Challenge Accepted: Zamboanga vows to win atomweight Grand Prix and take title from Lee in 2021 #SootinClaimon.Com

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Challenge Accepted: Zamboanga vows to win atomweight Grand Prix and take title from Lee in 2021

Oct 22. 2020 Denice “The Menace” Zamboanga of the Philippines Denice “The Menace” Zamboanga of the Philippines Unbeaten No. 1 ranked atomweight contender Denice “The Menace” Zamboanga of the Philippines has accepted the challenge laid out by reigning ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee, and now promises fans that she is fully fixated on competing for the World Title next year.

Lee, who has held the inaugural atomweight belt since 2016, told media last week that she doesn’t believe Zamboanga had done enough to be qualified as the number one contender to her title.

Zamboanga, naturally, didn’t take Lee’s comments too well, and a fiery war of words ensued between the two martial artists in separate interviews with media. Zamboanga would call Lee out on possibly vacating her title, while the latter responded with a strong ‘no,’ imploring Zamboanga to prove herself in the impending tournament instead.

“I think that Denice should have to face the top 10 girls first to truly prove herself as the number one contender, and the ONE Atomweight World Grand Prix Championship is the perfect way to do that,” said Lee.

ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong revealed plans to hold the ONE Atomweight World Grand Prix Championship, shortly after Lee announced that she and husband Bruno Pucci were expecting their first child together, due early next year.

Although details of the tournament, including dates, venues, and a confirmed list of athletes competing have yet to be officially announced by ONE Championship, Zamboanga, who ranks just behind the champion as the top contender, is expected to be among the eight athletes to take part.

For now, Zamboanga has decided to put calls for Lee to vacate her title on hold, and instead accept Lee’s challenge to compete in the Grand Prix, but not without taking a final shot at the champion.

“I am so pumped for this tournament. I’m looking forward to competing for this ultra prestigious title. This will be the most challenging competition that NO FEMALE FIGHTER in ONE Championship history has ever faced,” said Zamboanga.

“To all the other female fighters who will be competing, it will be an honor to face you all in this tournament. A lot of people want to see me and Angela fight, so I will get the Grand Prix belt and then I’m on to the Atomweight World Title at the end of 2021.”

In a recent ONE Championship worldwide conference call, Sityodtong teased the first round of the Atomweight Grand Prix to commence early next year.

“I anticipate the Atomweight Grand Prix to start in January, and just in time the winner of the Grand Prix will then face Angela Lee when she returns,” Sityodtong told media.

Setting animosity aside, Zamboanga has one last message for Lee, as she begins preparations for the Atomweight Grand Prix in the coming months.

“Take care always and have a safe and happy pregnancy. See you in 2021,” Zamboanga ended.

ONE Championship returns on Friday, 30 October with ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX, broadcast live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore. The blockbuster features four World Title bouts for a total of six compelling martial arts contests. 

In the main event, reigning ONE Middleweight and Light Heavyweight World Champion “The Burmese Python” Aung La N Sang of Myanmar defends his middleweight title against top contender Reinier “The Dutch Knight” de Ridder of The Netherlands.

Defending champion Woods aims for historic No. 83 at Zozo Championship #SootinClaimon.Com

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Defending champion Woods aims for historic No. 83 at Zozo Championship

Oct 22. 2020Tiger Woods (Credit to Getty Images)Tiger Woods (Credit to Getty Images) Tiger Woods felt it. At last year’s ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP, the energy was palpable. It was an electric blend of captivating golf down the stretch between Woods and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, combined with a country eager to momentarily escape the devastation left in the wake of Typhoon Hagibis.

The extremely violent weather phenomenon, which struck Japan on October 12, 2019, caused more than US$15 million in damage and killed 98, the deadliest typhoon to hit the island since 1979. 

But for a moment, people cheered, celebrating golf and a temporary sense of normal. 

