Tiger Woods, fist pumping once again, places second at PGA Championship for best major finish since 2009

The fist pump for the birdie at the 18th was demonstrative, but didn’t have the same ferocity as the celebration a decade ago at Torrey Pines.

The result was not a major triumph, but a significant step in an extraordinary comeback.

Tiger Woods didn’t win the PGA Championship on Sunday, but it sure…

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Huntington Beach Welcomes Women’s Championship Tour for Vans US Open of Surfing

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif./USA (Friday, July 27, 2018) – The Vans US Open of Surfing presented by Swatch welcomes back the world’s best surfers starting Monday, July 30 through August 5, 2018 as they compete in Stop No. 7 of 10 of the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT).

The Vans US Open will play a critical role in the 2018 WSL World Title race, which is currently led by six-time WSL Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS). The Australian now wears the Jeep Leader Jersey after her win at the Corona Open J-Bay earlier this month. Gilmore has yet to claim a CT win in Surf City but will look for a strong start in her opening heat against last year’s event winner Sage Erickson (USA) and the event wildcard, who will be determined by a one-heat trials event.

“Huntington is a totally different venue to the rest of the year and I’ve always struggled a bit, but I feel good heading into it,” said Gilmore. “I feel excited about the current ratings and the processes I’m going through. All the girls are ripping so, it’s just about staying focused and making sure I’m investing all my energy into each heat. I feel like I can get a good result. I just have to really apply myself there.”

Lakey Peterson (USA), 2012 event winner, returns home to California for this event. The surfer from Santa Barbara, California sits just behind Gilmore in second place on the Jeep Leaderboard, hungry for her first World Title. She will be up against Coco Ho (HAW) and injury replacement Pauline Ado (FRA) in Round 1.

“It’ll be nice to be home for a minute and get that crowd support behind you,” Peterson said. “We’ve been in Australia, which has a lot of Aussie support there, and Bianca (Buitendag) had that support in South Africa, so that’ll be great to have that kind of hometown support. I’ve done well at Huntington Beach in the past so I think it’s a great opportunity to keep chipping away at Steph (Gilmore). I’m just looking forward to some time at home and getting the jersey on while there.”

16-year-old rookie Caroline Marks (USA) will also be one to watch in Huntington Beach next week. Earlier this year, Marks made history as the youngest surfer to ever qualify for the elite Championship Tour. Now, with more than half the season complete and currently sitting at World No. 7 on the Jeep Leaderboard, Marks hopes to continue her previous success in Huntington Beach and earn a big result in her rookie debut. Marks will be up against Australians Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) and Bronte Macaulay (AUS) when competition commences.

“The US Open is a different event because there are so many competitive surfing events on display,” said Marks. “There is the men’s and women’s juniors, our CT event, and even a big men’s QS event, so everyone is there together and cheering each other on. It’s really cool. I grew up competing at Huntington through all the amateur and junior events, and I’ve had a lot of success there. That gives me a lot of confidence heading into the CT event. I’m just excited to have my family there, it’s been a long year on the road so it’s a perfect time to be home for a few months.”

Facing ongoing health issues from contracting Influenza A during the Corona Open J-Bay, Tyler Wright (AUS) has withdrawn from next week’s Vans US Open of Surfing. The Australian is the reigning World Champion and currently ranked No. 5 on the Jeep Leaderboard.

“Unfortunately I will be withdrawing from Vans US Open of Surfing,” said Wright. “I’m still recovering from Influenza A. I’m home with the doggos getting better, but still a long way from full strength. Thanks to everyone for the continued support.”

Stepping in for Wright will be fellow Australian, Macy Callaghan. The 20-year-old is currently ranked No. 9 on the WSL Qualifying Series (QS) and competed at the Corona Open J-Bay earlier this month, where she lost to Frenchwoman Johanne Defay in Round 2.

Brazilian Silvana Lima has also withdrawn from the US Open after sustaining a knee injury in Round 1 of the Corona Open J-Bay. Although Lima powered through the rest of her heat, she was unable to finish the event. She will be replaced by former WSL CT surfer Ado.

The Huntington Beach waves will also feature the WSL Men’s Qualifying Series event, the men’s and women’s WSL Pro Junior events, the first-ever all women’s Vans Duct Tape Invitational longboarding competition, and the annual Vans Stoke-O-Rama, bringing local Huntington Beach youth together for friendly surf and beach activities.

Starting Monday, July 30, the Vans US Open of Surfing presented by Swatch will be broadcast LIVE on the WSL’s Facebook page, WorldSurfLeague.com, and the WSL app. Also, check local listings for coverage from the WSL’s broadcast partners.

Surfline, forecast partner of the WSL, is calling for:

The first several days of the event window are looking relatively slow with a minor blend of Southern Hemisphere swells and local NWwindswell on offer. Heading through the end of next week into the final weekend of the event window we anticipate a slightly better mix of new SSW swell and NW windswell.

Vans US Open of Surfing Women’s CT Round 1 Matchups:
Heat 1: Carissa Moore (HAW), Nikki Van Dijk (AUS), Courtney Conlogue (USA)
Heat 2: Johanne Defay (FRA), Keely Andrew (AUS), Paige Hareb (NZL)
Heat 3: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Sage Erickson (USA), TBD
Heat 4: Lakey Peterson (USA), Coco Ho (HAW), Pauline Ado (FRA)
Heat 5: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA), Malia Manuel (HAW), Macy Callaghan (AUS)
Heat 6: Caroline Marks (USA), Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Bronte Macaulay (AUS)

More available at WorldSurfLeague.com.

