WGC FedEx St Jude Invitational winner Justin Thomas.

But I like the fact the Spaniard is not carrying that extra burden in San Francisco.

He was a hugely impressive winner of The Memorial before that, and has always looked comfortable on California courses.

His record in the Farmers Insurance at Torrey Pines – a win and a second in the last three years – proves that.

He has already posted three top four finishes in the Majors and can kick on.

Collin Morikawa – 30/1

Collin Morikawa looks good value to go all the way and win

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Collin Morikawa looks good value to go all the way and winCredit: AP:Associated Press

He has emerged as the “Steady Eddie” among the new breed of exciting young players – think Hovland, Wolff etc – and seems to have the ideal temperament for the Majors.

The world No12 showed there was no scar tissue from missing the short putt that would have won him the Charles Schwab Challenge by beating Justin Thomas in a play-off to land the Workday title last month.

Bounced back from a slow start in Memphis with encouraging weekend rounds of 67-66.

OUTSIDERS

Shane Lowry – 66/1

Shane Lowry's short-game will give him a huge advantage at Harding Park

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Shane Lowry’s short-game will give him a huge advantage at Harding ParkCredit: EPA

The Open champion has a short-game to die for, and that will be crucial at Harding Park.

The punishing rough and narrow fairways mean everyone will find it tough to hit the greens.

The Irishman understandably suffered a post-Portrush hangover – and boy, did he celebrate winning the Claret Jug.

But he looked close to his best again when finishing tied sixth in Memphis last week.

He had contended in Majors before the Open, but will be more dangerous after finally getting over the line.

Louis Oosthuizen – 66/1

Louis Oosthuizen is often the bridesmaid but never the bride, will 2020 be his year?

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Louis Oosthuizen is often the bridesmaid but never the bride, will 2020 be his year?Credit: USA TODAY Sports

The South African star has completed the “Second Slam” with runner-up finishes in all four Majors since his only Major victory in the 2010 Open.

But it is easy to visualise his name on the leaderboard once again.

He would have won more often if it was not for a recurring back injury.

But there were no signs of that troubling him when he also finished in a share of sixth place last week, shooting nothing worse than a 68 all week.

He can be a slow starter, but if he hits the ground running, watch out.

Danny Willett -125/1

At 150-1, Willett looks exceptionally good value to spring a surprise

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At 150-1, Willett looks exceptionally good value to spring a surpriseCredit: EPA

England has a strong hand in San Francisco, with Arnold Palmer Invitational winner Tyrrell Hatton, Tom Lewis, Matthew Fitzpatrick, and Tommy Fleetwood all making an impact in America this year.

But at the odds, 2016 Masters champion Willett looks like the man to bet on.

He showed he can still win big by landing the DP World Tour Championship at the end of 2018 and adding the BMW PGA Championship title at Wentworth last year.

Never got going in Memphis, but has shown he can handle the pressure of Major championship golf.

Phil Mickelson – 66/1

Lefty won four and a half points out of a possible five when the President Cup was played at Harding Park in 2009.

He skipped making his Champions Tour debut to compete in last week’s World Golf Championship and duly finished second.

Mickelson won the PGA in 2005 at Baltusrol and reckons his game is coming into shape at just the right.

Kevin Kisner – 125/1

Flying in way under the radar is huge outside shot Kevin Kisner.

The American has finished in the top 18 in three of five appearances in the PGA – and was runner up in the 2018 Open.

He stormed home in a six-under 29 in last weekend’s final round and rumour has it he shot a four-under 66 in a practice round on Tuesday.

Abraham Ancer – 55/1

Mexican caught the eye with three really solid rounds spoiled only by a 75 in last week’s WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational.

That was good enough to sneak into the top 15 on a really tough course.

A blip at the ultra difficult Memorial is the only time he has finished outside the top 15 in his five events since the coronavirus break.