 “It was a tough situation for the entire area and all of Japan quite frankly,” Woods said Tuesday. “To have that excitement, that level of excitement for the game of golf, and to have all those people out there watching us, watching us play, to have Hideki right there in the mix as well. It was a great event for all of Japan, and I was lucky enough to have won.”

 The 2020 installment of the PGA TOUR event will have a vastly different energy to go along with a new, but temporary, location and feel. 

 Relocated to Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California, because of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the defending champion has a chance to go back-to-back while making history in a place that is unquestionably familiar. The Hero World Challenge, the event that Woods hosts every December, spent 14 of its first 15 years here. Woods enters the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP @ SHERWOOD with 82 PGA Tour wins all-time, tying him with Sam Sneed for the most in Tour history. 

 The 44-year-old will have to get the record-breaking outcome without the support of a raucous crowd, as spectators remain off limits to limit the chance of viral transmission. 

 Ironically, the 2019 ZOZO Championship victory was Woods’ last on the Tour. He’s played a mere seven times since that final round in Japan, including just four tournaments since the COVID-19 pandemic started in March. 

 Familiarity with the course could provide a boost, but the tournament’s environment will be a far cry from the event Woods is accustomed to playing at Sherwood. The Hero World Challenge traditionally features a 16-man field, including the defending champion, the top 11 available players from the World Golf Rankings and four sponsor exemptions selected by the Woods’ foundation. 

 More faces, more competition and more at-stake – all things Woods is preparing to take on. 

 “Let’s just say that the field is a lot bigger than normally when I have played here. I only had to beat 11 other guys, so that’s very different,” Woods said. “This golf course –  I need to get another look at it tomorrow on the front nine, because the greens are definitely different than last time we played here. Hopefully, everything comes together starting from Thursday and have a great week.”

Matsuyama looks to exact revenge on Woods at Zozo Championship #SootinClaimon.Com

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Matsuyama looks to exact revenge on Woods at Zozo Championship

Oct 21. 2020Hideki Matsuyama (Getty Imgages)Hideki Matsuyama (Getty Imgages) Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama jokingly vowed to exact revenge on Tiger Woods after finishing runner-up to the American golf legend in the inaugural ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP on home soil 12 months ago.

 “I must revenge here next year. He is coming back and I will be here,” said the five-time PGA TOUR winner then.

 Amidst a different backdrop, Matsuyama gets his chance to turn the tables on Woods but instead of competing in Japan, the tournament is being played at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California this week due to the challenges caused by Covid-19. Hence, the event is known as the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP @ SHERWOOD for this year only.

 Coincidentally, Sherwood, a Jack Nicklaus signature design, is one of Woods’ favourite hunting ground as he has won five times here previously which makes the prospect of taking him down in his own backyard even more enticing for Matsuyama.

 “I’m very happy that we’re able to have this tournament. Love to win this week and be able to have the fans come out in Japan next year and be the defending champion there … that would be awesome,” said Matsuyama on Tuesday.

 Chasing a sixth PGA TOUR victory, with his last being the 2017 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, the 28-year-old has performed consistently over the past few years with 14 top-10s around the world since his last win. Matsuyama, ranked 20th in the world, feels his next victory could just be around the corner.

 “It’s been three years and I definitely think about that quite a bit. I always try my best and every week feel like I’m getting there, but definitely it hasn’t happened. So I’m definitely thinking about that a lot and preparing myself and hoping that week will come sooner than later,” said Matsuyama, who plays the first two rounds with World No. 2 Jon Rahm and Justin Rose, the 2018 FedExCup champion.

 Apart from Woods, Matsuyama will also need to contend against a star-studded field which includes 25 of the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking, including eight of the top-10 players, and 28 of the top 30 players from the final FedExCup points list last season. Other big names in the field include Phil Mickelson, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele.

 He is disappointed that Japan’s only PGA TOUR tournament cannot be held in his home country and hopes to deliver a strong showing to bring some cheers back to Japanese fans. “We are grateful that ZOZO Inc. has decided to bring the tournament to the U.S.,” said Matsuyama.

