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Premier League clubs in 2017 Masters: Who to support at Augusta

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Okay, so maybe you don’t pay too much attention to golf usually.

We get it. Soccer is awesome.

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Still, with the 2017 Masters taking place at Augusta National in Georgia over the next four days it will be hard to not be caught up in the magic of the green jacket.

With that in mind, here’s a handy little guide which may be useful if you are a PL fan and find yourself wanting to cheer on a particular golfer at the Masters.

[ MORE: Latest from the 2017 Masters

We’ve made a comparison between Premier League clubs and top professional golfers who will be teeing up. Imagine the following 20 golfers are PL clubs…


Phil Mickelson is Arsenal – A stalwart who has won three green jackets and should have won many more (Arsenal fans can certainly relate to this) Mickelson often plays with style and panache over substance. Again, Arsenal fans can both respect and relate to that. Like Arsena’s boss Arsene Wenger, a legendary figure of his game.

Matthew Fitzpatrick is Bournemouth – Young, fresh faced and full of talent, Fitzpatrick is regarded as the next big English talent by many. Eddie Howe is the next best English manager and the young team he has at Bournemouth continues to punch above their weight with the big boys. Maybe Fitzpatrick can do the same this weekend.

Tyrrell Hatton is Burnley – The Englishman has impressed on the European Tour and has made the step up to the PGA Tour with ease. Burnley have been similar this season after being promoted from the Championship as Sean Dyche‘s men look nailed on to survive in the Premier League for the first time in history. For both it’s all about one thing: ‘what’s next?’

Dustin Johnson is Chelsea – A back injury or not, Johnson is the red-hot favorite to win the Masters. He is the world No.1 and like Chelsea is sweeping all before him with power and his incredible driving ability. Plenty more silverware will be handled by this duo in the years to come with Chelsea on course to win the Premier League title.

Bubba Watson is Crystal Palace – Yes, Watson has won two Masters tournaments in the past and Palace have never won a major trophy in club history, but they are very similar because of this fact: you never know what you’re going to get. Bubba delivers all kinds of trick shots and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Palace have passionate fans, which Bubba will appreciate, and both are streaky with the Eagles often going on huge consecutive losing and winning wins throughout a season.

Jon Rahm is Everton – The hottest young talent on the scene, Spaniard Rahm has taken the golfing world by storm. Everton have plenty of youngsters in their team with Ronald Koeman rebuilding their squad for a top six challenge. Rahm would settle for a top six finish but he’ll fancy his chances of winning the famous green jacket.

Lee Westwood is Hull City – Westwood, like Hull, hails from Yorkshire and he is known as a battler who hangs in there when times are tough. Westwood’s record around Augusta has been impressive in recent seasons with six top-11 finishes since 2010. Hull are peaking at the right time of the season under Marco Silva and could well rise to the occasion and stave off relegation.

Danny Willett is Leicester City – The extreme underdogs who won the biggest prize last time out. That is Leicester and Willett. The lad from Sheffield, England came from nowhere to win the Masters last year and, like Leicester this season, he’s having a tough time. That said, nobody will ever forget Leicester and Willett for their unexpected success.

Rickie Fowler is Liverpool – Talented, fun and full of life, Rickie Fowler is on the verge of breaking through and winning his first major. The same can be said for Liverpool’s young team put together by Jurgen Klopp. Both are fun to watch but have a few small adjustments to make to start winning major silverware.

Jordan Spieth is Manchester City – A powerhouse who has dominated in recent years, Spieth is fine-tuning his game. Just like Pep Guardiola is doing at City, the tools are there to succeed and City’s two PL titles in the past four seasons show that. Now for both Spieth and City it is all about finding a winning formula which gets results consistently. In three Masters appearances Spieth has one win and two runners up finishes. Not bad…

Rory McIlroy is Manchester United – A giant who is battling hard to get back to the heights of a few years ago when he was winning major titles left, right and center. McIlroy has to overcome some big challenges at Augusta after collapsing on the back nine in 2011, so both are trying to regain mental strength to get back on top. Plus, Rory is a United fan too.

Chris Wood is Middlesbrough – Capable of grinding out results, Englishman Chris Wood has won plenty of tournaments on the European Tour and is on the verge of breaking through and consistently challenging for top 20 finishes. Boro will be hoping they can pull off some big wins in the final weeks of the season to secure their PL status.