He is also in the top 30 on Tour for strokes gained off the tee, approach to green, tee to green and strokes gained total.

Harding Park will suit someone with a reliable long game.

Stunned golfers at Barracuda Championship stop rounds as a massive bear walks across the course

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Manchester City to complete club record £64m deal for Benfica centre back Ruben Dias

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manchester city to complete club record 64m deal for benfica centre back ruben dias

Manchester City will complete a club record £64million deal for Ruben Dias, ending a two-year pursuit of the Benfica centre back.

Dias will become the most expensive player in City’s history – eclipsing the £62.8m paid to Atletico Madrid for Rodri a year ago – with Nicolas Otamendi joining Benfica for £13.7m as part of the deal.

The 23-year-old Portugal international has passed a medical but the transfer will only go through once Otamendi has been given the all-clear by his new club.

Benfica captain Ruben DIas is on the verge of signing for Manchester City for £64million

Benfica captain Ruben DIas is on the verge of signing for Manchester City for £64million

City boss Pep Guardiola has decided to let Nicolas Otamendi move in the opposite direction

City boss Pep Guardiola has decided to let Nicolas Otamendi move in the opposite direction

City’s 5-2 capitulation at home to Leicester on Sunday underlined the need to strengthen at the back despite spending £40m on Nathan Ake from Bournemouth.

Dias was one of four options considered by the club which included Kalidou Koulibaly of Napoli, Sevilla’s Jules Kounde and Jose Gimenez at Atletico.

But City believe they have gone for the right man having tracked Dias in previous transfer windows, and got a good deal considering the £80m release clause in his contract.

The Benfica skipper, who has previously attracted interest from Manchester United, Arsenal and Juventus, is understood to fit the bill for Pep Guardiola in terms of age, profile and the quality of defender he wanted.

The 23-year-old has attracted interest from Manchester United, Arsenal and Juventus before

The 23-year-old has attracted interest from Manchester United, Arsenal and Juventus before

City were put off by the price on both Koulibaly and Gimenez, although no formal bid was made for either player according to sources who say the process has underlined the club’s willingness to walk away from a transfer if the terms are not right.

There were also issues with Sevilla over Kounde’s valuation and it’s believed that City were concerned that the 21-year-old Frenchman was too much of an unknown quantity to bring to the Premier League at this stage of his career.

The opportunity to trade Otamendi to Benfica in exchange for Dias was a bonus with City recouping almost half of the £32m paid to Valencia for the Argentine defender five years ago.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Jamie Carragher writes off Scott Parker’s Fulham side after just THREE games in the Premier League

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jamie carragher writes off scott parkers fulham side after just three games in the premier league

Jamie Carragher has called Fulham owner Tony Khan a ‘clown’ and insisted that Fulham are more likely to be relegated from the Premier League than Liverpool are to retain their title.

Former Liverpool and England centre-back Carragher watched Fulham put on a defensive horror show as they lost 3-0 at home to Aston Villa on Monday and had no sympathy after supremo Khan apologised to fans on Twitter.

Slamming Khan’s decision to post about the fiasco on social media, Carragher told Sky Sports: ‘It never works, it always ends up in tears.

Fulham are bottom of the Premier League after conceding 10 goals in three games this season

Fulham are bottom of the Premier League after conceding 10 goals in three games this season

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher slammed frail Fulham and club owner Tony Khan

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher slammed frail Fulham and club owner Tony Khan

‘He’s a clown, getting involved with that. Just shut your mouth, get on with it, keep your head down.

‘It was a really poor performance. It was that bad, we were actually laughing at some of the defending. Fulham are going down – I’ve never been more certain about anything in my life. 

‘I’m more certain of Fulham going down than Liverpool winning the league. What we saw there was actually unbelievable.’

Flummoxed Khan revealed he had missed out on four defensive targets since Fulham were promoted from the Championship in August, while beleaguered boss Scott Parker admitted he was not fully aware of the owner’s struggle to enhance his squad.

