The 43rd edition of the Ryder Cup is almost upon us. A year later than initially planned, the finest golfers Europe and the United States have to offer will do battle at Whistling Straits.

Padraig Harrington's team will be looking to defend the title Europe clinched in Paris three years ago, while Steve Stricker's men will hope to make home advantage count as the USA look to win the tournament for only the third time since the turn of the century.

Ahead of the action in Wisconsin, Stats Perform looks back at some of the most memorable moments from tournaments gone by.

 

Miracle at Medinah, 2012

Where else to start other than a moment that is widely considered to be one of sport's greatest ever fightbacks. The "Miracle at Medinah" took place in Illinois nine years ago, with the Chicago crowd witnessing a remarkable European recovery, inspired by Ian Poulter – who will be playing again this weekend.

Europe were 4-10 down heading into the final day, with the USA needing just 4.5 points to win. Yet Poulter, who won all of his matches, got the ball rolling for the visiting team, who took 8.5 points from a possible 12 on the Sunday. Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner offered the hosts hope, but Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer won their matches to leave Tiger Woods needing to beat Francesco Molinari to secure a tie. The round was halved, ane Europe triumphed 14.5 to 13.5.

 

Battle of Brookline, 1999

Thirteen years prior to the Miracle at Medinah, the USA forged an incredible comeback of their own at Brookline, Massachusetts. Europe held a 10-6 lead heading into the final round, yet were pegged back as the USA, buoyed on by a vociferous crowd that riled some of the European players, with Colin Montgomerie coming in for particularly strong treatment, won the first six matches of Sunday's play.

Yet the decisive moment came when Jose Maria Olazabal – who would go on to lead Europe to victory at Medinah - lost three successive holes to Justin Leonard when he had been four up with seven to play. The match was tied on the 15th when the American holed a 40-foot putt, and on the 17th, Leonard struck a brilliant birdie, with the US team and fans storming onto the green in celebration as the half-point required to complete the comeback was secured. Olazabal still had a 25-foot putt to make to send the match to the 18th, only for the Spaniard's effort to trickle wide.

Torrance ends US dominance, 1985

The Belfry is entrenched in Ryder Cup history and, in 1985, Europe earned their first win in what was the fourth attempt since the team had spread to include the continent and not just players from Great Britain and Ireland.

Seve Ballesteros was in exceptional form, but it was left to captain Sam Torrance to sink a 22-foot putt, inflicting the United States' first defeat since 1957.

Clarke leads emotional European victory, 2006

Having taken a three-month break from golf following the loss of his wife, Heather, to cancer, Darren Clarke was named as a wildcard pick by Europe captain Ian Woosnam for the 2006 Ryder Cup, hosted in Clarke's native Northern Ireland at the K Club.

Clarke produced a performance for the ages, winning both of his pairs matches and going on to defeat Zach Johnson in his singles game. "I doubt there was a dry eye in the house," said Clarke afterwards, as Europe went on to secure an 18.5-9.5 win.

 

Langer fluffs his lines, 1991

Possibly the tightest Ryder Cup contest in history came at Kiawah Island, South Carolina, with the US taking a slim lead into the final day. However, by the time the final match rolled around, they needed half a point to reclaim the title.

It came down to the final hole, too. Bernard Langer required to hole a six-foot putt to tie his match with Hale Irwin, and Europe would keep their hands on the trophy. Yet he failed to do so, the ball rolling off the lip and away, with the US triumphing for the first time since 1983.

The concession, 1969

The Ryder Cup had been dominated by the United States from the end of World War II, with Great Britain (as the team was then) winning only one, in 1957.

However, the first tie in the Ryder Cup was recorded at Royal Birkdale in 1969, when American great Jack Nicklaus conceded a three-foot putt to Tony Jacklin at the 18th hole – the moment going down as one of the most famous gestures of sportsmanship. 

Paul Azinger says Brooks Koepka should relinquish his place on the United States Ryder Cup team if he does not want to play at Whistling Straits.

Four-time major winner Koepka raised eyebrows when stating in an interview with Golf Digest that he finds the prestigious event "a bit odd" and "hectic".

The former world number one revealed he finds playing in a team event difficult to adapt to, as he is unable to get into a usual routine that he would have during a major tournament.

