Tag Archives: davis

ATP Monte Carlo Masters – Rafael Nadal beats Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Novak Djokovic beats Fabio Fognini in semis

Serving up a classic Djokovic and Nadal to meet in mouthwatering Monte Carlo final

By
Steven Donaldson

PUBLISHED:

17:40 GMT, 20 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

19:01 GMT, 20 April 2013

Eight-time champion Rafael Nadal will lock horns with world No 1 Novak Djokovic for third time in the Monte Carlo Masters final after both sailed through their semi-finals with relative ease on Saturday.

Nadal was given a fight by Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga before the Spaniard won 6-3, 7-6 but Djokovic was dominant in a 6-2, 6-1 thrashing of Italian showman Fabio Fognini.

Former world No 1 Nadal, looking for his fourth title of the year in only his fifth event since returning from a long-standing knee injury, clinched a 46th consecutive victory at the traditional clay court event alongside the Mediterranean.

Winning run: Rafael Nadal beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets in his semi-final

Winning run: Rafael Nadal beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets in his semi-final

Serving up a classic: Nadal will play Novak Djokovic in the final on Sunday in Monte Carlo

Serving up a classic: Nadal will play Novak Djokovic in the final on Sunday in Monte Carlo

The final against Djokovic will give a further measure of Nadal’s physical condition as he eyes the French Open, especially as the Serb is showing no sign of being worried by the ankle he twisted while on Davis Cup duty two weeks ago.

‘It’s fantastic to be in a fifth final in a row after seven months out,’ Nadal said. ‘Novak always pushes you to the limits.’

Djokovic, who has branded Nadal ‘the ultimate challenge on clay’, will hope to improve on his previous Monte Carlo finals against Nadal. He was beaten 6-3, 6-1 in the final last year and in three sets in 2009.

Looking to the heavens: Nadal beat the Frenchman Tsonga 6-3, 7-6

Looking to the heavens: Nadal beat the Frenchman Tsonga 6-3, 7-6

Smashing effort: Tsonga put up a fight in the second set but couldn't force a decider

Smashing effort: Tsonga put up a fight in the second set but couldn't force a decider

‘I will have to be at the top of my game. I’m ready for it. I know what I need to do,’ said Djokovic, who was pleased to have spent only 52 minutes on the court.

‘I had enough tests already this week so I’m happy I can be fresh,’ said the Serb, who was pushed to three sets in his first two matches.

Nadal set up a 16th tournament final against Djokovic despite a wobble from 5-1 up in the second set when Tsonga produced a late surge to make a match of it. Neither the cold wind gusting off the sea, nor the inconsistent Tsonga managed to upset a solid Nadal, who has made the Centre Court stage his own since 2005.

Drubbing: Novak Djokovic beat Fabio Fognini 6-2 6-1 in his semi-final in Monte Carlo

Drubbing: Novak Djokovic beat Fabio Fognini 6-2 6-1 in his semi-final in Monte Carlo

Drubbing: Novak Djokovic beat Fabio Fognini 6-2 6-1 in his semi-final in Monte Carlo

Sixth seed Tsonga made too many mistakes from the baseline as Nadal took a stranglehold on the match. However, a change of tactics when he began charging the net briefly unsettled Nadal to the delight of the previously subdued French crowd.

He attacked in waves and saved four match points to force a tie-break before running out off steam and allowing Nadal to take the match and avoid a third set.

Fognini played some crowd-pleasing winners against Djokovic but was no match for the ruthless Serb who was in no mood to mess around on the centre court.

The 32nd-ranked Italian, who has enjoyed a huge support this week at a stadium located just kilometres away from his home, offered little fight and was booed off court after only 50 minutes by the restless crowd.

