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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.

Vidal rips Ronaldo ahead of Confederations Cup semifinal

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Chile hopes to make a statement on Wednesday when it faces EURO 2016 champions Portugal and Ballon d’Or champion Cristiano Ronaldo.

The 2015 and 2016 Copa America champions can lay claim to another inter-confederation title with two more wins in the 2017 Confederations Cup, beginning with the semifinal in Kazan.

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Chile finished behind Germany in Group B but didn’t lose a match and only allowed two goals. That’ll be tested by Portugal and its seven goals in three matches.

Two of those goals came from Ronaldo, but don’t tell that to Arturo Vidal. Chile’s hard-edged midfielder doesn’t like him much.

From Goal.com:

“Cristiano is a smart ass,” he told reporters. “For me he does not exist.

“I have already told my Bayern Munich team-mate Joshua Kimmich that we will meet again in the final.”

Germany will have to take care of Mexico to make that happen, though we have a feeling a certain smart ass will have a thing or two to say before it’s all said and done.

Vidal has spoken loudly of his desire to get Chilean teammate Alexis Sanchez, a former Barcelona man, at his club Bayern Munich. If Ronaldo is on the market, this isn’t a great recruiting tool. Ah, jokes.

Trio of Crew players in Ghana roster to face USMNT, Mexico

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Ghana’s team to face the United States men’s national team on Saturday in East Hartford will look somewhat familiar to fans of Major League Soccer.

Columbus Crew players Harrison Afful, Mohammed Abu and Jonathan Mensah join David Accam of the Chicago Fire, and Gershon Koffie of the New England Revolution on a unit with Kwadwo Poku of the NASL’s Kwadwo Poku.

John Boye, Asamoah Gyan, and Mensah are the only three players from the loss to the USMNT in the 2014 World Cup.

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Like the U.S., this is a less than full-strength squad. Missing are a number of Black Stars standouts, with Andre Ayew, Jordan Ayew, Afriyie Acquah, Daniel Amartey, Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu, Christian Atsu, Jeff Schlupp, and Baba Rahman not with the team.

Saturday’s match is the last USMNT outing before the Gold Cup begins on July 8 in Nashville against Panama.

Goalkeepers: Addo Joseph (Aduana Stars), Richard Ofori (Wa All Stars)

Defenders: Lumor Agbenyenu (Munich 1860), Harrison Afful (Columbus Crew),  Nicholas Opoku (Berekum Chelsea), Jerry Akaminko (Eskiserhispor),  John Boye (Sivasspor), Rashid Sumalia (Al Gharafa), Jonathan Mensah (Columbus Crew), Samuel Sarfo (Liberty)

Midfielders: Mohammed Abu (Columbus Crew, Isaac Sackey (Alanyaspor), Ofori Ebenezer (Stuttgart), Kwadwo Poku (FC Miami), Winful Kwaku Cobbinah (Hearts of Oak), Frank Acheampong (Anderlecht), Thomas Agyepong (NAC Breda), Gershon Koffie (New England Revolution)

Strikers: Asamoah Gyan (Al Alhi), Raphael Dwamena (FC Zurich), Majeed Abdul Waris (Lorient FC), David Accam (Chicago Fire)

Timo Werner abused in Germany but key to World Cup defense

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SOCHI, Russia (AP) The abuse has followed Timo Werner for months, gathering pace as rapidly as the striker has amassed goals.

No German player was more prolific in the Bundesliga last season. No player was as ostracized.

But Werner is now a full-blown Germany international, scoring his first goals at the Confederations Cup on Sunday, and he could hold the key to the World Cup defense next year.

[ MORE: USMNT’s 23-man roster questions ]

That could require Germany supporters to forgive a player they jeered at during his first competitive game for Joachim Loew’s team earlier this month.

“Kobe Bryant has also been booed everywhere and he always been the best,” Werner reflected ahead of Germany’s Confederations Cup semifinal against Mexico on Thursday, seeing a kindred spirit in the basketball great. “I do not want to say that I am the best like him, but (the abuse) is a bit of an incentive.”

If playing for the ascendant but deeply unpopular Leipzig wasn’t bad enough, a dive in December by Werner provided a focal point for the animosity – jealousy, perhaps – toward the Red Bull-funded team.

The insults have even been hurled far from Germany, far from soccer stadiums. The dive won a penalty against Schalke, and provided Werner with one of the 21 goals that helped to propel Leipzig into second place and a Champions League debut next season.

“There was a dive, he made a mistake and he admitted it,” Loew said, “but he is very, very young player.”