Azinger, who captained the USA to victory over Europe in 2008, says Koepka ought to give someone else the chance to play in Wisconsin if he is not fully committed.

"I'm not sure he loves the Ryder Cup that much," Azinger said during a conference call for NBC Sports.

"If he doesn't love it, he should relinquish his spot and get people there who do love the Ryder Cup."

Azinger added of Koepka, who has been troubled by a wrist injury: "Not everybody embraces it.

"But if you don't love and you're not sold out, then I think Brooks - especially being hurt - should consider whether or not he really wants to be there."

Azinger continued: "Brooks is one of the most candid, most honest guys there is, and if he's blatantly honest with himself and doesn't want to be there, he should come out and say it."

The United States start their bid to regain the Ryder Cup a week on Friday.

Henrik Stenson has been named as Europe's fifth and final vice-captain for the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits.

Padraig Harrington has turned to the vast experience of Swede Stenson to complete his backroom team for a showdown with the United States that starts in Wisconsin next Friday.

The 2016 Open champion has played in the prestigious biennial competition five times, lifting the famous trophy on three occasions.

Stenson, 45, has won 11 points from 19 Ryder Cup matches and came out on top in all three in the last edition at Le Golf National in 2018.

 

"It's a great honour to get the call and to be involved with Team Europe. I've been part of five Ryder Cup teams in the past and to be given the opportunity as a vice-captain to help Europe's quest to retain the Ryder Cup is exciting," said Stenson.

"Padraig called me on Monday morning and it was not a long conversation. I accepted straight away and I assured him that myself, along with the other vice-captains, are there to help and assist him and the team in any way we can.

"We have a very strong team. It's a mix of huge experience along with three guys who will take on their first Ryder Cup – and that's a great combination. We have strength in depth so I'm looking forward to getting out there and seeing the boys perform.

"It's no secret that winning on away soil is always a little bit harder, but the boys are ready for that challenge. It's all going to come down to how well we play during the week, but I have every faith in our team."

Robert Karlsson, Luke Donald, Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell are Harrington's other vice-captains.

Bernd Wiesberger and Lee Westwood secured their places in Europe's Ryder Cup team as Billy Horschel prevailed on a dramatic final day of the BMW PGA Championship. 

Four automatic places were there for the taking at Wentworth. Tyrrell Hatton and Matt Fitzpatrick were already all but assured of their spots at Whistling Straits, with Wiesberger, Westwood, Shane Lowry and Justin Rose fighting to book their tickets. 

Lowry and Rose entered the final 18 holes with work to do and both ended up falling short. Rose's seven-under 65, which saw him finish three strokes behind Horschel on 16 under, was not enough to get him on either the European or World points lists. 

Irishman Lowry needed to finish in the top eight to qualify but endured a disappointing final day, a one-under 71 seeing him go 12 under for the tournament and leaving the 2019 Open champion down in tied 17th. 

Wiesberger carded a level-par 72 as he closed on 11 under, that score sufficient to dislodge Rory McIlroy from the European points list. 

Meanwhile, Westwood is set to equal Nick Faldo's record for Ryder Cup appearances by playing for Europe for the 11th time. 

Like McIlroy, Westwood qualifies via the World points list despite a five-over 77 that left him down in a four-way tie for 71st. 

At the sharp end of the leaderboard, it was Horschel who emerged from a tightly packed field thanks to his final-round 65. 

He was tied with Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Jamie Donaldson and Laurie Carter on 18 under, but a tremendous approach over the water at the last gave Horschel a simple putt for birdie. 

Carter was unable to replicate Horschel's feat, giving the American his second European Tour title of the year and his first triumph in a Rolex Series event. 

United States captain Steve Stricker has selected Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele among his wildcard picks for the Ryder Cup, but there is no place for Patrick Reed on the 12-player roster.

Spieth will appear at the biennial competition for a fourth time in a row, while Schauffele is set to make his debut against Europe in next month's tournament at Whistling Straits after recently winning Olympic gold.

Schauffele was one of three rookies chosen by Stricker on Wednesday along with Daniel Berger, Harris English and Scottie Scheffler, with Tony Finau – part of the USA side that lost in Paris three years ago – completing the captain's picks.

