Rory McIlroy ‘100% ready’ for US PGA title defence

World number one Rory McIlroy says he has recovered from injury and is ready to defend his US PGA Championship title this week. The 26-year-old suffered a “total rupture” of ligaments in his left ankle in July while playing football.

He then missed The Open, but will play the last major of the year, at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. The Northern Irishman said: “To play golf, it’s 100%. To go back on a soccer pitch, it wouldn’t be quite ready.”

McIlroy played practice rounds at Whistling Straits over the weekend and completed nine holes in the rain on Monday. “To do what I need to do this week, it’s 100%,” he added. “If felt fine. I’ve come a long way in five weeks.”

Tee times were released on Friday with McIlroy grouped with the winners of this year’s majors, Jordan Spieth and Zach Johnson.


Mouritz Botha: Newcastle Falcons sign former Saracens lock

Premiership side Newcastle Falcons have signed former England second-row Mouritz Botha on a three-year deal. The 33-year-old joins from Super 15 side the Sharks, who he moved to in January after five years at Saracens.

South Africa-born Botha, who won 10 England caps between 2011 and 2012, moved to Sarries after being spotted at National League One side Bedford Blues. “Newcastle are in a position to make a real impact on the Premiership this year,” he said.

“I am looking to help them rise up the table and push for a place in Europe.”


Man Utd: David De Gea is surprised at being left out

David De Gea is surprised at being left out of Manchester United’s team for the first two games of the season. Contrary to Louis van Gaal’s comments, sources close to De Gea say he never expressed a desire not to play.

De Gea has been training with United’s reserve team and will not be considered for selection by manager Van Gaal until the transfer window closes.

De Gea, 24, is wanted by Real Madrid. United are demanding a world record fee and defender Sergio Ramos in exchange.


Davis Cup: Andy Murray wins to wrap up GB victory over USA

Andy Murray sealed a Davis Cup quarter-final place for Great Britain with a straight-sets win over American John Isner in Glasgow.

He saved three set points in the first set and won 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 7-6 (7-4) to give Britain an unassailable 3-1 lead in the World Group first-round tie.

Britain will next play France at home in July, with the venue to be decided.

“It feels great. This is a team effort and I think everyone agrees the team played their part,” said the Scot.

Murray, 27, who returned to play in Scotland this week for the first time in four years, looked edgy in the early stages against Isner but was clinical when it counted.

“On behalf of all of the players I want to thank the crowd because it’s been one of the most special atmospheres I’ve ever played in,” he added.

Murray had been a heavy favourite to finish the job for Britain against a player who had suffered a “brutal” five-set defeat by James Ward on Friday.

It is the second year running that Britain have beaten the United States, and Isner said: “This one’s on me.

“My team-mates may say otherwise but when you look at this match-up on paper, my loss on Friday put us in a huge hole.

“It’s so, so disappointing for me. I feel like I let us down this week. It’s a terrible feeling.”

Isner began the better, however, earning seven break points – three of them set points – before Murray finally fashioned his first after 86 minutes.

A double fault from Isner at the start of the tie-break proved the decisive moment in the first set, but he had already wasted two inviting forehands on set points.

Murray’s previously shaky serve found its range as he closed out the set efficiently, much to the relief of most of the 7,700 spectators.

It seemed inevitable that Isner’s challenge would fade after his exertions of 48 hours earlier but it took a moment of brilliance from Murray to get the better of his huge serve.

After some loose Isner forehands offered the Briton his first break point of the day, Murray sent up a brilliant lob that had the 6ft 10in American scrambling in vain.

While Isner was predictably leading the ace count, it was the steadily rising number of unforced errors that was now more significant as Murray saw out the set and pushed hard early in the third.

Isner served his way out of a seemingly desperate situation at 0-40 and got within two points of the set at 5-4, 0-30, but Murray snuffed out the danger.

Another early break in the tie-break helped the Scot to a 6-2 lead and he converted his third match point with an ace, drawing a deafening roar from the home crowd.