Recognized as the largest professional sports competition and action sports festival in the world, the Vans US Open of Surfing is currently sanctioned and operated by the World Surf League under license from IMG, the event owner. Official partners of this year’s event include Vans, Swatch, Jeep, Airbnb, Michelob ULTRA, Hydro Flask, LifeProof, Jose Cuervo, Barefoot Wine, Woolmark, BF Goodrich, Harley-Davidson, Peet’s Coffee, Red Bull, U.S. Army, Slowtide, CLIF Bar, U.S. Marine Corps, Let it Block Sunscreen, Tea of a Kind, Flowater, and Frontier Communications.

For more information, including continued updates and scheduling, please visit VansUSOpenofSurfing.com.

About Vans
Vans®, a VF Corporation (NYSE: VFC) brand, is the original action sports footwear, apparel and accessories brand. Vans authentic collections are sold globally in 84 countries through a network of subsidiaries, distributors and international offices. Vans also owns and operates more than 600 retail locations around the world. The Vans brand promotes the action sports lifestyle, youth culture and creative self-expression through the support of athletes, musicians and artists and through progressive events and platforms such as the Vans Park Series, Vans Triple Crown of Surfing®, the Vans U.S. Open of Surfing, Vans Pool Party, Vans Custom Culture, Vans Warped Tour®, and Vans’ cultural hub and international music venue, House of Vans.

About IMG
IMG is a global leader in sports, fashion, events and media, operating in more than 30 countries. The company manages some of the world’s greatest sports figures and fashion icons; stages hundreds of live events and branded entertainment experiences annually; and is a leading independent producer and distributor of sports and entertainment media. IMG also specializes in sports training and league development, as well as marketing, media and licensing for brands, sports organizations and collegiate institutions. IMG is part of the Endeavor (formerly WME | IMG) network.

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Angelique Kerber Beats Serena Williams to Win Wimbledon Championship

(LONDON) — Angelique Kerber won her first Wimbledon championship by stopping Serena Williams’ bid for a record-equaling 24th Grand Slam title.

Kerber played cleanly as can be, covering the court so well and picking her spots for big shots, in a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Williams in Saturday’s final.

It is the 30-year-old Kerber’s third Grand Slam title. She also beat Williams in the Australian Open final in 2016, then won that year’s U.S. Open.

Williams is a seven-time Wimbledon champion and her 23 major trophies rank second all-time to Margaret Court. This final came just 10½ months after the 36-year-old American gave birth to a daughter and dealt with a serious health scare. She was playing in the fourth tournament of her comeback.

Serena Williams holding her tennis racket down during the match against Kerber — the crowd is blurred behind her
Oli Scarff — AFP — Getty ImagesUS player Serena Williams reacts against Germany’s Angelique Kerber during their women’s singles final match on the twelfth day of the 2018 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 14.

Sports – TIME

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Tiger Woods Works to Salvage Disappointing Start in First Round of the Players Championship

Tiger’s 72, which was salvaged thanks to a quality bogey after smothering his tee shot into the water on 18, left him six shots behind a sextet of leaders at six-under.

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‘To Be Number One Is the Target.’ China’s Ding Junhui Is Taking on the World Snooker Championship

Ding Junhui isn’t wearing the requisite waistcoat and bowtie of the professional snooker circuit, but even dressed in a baggy jogging suit, he isn’t difficult to pick out of the crowd. Ball after ball vanishes as Ding glides around the green baize, wielding his cue with metronomic ease. “I’m trying to make my rhythm more relaxed so games are like practice routines,” he tells TIME between training sessions at his snooker club in northwest Beijing. “How to take off the pressure and just play is the hardest part.”

All top sportsmen must deal with the weight of expectation, though it’s hard to imagine a burden comparable to Ding’s. China’s most successful player has been hailed by World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn as “the true superstar of the sport” in China, and more than a quarter of his homeland’s television viewing public — some 210 million people — tuned in to see his World Championship final defeat in 2016. (That’s double the viewers of last year’s Super Bowl.) The World Championship begins again on April 21 and Ding is determined to realize his potential by finally seizing the game’s top prize. (Eventual champion Mark Selby knocked him out at the semifinal stage last year.)

“To win the World Championship and to be world number one is the target for the next few years,” says Ding, his cherubic face and softly spoken demeanor masking inner steel that has seen him claim 13 ranking titles. “This is very hard, I know, because [snooker] careers are quite short. I’m now just over 30. There is just only one thing, to keep going and find more chances to win.”

Snooker is an unfamiliar sport for many Americans — a cousin of cue games like pocket billiards, though played on a surface about four times the size of your average pub pool table. Snooker has grown wildly popular in Asia following the success of Ding and Hong Kong’s Marco Fu. The winner of the World Championship takes home a cool $ 600,000 in prize money, which is many times the purse for the pool equivalent. About 70 million people are estimated to play cue sports in China each week, with thousands of snooker and pool clubs strewn across both big cities and donkey-cart towns.

