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Thorbjorn Olesen returns at the Hero Open after being charged with sexual assault

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thorbjorn olesen returns at the hero open after being charged with sexual assault

What a contrast Miguel Angel Jimenez and Thorbjorn Olesen make at the Hero Open at the Forest of Arden on Thursday.

On the one hand, the Spaniard who will break Sam Torrance’s long-standing record for most appearances on the European Tour. On the other, the Dane who must have feared he would never play on the circuit again.

Olesen is making his first appearance in exactly a year. It’s a chilling coincidence that in America, the WGC-Fed Ex International is taking place in Memphis.

Thorbjorn Olesen makes his return at the Hero Open at the Forest of Arden on Thursday

Thorbjorn Olesen makes his return at the Hero Open at the Forest of Arden on Thursday

Thorbjorn Olesen makes his return at the Hero Open at the Forest of Arden on Thursday

It was following a flight home to London from that event 12 months ago that Olesen ended up being arrested and charged with sexual assault, assault by beating and being drunk on an aircraft. The 30 year old was immediately suspended by the tour, pending the trial. He has pleaded not guilty to all three offences.

The 2018 Ryder Cup star was due in court in May but that has now been delayed until December next year at the earliest, owing to the pandemic. Accordingly, the tour have lifted the suspension, and he will play his first round on Thursday morning alongside former Ryder Cupper Oli Wilson from England and gifted Belgian Thomas Detry.

Jimenez was once named the game’s ‘most interesting man’ by Golf Digest. He’s certainly the marathon man. Now 56, he made his tour debut way back in 1983 and now he’s playing, would you believe, his 707th event. He is not just making up the numbers, either.

Miguel Angel Jimenez will break long-standing record for most appearances on European Tour

Miguel Angel Jimenez will break long-standing record for most appearances on European Tour

Miguel Angel Jimenez will break long-standing record for most appearances on European Tour

At a co-sanctioned tournament in Austria a fortnight ago, Jimenez was the halfway leader. At last week’s British Masters, he faded with a final round 74, but still finished tied 38th. The Malaga marvel was one of those players at the back of the 18th green, cheering wildly as Italian Renato Paratore holed his winning putt.

Yes, it’s fair to say that no-one has enjoyed tour life more than Jimenez, who became the oldest winner in 2014 at the age of 50, when he won the last of his 21 tour titles at the Spanish Open. On Thursday afternoon, he will play in the first round alongside Paratore who, at 23, just happens to be couple of years younger than his eldest son.

Meanwhile, in Memphis, 44 of the world’s top 50 have gathered, where Rory McIlroy will have an early opportunity to regain the number one spot off Spaniard Jon Rahm.

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Tiger Woods’ days as a contender in New York are done… SIX things we learned from the US Open

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tiger woods days as a contender in new york are done six things we learned from the us open

Bryson DeChameau has been crowned the 2020 US Open champion, finally earning the chance to silence his doubters. 

The 27-year-old distanced American debutant Matt Wolff by six points on Sunday, with Louis Oosthuizen eight shots back in third.  

There was plenty to ponder from New York as Sportsmail’s Derek Lawrenson looks at the six things we learned from the tournament.

Bryson DeChameau was crowned US Open champion for 2020 on Sunday in New York

Bryson DeChameau was crowned US Open champion for 2020 on Sunday in New York

Bryson DeChameau was crowned US Open champion for 2020 on Sunday in New York 

Reed still cops the flak

Only Patrick Reed could get barracked at an event where no fans were allowed. 

That didn’t prevent some homeowners erecting platforms in back yards overlooking some of the holes – and they gave the controversial Reed both barrels. 

If ever there was a player secretly thrilled at the absence of 40,000 bloodthirsty New Yorkers, it was him.

Even without crowds by the course Patrick Reed couldn't escape his controversial reputation

Even without crowds by the course Patrick Reed couldn't escape his controversial reputation

Even without crowds by the course Patrick Reed couldn’t escape his controversial reputation

It’s no go for Tiger

Even through the darkest days, when he couldn’t get out of bed owing to his back problems, the mantra was always the same – write off Tiger Woods at your peril. 

Yet here goes. When it comes to the US Open, his days as a contender are done. 

The only majors he can win now are the next two or three editions of the Masters and the 2022 Open at St Andrews.

