Stewart Cink made history after moving five shots clear in his pursuit of a third RBC Heritage title.

Two-time champion Cink carded a second successive 63 to set the 36-hole record at Harbour Town on Friday.

Cink sits at 16-under 126, five strokes ahead of Corey Conners – eclipsing the previous best midway score of 129 set by Phil Mickelson (2002) and Jack Nicklaus (1975).

The 47-year-old Cink also became the oldest player to hole the 36-hole lead at the RBC Heritage – his last 36-hole lead on the PGA Tour was at the 2008 Travelers Championship.

Cink has catapulted himself to the top of the leaderboard alongside his son and caddie, Reagan.

"He's not just my son caddying, he's a professional caddie doing an excellent job," he said. "He could caddie for any player in the world right now."

Canadian Conners posted a seven-under-par 64 to be outright second, a stroke ahead of Emiliano Grillo (64) heading into the weekend, while overnight leader Cameron Smith (71) fell seven shots behind.

"I think the golfing gods got a few back on me today," Australian Smith said.

Masters runner-up Will Zalatoris shot a four-under-par 67 to be tied for 11th position, nine strokes adrift of Cink.

World number one Dustin Johnson climbed 27th spots following a second-round 67 as he sits 11 shots back.

Defending champion Webb Simpson, meanwhile, is three under at the half-way stage after his 68.

Cameron Smith carded a nine-under-par 62 to set the early pace by one stroke after the first round of the RBC Heritage.

Australian golfer Smith turned in a bogey-free round at Harbour Town on Thursday for the lowest score of his PGA Tour career.

The 2020 Masters runner-up birdied three of the last four holes, just missing an eagle at the last when his approach shot missed the hole by inches. 

Smith finished with nine birdies in the opening round, tying his career record for most birdies in a single round on Tour.

"Everything just came together," Smith told reporters. "It was a great day on the green. I was hitting my irons really good. I had lots of good looks, and I just took advantage of them."

Smith's score matched the lowest opening round in tournament history, joining Davis Love III in 2002 and Peter Lonard three years later. 

The 27-year-old has two career PGA Tour titles, the most recent in January 2020 at the Sony Open in Hawaii. 

"I just feel really comfortable," Smith said. "Mentally I feel very free out there. I feel like I can hit the shot that I need to hit and going ahead and trying to execute it. I just feel like every shot I'm hitting, I'm putting 100 per cent into it, and on a day like today, it's really rewarding."

Two-time champion Stewart Cink started early and was the clubhouse leader with a 63 before Smith's torrid closing stretch left him second on the leaderboard. 

Cink's score on Thursday was the American veteran's best in 75 career rounds at Harbour Town. 

"A round like this doesn't show you there is more out there," Cink said. "A round like this shows you what you're doing is already dead on, and why change anything?"

Matt Wallace and Collin Morikawa are three shots back at six under, followed by Charles Howell III, Billy Horschel and Harold Varner III – who are a stroke further adrift.

Masters runner-up Will Zalatoris shot a three-under-par 68, while world number one Dustin Johnson ended the day eight shots off the pace.

Defending champion Webb Simpson opened his bid for back-to-back titles with a first-round 71, leaving him tied for 67th. 

Hideki Matsuyama made history as he became the first Japanese man to win a major tournament after claiming The Masters by one shot in a thrilling finale at Augusta.

Matsuyama was on the cusp of history heading into Sunday's final round, the 29-year-old carrying a four-stroke lead as he looked to replicate the major success of countrywomen Hinako Shibuno (2019 Women's British Open) and Chako Higuchi (1977 LPGA Championship) on the men's circuit.

A five-time PGA Tour winner before this success, Matsuyama withstood a wobble and the threat posed by Xander Schauffele (72) to complete a history-making performance in Georgia, where he triumphed at 10 under par overall following a 73 to get his hands on the green jacket.

Will Zalatoris (70) earned outright second position, two strokes ahead of former world number one and 2015 Masters winner Jordan Spieth (70) and 2019 runner-up Schauffele.

Matsuyama – four strokes clear at the start of the day – had extended his lead to five at the turn, but his title bid threatened to turn sour as Schauffele closed in and Zalatoris loomed.

