Paul Casey snatched the first-round lead with a classy round of 66 at the Porsche European Open.

The Englishman spends most of the year on the PGA Tour but has returned to Europe for this week's event - and said his performance in gusty conditions felt even better than the score suggested.

Austrian Matthias Schwab, who has hit a purple patch of form in recent weeks with consecutive top-10 finishes at the Czech Masters and European Masters, carded a 67 to sit alone in second place at the Green Eagle club near Hamburg.

Casey's last win on the European Tour came at the KLM Open in 2014, although in the United States he has triumphed twice at the Valspar Championship, retaining the title in he won in 2018 earlier this year.

He said of his performance on Thursday: "It was a really good round of golf. There were a few putts that slid by but that is such a difficult golf course. I can't explain how difficult that golf course is.

"I was happy with the patience I was showing and the quality of the ball-striking, and here I stand even happier because the score doesn't do it justice as that is one of the finest rounds I've played this year."

"The score was great. I couldn't have hoped for better. I'm happy to be under par, never mind six."

Scotland's Robert MacIntyre, German Max Rottluff and England's Ben Stow share third place on four under.

A star US trio failed to get to grips with the course on day one, however, as Xander Schauffele posted a one-over 73, with Patrick Reed and Matt Kuchar both a shot further back.

Former teenage wonder Matteo Manassero, now 26 and struggling on tour, had an even worse day, with triple-bogey eights at 16 and 18 seeing him sign for an 81.

Dustin Johnson has undergone arthroscopic surgery to repair cartilage in his left knee, the PGA Tour has confirmed.

World number three Johnson is expected to make a full recovery from the procedure and return to action later this year.

Johnson recorded just one victory last season, that coming at the WGC-Mexico Championship, and finished 29th in the FedEx Cup standings.

The 35-year-old placed second in each of the two opening majors of 2019, at the Masters and US PGA Championship, but ended tied for 35th and 51st at the U.S. Open and The Open respectively.

David Carey wrote his name into the record books with a sublime 57 at the Cervino Open on the Alps Tour.

Carey's card showed 11 birdies in Thursday's blemish-free round in Italy and he was leading the 54-hole tournament by four strokes.

The Irishman's score is one better than Jim Furyk's PGA Tour best of 58, the same number achieved by Stephan Jaeger and Ryo Ishikawa on the Web.com Tour and Japan Golf Tour respectively.

Carey, starting at the 10th, went out in just 27 strokes and picked up four more birdies on his way home.

Tom Watson celebrates his 70th birthday on Wednesday, a notable number for a golfer who appeared to defy time a decade ago at Turnberry.

The American won eight majors in a hugely successful career, but perhaps it is the one that got away that remains so fresh in many memories.

At The Open in 2009, Watson rolled back the years to produce a performance that delighted those watching on, both those lucky to be there at the course but also around the world on television.

To mark his notable milestone, we look back at a tournament that will never be forgotten...

Fairy tales have enthralled, entertained and educated us for centuries.

Whether it be a lesson in morality, a magical escape or a triumph for good over evil, fairy tales have the exceptional ability to let us escape from reality.

It is a formula that succeeds time and time again. The problem is when it comes to sport, however, the lines become blurred and there is no one formula to follow.

Sport has no room for sentimentality, no time for history, no interest in assuaging our desires for the feel-good narrative. There is not always a lesson to be taught, nor always a battle between good and bad.

Just ask Tom Watson and Stewart Cink, who were part of a real-life fable that will live forever in golfing folklore.

Once upon a time, Watson was considered among the best players on the planet. At the peak of his powers in the 1970s and early 80s there was a magic and aura about the American great that resulted in eight major championships.

But, as with any great sports star, time eventually caught up with the great champion, which is what made the story of the 2009 Open Championship at Turnberry so special.

By this point of his career, Watson was 59. His last major success was back in 1983, when he clinched a fifth Open at Royal Birkdale.

And yet, despite pre-tournament odds of 1500-1 and hip replacement surgery just nine months prior, Watson was on the brink of the most remarkable of victories, one that would have made him the oldest major winner of all time.

Even when Watson rolled back the years with an opening-round 65 that left him one off the lead, it was hard to imagine what we were witnessing was anything other than a nostalgic throwback to a bygone era.

Through 36 holes, though, there was an ever-increasing feeling of 'what if?' A gritty level-par round in tricky Ayrshire conditions left Watson tied for the lead. He couldn't... could he?

