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LIV Golf players continue to face questions about Saudi-backed venture

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LIV Golf faces hurdles in applying for world ranking points

Even as the second LIV Golf Invitational series embarks on the first of four consecutive events in the United States,…

Even as the second LIV Golf Invitational series embarks on the first of four consecutive events in the United States, an important part of its future takes place in Scotland in two weeks.

The Official World Golf Ranking governing board meets at St. Andrews during the British Open, followed by a meeting of the OWGR’s technical committee. The agenda is likely to include whether the Saudi-funded league of 48-man fields in 54-hole events should get ranking points.

That assumes LIV Golf’s application to be part of the OWGR system is received by then.

Greg Norman, who runs LIV Golf, already has suggested that PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan recuse himself from the decision. Monahan is part of the eight-member panel that includes executives from the European tour, PGA of America, USGA, R&A, Augusta National and the International Federation of PGA Tours. The board is chaired by former R&A chief Peter Dawson.

But there are a few potential bumps in the guidelines for prospective newcomers.

One is that every tournament be contested over at least 54 holes with a 36-hole cut or be in line with eligible formats. LIV Golf has no cut.

The OWGR guidelines indicate a standard format of 72 holes, with 54 holes acceptable “for those tournaments earnings fewer than 12 minimum first-place points.” In other words, a steady diet of 54-hole events is typically for developmental tours or offseason series, such as the Vodacom Origins of Golf in South Africa.

Guidelines also state that tournaments must average a 75-man field over the course of the season. This could be a problem for a circuit that promotes 48-man fields. LIV Golf has invested $300 million into the Asian Tour and has four “International Series” tournaments this year. It could claim those fields as part of its league and reach the minimum.

Perhaps the biggest hurdle is a requirement that a new tour comply with the guidelines for at least one year before it gets admitted. LIV Golf has altered or delayed plans for a full schedule and set teams, and providing stability could be key in gaining approval.

Of course, the OWGR handbook also says the board can admit or reject any new tour regardless of compliance and change criteria at its discretion. That’s a lot of gray.

And then if LIV Golf does get accepted, still looming is a change to the OWGR ranking formula that starts in August, before LIV’s fourth event.

The new system will determine the strength of field using a calculation based on a statistical evaluation of every player in the field, not just those among the current 200 in the world. Gone will be the minimum points awarded to various tours.

The Portland field has 13 players outside the top 200.

Meanwhile, Ian Poulter comes into the Portland event at No. 96 and risks falling out of the top 100 for the first time in five years. Lee Westwood is at No. 87. Both are in the British Open. Without ranking points, they won’t be eligible for majors going forward without open qualifying.

UNCERTAIN TIMES

Ernie Els and Jim Furyk are not candidates to join the Saudi-funded LIV Golf series. They’re still concerned about where golf is headed, particularly how a boost in prize money on the PGA Tour might affect the PGA Tour Champions.

“I guess we missed the boat, and that’s really sad for some of these guys, because these guys have supported these tours all of their careers, in some cases close to 40 years,” Els said. “We’d like to see our Champions Tour grow. We’ve got great sponsorships, good support, but it’s scary times for a lot of people.”

Furyk is No. 4 on the career PGA Tour money list at just over $71 million. He trails Dustin Johnson, who no longer is listed because he resigned his membership to join LIV Golf.

“That’s where I played my career, made my living. That’s where my heart is. So I have concerns,” Furyk said. “Then, yeah, kind of a trickle-down effect. How does that affect us from PGA Tour Champions and the over-50 crowd? I feel like we’re in a really good place right now.

“There’s got to be someone a little smarter than me who will tell you how that will trickle down and affect us, but in a minimal way,” he said. “I really enjoy the tour and playing out there and hope that effect is not really strong.”

OPEN QUALIFYING

Among the criteria to be exempt for the British Open is to be among the leading five players not already eligible from the top 20 in the FedEx Cup through the Travelers Championship.

The top 20 players already are exempt.