After finding water at the par-five 15th hole, Matsuyama took the penalty and cleaned up for bogey as Schauffele continued to heap pressure on the Japanese hopeful, cutting the lead to two shots with his fourth consecutive birdie.

But Schauffele's pursuit of a maiden major collapsed when the American – seven back at the 12th tee before rallying – also found water before sending his next shot into the crowd.

Matsuyama had a routine par to move three shots clear with two to play, but he dropped another shot, his lead down to two ahead of Zalatoris as an ill-timed triple-bogey sent 2019 runner-up Schauffele down to equal third alongside Spieth – four shots behind.

It was Schauffele's first triple-bogey in a major championship – a run of 1,042 holes.

That was the breathing space Matsuyama needed as Japan's new poster boy held his nerve, doing what he needed to do during the final two holes in front of an appreciative crowd on the 18th, where not even a bogey could wipe away the champion's smile.

Matsuyama (2011) became the third Masters champion in the last five years to have previously earned low amateur honours, following in the footsteps of Tiger Woods (2019, low amateur in 1995) and Sergio Garcia (2017, low amateur in 1999).

Elsewhere, Jon Rahm (66) and Marc Leishman (73) shared fifth position at six under, while one-time major champion Justin Rose had to settle for seventh – five shots off the pace – following his final-round 74 as 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed (69) surged into a tie for eighth.

It is the end of an era in Melbourne and the NRL.

Cameron Smith – arguably rugby league's greatest ever player – ended speculation over his future by announcing his retirement on Wednesday.

The 37-year-old star and future Immortal retires a one-club player – Smith was out of contract following 18 years with Melbourne Storm.

After Smith officially put an end to his playing career midweek, we look into the numbers behind the Storm, Queensland Maroons and Australia legend thanks to Opta.

 

430 – Smith holds the record for most NRL games following a glittering career in the Australian competition, having debuted for the Storm in 2002. He is the only player to have amassed over 400 appearances.

310 – He also holds the record for most wins in premiership matches. Of those victories, 242 were as skipper – the most as a captain.

2,786 – No player has scored more points in NRL premiership history than the hooker, well ahead of Hazem El Masri (2,418) and Johnathan Thurston (2,222).

1,295 – Smith stands alone for goals kicked in the NRL – 353 more than any other player in premiership history.

16,913 – Not just an elite kicker, Smith tallied the most tackles by any player since the beginning of the NRL era in 1998.

3 – Smith ends his NRL career with Premierships in 2012, 2017 and 2020. It could have been five, but the Storm were stripped of Grand Final triumphs in 2007 and 2009 due to salary-cap breaches.

42 – A Maroons veteran, he is the most-capped player in State of Origin history. Smith first appeared for Queensland in 2003.

56 – Smith represented Australia more than fifty times. Only Darren Lockyer (59) managed more than Smith for the Kangaroos.

33 – Lockyer (38) is the only player to have captained Australia on more occasions than Smith, who led the country to Rugby League World Cup glory in 2013 and 2017.

2 – Smith was crowned the NRL's best and fairest player in 2006 and 2017. Only Thurston (four) and Andrew Johns (three) earned more honours.

Melbourne Storm and NRL great Cameron Smith officially announced his retirement from rugby league on Wednesday.

There had been ongoing speculation over Smith's future, with the NRL's most-capped player linked with both Brisbane Broncos and Gold Coast Titans after relocating from Melbourne.

But the 37-year-old star will retire a one-club player after a record 430 games with the Storm, three NRL Premierships and two Dally M Medals.

Smith also captained Australia to Rugby League World Cup success in 2013 and 2017.

"I've spent a few months now up in Queensland with the family. For me I look back on my career and just found that I'm very fortunate to be part of an organisation with great people and footballers," Smith said ahead of the 2021 season, which gets underway on Thursday.

"It felt like the right time after the finish to last year. You couldn't have asked for more than finishing with a premiership at a club I've played my whole career."

Smith was out of contract following 18 years with the Storm in Melbourne.

The 42-time Queensland Maroons legend, who earned 56 caps for Australia, led the Storm to NRL glory last year.