MASTERS 2012: Caroline Wozniacki caddying for Rory McIlroy at the Par-3 Contest

Wozniacki caddying for Rory, kids putting… it can only be The Masters' Par-3 Contest! (But don't go and win it… you'll be cursed)

Padraig Harrington, Jonathan , carries his son Ciaran down the first fairway last year

Can you guess what his name is Davis Love III putts watched by his son Davis Love IV in 1999

Can you guess what his name is Davis Love III putts watched by his son Davis Love IV in 1999

Aaron Baddeley with his daughter Jolee last year

Open wide: Australian Aaron Baddeley with his daughter Jolee last year

Happy family: Louis Oosthuizen and his wife Nel-Mare and daughter Jana pose for a photo two years ago

Happy family: Louis Oosthuizen and his wife Nel-Mare and daughter Jana pose for a photo two years ago

Lauren Davis stung on the backside by wasp at Sony Open

Sting in the tail: Tennis teen Davis suffers wasp attack on the backside at Sony Open… and accidentally recreates iconic poster

By
Steven Donaldson

PUBLISHED:

10:54 GMT, 25 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

16:04 GMT, 25 March 2013

This is not a recreation of Martin Elliott’s iconic tennis poster from 1976 but something altogether more painful.

When 19-year-old Lauren Davis lost her third-round match at the Sony Open, it was not just the defeat that stung.

During the gruelling defeat by world No 36 Alize Cornet under the Florida sun, the American was stung by a wasp on her backside.

Lauren Davis of the USA reacts after being stung by a wasp

Lauren Davis of the USA reacts after being stung by a wasp

Wasp attack: Lauren Davis was stung on the backside while playing Alize Cornet (or should that be hornet)

Lauren Davis of the USA reacts after being stung by a wasp

Lauren Davis of the USA reacts after being stung by a wasp

She was in obvious pain and battled on to lose 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 but she refused to blame her defeat on the wasp's sting.

The pictures of Davis resembled the iconic poster taken by photographer Elliott of a female tennis player, his girlfriend at the time, that sold more than two million copies.

Heat stroke: Cornet collapses in the Florida heat during the match

Heat stroke: Cornet collapses in the Florida heat during the match

Escape route: Cornet is escorted from the court in a wheelchair, as was her stung rival

Escape route: Cornet is escorted from the court in a wheelchair, as was her stung rival

Temperatures on court soared to well over
32C and both Davis and Cornet were left so physically exhausted by such
a long match in the humidity that both players left the court in
wheelchairs.

Martin Elliot's original image

Sharapova

Iconic: The image shot by Martin Elliot (left) has been recreated before – unintentionally by Maria Sharapova

Other posers…

Kylie Minogue (see below)

Keith Lemon

Courtney Stoddon

Laura Robson passed up the chance to become British No 1 on Friday night, beaten in three sets in the second round defeat by Cornet.

The 19-year-old started well but, in a match which lasted two hours 36 minutes but was stretched over seven hours due to rain delays and power cuts in Miami, the 32nd-seeded Frenchwoman emerged a 5-7, 7-5, 6-1 winner.

Old times: Fiona Walker, at 53, poses with a picture of herself as the 18-year-old 'Athena tennis poster girl'

Old times: Fiona Walker, at 53, poses with a picture of herself as the 18-year-old 'Athena tennis poster girl'

And who could forget…

Another version: Pop star Kylie Minogue posed for magazine GQ back in 2000

Laura Robson loses to Alize Cornet in Miami

Robson forced to wait for No 1 sport after losing three-set battle to Cornet in Miami

By
Steven Donaldson

PUBLISHED:

11:59 GMT, 23 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

11:59 GMT, 23 March 2013

Laura Robson passed up the chance to become British No 1 on Friday night, beaten in three sets in the second round of the WTA Sony Open by Alize Cornet.

The 19-year-old started well but, in a match which lasted two hours 36 minutes but was stretched over seven hours due to rain delays and power cuts in Miami, the 32nd-seeded Frenchwoman eventually emerged a 5-7 7-5 6-1 winner.

World No 36 Cornet, who wrapped up the win with a run of five straight games, will face American Lauren Davis in round three.

Beaten: Laura Robson lost to Alize Cornet in Miami

Beaten: Laura Robson lost to Alize Cornet in Miami

Beaten: Laura Robson lost to Alize Cornet in Miami

Beaten: Laura Robson lost to Alize Cornet in Miami

Wolves 1 Watford 1: Sako rescues Saunders after fans voice their anger at board

Wolves 1 Watford 1: Sako rescues Saunders after fans voice their anger at board

By
Neil Moxley

PUBLISHED:

21:42 GMT, 1 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

23:59 GMT, 1 March 2013

Bakary Sako struck an equaliser three
minutes into added time to wreck Gianfranco Zola’s hopes of an 11th
away victory of the season.

