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Pawin makes up three-shot deficit with a 67 to win Phuket Open
Oct 19. 2020
Pawin Ingkharadit won his third title on the All Thailand Golf Tour with a one-shot victory at Singha Laguna Phuket Open 2020 on Sunday.
Three shots behind leader Witchayanon Chothirunrungrueng after three rounds, Pawin closed with a final-round 67 to win with 11-under 269 on the par-70 Laguna Golf Phuket.
Witchayanon, who was two shots in the lead after 54 holes, finished second at 10-under after he posted a 71.
One stroke behind were Atiruj Winaicharoenchai (64) and Panuphol Pittayarat (70), who shared third with a nine-under in the final event of the All Thailand Golf Tour 2020.
Pawin earned Bt300,000 in the Bt2-million tournament and five world ranking points for his third ATGT win after victories at the Singha Championship 2018 and the Singha Hua Hin Open 2015. Witchayanon, who is still waiting for this first ATGT title, took home Bt190,000 and three points.
Pawin, who turned pro in 2011, said that the key to his win is to focus on his own game.
“I have tried to concentrate on my own game. That helps me a lot,” said the Suphanburi native, who made five birdies and two bogeys.
“My iron play has improved a lot this week and that was a key. And on the back nine, I tried to play safe as much as I could.”
Kosuke Hamamoto, the 2015 Singha Classic winner, finished a solo sixth with eight-under, while Natipong Srithong (70) was one shot behind at seventh. Ratchapol Jantavara, bidding for back-to-back titles after his win in Chiang Rai last month, was joint 33rd on 281.
Amateur Ratchanon Chantananuwat, 13, finished as a low amateur. In his third attempt at the ATGT event, Ratchanon, who was among four amateurs who made the cut, shot a final-round 67 to tie for 17th with a total score of three-under 277.
In August, Ratchanon made the cut at Singha Pattaya Open, becoming the youngest player to make the cut in the 21-year history of the tour.
Pavit Tangkamolprasert, who won the season-opening Boonchu Ruangkit Championship in January, finished tied for 63rd with 10-over 290. However, it was enough for him to be crowned the Order of Merit champion with earnings of Bt879,754 in six events.
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Magic number 8: Rins reigns MotorLand, Mir takes the Championship lead
Oct 19. 2020
Suzuki make it a day to remember with their best MotoGP™ results in first and third, with Alex Marquez taking another stunning podium in second
2020 continues to serve up a stunner of a MotoGP™ season, and there have now been eight different premier class winners. In the Gran Premio Michelin® de Aragon, it was Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) on the top step as the Suzuki rider took his first victory since Silverstone 2019, slicing up from tenth on the grid to fend off another late charge from rookie superstar Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), who took second and the 850th premier class podium for Honda. Third place went to Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar), the number 36 back on the rostrum and the new Championship leader after a tough day at the office for Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT).
As the lights went out, it was Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) who was off like a shot from second on the grid, the number 12 carving his way to the front immediately round the outside of Turn 2 as the Petronas Yamahas duelled behind, and Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) headed a bit wide. Soon enough though, Viñales’ closest company came from Rins as the Suzuki rider sliced through from tenth to get past Morbidelli and Quartararo, homing in on the number 12 in the lead.
Stalking the Monster Energy Yamaha for a couple of laps, Rins chose his moment at the final corner and took a tight, tight line to sweep up the inside for the lead, neatly done to take over at the front. Just behind, things were getting spicy as Mir had managed a two-for-one past the Petronas Yamahas with a similar move up into third, and Alex Marquez was on a charge.
Rins, Viñales, Mir… the trio at the front remained pretty close together as the cat and mouse began, with Marquez the man making serious gains. As the number 73 arrived on the scene, Mir seemingly decided enough was enough, slicing through on Viñales at the final corner. To compound Viñales’ chagrin, Marquez then made a stunner of a late dive past the Yamaha into Turn 1 too…
Up ahead, Rins remained ahead but it was far from becoming a runaway win. As the laps ticked down, the number 42 retained the close company from teammate Mir and Alex Marquez, but the next move wouldn’t threaten for the lead. With six to go, and again at the final corner, the number 73 Repsol Honda swooped past Mir to take over in second, Alex Marquez on for his second second place in a row. Or was he?
Once past, the Honda was closing. And not in thousandths or hundredths, but really reeling Rins in. Alex Marquez was over three tenths faster with four laps remaining, and looked seriously primed for a shot at the win. But Rins was holding station, and then a major warning came Marquez’ way at the final corner with two laps and a corner to go. The number 73 was out the seat as he squeezed on the gas and lot some ground, but he gathered it back up and set his sights back on the Suzuki.
Rins had a three tenth lead with two to go, and coming onto the last lap, it remained at 0.3 seconds. Marquez had to try and get close enough to get into the slipstream down the back straight, but Rins got his GSX-RR hooked up nicely and the Honda man wasn’t close enough to try his inside sweeping move. Despite the pressure, Rins made no mistakes. rising over the brow of the hill and making it to the line with two tenths in hand. The eighth winner in eight races and eighth of the season, back on the top step for the first time in over a year – and Marquez, despite losing out on the win, back on the podium for the second time in a week.
Mir had to keep an eye out for Viñales on the final couple of laps, and Morbidelli had Nakagami for company in the battle for the top five. In the end, Mir came out on top in the fight for third but again, by only a couple of tenths, but it’s enough to see him take the title lead as Quartararo plummeted through the field. Viñales also made a big gain in points given that, coming home off the podium but the second Championship challenger over the line.
Nakagami kept up his 100% top 10 finish record in 2020 with a superb P5, the Honda rider managing to beat Morbidelli on the last lap for the honour of top Independent Team rider too. That’s the number 30’s second top five of the season.. and he’s only 29 points off Mir!
After a difficult weekend, Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) salvaged P7 on race day to sit closer to the top of the Championship than he did before the lights went out, top Borgo Panigale machine on Sunday and still in the hunt. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol), after a tough start, was able to climb back up to P8. The two Ducatis of Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) and Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) completed the top 10, not what either would have been expecting heading into the weekend.
Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) led teammate Pol Espargaro across the line as the Austrian factory suffered a difficult Sunday taking P11 and P12, with Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) finishing just under a second from his younger brother in P13. Iker Lecuona (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) grabbed P14 to finish ahead of the final point scorer – Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team).
So where was Quartararo? The former points leader, after struggling with front tyre pressure, went from off the podium to fringes of the top ten to end up outside the points in P18. After a heroic pole position taken despite his big FP3 crash, the Frenchman had one of his toughest Sundays yet in the premier class… but he’ll be fired up to try and hit back next week. Mir now leads on 121 as Quartararo remains on 115, with Viñales third with 109. Dovizioso has 106, still very much in touch…
That’s all Bibendum wrote at the Gran Premio Michelin® de Aragon, with another huge swing in momentum in the title fight. Whose way will it go next week? Find out in less than seven days as MotoGP™ get back on track for the Gran Premio Liqui Moly de Teruel on Friday.
MotoGP™ podium 1 Alex Rins –Team Suzuki Ecstar – Suzuki 41:54.391 2 Alex Marquez – Repsol Honda Team – Honda – +0.263 3 Joan Mir –Team Suzuki Ecstar – Suzuki +2.644
Top Independent Team rider 5 Takaaki Nakagami – LCR Honda Idemitsu – Honda +4.570
Alex Rins: “Incredible! Unbelievable! Sincerely, at the start I was so calm, and I was thinking ‘hmm maybe that’s a bad thing!’ I made a really good start, the first laps were really good, then when I was behind Maverick I was thinking, ‘Alex, you have a bit more so try to go, but slowly because otherwise you’ll ruin the rear tyre!’ I tried to manage the distance to the guys behind and it’s amazing. This is for all the fans that normally come here from the towns around here, and for all this amazing team, and my family, friends, girlfriend. Everybody! This is for you guys!”
MotoGP™ podium L-R: Alex Marquez, Rins and Mir
Lowes goes back-to-back ahead of Bastianini as the title fight takes another huge turn The Brit comes out on top in a race of attrition ahead of Bastianini, with Marini and Bezzecchi both crashing out to add another twist to the Moto2™ tale
A seismic shift in the fight to be crowned 2020 Moto2™ World Champion took place at the Gran Premio Michelin® Aragon Grand Prix, with Sam Lowes (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) taking first and second – and Sky Racing Team VR46 teammates Luca Marini and Marco Bezzecchi both crashing out. That leaves Bastianini, who just beat Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) to second on the last lap, take over in the Championship lead, with Lowes’ 25 points for the win putting him just two off the top in the standings…
As the lights went out in Aragon, it was a super start from Bezzecchi as he took the holeshot from second on the grid, with Petronas Sprinta Racing’s Jake Dixon swooping through to third from row two. Early drama then struck as Jorge Navarro (MB Conveyors Speed Up) crashed at the opening corner following contact with Marcos Ramirez (Tennor American Racing), but the Spaniard thankfully walked away from a scary crash.