"I've been wrestling with the decision for quite some time. In the weeks after the season had finished guys like Billy [Slater] and guys I've grown quite close to, just trying to talk to them about my situation and how they came to the conclusion as to when it was the right time," Smith said.

"After last year winning the Premiership I still felt good physically and mentally. I still thought my form was good enough to play in the NRL but after spending time with my family in Queensland I knew it was the right time to finish.

"It's a chance to enjoy the next phase in my life and hopefully it's still in rugby league in some capacity. In my head I probably made the decision a week ago but knowing the unveiling was today and I was going to be in Melbourne I thought it was a good time to announce my decision.

"I started here with Billy at Olympic [AAMI] Park in 2002 so this is where I wanted to end it. Given the amount of time I've spent here and what I've built with Billy, Cooper [Cronk], Ryan Hoffman, Jesse Bromwich ... guys who have put in effort to build the Storm as an organisation.

"As a rookie I always thought I wanted to be a one-club player. Sometimes those choices are taken away from you but thankfully I've been able to do that for 19 years here."

Storm head coach Craig Bellamy added: "I think he's the greatest player I've ever seen. For what he's done, no one has gone over 400 NRL games and 100 rep games, and the success as captain it's quite remarkable.

"I can't see it happening again. It's hard to describe his effect on our club and the game. The biggest thing is how long he's done it for. When he told me this morning I was always genuine in that I said last year he deserved the right to make a decision when he was ready.

"For me the most important thing was that Cameron and his family be happy and I stand by that.

"It would've been strange for me to watch him in another jumper but that's obviously not going to happen. At the same time I still would've been his number one supporter even if he was playing against us.

"Hopefully we can keep Cameron around the club. If we can get him to give advice to our ruck plays and dummy half, his leadership is unparalleled."

Brooks Koepka fired a six-under 66 to grab a one-stroke lead at the halfway mark of the WGC-Workday Championship.

The four-time major champion made seven birdies and one bogey at The Concession Golf Club in Florida on Friday to move into 11 under.

Koepka holds a 36-hole lead or co-lead on the PGA Tour for the eighth time in his career as he eyes a second World Golf Championships title.

The American made three straight birdies from the 15th before dropping his only shot of the round at the last.

Koepka is a stroke clear of Collin Morikawa (64), Billy Horschel (67) and Australian Cameron Smith (66).

Morikawa, last year's US PGA Championship winner, produced the equal best round of the day, with Bryson DeChambeau – who is tied for 20th – also shooting a 64.

Overnight leaders Webb Simpson and Matt Fitzpatrick both slipped back into a tie for fifth after firing 69s, sitting at nine under alongside Tony Finau (67).

Defending champion Patrick Reed carded another 68 to be at eight under alongside Kevin Kisner (69).

Rory McIlroy shot a two-under 70 to get to five under and into a tie for 13th, with Justin Thomas (66) also among that group.

A six-time WGC winner, Dustin Johnson improved on his opening-round 77, carding a 69 that sees him sitting at two over.

Melbourne Storm great Cameron Smith will not play for Gold Coast Titans in the 2021 NRL season, according to Mal Meninga.

It remains to seen what the future holds for Smith, who is yet to publicly confirm his plans after guiding the Storm to premiership last year.

Out of contract following 18 years in Melbourne, Smith reportedly relocated to Queensland at the end of the season and the 37-year-old has been linked with the Titans as well as Brisbane Broncos.

With speculation mounting over Smith's status, his former State of Origin and Australia head coach Meninga – now head of performance and culture with the Titans – insisted the ex-Kangaroos skipper will not be moving to Gold Coast.

"I've not talked to Cameron. He's the hardest bloke to get hold of in the world," said Meninga.

"I've not spoken to him – not has anyone from the club.

"Everyone assumes he's coming to the Titans. I haven't talked to him, he's not on the radar.

"You should ask Kevvie [Broncos head coach Kevin Walters] about Cameron so I don't have to answer these questions anymore."

Broncos coach Walters could be an interested party were Smith to delay his retirement plans, but Meninga rubbished reports that emerged last week linking him with the Titans.

Meninga told the Courier Mail: "I don't have any idea what Cam is doing. I don't know if he's retiring.

"I'm in the dark like everyone else. But I know he won't be at the Titans."