And a potentially very important one for Loew at the World Cup in Russia next year. Germany’s striking options are being assessed at the eight-team Confederations Cup as Loew still seeks a long-term successor to Miroslav Klose as target man for the world champions.

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Werner opened his account for Germany on his fourth appearance, scoring twice in a 3-1 victory over Cameroon on Sunday in Sochi.

“Werner put in a lot of legwork,” Loew said. “He showed how dangerous he is and that he’s got a great nose for goal. Both of his efforts were very well taken.”

Werner’s rivals for a place in the squad next year include fellow squad newcomers Lars Stindl and Sandro Wagner. They are both close to 30, while the 21-year-old Werner has youth, strength and speed on his side. Even Wagner said he has “never seen such a good striker at that age.”

That’s a result of Werner fusing his pace with intelligence on the ball, mastering dribbling at high speed first with Stuttgart and then at Leipzig.

“There’s no recipe for it,” Werner said. “The quickest players just know how to do it automatically. I like to knock the ball three or four meters ahead of me when I’m on the counter or have space in front of me, that way I can increase the distance between a defender and myself.”

Such proficiency should help Werner win over fans beyond Leipzig. Time, he hopes, will heal the fractures, and there’s certainly support from his new international teammates.

“I wish him well because of the issues he has had to endure,” captain Julian Draxler told Germany’s ARD television.

Rob Harris is at http://www.twitter.com/RobHarris and http://www.facebook.com/RobHarrisReports

More AP Confederations Cup coverage: http://www.apnews.com/tag/ConfederationsCup

USMNT Gold Cup 23-man roster leaves some questions

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We have Bruce Arena’s 23-man United States men’s national roster for the Gold Cup, and there are more than a few surprises left out of the bunch.

Often a chance to experiment, those who thought this year’s Gold Cup roster would be one aimed at reclaiming glory with authority may be surprised to see the status quo.

Jurgen Klinsmann brought most of his big guns to the 2015 party — which didn’t go well for Brad Guzan and Co. — but Arena will roll into this summer’s tournament without most of his big names. There’s no Geoff Cameron, John Brooks, Michael Bradley, Christian Pulisic, Clint Dempsey, nor Jozy Altidore.

Those aren’t huge surprises, though who Arena neglected from his original 40-man short list is a bit of a shock to the system (Players can be called into the mix after the group stage, which is a fairly simple affair for the USMNT to navigate versus Panama, Martinique, and Nicagarua).

Arena is going with Brad Guzan, Sean Johnson, and Bill Hamid in a trio that fails to impress. Hamid does have a big crowd of fans who’d like to see him get a chance to assert himself as the future, and hopefully either Johnson or Hamid finds time between the sticks against a serious opponent like Panama. No surprise that Tim Howard and Joe Bendik didn’t leap into the trio (EDIT: This post initially questioned the omission of Jesse Gonzalez, but his one-time switch from Mexico to the USMNT has yet to go through).

We’ll ignore the omission of Danny Williams for the most part considering he was absent from the 40-man list, but he must have said something seriously awful to Arena or someone at U.S. soccer.

The group of forwards leaves little to complain about, as Juan Agudelo and Dom Dwyer very much deserve their chances to compete for playing time with Sounders star Jordan Morris, but the midfield provides some head-scratching. Gyasi Zardes may be a longtime Arena favorite, but the Galaxy man has been ice cold in MLS. The 25-year-old has a single assist in almost 1000 minutes of play this season, and that came back on April 8. Tommy McNamara has not lighting the league on fire and Chris Pontius and his six assists are 30 years old, so much of the grief should be directed at the 40-man again, but Zardes has to embrace this opportunity. And maybe it’s a way to help the Galaxy and Zardes get a little mojo.

As an aside, Wil Trapp is among leaders in several MLS passing stats, which leads me to believe Arena is going to play Dax McCarty and Kellyn Acosta a ton and doesn’t see much of a need for Trapp in this tournament, not ever.

Defenders Steve Birnbaum and Jonathan Spector were not rewarded with looks, though Graham Zusi was included in what must be an arm reaching out for USMNT experience. Birnbaum is leading MLS in aerials won per game and Spector is by far Orlando’s top rated player since returning from England. Yes, Spector is 31 but this is about still qualifying for next summer’s World Cup, not the 2022 cycle. Spare a thought for Matt Polster, who has been decent since returning from a knee strain. This is nothing against Zusi, a consummate professional who won’t kill the team by any means and will be an tremendous asset in leadership.

What about you? Any other gripes? Or do you love the bunch?