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The Masters: Hideki Matsuyama survives late mistakes to win first men’s major for Japan

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After being six clear with seven holes to play, Hideki Matsuyama survived a nervy finish and a last charge from Xander Schauffele to create Masters, and major history at Augusta National.

Last Updated: 12/04/21 12:10am

Hideki Matsuyama is the first Japanese player to win a men’s major

Hideki Matsuyama overcame a nervy start and a pressure-induced back-nine stutter to become the first Japanese player to win a men’s major with a one-shot victory at the 85th Masters

His overnight four-stroke lead was quickly reduced to one when he bogeyed the first and Will Zalatoris started with a pair of birdies, but Matsuyama restored his composure and looked set for a back-nine procession when he led by six with seven holes to play.

But Schauffele then made four straight birdies from the 12th while Matsuyama made a huge error with his second to the 15th, airmailing the green with his adrenaline-fuelled second and finding the water over the back, leading to a bogey-six which had his lead whittled down to just two.

However, Schauffele then took an aggressive line to the short 16th and came up a fraction short, his ball kicking left, missing the bunker and finding the lake, easing the pressure on the long-time leader as he knocked a safe tee shot to the right side of the green, although he then three-putted from the top tier.

Matsuyama was six shots clear with seven to play, but the margin of victory was just one

Matsuyama was six shots clear with seven to play, but the margin of victory was just one

Schauffele compounded his initial error by going over the back of the green with his third and he needed three more to get down, running up a triple-bogey six which ended his Masters hopes for another year, while Matsuyama looked to regroup having slipped to 11 under with Zalatoris in the clubhouse on nine under par.

The leader steadied himself with a rock-solid par at the 17th, hammered a perfect drive up the last before causing himself more consternation when he blocked his tentative approach into the bunker to the right of the green.

But he was all smiles moments later after splashing out to six feet, and missing the par putt mattered little as he left a tap-in for a momentous win, 10 years on from his first visit to the Butler Cabin as the leading amateur in the 2011 Masters.

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Any expectations of coasting to victory were quashed as early as the opening hole, when Matsuyama carved a fairway-wood way right and started with a five, just after Zalatoris had made birdie at the second from the front bunker to close within one.

But the American erred at the next and Matsuyama replied with a four of his own at the second, and he was content to grind out the pars as his rivals fell away one by one, with Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose and Marc Leishman unable to match the scoring of Jon Rahm, who raced round in 66 to close on six under.

Matsuyama pulled further ahead with birdies at the eighth and ninth to go five clear at the turn, although he would not get through Amen Corner unscathed as he dropped his second shot of the day at the 12th, only to get it back at 13th despite a wild drive and a pulled second that threatened to disappear into the Azaleas.

Xander Schauffele piled on the pressure until coming to grief at the 16th

Xander Schauffele piled on the pressure until coming to grief at the 16th

The 29-year-old pitched it close and made the putt to get back to 13 under in the midst of Schauffele’s valiant charge, which came to an abrupt halt three holes from home.

More to follow …


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Westbrook ties Robertson for most NBA triple-doubles all-time

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Russell Westbrook of the Washington Wizards  (Getty Images via AFP)

LOS ANGELES – Washington’s Russell Westbrook notched the 181st triple-double of his career on Saturday, tying Oscar Robertson for the most in NBA history.

Westbrook  matched Robertson with his 10th assist of the night in the third quarter of the Wizards’ game against the Indiana pacers in Indianapolis.

Through three quarters Westbrook had 24 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists, but the Wizards trailed 101-92.

It’s not the first time Westbrook has etched his name alongside that of Robertson, who played in the NBA from 1960-74.

Westbrook was playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2017 when he broke Robertson’s single-season record with 42 triple-doubles — recording double digits in three major statistical categories in a feat that has become a measuring stick of all-around excellence.

Los Angeles Lakers great Magic Johnson is third on the NBA’s all-time triple-double list with 138 and Jason Kidd is fourth on 107.

Current Lakers superstar LeBron James is the only other active player in the top five with 99 career triple-doubles.

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Raptors cannot wait to get out of Tampa?

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The Toronto Raptors have not exactly gotten the warmest welcome in their temporary home this season. Now it sounds like they are itching to get the heck out of Dodge.

Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports reported this week that there are Raptors players and other members of the organization who cannot wait to leave Tampa, Fla. They are said to be counting down the days until they can pack their bags, take their families and leave on May 17.

The Raptors have their last regular-season contest on May 16. They are four games out of the play-in tournament zone with five games left, meaning they are all but certain to miss the playoffs and see an early end to their season.

Tampa has played home to the Raptors this year with Toronto unavailable due to COVID-19 restrictions. The partnership has been frosty at best with the Raptors even recently getting booed by the local fans. It is probably safe to say that there will not be any NBA basketball in Tampa after this season.

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Manchester United planning £70m double sale to fund Erling Haaland move – Reports

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Manchester United are hoping to raise funds from player sales to help finance a move for Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland.

According to We All Follow United via Express, the Red Devils are planning to sell Jesse Lingard and either David de Gea or Dean Henderson, to raise £70m in the summer. The money will then be invested in bringing the Norwegian striker to Old Trafford.

Manchester United have reportedly made Haaland their number one target ahead of the summer, but Dortmund have slapped an astronomical fee on the player. The Norwegian has been on a brilliant run of form since his move to the Bundesliga side. Haaland has scored 47 goals in 48 games since joining Dortmund from RB Leipzig in January of 2020.

Haaland is the target-man Ole Gunnar Solskjaer desires at Old Trafford, even though the player has already rejected Manchester United on two occasions in the past.

However, the Black and Yellows want a fee of over £100m for the Norwegian, which could be a problem for the Red Devils. Interestingly, Haaland’s £70m release clause will only come into effect in the summer of 2022.

Solskjaer has already revealed that Manchester United will not be able to spend freely in the transfer market due to the financial repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, the Red Devils are planning to raise funds from the sales of Jesse Lingard and one of their goalkeepers.

The Englishman has impressed while on loan with West Ham United and could be allowed to leave for around £20m. The Hammers are reportedly desperate to sign the player on a permanent deal, which will work in Manchester United’s favor.

The Red Devils could also sell one of De Gea and Henderson in the summer, with the Englishman currently valued at £50m. Paul Pogba could also be allowed to leave unless he signs a contract extension at the end of the season. Manchester United, however, are eager to retain the Frenchman.

Funds raised from player sales will help the Red Devils compete with the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea, who are also monitoring Haaland.

Manchester United want to end the season on a high note

Erling Haaland
Erling Haaland

Manchester United are currently second in the Premier League and are also in the final of the UEFA Europa League final, where they will face Villarreal on 26 May. The Red Devils have five games remaining in the Premier League and will want to end the season on a high nite despite their congested fixture list.

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