Rory McIlroy will get some early Ryder Cup preparation when he makes his Italian Open debut next month.

Just under a year before Europe attempt to wrestle the Ryder Cup back off the United States, McIlroy will get a first look at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club venue where the biennial event will be staged.

McIlroy is riding on the crest of a wave after becoming the first player to win the FedExCup three times in dramatic fashion at East Lake.

The four-time major champion trailed Scottie Scheffler by six shots during his final round of the Tour Championship on Sunday, but a closing 66 sealed a hat-trick of FedExCup victories – and a whopping $18million in prize money.

DP World Tour Rankings leader McIlroy will be on his way to the outskirts of Rome eyeing another title in a tournament that starts on September 15.

The Northern Irishman said: "Not only is the city of Rome steeped in history but so too is their national open, so I am really looking forward to the Italian Open this year.

"It's the first time I have played in Italy, and I've heard the Italian fans are very passionate, so I'm excited to get out there and experience a new challenge."

McIlroy is third in the world rankings behind Scheffler and Cameron Smith.

Thriston Lawrence claimed his second DP World Tour title at the European Masters after edging out Matt Wallace in a play-off at Crans-sur-Sierre.

The 25-year-old climbed into the world's top 100 for the first time as he held his nerve to earn a maiden European Tour success over four rounds.

Lawrence, who triumphed at the 36-hole Joburg Open last November, also became the first South African winner of the title since Ernie Els in 2003.

Following a stunning 67 on Saturday, the world number 129 held a three-shot lead over Wallace heading into the final round of his first European Masters appearance.

He appeared to pick up from where he left off with a magnificent 32-foot birdie on the third hole. However, a double-bogey on the fifth enabled Wallace to close the gap.

The Englishman carded an impressive 66 as he sought a first European Tour victory in nearly four years, while Lawrence's bogey on the 16th culminated in the sixth play-off in 10 editions of this event.

As both players returned to the 18th, Wallace was aiming to maintain his perfect play-off record, having prevailed at the Hero Indian Open and Made in Denmark in 2018.

But there was to be no joy for the 32-year-old this time around. Indeed, a sloppy approach culminated in him pulling a tricky five-foot par putt to tie, handing Lawrence the title.

"It's a privilege to be able to take this victory," the South African said. "There's so much history going around this event and all the past champions, so I can't wait to get my hands on this trophy.

"I was actually quite fine [with going to a play-off]. It's a tricky golf course; you can lose a few shots, especially around [holes] 14 and 15. On the par-fives, you can make a silly mistake and another guy can make birdies.

"I'm just happy with my patience around this weekend; I'm just so pleased to be able to win this.

"Growing up, you always want to be in the top 100 in the world, and to achieve it is quite emotional."

It will be "odd" and "disappointing" to see LIV Golf Invitational Series players featuring at next month's BMW PGA Championship, Matt Fitzpatrick says.

Sergio Garcia and Patrick Reed are among those who have made the switch to the Saudi-backed LIV Golf but still appear on the entry list for the tournament at Wentworth.

While the PGA Tour has banned defectors from its events, they are still allowed to participate on the DP World Tour, which lost a court case against players ahead of a full ruling.

This means vocal critics of LIV Golf, like Rory McIlroy, appearing alongside some of the controversial league's biggest names in direct competition.

U.S. Open champion Fitzpatrick will also be in action, and he will find it strange to see these players back in the field.

"It's going to be odd seeing certain people, obviously, at Wentworth," he said.

"That is going to be a bit weird, and obviously it's a little bit disappointing. But they won their little thing.

"But yeah, it's going to be interesting to see what happens. Obviously, they're [the DP World Tour] not quite in as strong a position as the PGA Tour are in terms of regulations.

"I guess we'll just have to see how it plays out."

Maximilian Kieffer was left lost for words after claiming his first DP World Tour victory at the Czech Masters.

The tournament was reduced to 54 holes because of heavy rain on Saturday in Prague.

But nothing could dampen Kieffer's delight after he overhauled overnight leader Gavin Green.

Kieffer carded seven birdies and just one bogey for his final-round 66.

He finished 16 under par, one stroke ahead of Green, who ultimately paid the price for a double bogey six at the par-four 14th.

"It's tough right now to say what it means. It's great, I am lost for words a little bit," said Kieffer.

"I wanted to be ready in case he [Green] made birdie. When the guy from the TV said 'you've won it' the feeling was ridiculous.

"I don't know how I feel, I think it will need a few days. I just love golf, I just love to play golf. Even if I had not won I still have a great life, I still enjoy playing golf. So now to win it's even better."

"Hard work, always keep going and keep grinding," the 32-year-old Kieffer said when asked what he attributed his win to.  