Those five spots presumably are relegated to the reserves, which is based on the world ranking, and the list could be long.

Going into the final two weeks, 118 players have earned a spot at St. Andrews.

Ten more spots are awarded through top finishers in the Irish Open (three), John Deere Classic (three), Scottish Open (three) and Barbasol Championship (one). The R&A added one extra spot to its four regional qualifiers for a total of 16 spots available Tuesday.

That would bring the total to 144 players.

Aaron Wise at No. 45 is a lock to get in off the reserve list. He’s currently followed in the world ranking (of those not already exempt) by Brian Harman (No. 49), Sebastian Munoz (No. 50), Sepp Straka (No. 55) and Luke List (No. 60).

Also in reasonable shape is Sahith Theegala, whose runner-up finish in the Travelers Championship moved him to No. 66. The next world ranking is what is used for the reserve list for The Open.

LANGER STREAK

Jack Nicklaus and Bernhard Langer each made it to their 14th full season on the senior circuit before finally missing the cut in a major.

But there are a few differences.

There were only four majors for Nicklaus — the Senior British Open wasn’t part of the PGA Tour Champions schedule until 2002. Plus, the Golden Bear was still playing the regular majors until his streak of 146 consecutive majors ended at the 1998 British Open.

He went 46 senior majors until missing the cut at Aronimink in the 2003 PGA Championship.

Langer is in is 14th year on the PGA Tour Champions and went 64 consecutive majors — all but the Tradition and Seniors Player Championship have a cut — before he missed by two shots at the U.S. Senior Open last week.

DIVOTS

The series of three international events the PGA Tour has planned for the fall will have more than 50-man fields. They will include the top 50 from the FedEx Cup, along with top performers from fall events and additional eligibility. The field size is likely to be around 60. … The 48-man field for the LIV Golf event in Oregon has 22 players who have or had PGA Tour membership to start the season. … In Gee Chun ended South Korea’s drought of seven majors without a win. It was the longest such stretch since 2009-2011. … Players from six countries are in the top 10 of the men’s and women’s world ranking. … Dylan Menante, No. 11 in the world amateur ranking, had rounds of 62-64-64-67 at Wannamoisett to win the Northeast Amateur by nine shots and break the tournament record by four shots. … Annika Sorenstam will partner with Madelene Sagstrom in the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational, the team event on the LPGA Tour. It will be the second LPGA-sanctioned event the 51-year-old Sorenstam plays this year.

STAT OF THE WEEK

Brian Stuard has played every PGA Tour event for which he has been eligible this season (28) and is 131st in the FedEx Cup.

FINAL WORD

“I’ve been on both sides of it. The way I see it, if you play the best golf, they’re going to let you play in the best tournaments.” — Harris English, on the PGA Tour’s new schedule of only the top players competing in the richest tournaments.

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© 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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All time Calgary golf great Wes Heffernan adds another trophy to his shelf

Wes Heffernan is one of Calgary’s all time great golfers.  Until Friday, one championship that he had never won was the PGA Championship of Canada.

That all changed last week at the Beacon Hall Golf Club in Aurora, Ontario.

Heffernan finished the tournament at 10 under par and beat his nearest competitor, veteran Jim Rutledge by five strokes.

Heffernan said it was a satisfying win.

“It’s kind of our major.  It’s our national championship at the PGA level,” the 45-year-old said.

“It’s as big as it gets in Canada and for me probably the one event that I focus on and try to peak for the most.  Being at the start of the year it’s tough to peak right away but I did play extremely well so I’m very happy to win it.”

IMPRESSIVE NAMES

Heffernan took time to look at the trophy after he won and couldn’t help but notice the names that were on it.

Arnold Palmer has his name engraved on it.  So does Lee Trevino and Moe Norman. 

Heffernan said there’s a lot of history to this event.

“The Alberta Open is kind of the same,” he said.  “It has a storied past too and there’s some pretty cool guy s on there like Moe Norman that you just mentioned,” he said.