The winger hit a right-foot shot beyond debutant Jonathan Bond after a long throw caused chaos in the visitors’ area.

Bjorn Sigurdarson flicked on the ball and Sako did the rest, claiming his 10th goal of the season.

Late show: Bakary Sako scored last-gasp equaliser for Wolves

Late show: Bakary Sako scored last-gasp equaliser for Wolves

Match facts

Wolverhampton: Ikeme, Doherty, Johnson, Gorkss, Robinson, Hunt (Cassidy 64), Henry (Davis 70), O'Hara, Sako, Sigurdarson, Doyle (Ebanks-Blake 64). Subs Not Used: De Vries, Edwards, Ward, Batth.

Booked: Sigurdarson.

Goals: Sako 90. Watford: Bond, Doyley, Nosworthy, Ekstrand, Cassetti, Abdi, Chalobah (Hogg 82), Battocchio, Anya (Pudil 84), Deeney, Vydra (Forestieri 78). Subs Not Used: Bonham, Yeates, Murray, Geijo.

Booked: Abdi.

Goals: Abdi 41.

Att: 18,571

Ref: Paul Tierney (Lancashire).

But it was not enough to pull Wolves clear of the relegation zone as they had been chasing the game since four minutes before the interval.

Almen Abdi — one of Watford’s controversial Italian loanees — struck a delightful free-kick from the edge of the area as the division’s top scorers looked to put three points between themselves and third-placed Hull City.

Protests had been planned outside the stadium before kick-off to voice concern about Wolves owner Steve Morgan’s stewardship. But the multi-millionaire had eased their anxiety by appearing before a group of supporters in midweek. He admitted making mistakes and apologised. The group which gathered under the statue of Wolves legend Billy Wright was no more than 50-strong and soon dispersed.

The air of relative calm around the stadium would have changed had Matej Vydra’s seventh-minute shot that deflected off Roger Johnson found the net.

Shortly afterwards, Bond, who had been promoted after Manuel Almunia was forced out with a hamstring injury, produced a superb double-stop.

Neat strike: Almen Abdi scores for Watford

Neat strike: Almen Abdi scores for Watford

Watford's Almen Abdi celebrates his goal

Watford's Almen Abdi celebrates his goal

He blocked Kevin Doyle’s fierce drive and then got to his feet quickly, palming Sigurdarson’s follow-up shot over the bar.

The value of that save was seen four minutes before the interval when
Watford took the lead. Karl Henry tried desperately to rob Vydra of the
ball as he advanced to the edge of the penalty area.

But amid a cluster of bodies the Czech fell to the ground and referee
Paul Tierney awarded the free-kick. Midfielder Abdi took responsibility,
curling his shot around the wall and past Carl Ikeme’s outstretched
right hand.

Bond then saved well from Doyle shortly before the hour but at the other
end, Ikechi Anya missed with a side-foot effort from six yards out and
Ikeme pulled off a superb tip-over from Christian Battocchio’s
long-range effort.

Watford may consider this two points dropped, but while the Football
League considers closing the loophole that allowed them to sign a dozen
players on loan from Udinese last summer, Zola’s men are still closing
in on promotion.

LA Galaxy v Houston Dynamo live – David Beckham farewell

LIVE: LA Galaxy v Houston Dynamo – follow David Beckham's US farewell in the MLS Cup final

|

UPDATED:

22:18 GMT, 1 December 2012

Tonight David Beckham plays his final match for Los Angeles Galaxy before leaving for one last challenge in football. Sportsmail will bring you all the latest news from the Home Depot Center as Beckham aims to leave on a high by defending the MLS Cup against Houston Dynamo.

18min Great chance! Beckham with a peach of a free-kick from the right and Mike Magee, five yards out, really should have found the net with a diving header.

Seconds later, Wilhelmsson appealing vocally for a penalty after racing clear. No chance, replied the referee.