Watch out for Westwood

A feisty reference on social media as to how few fairways Matt Wolff hit over the first 54 holes showed that Lee Westwood is still up for the fight.

Now 47, he would probably have been making a record-equalling 11th Ryder Cup appearance this week. 

Maybe he will make it next year. And he’s a good each-way bet for the Masters in November.

Lee Westwood, the 47-year-old veteran, showed he still has his fighting spirit at Mamaroneck

Lee Westwood, the 47-year-old veteran, showed he still has his fighting spirit at Mamaroneck

Lee Westwood, the 47-year-old veteran, showed he still has his fighting spirit at Mamaroneck

Spieth’s support

A highly-respected coach was having a go at people having a go at Jordan Spieth last week – but who is putting the boot in with regard to the Texan? 

I don’t know a single person in golf who is not willing him to find a way through his current mental maze and recapture his form.

Big hitters beware 

After the sluggers Matt Wolff and Bryson DeChambeau did after three rounds what you are not supposed to be able to do at a US Open, and score well from the rough, the next step in the distance insight project promised by the game’s governing bodies should make interesting reading next March. 

A prediction: there will be blood.

Bryson DeChambeau has continued to upset the traditionalists with his performances

Bryson DeChambeau has continued to upset the traditionalists with his performances

Bryson DeChambeau has continued to upset the traditionalists with his performances 

This has to be hard  

It is not often I disagree with Ewen Murray on Sky Sports but I’ll happily take issue with his preference for the birdie-fest on day one over the spills on day two.

If you see 20 scores under par at a US Open, it means the set-up is a betrayal of what the event is supposed to represent. 

It makes it indistinguishable from a top PGA Tour event.

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Saracens cast off salary cap shame to make English rugby proud with huge win over Leinster

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saracens cast off salary cap shame to make english rugby proud with huge win over leinster

Richard Wigglesworth was invariably on target during Saracens’ epic win over Leinster and the former England scrum-half was on target after it too.

While a 25-17 Heineken Champions Cup victory in the Irish capital extended Saracens’ defence of their title to the last four, it meant so much more than that. It allowed them to cast off the unwanted pantomime villain costumes they have worn for months.

Relegation from the Premiership is looming next month, as punishment for salary cap breaches, but that fact is no longer a defining one. What they did in Dublin has altered perceptions. It felt as if English rugby became proud of them again, rather than antagonised by their off-field offences. And the end of an era was gloriously deferred.

Saracens have gone from villains to heroes after a triumphant victory over Leinster

Saracens have gone from villains to heroes after a triumphant victory over Leinster

Saracens have gone from villains to heroes after a triumphant victory over Leinster

The English side won in the Irish capital in a huge Champions Cup clash on Saturday

The English side won in the Irish capital in a huge Champions Cup clash on Saturday

The English side won in the Irish capital in a huge Champions Cup clash on Saturday

Having tormented Leinster with a trademark aerial barrage, Wigglesworth perfectly captured what the victors had achieved, saying: ‘We’re not looking for sympathy, but we are doing this with one hand tied behind our back, because five or six of our best players are away on loan.

‘Maybe we deserved this. Maybe we’ve got to do it the hard way, to prove that what we built is true and special, if we do it like this. We know it ourselves but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a bonus to show everyone.’

While the punishments Saracens have received were deserved for cheating the system, high praise is due too for this proof that they have built a special institution – not one rotten from top to bottom.

It was the ultimate illustration of their spirit, unity and resilience. Paying over the wage limit may have contributed to their successes, but these qualities have been crucial too. Saracens showed their home-grown core remains strong and that they are magnificently organised and nurtured by their coaching staff.

The win has restored pride in the club following the salary cap scandal which rocked the sport

The win has restored pride in the club following the salary cap scandal which rocked the sport

The win has restored pride in the club following the salary cap scandal which rocked the sport

It remains to be seen if they can rise to such heights again in France on Saturday, but whether or not they go on to claim the blue-riband club prize for a fourth time, there is already a notable triumph to savour. They have shed the villain masks and replaced them with superhero capes.

The quarter-final also exposed a gulf between the Premiership and the Pro 14. Leinster’s league didn’t prepare them for a giant step up to Test-class rugby.

They were not match-sharp enough or battle-hardened enough. They don’t need to be while cruising past Celtic and Italian opposition with ease, often without deploying many of their leading players.