Read more: How Snooker Swept China’s Sporting World

As a result, Hearn’s bold prediction that half of snooker’s top 16 will soon hail from China doesn’t look farfetched. “The future’s so bright, I should be wearing sunglasses,” five-time snooker World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan said of upcoming Chinese talent at last year’s Evergrande China Championship. A raft of top young Chinese players have joined the professional tour, many inspired by Ding’s achievements. Although Ding was briefly world number one, he currently ranks third. There will be four other Chinese players — Li Hang, Cao Yupeng, Xiao Gudong and Yan Bingtao — chalking up at the legendary Crucible Theatre this month. “I picked up the cue all because of watching him,” Yan, 18, has said of Ding. “He is like an elder brother to all of us. We worship him.”

There is a superhuman quality to mastering snooker; rounded pockets and a lightening-quick surface render the sport less forgiving than pool, with titanic concentration required to build large scores. It’s also a rare sport where true perfection is possible. Team games like soccer or basketball contend with myriad external factors, whereas even tennis and golf matches may turn on a gust of wind or peculiar divot. The snooker table, by contrast, is like a vacuum; every facet is controllable, every shot theoretically possible. Top players only ever really play against themselves, meaning defeat always entails an avoidable blunder. This adds a significant psychological burden. “With football, sometimes you don’t play well but your team mates are playing great, so you still can win,” says Ding. “With snooker you have to win everything yourself. It’s a more of a mental game.”

It’s one that Ding has been honing since he was just eight years old, when his father spotted his son’s potential on the communal pool table below the family’s apartment in China’s eastern province of Jiangsu. Before long his parents sold their home and grocery business and moved the family 1,000 miles south to Guangdong province — considered China’s snooker Mecca — so Ding could work with the nation’s best professional coaches. He was pulled out of school to concentrate solely on snooker at just 12 years old, winning the Amateur Championships at 14 and turning pro at just 16.

As a teenager, Ding was sent to the British steel-smelting city of Sheffield, where the World Championship takes place each year. Stepping off the plane alone without speaking any English was a jolting experience. “It was scary at first,” he says. “I was always very shy. Every day I just wished to see another snooker player to play with.” But Ding is sanguine about missing out on simple childhood pleasures, insisting that the only pressure he ever felt was from himself. “Everyone of the age 10 or 11 likes to have some childlike time, to play some games,” says Ding. “This is what I lost… now I am getting something back.”

The Dafabet Masters - Day One
Dan Mullan—Getty Images Ding Junhui of China looks on during his first round match against Kyren Wilson of England at the Dafabet Masters in London on Jan. 15, 2017.

Still, from diving and gymnastics to table tennis, China has a reputation for putting inordinate pressure on young athletes that can verge on abuse. Parents are lured to surrender talented children to state sporting academies on promises of national glory and future commercial spoils. There, kids train until tendons snap and retinas detach, while neglecting regular studies. Some 45% of former athletes in China fail to find work after retirement, according to a 2010 report by the state-run Nanjing Daily newspaper. The nation’s best snooker players are recruited by the CBSA World Snooker Academy in Beijing, where 30 pupils from six to 22 years old play from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Saturday, according to the BBC.

For Ding, spending endless days alone with a snooker table is ultimately counterproductive. He says Chinese players often lack tactical and defensive instincts because they are used to clearing up every ball in just one visit. “But if you lose your concentration, lose your plotting, you’ve got nothing left,” he says. But even more damaging can be the psychological toll of isolation on youngsters. After eight to ten hours a day with just a snooker table for company, “I would get outside and forget how to speak to people, because you spend all day alone in a room,” he says. “It’s too much.” Ding says the game quickly went from being an all-engrossing passion to feeling “more like a day job.” Today, though, “I try to enjoy it more,” he says.

Ding hopes rekindling his love for the game can help spur him to the world title. Today, practice sessions last just three hours a day, and he books regular free time traveling the world and not thinking about snooker. More importantly, he isn’t lonely on or off the green baize. His wife is expecting their first child — “I don’t know what to do, so I have to learn quick!” Ding says — though he balks at the thought of raising another snooker superstar in the family. “Snooker is so boring,” Ding laughs, “my first choice [for my child] would not be this, something else.” Ding says his father didn’t push him to excel at the sport, but rather supported his decision. “I chose this for myself,” he says of his freedom as a child. As for raising his own, “I think I will let mine do the same.”

With video by Zhang Chi / Beijing

Sports – TIME

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Notre Dame’s Arike Ogunbowale Can’t Stop Watching Her Championship Buzzer-Beater, Either

You’ll be hard-pressed to find an athlete, anywhere, who’s ever had a weekend like Arike Ogunbowale just did. On Friday night in Columbus, Ohio, the Notre Dame junior hit an incredible pull-up jump shot in the final seconds to give the Fighting Irish a 91-89 overtime win against Connecticut in the national semifinals; the Huskies hadn’t lost a game all season. Then, on Easter Sunday, Ogunbowale followed up that clutch performance with an even bigger stunner. With Notre Dame and Mississippi State tied at 58-58, Ogunbowale launched a contested last-second three-pointer — degree of difficulty, 10.0 — that somehow found the bottom of the net, and delivered Notre Dame its first women’s basketball title since 2001.

After a night of celebrating with her teammates, Ogunbowale, 21, spoke to TIME on Monday from the Notre Dame team bus, which was traveling from Columbus back to South Bend, Indiana, with the national championship trophy sitting in the front seat.

As a kid growing up in Milwaukee, how any times did you practice hitting those last-second shots?