16min Chance up the other end for Calen Carr who audaciously tries to flick the ball in from a left-wing cross. But he's a long way out and it sails comfortably over the bar.

14min A little delay while Houston's Brad Davis received attention from the physio. Becks really finding his range now, locating Wilhelmsson with a lovely ball out wide.

Update from our man in LA:

'Almost 15 minutes gone and Galaxy should be ahead. Beckham’s raking pass from his own half set Robbie Keane clear down the left. Keane did the right thing and squared the ball to Landon Donovan, who only had to slide it in to the net from ten yards. He didn’t. He side-footed it wide. I would have scored. Really, I would.'

12min What a chance missed by the Galaxy! Beckham, glorious 60-yard diagonal ball to Keane who sprints forward and puts it on a plate for Donovan. But, with the whole stadium ready to erupt, he slips it wide of the post. Very out of character for the former Everton man to miss that.

10min The Galaxy are enjoying the majority of possession now and feeling their way into the game. The Home Depot Center has a weird grassy area above one of the stands which is sparsely populated compared to the sold-out stands elsewhere.

7min First involvement for Robbie Keane, whose persistence created a half-chance for Landon Donovan, whose shot dribbles harmlessly to the goalkeeper.

Landon going for his fifth MLS title today.

5min Quick thinking from Beckham, who lofts a free-kick into the path of Christian Wilhelmsson. The ball skips away off the turf and into the hands of Hall.

4min it's been a nervy start for Saunders in net for the Galaxy, flapping at a couple of crosses. Ian Ladyman writes:

'We are underway at the Home Depot Center and Beckham is
sporting the most wonderful pair of pink boots. Just in case he is hard to pick
out. His first touch saw him dumped on his backside while it’s Houston who had
the first chance, midfielder Ricardo Clark – yes, the Ricardo Clark – seeing
his angles shot beaten away by Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders. The Houston
goalie, by the way, is called Tally Hall. I don’t know why I find that amusing,
I just do.'

1min First involvement for Beckham and he's brought down just inside the Houston half – nothing given.

Strong start from the Dynamo, with Ricardo Clark stinging the palms of LA Galaxy keeper Josh Saunders.

21.57 HOUSTON GET THE 2012 MLS CUP FINAL UNDERWAY

21.54 The commentators are discussing how this could also be Landon Donovan's farewell. But he's only 30, seven years younger than Beckham. If it is to be the case, his departure is likely to be part of a massive Galaxy post-season shake-up. There is speculation that Kaka is on his way over from Real Madrid and maybe even Frank Lampard from Chelsea.

21.52 Understandably given how they outnumber their visitors, the Galaxy fans can be heard loudest. They'll want to see one of these tonight:

21.49 There seems to be a whole legion of young mascots – each of the Galaxy players seems to have three each! No sightings of Victoria and the kids yet…

21.47 Here we go! The two teams are walking out, passing in front of the Galaxy fans behind one of the goals. Dramatic music sets the tone. Fireworks fizz into the sky from colourful flags.

Houston looking very Blackpool-like in their tangerine kits, while the Galaxy are in their traditional all-white.

21.46 Ian Ladyman updates us as we move closer to kick-off:

'It’s almost time for the teams to emerge here. The rain has stopped and the sun has come out. Maybe it is to be a golden farewell for Beckham, after all. Home advantage looks like being significant for Galaxy. The Houston fans are located in one tiny corner of the stadium and there only looks to be about 1500 or so of them. Welcome to a cup final the American way.'

Abide With Me, anyone

21.44 Here's a couple more homemade Beckham tribute efforts..

Nice one Dav... A tribute banner at the Home Depot, while the makers of this England flag (below) have made an early claim for his shirt

Nice one Dav… A tribute banner at the Home Depot, while the makers of this England flag (below) have made an early claim for his shirt

Fans with banners for LA Galaxy's David Beckham ahead of the MLS Cup Final at the Home Depot Center,

21.40 Twenty minutes until the big kick-off and the stadium is almost full. Even the sun has come out, which will please Ian Ladyman. The home Ultras can be heard getting the atmosphere started.