 “Hopefully they will enjoy the live TV broadcast. Last year’s ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP was a great success and it was an honour to participate in Japan’s first official PGA TOUR tournament. I was especially thrilled with the large galleries that lined each fairway and how they cheered on all the players. Many of my fellow PGA TOUR members have expressed to me what a great time they had at the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP and how impressed they were with the golf etiquette and knowledge of the game that the gallery displayed.

 “I was fortunate to play well last year and contend for the title. However, Tiger just played better than all of us. It was a well-deserved win and hats off to Tiger for earning his record-tying 82nd PGA TOUR victory. I know he will be tough to beat at Sherwood where he has had great success in the past. Hopefully I can play well enough to contend for the trophy and give the golf fans back in Japan a good show.”

 The attention will also be on newly-turned professional, Takumi Kanaya, who like Matsuyama is a former winner of the Asia Pacific Amateur Championship and touted as a rising star. The 22-year-old ranked No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking for 55 weeks and won the Mitsui Sumitomo Visa Taiheyo Open on the Japan Tour and finished tied third in the Australian Open late last year while still an amateur. In his professional debut, Kanaya came in seventh in the Japan Open last weekend. 

 He hopes to be as successful as Matsuyama and play full-time on the PGA TOUR soon. “Obviously his (Matsuyama) success on the PGA TOUR gave not just myself, but a lot of the Japanese players, big confidence that we can compete against the world like he did. Although the goal is high, he set a good goal for us and for that, I really admire him as a role model,” said Kanaya, who is amongst eighth Japanese golfers in the elite field this week.

Raynolds Lake Oconee hosts first LPGA event #SootinClaimon.Com

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Raynolds Lake Oconee hosts first LPGA event

Oct 21. 2020

 Following a week off after the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, the LPGA Tour returns to action with the LPGA Drive On Championship – Reynolds Lake Oconee, the first time the Tour makes its way to Greensboro, Ga.

Highlighting this week’s field is Rolex Rankings No. 5 Danielle Kang, who won the first LPGA Drive On Championship event back in July at Inverness Club. Minjee Lee (No. 9) and Lexi Thompson (No. 10) round out those competing this week within the Rolex Rankings top 10.

Five other 2020 winners join Kang in the field this week, including 2020 AIG Women’s Open champion Sophia Popov and recent Rolex First-Time Winner Mel Reid. There are 14 LPGA Tour rookies competing as well, including Matilda Castren, who won last week’s Mission Inn Resort and Club Championship presented by IOA on the Symetra Tour.


  • This is the first time the LPGA Tour is playing at Reynolds Lake Oconee
  • The Great Waters Course is a Jack Nicklaus Signature Design Course and opened in 1992. The course reopened in October 2019 following an extensive, 18-month renovation by Nicklaus Design
  • There are six 2020 winner’s in this week’s field: Austin Ernst, Danielle Kang, Stacy Lewis, Gaby Lopez, Sophia Popov and Mel Reid
  • 14 of the 2020 LPGA Tour rookies are also competing, including Matilda Castren, who won last week on the Symetra Tour, and Linnea Johansson, who finished second to Castren
  • The Big Break Invitational at Great Waters in 2014 on Golf Channel included LPGA Tour Members Gerina Piller, Ryann O’Toole and Jackie Stoelting
  • This week, the tournament will highlight different aspects of the LPGA Foundation: LPGA Foundation (Thursday), LPGA Amateur Golf Association (Friday), LPGA Professionals (Saturday), and LPGA*USGA Girls Golf (Sunday). The pin flag on No. 18 will be changed each day to represent those groups


2020 LPGA Tour rookie Bianca Pagdanganan and her driver have dominated the headlines recently. From finishing in a tie for ninth at her first-career major two weeks ago at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship to currently ranking first in average driving distance on Tour (286.206 yards), the 22-year-old is making big waves in her first year.

“Obviously not the year we were all hoping for. I think this whole year has been a learning process.  As a rookie, you just try to soak in all of the experiences, try to take things from events you played in, and that you are about to play,” said Pagdanganan, who is playing in her sixth event this season this week. “It makes you feel very excited to play more events and just knowing that you get to live your dream.”