Then, polesitter Lowes ran slightly wide at Turn 12 from second and that allowed Fabio Di Giannantonio (MB Conveyors Speed Up) through after the Italian had sliced past Dixon, but Lowes hit back quick to set his sights Bezzecchi out front. Not long after that on Lap 3, the Championship then took its biggest twist yet as former points leader Luca Marini tucked the front through Turn 14 and slid out – leaving an open goal for those in the hunt to capitalise.
Teammate Bezzecchi would be the new man ahead in the standings if he could hold on to victory, but Lowes and Di Giannantonio were close. ‘Diggia’ made his move on Lowes with fourteen to go at MotorLand, but the three stayed close as Enea Bastianini edged ahead of Jake Dixon for the final place inside the top five just behind them.
Ten laps in, Di Giannantonio pounced on Bezzecchi for the lead at Turn 14. The pair were side-by-side down the long back straight but the Speed Up man was able to hold on as they went through the final corner. But then suddenly, into Turn 2 next time around, ‘Diggia’ was sliding out of the lead – leaving Bezzecchi and Lowes in a duel for the win.
By then, Martin was beginning to loom ominously in the background though, and Bastianini was just half a second off his rear wheel. With seven to go, the ‘Beast’ struck under the shadow of the MotorLand wall.
Martin wasn’t going to just sit and let Bastianini escape though, with the Red Bull KTM Ajo man immediately finding a response, but the number 33 had an answer too – back past on the brakes into Turn 8.
With five to go Bezzzecchi was still in control, half a second clear of Lowes. Three seconds further back Bastianini held third place, himself three tenths clear of Martin. The laps ticked by and the end drew nearer with Bezzecchi on course for victory, before another monumental moment in the World Championship chase suddenly took place. With just two laps remaining, Bezzecchi suddenly crashed out at Turn 2.
Lowes swooped through, and incredibly took the mantle as Championship leader too as Martin got himself in front of Bastianini. But onto the final lap, it was far from decided. Lowes crossed the line to take his first ever back to back wins, but the fight for second was close. It came down to the final sector on the final lap, with Bastianini putting in a clinical, ruthless and vital move to secure the extra four points to sit atop the Moto2™ standings.
Further back, Dixon well and truly bounced back from his Le Mans heartbreak by clinching a career-best finish in fourth. ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team’s Remy Gardner got the better of Ramirez and Hector Garzo (FlexBox HP 40) in the fight for the final place inside the top five. Tennor American Racing’s Joe Roberts took eighth, before Tetsuta Nagashima (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Simone Corsi (MV Agusta Forward Racing) rounded out the top ten.
That’s it from MotorLand… for this weekend at least! Moto2™ are back on track for the Gran Premio Liqui Moly de Teruel on Friday – and it couldn’t be closer. Will it change everything again? Or can Lowes and Bastianini keep the momentum rolling? We’ll find out soon enough!
Moto2™ podium 1 Sam Lowes – EG 0,0 Marc VDS – Kalex 39:33.202 2 Enea Bastianini – Italtrans Racing Team – Kalex +4.195 3 Jorge Martin – Red Bull KTM Ajo – Kalex +4.430
Sam Lowes: “Bezzecchi’s crash was a shame near the end of the race, Diggia I felt like I had his pace… I’m sorry for them, they were stronger than me at a couple of points on the track which is something I can work on for next weekend. But overall I was there, I kept the pressure on, was able to benefit from their mistakes and back to back wins is good for me! It’s the first time for me to get back to back wins in Moto2, so I’m really really happy.”
Moto2™ podium L-R: Bastianini, Lowes and Martin
Masia rules at MotorLand to become Honda’s 100th different winner The Spaniard takes to the top step for his first win of the season, ahead of Binder and a first podium for Fernandez… but it’s Arenas who wins big in the title fight
Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) threatened it last time out, but at MotorLand Aragon the Spaniard got the job done to perfection to take his first victory of the season and become the 100th different Grand Prix winner for Honda. After charging up from P17 on the grid, the man he just beat to the line was Darryn Binder (CIP – Green Power), the South African less than a tenth off, with polesitter Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) taking his first Grand Prix podium in third.
Albert Arenas (Solunion Aspar Team Moto3) took the holeshot from pole, the Championship leader getting the jump on polesitter Fernandez – but not for long. The number 25 struck back quickly, before Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) also made short work of Arenas too. There was early drama hit for Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) as he crashed out, and not long after John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Alonso Lopez (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) were given their Long Laps to take within three.
At the front, a distinct group of four had broken away: Fernandez, Suzuki, Arenas and Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team), with Darryn Binder hunting them down and, not long after, joining the battle to make it a five-rider fight. Meanwhile, title challengers Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) and Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) found themselves mired down in the fight for sixth – and not at the front of that freight train either.
As the five at the front fought it out, however, their pace started to come down and what had seemed an insurmountable gap was suddenly an awful lot smaller. The trio on their tail were Masia, McPhee – despite his Long Lap – and Jeremy Alcoba (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3). And then there were eight, and once on the scene, McPhee struck quickly to take Suzuki at the rear of the initial leaders to make it a full group battle.
Fernandez remained pretty steadfast in the lead until a mistake just onto Lap 14, when Binder swept through to capitalise immediately – followed by Arenas. And the number 75 took the lead not long after that as Fernandez was then forced to defend from Fenati for third. But war broke out at Turn 1 next time around, and just like that the number 25 was back in the hot seat and the whole group had shuffled.
At the start of the penultimate lap, McPhee headed a bit wide and dropped down to just ahead of Suzuki, who seemed to be struggling to hang in with the group, and Arenas also opened the door for Binder to go through. Masia was at the front of the train though and there he would remain – the man ahead onto the last lap.
That had already changed by Turn 2, however, as Fernandez took the baton back and Alcoba threatened in third. Arenas was fourth at that point before the title leader then ran wide on the exit of Turn 5, and then Alcoba and Masia got very close for comfort into Turn 8. Fernandez was still leading as they shuffled behind him though, with Binder round the outside of Alcoba at Turn 14 to have the inside line at Turn 15, grabbing P3 heading onto the back straight.
The podium three were the top three, but it was Fernandez, Masia, Binder still as the three opened the gas down the straight. Tucked into Fernandez’ slipstream though, Masia was the man on the move, able to reel Fernandez in and then take over at the front, with Binder also slipstreaming past the number 25. Coming over the crest of the hill, Masia held it to the line to earn his first victory with Leopard Racing from P17 on the grid – Honda’s 100th different Grand Prix winner.
Binder lost out by less than a tenth but earned his second podium of 2020, and Fernandez may have lost out on the win but the Spaniard bwas ecstatic to seal his maiden World Championship podium.
Fenati had another solid ride to take fourth as the Italian remains super consistent, with McPhee recovering well from his Long Lap and Turn 1 excursion to claim P5 – and important points for the Championship. Alcoba crossed the line P6 in the end, the rookie again impressing, with Arenas losing out on the last lap to finish P7 – just 0.396 from victory though. Suzuki lost touch in the latter stages but took eighth, still on the comeback to full strength.
Vietti never troubled the leading contenders in Aragon but finishes just a couple of places behind Arenas in P9, with Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) rounding out the top 10 as the Italian had Kaito Toba (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Tatay for company in P11 and P12 respectively. Ayumu Sasaki (Red Bull KTM Tech3) finished a lonely P13, the Japanese rider finishing six seconds ahead of struggling compatriot Ogura. It’s just two points picked up in Aragon for the man second in the Championship as Ogura slips to 13 behind Arenas. Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Tech3) picked up the final point at the Aragon GP in P15.
Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46) and Maximilian Kofler (CIP Green Power) crashed out at MotorLand.
Another scintillating lightweight class encounter sees Masia become the 100th Honda rider to win a Grand Prix, Arenas extend his lead and Ogura continue searching for his earlier season magic. But it could all change again, so get set for another MotorLand Aragon battle in seven days’ time…
Moto3™ podium 1 Jaume Masia – Leopard Racing – Honda 37:45.009 2 Darryn Binder – CIP – Green Power – KTM +0.091 3 Raul Fernandez – Red Bull KTM Ajo – KTM +0.196
Jaume Masia: “For sure, I didn’t expect that rhythm. But I was thinking about not losing my confidence with the bike, the team worked a lot, but all weekend we struggled a lot with the setting unlike in Le Mans. I don’t know how I arrived at the group as Raul put in a high rhythm, he was really strong. But finally we arrived at the group, maybe we pushed the rear too much and used it too much, but finally with my bike on the straight I could overtake Raul.”
Moto3™ podium L-R: Binder, Masia and Fernandez
Rins crosses the line to become winner number 8
A second second in a row for impressive rookie Alex Marquez
Mir held off Viñales for third and the Championship lead
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Star-studded field set for ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP @ SHERWOOD
Oct 18. 2020
The commitment deadline has come and gone and the field is set as 78 players prepare to descend upon Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California for next week’s ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP @ SHERWOOD.
Earlier this fall, the PGA TOUR and ZOZO Inc. officials announced the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP would not be played in Japan this year due to logistical issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and will instead be played at Sherwood. With the club’s rich history as a host venue on the PGA TOUR it is undoubtedly a worthy substitute and temporary home for the 2020 event, boasting a picturesque landscape for a competition among golf’s superstars.