By the end of Saturday - which yielded a one-over 71, enough to take the outright lead - the most far-fetched dream was becoming a scarcely believable reality.

A couple of bogeys early on the Sunday hinted that the rigours of major golf on a 59-year-old's body had finally caught up. But even as Ross Fisher and then Mathew Goggin moved ahead, Watson refused to slip quietly into the background.

As the day progressed, there was drama that even Martin Scorsese in his full, creative flow could not have scripted.

While Lee Westwood played himself in and out of contention, Cink climbed the leaderboard and rolled in a 15-footer at the last to join Watson on two under and crank up the pressure. However, Watson replied to the situation with a gain of his own at 17, meaning he was just four strokes away from creating history.

Yet the fairy-tale nature of the weekend was replaced by the cruel reality of professional sport. A crisp eight iron sailed over the green, while his third back onto the putting surface left a tricky 10-footer for victory. The putt, as would be the case for Watson's efforts over the weekend, came up just short.

There was still the lottery of a play-off, yet the grind of the previous four days finally took their toll as Cink made a major breakthrough in a one-sided extra four holes.

So near, yet so far. For Watson, there was little solace to take from a herculean effort that had warmed the hearts of those watching, both at the venue and on television.

"It's a great disappointment. It [losing] tears at your gut, as it always has torn at my gut. It's not easy to take," he reflected after the final round.

For Cink, too, the gravitas of what had transpired on that fateful final day was tough to comprehend.

"I'm a little intimidated by this piece of hardware here," Cink admitted following his win. "There are a lot of emotions running through my mind and heart and I'm as proud as I can be to be here with this.

"It was fun watching Tom all week and I'm sure I speak for all the rest of the people too."

It's easy to feel for Cink. The 2009 Open was the crowning glory of his career but he is somewhat the forgotten champion, such was the narrative that played out around him.

Since lifting the Claret Jug, Cink has failed to win another trophy on the PGA or European Tour.

But this is where those blurred fairy-tale lines come into play. This was never a story of good versus evil, never a tale of morality.

More just an epic event encapsulating sporting theatre, with a dream ending never getting to see the light of day. Certainly from Watson's point of view, it was the greatest fairy tale never told.

"It would have been a hell of a story, wouldn't it?" Watson said.

It sure would have been, Tom, it sure would have been.

Rory McIlroy suggested mental fatigue played its part in his near-miss at the European Masters.

A week on from his victory at the Tour Championship, which earned him the FedEx Cup title and a prize of $15million, the world number two found himself in a five-man play-off at Crans-sur-Sierre, only to lose out as Sebastian Soderberg claimed a maiden European Tour title.

Reflecting on his efforts in Switzerland, McIlroy said: "[I made] too many mistakes. I think I made 13 bogeys during the week.

"I made enough birdies, but I just didn't have it over the weekend. It's been another solid week, coming back across the Atlantic. Now I'm looking forward to a couple of weeks off."

McIlroy was left to rue the fact he bogeyed the 17th and 18th on Saturday, leaving him three off the pace heading into the final round.

"This is my seventh event in eight weeks, I've played a lot of golf," he added. "Playing so much, little mental errors can creep in here and there. The sloppy finish yesterday probably cost me, but I fought back today and did my best. It just wasn't meant to be.

"I'll put the clubs away for a few days, rest, recover and reflect on what has been a pretty good season so far, and try to get myself back up for [the BMW PGA Championship at] Wentworth [starting on September 19]."

Sebastian Soderberg fended off world number two Rory McIlroy to win a five-man play-off and claim the European Masters title.

The 28-year-old Swede started the day four shots off the lead, but he made five consecutive birdies from the 10th to 14th to charge to the top of the leaderboard, only for a three-putt on 17 to drop him down to 14 under par.

McIlroy, Lorenzo Gagli, Andres Romero and Kalle Samooja joined Soderberg on the same score at Crans-sur-Sierre Golf, with a play-off needed to settle the European Masters for the sixth time in seven years.

But with McIlroy and Samooja squandering close-range conversions, a 10-foot putt for birdie secured Soderberg's maiden European Tour trophy.

Tommy Fleetwood had made early inroads towards the top at Crans, but two bogeys on the back nine saw the Englishman drop away from Soderberg, who was in sensational form, while McIlroy looked equally as sharp.

McIlroy carded five birdies in six holes to co-lead, and the Northern Irishman even emulated an iconic shot from Seve Ballesteros on the 18th.