"You have good days, you have bad days, you have to enjoy the good days and on the bad days you just have to dig deep and keep going."

Scotsman Ewen Ferguson held onto the lead across the last day of the ISPS Handa World Invitational to clinch victory and his second tour win of the season, despite posting a disappointing score in the final round.

Ferguson's score of 69 was the joint-highest among those to have finished in the top four, but he remained ahead courtesy of a stunning day-one score, where he finished nine under par.

Borja Virto and Connor Syme, finishing joint-second, could only cut their deficit by a single stroke as they finished three behind Ferguson, while Italian Renato Paratore surged up the standings to finish joint-fourth with a final round score of six under par.

Paratore's 64 was tied as the best score in the final round with Jordan Smith, with the 12th-ranked Brit rising 14 places on the final day to finish joint-seventh.

In the women's tournament, Maja Stark won her first LPGA event with a final round score of 63 - shattering the course record to finish five strokes ahead of second-placed Allisen Corpuz.

The Swede entered the final day tied for fourth place but a stunning performance to finish 10 under par in the fourth round propelled her to the top of the standings.

Callum Shinkwin stormed to a four-shot victory for his second DP World Tour title at the Wales Open on Sunday.

The Englishman carded a one-under 70 in his final round at the Celtic Manor Resort to finish on 12-under for the tournament, comfortably clear of runner-up Connor Syme.

Shinkwin had looked poised to go head-to-head with playing partner Julien Guerrier, having held a one-stroke lead heading into the final day.

But after making six birdies and five bogeys, the 29-year-old found himself comfortably clear of the Frenchman, who endured an awful five-over final round to tie for third with David Dixon, Lucas Bjerregaard, Renato Paratore and Andy Sullivan at five under.

Back-to-back bogeys on the seventh and eighth in Newport halted Shinkwin's momentum, but he held his nerve to seal another title.

Shinkwin's only previous victory had come at the Cyprus Open in 2020.

Bryson DeChambeau says he is "not worried" about the PGA Tour's decision to indefinitely ban players who have defected to the controversial LIV Golf Invitational Series.

The sport is embroiled in a battle between the PGA Tour and the new Saudi-backed LIV Golf, with 2020 US Open champion DeChambeau one of those who has chosen to break away.

Henrik Stenson also chose to defect and was subsequently stripped of Europe's Ryder Cup captaincy before he won the third LIV event in New Jersey last week, while other players such as Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia have joined too.

It has since been reported that Tiger Woods was offered up to $800million to join LIV Golf, though he chose to reject the money in order to stay with the PGA Tour.

The Wall Street Journal have reported that Mickelson and DeChambeau, as well as a number of other defectors, are planning to sue the PGA Tour over their suspensions.

But DeChambeau was not concerned about this development and was instead enthused by what LIV Golf could do for players financially, telling Fox News: "It doesn't make sense [the ban].

"I'm not worried about that. I think it will get figured out. I personally know that it will get figured out, whether it's legally or whether they come to the table and work out terms. I definitely think it will all wash itself out in the future, pretty shortly.

"Any time anyone invests over a billion dollars into the game of golf, how is that not going to grow the game and how is that not going to provide more opportunities?

"This is our livelihoods and it was a great economic opportunity for golfers to make a lot of money. That's why we grew up playing golf - also for the history, to go and win majors, PGA Tour events and now I want to win LIV events.

"You can see the passion and competitive aspect of this environment out here and we all want to win every single week."

Davis Love III told LIV Golf defectors "you can be Tiger Woods or you can be banned from the game" and can foresee a situation where "fed up" players boycott the big PGA Tour events to protect their interests.

Golf is engulfed in a war between those remaining loyal to the sport's flagship tour and those who have opted for the riches of the controversial Saudi-backed LIV Series.

Last week saw the third LIV event held in New Jersey, which was won by Henrik Stenson after he had been stripped of Europe's Ryder Cup captaincy over his decision to sign up.

Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and Sergio Garcia are among the notable names to have also jumped ship, while Tiger Woods is said to have turned down $800million to remain loyal to the PGA Tour.

Love III, this year's US Presidents Cup captain and a two-time Ryder Cup skipper, said earlier this week players could look to boycott the majors if LIV players are continued to allow to play.

He sought to clarify those comments at a news conference and warned LIV players there should be consequences for their decisions.

He said: "I told the players that I've talked to that have gone or thinking about going, 'it's your decision, you know, and you do what's right for you, but understand consequences'. 

"I tried to sound like my dad and I probably wasn't very good at it. I didn't argue. I said, 'look, you can do this or you can do this. You can be Tiger Woods or you can be banned from the game, take your pick. But understanding the consequences, you signed up for these rules'.