Asked about the prospect of facing France at home the week after Wimbledon, Murray said: “I would imagine we’d try to play that on a grass court possibly.

“I don’t know how many grass courts they have here in Glasgow but if they can lay one, I’d really love to play here again.”

Ward played the final dead rubber against Donald Young but retired after winning the first set to protect a sore knee, as he will fly to Indian Wells with Murray on Monday, so the tie ended in a 3-2 win for Britain.


Six Nations 2015: Record-breaker Warburton leads unchanged team

Sam Warburton will lead an unchanged Wales team against Ireland in the Six Nations Championship in Cardiff.

Flanker Warburton, 26, captains Wales for a record 34th time, overtaking Bristol forward Ryan Jones.

On the bench Scarlets prop Rob Evans comes in for the injured Paul James and Scarlets second row Jake Ball replaces Bradley Davies.

“Saturday is a fantastic achievement and honour for Sam,” said head coach Warren Gatland.

“He has developed into the role fantastically and is a modern day professional. He is a role model that will continue to get better.”

Wales lost their opening match of the tournament 21-16 to England.

But they recovered to win 26-23 against Scotland at Murrayfield and were comfortable in beating France 20-13 in Paris.

Ireland were unconvincing in their opening win over Italy, but thent oughed-out a home win over France and maintained their Grand Slam hopes with a 19-9 win over England in Dublin last time out.

Wales captains – the top six





Ryan Jones





Sam Warburton





Ieuan Evans





Rob Howley





Colin Charvis





Gareth Thomas





Coach Gatland says Wales are determined to build on the improvements they have shown in their two away trips.

“We return to the Millennium Stadium after two tough away trips with two victories and will be looking to build on that,” he added.

“We saw an improvement against Scotland and then saw another step up against France and we know we will need to do the same against Ireland on Saturday.

“Ireland are the form team in Europe and we know it is going to be a huge battle.

“The changes on the bench mean Rob Evans gets an opportunity.

“We have been impressed with him for his region and at training. Our strength in depth in the second-row is highlighted again as Jake comes back into the squad.”


Ian Holloway sacked as Millwall manager after 14 months

Championship strugglers Millwall have sacked manager Ian Holloway.

The 51-year-old, who was appointed in January 2014, had his contract terminated with the Lions second from bottom after five defeats in six games.

Ex-Millwall striker Neil Harris will take charge for the rest of the season.

“This was a hard decision to take because we very much hoped that Ollie would prove to be the man to take us forward and on to the next level,” said chairman John Berylson.

“I would like to thank him for his efforts, and in particular for keeping us in the Championship last May.

“This season, though, has proved to be an extremely challenging one and we now find ourselves facing another uphill battle to avoid relegation.”

Former Queens Park Rangers, Blackpool and Crystal Palace boss Holloway took over last season following the departure of Steve Lomas.

He guided them from 21st to 19th in the table, avoiding relegation by four points.

The club made an encouraging start to this season, winning three and drawing one of their first five Championship matches, but have won just three times since October and are eight points from safety.

Harris scored 138 goals across two spells at The Den and had been coaching Millwall’s Under-21 side, having returned to the south London club under Lomas in June 2013.

The 37-year-old had a brief spell in caretaker charge of the Lions after Lomas was sacked in December 2013, drawing one and losing two games.

“I am confident that Millwall fans will give him every support over the next couple of months as we strive to turn our current run of form around,” Berylson added.


Manor Marussia announce Roberto Merhi as second driver

Manor Marussia have named Spain’s Roberto Merhi as their second driver for the start of the 2015 season.

The 23-year-old will line up alongside England’s Will Stevens on the grid for this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

The team was only cleared to race last week with a modified version of a 2014 car after coming out of administration.

“I hope to pay back the hard work of the team with a solid weekend,” Merhi said.

The Spaniard, who raced in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series last year with Zeta Corse, also gained some F1 experience in 2014 with three free practice outings for Caterham.

Merhi will compete in the “opening rounds” of the season, according to the former Marussia team, who have secured investment from Stephen Fitzpatrick, boss of energy firm Ovo, and have former Sainsbury’s boss Justin King as interim chairman.