Joaquin Niemann is part of a three-way tie for the lead after the opening round of the Sony Open in Hawaii.

The Chilean carded an eight-under 62 at the Waialae Country Club on Thursday to lead alongside Peter Malnati and Jason Kokrak.

Coming off a play-off loss to Harris English at the Tournament of Champions, Niemann's fine start to 2021 continued.

The 22-year-old made seven birdies, a bogey and an eagle, the latter coming with a chip in at the 18th.

Kokrak produced a bogey-free opening round, while Malnati mixed nine birdies with one bogey.

At the 17th, Kokrak almost produced a hole-in-one, only to see his shot lip out as he was forced to settle for a birdie.

Vaughn Taylor, Jim Herman, Aaron Baddeley, Patton Kizzire, Daniel Berger and Kim Si-woo are two shots adrift of the leaders.

The champion in 2018, Kizzire made a 45-foot eagle putt from off the green at the ninth, while Baddeley – runner-up in 2003 – is also in contention.

A group of 13 players are at five under, including last year's runner-up Brendan Steele, 2014 runner-up Chris Kirk and 2012 U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson.

Defending champion Cameron Smith opened with a three-under 67 to be in a tie for 40th.

Kevin Na and Sean O'Hair hold a one-shot advantage after the first round of the QBE Shootout.

Na and O'Hair hit the ground running at the Tiburon Golf Club in The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in Naples, Florida to lead the way from Ryan Palmer and Harold Varner III.

O'Hair and Na teamed up superbly in the scramble format on Friday, combining for a 16-under opening round of 56.

There were two eagles and 12 birdies for the leading duo, who went out in 27 in a blistering start to an event that is being hosted by Australian great Greg Norman.

Varner and Palmer are hot on their heels, sitting second of the 12 teams after coming up with eight birdies on the front nine and another seven after the turn.

Lanto Griffin and Mackenzie Hughes are just two shots adrift of the leading duo along with Harris English and Matt Kuchar.

Australian duo Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith are among three teams who will head into the weekend with the most ground to make up on 10 under.

Cameron Smith feels he could win a couple of Masters titles if he replicates his history-making Augusta performance.

Smith became the first player in Masters history to card all four rounds in the 60s at the major tournament after going 67-68-69-69, but he still finished runner-up on Sunday.

The unheralded Australian ended the rescheduled event 15 under, level with Sung-jae Im, but still five strokes adrift of record-breaking champion Dustin Johnson in Georgia.

It was Smith's best major performance, having tied for fourth at the 2015 U.S. Open.

After achieving a first in The Masters' 84 years, Smith told reporters: "I had no idea starting today that I needed to do that. That's really cool. 

"I honestly can't believe it, but just got to put it down ‑‑ myself, just got to put it down to just scrambling and digging deep. There were a few times throughout week where I could have let it slip away, and it didn't."

Reflecting on his bittersweet display, Smith – winner of two PGA Tour titles and as many on the European Tour – added: "It would have been cool to do that and win. I was actually saying before, you know, I'd take 15‑under around here the rest of my career and I might win a couple. 

"It's just the way it is. I felt as though I didn't quite have my longest stuff, like I said, this week, but my scrambling was what kept me in it."

"I felt like I got away with a lot this week, a bit of skewwhiff shots into the green, something I might need to tidy up if we're coming back here and it's firm and fast," continued the 27-year-old, who was tied for fifth at the 2018 Masters.

"But I love the place. I want to win here really badly, and I feel like it brings the best out of my game."

Dustin Johnson's previously commanding position at the top of the Masters leaderboard was left looking a little less dominant after his lead was cut to two at the halfway point of the final round on Sunday.

The world number one enjoyed a near flawless outing a day earlier, his seven-under-par 65 helping him to equal the 54-hole record set by Jordan Spieth in 2015 and open up a four-shot lead over Cameron Smith and Sungjae Im.

But an early wobble offered encouragement to the chasers, particularly the impressive Smith, who found himself as Johnson's closest competitor at the turn.

Having parred the first, Johnson then showed signs of unease as he scrambled to avoid dropping a shot on the par-five second.