Ballesteros' 'great escape' is one of the most incredible recovery shots in the history of the European Tour, and just feet away from the plaque which marks the spot from which the Spaniard got himself out of a huge hole in the trees at the 1993 tournament, McIlroy chipped a wonderful effort onto the fairway.

McIlroy would not have been in contention, however, had one of Gagli – who made a double bogey on the first hole – Romero, Samooja and Soderberg converted would-be winning putts on the 18th.

As has become customary in the competition, extra holes were required, with Soderberg holding his nerve to earn a first win in what was his 50th European Tour event.

"I was shaking the last few holes in the round," said Soderberg. "I calmed down a little bit for the play-off. I'm very proud of myself to be able to play good when I'm shaking.

"I felt like I had nothing to lose and just played as aggressive as I could. I was way more calm down the play-off than I was in my last few holes out there in the fourth round.

"I was just trying to take one shot at a time. I had nothing to lose at all and it's going to change a lot going forward."

Andres Romero overcame a dismal start on Saturday to claim a one-shot lead with 18 holes to play at the European Masters, as Rory McIlroy was left to rue a sloppy ending to his third round.

Romero, McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood all began the day one off the pace set by Gavin Green, but the former struggled early on as he followed a bogey at the second with a six at the par-four fifth.

However, Romero recovered superbly thereafter, carding six birdies and an eagle to offset one further bogey in a round of 66 at the picturesque Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club.

At 14 under, he leads Wade Ormsby (67) by one, the Australian having recorded a bogey at the 18th.

Green (69) and Fleetwood (68) are two back on 12 under, having also bounced back from early dropped shots, while McIlroy is three back after a miserable finish.

The world number two, who roared into contention on Friday with a 63 as Romero shot 61, bogeyed the 17th and 18th to card a 69 and make his task on the final day significantly tougher.

Rory McIlroy showed he will be the man to beat over the weekend at the European Masters as he surged into title contention.

Just five days after winning the Tour Championship to collect a $15million FedEx Cup jackpot, McIlroy fired a seven-under-par 63 to climb into a share of second place in Crans-sur-Sierre.

At the impressive course in the Swiss Alps, Malaysian Gavin Green earned a one-shot lead on 11 under par after adding a 64 to his opening 65.

The 25-year-old has yet to win on the European Tour but will see this as a chance to break that duck, yet many will fancy big names McIlroy or Tommy Fleetwood, with the Ryder Cup team-mates both poised to strike from 10 under.

Fleetwood had a second straight 65 to reach that mark, while Andres Romero of Argentina took a rather more unorthodox route, following a 69 on Thursday with a 61 - the lowest round of his career.

Australian Wade Ormsby and Austrian Matthias Schwab also reached 10 under.

Surprise front-runner Green was reading little into the scores at halfway, the world number 209 taking his mind off his lofty position on the leaderboard by preferring to focus on the spectacular scenery.

"The atmosphere and views are amazing. In Malaysia we don't have anything like this," Green said. "I've been here a couple of times now and the views never get old. I'm just trying to enjoy it and play as well as I can."

McIlroy had three birdies and an eagle from the 14th to 17th holes, powering through the field, and the Northern Irishman is savouring his first playing visit to Switzerland in eight years.

"I'm excited to give myself another chance to win," McIlroy said, according to the European Tour website.

"I really wanted to come here and play well. 

"I've got two weeks off coming up, hopefully two more good days of golf left in me, give myself a chance to win this tournament, which I've had a great chance to win before. I would love to add this title to the list."

Danny Willett, Thomas Bjorn, Andy Sullivan and Luke Donald were among the players on level par through 36 holes, missing the cut by one shot.

Mike Lorenzo-Vera showed no sign of a wedding hangover as his stunning back nine earned a share of the European Masters lead, while Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia enjoyed solid starts in Crans-Montana.

Newlywed Lorenzo-Vera picked up six shots after the turn in his opening round to join Matthias Schwab at the top of the leaderboard at the end of Thursday's action.

The highlight of the Frenchman's day was an eagle on the par-five 14th, which came amid a run of five strokes gained in four holes. 

Having taken a prolonged break to get married and move into a new house, Lorenzo-Vera was pleased with his start in Switzerland.

"I'm very happy because I just had five weeks off," he said in quotes reported by the European Tour. "It was a stressful five weeks with a wedding and moving plus two kids. I managed to bring the head together pretty well.