Though the recent University of Arizona graduate has a lot to think about already in terms of reaching her own goals, Pagdanganan said one of them is inspiring young girls all over the world to play golf, especially in her native country of the Philippines. “The support has been pretty crazy,” said Pagdanganan. “I see it a lot on Facebook. I get tagged in all these posts, and sometimes I get to read the comments. You can tell people are getting excited knowing that more Filipinos are getting on tour.

“Hopefully we just get to inspire younger girls to pick up the sport. I think that’s one of my goals as a professional golfer, is to encourage younger kids to take up the sport. It’s really fun. You get to learn so much. It’s not about just the competition. It’s more of learning about yourself and just developing your own character.”


This week is a blast from the past for Gerina Piller. The last time Piller visited Lake Reynolds Oconee, she was a participant in Golf Channel’s Big Break Invitational at Great Waters in 2014. She came in a tie for fifth, but remembers taking on the Jack Nicklaus design before its extensive renovation in 2018 and 2019.

“I just think the first things that comes to mind is hospitality. They welcomed us with open arms and it was just awesome. The course was great. I think we might have played some different tees. I know the greens were different. They had redone them. To be back at a tournament with past Big Breakers, that was kind of fun,” said Piller, who played alongside fellow Tour players Ryann O’Toole and Jackie Stoelting, as well as PGA Tour pro Tony Finau.

With one practice round to go, Piller looks to recount her best memories of Great Waters, anything that might be of advantage. “[I] played 18 this morning. It’s tough. It’s definitely playing a lot longer than I remember. The greens are firm and they have a lot of undulations. It’s definitely a second-shot golf course,” said Piller after playing 18 holes on Tuesday. “You got to position yourself off the tee to get a better angle into the greens, more accessible pins. It’s going to be a great test. It’s in phenomenal shape. Just excited to get started.”


The Drive On campaign by the LPGA Tour is a powerful platform on which the stories of diversity and determination among its players are told in personal detail. In this year of COVID-19, Drive On has also served as an essential bridge in a disrupted season, providing opportunities to compete during trying times.

In July, the Drive On Championship at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, brought the Tour back from the five-month pandemic shutdown, kicking off a run of 14 tournaments that at one time seemed like an impossibility. It was a welcome return for both LPGA Tour players and their fans.

This week, the LPGA Drive On Championship Reynolds Lake Oconee in Greensboro, Ga., is the last event before the Tour season sprints to a close. Reynolds Lake Oconee follows an off-week in the wake of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, the third major of the season, and precedes three more off weeks.

It is a crucial island of opportunity.

After Drive On, the Tour returns at the Pelican Women’s Championship presented by DEX Imaging in Belleair, Fla., the week before Thanksgiving, followed by the Volunteers of America Classic at The Colony, Texas Dec. 3-6; the U.S. Women’s Open at Champions Club in Houston Dec. 10-13 and the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla., Dec. 17-20.

Channon Wiratchai picks winner of Lee – Lapicus bout at ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX #SootinClaimon.Com

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Channon Wiratchai picks winner of Lee – Lapicus bout at ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX

Oct 20. 2020

 Top mixed martial arts proponent Shannon “OneShin” Wiratchai of Thailand is a veteran of the sport, and enjoys watching big matches from the sidelines just as much as competing in them. 

The 31-year-old Thai warrior is a huge fan of undefeated Moldovan Iuri Lapicus and Singaporean world champion Christian Lee, both of whom are scheduled to meet in the ONE Circle in less than two weeks’ time.

Lee and Lapicus are set to do battle at ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX, which broadcasts live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore on Friday, 30 October. It’s the first defense of Lee’s ONE Lightweight World Title, which he captured by upsetting Japanese legend Shinya Aoki in 2019.

Having fought and lost to Lapicus in May of last year, Wiratchai knows what Lapicus brings to the table, and warns Lee to expect the unexpected.