21.37 This is Tinseltown, so there's bound to be a bit of celebrity interest. Here's actor Gerard Butler being shown to his seat (look how happy he looks):

Actor Gerard Butler arrives before the MLS Cup Final at the Home Depot Center, Los Angeles, USA

21.33 And here, ladies and gentlemen, are your team line-ups:

LA Galaxy: (4-4-2) Saunders; Dunivant, Gonzalez, Meyer, Franklin, Magee, Juninho, Beckham, Wilhelmsson, Keane, Donovan

Subs: DeLagarza, Gaul, Noonan, Stephens, Sarvas, Perk, Buddle

Houston Dynamo: (4-4-2) Hall; Ashe, Taylor, Boswell, Sarkodie, Moffat, Clark, Davis, Garcia, Bruin, Carr

Subs: Weaver, Ching, Hainault, Kandji, Camargo, Deric, Barnes

21.32 Here's your stat pack for the match:

– This final sees two of the most successful MLS teams against each other – The Galaxy are competing in their eighth final and chasing a fourth win, which could match DC United for the most wins. The Dynamo are playing in the final for the fourth time in the seven year history of their franchise, having won it in 2006 and 2007.
– In the team's single meeting this season, on May 26, Houston won 2-1 at the BBVA Compass Stadium – Edson Buddle gave the Galaxy a tenth minute lead but an own goal from Mike Magee levelled the scores and Andre Hainault grabbed the winner after 57 minutes.
– This final is the meeting of the lowest combined seeds ever to reach the championship match – Galaxy finished fourth in the Western division, Houston were fifth in the Eastern.
– Their regular season head-to-head record is very close – Each has six wins apiece with four draws. The goals have been scored 19-18 in Houston's favour
– Houston will be looking to end a Western dominance in the competition, with nine of the last eleven finals going West.

21.23 But, of course, there are 21 other players on the field tonight, including Team USA's greatest ever forward Landon Donovan and another familiar name Robbie Keane, who has been in outstanding form.

Houston, meanwhile, have Glaswegian Adam Moffat in midfield, formerly of Ross County and Elgin City, and Ricardo Clark, whom you might recall from the 2010 World Cup.

Familiar faces: Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan (below) will feature up front for the LA Galaxy tonight

Familiar faces: Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan (below) will feature up front for the LA Galaxy tonight

Landon Donovan of the LA Galaxy

21.15 It may be all banners and tributes tonight, but remember that it wasn't so long ago that Beckham was being criticised by fans and teammates alike for being over-papped, over-paid and over here.

But he's slowly won them over, scoring 20 goals in his 116 LA Galaxy appearances over the last six years and helping them to three MLS Cup finals.

21.13 There's some history here… In fact, tonight's match is a rerun of last year's MLS Cup final, also played at the Home Depot. Here's a reminder of how that went:

21.09 But while most of us are hoping for a fantasy farewell for Beckham as he packs he bags for the south of France or wherever else he's wanted, this game isn't going to be easy.

The Galaxy have certainly struck form at the right time – after scraping into the play-offs following a fourth place finish in the Western Conference, they have overcome the Vancouver Whitecaps, San Jose Earthquakes and Seattle Sounders to make the final.

Meanwhile, Houston finished fifth in the Eastern Conference, meaning they had to overcome Chicago Fire, New York Red Bulls and DC United to get this far.

21.05 The man of the moment has arrived, looking debonair as usual in his LA Galaxy suit. Meanwhile, all around the Home Depot, which is of course the home of the Galaxy, the supporters have prepared their own tributes.

Commeth the hour: David Beckham arrives at the Home Depot Center for the MLS Cup final and his farewell appearance for LA Galaxy

Commeth the hour: David Beckham arrives at the Home Depot Center for the MLS Cup final and his farewell appearance for LA Galaxy

Tributes: These Galaxy fans prepared a banner to pay tribute to their hero

Tributes: These Galaxy fans prepared a banner to pay tribute to their hero

Fans of LA Galaxy's David Beckham display banners before the MLS Cup Final at the Home Depot Center

21.02 Manchester to Madrid to Los Angeles (via short stop-offs in Preston and Milan)… That has been the career path of David Beckham over the past two decades.