King’s 21-year-old son Jordan will also join the team as a test driver, combining his duties with competing in GP2 – F1’s feeder series.

“This is another great step closer to my ultimate goal of racing in Formula 1,” Jordan King said.


Posted in F1

Lewis Hamilton feels he has mental strength to defend F1 title

Lewis Hamilton feels he is “stronger than ever” thanks to the “impenetrable” mental attitude he fostered in becoming world champion last year.

The Briton said he drew strength from winning the title amid a fierce rivalry with Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg.

Hamilton added that he would not let his break-up with Nicole Scherzinger affect him ahead of next weekend’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

“I developed a mental attitude I would like to say was impenetrable,” he said.

“Of course, in previous years it has been the case where it [a break up] has affected my life in general.

“But I feel I still carry that kind of mentality from last year – and while it’s not been easy, having been in this position before I feel stronger than ever, so I don’t feel it’s going to be a problem.”

Hamilton said the collision with Rosberg during the Belgium Grand Prix at Spa last season that strengthened his resolve.

Speaking to the Observer, Hamilton said: “After Spa I thought ‘I’m going to turn this up. I’m going to have to turn this up. This means war.’ After Spa I had a different approach.”

He described becoming world champion for a second time as “like a warmth in your heart that you carry”, but said there is “no less pressure” going into the new season.

The Briton added: “I didn’t arrive at the tests thinking ‘OK, I’m world champion.’ I’m thinking ‘I’ve got to do everything again and I’ve got to do it better than I did before because I know that everyone else will have taken a step.'”

Hamilton is close to signing a new contract with Mercedes, having conducted negotiations himself after leaving Simon Fuller’s management company XIX last year.

He said: “It’s been an experience. Learning something new and experiencing something like this, I’m glad I’ve done it. It’s a very, very nerve-racking kind of experience, but I just tried to do the best job I possibly could.

“Hopefully we’re in the final stages. I don’t really know what the timeline is. We’re not rushing, but we’re very much in the last stages of it.”


Posted in F1

Cricket World Cup 2015: England ‘need foreign ODI coach’

England’s dreadful World Cup exit is another low moment in what has been an extremely turbulent 18 months, but what makes this harder to take is that it was entirely predictable.

Before the tournament began, I wrote that England would make us sweat in their bid to reach the quarter-finals. In the end, it was much worse.

We knew that defeats by Australia and New Zealand could throw England into a downward spiral that would be hard to reverse. What we could not predict is just how far Eoin Morgan’s men would sink.

Chasing a target of 276 against Bangladesh on a good pitch with small boundaries in Adelaide should have been well within their capabilities.

They fell 15 runs short because this team is entirely devoid of confidence and aggression. They simply do not have the ability to impose themselves on the opposition, whoever it may be.

Win rates against full members in ICC Cricket World Cups since 1996



Sri Lanka




New Zealand


South Africa




West Indies










Let me make it clear that I am not rubbishing the players. England have some very good cricketers that either have proven records or have shown potential since arriving in international cricket.

But they are not in the right frame of mind to dominate a one-day international. One or two have the character to do that, but not enough.

This is not a new problem. England have struggled in World Cups for the best part of 25 years, since reaching the final here in Australia and New Zealand in 1992.

Since then, they have not won a knockout match and this latest failure is the third time they have been eliminated in the first round.

I have a theory as to why this might be.

England invented one-day cricket, but then the rest of the world adapted their own game as the creators stood still.

If you showed me a silhouette of a batsman, with no distinguishing features other than the way he plays, I think I could work out where he is from in about an over.

There is the wristy style of the Asian nations, the powerful back-foot strokes of the Australians, or the flourishing flamboyance of the West Indies. The archetype is that, as people, the English are quite conservative. It certainly seems that way in our one-day cricket.

It is for that reason that I feel the players on whom the one-day side will now be built need liberating.