"And I keep using it kind of as a joke, but I'm wearing shorts today, but I can't wear shorts on Thursday, that's a rule. I had to commit by last Friday or I don't get to play this week. I have to play 15 tournaments or I don't get to vote and I don't get my retirement money. You have rules that you have to adhere to. 

"Jay [Monahan] has been saying it for a year and they either understood it, some of them understood that, some of them said it's not going to happen, and some of them just flat out lied, I'm not doing this, I'm not doing that. 

"And you hear it, the talking points or the interviews, they're spinning their decision because they know they've turned their backs on their friends and they know they're taking the money and they know it's not the right thing to do. 

"But it is their decision and they can do that, they just can't come back and play The Players Championship. That's just not fair. If I grind it out, make the 125 and get in The Players Championship, I don't want those guys, that being the only PGA Tour event they play that year, that's not right."

 

Love III, the 1997 US PGA Championship victor, concedes he is surprised by the number of players turning their backs on the Tour.

He also suggested how PGA regulars may respond if LIV players attempt to take their ambition to play on both tours to the courts.

"Nobody saw the extent of LIV coming. It's hard to not be reactionary to something that when you're blindsided, you are being reactionary," he added.

"I told Jay a year ago, and you can ask him, I said, 'don't worry about it, it's not going to happen'. I was completely dead wrong. Six months ago I told my own tournament, 'oh, don't worry about it, not going to happen. Mickelson's going down, but nobody else will jump ship'. 

"So, I was wrong. I don't know what's going to happen from here on out, but I know it's going to be a fight and the players are getting more and more unified against it. 

"Now, some guys said that they don't like the new schedule and some guys don't like the old schedule. I might not like the fall schedule right now, but it's going to work out because I'm on board with whatever the Tour wants to do. 

"It will work out because I know the staff doesn't work for Jay exclusively, they work for the players and so does Jay.

"The whole situation is unfortunate. I didn't try to single out the U.S. Open as the players striking or threatening not to play. I was saying that if the LIV guys sue and are allowed to play on the PGA Tour, that the players are enough fed up with it, we understand that we make the rules on the PGA Tour and the commissioner's enforcing our rules and we don't want those guys playing, come and cherry-picking our tournaments, that we hold all the cards, not Jay or not Seth Waugh or Mike Whan. 

"They don't hold all the cards, we hold all the cards. If we say to the FTC and to Washington, no, we support the rules, we don't want those guys playing, we don't care what the courts say, our only option really, the nuclear option is to say, well, fine, if they have to play in our events, we just won't play. I think the Tour players, the Max Homas and Rory McIlroys have done a good job. 

"I think the undercurrent of guys are getting more and more fed up with it, that these guys are threatening our way of life, they're trying to take money out of our pockets and cherry-pick our best tournaments. The majors have to make their own decisions. I loved what Martin Slumbers said, I think they're all going in the right direction, but the PGA Tour players, we support the PGA Tour and we support the rules and we need to stand up for them."

Tiger Woods was offered a package worth between $700million and $800m to compete in the LIV Golf Invitational Series, according to the competition's chief executive Greg Norman.

Woods, a 15-time major winner, has been an advocate for the PGA Tour, which has been embroiled in a tussle with the Saudi Arabia-backed breakaway league.

LIV Golf held its latest event last weekend in Bedminster, New Jersey, with Henrik Stenson – who was removed as Ryder Cup captain after deciding to join the new tour – claiming victory in his first outing.

Norman previously said that Woods had been offered a "high nine digits" sum to join LIV Golf, which has so far been unable to attract many of the world's best, though has snagged big names such as Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Dustin Johnson.

In an interview with Fox News with Tucker Carlson that was broadcast on Monday in the United States, Norman confirmed that Woods had been offered in the region of $700m to $800m.

"That number was out there before I became CEO. So that number has been out there, yes," Norman said.

"And, look, Tiger is a needle-mover and of course you have to look at the best of the best.

"So they had originally approached Tiger before I became CEO. So, yes, that number was somewhere in that neighbourhood."

 

Two-time major winner Norman has become a controversial figure within the sport, and was barred from attending the Celebration of Champions or the Champions' Dinner prior to The 150th Open Championship at St Andrews last month.

Woods failed to make the cut at that tournament, but backed the decision to disinvite Norman from the celebrations, saying: "Greg has done some things that I don't think are in the best interest of our game, and we're coming back to probably the most historic and traditional place in our sport. I believe it's the right thing."

Yet the Australian is unperturbed by any possible damage to his reputation.

"I really don't care," said Norman, who claimed he is unaware why LIV Golf has caused such uproar.

"I just love the game so much and I want to grow the game of golf and we at LIV see that opportunity not just for the men but for the women."