“Iuri is a relentless grappler. I didn’t feel anything much from his striking when we fought in the ring, but his relentless grappling really gassed me,” said Wiratchai.

“Christian Lee is also a very committed martial artist, well-rounded in every aspect of the game. He always applies what he works on in training, and comes with something new inside the ring or Circle every time.”

Wiratchai succumbed to Lapicus’ constant grappling pressure, eventually falling by rear-naked choke in the middle of the third and final round of their bout.

But despite his grappling mastery, Wiratchai believes Lapicus has improved leaps and bounds in the striking department due to his work with a kickboxing legend, and that the Moldovan’s newfound skills were evident in his most recent bout.

“I love Iuri’s commitment and drive. He has this innate ability to surprise people. Even though he has such strong and relentless grappling, I think Iuri has also improved a lot with his striking. I think the sparring and training with kickboxing legend Giorgio Petrosyan has a lot to do with it. That confidence was evident when he faced Marat Gafurov,” said Wiratchai.

“Honestly, I thought Iuri would lose by rear naked choke, as this is Marat’s best technique. I thought Marat was the superior grappler. Once again, he proved me wrong by winning by rear naked choke himself instead. Even when we fought, I thought I could defeat him too, but he surprised me a lot in that fight and he won instead.”

ONE Championship returns on Friday, 30 October with ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX, broadcast live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore.

In the main event, reigning ONE Middleweight and Light Heavyweight World Champion “The Burmese Python” Aung La N Sang of Myanmar defends his middleweight title against top contender Reinier “The Dutch Knight” de Ridder of The Netherlands.

The Lee-Lapicus bout is one of four World Title showdowns on the night.

Wiratchai is leaning towards the champion successfully defending his title, but won’t be surprised if Lapicus once again pulls off the upset.

“At this point, I see Christian getting the upper hand in this fight. As good as Iuri is, Christian has superior techniques in all aspects. But like I said, Iuri’s strongest trait is his ability to surprise the world. I think Christian is going to win this fight. However, I will not be surprised if Iuri ends up winning too,” said Wiratchai.

Dates Confirmed for 2023 Solheim Cup #SootinClaimon.Com

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Dates Confirmed for 2023 Solheim Cup

Oct 20. 2020

 The Ladies European Tour announced on Monday that The 2023 Solheim Cup at Finca Cortesin, in the heart of Spain’s Costa del Sol, will take place from September 18 to 24.

Recently confirmed as the host nation, Spain is set to stage the prestigious international women’s professional golf team event for the first time in the tournament’s history but the dates mark another significant milestone – becoming the first Solheim Cup to be played in such close proximity to The Ryder Cup.

Usually scheduled in alternate years, global sports fans will now be treated to a two-week festival of match play golf between Europe and the United States as a result of the recent 2020 Ryder Cup postponement.

Spain follows Scotland as the most recent destination to host the memorable team competition on European soil in 2019 with the 2023 edition including three days of build-up play from Tuesday September 19, to Thursday September 21, as well as the 12th PING Junior Solheim Cup, which sees stars of the future go head-to-head over two days of competition.

Speaking about the news, Ladies European Tour CEO, Alexandra Armas, said: “We are extremely pleased to announce the dates for the upcoming 2023 Solheim Cup and we are excited to have the opportunity to be part of a two-week festival of golf. The Solheim Cup is truly one of the most dramatic and interesting golf events on the global sporting calendar and it has the ability to transcend golf to new audiences and, if the 2023 edition is anything like 2019, fans will be left wanting more and they will be lucky enough go straight onto The Ryder Cup in Italy where the men’s version of Team Europe and Team USA will go head-to-head.”

Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour, said: “Match play golf between Europe and the USA brings a totally unique perspective and atmosphere to our sport and it is tremendous for fans in Europe that our continent will play host to the Solheim Cup and The Ryder Cup in consecutive weeks in 2023.