A birdie at the third proved a false dawn of sorts as back-to-back bogeys followed.

At the same point, Im was two under for the day and seemingly closing on Johnson, only for the South Korean's bogey at the sixth to set him back.

However, at the halfway point it was Smith – a Masters debutant, like Im – who appeared the most likely to knock Johnson off the summit, the Australian just two adrift having been four off the pace at the start of the day.

Smith made it to the turn in 33, his remarkable approach shot from a bed of pine needles setting up his fourth birdie of the day on the ninth.

Elsewhere on the course, five-time Masters champion Tiger Woods endured a torrid time on the par-three 10th, incredibly carding a 10 after three visits to Rae's Creek

Jon Rahm moved into a five-way share of the lead when the second round of The Masters was completed and Bryson DeChambeau only just avoided missing the cut on Saturday.

Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Abraham Ancer and Cameron Smith topped the leaderboard after completing 36 holes before play was halted in fading light at Augusta on Friday.

Rahm holed a short birdie putt when he resumed at the 13th hole to join that quartet and the world number two remained at nine under after signing for a 66 following five consecutive pars.

The composed Spaniard chipped in from the edge of the green at 15 to remain a joint-leader of a major that is finely poised on moving day.

DeChambeau was in danger of making an early exit, but sneaked in for the rest of the weekend by the skin of his teeth, moving just about the cut line despite finishing with back-to-back bogeys to sign for a 74.

Pre-tournament favourite DeChambeau, who revealed a COVID-19 test he took after playing on Friday as he was feeling dizzy came back negative, faced an anxious wait to see if the cut line would be moved but the U.S. Open champion was able to breathe a sigh of relief.

Patrick Reed moved into the top 10 after heading back out for an early start, picking up a couple of shots to sit in contention on eight under with a second successive four-under 68.

Defending champion Tiger Woods is just four shots off the pace on a congested leaderboard following a second round of 71, a birdie at 15 moving him on to five under.

Justin Rose, the leader at the end of a weather-affected first day, carded a two-under 70 and is two shots adrift of the leaders.

 

Justin Thomas said you have to "throw all past knowledge out the window this week" as the American star eyes his first Masters title.

Thomas, world number one Dustin Johnson, Masters debutant Abraham Ancer and Australian Cameron Smith are all nine under through 36 holes at Augusta.

Former world number one Thomas claimed the 2017 US PGA Championship, though he has never won the Masters – last year's 12th-place finish his best performance to date.

Thomas has improved in every Masters appearance since 2016, but the 2020 edition is like no other after the iconic major was rescheduled from its original April start to November in Georgia amid the coronavirus pandemic.

After carding a second-round 69, Thomas told reporters: "I know the golf course, I know what to do, what not to do. I know the subtle nuances. I just simply haven't executed it and performed it well. 

"You have to really throw all past knowledge out the window this week, as weird as it is. I had a chip on 15 this morning to that front pin that usually would be just brutal and really, really hard to hit close, and I had to trust that I just kind of had to gas it and hit it pretty hard and it was going to spin. Balls are making pitchmarks with chip shots and pitch shots. 

"A lot of the history and things that you know about the golf course, it can sometimes hurt you this week because of what you're used to. But at the end of the day, it is a lot softer and a lot more scorable, obviously, but it really has just come down to executing a little bit better and minimising the mistakes."

Asked how difficult it is to throw away that past history and knowledge and trust the now and new conditions, Thomas said: "It's really hard… it is weird, but everyone's dealing with it. It's not like I'm the only one that has to adjust or make or may be uncomfortable in certain situations. The entire field is dealing with the same thing."

Ancer enjoyed a fine second round, the Mexican signing for a five-under-par 67 to earn a share of the overnight lead.

He is trying to become the second Mexican player to win in as many weeks on the PGA Tour, after Carlos Ortiz claimed last week's Houston Open.

Asked about his Masters invitation, Ancer said: "It was awesome. I actually have it framed in my house, so it's right there in my living room, and it's something that I dreamt since I was a little kid to play here. I was really, really excited to be here my first time ever, I've never been to the tournament or watched, anything, was last week. I played with a member, Nick Evans, awesome, I couldn't have picked a better guy well, I'm lucky he picked me, I guess. I didn't pick anybody. 