“The PGA Championship of Canada takes it to another level with the PGA tour players. Some of the biggest stars that have played in the game have played in that event.”

Heffernan joined Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino and Moe Norman, among 99 others, as a PGA of Canada champion, recording four birdies and three bogeys to shoot a one under 71, defeating Jim Rutledge by five shots.

GREAT RUN FOR CALGARIANS

Heffernan is the third straight Calgarian to win the title.  Dustin Risdon won the Championship in 2019.  The event was cancelled in 2020 due to COVID.   In 2021, Riley Fleming took home the title.

Heffernan said he and Fleming really push each other and they make each other better golfers.

“It’s really cool and specifically Riley won everything last year so in all of our events I’m always chasing him and trying to beat him. He’s really tough to beat so it’s helped me a lot trying to chase him down and I was lucky enough to win this year.”

BUSY START TO THE YEAR

It’s been a busy year so far for Heffernan.  He also played in the Canadian open won a few weeks ago by Rory McIlroy.

Heffernan said even though he didn’t make the cut it was good for his game because he got to go up against some of the best golfers in the world.

“I hadn’t played (The Canadian Open) in 11 years.  Rory actually won the last event that I played in 2011. I think for me specifically it really helped me win the tournament last week because I was able to play under those kinds of conditions against five or so of the best players in the world.”

Heffernan is going to take some time to relax and then get prepared for three big events coming up: the Alberta PGA Championship, the Alberta Assistants Championship and the National Assistants Championship.

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Rebel Saudi tour snaps up three more stars as PGA Tour dealt another huge blow

Matthew Wolff, Eugenio Chacarra and Carlos Ortiz are the latest recruits to the controversial and incredibly lucrative LIV Golf

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McIlroy takes aim at LIV Golf defectors ahead of U.S. Open

Organisers of the controversial LIV Golf Invitational Series have announced that rising star Matthew Wolff, Carlos Ortiz and amateur World No. 2 Eugenio Chacarra have officially joined the Saudi-backed tour.

The trio are set set to make their debuts in Portland this week – the second round of the tour after the inaugural event in St Albans earlier this month. The highly-anticipated LIV Golf series made its debut at The Centurion Club with the likes of Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia headlining a mixed field in terms of big name pull and talent.

Wolff has established himself as one of the top young golfers in the sport, with the 23-year-old excelling off the tee. He became an All-American at Oklahoma State University and won the 2019 NCAA Division I individual championship before turning professional later that year.

Since turning pro, Wolff has excelled by reaching a career-high ranking of World No. 12 in October 2020 while securing seven top 10 finishes. The American finished runner up at the US Open and fourth at the PGA Championship.

Ortiz has won four pro tournaments worldwide and has impressed consistently since turning professional in 2014. The Mexican – who represented his country at the Olympics in Tokyo last summer – has spent 80 weeks ranked in the top 100 and was World No. 44 in February 2021.

Chacarra is set to make his first appearance as a professional with LIV Golf. He is a two-time All-American at Oklahoma State University, where he was a finalist for both the Ben Hogan Award and the Haskins Award as the NCAA’s top collegiate golfer.

Chacarra made 14 collegiate starts in 2021-22, winning three times with six additional top-six finishes. Former World No. 1 and LIV Golf frontman Greg Norman is clearly pleased with the acquisitions.







Carlos Ortiz has followed compatriot Abraham Ancer to LIV Golf
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Who you think will be the next player to join LIV Golf? Let us know in the comments section.

“Our impressive roster of LIV golfers continues to grow with incredible young talent and international stars,” Norman said in a statement released to confirm the news of the trio joining. “Matthew Wolff and Eugenio Chacarra have both made a name for themselves as two of golf’s most promising talents, exhibiting impressive success at an early age.

“I’m eager to watch them play alongside Carlos Ortiz, one of Mexico’s most consistent pros who along with many of our other golfers represents LIV Golf’s continued commitment to growing the game on a global scale. LIV Golf is providing new opportunities for the best players in the world to compete, and our field in Portland reflects that.

