Kyrgios pulls Aussies level in Davis Cup clash against Belgium
CHICAGO: Marc Leishman fired eight birdies in a seven-under 64 on Friday to stretch his lead in the BMW Championship to three strokes over fellow Aussie Jason Day and Rickie Fowler.
After his only bogey of the day at the par-three 17th, Leishman birdied the par-five 18th at Conway Farms to complete 36 holes at 16-under par 126. “I’m pretty happy with backing up a 62 with a 64,” said Leishman, who started the day with a two-stroke lead.
Four birdies on each side ensured Leishman finished the day atop the leaderboard despite the strong performances of Day and Fowler.
“I really took that as a challenge today, to not take it for granted that you’re just going to make birdies,” added Leishman, whose two US PGA Tour titles include this year’s Arnold Palmer Invitational.
“You still have to earn every birdie. I think when you do get ahead of yourself, that’s when bad stuff can happen.”
Former world number one Day, seeking his first victory in more than a year, carded a six-under 65, benefiting from what he called a “lucky” hole-in-one at the parthree 17th — where his tee shot hit in front of the green, bounced and rolled in.
“We were trying to land it 182 (yards) and I kind of pushed it,” said Day, who won the 2015 title at Conway Farms. “It was a lucky holein-one, I guess.
“It’s been, I think, 10 years since last time I had a hole-in-one,” added Day, who had already chipped in for eagle at the par-five 14th. “I’ve had two eagles and a hole-in-one this week already, so everything’s come in bunches.”
Fowler also finished strong, with three birdies and an eagle from the 13th through 17th of a 64 for 129.
American Patrick Cantlay was alone in fourth after a 65 for 132.
British Open champion Jordan Spieth, who topped the FedEx Cup standings coming into the penultimate event of the US PGA Tour’s four-tournament playoff series, carded a one-under par 70 to lie nine shots off the pace on 135.
Spieth played the first two rounds alongside PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas and world number one Dustin Johnson — who came into the tournament second and third in the race for the $10 million playoff bonus that will be up for grabs at next week’s Tour Championship.
Thomas also carded a 70 that left him in a group on 137 while Johnson closed with back-to-back bogeys in a 72 that left him languishing on one-over 143. MCILROY HOPES FADE It was a disappointing finish for defending champion Johnson, who needed two chips to get out of the greenside rough at 17, and was in the water at the final hole.
Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy saw his slim hopes of defending the FedEx Cup playoff title dwindle further as his second-round 69 left him 15 off the lead.
McIlroy came into the tournament in 51st place in the playoff standings, with only the top 30 after this week’s tournament advancing to the Tour Championship in Atlanta.
“It’s hard because I know that realistically there’s not much chance of getting in next week, but I still want to go out there and play well,” McIlroy said. “I’m here, so I might as well try to play well and try to get the most out of myself.” — AFP PARIS: Nick Kyrgios clinched a fiveset thriller to pull Australia level with Belgium in the Davis Cup semifinals on Friday, just hours after admitting he wasn’t taking tennis seriously enough.
The combustible Kyrgios came back from two sets to one down to defeat 33-year-old Steve Darcis 6-3, 3-6, 6-7 (5/7), 6-1, 6-2 in 3hr 36min on the clay courts of Brussels’ Palais 12 arena.
Kyrgios fired 34 aces and 41 winners to take his Davis Cup singles record to seven wins in eight, as Australia finished the day at 1-1 after world number 12 David Goffin had beaten 185-ranked John Millman 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-3, 7-5.
Kyrgios, defeated in the first round of the US Open by compatriot Millman earlier this month, went into the match suffering a hip injury as well as a lack of motivation.
Writing on www.playersvoice.com, the 22-year-old said: “I am not the professional tennis needs me to be”.
“I’m not making the improvements I should because I don’t want it enough, I’m not taking it seriously enough.
“There is a constant tug-of-war between the competitor within me wanting to win, win, win and the human in me wanting to live a normal life with my family away from the public glare.”
However, he was overjoyed by his performance in Brussels as Australia, the 28-time champions, seek a place in the Davis Cup final for the first time since they last won the title in 2003.
“(Captain) Lleyton Hewitt and I have put so much dedication into this, the Davis Cup has been my No 1 priority this year. I think we must be favourites going into the doubles’ tomorrow,” Kyrgios told daviscup.com.
Jordan Thompson and John Peers will play the doubles against Arthur De Greef and Ruben Bemelmans with the reverse singles to be played on Sunday.
In Lille, Dusan Lajovic made a mockery of the absence of Novak Djokovic to give Serbia a shock lead over France in their semifinal.
World number 80 Lajovic edged Lucas Pouille, ranked 58 places higher, 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (9/7), 7-6 (7/5) in the first rubber of the tie also being played on clay.
“This is what the Davis Cup is all about,” said Serbia captain Nenad Zimonjic, who is without his three leading singles players — Djokovic, who is sidelined until 2018 with a wrist injury, Janko Tipsarevic and Viktor Troicki.
However, France, the nine-time champions, levelled the tie at 1-1 when Jo-Wilfried Tsonga downed Davis Cup debutant and world number 95 Laslo Djere, 7-6 (7/2), 6-3, 6-3. Noah ‘stressed’ - France captain Yannick Noah was critical of his own performance.
“I did not have a very good match as a captain. I was a bit stressed and I think I passed my stress to Lucas,” he said. “I’ll have to improve our communication for the next rubber.”
In the play-offs, where the winners will compete in the World Group next season, 2016 champions Argentina are 1-1 against Kazakhstan after US Open quarterfinalist Diego Schwartzman eased past Dimtri Popko 6-4, 6-2, 6-2.
Mikhail Kukushkin had given the hosts the lead by seeing off Guido Pella 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/5), 6-2, 6-4.
Boris Becker’s first day as head of men’s tennis with Germany ended with his country — missing brothers Alexander and Mischa Zverev — level at 1-1 in Portugal. Japan are 2-0 up on Brazil as are the Czech Republic in the Netherlands.
Rickie Fowler watches his birdie putt fall into the cup on the 17th green during the second round of the BMW Championship at Conway Farms Golf Club.
Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos controls the ball during the UEFA Champions League match at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid.
Australia’s Nick Kyrgios returns the ball to Belgium’s Steve Darcis during the Davis Cup semifinal in Brussels.