I was always having fun, when working out, doing a lot of crazy different shots. Pounding down, at last second. But to actually do it on a stage like this is unheard of. It’s crazy.

When you let your shot go against Mississippi State in the final, did you think it had a chance of going in?

I mean, if felt good. But you never know. When the shot went in, I couldn’t believe it actually. It was just, “Wow.” Then I started running to my teammates. After, I heard the whistle. I was like, “Wait, did I get it off in time?” But I clearly got it off in time. But I was just like, something had to have gone wrong. There’s just no way.

The referees sort of stopped the celebration to check the clock. I thought the review took some of the joy out of the moment. The officials put 0.1 second back on the clock. What did you think of all that?

We knew they weren’t going to be able to get a shot off that quick. It was really pointless. Even the Mississippi State coach was like, “It’s over, just end it.” The ref wanted the .1 second. But I think we were still excited.

Prior to your shot, your teammate Marina Mabrey collided with Mississippi State’s Morgan William at half-court, resulting in a steal. That turnover ultimately set up your game-winner. Mississippi State fans will surely insist, for a long time, that William was fouled. Did you see the collision?

I watched the play, and Marina really got ball. I thought Morgan flopped a little bit cause Marina really stole the ball clean. It could go both ways. That call was, I guess, crucial for them. We felt all game we weren’t getting any calls. I guess that’s just how it played out. I don’t think you should really to let the refs define the game like that with a foul call right there.

On the game-winning inbounds play, you weren’t the first option.

I had an off shooting day, and Jessica [Shepard], she was killing it in the post the whole game. So we wanted to take advantage of that. I think they knew we wanted to go to her because they had one person behind her, and the person guarding the in-bounder backed up. So it would have been hard to make that pass.

How many times have you watched the video?

I can’t even count how many. A lot. I keep getting tagged in the video, so I keep watching it. I’m just like, this is insane how this happened.

You were an excellent soccer player growing up, but you eventually gave it up to focus on hoops. How difficult was that?

It was definitely tough. I loved soccer. I played it until my sophomore year [of high school]. It was getting really hard to juggle both of them. So I really had to choose one. I definitely miss soccer. But I definitely don’t regret the decision.

You’re a business major at Notre Dame. Are you back in class this week?

I have classes tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday. Tomorrow I think I have managerial economics.

So your professors aren’t going to give you a few days off to bask in the glory?

Nah. I wish. I definitely have to go to class. I’ve been missing two weeks straight.

Do you have any advice out there for all the girls and boys in their driveways or on the playgrounds, hitting all those buzzer-shots in their minds?

Really, anything is possible. Keep shooting those crazy, off-balance shots. Because you never know when they’re going to come in handy.

Sports – TIME

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What Time Is the NCAA Championship Game? Here’s When and How to Watch Villanova vs Michigan Online for Free

Tonight’s the final night for March Madness 2018, and a national title is on the line. After an amazing tournament full of dramatic upsets that generated both a celebrity nun and free pizza nationwide, the Villanova Wildcats face the Michigan Wolverines in 2018 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament Championship Game today, Monday, April 2.

Tipoff is scheduled for 9:20 p.m. ET, and the official broadcast begins a 9 p.m. Villanova has the country’s top-ranked offense, and is a 6.5-point favorite to beat Michigan.

If you’re wondering how to watch the 2018 national championship, unfortunately the game is not available on one of the big free networks. The game’s national broadcast is being aired on the pay channel TBS. Two of its sister channels—TNT and TruTV—are also airing the game with commentators specifically for fans of Michigan and Villanova, respectively.

All three networks airing the game are pay TV channels, available with most cable or satellite subscriptions. But even if you don’t have cable, or even a TV, there are still ways to watch the 2018 national championship for free.

How to Watch the 2018 National Championship Game Online for Free

There are several options for live-streaming the national championship on Monday, and yes, you can watch for free. First off, the NCAA March Madness Live app has a Fast Break feature allowing you to watch the game online for free. You are allowed to stream for free during a preview period that lasts roughly three hours, which should be long enough to catch the entire game, assuming you haven’t been using up your free trial period previously.

When the free preview period expires, you will be required to log in with a pay TV account number and password. The Fast Break feature can be used on a browser in your desktop, or on any device after downloading the NCAA March Madness Live app.

The other main option to watch the national championship game online for free comes by way of a free trial period offered by a streaming TV service like Hulu Live, DirecTV Now, Playstation Vue, Sling TV, or YouTube TV. All include channels like TBS with their basic packages, and all come with free trial periods of a week or so for new subscribers.

Streaming TV packages range from roughly $ 20 to $ 40 per month after the free trial period is over. Just be sure to remember to cancel before the free trial ends if you are not interested in paying for the service.

Sports – TIME

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Kanoa Igarashi To Represent Japan On Elite World Surf League Championship Tour

WSL PRESS RELEASE

LOS ANGELES, California, USA (Monday, February 12, 2018) – Kanoa Igarashi, 20, will represent Japan heading into the 2018 World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT) season. A dual citizen of Japan and the United States, Igarashi decided to change his representing country as he eyes the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, which will include surfing for the first time.

“I am going to be representing Japan this year on the Championship Tour,” Igarashi said. “I am proud to surf for Japan. My parents are Japanese, my whole family is Japanese. I have a lot of support and fans over there. We do not have any Japanese surfers on the CT, so it is something for them to cheer for and have that part in the WSL. I am sure they are really excited, and I am looking forward to it. My family is stoked.”