“We can’t wait to kick off our first U.S. event with these incredible golfers.”

The moves are particularly interesting as unlike high-profile names like Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia, and Mickleson, the trio have seemingly made the move to LIV Golf while their best years are still ahead of him.

The Saudi-backed LIV series is the most lucrative golf tournament in history. The lucrative eight-event series, which is funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), has a prize pot of just over £200m for 2022, while an extra £1.6 billion has reportedly been secured to expand the event to a 14-event league by 2024.

The 48-man field in Portland will play across 12 teams of four players each. Teams for Portland will be announced on Tuesday, June 28.

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Kaitlyn Schroeder of Jacksonville rallies to win third AJGA title

JUPITER – Adversity comes in many forms on the golf course.

For Kaitlyn Schroeder of Jacksonville, it came with a bogey-par-double bogey start in Friday’s final round of the Rolex Girls Junior Championship at the Loxahatchee Club 

Suddenly, Schroeder’s one-shot lead became a two-shot deficit. But the 17-year-old rebounded with three birdies on the next seven holes to shoot 72 and cruise to a three-shot victory over Gianna Clemente of Warren, Ohio. 

“Obviously, it wasn’t the start I wanted, but it was just really one bad swing from being 1-over,” said Schroeder, a verbal commit to the University of Alabama. “I knew the golf course was tough, so I knew if I just could stay in there and hit good shots I could grind my way back. “It’s definitely a confidence booster for the future because I know if I’m ever down I can always come back.” 

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Asia’s golf history seekers set to benefit from PGA Tour’s enhancements

JUNE 27 — In golf, they say timing is everything and golf’s glory hunters from Asia have been in perfect synch and harmony in making the quantum leap from the Korn Ferry Tour to the ultra-competitive and rewarding PGA Tour.

With five tournaments remaining in the regular season which rewards the top-25 players with PGA Tour cards and another 25 available at the Korn Ferry Tour Finals which comprises of three events, China’s Carl Yuan and Korean duo Byeong-hun An and newcomer Seong-hyeong Kim have safely secured their dream cards.

The talented trio must now be gleefully rubbing their hands in anticipation of next season’s PGA Tour following Commissioner Jay Monahan’s announcement of “substantial changes” last week which will see eight tournaments enjoying greatly enhanced purses, revised field sizes for the FedExCup Playoffs, and a reimagined fall schedule that will feature up to three no-cut, limited-field international events.

If there wasn’t already enough motivation for other Asian hopefuls still in the chase for their pot of gold and more importantly, the opportunity to etch their names into golf’s history pages, the time is now ripe for the likes of China’s Marty Zecheng Dou and highly-rated, Kevin Yu of Chinese Taipei to press on in their bids to secure their cards, with Dou and Yu hovering around the top-25.

As it stands, the established Asian stars have continued to blaze a new trail, with Japanese hero Hideki Matsuyama winning twice already this season to equal K.J. Choi’s record of eight PGA TOUR victories by an Asian golfer, and Korea’s Sungjae Im and K.H. Lee each winning once to raise their career tally to two wins.

And there was also India’s Anirban Lahiri’s an eye-catching runner-up finish at The Players Championship in March to pocket a handsome US$2.18 million, his biggest career pay cheque yet. Si Woo Kim, a three-time Tour winner, and C.T. Pan of Chinese Taipei have also performed well to virtually seal their places in the FedExCup Playoffs this August, which no Asian has yet to hold aloft the ultimate prize on Tour.

In broad strokes, next year’s FedExCup Playoffs will feature revised field sizes. The top 70 will make the first event of the Playoffs, the FedEx St. Jude Championship at TPC Southwind in Memphis. The top 50 will qualify for the BMW Championship, and the top 30, as usual, will compete for the FedExCup at the Tour Championship at East Lake.

The rewards awaiting those who perform at the highest level against the best fields in the game are staggering, with massive purse increases being announced for 2023. The season-long FedExCup prize pot currently offers US$75 million (RM330 million) in bonus pool, with US$18 million alone going to the winner.