"The best thing to do [with so much going on] is to have a very, very good psychologist, that you call often. I'm not kidding, that's really what I do. Try to clean the head as much as possible outside the tournaments, and come here fresh and ready to play golf."

Mikko Korhonen, Sebastian Soderberg and Lorenzo Gagli sat one stroke off the leading duo, while Tommy Fleetwood was in a six-way split of sixth on five under. Garcia, the 2005 champion, formed part of a group of players three shots back after a bogey-free 66.

McIlroy continued the strong form that saw him win the Tour Championship last weekend by carding a three-under 67.

The Northern Irishman moved up to second in the world rankings after claiming the FedExCup and has his eyes firmly on displacing number one Brooks Koepka.

"I feel like when I'm playing my best, I'm the best player in the world," McIlroy told Sky Sports.

"I'd like to get back there. It's been a goal of mine for a while. I haven't experienced that summit for the last four years.

"So I feel like with the work that I'm putting in and the consistent golf that I'm playing, hopefully it's only a matter of time."

Rory McIlroy is eyeing top spot in the world rankings after winning the Tour Championship and then making a strong start to the European Masters this week.

Four-time major champion McIlroy claimed the FedEx Cup with a strong Sunday display at East Lake, moving up to number two in the rankings, behind Brooks Koepka.

The Northern Irishman, while also determined to win more majors and complete a career grand slam at the Masters, is now determined to top the points charts.

McIlroy knows unseating Koepka would prove he is the best player in the world, and he believes he can string the results together to achieve the feat.

"I feel like when I'm playing my best, I'm the best player in the world," McIlroy told Sky Sports after carding a three-under 67 in the first round at the European Masters.

"I'd like to get back there. It's been a goal of mine for a while. I haven't experienced that summit for the last four years.

"So I feel like with the work that I'm putting in and the consistent golf that I'm playing, hopefully it's only a matter of time."

McIlroy had six birdies and three bogeys on Thursday at the Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club in Switzerland, a setting he considered ideal following the rigours of the Tour Championship.

"I think if I have to play a tournament this week, I wouldn't want to play anywhere else," he said. "That's the way I'd put it.

"It's a beautiful place and I'm glad I'm back after all these years. Hopefully I can play a bit of good golf over the next three days and give myself a chance."

Assessing his round, McIlroy added: "I played well on the back nine, which was our front nine. To play that nine in three under I thought was good.

"I took advantage of a couple of the shorter par-fours on the front nine but I made a couple of bogeys there as well. Overall, it was OK.

"It's so different to the golf I've been playing the past few weeks. I'm just trying to adjust and get used to these sort of greens again and how far the ball is going and what the ball is going to do out of the rough."

Tiger Woods has announced he had an arthroscopic procedure on his left knee last week to repair minor cartilage damage.

The 15-time major champion expects to return to action in October following the surgery.

Woods made a spectacular return from career-threatening back injuries in 2018, crowned by victory in the season-ending Tour Championship.

He then went on to secure a remarkable Masters success in April, his first major success in almost 11 years, but has since struggled for form and fitness.

As a result, he was unable to qualify for last week's Tour Championship, where he would have hoped to defend his title, and instead underwent surgery on his left knee.

"I expect Tiger to make a full recovery," said Dr Vern Cooley, who performed the arthroscopic procedure on Woods.

"We did what was needed, and also examined the entire knee. There were no additional problems."

Woods, who will captain the United States in the Presidents Cup in December, added: "I would like to thank Dr Cooley and his team. I'm walking now and hope to resume practice in the next few weeks. I look forward to travelling and playing in Japan in October [at the PGA Tour's Zozo Championship]."

The former world number one famously defied serious injuries to his left leg to win the U.S. Open in 2008.

He was diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament after initially undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee following a second-placed finish at that year's Masters.

Woods then went on to suffer two stress fractures to his tibia, but somehow prevailed at Torrey Pines for a truly remarkable triumph, his most recent in majors prior to this year's amazing Augusta success.

Tiger Woods has announced he had an arthroscopic procedure on his left knee last week to repair minor cartilage damage.

The 15-time major champion expects to return to action in October following the surgery.

Brooks Koepka edged Rory McIlroy to win a second straight PGA of America Player of the Year Award.

World number one Koepka claimed three victories during the 2018-19 PGA Tour season, winning The CJ Cup at Nine Bridges, US PGA Championship and WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.