With this change, Igarashi becomes the first competitor to officially represent Japan on the WSL CT. In 2016, Igarashi joined the CT as its youngest member (then 17) and has proven to be a leader in the next generation of progressive surfers. Igarashi’s career has been decorated with impressive performances as he has ranked in the Top 20 for the past two years. His standout victories include first at the Vans US Open of Surfing in 2017 and a runner-up finish at the Billabong Pipe Masters in 2016.

“I want to be able to compete in the Olympics and represent Japan,” continued Igarashi. “I grew up competing for USA and have a lot of support over here, but this is a different part of my career now. The Olympics is the greatest competition in all of sports and it is something that you dream of doing as a kid. I never thought it would be possible as a surfer. It is a really exciting time for surfing. I am going to do my best to represent surfing in the best way possible.”

Igarashi will compete under Japan for the first time in the 2018 WSL Championship Tour kickoff event, the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast, in Australia from March 11 – 22, 2018.

For more information, check out WorldSurfLeague.com. Kanoa Igarashi To Represent Japan On Elite World Surf League Championship Tour

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Former Championship Tour Competitor Matt Banting Set To Comeback From Injury at Vissla Sydney Surf Pro

Press Release

Coolangatta, QLD/AUS  (Wednesday,January 31, 2018) – With less than a month until the Vissla Sydney Surf Pro World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 6000 event lands on Manly Beach, many of the world’s best surfers are gearing up to make a splash in Sydney’s biggest surf event.

With 6,000 QS points up for grabs, an estimated 220 surfers from over 20 different countries are expected to kick off their 2018 campaign in style when the event gets underway from 24 February – 4 March.

Someone who is accustomed to taking victories in Manly is 23-year-old Matt Banting – who at just 17 – made worldwide news back in 2012 when he not only claimed victory in the QS 6,000, but also the Pro Junior division at the Australian Open of Surfing.

After spending the last 12-months recovering from a pelvic injury, Banting is eager to get back to the location that cemented him as one of the world’s best and put him on the pathway to qualifying for the WSL Championship Tour in 2015.

“I think I’ve been pain-free since October 2017 and since then I’ve been focused on getting back to the level I was surfing at previously,” said Banting. “I think I was beginning to get a bit flustered by a lot of the pressure of being on tour back in 2016 and I probably took on too much. Now, I’m more focused on improving my own surfing and hopefully getting a few good results in 2018.”

“Winning in Manly back in 2012 is still one of the fondest memories I’ve ever had from professional surfing. I’ve actually started watching a lot of clips from events in Manly over the last few years and the waves have been really similar to home in previous years, so hopefully, it’s similar in 2018 and I’m prepared when the event kicks off.”

Banting will make his complete competitive return in the upcoming Vissla Great Lakes Pro pres. by D’Blanc before going into the Burton Automotive Pro and finally the Vissla Sydney Surf Pro at Manly.

In addition to the QS components of the Vissla Sydney Surf Pro, a WSL sanctioned Pro Junior event will also take place on the opening weekend of the 24 – 25 February.

All the NSW professional surfing action gets underway from early January with the World Junior Championships, followed by the Vissla NSW Pro Surf Series, The nudie Australian Boardriders Battle National Final, Surfest and the Vissla Sydney Pro.

The Vissla Sydney Surf Pro will be proudly supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW. The event will also be proudly supported by Vissla, Northern Beaches Council, WSL and Surfing NSW.

The 2018 Vissla Sydney Surf Pro will be held from February 26th  – March 4th. For more information, highlights and images, head to www.worldsurfleague.com and on the WSL App.

The post Former Championship Tour Competitor Matt Banting Set To Comeback From Injury at Vissla Sydney Surf Pro appeared first on .

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Unlikely NFC Championship a throwback to classic matches

PHILADELPHIA — It might as well be the 1970s, when the Purple People Eaters played, or the 1990s, when Buddy Ryan’s Eagles were one of the most feared units in the league: Defense is still winning championships. Amid an era of the spread offense and no touching receivers downfield, the 2018 NFC Championship has brought…
Sports | New York Post

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How to Watch the Alabama vs. Georgia College Football Championship Game Tonight for Free

On Monday night, the Alabama Crimson Tide and Georgia Bulldogs square off in the 2018 College Football National Championship game, and interest is extraordinarily high. Not only is it the season’s biggest college football matchup featuring two celebrated SEC rivals, but the game is also being played in Atlanta, which has been called “college football’s capital.”

Oh, and President Donald J. Trump is going to be in attendance to watch Alabama vs. Georgia live. His presence has in turn inspired the NAACP and other groups to stage anti-Trump protests in Atlanta on Monday. Rapper Kendrick Lamar will also perform at the first-ever National Championship halftime show.

Watching or live-streaming Alabama vs. Georgia from the comfort of your home is easy enough. Like the playoff games on New Year’s Day, tonight’s championship game is being broadcast exclusive by ESPN. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET, and if you have cable or another standard pay TV package, all you have to do to watch is find any of the ESPN channels airing the game. You can also stream the college football national championship game for free by logging in to the ESPN app with the number and password of your pay TV provider account.