While there will be more money than ever to shoot for, Rory McIlroy, a 21-time PGA Tour winner, was spot on by saying the PGA Tour is very much about playing for “legacy” as well as decades-old tournaments that make up the annual Tour schedule comprise of legendary names such as Snead, Palmer, Nicklaus, Watsons and of course, Woods as champions in many of those events. “It’s very important to me. It means a lot, going back to history and tradition and putting your name on trophies that have the legends of the game on them,” said McIlroy, a four-time major winner.

The likes of Yuan, An and Kim will have the same opportunity to chase golf history, as well the millions of dollars on offer.

For China’s Yuan, his promotion onto the PGA Tour is well deserved following a huge sacrifice to put country before self last year. He was in the mix for a PGA Tour card but cut short his campaign to represent China in the Tokyo Olympics. With grit, determination and an abundance of talent, the 25-year-old needed just seven tournaments to become the first golfer from this season’s Korn Ferry Tour class to secure Tour-bound status.

“I know I have the ability … I shouldn’t be afraid to dream big,” said Yuan, who won once and posted three other top-10s to surpass the projected points threshold and currently ranks No. 1. “I had a pretty good year last year, a few high finishes, played some good golf and gained a lot of confidence. I had no regrets playing in the Olympics. It meant a lot to me personally as it is every athlete’s goal to be in the Olympics,” added the University of Washington alum, who will become only the third mainland Chinese golfer after Dou and Xinjun Zhang to hold a PGA Tour card.

Ranked as high as 29th in the world and once a regular name in the top-100, An, 30, saw his world collapse briefly when he lost his PGA Tour card last year but said it was a timely wake-up call. He rededicated himself to the game with new coach Sean Foley and in his third start on the Korn Ferry Tour claimed victory which helped seal a quick return to the main Tour.

“The motivation is always in me. I always want to be best golfer in the world,” said An, a member of the 2019 Presidents Cup. “That’s what everyone is playing for. I had a terrible season (in 2021) and then it kind of hit me, and I’m like okay, let’s try to spend more time into golf and see what it feels like to work harder.”

Monahan revealed plans to return to a calendar-year schedule from 2024, saying: “These changes will further strengthen the FedExCup and create a strong, coordinated global schedule and offering a more compelling product for our players, fans and partners.

“On the PGA Tour, our members compete for the opportunity to add their names to history books, and, yes, significant financial benefits, without having to wrestle with any sort of moral ambiguity. And pure competition creates relevancy and context, which is what fans need and expect in order to invest their time in a sport and in a player. That’s the beauty of the PGA Tour.”

It can be certain Asia’s flagbearers will be chasing their own slice of history as well.

*Chuah Choo Chiang is senior director, marketing and communications of the PGA Tour and is based in Malaysia.

**This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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Saso 7 strokes back after Day 3 at Women’s PGA Championship

Yuka Saso will go into the final day of the Women’s PGA Championship seven shots off the lead after carding a 1-over 73 in Saturday’s penultimate round.

The 2021 U.S. Women’s Open champion is tied for 12th at 1-under through three rounds at Congressional Country Club and is the highest placed Japanese player on the leaderboard.

Yuka Saso of Japan hits a shot out of the rough on the 18th hole during the third round of the Women’s PGA Championship golf tournament at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland, on June 25, 2022. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Nasa Hataoka is tied for 35th at 2-over after shooting a 3-over 75, while 2019 Women’s British Open champion Hinako Shibuno withdrew before the third round due to illness.

Overnight leader Chun In Gee of South Korea finished the day 8-under after carding a 3-over 75 and holds a three-stroke advantage over compatriot Choi Hye Jin and American Lexi Thompson.

A day after carding her best round of 70, Saso shot three birdies and five bogeys as she struggled off the tee and the green.

“The worst thing was that my tee shot was unsteady,” she said. “I’m hitting the putts in the direction I want, but they’re not going in that easily.”

