US PGA Championship: I always believed but there was a lot of doubt – Mickelson after ending drought

By Sports Desk May 23, 2021

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  • PGA Championship: Lowry in contention with record-equalling round PGA Championship: Lowry in contention with record-equalling round

    Shane Lowry stormed into contention for the PGA Championship as he equalled the lowest round in men's major history during a sensational third round at Valhalla.

    Lowry carded nine birdies and no bogeys on Saturday to set a new career low and jump to 13 under after being eight strokes off the lead at the halfway stage.

    The Irishman had the opportunity to produce the first '61 round' in a men's major history but missed the hole by mere inches, settling for a record-equalling 62 instead.

    It is just the fifth time a 62 has been carded at a major, with Xander Schauffele doing it for the second time on the first day at Valhalla.

    Rickie Fowler had previously done it in round one of the 2023 US Open along with Schauffele, while Branden Grace was the first to do it at The Open in 2017.

    "I just went out there with the hope of trying to get myself towards double digits," he told Sky Sports.

    "I thought if I could get myself to 10 under today, I could give myself a chance going into tomorrow. I went out and got off to a great start, rolling putts in and felt great and just kept going. I enjoyed it. Myself and Justin Rose, we were great out there and just enjoyed every minute of it.

    "It’s pretty cool to do something like this, but there is a lot more to do tomorrow."                                        

    Rose played a 64 to finish seven under on the round and moves to 12 under for the tournament.

    Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy shot a three-under 68 to move to eight under par in the Championship, and reigning champion Brooks Koepka is now on four under after a 74.

    Schauffele, Scottie Scheffler and Collin Morikawa were among the later starters in Kentucky.

  • Emery admits 'I have my dreams' with Villa after sealing Champions League qualification Emery admits 'I have my dreams' with Villa after sealing Champions League qualification

    Unai Emery has his sights set on winning the Premier League or Champions League with Aston Villa after securing a top-four finish earlier this week.

    Fifth-place Tottenham's defeat to title-chasing Manchester City on Tuesday meant Villa will play in Europe's premier club competition next season for the first time in 41 years.

    Emery's side conclude a memorable season – in which they also reached the Europa Conference League semi-finals – away at Crystal Palace on the final day.

    And the Spaniard is already focused on achieving bigger and better things with Villa. 

    "It really was amazing when the [Tottenham-Manchester City] match finished," he smiled. "At the beginning of the season, it was really a dream. Of course, we worked hard to try to be there.

    "I want to get better, and I have my dreams, and I believe in my dreams. Of course, my objectives are to win the Premier League or the Champions League. We are not contenders, but it is our dream to achieve something like that."

    Meanwhile, Palace have enjoyed a strong finish to the season, winning five of their last six games.

    The Eagles could seal a top-half finish with a victory – and other results going their way – and Oliver Glasner has urged his players to use that as inspiration at Selhurst Park.

    "I'm pleased with the performances we've had," he said. "We want to win. We always focus on what we can influence. If we don't do our job, we don't win, we can't be 10th. It's good motivation at home to say thank you to the fans."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Crystal Palace – Jean-Philippe Mateta

    Mateta has scored in each of his last six home Premier League appearances for Palace, netting eight goals along the way. 

    He is now aiming to become only the second Frenchman after Thierry Henry to find the net in seven successive Premier League appearances on home soil.

    Aston Villa – Ollie Watkins

    Watkins has recorded the most assists in the Premier League this season with 13.

    Only Ashley Young has ever provided more during a single Premier League campaign for Villa (14 in 2007-08).

    MATCH PREDICTION: DRAW

    Palace are unbeaten on each of the previous 11 occasions they have finished a top-flight season with a home match (winning seven, drawing four).

    By contrast, Villa have only won once in the 25 occasions they have finished a league campaign with an away game (drawn seven, lost 17).

    That sole victory came against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in 2001-02.

    On a brighter note, Villa are unbeaten in their last 10 Premier League away games in London, winning five of their six this term. 

    With 16 such points this season, a win or draw here would set a new Premier League record for the most achieved during a single campaign.

    Although, you must go back to their title-winning season of 1980-81 for the last time they completed a league double over Palace.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Crystal Palace: 31.8%
    Aston Villa: 39.5%
    Draw: 28.7

  • Forest 'still have to finish the job' against Burnley, says Nuno Forest 'still have to finish the job' against Burnley, says Nuno

    Nuno Espirito Santo insists Nottingham Forest “still have to finish the job” of securing their Premier League safety when they face Burnley at Turf Moor.

    Three points clear of 18th-place Luton Town in 17th, Forest are all but safe from relegation, while it would take an unlikely 12-goal swing in the Hatters’ favour to usurp them.

    Nevertheless, Nuno is not taking anything for granted and has called for focus from his players, who he saluted for their efforts throughout the campaign. 

    "We still have to finish the job," he said. "But credit to the players because it was not an easy season. We have always been able to compete really well in games. 

    "The feeling is always that we should have been better. We have never felt that someone beat us; it was just that we let games get away from us.

    "Yes, in certain games we have been punished, but we have always been a team that wants to attack and score. That is part of our identity.

    "There is still a game to go, and we know how football can go. It is best that we prepare the same way with commitment. We are clear about everything that can happen. It is up to us to achieve what we want."

    Meanwhile, Burnley are preparing for life back in the Championship, with their immediate return secured after last weekend’s defeat at Tottenham.

    And Vincent Kompany says the match marks the first step towards the Clarets' recovery from their disappointment.

    "If we're treating this as the first game of next season, in terms of preparing for next season, then this game is an important game," he said.

    "You only really fail if you fail to learn and that's not the case for us. We've absolutely learned. There is no lack of motivation, no lack of desire. 

    "It's sometimes in human nature to sit down and sulk, to feel sorry for yourself. That is not in the culture here, it's not in my nature, the nature of many people here. 

    "We try to give that to the players – that's ultimately what is going to give them a chance to achieve their goals."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Burnley – Dara O'Shea

    O'Shea has been directly involved in two of the last three goals Burnley have scored at Turf Moor (one goal, one assist).

    The defender will look to build on that against a Forest side that has conceded 23 goals from set-pieces this season, with only three teams ever letting more in during a single Premier League campaign.

    Nottingham Forest – Chris Wood

    Wood is the highest scorer in Burnley’s Premier League history, having netted 49 times for the Clarets in the competition between 2017 and 2022.

    The striker will aim to become the fifth player to score a Premier League goal against Burnley having previously played for them in the division, after Andre Gray, Danny Ings, Michael Keane and Patrick Bamford.

    MATCH PREDICTION: DRAW

    Forest are without a win in each of their last six league meetings with Burnley since a 2-0 victory in December 2012, with four of those ending in a draw.

    The Tricky Trees have failed to win their final league game in each of the last four seasons, since beating Bolton Wanderers 1-0 in 2018-19.

    Meanwhile, Burnley have lost their final Premier League game in each of their last six campaigns at this level.

    The Clarets have also won only twice at home this season. Failure to win here would mean this is the fewest wins they have ever recorded in front of their fans in a single campaign.

    Kompany’s side will need to tighten up in order to avoid that, though, having conceded at least once in each of their last 19 Premier League matches.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Burnley: 35.9%
    Nottingham Forest: 34.8%
    Draw: 29.3%

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