While McIlroy won the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup title on Sunday, he was edged by Koepka to the player of the year crown.

Koepka finished with 84 points, ahead of McIlroy (78) with Patrick Cantlay and U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland (42) well back.

The American is the first player to win back-to-back PGA of America Player of the Year crowns since Tiger Woods (2006 and 2007).

McIlroy did claim a prize, winning the Vardon Trophy for being the leader in adjusted scoring average.

The Northern Irishman added to his 2012 and 2014 titles with an adjusted average of 69.057, beating Cantlay (69.306) and Webb Simpson (69.377).

Rory McIlroy was delighted to join Tiger Woods as the only two-time winners of the FedEx Cup after his victory at the Tour Championship on Sunday.

McIlroy fired a four-under 66 in the final round at East Lake, winning by four strokes from Xander Schauffele despite briefly stumbling late.

The Northern Irishman added to his 2016 FedEx Cup title, joining Woods (2007 and 2009) as the only players to claim the crown twice.

McIlroy was thrilled to join Woods on the tally as he reflected on his victory and the ovation he received on the 18th hole.

"It was pretty cool. I turned to Harry [Diamond, caddie] when we were walking down the hill on 18 after I'd hit my second shot, and I said, 'well, this walk is a little more pleasant than last year, not running away from a stampede'," he told a news conference.

"It was cool. To have a moment like that again, I didn't play well at all last year with Tiger in that final group, so to get myself in a final group again this year.

"I thought a lot about that. I thought about the final group with Tiger last year, the final group with Brooks [Koepka] in Memphis a few weeks ago, and I really wanted to go out there and play well and really take it to him, and I did that for the most part. I went out, shot 66 on a really tough golf course and got the job done.

"Really cool, really cool to put my name on this trophy for a second time. Any time you can do something that only Tiger has done, you're doing something right.

"It was an awesome day, long day. To come back out in the morning and play 13 holes and then play that full 18, I'm going to sleep well tonight, put it that way."

McIlroy and Koepka were the final pairing, the world number one only able to shoot a two-over 72 to end up tied for third, five shots behind McIlroy.

Koepka came out on top when the pair were together during the last round at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational a month ago and McIlroy was pleased to secure his win this time.

"I think it just gives me a little bit of an extra incentive. It wasn't that important, but once I saw I was in the final group with Brooks, it just took me back to Memphis a few weeks ago, and I felt like I learned a few lessons that day," he said.

"Not that I wasn't going to focus, but it gave me that little bit of extra – not motivation, but I wanted to right some of the wrongs that I made that Sunday in Memphis a few weeks ago, and it was a good opportunity to do it."

Rory McIlroy claimed his second FedEx Cup title despite briefly stumbling late during his four-stroke win at the Tour Championship on Sunday.

McIlroy shot a four-under 66 in the final round at East Lake in Atlanta, ending up at 18 under and clear of Xander Schauffele (70) to claim the $15million prize.

The Northern Irishman also won the FedEx Cup in 2016. He and Tiger Woods are the only golfers to win two FedEx Cups.

The 30-year-old appeared en route to an easy victory in the final round, holding a four-stroke lead through 13 holes.

But he picked up his first bogey of the round on the 14th, then bogeyed the par-three 15th. Then, he hit his drive on the par-four 16th into a fairway bunker. With his lead cut to two strokes, disaster loomed, but McIlroy saved par on 16.

He then knocked down a 16-foot putt for birdie on 17 to build a three-stroke lead.

As fans surrounded the 18th green en masse, McIlroy made a nice save from a greenside bunker, then holed a short birdie putt to finish in style.

"Such a cool way to end what for me has been a great season," McIlroy told NBC.

"I'm so thankful … I couldn't be prouder to be your 2019 FedEx Cup champion."

McIlroy's brief struggles on his back nine opened the door for Schauffele and Brooks Koepka, but they could not capitalise.

Schauffele shot a final-round 70. Koepka bogeyed 12, 13 and 14, and needed a birdie on 17 to salvage a 72 and a tie for third with Justin Thomas, five shots behind McIlroy for the title.

Thomas shot a 68 on Sunday and birdied 16 and 18 to boost his payday.

Paul Casey finished fifth, nine shots behind McIlroy, despite a final-round 72.

Adam Scott, Tony Finau and Chez Reavie finished sixth through eighth respectively, and Patrick Reed, Kevin Kisner and Hideki Matsuyama tied for ninth.

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