Who knows what the future may hold – the man himself doesn't, as Ian Ladyman found out when he caught up with Becks at Galaxy training this week.

And our man in California has this to start setting the scene:

'It’s all rather ‘Manchester’ here in Los Angeles as kick-off approaches. The sun did show its face over Venice Beach this morning but it’s raining here in Carson as the supporters start to gather inside Home Depot. They are expecting a full-house of just over 30,000 and have even erected some temporary seating to squeeze a few more in. We hope it’s going to be worth it.'

21.00 The latest chapter in the tale of David Beckham has almost been written – but just one blank page remains.

Will it be the fairytale finale to his American adventure or a crushing disappointment that forces him to eek another few years out of those golden legs

A warm welcome to our coverage of the 2012 MLS Cup final between the LA Galaxy and Houston Dynamo – Beckham's farewell appearance.

Kick-off is fast approaching and you won't miss a moment here with us.

Farewell: David Beckham will line up alongside Robbie Keane for a final time

Farewell: David Beckham will line up alongside Robbie Keane for a final time

Steven Davis backs Nigel Adkins to stay as Southampton boss

Davis backs Adkins and urges Saints board not to make rash decisions

|

UPDATED:

23:00 GMT, 6 November 2012

Steven Davis has urged Southampton's decision-makers not to press the panic button at the St Mary's Stadium.

The Northern Ireland international says it is evident from the support manager Nigel Adkins has from the Saints' fans and the effort being put in on the pitch that they are trying to rally around the Merseysider.

Adkins fronted up to all the questions about his future after the 2-0 defeat at the Hawthorns on Monday night, saying he still 'relished' the challenge of leading Southampton.

Backing: Steven Davis says the manager is still supported

Backing: Steven Davis says the manager is still supported

And Davis suggested that any change might be counter-productive.

'Everyone wants the same thing,' said the midfielder, 'to work hard and get moving up the table.

'We have a home game against Swansea coming up and that's a good opportunity for us to get going and get some points on the board.

'We know where we are at. We're in a fight. The manager has tried to shield us from pressure. He lets us concentrate on our football.

'But results haven't been going our way so we are all under pressure.

'We are all pulling in the right direction and the fans clearly appreciate the job the manager's done. The club has come a long way in a short space of time.

'We haven't had the start to the season we would have wished for. We are not where we want to be.

'But we're showing in periods that we can play at this level. We are creating chances and scoring goals.

'We don't want to panic in this situation, although obviously that's not my decision to make.

Difficult: Adkins is finding it hard to get his defence right

Difficult: Adkins is finding it hard to get his defence right

'But the manager's done a great job in the time he’s been here to get back to back promotions and then come into the Premier League.

'The club’s trying to build again from there. But it’s been a tough start to the season, there’s no doubt about it.

'We’ve had disappointing results. But we’ve all got the belief that we are capable of staying in this league.'

Safarova seals back-to-back Fed Cup titles for the Czech Republic

Safarova seals back-to-back Fed Cup titles for the Czech Republic

|

UPDATED:

23:29 GMT, 4 November 2012

Lucie Safarova sealed back-to-back Fed Cup titles for the Czech Republic, who beat Serbia 3-1 in Prague.

The Czechs needed just one victory on Sunday after taking a commanding 2-0 lead, with Safarova seeing
off Ana Ivanovic and Petra Kvitova powering past Jelena Jankovic.

White hot: Czech Republic celebrate Fed Cup success

White hot: Czech Republic celebrate Fed Cup success

In the reverse singles, Ivanovic gave Serbia hope in the opening rubber with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Kvitova and they would have been further buoyed by the fact Jankovic had won five of her six previous meetings with Safarova.

But the former world No 1 was brushed aside 6-1, 6-1 by Safarova to seal glory for the Czechs, who beat Russia 12 months ago.

Their male counterparts have the chance to complete a team double when they take on Spain in the Davis Cup final in Prague later this month.