Nasa Hataoka of Japan hits out of a bunker on the 18th hole during the third round of the Women’s PGA Championship golf tournament at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland, on June 25, 2022. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

 

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PGA Tour Canada cancels Elk Ridge Open due to recent heavy rain

The 2022 Elk Ridge Open golf tournament has been cancelled because PGA TOUR Canada felt that course conditions weren’t up to their standard due to recent heavy rain.

The ownership group has decided to have their own one day tournament on Sunday.

They are putting in $40,000 of their own money to make it a one-day tournaments and help offset the costs for the young players who otherwise would’ve left with no money and would have only spent a lot to travel to a tournament that never happened.

When PGA TOUR Canada Tournament Director Matt Delaney and his staff began the setup process of Elk Ridge Resort in advance of the Elk Ridge Open, the one thing that stood out was how much rain had fallen on the golf course in the previous week.

Even before the tournament began, Delaney made the decision that players would be allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls.

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“When we began the Elk Ridge Open, the golf course was borderline, again, because of all the rain this part of the province has received,” Delaney explained. “But it was good enough to play. It’s not good enough now.”

Saturday afternoon, the Tour announced the cancellation of the 2022 Elk Ridge Open. It was to be the third tournament of PGA TOUR Canada’s Fortinet Cup season. The tournament will not be rescheduled.

Even though 78 of the 156 players in the field were able to finish their first rounds Thursday, play was not without interruption as two dangerous weather situations forced delays that ultimately caused the suspension of the first round. Thursday night, more rain began falling, and it didn’t let up.

In consultation with tournament organizers and sponsors, PGA TOUR Canada officials and staffers at PGA TOUR headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, the Tour made the decision to call it off.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Nikki Bella on teaming up with Justin Thomas for Nickelodeon golf event

Nikki Bella’s name is more synonymous with wrestling than golf, but the WWE personality has long been hitting the links.

“My family, they’re all die-hard golfers, so I was always gifted golf clubs and outfits, and then I’d always do a few lessons,” Nikki, 38, told The Post on Wednesday. “I would do golf here and there, and I’ve always loved it, and every time I’d leave a tournament I would always be like, ‘I need to do this more,’ it’s just finding the time.”

Though Nikki has a jam-packed schedule these days, especially as a mom to 1-year-old son Matteo, whom she shares with her fiancé, “Dancing With the Stars” pro Artem Chigvintsev, she got to show off her swing in front of a star-studded crowd as part of Nickelodeon’s Slime Cup. The event, which will air on the network Saturday, features four teams competing on a “Nick-ified” golf course — with slime, obviously — and the final round taking place inside the Rose Bowl Stadium in Los Angeles.

Nikki Bella competed with pro golfer Justin Thomas for the Nickelodeon Slime Cup.
FilmMagic

With a field chock-full of talent, including Giants running back Saquon Barkley, Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, pro golfers Collin Morikawa, Jon Rahm, and Lexi Thompson, among others, Nikki is grateful that she was able to call this year’s PGA Championship winner, Justin Thomas, her partner.

“Oh my gosh, watching him play, he’d make it look so easy,” Nikki said of Thomas, who logged his second major win in May. “You could tell a lot of people were in awe of him.”

Though Thomas is a competitor at heart — even on a slime-filled course — Nikki is excited for audiences to see some of the PGA Tour’s biggest names show a different side of themselves.

Justin Thomas, who competed at this month's US Open, won the PGA Championship in May 2022.
Justin Thomas, who competed at this month’s US Open, won the PGA Championship in May 2022.
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“It’s funny because we see these golfing guys in such a different kind of light, and then you’re going to put them in the Slime Cup, and you think every hole is Nick-ified and they have to do ridiculous things and it’s hilarious,” she said. “But they’d still be competitive with each other, just seeing how Collin and Justin were, no one wanted to lose.”

Regardless of the outcome, Nikki is already thinking of ways to invite Thomas to a future family golf tournament, particularly the Pop-Pop Classic, in honor of her grandfather.