“The fact it is also a first for both hosting nations – Spain and Italy – simply adds to the anticipation and if we can recreate the excitement generated at Le Golf National in 2018 and at Gleneagles in 2019, the whole world of golf will be in for a truly fabulous fortnight.”

Spanish golfers have played an integral part of the tournament since the inaugural event was held in 1990, with as many as seven players representing Team Europe over the years – with only Sweden and England contributing more players to previous Solheim Cups.

More recently, home favourite Carlota Ciganda has participated in the last four consecutive contests while Costa del Sol star Azahara Munoz also has four appearances to her name since making her debut in 2011.

Carlota Ciganda, who is Spain’s highest ranked player on the Rolex Rankings at No. 13, said: “I can’t believe I might finally have a chance to play the Solheim Cup in Spain in front of my home fans. It is no secret that the event is one of my favourites and I love the energy that I get from the crowd when I am competing in it. it is huge news that it will be the week before The Ryder Cup as I love watching it on TV, and it will be even more special supporting Team Europe if I know that we’ve just brought the trophy home the week before.”

Major winner and two-time Solheim Cup player, Georgia Hall, added: “I love the Solheim Cup and last year’s event was one of my career highlights so it is nice to get the dates in your diary to look forward to but there’s still a lot of golf to be played between now and then so I don’t want to get ahead of myself and think that I will definitely make the team. I have grown up watching the excitement of The Ryder Cup and I think the chance for our event to be played so close to it will give us an opportunity to show everyone how similar they are and hopefully attract a few new fans.”

The upcoming 2021 Solheim Cup will be staged in Toledo, Ohio, 4th-6th September, with Team USA aiming to reclaim the trophy from Team Europe, who captured the 2019 edition with a spectacular putt on the last green in the final match of the singles.

The Solheim Cup was first staged in Florida in 1990 and named after club manufacturer Karsten Solheim, who was the driving force behind its inception. The Solheim Cup is contested between two teams of 12 players over three days. It follows the same format as The Ryder Cup, with 28 matches – eight foursomes and eight fourballs over the first two days and 12 singles on the final day.

Pawin makes up three-shot deficit with a 67 to win Phuket Open #SootinClaimon.Com

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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.

Magic number 8: Rins reigns MotorLand, Mir takes the Championship lead #SootinClaimon.Com

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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
Alex Rins Team Suzuki Ecstar – Suzuki 41:54.391
Alex Marquez – Repsol Honda Team – Honda – +0.263
Joan Mir Team Suzuki Ecstar – Suzuki +2.644

Top Independent Team rider
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
Sam Lowes – EG 0,0 Marc VDS – Kalex 39:33.202
Enea Bastianini – Italtrans Racing Team – Kalex +4.195
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
Jaume Masia – Leopard Racing – Honda 37:45.009
Darryn Binder – CIP – Green Power – KTM +0.091
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

Nakagami was top Independent Team rider

Star-studded field set for ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP @ SHERWOOD #SootinClaimon.Com

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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

RankPlayer1Dustin Johnson2Xander Schauffele2Justin Thomas4Jon Rahm5Scottie Scheffler6Collin Morikawa7Tyrrell Hatton8Rory McIlroy8Sebastián Muñoz8Patrick Reed

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.


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. ~

Perfect 10: Quartararo snatches pole from Viñales by half a tenth #SootinClaimon.Com

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Perfect 10: Quartararo snatches pole from Viñales by half a tenth

Oct 18. 2020 Fabio Quartararo Fabio 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 
Fabio Quartararo* – Petronas Yamaha SRT – Yamaha – 1:47.076
Maverick Viñales – Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP – Yamaha – +0.046
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
Sam Lowes – EG 0,0 Marc VDS – Kalex 1:51.651
Marco Bezzecchi – Sky Racing Team VR46 – Kalex +0.148
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
Raul Fernandez – Red Bull KTM Ajo – KTM 1:57.681
Celestino Vietti – Sky Racing Team VR46 – KTM +0.059
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

Viñales lost out by less than half a tenth

Crutchlow took his first front row of the season

… and put in a stunning stoppie!