Speaking at a news conference to announce his final selection, Stricker said: "All six of these guys have been playing some really good golf for a long period of time. 

"It's more about a body of work. They have all played great throughout this year and very well deserving of these picks."

The top-six qualifiers – Collin Morikawa, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Patrick Cantlay – had already locked in spots for the USA, who are seeking to regain the trophy after that 17.5-10.5 loss in 2018.

Reed is the most notable name overlooked by Stricker, the 31-year-old having featured in every American team since 2014. 

He made his return from a month-long absence at last week's Tour Championship after being hospitalised with pneumonia in both lungs.

Asked to explain his decision to overlook Reed, who top-scored for USA in their 2016 victory at Hazeltine, Stricker said: "That was a very, very difficult call. I lost sleep over that one. 

"He's a tremendous competitor, he brings a lot of match play golf and his record at the Ryder Cup is pretty darn good.

"I think it was the uncertainty of his health and the lack of play that led to our decision down the stretch."

Team Europe captain Padraig Harrington will announce his final three picks on Sunday.

Phil Mickelson and Fred Couples have been named vice-captains for the 2020 Ryder Cup by United States captain Steve Stricker. 

Stricker's other vice-captains are Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson and Love, meaning there is no place in the leadership team for Tiger Woods. 

Mickelson will not be a playing member of the team for the first time after 12 consecutive appearances – a record for Team USA – dating back to 1995. He also holds the national record for four-ball points won (nine) and matches played (47). 

Although the 51-year-old became the oldest player in history to win a major at the US PGA Championship back in May, it was his only top-10 finish this year. 

Couples served as a vice-captain to Davis Love III in 2012 and made five appearances as a player, the last of which came in 1997. 

"I've been staying in close contact with both Freddie and Phil, talking about all things Ryder Cup, for a while now," Stricker said in a statement. 

"They provide honest and impactful feedback, and both have such a passion for the Ryder Cup. I'm honoured that they were willing to join our team and help put us in the best position to win in a few weeks at Whistling Straits."

The tournament, which was postponed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is due to be played at Whistling Straits from September 24-26. 

"I'm humbled and honoured to be a part of this year's Ryder Cup as an assistant captain," Mickelson wrote on Twitter. 

"Thank you captain Stricker for including me and I hope to help in any way possible."

Abraham Ancer thought he had blown his shot at his first PGA Tour win the first time he played the 18th hole on Sunday. Turns out he just needed two more chances on the hole to make it happen. 

Ancer birdied the second playoff hole from six feet and watched as Sam Burns missed almost the same putt to give him the WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational title as the third man in the playoff, Hideki Matsuyama, also made par. 

After finishing as runner-up four times in his previous 120 Tour starts, Ancer finally prevailed in Memphis to become the ninth first-time winner this season and the fourth player from Mexico to win on Tour. 

"This is surreal," he told CBS. "I thought I left so many shots out there on the back nine, but you never know. Golf is crazy.

"There's been some times that I felt like I made enough birdies to win and I didn't win. This is kind of how it goes and I'm happy that I got lucky."

A significant portion of that luck came on the first playoff hole, when Matsuyama had a chance to win it but saw his long putt for birdie on 18 lip out, sending the trio back to the 18th tee for another go.

The 2021 Masters champion turned in the round of the day just to make the playoff, firing a bogey-free seven-under 63 to fly up the leaderboard on the final day. 

Burns was close behind with a 64, a double bogey on 13 his only blemish. 

Harris English, who held a two-stroke lead after each of the first three rounds, watched those three fly by him as he slumped to a three-over 73 and finished fourth after opening the tournament with rounds of 62, 65 and 65. 

English bogeyed the opening hole before regaining his stride with three birdies, but he did not make another after the eighth hole, posting double bogeys at 11 and 14 and a bogey at the par-five 16th. 

The American said afterward that a warning for slow play on the front nine knocked him out of rhythm and he felt like he was rushing the rest of the day.

His playing partner Bryson DeChambeau had an even more difficult time after working himself into contention with a 63 on Saturday. 

DeChambeau carded a triple-bogey six on the 11th and also did not manage a birdie on the back nine on the way to a 74 that left him tied for eighth at 12 under for the tournament. 