Davis Love in contention at McGladrey Classic after round one

Englishman Owen and Ryder Cup captain Love start brightly at Sea Island

|

UPDATED:

05:53 GMT, 19 October 2012

Hard work paid off for England's Greg Owen as he opened with a first round of 64 in The McGladrey Classic on Thursday.

Owen chipped in for birdie on the 11th, his second hole, and carded five more in a flawless six-under-par round at Sea Island Golf Club.

That left him two shots off the pace set by American duo Bud Cauley and Marco Dawson, with US Ryder Cup captain and tournament host Davis Love one behind Owen after a 65.

Good start: Greg Owen hits his drive off the ninth tee during the first round of the McGladrey Classic

Good start: Greg Owen hits his drive off the ninth tee during the first round of the McGladrey Classic

'I'm working really hard this week and it's starting to pay off,' said Owen, who had to go through the qualifying school to get back on the PGA Tour.

McGladrey Classic Leaderboard

Click here to follow all the latest scores

The Mansfield golfer is 93rd on the money list after playing last season on the second-tier Web.com Tour, when he admitted he was very disheartened with his game.

'I struggled the last four, maybe five years,' Owen said. 'This year I just played really solid. I've putted better, I've holed out better. And (hopefully) there's still more to come.'

Back to the day job: Davis Love III putts on the 15th green

Frustration: Gary Christian reacts to missing a birdie putt on the 16th

Back to the day job: Davis Love III putts on the 15th green on his return to the PGA Tour (left) while Gary Christian reacts to missing a birdie putt on the 16th (right)

Strong iron play was the key to Owen's round, with his longest birdie putt coming from just 11 feet.

'If the wind blows and the sun comes out this afternoon those greens could get really quick,' Owen added.

'You've got to hit golf shots. You've got doglegs either way. You've got to hit fairways and place the iron shots in a position where you can have a putt for birdie.'

Love admitted he was in need of some extra stimulation after the rigours of being Ryder Cup captain at Medinah and tournament host this week.

Life's a pitch: American Ryder Cup player Zach Johnson chips to the 15th green

Life's a pitch: American Ryder Cup player Zach Johnson chips to the 15th green

'The only adjustment I've made is more Red Bull to keep my energy up,' Love told PGATour.com.

'After the Ryder Cup I've been playing these last two weeks and I'm ready to play. The responsibilities, the parties and all that are a lot of fun, but when I get up in the morning I can tell I'm not getting a whole lot of rest.

'But I'm feeling good. I'm excited to play.'

World Twenty20 2012: Eoin Morgan relishing pressure

Morgan thriving under pressure ahead of must-win clash with Sri Lanka in World Twenty20

|

UPDATED:

14:37 GMT, 30 September 2012

Eoin Morgan's senior statesman role for England has perhaps been forced on him – but is one he is relishing as crunch time approaches in the ICC World Twenty20.

England retain realistic prospects of defending their title only thanks to Saturday's much-needed win over New Zealand, and know that Monday's final Super Eight match against Sri Lanka at Pallekele could yet finish their tournament early.

It was Sri Lanka who ended England's interest in last year's World Cup, with a 10-wicket quarter-final trouncing in Colombo, and they could repeat an unpalatable double in this competition.

Loving it: Eoin Morgan is relishing the extra pressure put on his shoulders in Sri Lanka

Loving it: Eoin Morgan is relishing the extra pressure put on his shoulders in Sri Lanka

TEAM NEWS

England (from): SCJ Broad (captain), C Kieswetter (wkt), AD Hales, LJ Wright, EJG Morgan, JM Bairstow, JC Buttler, SR Patel, GP Swann, ST Finn, JW Dernbach, DR Briggs, TT Bresnan

Sri Lanka (from): M Jayawardene (captain), T Dilshan, K Sangakkara (wkt), A Mathews, J Mendis, L Thirimanne, T Perera, N Kulasekera, L Malinga, R Herath, A Mendis, A Dananjaya, D Chandimal

Umpires: S Taufel (Aus) and S Davis (Aus)

Third umpire: A Rauf (Pak)

Match referee: J Srinath (Ind)

England's chances are enhanced, however, by the presence of Morgan – back to form after a lacklustre year in his favoured limited-overs format.