The elite group of athletes includes each of the top-10 players from the 2019-20 FedExCup standings, 54 PGA TOUR winners with a combined total of 351 titles, and 14 major champions highlighted by 82-time TOUR winner and ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP defending champion, Tiger Woods.
Committed players from the top-10 in the 2019-20 FedExCup Standings
Among the big names committed to the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP include Xander Schauffele, Justin Thomas, 2020 Rookie of the Year Scottie Scheffler, recent PGA Championship winner Collin Morikawa, rising star Matthew Wolff and 14-time PGA TOUR winner Adam Scott.
Reigning FedExCup Champion Dustin Johnson is committed to play alongside World No. 2 Jon Rahm, each making their tournament debuts while two-time FedExCup champion Rory McIlroy will compete in the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP for a second consecutive year after finishing T3 in 2019.
Although 2020 will mark Johnson’s ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP debut, the 23-time PGA TOUR winner is no stranger to the area with strong ties to Sherwood via his famed soon-to-be father-in-law, Wayne Gretzky, who is a resident and member of the club. The current World No. 1 will make his fourth professional start at Sherwood next week where he shot a low round of 61 in 2014 and competed three times at the venue in the Hero World Challenge.
“It is a pleasure to welcome such an elite group of global stars highlighted by our defending champion Tiger Woods for the 2020 ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP @ SHERWOOD. With such a strong field comprised of a variety of the top ranked players in the world, FedExCup Champions, PGA TOUR winners and major champions, the event will undoubtedly deliver an exciting competition for our fans in Japan, the United States and all around the world tuning in from home,” said Executive Director Travis Steiner.
Just one year has passed since American golf legend Woods equaled Sam Snead’s long-standing record of 82 career wins on the PGA TOUR by securing a three-stroke victory at the inaugural ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP played at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club in Chiba, Japan.
In front of large galleries, Woods led the tournament from start to finish to beat Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, while Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy and Sungjae Im of Korea shared third place in the tournament, which heralded Japan’s first official PGA TOUR Event.
Sherwood is a Jack Nicklaus Signature designed golf course and was the venue for Woods’ tournament, the Hero World Challenge, from 2000-2013. Woods has a terrific record there, where he won his own event five times (2001, 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2011) and finished runner-up on five other occasions, thus raising anticipation that the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP @ SHERWOOD could produce a record-breaking 83rd PGA TOUR title for Woods.
“I am excited to defend my title at the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP. It is disappointing that we will not be able to play in Japan this year, but Sherwood Country Club will be a great backdrop for what I know will be a great championship,” Woods said.
Japanese star Hideki Matsuyama, who finished runner-up to Woods when the tournament was played at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club in Chiba, Japan last October, will also headline the US$8 million showpiece. A five-time winner, Matsuyama is the most successful Japanese golfer on the PGA TOUR. During the 2019-20 PGA TOUR Season, he qualified for his seventh successive TOUR Championship appearance and finished No. 15 in the final FedExCup standings in a season that featured five top-10 finishes.
Fans can rejoice as the list continues with more notable commitments each adding significant value to the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP @ SHERWOOD including Rickie Fowler, Tommy Fleetwood, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Justin Rose and Jordan Spieth.
“I’ve been able to play Sherwood a few times when Tiger’s event was there,” Fowler said. “Sherwood’s the perfect example of get the ball in play and go play your game from there, and [Tiger] has been one of the best iron players over time. So get the ball in play and then go score from there. It’s a great fit for him, but hopefully we’re able to take down the defending champ next week.”
Adding a bit of local flare are University of California-Berkeley alum Collin Morikawa and Agoura Hills native Matthew Wolff, each making their ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP debut. Sherwood Country Club is just seven miles from Westlake High School where 21-year-old Wolff attended and is even closer to Westlake Golf Course where he honed his craft and perfected a unique swing as a young player.
As a (normally) Japan-based event, the field is rounded out by eight Japanese golfers primed for competition at Sherwood. All eyes will be on newly minted professional Takumi Kanaya as he seeks to emulate the success of Hideki Matsuyama on the PGA TOUR.
The 22-year-old Kanaya, ranked No. 1 on the World Amateur Golf Ranking and winner of the 2020 McCormack Medal, turned professional last week and will be amongst the eight Japanese golfers next week.
Apart from Matsuyama and Kanaya, other Japanese players gaining entry into the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP through the Japan Golf Tour include two-time Japan Golf Tour No. 1 Shugo Imahira, Rikuya Hoshino, Mikumu Horikawa, Naoki Sekito and Ryo Ishikawa, a 17-time winner on the Japan Golf Tour and a former PGA TOUR regular. Satoshi Kodaira, the last Japanese player to win on the PGA TOUR with his maiden victory at the 2018 RBC Heritage, will also compete as a sponsor exemption.
Between Tiger Woods chasing 83, an abundance of international representation and two fistfuls of the top-ranked players in the world, the 2020 ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP @ SHERWOOD is sure to make history.
The ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP @ SHERWOOD will be broadcast in the United States on the Golf Channel from Oct. 22-25 at 5-8 p.m. (ET). In Japan, fans can tune in to the live broadcast on GOLFTV powered by PGA TOUR, NHK BS1, and Golf Network from October 23-26, 6-9 a.m. JST (broadcast times may be extended) and a two-hour highlight broadcast on October 26, 6 to 7:54 p.m. on BS Asahi. Fans can also tune into Featured Group coverage on GOLFTV powered by PGA TOUR from Oct 23-26, 1:45-9 a.m. JST. The latest broadcast schedule can be found on the official tournament website.
About PGA TOUR
By showcasing golf’s greatest players, the PGA TOUR engages, inspires and positively impacts our fans, partners and communities worldwide.
The PGA TOUR, headquartered in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, co-sanctions more than 130 tournaments on the PGA TOUR, PGA TOUR Champions, Korn Ferry Tour, PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada and PGA TOUR Series-China. Members on the PGA TOUR represent the world’s best players, hailing from 29 countries and territories (94 members are from outside the United States). Worldwide, PGA TOUR tournaments are broadcast to 212 countries and territories in 23 languages. Virtually all tournaments are organized as non-profit organizations to maximize charitable giving. In 2019, tournaments across all Tours generated a record $204.3 million for local and national charitable organizations, bringing the all-time total to more than $3 billion.
Fans can follow the PGA TOUR on PGATOUR.COM, the No. 1 site in golf, on the PGA TOUR app and on social media channels, including Facebook, Instagram (in English, Spanish and Korean), LinkedIn, Twitter, WeChat, Weibo, Toutiao and Douyin.
About ZOZO, Inc.
ZOZO, Inc. owns and operates ZOZOTOWN, Japan’s largest online fashion shopping site. ZOZOTOWN has over 1,300 (online) shops offering over 7,900 brands with more than 830,000 items available at any given time. More than 8.66 million customers shop on ZOZOTOWN annually. (As of June 30, 2020).
ZOZO, Inc. engages in other various services related to fashion in order to realize its company philosophy, ～Be unique. Be equal. ～
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Perfect 10: Quartararo snatches pole from Viñales by half a tenth
Oct 18. 2020Fabio Quartararo The Frenchman bounces back from an FP3 crash to take pole at MotorLand, with Viñales denied by 0.046 and Crutchlow back on the front row for the first time since Austin 2019
Despite an FP3 crash leaving him riding through the pain barrier, Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) managed to snatch pole position from Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) at the Gran Premio Michelin® de Aragon, the Frenchman pipping the Spaniard by just 0.046 for his tenth MotoGP™ pole. Yamaha led the way on Saturday once again, but Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) took third and only two tenths off the top, with the Brit back on the front row for the first time since Austin 2019.
Q1 started with enough drama already; not a single Ducati having made it through automatically by virtue of combined practice times. So it was going to be tight, and Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci were running in tandem – Dovizioso ahead –for much of the session. Petrucci took to the top first and last, with Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) then ruining the Ducati Team party as the Aussie moved up to second. And that was it – Dovizioso was out, 13th on the grid and exceedingly unhappy about it.
As Q2 got underway, Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) was the first to set a laptime but that was immediately beaten by Miller, a 1:47.657 coming in from the Australian to go top of the pile in the early stages. Quartararo slotted into P2 early doors before Morbidelli then snatched P2 back – and almost went top. Just 0.002 separated the number 21 from Miller, but there were plenty of red sectors lighting up the timing screens. Quartararo was one cause, shooting up to provisional pole, and following the Yamaha on track, Miller also improved. He stayed P2, but it was just a tenth splitting the pair.
Morbidelli then made it a Petronas 1-2 again, and again with less than a tenth in it, as Viñales slotted into P4 after the first set of flying laps. Crutchlow was in fifth, with Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) sitting on the outside of the provisional second row. But that was all going to change as the riders slotted in fresh rubber, ready for their second runs…
First up was Viñales, lapping alone, and he was 0.021 under Quartararo’s time in Sector 3. It only got better from there as he then leapfrogged his fellow Yamaha to take provisional pole by 0.171, taking over at the top. Crutchlow then crossed the line and moved up to P3 to shove Morbidelli down to head the second row, but the Italian was on a great lap and only 0.020 off in Sector 3. However, he then lost time down the back straight and despite setting a personal best time, the number 21 stayed P4. Viñales was then setting an almost identical lap time to his current P1 best, and the number 12 came across the line to go every so slightly quicker – but it was ultimately just 0.003 gained.