If you don’t have cable or another pay TV service, it is still possible to watch the national championship game for free tonight. You could of course head to a nearby bar or restaurant to watch—but then you’d probably run up quite a bar tab, so it wouldn’t nearly be free. Or you could take advantage of one of the many streaming TV services now on the market, nearly all of which have ESPN, and all of which have free trial periods.

These streaming services include options such as DirecTV Now, Hulu Live, Playstation Vue, Sling TV, and YouTube TV. All of the services above allow you to live-stream ESPN and dozens of other pay TV channels on a variety of devices. New subscribers can watch for free during trial periods, which last a week or more depending on the service.

Just remember, though, that you will be charged the regular monthly rate if you don’t cancel the service before the trial period ends. The normal monthly rates for these streaming TV services start at $ 20 and up per month, and Sling TV is the cheapest (though most limited) of the bunch.

Sports – TIME

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National Championship Game Draws Slew of Celebrities, Not Just Trump and Kendrick

The college football National Championship looks Hollywood friendly — ’cause there’s a few celebs at the game … and we don’t just mean Donald Trump and Kendrick Lamar. Some other big names at the big game in Atlanta include Quavo, Samuel L.…

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This Could Be The Last College Football Championship Game With Unpaid Players

Millions of people will tune into the College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday night, Jan. 8, hoping for a doozy. Even President Donald Trump is expected to be among the frenzied crowd at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta when the Alabama Crimson Tide take on the Georgia Bulldogs (and Kendrick Lamar performs the halftime show). Expectations are high for good reason: Alabama is shooting for a fifth national championship in Nick Saban’s 11 years as head coach, while SEC rival Georgia—coached by former Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart—squeaked by Oklahoma, 54-48, in a double-overtime shootout in the College Football Playoff semifinal on New Year’s Day.

The title game may well be another classic. But don’t let that obscure a much deeper problem behind all the pomp and hype. The College Football National Championship will do more than decide which university has the best team, it will generate millions of dollars for the universities, coaches, broadcasters, and sponsors. Other ancillary actors—Atlanta hotel operators, local restaurants — will rake in their own tasty haul.

The amateur players on the field, however, won’t share in that bounty, beyond a few thousands dollars on top of an athletic scholarship to cover the full cost of attending school. The NCAA, the organization governing big-time college athletics, prevents schools from paying their players, even as they make millions for their coaches and schools. Saban and Smart made almost $ 15 million combined this year.

“All today’s players can hope for,” says Jeffrey Kessler, a sports labor attorney who is leading a case against the NCAA, “is a better deal for the players that come after them.”

The case that could change college football

That may finally change. On Jan. 16, in a federal district courtroom in Oakland, Calif., judge Claudia Wilken will hold a hearing on motions for summary judgment in the case of Jenkins v NCAA, a class action suit that challenges the NCAA’s compensation limits on athletes. Wilken ruled on a similar case, the landmark O’Bannon v NCAA litigation, more than three years ago. While Wilken found in that case that the NCAA rules unreasonably restrained trade in violation of anti-trust laws, she did not lift the restraints entirely. Schools could still limit their compensation for athletes to the cost-of-attendance stipend, meaning the players would not be paid according to their market value.

Read More: The Case for Paying College Athletes

The Jenkins case, however, makes a broader claim than O’Bannon. Whereas O’Bannon concerned a college athlete’s ability to profit from the use of his or her likeness, Jenkins focuses on the market for signing college athletes to schools. It seeks to ends the NCAA’s blanket wage restrictions, and allow individual athletic conferences to determine the levels at which players should be paid. Kessler, who has represented the players’ unions of all four major U.S. professional sports leagues and helped NFL players win the right to become free agents in the early 1990s, is representing the Jenkins plaintiffs.

One expert likens the two cases to the work of an offensive lineman clearing the way for a running back: O’Bannon did the legal blocking, says Marc Edelman, a professor of law at Baruch College’s Zicklin School of Business, that could allow Jenkins to finally score big for college athletes. “The point of Jenkins is to create a universe in which the NCAA can no longer ubiquitously prevent college athletes from being paid,” says Edelman.

With more money sloshing around college sports every year, the case against paying players becomes increasingly difficult to justify. Saban made more than $ 11 million this season; Georgia paid Smart $ 3.75 million. Alabama pays two of its assistants — defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, the incoming head coach at Tennessee, and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll — north of $ 1 million. Texas A&M just signed former Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher to a 10-year, $ 75 million deal; Fisher in turn just poached Notre Dame defensive coordinator Mike Elko with reported three-year contract at an average of $ 1.8 million a year.

How much money should college athletes be paid?

Why shouldn’t this bounty trickle down to the players who generate it? Antitrust economist Andy Schwarz, a staunch advocate for reallocating more flush college sports revenues to athletes, envisions a scenario where schools reallocate 30% of incremental athletic department revenue growth to a fund that compensates athletes: 15% for male athletes, and 15% for female athletes. Schools can keep 70% of the new revenues, plus all old revenues. If Alabama, for example, had followed such a model over the past four years, the school would have set aside, on average, $ 2.9 million annually to pay athletes. Alabama would have kept an average of $ 149.5 million per year, or 98% of all revenues.

“If schools ever want to get past their ‘can’t-don’t’ rhetoric and go for can-do solutions, all they need to do is just start fixing things,” says Schwarz. “Divert new money and in a few years the budgets will have adjusted just fine.”