The likes of Jos Buttler, Joe Root, James Taylor and Alex Hales could form the nucleus of a team over the next four years in the run-up to the 2019 World Cup in England.

However, I feel the change in attitude that is required can only be provided by a coach from overseas.

This is not me calling for Peter Moores to be removed. Moores, along with Alastair Cook, played his part in improving the fortunes of the Test side last summer, earning that 3-1 win over India.

But England need to keep their Test cricket and limited-overs cricket separate and a return to split coaches would help them attract the very best man for the job.

The reality is that the likes of New Zealander Stephen Fleming and South African Gary Kirsten do not want to hack around the world with England for 12 months of the year, especially when they can earn very good money in T20.

Still, that does not mean they cannot be England’s limited-overs coach, because that does not have to be a full-time role.

To get their young talent to be the best limited-overs players they can be, England need a white-ball coach that is experienced in playing one-day internationals, who understands how the game has changed and who has coached successfully in another part of the world.

The end of a World Cup campaign is the time to start again with a blank sheet of paper.

Do we have the right man to lead us for the next four years? Which players won’t be in the side by the time the next tournament arrives?

These are the questions that England need to answer.

Will Morgan still be in charge in 2019? If not, put Taylor or Root at the helm. Are James Anderson and Stuart Broad at the end of their one-day careers? Can we identify their replacements?

More widely than that, do we have the domestic structure correct? Are our limited-overs leagues providing the competition that will produce players of international quality? Should we be exposing more of our players to T20 leagues around the world?

In horrible circumstances on a glorious evening in South Australia, the opportunity to rebuild England’s approach to one-day cricket has arisen.

It is an opportunity that has come round each time there has been a World Cup failure. Now, it must be taken.

Jonathan Agnew was speaking to BBC Sport’s Stephan Shemilt.


England’s Brad Barritt and Tom Croft to miss rest of Six Nations

England centre Brad Barritt and flanker Tom Croft are out of the Six Nations after suffering injuries on club duty.

Saracens’ Barritt, who hurt his ankle on Sunday, has not played for England since victory over Australia in the autumn after suffering calf and knee injuries but was in line for a recall.

Flanker Croft dislocated his shoulder playing for Leicester at the weekend.

Mike Brown, Tom Wood and Courtney Lawes are in line for selection after recovering from injury.

Championship-chasing England host Scotland on Saturday (17:00 GMT), before facing France at Twickenham a week later.

England are set to name an unchanged midfield after Barritt, who was challenging Luther Burrell for a place, was ruled out but have called Exeter Chiefs’ Henry Slade, 21, into the training squad as cover.

Inside centre Burrell was a doubt himself after suffering a calf injury in the19-9 defeat by Ireland but is set to resume training on Tuesday as head coach Stuart Lancaster finalises his team selection.

Elsewhere, full-back Brown has been cleared for a return after taking full part in training for the first time since suffering concussion against Italy three weeks ago.

Second-row Lawes completed his second game for Northampton Saints at the weekend following the ankle surgery which forced him to miss the opening three Six Nations matches.

“We’ve lost one or two lads with injuries which is a real disappointment, Croft and Barritt in particular,” head coach Stuart Lancaster told BBC Radio 5 live.

“That changes your thinking a bit, but I thought there were some good performances at the weekend and, more importantly, we’ve got two or three senior players coming back into the equation who we know have performed for us in the past.”

Lancaster said he was disappointed England’s destiny was no longer in their control after the Ireland loss.

England need to beat Scotland and hope Wales beat leaders Ireland in Cardiff to leave all three teams level on six points going into the final round.

“We were disappointed in ourselves. We knew that if we could have got a win in Ireland we would have two home games and an opportunity to win something. We’ve not achieved so that was the real frustration,” added Lancaster.

Flanker Chris Robshaw was criticised by some after the loss in Dublin, which ended England’s hopes of a first Grand Slam since 2003, but Lancaster defended his captain.

“We didn’t dominate the space beyond the ball as well as Ireland did,” he said. “Collectively we underperformed at the breakdown and I don’t think to single one player out is fair.”