He restored England's belief, although not in victory, with his unbeaten 71 from only 36 balls against West Indies last week; then, as Luke Wright hit the most telling blows against the Kiwis, the Irishman also helped to shepherd a successful chase.

At 26, Morgan is one year Wright's junior – and has also played seven fewer Twenty20 internationals.

Both have been notable performers in Twenty20 leagues around the world, making their presence so key in an England top six otherwise full of youthful potential but not relevant experience.

Morgan's billing as the wise head, as well as pivotal force, in England's middle order is one consequence of Kevin Pietersen's controversial absence.

While the latter continues his role instead as a television pundit – and as of Monday will no longer hold an England and Wales Cricket Board central contract either – it is ever more incumbent on Morgan to organise and encourage the apprentices around him.

Salvation: England kept hopes of defending their title alive by beating New Zealand in Pallekele

Salvation: England kept hopes of defending their title alive by beating New Zealand in Pallekele

Salvation: England kept hopes of defending their title alive by beating New Zealand in Pallekele

'I think the role that I play within the side has changed over the last six to 12 months,' he said.

'The responsibility on my shoulders is one that I enjoy.

'I relish batting in the middle order and towards the end of the innings, and nurturing guys along and getting us over the line.

'It's a role I enjoy a hell of a lot.'

England promoted Jonny Bairstow, to no avail, ahead of Morgan against the West Indies – and captain Stuart Broad, and the man himself, have since pointed out his suitability to batting after the six-over powerplay once the ring field retreats.

'My skills as a middle-order batter – and the stats back it up – the success I've had all guide towards batting from six to 20 overs,' said Morgan.

'When I get in early in those six overs, I don't seem to do well.

'Having looked at my strengths within the side – when we do well, and I do well – everything seems to point to me batting in the middle order, seeing things through and enjoying the responsibility and playing the situations.

Me again: Steven Finn celebrated the dismissal of New Zealand's Ross Taylor

Me again: Steven Finn celebrated the dismissal of New Zealand's Ross Taylor

'It's a role I've thrived on. It's worked really well, and we'll stick with it.
“For some random reason, I like it.

'I think it's built on the experience I've had in the past.

'What I know best is doing that.'

However England deploy Morgan, they will go into Monday's must-win match with confidence renewed after their comfortable win over the Kiwis.

Morgan was especially impressed with number three Wright, who has been a revelation since returning to the team just this month.

'The way Luke played last night was fantastic,' he said.

'He struck the ball really, really well – as well as anyone in the tournament so far.

'Seeing him in the form he's in is great for us.'

England know nonetheless they face no easy task against opponents with honed skills in their own climate.

'It's a great opportunity for us to test ourselves in very tough conditions,' added Morgan, who is convinced England can beat anyone on their day.

Big hitter: Luke Wright was in great form for England

Big hitter: Luke Wright was in great form for England

Asked that very question, he said: 'Yes, absolutely. We have a huge amount of match-winners.

'The performances from the guys last night summed that up. Three or four of us played exceptionally well – and world-class players, like Brendon McCullum, found it very difficult to deal with us.

'In crunch games, producing a performance at this time of the tournament is crucial.'

England will not be fazed either by what is sure to be a full house of noisy home support.

'It's brilliant; it's cricket in the sub-Continent – the home teams out here get absolutely huge crowds, noise like you've never heard as a cricketer.

'It really gets the blood flowing. It will be a great experience for the young guys in particular, and I hope we'll thrive on it.'

Winning again: Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene chatted to Chris Gayle (right) during their victory over West Indies

Winning again: Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene chatted to Chris Gayle (right) during their victory over West Indies

Captain Mahela Jayawardene led Sri Lanka to their second successive win on Saturday, over the Windies, and knows his team will lap up the attention from their vocal following.

'We have enjoyed the crowds,' he said.

'The way they go with the music, it's part and parcel of our cricket.

'We grew up with our school cricket with those kind of bands playing in our big matches, so everybody enjoys that kind of atmosphere.'

He will not under-estimate England either, though.

'They are a very exciting team. They have some quality players and are good with the ball as well,' he said.

'They are defending champions and will throw us a different challenge.'