Rough as that triple was for DeChambeau, honours for worst hole of the day went to Kim Si-woo.

The South Korean hit five successive shots in the water at the 11th on the way to a 13 – the worst score on a par-three hole on the PGA Tour since 1983, not including majors.

Among other notables, Dustin Johnson (70) tied for 10th at 11 under, one stroke better than Rory McIlroy (66) and Jordan Spieth (67).

Phil Mickelson (68) finished at seven under along with Louis Oosthuizen, who floundered to a 74 in the final round. 

Sergio Garcia (72), Collin Morikawa (69) and defending champion Justin Thomas (72) were at five under, with Patrick Reed (70) and Lee Westwood (71) one back of them. 

Olympic champion Xander Schauffele (68) was at even par and Brooks Koepka (76) at two over. 

Harris English maintained his two-shot cushion at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational leaderboard as Bryson DeChambeau climbed up the leaderboard.

Aided by three birdies during his final six holes, English carded a second successive score of 65 at TPC Southwind to sit at 18 under par.

The four-time winner on the PGA Tour endured a bogey-free round on Saturday, pulling clear in the closing stages having at one stage seen both Abraham Ancer and DeChambeau join him in top spot.

After a four at the par-five 16th, English produced an outstanding approach into the green at the next hole before rolling in a birdie putt, boosting his hopes of a wire-to-wire triumph in the tournament.

However, he is well aware that there is still plenty of work to do yet.

"There's a lot of good players behind me and my goal is just stick to my strategy and execute and whatever happens, happens," English said.

DeChambeau is not too far behind after a stunning 63 that saw him come home in just 30 shots. His seven-under score leaves him tied for second with Australian Cameron Smith, who signed for a 65.

"It was awesome being able to strike it that close to the hole all day," DeChambeau, who missed out on playing at the Tokyo Olympics due to contracting coronavirus, said.

"I didn't feel as comfortable as I would have liked with the swing, but the results were there so I was very pleased with the results. And honestly, if I can do that again tomorrow, I give myself a great chance to win."

Ancer is a further two strokes back following a three-under 67, the same score Scottie Scheffler and Ian Poulter both managed to sit just behind the Mexican on 13 under.

Dustin Johnson may still hold out hope of triumphing, with a round of 65 enough to be one of four players on 11 under par.  He is joined by Paul Casey, Will Zalatoris and Louis Oosthuizen.

Defending champion Justin Thomas already faced a battle to retain his crown, and the American was only able to shoot 69 on day three.

At seven under for the event, a repeat of his 2020 triumph appears almost impossible, considering he is so far back and the number of players ahead of him.

Harris English heads into the weekend at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational with a two-stroke lead after maintaining his spot atop the leaderboard Friday.

The American followed Thursday's 62 with a five-under-par 65 at TPC Southwind, where he won his first PGA Tour title eight years ago. 

Australia's Cameron Smith and Abraham Ancer of Mexico surged into a tie for second place after carding 62s of their own in Memphis to sit at 11 under for the tournament.

Ian Poulter (66), Scottie Scheffler (65) and Sam Burns (64) are three back of the lead at 10 under, while Louis Oosthuizen (64) and Bryson DeChambeau (66) are well within striking distance at nine under. 

English started on the back nine and made three birdies going out before carding his first and only bogey of the day at the par-four second hole. But he managed to follow that disappointment with an eagle on the third before adding one more birdie later in his round.

Smith also eagled the third on the way to tying a PGA Tour record, as he needed just 18 putts to complete his bogey-free round. 

That included a two-put at the last, not long after Smith figured out he was on the verge of history. 

"I was walking down 17 and was counting my putts up and I thought, 'No, that can't be right,'" Smith said. 

Further down the leaderboard, defending champion Justin Thomas (67) is seven strokes back of the lead at six under along with two-time major winner Dustin Johnson (65).

Phil Mickelson (66) is at five under, whie Hideki Matsuyama (69) and Patrick Reed (69) are well back at three under. 

Rory McIlroy (66), Sergio Garcia (68), and Collin Morikawa (71) are at two under, one stroke better than Brooks Koepka (69). 