The Jenkins case will likely hinge on whether the plaintiffs can convince the court that the paying players won’t adversely effect the college sports business. Anti-trust laws permit trade restraints — like a cap on compensation — if such restraints benefit consumers. In the O’Bannon case, the NCAA’s lawyers argued that college football and basketball is popular because players don’t get paid. Fans are attracted to the amateur ideal. In Jenkins, the NCAA will insist that the court has already established that paying players would hurt the college sports business, since in O’Bannon both Wilken and an appellate court gave weight to a survey from an NCAA research expert showing that 69% of respondents expressed opposition to paying college athletes.

Still, it’s hard to imagine rabid college sports fans leaving stadiums and TV sets in droves just because students at their favorite schools receive payment for playing football or basketball—which is why they’re at the school in the first place. In so many pockets of America, college football’s ingrained in the cultural DNA. Why would the tailgate lose its appeal when the star quarterback has an endorsement deal?

Further, as part of the Jenkins case, attorneys for the plaintiffs have filed their own consumer demand study with the court. Their survey expert concluded, “to a high degree of scientific certainty,” that additional compensation for college athletes would result in “no negative impact on consumer demand as exhibited through viewership /attendance of college football and basketball … If anything, permitting these additional forms of compensation/benefits could have a positive impact on such consumer demand.” Decades of American behavioral economics bear this finding out. As player salaries have risen exponentially with the advent of free agency and technological innovations that distribute the games to broader audiences, sports have become even more popular. The business has only grown.

Americans, it turns out, value fairness. “This case could make a great difference in the lives of those college players that will not make it to the pros,” says Kessler.

If it lives up to expectations, the Alabama-Georgia title game may be remembered for a long time. But the year’s most lasting college sports moment could unfurl in a courtroom.


Sports – TIME

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Show chickens compete at the 45th National Championship Poultry Show

Poultry aficionados and their prized chickens competed for best in show at the 45th National Championship Poultry Show in Telford, Shropshire, England on Dec. 2, 2017. Birds of all sizes, colors, and feather counts were admired by visitors and judges before being prized with ribbons and the eventual title of best in show.
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UFC 218: Featherweight Championship Rematch, More Fan Favorites

UFC 218 doesn't carry an eye-popping name like Conor McGregor, Ronda Rousey or Jon Jones. However, if you like quality fights with intriguing storylines and high stakes, Saturday's lineup is worth your time (and money).

Maybe it's for the UFC Featherweight championship rematch between Max Holloway and Jose Aldo in the main event. Or perhaps the Heavyweight title eliminator between

This article originally appeared on www.rollingstone.com: UFC 218: Featherweight Championship Rematch, More Fan Favorites

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Postcard Day For Men’s Round Three at Taiwan Open World Longboard Championship

Jinzun Harbour,  Taitung/Taiwan  (Tuesday, November 25, 2017) –  On a beautiful sunny day at Jinzun Harbour the 2017 Taiwan Open World Longboard Championships has continued with the completion of Men’s Round Three. It’s been ‘Groundhog Day’ here at Jinzun with perfectly clean 3-to-4 foot waves continuing throughout the event.

In his 6 years of competing at the Longboard Championship Tour (LCT), young Sunshine Coaster Nic Jones (AUS) has been unable to make it out of Round Three. On Day 3 of competition, Jones had a tough task ahead of him if he was to break his run of 13th place finishes when he came up against two times World Champion Piccolo Clemente (PER). Jones adapted to the conditions and criteria well, opting to surf on a traditional single fin and utilize time on the nose to find a 14.23 (out of a possible 20) heat total. Clemente failed to find a rhythm leaving Jones to progress to a guaranteed best finish on the LCT.

“I’m ecstatic right now – this is a special heat win form me and to have friends and family on the beach is amazing,” Jones said. “With the way the waves are at the moment I decided to surf a bigger board with a bit of extra weight in it and it was definitely the right choice. It was good to start the heat off strongly, but it was a nervous wait for the next, especially against a guy like Piccolo – he’s an amazing surfer. I finally found another score and am so stoked to make it into Round Three. My goal now is the Quarterfinals or better.”

It was an all Californian affair in Heat 4 of Round Three with Kevin Skvarna (USA) coming up against Cole Robbins (AUS). It was an exciting heat as the more traditional Skvarna sat on the left peak while Robbins kept to the rights. Robbins posted a 7.33 (out of possible 10) late in the heat to take the lead. Skvarna had a chance to answer back but fell and lost his board, one of the perils of surfing heats without a leash. Robbins was able to hang on for the win with a heat total of 14.66.

“That was a wild heat out there,” Robbins said, “We were sitting so wide away from each other it was hard to know if he was getting scores or not so it was super intense. I was going to surf a single fin but as the wind came up I decided a more performance board would be better in the wind. It allowed me to stay on the nose for a bit along with complete my turns which was good.”

Having finished runner-up on the LCT in 2009 and 2011, Hawaii’s Kai Sallas (HAW) is in the best position yet to take his first World Longboard Title. Sallas has been warming up at waves similar to Jinzun at home in Oahu to guarantee comfort in his quest to become Champion. He looked solid in Round Three posting the highest heat total of the round a 16.17.

“There’s a wave at home that is cross-shore like this and breaks in a similar way that I have been surfing more than usual in preparation for this event,” Sallas said. “This year is different for me as when I finished runner-up I was out of contention for the title so had no pressure. Now that I’m sitting in second there is more pressure but I’m feeling confident and ready for anything.”