However, Quartararo had one more lap. The Frenchman was just through his first sector and up, and he kept it as he headed through Sector 2 0.073 faster than Viñales. Could he hold onto it? It was the latter half of the lap where Quartararo really gained time. Heading onto the almost 1km long back straight, the title chase leader was over a tenth and a half under Viñales’ best and despite losing over a tenth in the final split, the number 20 just kept it together to take pole by 0.046 seconds after yet another phenomenal final flying lap.
In terms of the front two rows, that was all she wrote so it’s a Yamaha 1-2 as Quartararo digs deep to claim Saturday honours, but Viñales has every chance of fighting for victory from second. Crutchlow makes a welcome return to the front row as the British rider finds form despite still nursing his arm injury, the LCR Honda man finishing 0.229 adrift of pole. Morbidelli was just 0.012 shy of the front row but it was a good day for the Italian and Yamaha on a circuit that hasn’t necessarily suited the YZR-M1’s characteristics in the past… ominous signs for race day?
After graduating from Q1, Miller claims a solid P5 to fly the Ducati flag in Aragon, the Australian fuming after his FP3 time – that was good enough for the top 10 – got chalked off due to Yellow Flag infringements, but amends made in the afternoon. Championship contender Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar), meanwhile, will line-up in his best grid position since the Styrian GP. Suzuki’s strength doesn’t usually show on a Saturday afternoon compared to race day, so the signs are good for Mir and the Mayorcan should be one to watch on Sunday.
Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) set his personal best time on his final flying lap, and the Japanese rider ended up less than a tenth off Mir’s time to spearhead Petrucci and Aleix Espargaro on Row 3. The latter, younger brother Pol Espargaro and Repsol Honda Team’s Alex Marquez had a bit of an incident in Q2 as the Aprilia, Honda and KTM all ended up sandwiched together at the final corner.
Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins completes the top 10 on home turf, with Alex Marquez cementing his best MotoGP™ qualifying result in P11, and after heading through to Q2 for the first time. After the incident earlier in the session and a little damage to his KTM, Pol Espargaro had to settle for P12.
That’s it for Saturday as a dramatic MotoGP™ qualifying day draws to a close in Aragon. Medical centre to pole position for Quartararo is a heroic effort, but how will he fare in the race? Dovizioso has plenty of work to do to stay in the title race as the Italian launches from P13 – and his main competitors are all inside the top six. Another phenomenal battle awaits at MotorLand Aragon, with the premier class action coming your way at the later time of 15:00 (GMT+2).
MotoGP™ front row 1 Fabio Quartararo* – Petronas Yamaha SRT – Yamaha – 1:47.076 2 Maverick Viñales – Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP – Yamaha – +0.046 3 Cal Crutchlow* – LCR Honda Castrol – Honda – +0.229 *Independent Team riders
Fabio Quartararo: “Honestly as soon as I had the crash I thought ‘can I ride in the afternoon?’. Now it’s not too bad but when I crashed I felt quite bad, I stood up and felt something wrong. But I’m so happy because it was a tough morning, yesterday I crashed and this morning again, and I always take a bit of time to be back. FP4 wasn’t so bad, and qualifying was good, my laptime is great. I could have done better because the lap wasn’t perfect but I can be happy because we’re on pole position and the goal was to be on the front row today.”
MotoGP™ front row L-R: Crutchlow, Quartararo and Viñales
Lowes smashes MotorLand record to take tenth Moto2™ pole The Brit heads Bezzecchi and Di Giannantonio, with Marini seventh and Bastianini down in 12th
Sam Lowes (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) means business at MotorLand Aragon, and the Brit took his tenth Moto2™ pole position at the track on Sunday with a lap record, beating Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46) and Fabio Di Giannantonio (MB Conveyors Speed Up) to the honour. Championship leader Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) starts seventh, with his closest challenger Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team VR46) in 12th – leaving Lowes and Bezzecchi with a real advantage heading into Sunday…
In Q1 it was Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Jorge Martin and Tetsuta Nagashima heading through on top, joined by Simone Corsi (MV Agusta Forward Racing) and Tom Lüthi (Liqui Moly Intact GP) as the four got ready to fight it out again for the top 18 positions on the grid, leaving behind a few surprises such as Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) and Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing). But the clock was reset, and it was go-time for Q2.
It was Di Giannantonio who came out the blocks fastest in the second part of qualifying. A 1:52.364 was a decent banker lap time but it was soon beaten by Championship leader Marini, with rookie Marcos Ramirez (Tennor American Racing) then taking over at the top as he sat just behind Marini on track. Fortunes then favoured Jake Dixon (Petronas Sprinta Racing) as the British rider became the first ever Moto2™ rider to set a sub-1:52 at MotorLand Aragon, although the stunning lap was soon bettered by Diggia as the Italian took back to the top.
Out of nowhere, Bezzecchi then produced a sterling final sector to take provisional pole, making it an Italian 1-2 at the summit and Lowes lurking down in P10 with just three minutes to go. The number 22 was soon #OnIt though and at the third checkpoint, the Brit was a whopping four tenths quicker than Bezzecchi. Surely pole position was his with just the back straight and final two corners to navigate? Lowes flew across the line to do exactly that, but he did lose three tenths in the last split. Not that it matters though, the number 22 snatching P1 by 0.148.
No one else could challenge in the closing stages so Lowes will start from his first pole position since the 2016 Aragon GP – a race he went on to win. Bezzecchi will also be looking to close down the points gap from second, with Diggia completing the front row – his first since the 2019 San Marino GP. Dixon’s 1:51.999 was a firecracker of a time and yet, he’s not on the front row. Nevertheless, it’s a Moto2™ best qualifying for the sophomore who continues to show fine form. Lining up next to Dixon in P5 is another rider who claimed a career-best Moto2™ qualifying result – Ramirez. The Spaniard has been on form all weekend and will be hoping – at least – a top 10 challenge is on the cards.
Jorge Navarro (MB Conveyors Speed Up) was also under the former lap record, but has to settle for P6. Spearheading Row 3 is Marini who gets bumped back after Lowes’ late lap, far from a disaster for the Italian but it looks like he has plenty of work on his hands to try and stop Lowes or Bezzecchi closing his Championship gap further. Q1 graduate Jorge Martin salvages a P8 starting slot after finishing Free Practice in P19, the Spaniard ahead of compatriot Augusto Fernandez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and Remy Gardner (Onexox TKKR SAG Team) as the duo round out the top 10. Enea Bastiaini (Italtrans Racing Team) – the man second in the Championship – starts from his second-worst qualifying place of the season in P12, just behind 11th place Joe Roberts (Tennor American Racing).
Lowes is riding the crest of a wave on a circuit he loves. Will it be a second consecutive victory of the season, or can Bezzecchi beat his title rival? Di Giannantonio will be confident of a victory challenge too and whichever way you look at it, the Moto2™ Aragon GP looks set to be a barnstormer. Tune in to watch it at 13:20 (GMT+2)!
Moto2™ front row 1 Sam Lowes – EG 0,0 Marc VDS – Kalex 1:51.651 2 Marco Bezzecchi – Sky Racing Team VR46 – Kalex +0.148 3 Fabio Di Giannantonio – MB Conveyors Speed Up – Speed Up +0.219
Sam Lowes: “This morning, well.. when you crash but you understand the mistake or the problem it’s ok, and we understand what happened this morning and it was probably good for me to show me where the limit was! I’m happy and I’ve got really good pace, and on used tyres as well I feel fast, so I feel good. It’s nice to come from winning last weekend to back it up with a pole position, it’s confidence building for me and thanks to the team, the bike has worked great since FP1. I’m looking forward to tomorrow. When everything’s going in a good way it’s a nice feeling so we need to make the most of it.”
Moto2™ front row L-R: Bezzecchi, Lowes and Di Giannantonio
Fernandez pips Vietti for fourth pole of the season The Spaniard takes it by just 0.059, with Arenas completing an all-KTM front row
Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) backed up going fastest on Friday by taking a fourth pole position of the season at MotorLand Aragon, the Spaniard coming out on top in a duel with Le Mans winner Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) by just 0.059. The two were in a class of their own on Saturday, with Championship leader Albert Arenas (Solunion Aspar Team Moto3) taking third to complete an all-KTM front row but over half a second back.
In Q1 there were a few key names looking to move through, including John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) as the two had laps cancelled late on in FP3 after Yellow Flags invalidated them- The two moved through behind Carlos Tatay (Reale Avintia Moto3) at the top of the session and Ayumu Sasaki (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) in second, with the clock was then reset and the four joining the rest fighting it out for the top 18 places on the grid.
CIP – Green Power’s Darryn Binder was the first man to top the timesheets early on in Q2, before John McPhee hit back to take over and immediately depose the South African. And then came Fernandez: the Spaniard hit the top soon after, then later going even faster to bang in a 1:57.681.
Only 11 riders had set a lap mid-session, however, so would the tables turn? With a couple of minutes left, Vietti managed to leapfrog the two Sterilgarda Max Racing Team riders, Alonso Lopez and Romano Fenati, who had been in P2 and P3 respectively, to become the closest challenger to Fernanez’ impressive lap. Vietti was now within a couple of tenths and on another solid lap, and in even better news for the VR46 Academy rider, he was setting his laps on his own too… something that most definitely bodes well for race day.