“What I really hope one day to do is be like, ‘Hey Justin, my family’s playing golf do you want to be my partner?’ And just show up with him,” she said. “I never play it because my family is so good, so I’m hoping maybe next year I can somehow bribe Justin to be my partner for the Pop-Pop Classic.”

Brie and Nikki Bella during a WWE event in June 2018.
Brie and Nikki Bella during a WWE event in June 2018.
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While golf is on Nikki’s mind at the moment, wrestling isn’t far away. In 2019, Nikki — who makes up the Bella Twins with sister Brie — announced her retirement. Although the duo returned for the Royal Rumble earlier this year, Nikki said she’d be open to a possible final run with Brie, who shares two young children with her husband, AEW wrestler Bryan Danielson.

“We do have the hopes of one day going back and challenging whoever are the tag-team champions and I don’t know when that day would be, but Brie and I definitely talk about that one day for sure. We have one last run in us and we want to go back and compete for that,” she said.

The Nickelodeon Slime Cup airs Saturday at 8 p.m.

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Golf: Lydia Ko leads resurgent day for Kiwi golfers

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Lydia Ko landed plenty of birdies on a day that saw many top players struggle. Photo / AP

Lydia Ko has surged up the leaderboard the Women’s PGA Championship after an impressive second round.

After wet conditions for the first round made the course play longer than expected, it was a clear, warm day at the Congressional Country Club and Ko took immediate advantage to begin proceedings for the day.

After shooting just one hole under par on Friday, Ko reeled off five birdies in her opening nine holes before settling down into an even par back nine.

“It was that kind of a day where it started working. I found the back nine just a little bit tougher. Just my ball-striking was not as solid as the front nine, so that made it a little bit more challenging,” Ko said following her round.

“To finish strong and make a good up and down on the last was definitely a nice way to finish today.”

That finish left her sitting pretty in a tie for second place on the leaderboard with Jennifer Kupcho in the LPGA’s third major of the year. However, both Ko and Kupcho have work to do to catch leader In Gee Chun.

Chun shot a 3-under 69 to increase her lead to six strokes after a record-equalling opening round on Friday. Ko says it will be hard to catch her in-form Korean rival.

“It is hard to win, but I’m just trying to put myself more in that kind of position, and I think when you keep knocking on the door, you hope that one day that door will open.

“This is my fourth week in a row, and I try not to play more than three, four weeks in a row, and this is the first of that four-week stretch for me this year.

“I know that sometimes when you are fatigued, you could lose focus and then hit some mistakes that you normally wouldn’t if you were a bit more sharp… hopefully I cap off these next two days in a solid way and have a great three weeks off.”

Ryan Fox mashes in Munich

Ryan Fox moved up to second place overall at the BMW International Open in Munich after a strong round of 8-under 64.

Fox completed his bogey-free round after a three-hour interruption because of lightning.

He eagled the sixth and when he resumed on the 11th hole, he birdied that, before finishing his round with a sixth birdie. He was at 14 under overall.

Ryan Fox acknowledges the crowd after landing one of his six birdies. Photo / Getty
Ryan Fox acknowledges the crowd after landing one of his six birdies. Photo / Getty

Alker closes in on leaders

Steven Alker recovered from a rough opening round at the US Senior Open to move within touching distance of the leaders at the halfway stage of the tournament.

Alker, the top PGA Tour Champions player this year, landed six birdies in his second attempt of the Saucon Valley course; with a double-bogey on the 18th hole his only costly blemish as he moved into a tie for fourth on the leaderboard.

Ireland’s Padraig Harrington leads the field three shots ahead of Alker after a bogey-free 65.

Harrington was at 6-under 136 going into a weekend that will not include Bernhard Langer for the first time since the German great was still in his 40s.

New Zealand’s Michael Campbell missed the cut after recording a second-straight disappointing round – a three-over 74 left him at 11-over for the tournament.

– with AP