Jordan Spieth (69) enters the weekend at even par and Olympic champion Xander Schauffele (73) is at two over. 

Harris English won his first PGA Tour title at TPC Southwind eight years ago, and he has another triumph in his sights after opening with a 62 at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. 

The American has a two-stroke lead over four pursuers, as Ian Poulter, Carlos Ortiz, Jim Herman and Matthew Wolff carded six-under-par 64s Thursday in Memphis, Tennessee. 

Bryson DeChambeau, Scottie Scheffler and Marc Leishman were three shots back after shooting 65, with DeChambeau making his first start since missing the Tokyo Olympics following a positive COVID-19 test. 

Among the group two shots behind them at five under were defending champion Justin Thomas, Open Championship winner Collin Morikawa and the red-hot Louis Oosthuizen, who has top-three finishes in four of his last five starts.

Among other notables, Patrick Reed and Hideki Matsuyama are at two under, with Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Olympic champion Xander Schauffele at one under, and Brooks Kopeka and Sergio Garcia at even par.

Jordan Spieth is at one over and Rory McIlroy at two over, leaving him 62nd in the 66-player field. 

But they will all start Friday chasing English. The 32-year-old carded seven birdies on a blistering front nine, then faltered a bit with bogeys at 10 and 12 before closing his round with birdies at three of the last four holes. 

"It was one of those rounds where I was hitting it really good off the tee and making a lot of good putts," English told reporters. 

English won at Memphis in its previous incarnation as the Tour's St. Jude Classic in June 2013, then added another title that fall. 

That was his last PGA Tour win before this year, which has seen him take the Tournament of Champions in Maui in January and the Travelers Championship in June. 

 

 

Jon Rahm has been ruled out of competing at the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for COVID-19.

The Spanish Olympic Committee announced the world number one had returned a positive result on his third PCR test after competing at The Open at Royal St George's, having previously recorded two negative outcomes ahead of his appearance at the Games.

American Bryson DeChambeau was also ruled out of competing for the same reason on Sunday, having not yet travelled to play in Japan.

For Rahm, it is the second time he has tested positive in as many months. He had to withdraw from the Memorial Tournament on the PGA Tour when leading by six shots after 54 holes.

The 26-year-old won the U.S. Open upon his return to action, securing the first major of his career by one shot thanks to a birdie-birdie finish on a dramatic Sunday at Torrey Pines.

With a shortage of time and considering the health protocols in place for the Olympics, a replacement will not be selected. Spain still has one competitor left in the field in Adri Arnaus, the world number 166.

As for DeChambeau, he admitted to being "deeply disappointed" at missing out on Tokyo.

"Representing my country means the world to me and it is was a tremendous honour to make this team," he said in a statement released by the PGA Tour.

"I wish Team USA the best of luck next week in Tokyo. I will now focus on getting healthy, and I look forward to returning to competition once I am cleared to do so."

Patrick Reed will replace him, provided he clears coronavirus tests scheduled on Sunday and Monday before departing for Japan.

 

The 149th Open Championship concluded in thrilling fashion on Sunday as Collin Morikawa claimed the Claret Jug.

It was a fitting finale to a memorable tournament, which marked the return of fans en masse to watch golf's oldest major.

Royal St George's was bathed in sunshine for all four days and it was a joyous event for everyone in attendance.

Stats Perform's man on the ground said a fond farewell to the Kent links, but not before one last wander around the course.

SHELTER FROM THE WARM

The soaring temperatures made walking the course a test of endurance, and not everyone was keen to partake.

What few spots of shade there were soon became occupied by weary bodies, sheltering from the warmth of the sun.

The queues at the water refill points were longer than for the grandstands.

CELEB SPOTTING (TAKE TWO)

It may have been premature to share the story of a chance encounter with British comedian Michael McIntyre on Saturday, as Sunday heralded the arrival of an even bigger celebrity.

Milling around outside the entrance to the media centre, and somehow not surrounded by a large crowd of autograph hunters, was One Direction's Niall Horan.

He's a keen golf fan and can often be seen at the majors rubbing shoulders with the biggest names in the sport.

FLAGGING...

At the end of a long tournament, some members of the media pack wanted a morale-boosting moment, so waited patiently for Champion Golfer of the Year Morikawa to exit from the interview room in hope of an autograph or photo.