Brazilian competitor Rodrigo Sphaier (BRA) put on a powerful performance in his Round Three heat attacking the lip and throwing buckets to post a heat total of 13.03 and overcome South Africa’s Matthew Moir (ZAF). Moir had an opportunity to overtake him late in the heat but couldn’t find the wave he needed to progress.

“That was a nervous heat for me,” Sphaier said. “Matthew is a really great competitor and hard to beat so it feels good to come out on top. The waves here are amazing, I have been warming up here all week and loving the conditions we have been getting.”

Frenchman Edouard Delpero (FRA) continued his good run at Jinzun Harbour progressing into Round Four with a strong win over Japanese competitor Shohei Akimoto (JPN). Delpero posted a heat total of 16.67 which was the highest of Men’s Round Three.

“I’m just trying to enjoy as much as possible and I’m lucky because I got good scores,” Delpero said. “The conditions are really tough out there.  I’m stoked with my surfing but I still don’t feel like I’m the guy to beat, because there is such a high level at this contest. I really like this region, I’ve been here twice already so I’m really enjoying my time here again.”

The 2017 Taiwan Open World Longboard Championship runs from November 23 – December 3, 2017. For more information and LIVE ACTION of
the head to www.worldsurfleague.com and on the WSL App.

Taiwan Open World Longboard Championship Men’s Round 3 Results:

Heat 1:  Adam Griffiths (GBR) 13.03 def Kaniela Stewart (HAW) 10.50
Heat 2: Phil Rajzman (BRA) 15.10 def Ned Snow (HAW) 11.60
Heat 3:  Nic Jones (AUS) 14.44 def Piccolo Clemente (PER) 14.13
Heat 4: Cole Robbins (USA) 14.66 def Kevin Skvarna (USA) 13.80
Heat 5: Tony Silvagni (USA) 15.94 def Ben Skinner (GBR) 15.00
Heat 6: Taylor Jensen (USA) 15.77 def Jefson Silva (BRA) 6.00
Heat 7: Kai Sallas (HAW) 16.17 def Jack Entwistle (AUS) 9.50
Heat 8: Rodrigo Sphaier (BRA) 13.03 def Matthew Moir (ZAF) 10.06
Heat 9: Harley Ingleby (AUS) 15.80 def Emilien Fleury (FRA) 7.00
Heat 10: Edouard Delpero (FRA) 14.50 def Shohei Akimoto (JPN) 10.73
Heat 11: Steven Sawyer (ZAF) 12.50 def Jefferson Silva (BRA) 8.90
Heat 12: Antoine Delpero (FRA) 14.23 def Lucas Garrido Lecca (PER) 12.40

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Surf Ranch Announced as 2018 World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour Venue

PRESS RELEASE
LOS ANGELES, California/USA (Friday, November 17, 2017) – The World Surf League (WSL) is excited to announce that the WSL Surf Ranch Facility in Lemoore, Central California will host the world’s best surfers as part of the 2018 Championship Tour (CT) calendar.

“Based on the results of our test event this year and the feedback from surfers training at the facility throughout the season, next September’s event has the potential to be something special for both surfers and fans,” Sophie Goldschmidt, WSL CEO, said. “We’re only scratching the surface of how this technology can be applied and it is completely game-changing for the sport.”

“It’s incredible what the WSL and KSWC teams have developed at Surf Ranch over the past year and California’s Central Valley now boasts a world-class wave,” Kieren Perrow, WSL Commissioner, said. “This technology, and its ability to deliver high-quality waves at any location in the world, opens so many possibilities for how we can complement and evolve the competitive experience.”

Since coming online in December 2015, the WSL Surf Ranch Facility in Lemoore, California has undergone constant refinement and evolution of its technology. A test event this year in September delivered very positive results in terms of competitive experience and the overwhelmingly supportive feedback from surfers training there throughout the season has encouraged the WSL to pursue an event at the facility in 2018.

“The experience of competing at Surf Ranch is pretty extraordinary,” Adrian Buchan, CT competitor and athlete representative, said. “What the team has created is hard to fathom at first – a perfect, 400-yard-long, bi-directional wave in the middle of rural California. I have no doubt that both the quality of the wave and the experience is befitting of hosting a world-class CT event. The Ocean will always be our home, but as we grow, having the opportunity to showcase and share the stoke of surfing to new audiences and schedule with pinpoint accuracy the huge match-ups and drama of the WSL is really exciting.”

“The surfers and the WSL have had a long-running discussion about the whole new set of opportunities that an event at the Surf Ranch facility can offer for the sport,” Sage Erickson, CT competitor and athlete representative, said. “We now have the opportunity to schedule events in advance, guaranteed high-quality waves, fair opportunity for all surfers and a totally new and unique environment for spectators. One of the takeaways from this season’s test event is surfers really have to bring their whole arsenal – forehand, backhand, barrels, turns, airs and timing – to make an impact. It’s going to be incredible.”

A full 2018 WSL schedule is planned to be released next week.

The 2017 WSL Men’s and Women’s Title Races are coming down to the final events of the season –  the Billabong Pipe Masters in memory of Andy Irons in Hawaii, USA from December 8 – 20, 2017 and the Maui Women’s Pro at Honolua Bay from November 25 – December 6, 2017.

For more information, log onto WorldSurfLeague.com.

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