Their scrum was abject and Jonny Sexton was aggressively knocked out of his stride. When the playmaker and his team-mates were reduced to endlessly complaining to the officials, Saracens knew they were rattled and so it proved.

It is the ultimate illustration of the spirit, unity and resilience of the club amid the scandal

It is the ultimate illustration of the spirit, unity and resilience of the club amid the scandal

It is the ultimate illustration of the spirit, unity and resilience of the club amid the scandal

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Exeter keep Double dream alive as Chiefs demolish Northampton

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exeter keep double dream alive as chiefs demolish northampton

Exeter’s Double dream is alive after their demolition of Northampton sent them to a first European semi-final in their history.

A beauty of a score from Jack Nowell, to add to tries from Henry Slade, Jonny Hill and two for the superb Jacques Vermeulen meant the Chiefs line up against rugby royalty next Saturday here, with Toulouse now between them and the final.

The Premiership’s premier team were huge favourites for this, and delivered despite Northampton defying doomsday predictions of a record defeat thanks to tries from Teimana Harrison and Fraser Dingwall.

Exeter Chiefs kept their Double dream alive as they demolished Northampton Saints

Exeter Chiefs kept their Double dream alive as they demolished Northampton Saints

Exeter Chiefs kept their Double dream alive as they demolished Northampton Saints

But Exeter advanced and Rob Baxter thinks they will grow against the four-time winners back at Sandy Park this weekend.

‘We can throw it all out there,’ he said of Toulouse.

‘It’s exactly what we need. The bigger the name and the bigger the game the better for us.

‘The everything-to-lose feeling was a big test of character for us. Ultimately we need a big challenge to get the best out of ourselves. We’ll be right on it.’ 

Northampton’s Chris Boyd said: ‘We can’t fault the effort. The boys fought really hard. Exeter are clearly a bit further down their journey than we are.’ 

Seeing as Saints’ halo had not just slipped since the restart, more been shattered to bits, no one except perhaps themselves thought they could win in Devon.

Six defeats in seven and a prop injury crisis meaning they had a 19-year-old on just his second start and a loanee on the bench who had arrived three days earlier saw many bookmakers back Exeter as 20-point winners.

The Chiefs' comfortable win sends them to their first ever European semi final in their history

The Chiefs' comfortable win sends them to their first ever European semi final in their history

The Chiefs’ comfortable win sends them to their first ever European semi final in their history

But Manny Iyogun coped admirably for 72 minutes before Alex Seville came on, enough to make Eddie Jones clap the kid off from his seat in the stands.

‘He will sleep pretty well tonight I’d imagine,’ added Boyd on Iyogun. ‘It was a remarkable effort.’ Saints were way rougher and tougher than in any game for months.

Chris Boyd’s boys starved Chiefs of possession, taking 65 per cent of it in the first half, and made them feed off scraps – pity though that Exeter were so ravenous when their chances to bite came.

Two tries meant Exeter led 14-10 at the break. The first was a peach. The pack crunched Saints’ green loosehead Iyogun and marched forward winning the scrum against the head, then Slade showed his oozing class by breaking through Dingwall, avoiding Henry Taylor and feeding Maunder for the try.

The second was much more agricultural. Vermeulen biffed over on the far side after Luke Cowan-Dickie had tapped and went from a penalty a handful of meters out. Joe Simmonds hit both conversions.

They will face Toulouse next Saturday in what is a mammoth contest for the English side

They will face Toulouse next Saturday in what is a mammoth contest for the English side

They will face Toulouse next Saturday in what is a mammoth contest for the English side

Saints fought on and three minutes before half-time formed a huge maul that splintered the lilac-shirted Chiefs, Harrison the man at the bottom of the pile scoring.

Dan Biggar then landed the touchline conversion to add to his earlier penalty and Northampton clinging on until Nowell led them a merry dance across most of Devon.

The England wing scored a sensational try just two minutes after the resumption, beating weak tackles from Dave Ribbans, Rory Hutchinson, Taylor and George Furbank in a typically powerful break over 40 metres.

Simmonds converted and Saints’ order grew taller; and by the time Hill thumped over and Exeter had their fourth try the game was over. Simmonds converted that too for an 18-point lead.

Dingwall did manage to drag Northampton closer with a well-taken try after James Fish had fed him through a hole after a lineout, but when man-of-the-match Vermeulen jinked in for a second and Gareth Steenson converted Exeter gleefully found themselves in uncharted waters.

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