It all came down to the final push for the number 13, and he got even closer as he stayed in touch with Fernandez’ time throughout the lap. Could he do it? Ultimately no, but it was incredibly close as the Italian crossed the line just 0.059 off Fernandez, with no one else able to challenge the number 25.
Arenas moved up on his final lap to take the final place on the front row, with Alonso Lopez shuffled down to fourth but nevertheless putting in an impressive session as he keeps his recent pace rolling. The number 21 will, however, have to take a Long Lap Penalty in the race that he was given following his collision with teammate Fenati last time out. Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) denied that same Fenati fifth on the grid as the Japanese rider pipped the Italian by just 0.004, pushing the number 55 down to P6.
Tatay went from Q1 to seventh, joined on the third row by Championship challenger Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) and another Q1 graduate: Rodrigo. McPhee completes the top ten, missing out to Rodrigo by just 0.001 but beating Darryn Binder by 0.012 as the South African starts just outside the top ten.
That’s it from an exciting Saturday at Aragon, with the stage set for another good battle on Sunday. Can the likes of Fernandez and Vietti escape? Or will we see another classic freight train battle? Find out at the later time of 12:00 (GMT +2) as the lights go out for Moto3™!
Moto3™ front row 1 Raul Fernandez – Red Bull KTM Ajo – KTM 1:57.681 2 Celestino Vietti – Sky Racing Team VR46 – KTM +0.059 3 Albert Arenas – Solunion Aspar Team Moto3 – KTM – +0.510
Raul Fernandez: “Yesterday it was an incredible feeling, and this morning with the cold temperatures we had some more problems with the tyres but we knew that in qualifying with the temperature then it would be better and we would be stronger. We didn’t think too much about the morning in qualifying, but it was chaos – Moto3 qualifying is always chaos – but I could get an incredible time and alone, a bit of slipstream in the back straight but we’re ready for the race. We need to prepare the last part of the race better… and to enjoy it more!
Moto3™ front row L-R: Arenas, Fernandez and Vietti
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Viñales leads a Yamaha lockout as action begins at Aragon
Oct 17. 2020
The Iwata marque lay down a marker at MotorLand, with Mir the closest man on the chase
Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) made it a 2-for-1 on Day 1 at the Gran Premio Michelin® de Aragon, the Spaniard fastest in both FP1 and FP2 to take full control on Friday. It was a Yamaha 1-2-3 overall though, with Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) a couple of tenths down and teammate Franco Morbidelli locking out the top three… the last man within half a second after a slightly ominous day from the Iwata marque. It was a tougher day for Ducati, as all Borgo Panigale machines remain outside the top ten and provisional entry to Q2.
FP1 Viñales started as he meant to go on as he topped a very cool FP1, with the session getting underway half an hour later due to low track temperatures. Once the sun had warmed MotorLand Aragon through a little more though, the Spaniard set a 1:49.866 to lead a Yamaha trio at the top and was the first man to set a sub-1:50 lap time with 15 minutes of the session left.
Franco Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo completed the top three, with Morbidelli less than a tenth off Viñales and Quartararo another two in arrears. Both crashed on Friday morning, however, Morbidelli first taking a tumble at Turn 14 and Quartararo doing the same at the end of the session at Turn 8. Both riders were up and ok.
Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) also crashed in the session, going down at Turn 2 just before the halfway point, but the number 73 bounced back to end FP1 in a mighty fourth. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) completed the top five, around half a second off the top.
Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol), Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) completed the top ten.
Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) also crashed, the Frenchman going down at Turn 14, and Iker Lecuona (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) crashed at Turn 2. Some big names ended up a little down the order in FP1: Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) was P12, and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) was in 17th by the flag.
FP2 The heat had risen to a more optimal 24 degrees as the MotoGP™ riders headed out for a crucial FP2, and sure enough, some riders immediately went faster. The Ducatis struggled to get a competitive lap time in FP1 but Dovizioso, his teammate Danilo Petrucci, Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) and Johann Zarco all went quicker than they did on Friday morning with just six minutes of the session played.
However, the Yamaha trio of Quartararo, Morbidelli and Viñales were all faster than the latter’s FP1 time and the goalposts had moved again. Morbidelli was then the first rider to go sub-1:49 this weekend, a 1:48.992 the Italian’s effort in the opening stages, with Yamaha leading the way from Alex Marquez as the rookie showed more great pace early on in the afternoon. Dovizioso too, the Italian in P5 with 15 minutes gone. Meanwhile, after catching out Zarco and Morbidelli in FP1, Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) crashed unhurt at Turn 14 – the front of his KTM washing away.
Mir then took over at the top, two consecutive fastest laps of the session putting the Spaniard three tenths clear of Morbidelli, before Viñales cut the gap to 0.140 with just over 20 minutes to go. Nakagami was then into the top two as less than two tenths split the leading four, with Quartararo down to P6 behind fifth fastest Alex Rins.
Everything would change again in the final stages of the session, however, with time attack mode engaged. Despite MotoGP™ FP3 kicking off half an hour later (10:25) on Saturday morning to allow the temperature to rise a little, it will still likely be cool and the last ten minutes of FP2 were therefore even more vital as riders eyed a place in Q2.
Quartararo shot first as he slammed in a 1:48.406 to take over at the top by 0.282, before going even faster again to see his advantage climb to 0.478 seconds. What did the competition have in response?
Viñales got close to get within 0.094, with Aleix Espargaro impressing to go P3 thereafter. It wasn’t over though, as Viñales then absolutely obliterated Quartararo’s time. The number 12 set a blistering 1:47.771 to move nearly half a second clear as Morbidelli got back up to P3, the FP1 pacesetters back at the top. On his final flying lap, Quartararo also improved but the Frenchman ultimately couldn’t get within two tenths of Viñales, so it was the latter who took opening day honours in Aragon. All three Yamahas on circuit – the absent Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) watching on from home after his positive COVID-19 test – made it an ominous first day of action.
By the end of the shuffle, it was Joan Mir closest on the chase. With one-lap pace traditionally a tougher challenge for the Hamamatsu factory, his speed will be encouraging and could set us up for a stunner on Sunday. Just behind him, Cal Crutchlow set his personal best time in his final run to move up to P5, the Brit once again impressing despite his ongoing recovery.
Aleix Espargaro ends FP2 and Day 1 in sixth overall as the Aprilia rider showed off some characteristic impressive pace at MotorLand, but it was a close run thing against younger brother Pol Espargaro as the KTM rider was forced to settle for seventh by just less than a tenth. That was impressive in itself too though, with the number 44 having suffered from injury at the track over the last two seasons and having experienced a little less track time than some.
A late lap to move back up into the top ten sees Alex Marquez end FP2 and Friday in eighth after his stunning fourth in FP1, the rookie fresh from a maiden podium, and it couldn’t really have been closer with Nakagami as the Japanese rider was forced down to P9 by just 0.001. Alex Rins completes the top ten, another good sign for Suzuki and a solid day for the truly, really local rider.
That leaves some names looking for a lot more in FP3, not least of all Championship challenger Dovizioso. The number 04 ends Friday in P13 despite a better start to FP2, and he was leapfrogged by Zarco in P11 and Tito Rabat (Esponsorama Racing) in P12. Behind Dovizioso comes Miller and behind him Petrucci, with Ducatis locking out P11 to P15, and Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) down in P19. The mission is a clear one for FP3.
Zarco suffered a second crash of the day as well, this time at Turn 2, with Stefan Bradl (Repsol Honda Team) also taking a tumble; the German at Turn 12.
That’s it from a chilly Friday in Teruel. Come back for more on Saturday as Ducati try and break into that top ten and the rest try to move the goalposts once again. The morning sessions get underway half an hour later so FP3 starts at 10:25 (GMT +2), but qualifying remains set to start at 14:10. Don’t miss it!
MotoGP™: the five fastest on Friday 1 Maverick Viñales – Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP – Yamaha – 1:47.771 2 Fabio Quartararo* – Petronas Yamaha SRT – Yamaha – +0.249 3 Franco Morbidelli* – Petronas Yamaha SRT – Yamaha – +0.447 4 Joan Mir – Team Suzuki Ecstar – Suzuki – +0.730 5 Cal Crutchlow* – LCR Honda Castrol – Honda – +0.827 *Independent Team rider
Di Giannantonio leads Bezzecchi and Lowes on Day 1 The top trio are split by just a tenth on Friday, with Marini and Bastianini also moving back up the timesheets in Teruel
MB Conveyors Speed Up’s Fabio Di Giannantonio took Moto2™ top spot on Friday at the Gran Premio Michelin® de Aragon, the pace upped in FP2 as the Italian set a 1:52.748 to fend off second fastest Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46) by just 0.045. FP1 pacesetter Sam Lowes (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) finished P3 on the combined standings, although the Le Mans winner’s afternoon was slightly marred by a Turn 7 crash – rider ok.
