If you thought the Premier League scores were out of the ordinary this weekend, that was nothing on the unusual conditions golfers had to endure at the Scottish Open, or the changes England coach Eddie Jones has been forced into ahead of the resumption of international rugby later this month. Here’s five sport stories you might have missed...
Fleetwood beaten at Baltic Scottish Open
We all know the jokes about Scottish weather, ‘I wasn’t around for the summer this year, I went away for the weekend’. That type of thing.
Well, with Covid-19 meaning a change to the golfing calendar in 2020 the Scottish Open was switched from its usual spot in the middle of July to the beginning of October for one year only. And that, inevitably, brought its problems.
With freezing conditions, torrential rain, descending early darkness and even delays caused by the greenkeepers needing to sweep water off the 18th green, this was a tournament like no other. All of which, in many ways, made winning the thing an even greater achievement than usual.
So while Ian Poulter was left joining a number of players bemoaning the conditions, saying “This was as tough a day as I’ve seen on a golf course in 21 years as a pro. You’re trying to hold onto a golf club, not trying to hit golf shots,” Aaron Rai’s play-off win against Tommy Fleetwood will go down as one of the hardest-fought victories in recent times.
Djokovic v Line Judges II: This time it’s verbal
Just a few weeks on from his shocking disqualification from the US Open, World number one Novak Djokovic has launched another attack on line judges. But this time things didn’t get so physical.
The Serb infamously put paid to his hopes of lifting a fourth US title in September when his frustrated smash after losing a point during his fourth-round clash with Pablo Carreno Busta ended up hitting a line judge in the throat, resulting in him defaulting the match and being eliminated from the competition.
But at the French Open on Saturday he was championing the removal of line judges altogether, claiming that Hawkeye technology is now good enough to rely entirely on the digital aid at the loss of human officials on court.
“With all respect for the tradition and the culture we have in this sport, when it comes to people present on the court during a match, including line judges I really don’t see a reason why every single tournament in the world, in this technologically-advanced era, would not have what we had during the Cincinnati and New York tournaments,” said Djokovic following his third-round win over Daniel Galan.
Djokovic will be back on court – accompanied by the line judges, much to his chagrin – on Monday against Karen Khachanov.
NBA Finals Heat Up As Miami Look To Ruin Lakers Party
While the cold grabbed the headlines at the Renaissance club, the Heat brought the NBA Finals to life over in the United States. Miami Heat’s 115-104 win in Game 3 of the basketball championship ensured a sustained interest just as the star-studded Los Angeles Lakers were looking set to run away with a first title in 10 years.
Jimmy Butler, who had already top-scored in Games 1 and 2 for the Heat, outdid himself in the latest match-up, grabbing 40 points and adding the most rebounds (11) and most assists (13) of anybody on the court.
Having lost guard Goran Dragic and centre Bam Adebayo during Game 1, many expected that the Heat might go down quietly in the best-of-seven series, but Butler’s heroics have helped to make it a real contest.
While LeBron James again top-scored for the Lakers, they will be hoping for a better showing in Tuesday night’s Game 4 as they look to move within one victory of clinching the world-famous franchise’s 17th championship.
Eddie Packs A Dozen New Caps For His Trip To Rome
With an unusual calendar ahead to say the least, Eddie Jones has called up a dozen uncapped players ahead of England’s autumn schedule, which includes their Six Nations finale against Italy.
Having got four-fifths of the way through their Six Nations campaign back at the beginning of the year, England had their trip to Rome postponed as Covid-19 began to bring a halt to the sporting calendar back in March. But that game will now take place on 31 October, six days on from a friendly match against the Barbarians at Twickenham.
And with a packed domestic schedule to compete with, Jones has been forced into a number of changes to his usual squad. Six of the Premiership’s 12 clubs have rendered their players unavailable for international rugby, meaning the likes of Harlequins trio Nathan Earle, Alex Dombrandt and Simon Kerrod, and Northampton’s Fraser Dingwall and David Ribbans have received maiden call-ups.
Jones is hoping to be back up to something like full strength by the time the autumn international series begins with a clash against Georgia at HQ on 14 November.
Arsenal’s Covid-induced cost-cutting measures have claimed their highest-profile casualty yet. No, not Mikel Arteta. More important than that. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang? Nope, more iconic even than him. Yes, that’s right… Gunnersaurus is a goner.
The north London club caused a stir earlier this summer when they announced that 55 staff members would be laid off due to shortfalls brought about by the coronavirus crisis, with the lack of matchday revenue resulting in a need to shed some payroll.
And, with no crowds to entertain right now, the Gunners have now decided to part ways with Jerry Quy, the man inside the Gunnersaurus costume, after 27 years in the gig. Jerry had been doing his usual skit from home via video during Project Restart, but the continued suspension of in-stadium attendance has led to an inevitable call being made on his future.
Fans of all ages will be horrified, with kids learning potentially for the first time that Gunnersaurus isn’t real and adults upset that the beloved mascot has gone, but some of their less-convincing first-team players are still around.