Khan used Twitter to address supporters in the aftermath of the 3-0 home defeat by Aston Villa

Khan used Twitter to address supporters in the aftermath of the 3-0 home defeat by Aston Villa

The owner claimed that the club had been hampered in their attempts to boost their defence

The owner claimed that the club had been hampered in their attempts to boost their defence

Khan criticised the playing staff in a move that left Carragher and Roy Keane deeply perturbed

Khan criticised the playing staff in a move that left Carragher and Roy Keane deeply perturbed

Carragher fiercely criticised Khan’s role in Fulham’s big-spending summer two years ago, when they went on to be relegated with a whimper after winning promotion.

He said: ‘He was buying all the players, he made a right mess of that. What does Scott Parker think about this? What do those lads who are playing at the back think about that, who have maybe got to play in midweek or at the weekend?

‘Just keep your mouth shut. They were a mess last time they came up. What they don’t want to be this year is a mess. They’re going to go down but almost go down together, be a club, stick together.’

Former Manchester United midfielder Keane added that he could not see any of the positives mentioned by Cottagers manager Scott Parker (above) during his post-match remarks

Former Manchester United midfielder Keane added that he could not see any of the positives mentioned by Cottagers manager Scott Parker (above) during his post-match remarks

Carragher singled out full-back Denis Odoi for his part in the Cottagers’ third consecutive defeat since their return to the Premier League, while fellow pundit Roy Keane also directed a warning at Khan.

The former Manchester United midfielder said: ‘You talk about engaging with supporters but you shouldn’t be discussing the club’s business or your transfer targets.

‘That’s nobody’s business. When you’ve been beaten 3-0 at home, take your medicine and look at things over the next few days. Bizarre.’ 

There have been reminders of Fulham's last Premier League season in their first three games

There have been reminders of Fulham’s last Premier League season in their first three games

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Arsenal set Friday deadline by Lyon president to wrap up their move for £45-rated midfielder Aouar

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arsenal set friday deadline by lyon president to wrap up their move for 45 rated midfielder aouar

Arsenal have been set a Friday deadline to complete the signing of Houssem Aouar by Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas. 

The Gunners are determined to sign the 22-year-old this summer and are set to raise their dismissed £32million offer to £36.5m with a further £9m in bonuses in a hope to secure the creative midfielder, according to football.london

Aulas is also braced for late bids for forwards Moussa Dembele and Memphis Depay.

Arsenal are preparing a significantly improved second bid for target Houssem Aouar

Arsenal are preparing a significantly improved second bid for target Houssem Aouar

He told footmercato.net: ‘I’m thinking of proposing it tomorrow (Tuesday) to Rudi (Garcia) and Juninho, sporting director), because it’s understandable.

‘As of Friday, players who have not left will not leave. We don’t need to sell and, for me, it’s very easy to say that. 

‘After that, we can find agreements with players and clubs for a year to come.’  

Aouar, who has made 130 appearances for Lyon, is paramount to Mikel Arteta’s plans as he looks to deploy his team in a 4-3-3 formation this season.

The 22-year-old attacking midfielder will be vital to Mikel Arteta's 4-3-3 formation this season

The 22-year-old attacking midfielder will be vital to Mikel Arteta’s 4-3-3 formation this season

Despite rejecting their opening offer, Lyon club president Jean-Michel Aulas suggested that the club would be open to selling Aouar for the right price.

He tweeted: ‘For Houssem Arsenal is too far from his value: we are counting on him to play a great match in Lorient and lead OL in CL next year.’

Aouar has been previously valued at £54m but it is believed the Ligue 1 side will lower their asking price amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Aouar is reportedly keen to depart the Ligue 1 club before the end of the transfer window, meaning any deal must be completed before the deadline on October 5.  

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas wants any deals to be completed by Friday

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas wants any deals to be completed by Friday 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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