FP1 Sam Lowes finished FP1 in charge, the British rider’s 1:53.391 enough to fend off Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) by 0.052 seconds. The gap had been up to eight tenths earlier in the session, but the German was able to cut that down and so was third fastest Di Giannantonio. The Italian was within 0.058 of Lowes in a tight top three.
Championship leader Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) set his personal best time on his final lap to leap up to P4, 0.189 off Lowes, with Jorge Navarro (MB Conveyors Speed Up) completing the top five. Jake Dixon (Petronas Sprinta Racing), despite an earlier run off, ended the session in sixth.
Joe Roberts (Tennor American Racing) started his weekend in P7, the last man within half a second of the top. Hector Garzo (Flexbox HP 40) put in a solid showing to take eighth, ahead of Marco Bezzecchi and Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo), who completed the top ten.
Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Italtrans Racing Team) crashed at Turn 2 and he was the only faller in the session. Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) suffered a bike problem at Turn 9.
FP2 The afternoon saw the top times tumble in Moto2™, but not for everyone in the field – unlike Moto3™ and MotoGP™. Di Giannantonio reigned by the end of play, the Italian pipping compatriot Marco Bezzecchi to the top by half a tenth after a late lunge. Before that, it was Bezzecchi vs Lowes for the fastest lap, the Brit holding it for most of the session before the Italian hit back. But ‘Diggia’ hit back last of all.
It was a great day for Edgar Pons (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) as the reigning European Moto2™ Champion finished P4, the Spaniard 15th after FP1 but improving his time by over a second to leap up the timesheets in the afternoon to sit 0.031 ahead of Championship leader Marini in the session and overall. Thankfully for Marini, there seem to be few effects from his huge Le Mans crash seven days ago and he’s right in the hunt to make amends in Aragon
Just behind Marini, in the session and the standings, came Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team). ‘Bestia’ produced a superhuman save at Turn 2 in FP2 and finished the opening day in P6, climbing from a P11 finish in FP1. Marcos Ramirez’ (Tennor American Racing) early FP2 time sees the rookie place P7 after finishing FP1 in P22, beating Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) by just 0.001, with Martin and Roberts rounding out the top 10 in FP2 and overall.
Jorge Navarro is 11th by virtue of his FP2 time, with Schrötter P12 on the combined timesheets and the first man not to have improved – the German’s FP1 time quick enough to put him on the list of provisional Q2 entrants. Garzo was 13th quickest overall, with Jake Dixon (Petronas Sprinta Racing) rounding out those who stand to move through to Q2 as it stands.
That’s all from Friday, with all but a handful of riders across the class going quicker in FP2 than they did in FP1. Will Saturday morning shuffle the pack again? Find out at the later time of 11:25 (GMT +2) as Moto2™ take to the track for FP3.
Moto2™: the five fastest on Friday 1 Fabio Di Giannantonio – MB Conveyors Speed Up – Speed Up – 1:52.748 2 Marco Bezzecchi – Sky Racing Team VR46 – Kalex +0.045 3 Sam Lowes – EG 0,0 Marc VDS – Kalex – +0.106 4 Edgar Pons – Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 – Kalex – +0.269 5 Luca Marini – Sky Racing Team VR46 – Kalex +0.300
Fernandez four tenths clear of Fenati on Friday The Spaniard leads the way on Day 1 once again, ahead of Fenati and Arenas
The recent Friday form man was up to his old tricks at the Gran Premio Michelin® de Aragon. With a half second advantage by the end of the day, it’s Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) on top once again, with Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) in second. After a more muted morning session, Championship leader Albert Arenas (Solunion Aspar Team Moto3) completed the top three as he moved up the timesheets in the afternoon.
There was also another key headline on Friday: Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team) will be forced to sit the weekend out. The Italian must undertake a mandatory period of self-isolation after he was found to have been on a flight with a positive case of Covid-19. He has tested negative, but the self-isolation is a requirement of health authorities regardless – sidelining a Championship challenger for the weekend.
FP1 Darryn Binder (CIP – Green Power) started the day on top as the South African beat winner last time out, Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46), to the top by three tenths. Binder struck late to deny the Italian too, setting his lap as the flag flew to bring FP1 to an end.
Vietti was the only rider within half a second of Binder’s 1:59.813 despite losing out late on. John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) was 0.503 in arrears and third quickest
Fernandez was fourth fastest in the morning, another half a tenth adrift of McPhee, with SIC58 Squadra Corse’s Niccolo Antonelli closing out the session in fifth. It was a strong showing for the Husqvarna duo of Alonso Lopez and Romano Fenati as the Sterilgarda Max Racing Team sat first and second in the early stages too, both bouncing back from their disaster/bad luck combo at Le Mans and eventually ending the session in sixth and ninth, respectively.
Second in the Championship Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) was seventh, starting off the weekend with a positive move up the timesheets after two tougher GPs, and points leader Albert Arenas was down in 13th. Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) was eighth, with rookie Yuki Kunii (Honda Team Asia) impressing to complete the top ten behind Fenati.
There were three incidents in the session: Filip Salač (Rivacold Snipers Team) had a technical problem early on at Turn 7, Ryusei Yamanaka (Estrella Galicia 0,0) crashed at Turn 2 ten minutes later, and Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) went down at Turn 14.
FP2 With temperatures having risen significantly after a cold morning, the entire field were able to improve in the afternoon, ensuring the combined timesheets mirror those of FP2. Antonelli was the first man under the two minute barrier – something only Binder managed in the morning – but laptimes would drop from there on out. Fernandez was the man on the move, setting four fastest laps in a row in the latter part of the session.
Fenati maintained his form to end the day in second and Arenas was a key improver as he moved up to become the quickest Championship challenger overall, the Spaniard setting his quickest lap of the day on his final lap of the day. FP1’s fastest man Darryn Binder completes the top four, ahead of Suzuki by less than a tenth, with Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) within a tenth of the Japanese rider in turn as he moved up to end the day in sixth.
Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) ends Friday in P7 as he beat Ogura to it by just 0.011, but the Japanese rider continued his move forward after a couple of more difficult Grands Prix, well within the provisional Q2 entrants on Day 1. Vietti ends Friday in P9, with Alonso Lopez completing the top ten.
The final four on for provisional graduation to Q2 are Carlos Tatay (Reale Avintia Moto3), Kaito Toba (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) – the sole crasher in the afternoon session, rider ok – and Antonelli… leaving John McPhee needing to move forward in FP3. Can the Brit do it? Find out on Saturday morning at the slightly later time of 9:30 (GMT +2).
Moto3™: the five fastest on Friday 1 Raul Fernandez – Red Bull KTM Ajo – KTM 1:58.144 2 Romano Fenati – Sterilgarda Max Racing Team – Husqvarna +0.438 3 Albert Arenas – Solunion Aspar Team Moto3 – KTM +0.532 4 Darryn Binder – CIP – Green Power – KTM +0.545 5 Tatsuki Suzuki – SIC58 Squadra Corse – Honda +0.619
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Hiroki Akimoto Edges Out Zhang Chenglong in Close Split Decision Victory in Singapore
Oct 17. 2020
ONE Championship returned to the Singapore Indoor Stadium with ONE: REIGN OF DYNASTIES II, a previously-recorded, audience-free, and behind closed doors event broadcast globally on Friday, 16 October. Once again, the absolute best in world-class martial arts talent showcased their incredible skills inside the ONE Circle.
In the main event of the evening, former WFKO Karate World Champion Hiroki Akimoto of Japan continued his climb up the divisional ladder, shocking third-ranked bantamweight contender “Muay Thai Boy” Zhang Chenglong of China to earn a victory on the judges’ scorecards in a ONE Super Series kickboxing contest. Both men came out of the gates firing, blasting each other with dynamite strikes at the center of the ONE Circle. Although Zhang boxed beautifully behind smashing punch combinations, it was Akimoto who utilized his kicking arsenal to keep his Chinese foe at bay. After three back-and-forth rounds of action, Akimoto proved to be the faster man all throughout the contest, impressing the judges just enough to bag the razor-close split decision victory.
Multiple-time former Lumpinee and Rajadamnern Stadium Muay Thai World Champion and legend Sagetdao “Deadly Star” Petpayathai of Thailand returned to the striking arena, battling China’s Zhang “Bamboo Sword” Chunyu in a ONE Super Series Muay Thai contest. Sagetdao looked like he hadn’t skipped a beat as he punished Zhang with pinpoint boxing combinations and slicing elbows on the inside. Throughout the bout, Sagetdao was the faster and more accurate of the two, as he jumped out to an early lead on the scorecards and never looked back. In the end, all three judges saw the bout in favor of Sagetdao, who took home a unanimous decision victory for his efforts.
In a featherweight mixed martial arts contest, Chinese spitfire Tang Kai spoiled the highly-anticipated return of Malaysia’s Keanu Subba, outclassing the former MIMMA Featherweight Champion across three full rounds. Tang’s aggressiveness proved to be problematic for Subba in the early going, as the Malaysian was constantly pushed up against the Circle wall. Tang connected on a plethora of power shots in the second round, stunning his opponent as Subba began to look worse for wear. In the third, Tang stamped his dominance, teeing off on Subba who went on the defensive for the majority of the round. In the end, all three judges scored the bout in favor of Tang to win by unanimous decision.