"It's been amazing, and I know maybe it's not the same as in April, but I mean, it's incredible and I love it out here, I love the golf course, and I think this is probably one of my favourite places in the world."

Smith (68) added: "It's obviously good to be in contention on a weekend, and I feel like I've been there enough where I can have a good crack at it."

Cameron Smith was relieved to cling on for victory in the NRL Grand Final, admitting Melbourne Storm "did it the hard way" after surviving a late rally from the Penrith Panthers.

Melbourne appeared on course for a comfortable triumph at ANZ Stadium when they led 26-0 early in the second half, but ending up hanging on for a 26-20 win.

Penrith scored four tries to come charging back into a contest that saw their opponents finish with 11 men, Jahrome Hughes and Brandon Smith both sent to the sin-bin in a dramatic conclusion.

However, Melbourne survived a desperation final play from the Panthers to prevail, securing the club's fourth premiership in the NRL era.

Smith was full of praise for Penrith, not just for their late rally but also a 2020 season that saw them win 17 games in a row heading into Sunday's clash, while also spoke of his pride for a Storm squad forced to leave Victoria due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"We did it the hard way, 11 men in the end," Melbourne's captain, who scored one of his team's four tries, said in a post-game interview during which he refused to be drawn on whether he plans to prolong his career.

"Penrith were coming home with a wet sail and playing the footy that they've played all year, which has been terrific.

"As an opposition club and organisation, we've admired what Penrith have done. To win 17 in a row in this competition is a special effort, on top of what everyone has been through this year.

"If there was another couple of minutes on the clock, who knows what would have happened there. You've got to give credit to Penrith, they fought to the end.

"But I'm just proud of this football team, not just the ones that played tonight but the entire squad. We haven't been home for about five months and with the conditions that we've been under, it's a remarkable effort to be here tonight and get a victory."

A COVID-19 outbreak denied Melbourne home comforts, but Smith revealed overcoming adversity had created a bond within the group that will forever remain strong.

Justin Olam, Suliasi Vunivalu and Ryan Papenhuyzen also touched down for Craig Bellamy's side in the final, while their talismanic skipper booted 10 points.

"We've had some close-knit teams during my time with the club, but given the situation we've been here, pretty much living in each others' pockets for five months, it's something very different, something we've never experienced," Smith added.

"We grew as a unit this year and there are connections in this team now that we will have for the rest of our lives."

Cameron Smith played a starring role before Melbourne Storm survived a second-half fightback to beat Penrith Panthers 26-20 in a pulsating NRL Grand Final. 

Hooker Smith - potentially playing his final game - scored a try and also kicked 10 points to help Melbourne overcome the team who finished above them in the table.

Penrith had triumphed when the teams met in the regular season on their way to being crowned minor premiers, yet a first title since 2003 proved out of their reach as they were made to pay for costly errors at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on Sunday.

Melbourne capitalised in clinical fashion, opening up a commanding 22-0 lead at the break that, despite the Panthers trying to claw their way back in the closing stages, set up the victory.

Justin Olam was awarded a penalty try after the ball was kicked out of his grasp in the process of trying to ground it over the line, while the Panthers' poor discipline allowed Smith to kick his team into a double-digit advantage. 

After Suliasi Vunivalu intercepted a looping Nathan Cleary pass and raced clear to score a second try, Smith collected a loose ball and darted over from close range just prior to the interval. 

When man of the match Ryan Papenhuyzen broke free from inside Melbourne's own half to cross early in the second half, the game appeared to over as a contest.

However, having seen two tries chalked off in the first half, Penrith finally opened their account when Brian To'o finished in the corner, the score awarded despite suggestions of obstruction in the build-up. 

Stephen Crichton added another try and when Josh Mansour raced through on the Panthers' left less than four minutes later, a miraculous comeback suddenly seemed a serious possibility. 

Yet the deficit was too much with the clock against them and Melbourne held on, even with Jahrome Hughes and Brandon Smith finishing the game in the sin-bin.

Cleary barged through as the Storm's 11 men were breached again in the final minute, though it was a mere consolation effort as Craig Bellamy's side sealed a fourth premiership in the NRL era.

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