Wednesday 21 February 2018

McIlroy in the mix for glory

Golf: Rory McIlroy surged up the leaderboard on the third day of the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte yesterday, carding an impressive a six-under-par 66 to boost his chances of reclaiming the world No 1 spot.

The Northern Irishman, who needs a top-seven finish to dethrone Luke Donald, birdied seven of his first 11 holes. Having then birdied 15, the Holywood star bogeyed the par-four 16th, but he is right in the mix heading into today's final round.

McIlroy finished on 12-under, level with Nick Watney and two shots behind leader Webb Simpson -- his 69 edged him one shot ahead of compatriots Ryan Moore, who went round in a four-under 68, and DA Points, level with Moore after a 69.

Geoff Ogilvy produced the round of the day with a seven-under 65; he lies two back from McIlroy on 10-under, and a shot behind Rickie Fowler, whose 69 kept him in the hunt. It proved to be a low-scoring day for a lot of the field, with England's Lee Westwood signing in the clubhouse for a four-under 68, but that still left him well off the pace. Should the Worksop man produce a miracle and win the event, McIlroy would need a top-six finish to move back to the top of the rankings.


Simon Dyson double-bogeyed the last hole to throw the race for the Spanish Open wide open again with a round to go in Seville. In more windy conditions and after a delay of nearly two hours because of a flooded course, the reigning Irish and Dutch Open champion shot a one-under-par 71 to take over at the top from Gregory Bourdy.

The Frenchman did not even break 80 as he slumped to joint 21st, but after moving three clear Dyson was furious with his finish. He was in the back bunker for two, failed to get out and then took three more. Dyson dropped back to five under and will resume only one ahead of Spain's Pablo Larrazabal and Dane Soren Kjeldsen.


RUGBY: Old Belvedere maintained their top-flight status at Anglesea Road, as an 18-point haul from rising star Josh Glynn gave them a memorable 18-15 victory over Belfast Harlequins in an absorbing Ulster Bank League Division 1A Promotion/Relegation Play-Off.

Belvo had finished their Division 1A campaign in fine style but Harlequins fully merited their place in this tie.

The sides were on level terms, 10-10, heading into the second half. Belvo restored their advantage on the hour mark thanks to a second penalty from the accurate Glynn, who got in for his second five-pointer on 67 minutes. A 77th-minute try from Harlequins' Adam Macklin threw a spanner in the works. Porter's conversion miss meant Old Belvedere held on.


Munster secured maximum points with a five-try victory over Ulster in their Junior Interprovincial at Kanturk. Playing into the wind in the opening half, tries by Greg Carroll and Ben Martin gave Munster 12-5 interval lead. Replacements Ian Fitzgerald (two) and Fergal Lawlor added further tries.


ATHLETICS: Ciaran O Lionaird, Ireland's world-ranked 1500m runner, faces a race against time to be at peak fitness for the Olympics as he battles against an Achilles tendon injury. The Corkman has been nursing this injury since the World Indoor Championships last March when he ran so disappointingly.

"That was an extremely difficult race for me because I just could not run like I know I can because of the injury," he said yesterday from his training base in Oregon. "There was a period after the indoors when I was unable to run at all and that was tough. This made me more determined to have some good runs in the Olympics and the good news is that the injury has responded to intensive treatment and I'm back up to doing about 10 miles a day and getting stronger."


London's Olympic Stadium opened its doors for a four-day test event and a little bit of history was made when a Birmingham-born athlete, who runs for Ireland, became the first winner of a race there.

In front of just 4,000 spectators, Justine Kinney won the first heat of the British Universities and Colleges Track and Field Championships women's 400m hurdles in a time of 59.79sec on Friday.

Asked about her Irish qualifications, the 24-year-old said: "My dad's Irish and my grandparents too. They're from Cork. I was born in England but I've always had two passports."


SHOWJUMPING: Irish riders maintained a high strike rate at European shows, with Billy Twomey taking fourth place at Valencia and Mark McAuley claiming fifth. Meanwhile in Mannheim, Capt David O'Brien won on the Irish-bred Kiltoom in a speed competition.

Twomey and McAuley were competing in a 1m45 speed class at Spain's five-star Global Champions Tour. Cork's Twomey led the field from early in the class with his 14-year-old stallion Romanov but he was outpaced as 30 riders attempted to chip fractions off his time of 60.74 seconds. Spain's Sergio Alvarez Moya and the mare Kisby lifted the trophy with a time just over a second faster than the Irish rider.

Mark McAuley and the nine-year-old mare Par Trois were fifth, almost four seconds behind Twomey and Romanov. Co Down's Dermott Lennon had a fifth place in the 1m50 competition at the four-star show in Lummen, Belgium on the Irish-bred Ace High Mike, while Shane Carey produced a second place in Drammen, Norway.


HOCKEY: Lisnagarvey will face YMCA in the Electric Ireland Men's Irish Hockey League final at Lisnagarvey today, while it will be an all-Leinster duel in the women's decider between Railway Union and Loreto.

Lisnagarvey, hosting these finals, will be strong favourites to win after defeating Cookstown 4-3 in the semi-final, the winner coming two minutes from the end. Cookstown fought gallantly and Ian Sloan scored a drag-flick corner goal levelling it at 3-3 with just four minutes left.

Timmy Cockram, with a hat-trick, had kept 'Garvey in front until then, and he created the winner when he linked with Mark Raphael, who scored. YMCA overcame Monkstown 3-1 in a penalty shootout in the other men's semi-final.

A 42nd-minute goal from Zara Delany saw Railway Union past Hermes in the first women's semi-final. Loreto scored an equally significant win over Ulster kingpins Pegasus, by another 1-0 margin, the goal coming from Nicci Daly three minutes from the end.


MOTORSPORT: Cork driver Darragh O'Riordan leads the Rally of the Lakes. O'Riordan is 32.5 seconds ahead of Eugene Donnelly in second, with Irish Tarmac Championship leader Darren Gass back in third place, 37.9 seconds off the lead.

It was a case of lightning striking thrice for reigning Irish Rally and Irish Tarmac Rally champion Tim McNulty. McNulty led the rally after three stages but on stage four, he skidded off, damaging his car and forcing retirement.

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