In a ONE Super Series Muay Thai contest, former KLF World Champion Wang “Metal Storm” Wenfeng of China earned a close unanimous decision victory over game but overmatched challenger Azwan Che Wil of Malaysia. The two martial artists were assertive to start the bout, meeting each other at the center of the ONE Circle. More than willing to trade strikes, Wang and Azwan exchanged their most powerful combinations, but it was the Chinese star who appeared the sharper of the two. After three rounds of back-and-forth action, Wang did just enough to edge Azwan out on the judges’ scorecards.
Japan’s Ryuto “Dragon Boy” Sawada put forth a workmanlike performance, staying one step constantly ahead of opponent Miao Li Tao of China to take home a victory on the scorecards in a mixed martial arts contest. Sawada was aggressive from the opening bell, diving for Miao’s legs, hunting for the takedown. On the mat, the Japanese athlete threatened with submissions at every juncture. Sawada continued his dominance in the second round, as Miao could do very little to thwart his advances. In the third, Miao tried his best to reverse positions, spending a few minutes on top, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Sawada’s early investment. In the end, all three judges saw the bout in favor of Sawada to win by wide unanimous decision.
Kicking off the action at ONE: REIGN OF DYNASTIES II, former ONE World Title Challenger Han Zi Hao of China figured in an absolutely dominant showing, stopping Malaysia’s Mohammed “Jordan Boy” Bin Mahmoud in the third round of a ONE Super Series Muay Thai contest. Mohammed started the bout off sharp, looking to counter Han’s forward pressure. In the second round, Han caught Mohammed with a staggering combination, causing the referee to administer a mandatory standing eight count. Another combination from Han forced a standing eight count once again, just moments before the bell. Han then put the finishing touches in the first minute of the final round, dropping “Jordan Boy” to the canvas for good behind a thunderous left hand down the middle.
ONE Championship comes right back to the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Friday, 30 October with the live blockbuster, ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX, featuring four World Title contests for a total of six compelling martial arts bouts. Once again, all the action can be enjoyed on ONE Championship’s official ONE Super App, ONE’s social media channels, locally in Singapore on MediaCorp’s Channel 5 and meWATCH app, as well as globally across ONE Championship’s broadcast and digital media partners’ properties.
Official results for ONE: REIGN OF DYNASTIES II
Kickboxing – Bantamweight: Hiroki Akimoto defeats Zhang Chenglong by Split Decision (SD) after 3 rounds
Muay Thai – Featherweight: Sagetdao Petpayathai defeats Zhang Chunyu by Unanimous Decision (UD) after 3 rounds
Mixed Martial Arts – Featherweight: Tang Kai defeats Keanu Subba by Unanimous Decision (UD) after 3 rounds
Muay Thai – Flyweight: Wang Wenfeng defeats Azwan Che Wil by Unanimous Decision (UD) after 3 rounds
Mixed Martial Arts – Strawweight: Ryuto Sawada defeats Miao Li Tao by Unanimous Decision (UD) after 3 rounds
Muay Thai – Bantamweight: Han Zi Hao defeats Mohammed Bin Mahmoud by Knockout (KO) at 0:49 of round 3
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Quartararo vs Mir continues at MotorLand
Oct 16. 2020
Pre-Event Press Conference kicks off the Gran Premio Michelin® de Aragon, Rossi to miss the race weekend
Ahead of the Gran Premio Michelin® de Aragon, Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) was joined by the man still just behind him, Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar), as well as Le Mans podium finisher and home hero Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), French GP winner Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team), first time rostrum finisher Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and Moto3™ Championship leader Albert Arenas (Solunion Aspar Team Moto3), newly signed up for Moto2™ next year, to talk about the race weekend ahead.
Here are the key quotes from those present, with Quartararo up first and most starting by debriefing a little Le Mans…
FABIO QUARTARARO: “The Saturday was really good because we had great pace in FP3 and FP4, even in qualifying we went one second quicker than in FP3 but unfortunately it started raining just before the start. I was a little nervous because in FP1 I didn’t feel great with the bike, we went on track with a totally different bike than in FP1 without trying any settings. So we kind of made a bet, it was great. We struggled to warm up the rear tyre to have great confidence but in general we didn’t have a bad race in these conditions. For our first race we learned a lot, the team and me, to where we can improve on the bike. I’m quite happy about the race, of course I wanted the dry conditions but in the end in a Championship, you have these kind of conditions so I can be happy about my race.
“I expect better here than last year because I think we have great potential. In this crazy year, anything can happen. I feel confident, I’m feeling great on the bike, feeling strong so I will do the best I can to be as fast as possible to make the best results in these two weekends at Aragon.”
JOAN MIR: “It was not the best weekend that we could have hoped for but in the end, it wasn’t so bad. Honestly, during the weekend I never had a good feeling with the bike. I was never competitive enough. Then on Sunday the first laps I was not able to steer the bike, it was really difficult, but then I got a good pace and was able to catch many riders in front and it was the first lesson in wet conditions so I think we passed the test because of the pace, but the position was not the best one. It was funny to be fighting on the last laps with Fabio and Maverick, but you know, it was a GP we can forget. We passed Le Mans and now we start again.
“I think that it can be a good weekend for us here. This track, I remember last year we were quite competitive during the weekend, we just missed the first laps of the race we had some problems, but I feel great and this could be a good track for us also, let’s see. This year you never know till the first day, but I feel it can be a great weekend.”
POL ESPARGARO: “It’s been a good weekend last weekend, Le Mans always brings good results to me in the lower categories and in MotoGP in past years so it was pretty crazy, but we took precious points from that race. We come to Aragon where in the past I have also been quite good, I performed well in 125 and won in Moto2 as well and in MotoGP, also not so bad. But in the last two years I suffered injuries here and I could race. But it’s a racetrack that I like to race, especially when the grandstands are full when they come to support the Spanish riders. I really enjoy riding here, I’m looking forward to jumping back on the bike after the results Le Mans. As the weather changes so much with the cold temperatures and the wind is quite strong, let’s see how we can adapt with the tyres first and then see our performance during the weekend.
“This year has been unpredictable for all of us, but KTM even more. Our previous years were not as good as this year for sure and we are ding results that we don’t expect. We understand why they’re coming but not 100% because this year the tyres are changing a lot and also the conditions of the track. So, we are trying to manage where the level of our bike is because it’s performing much better than what we expect. Hopefully this weekend will be one of the weekends where we fight for something great, but we need to wait, especially with the front tyre performance. With the cold conditions, I think we can play with the medium tyre which is amazing for us and we can take profit but if we need to play with the soft one, maybe we will miss some performance on the front and not take full profit from our bike. Let’s see how the weekend starts, I really hope for a good weekend, if we do a good result here and in the second Aragon then why not fight for something interesting at the end of the year.”
DANILO PETRUCCI: “Last Sunday’s result was a big relief for me. After one year without finishing in the Top 5 it was very nice to win again especially at a track that I like. I always like Le Mans but this year I started to feel better in Barcelona with the bike. The only test we did in Misano, we tried some different things with the bike and some things worked and we were able to improve our set up. For sure I was not happy when I saw the rain on the grid because I could fight for the podium in dry conditions because I felt really good but I said ok it is the same for everyone and then for sure the track was very different, but I think the experience I have in MotoGP made a big difference. Yeah, I can just continue like this with this good feeling and get another good result before the end of my adventure with Ducati but yeah really nice to get this feeling again.
“We found a good balance on the bike and I think it will work here too, but first we have to understand the conditions of the track and especially if the tyres are well good for us or we have to understand which is the best tyre for us because Aragon has always been tricky with the weather conditions because it can be very cold in the morning and hot in the afternoon but I think this year we will see a lot of cold. Hopefully the weather will stop tomorrow because we always suffer a bit with the wind, but I think the important thing is to have a good approach and finally I have the good feeling coming into races and riding the bike and for sure I’m feeling happier than before.”
ALEX MARQUEZ: “In the end it’s a good result for us, really important for sure. In the end it’s wet ok but it’s difficult for everyone and you need to adapt. I felt great on the bike so I took the opportunity and I did my best during all the laps because it wasn’t easy but in the end it’s a wet podium, so it doesn’t mean nothing important for me. It’s true that from Misano 2 we have a better feeling, so this podium gives more motivation to keep working and it’s so important for the team. But you know, we are coming in a better way and also in the warm up I was quite fast and consistent so I was happy for that. this gives us more motivation to keep working and keep improving day by day. This is a track that the Honda has gone well at in the past, it’s a track that I like so I will try to make two GPs in a good way and improve day by day.
“Qualifying we are still struggling quite a lot. I think it’s the key because on Sunday the pace isn’t bad, but we are losing a lot of time in the first laps compared to the leader. We need to keep improving and keep working, in Le Mans it’s true that in quali I did a step but then I missed the second run because I wasn’t able to improve. But we are coming, we are in a good way to keep working and improving from now until the end of the season.
ALBERT ARENAS: “After some difficult races after some bad luck and mistakes, I could be competitive again and get some points in France just before three races in a row was really good and now, we are so motivated. The feeling was good all weekend, wet and dry, we came here with a lot of power and motivation.