Justin Rose is Southampton – He was born not far from Southampton in England, so this makes sense. That said, Rose continues to deliver each season just when it seems like he has regressed. Saints continue to do the same and have a perfect mixture of defensive solidity and flair.

Jimmy Walker is Stoke City – Hard as nails, Walker just keeps grinding out top 10 finishes. Stoke do the same with three-straight ninth place finishes in the PL. Walker has a Major under his belt and Stoke are certainly capable of winning a cup competition or beating any PL team on their day. Solid and dependable.

Paul Casey is Sunderland – Now, with Sunderland sitting bottom of the PL table this was a hard pick but Casey personifies a grafter. He is someone who always seems to punch above his weight and deliver at Augusta (six top 20’s) and knows his way around the course well. Not the most glamorous duo but when both hit rock bottom they always find a way to drag themselves back up.

Daniel Berger is Swansea City – With Swansea’s American owners, this makes sense. Seriously, though, Berger is on the rise and Swansea are hoping they are too under manager Paul Clement. There will be bumps along the way but both Berger and the Swans are hoping to stay battling among the big boys for many years to come.

Jason Day is Tottenham Hotspur – The lovable Day has won one Major and would love to add another to his collection. Talented, humble and young is how you would describe Tottenham too as they finished third in the PL last season and look set for at least a second place finish this year. Can Day, and Spurs, deliver more than a top two finish?

Brandt Snedeker is Watford – Ticking along nicely without anybody really noticing, both Snedeker and Watford just go about their business with minimum fuss. On their days they can cause big upsets but more often than that they’ll be steady and perform just above what is expected. Nothing wrong with that.

Hideki Matsuyama is West Brom – Having a very good last 12 months, the Japanese star has finished in the top 10 in each of his last two trips to the Masters. West Brom are having a fine season of their own and look set to finish in eighth place in the PL with a record points tally. Upward trend for both is clear.

Sergio Garcia is West Ham United – Garcia has been in the hunt for the Masters and many major titles in the past but just hasn’t got over the line. That sums up West Ham in recent years as they’ve flirted with the top four and winning an FA Cup but haven’t quite got there. Talent is never the issue with both Garcia and the Hammers.

Ronaldo, Neymar, Messi nominees for FIFA prize for 3rd year

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LONDON (AP) Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar are the contenders for FIFA’s top player award for the third straight year.

The nominations for the FIFA Best awards were announced Friday in London, where the ceremony will take place next month. Ronaldo is favored to join Messi as a five-time winner.

While Ronaldo won the Spanish league and Champions League last season at Real Madrid, Messi and Neymar only collected the Copa del Rey title with Barcelona.

Off the field, the three players have all been embroiled in tax cases in Spain over the last year.

Premier League Preview: West Ham vs. Tottenham

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  • West Ham have 14 PL wins vs. Spurs, more than against any other opponent
  • Spurs have lost 3 of their last 4 trips to West Ham
  • Since the start of 2015-16 Spurs have won the most points (164) and matches (47) in the PL
  • Harry Kane has five goals in his last five PL games vs. West Ham

West Ham United host Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday at the London Stadium (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) in a big London derby.

The Hammers have won both of their last two home games against Spurs 1-0 to scupper Tottenham’s title bids which has added extra spice to this rivalry in recent months.

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With West Ham winning their first home game this season against Huddersfield Town, Slaven Bilic is looking to make the London Stadium a fortress. Spurs will be eager to play another game away from their temporary home for the season, Wembley, after Mauricio Pochettino‘s men have failed to win any of their opening three home PL games at Wembley.

If Tottenham prevail in east London it will mean they have won their opening three away games in the league for the first time since 1991-92.

In team news West Ham will be without injured duo Pedro Obiang and Manuel Lanzini but skipper Mark Noble is available. Ben Davies could return for Spurs, while Victor Wanyama, Erik Lamela and Danny Rose remain out.

What they’re saying

Slaven Bilic praises Christian Eriksen in The London Evening Standard: “They have many excellent players but the one who is maybe the unsung hero is Christian Eriksen. I don’t want to say he is under-rated because everyone in Europe is aware of the talent that he possesses. Apart from being a vital link in their team, he is also making clever little moves into pockets of space or into the box.”