Sean Crocker said he knocked the door "clean off its hinges" after going wire-to-wire to win his first DP World Tour title

The American led through the first three rounds of the Hero Open at Fairmount St Andrews and he held off the challenge of Eddie Pepperell to triumph by a single shot on Sunday.

Pepperell carded a brilliant seven-under 65 to go back into the clubhouse on 21 under to apply the pressure, but Crocker was able to hold his nerve.

Having started the season by missing the cut in eight of the first nine tournaments he competed in – and retiring from the other one – the 25-year-old led by one at the turn and holed three birdies to start the back nine in fine fashion.

That gave him the breathing space required to avoid a play-off, as he parred each of the final five holes to card a 68 and claim a hard-earned triumph.

"Winning a golf tournament is not easy. And Eddie did not make that easy for me either," Crocker said. "After the three-putt par on the 15th I kind of thought I still had a little bit of room but they're not easy holes coming down that stretch.

"I thought I could make it pretty easy – it's a par five coming in – but I don't think it's ever easy to make a par to win a golf tournament. That was pretty special.

"I was nervous. I've felt pressure like that before but it's my first pro tournament win. That putt looked like it was 20 feet, that hole looked like it was half-an-inch wide. 

"It's awesome. It just shows you that you just don't know what this game is going to bring you.

"We go out there every day trying our hardest and we can play terrible for a long time and then all of a sudden you have a week like this where every bounce seemed to go my way.

"I hope I keep putting myself in this position. That door has been locked shut for me for almost five years. To go wire-to-wire I think I knocked the door clean off its hinges, which is nice."

Pepperell, who had eight birdies in his final round but was ultimately left to lament a bogey on the ninth, finished alone in second, two shots clear of David Law and Adrian Otaegui.

Two-time Masters winner Bubba Watson has become the latest player to sign with the LIV Golf Invitational Series. 

Watson has been out of action since the US PGA Championship due to a knee injury and will be a non-playing captain in the Saudi-backed circuit's next tournament in Boston. 

The 43-year-old has managed just one top-three finish over the past four seasons, which came at the Waste Management Open in 2020. 

LIV Golf CEO and commissioner Greg Norman said: "Bubba Watson is a tremendous addition to LIV Golf – another major champion joining the growing list of stars on our teams. 

"His game combines the power, innovation and excitement that the LIV Golf brand represents. 

"He's a risk-taker who has cemented his name among the world's very best and we're eager for him to come aboard to bring new energy and audiences to this league." 

Brooks Koepka and Henrik Stenson have also recently signed with LIV Golf, with the latter being stripped of the captaincy of Europe's Ryder Cup team as a result. 

The series this week announced it will expand in 2023, taking the number of tournaments to 25 with a Team World Championship match play finale at the end of the season. 

Luke Donald has taken a dig at Henrik Stenson by declaring he will keep his word and "see it through" if he is named Europe's Ryder Cup captain.

Stenson was last week stripped of the honour of leading Europe against the United States in Rome next year after electing to join LIV Golf.

Donald is reportedly set to replace the Swede, and the Englishman is under the impression he has "a very good chance" of taking the role after holding talks.

"There’s nothing official to report," Donald told Golfweek. "I have been in talks with Guy [Kinnings, Ryder Cup director] at the European Tour. And that's all I know right now.

"I know I have a very good chance, Thomas Bjorn and a couple other guys are under consideration."

Donald, who never finished on a losing side in the four Ryder Cups he played in, says there is no chance he would take up a deal with LIV Golf after agreeing to captain Europe.

"If I got this captaincy, I would live up to my word and see it through," he said. "Let me put it that way. I wouldn't be doing a Henrik."

The 44-year-old Donald is disappointed Stenson defected to join the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series but would "love" to step in for Ryder Cup duty, with the 2016 Open champion out of the picture.

Donald said: "I've certainly had some of my best moments on the golf course in the Ryder Cups. What an amazing honour it is to represent Europe in the Ryder Cup, and I would love to be a captain.

"That would be a huge honour as well. I was surprised that he would put his name forward if his plan was to go to LIV, which, you know, the rumours, and I hate to talk about rumours, but rumours are that he'd been in contact with the rival tours, whatever they were, and he was very interested.

"And I think everyone knew that, the European Tour knew that. They obviously took his word that he wasn't going to do it. We all have to sign a clause or contract saying that we won't have anything to do with (LIV).

"I'm disappointed I guess that he would put his name forward and then go to LIV. I understand certain guys going to LIV, in certain situations in their careers and stuff, that makes sense. But obviously something big to give up."

Donald revealed he has been offered a chance to be part of LIV Golf, but only for a television role.

He said: "Turned that down pretty quickly. A little bit of a slight on my game. I know I haven't played that great, but thanks but no thanks."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.