“I’m really happy to finally move on to Moto2, I think it came at the best moment, I feel ready, I was eager to jump to Moto2 because I spent many years in Moto3 but now the time has arrived, and I feel 100% ready. To continue with the Aspar team really good for me, I know them, they know me, it’s amazing. Now I can focus 100% on the Championship as one objective is done and now, we are going. For the second one That’s all she wrote on Thursday in Aragon! Tune in for FP1 at 9:55 (GMT +2) on Friday, and remember we’re back to ‘normal’ as the lights go out for the race at 14:00 (GMT +2).
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Thailand’s top gamers to fight for Bt1m prizemoney in AIS league
Oct 16. 2020Pofessor Suchatvee Suwansawat, (left) president of both KMITL and Benjaporn Kamphet, (2nd from right), Head of Special Segment & Prepaid Section at AIS,
By THE NATION
Mobile operator AIS will launch the AIS 5G eSports U-League 2020 next month, opening a platform for Thailand’s hardcore gamers to hone their skills and perhaps one day conquer the lucrative professional scene.
The largest national competition at university level will see gamers from over 250 unis battle for more than Bt1 million in prizemoney, with action kicking off on November 7.
King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang (KMITL) will host the competition. Also onboard are the University Sports Board of Thailand (USBT) and Thai Samsung Electronics.
“KMITL is focused on cutting-edge learning and encouraging students to apply technology to learning,” said Professor Suchatvee Suwansawat, president of both KMITL and the University Sport Board of Thailand.
AIS 5G eSports U-League 2020 is open to applications from student teams to compete in three popular games: FIFA Online4, Minecraft and ROV, until October 31.
After the selection competition, the league will run from November 7-19.
The final will be held on November 23-24 at AIS eSports Studio in Bangkok.
Ms.Benjaporn Kamphet, Head of Special Segment & Prepaid Section at AIS, noted, “Sports competitions are another activity helping to develop Soft Skills, from the perspective of instilling awareness of passion and unity among students, on top of the technical knowledge or Hard Skills which they get in the classroom,” she said.
“This also encourages networking between students to incubate their intelligence and wisdom, as well as providing new professional opportunities in the modern world. “However, the pandemic crisis this year has resulted in University games being adapted to be online competitions of eSports, the digital Sports of the new generation, as a singular sport for competition. Aside from the enjoyment of the players, they also develop skills and competence in strategic analysis or Critical Thinking, which is fully in line with modern lifestyles, alongside new professional opportunities in the digital world,” she added.
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Akimoto has his eyes firmly fixed on earning a win over Zhang
Oct 16. 2020
Japanese former WFKO Kyokushin Karate World Champion Hiroki Akimoto knows what he wants, and that’s a shot at a ONE World Title. The increasingly confident striker from Evolve MMA understands his next bout could be a huge leap forward for him, if he can win convincingly.
Akimoto is set to face former ONE World Title Challenger “Muay Thai Boy” Zhang Chenglong of China in the main event of ONE: REIGN OF DYNASTIES II, a previously-recorded event in Singapore set for global broadcast on Friday, 16 October. The bout is a kickboxing showdown in 8-ounce gloves.
He’s been working very hard in the gym, sharpening his tools to prepare for Zhang’s vaunted power. Akimoto is determined to put together a thrilling performance and wants to make his way up the bantamweight rankings.
“I want to win, earn a spot in the rankings, and be a top-level contender to challenge for the World Title. I think I am prepared well. My coaches say my kicks and punches have become heavier,” said Akimoto.
“I thought he was a powerful athlete, so I was not sure how it was going to be. I had the impression that he was a tough athlete with strong punches. He has a strong chin and stamina.”
Zhang is a former Top King Muay Thai World Champion and no doubt a formidable foe for Akimoto.
Although Zhang fell just short of victory against Alaverdi Ramazanov, losing by decision in a bout for the inaugural ONE Bantamweight Kickboxing World Title, Akimoto was greatly impressed by the Chinese star’s performance.
Akimoto was most impressed by Zhang’s fearlessness, which caught him by surprise.
“In the World Title match, his way of fighting was different from normal athletes. He was knocked down, and I think he got some damage. Some athletes try to buy time in that kind of situation, but he kept going forward. Besides, I saw that he was even aiming for a counter-attack. With those characteristics, I think he is a difficult one,” said Akimoto.
“I think his punches are strong, but I think I have advantages in kicks and at long range. I think he will close the distance of my kicks, but when it happens, I will counter with punches and kicks.”
ONE: REIGN OF DYNASTIES II is a previously-recorded global broadcast featuring the absolute best in local and international martial arts talent. The audience-free, behind-closed-doors event took place at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, with strict Covid-19 protocols in place. Zhang and Akimoto will headline what is expected to be an exciting card.
Akimoto believes he already knows how the fight will play out. Though Zhang is looking to knock Akimoto out, the Japanese warrior declares he’s ready to do the same, and that fans should get excited for what he says will be an all out war.
“I think in the opening stanza, as far as I saw from his past bouts, he looks like he aims to knock out while checking out how the opponent goes. At that moment, I will strike a lot here and there and look for a good weapon that works for him. From the second round, I think he will close the distance, so I want to aim for a counter-attack to defeat him,” said Akimoto.
“I mainly used kicks in matches in ONE, but this time, I am thinking I am going to use punches against the punching specialist. This is something I want audiences to pay attention to. I built up my body firmly and gained power. So, of course, I have my sights set on knocking him down to win by KO.”
A victory over a former ONE World Title Challenger would no doubt take Akimoto further up the rankings, and perhaps, eventually to a shot at the belt.
“To aim to be a World Champion means I have someone to look up to. I want to be a ONE World Champion, defend the belt, and be a person who is looked up to,” said Akimoto.
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Im and Kim ready to carry Korea’s Challenge at THE CJ CUP @ SHADOW CREEK
Oct 14. 2020Sungjae Im (Credit to Getty Images) Korean golf star Sungjae Im aims to be third time lucky in the city of Vegas when he lines up against the stars of the game at THE CJ CUP @ SHADOW CREEK starting on Thursday.
The 22-year-old Im will spearhead a strong 11-man Korean contingent at the US$9.75 million showpiece, which was moved from its home base of Korea to the acclaimed Shadow Creek in Vegas due to ongoing challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Already a one-time winner on the PGA TOUR, Im finished T41 and T39 in the 2018 and 2019 tournaments respectively and is eager to leave a better impression in the tournament which the title sponsor is also one of his personal backers.
“The past two years, I’ve always finished in the middle of the pack, around 30th to 40th place. Hopefully this year, I can finish either in the top-10 or the top-5 if possible. This is obviously my sponsor’s event, so I would like to really thank my sponsor for making this event possible. As a thank you, I hope I can produce some good results,” said Im, who will be in the company of defending champion Justin Thomas and 2018 winner Brooks Koepka in the opening two rounds.
Im hopes the switch in venue to the Tom Fazio masterpiece could bring about a change in fortune as he seeks to become the first Korean winner of THE CJ CUP. “I found that it’s a great course and it’s a very difficult course, so I hope I can use the experiences from the past two days to have a good result,” he said.
“I had my first victory at The Honda Classic this year and if I were to win this tournament as my second victory, I think my happiness would be two-fold. I hope I can do my best and produce the best result that I can.”
The presence of his fellow countrymen at Shadow Creek has ensured Im remained relaxed as he chases a second PGA TOUR victory. He enters the week in good form, having finished T13 at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open last Sunday. He posted a 22nd place result in the U.S. Open last month and was T28 at the Sanderson Farms Open.
“I played with one of my college friends, Seonghyeong Kim, who’s here, and today I was able to play with a couple of other Korean players who I trained for the national team with and who I grew up playing golf with. So we were able to play a really fun round and it was really great,” said Im, who finished as the highest ranked Asian at 11th place in the final 2019-20 FedExCup standings.
Still only 22, Im, who was a member of the International Team at the Presidents Cup last December where he contributed 3.5 points, is already playing the role of “big brother” and sharing his experiences with other Korean golfers in hope that more of them will make their way onto the PGA TOUR. One such promising young Korean golfer is Joohyung Kim, an 18-year-old who has already won five professional titles and featuring in this week’s field.
“I honestly think it’s so great that golf is growing in Korea and more players are coming out from Korea. I hope to see more and more of my fellow Korean golfers come over to the United States, and when they do, I will do my best to relay my experiences to help them grow as well abroad,” he said.
Thomas, a two-time winner of THE CJ CUP, is one of the many growing admirers of Im’s success. “I think impressive is an understatement. He’s way beyond his years for how young he is and how well he’s handled his situation. I know especially being a Korean star in golf, the spotlight’s on you.”
Si Woo Kim, the 2017 PLAYERS Champion, is also in good form ahead of THE CJ CUP after finishing tied eighth last week. “The most important thing is to keep it on the fairways because I’m feeling confident with my iron play. So if I can focus on that, I think I’ll have good results,” said the 25-year-old.
“Last week I didn’t really have a clear goal in mind, I just wanted to play well and make the cut and then on the weekend do what I wanted to do, and I felt like I was able to do that last week and it ended up with good results. This week I’m trying to do the same. Even though there’s no cut, play well for four days, persevere, really focus on what I learned and hopefully that can translate into even a top 10 finish or even better.”