Mauricio Pochettino on taking his players out for dinner: “We need time for the players that we signed to engage with everyone, know everything. It’s only a few weeks that they are involved in the dynamic of the team, the club. You need time to create a good dynamic. Not only tactics but outside too. We had a dinner in a restaurant in London with all the staff and players that I invite, of course. I paid the bill at the end! That is important because you can say: ‘Tactics here in the morning’ or you prefer to go last night and put all the staff, the players and the chairman too in a restaurant. That is tactics too. It is so important, just as it is important to work on the pitch. To get to know each other better, to speak in a different way. That creates links between them, emotion.”

Prediction

Spurs will have too much going forward for West Ham’s shaky defense and they will relish not only an away day but also putting their poor recent record against West Ham to bed. Tottenham to win 3-1.

USMNT’s Danny Williams out injured for Huddersfield

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Potentially bad news has arrived  for Danny Williams as the U.S. national team midfielder has suffered an injury at the worst possible time.

[ MORE: JPW sits down with Williams ]

Williams, 28, has suffered a “small fracture” to a bone in his foot and will not play for Huddersfield at Burnley on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET online via NBCSports.com).

UPDATE: Pro Soccer Talk understands Williams’ injury will keep him out of action for about 2-3 weeks.

Speaking to reporters ahead of the trip to Turf Moor, Wagner gave some more information on Williams’ injury.

“Danny Williams has a small fracture in a bone in his foot. We have specialists appointment tomorrow[Friday] where we will get some information on how long he will be out,” Wagner said. “At the moment it is totally open because it is a very, very small fracture. So we will see. For sure he is out for Saturday.”

So, it doesn’t seem like a long-term injury but after Williams battled to start his first-ever start in the Premier League against Leicester City last week in a 1-1 draw, this knock has come at a very frustrating time for the German-American midfielder as he established himself at his new club.

Williams has battled hard to get into Huddersfield’s starting lineup after his free transfer from Reading over the summer.

Some USMNT fans were also calling for Williams to get a recall from Bruce Arena ahead of the U.S. national teams crucial 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Panama and Trinidad & Tobago next month.

The combative midfielder now faces an anxious wait about the severity of his injury.

Antonio Conte thanks Diego Costa after Chelsea departure

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These will likely be the final questions Antonio Conte faces about Diego Costa.

[ MORE: Liverpool’s Matip talks to JPW ]

On Thursday it was announced that Chelsea has sold their leading scorer in each of the past two seasons back to Atletico Madrid with a protracted fallout between Conte and Costa finally coming to a logical conclusion.

After Conte reportedly sent Costa a text message stating he was no longer needed at Chelsea, just days after they lifted the Premier League title together, the Brazilian born striker refused to return to preseason training and remained in Brazil with family as he demanded to be sold back to Atletic Madrid.

He was fined by the club but has finally got his wish with a $77 million move back to Atleti sealed for the 28-year-old who won two Premier League titles in three season at Chelsea but also brought controversy with him on many occasions as the bullish striker upset opponents and teammates alike.

Speaking at Stamford Bridge on Friday ahead of Chelsea’s trip to Stoke City on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET online via NBCSports.com) Conte thanked Costa for his efforts.

“About this issue, we want to thank him for what he did with this club. We wish him all the best for the future,” Conte said.

Asked about the deterioration of his own relationship with Costa and if his team will miss the goals of the Spanish international, Conte was less open.

“Now it is not important, I am not interested to continue talking about this issue,” Conte said. “I am working with my players and am happy to work them them. We must work and fight to win every competition. We are Chelsea and we need to try to do this in this season. We have to try to do our best in every competition. Our target is to do our best every day, every week, every month in this season.”

Stating multiple times that he was “not interested in talking about the past” and that only the current and building for the future was important, Conte did thank Costa once again and said he will remember the success they achieved together last season.

“I do not forget we won together last season,” Conte said. “For sure we want to thank him for his effort last season with us but not only last season, the period he played for Chelsea.”

With this saga now over, Chelsea will turn to Alvaro Morata and Michy Batshuayi to score the goals they need to be successful on all four fronts this season.

After recovering well from a sluggish start to the season it appears Conte’s decision to oust Costa will, long-term, be the correct one. Even though Morata has taken a little time to settle and Batshuayi blows hot and cold, the Blues have goals everywhere you look with Eden Hazard, Pedro, Willian and others able to chip in.

There’s only one Diego Costa and Conte must be somewhat relieved to see the back of him.