Two had souvenir flags with Open Championship branding, in the expectation Morikawa might take the time to sign them.

He bolted through the doors carrying the Claret Jug, saw his waiting fans, but had no time to stop, telling them: "Sorry guys. Maybe I'll see you later."

Oh, the disappointment. 

Open champion Collin Morikawa revealed the unexpected and tasty secret to his success after winning the Claret Jug at the first attempt on Sunday.

The 24-year-old produced a blemish-free 66 in a stunning final round at Royal St George's to thwart the charge of Jordan Spieth and eclipse overnight leader Louis Oosthuizen.

Morikawa, who also won the 2020 US PGA Championship on debut, secured his second major win in eight entries after starting the day a shot behind Oosthuizen.

In the end his greatest beef was with 2017 Champion Golfer of the Year Spieth, who recovered from being two over through six holes to sign for a 66 himself, finishing two back.

But Morikawa, who saw playing partner Oosthuizen limp to a closing 71, clearly relished the challenge as he went bogey-free to make mincemeat of the field in sizzling sunshine on the Kent coast.

But, when grilled by the media as to what the key to his triumph was, Morikawa had an answer nobody saw coming.

"The secret? Well, I never do this, but I had a burger for four straight days, so my body is probably feeling it. I know my body's feeling it," he said.

"I think I just enjoy these moments, and I talk about it so much that we love what we do. And you have to embrace it.

"You have to be excited about these opportunities, and that's how I looked at it today, especially coming down the stretch, was I'm excited. To have the Claret Jug right here in my possession for a year, I believe, I'm excited to have it."

Runner-up Spieth lamented his putting as he came up short, but Morikawa was delighted with that side of his own game.

He made a succession of potentially tricky putts, including one for birdie from around 15 feet on the 14th just after Spieth had cut the gap to one.

"Definitely one of the best [putting displays], especially inside 10 feet," he said.

"I felt like it was as solid as it's going to get. I don't think I really missed many from that distance. Especially in a major.

"I think in a major on a Sunday in contention, I wasn't thinking about anything other than making a putt.

"I'm going to tell myself probably tomorrow: 'Why can't I keep doing that all the time?'.

"But you know, I'm going to try to figure out what worked and use that for the future because I know I can putt well. I know I can putt well in these pressure situations. I've just got to keep doing that."

Jordan Spieth was left to lament a slack finish to his third round after he came up just short at The Open on Sunday.

The 2017 Champion Golfer of the Year recovered from two over through six to sign for a final-round 66, which left him two shots shy of winner Collin Morikawa.

But it was Saturday's round at Royal St George's that bothered the three-time major winner, who dropped shots at each of the last two holes.

Reflecting on a close call with what would have been a first major triumph since that success at Royal Birkdale four years ago, Spieth was quick to point out where it went wrong.

"It's hard to be upset when I was a couple over through six," he said. "I couldn't have really done much more after that point.

"But the finish yesterday was about as upset as I've taken a finish of a round to the house. I walked in and I said: 'Is there something that I can break?'.

"I knew that was so important because I would have been in the final group."

Spieth is usually a safe bet with the putter in his hand, but the 27-year-old felt that side of his game was lacking in Kent.

He took 1.58 putts per greens in regulation, which was better than the field average of 1.68, but Spieth felt he was well short of his own high standard.

"My putting is not where I want to be at all," conceded. "I say at all; It's progressing the right direction, but it's not where it has been.

"I know what needs to do to get there, and it's just very difficult to do. But it's rounds like today or this week, major championship rounds, where you have to obviously test not only your touch out here, but also a lot of knobs and breaking putts and trust lines. It's a good test for it.

"I just wasn't extremely sharp with the putter this week. I was sharper than I was at Augusta, and it's been a little bit kind of here and there this year.

"My bad weeks have been okay and my good weeks are really good, but I needed to put in a little bit of work."

Paying tribute to champion Morikawa, who has two major wins from eight starts, Spieth added: "He swings the club beautifully, gets it in positions that make it very, very difficult to not start the ball online, so therefore, he's going to be very consistent tee to green.

"At 24, obviously there's a bright future ahead."

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