Another thrilling week of sport has passed us by in a flash and it is certainly worth a look back at some of the fabulous highlights.
1. Spieth shines in Southport
Having cruised through his opening 54 holes at Royal Birkdale, there were shades of 2016 at Augusta as Jordan Spieth struggled to find his form in the final round.
However, like all great champions, he got his game back exactly when he needed it, most notably in a magnificent run when after carding a miraculous bogey at the 13th, he picked up five strokes in four holes.
His Masters meltdown led to questions being asked of the 23-year-old, but he has now proved once and for all that he can come back from major setbacks. Spieth will now head to August’s US PGA Championship at Quail Hollow, where he is the 7/1 favourite, looking to become the youngest man to win the career Grand Slam.
2. Branden Graces the Open
In amongst all the Open drama, Branden Grace set a record by becoming the first man to card a 62 in a major championship. Eight birdies and no bogeys resulted in him surpassing the previous benchmark by a stroke to rightly grab the headlines.
Although he could not continue his form into the final round, Grace still managed a tie for sixth and now has top-10s in five of the last 10 majors. He will now be looking to tailor his form for the final major of the year and, having shown himself to be a man who saves his best form for the big stage, he could be one to watch at 50/1.
3. Fantastic Four for Froome
This year’s Tour de France had its fair share of drama but, perhaps predictably, it was Team Sky’s Chris Froome who again topped the podium.
The Brit arrived at the Tour with questions over his form and freely admitted he wanted to ride well while conserving enough energy to also win the Vuelta a Espana.
Froome’s fourth title leaves him just one maillot jaune behind the record of five shared by Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.
His next goal is to emulate Hinault, who was the last man to win both the Tour and Vuelta in a single season, with Froome currently the 2/3 favourite.
4. Barguil proves his class
Staying with the Tour and it was a particularly encouraging one for the hosts. France has not had a winner since the aforementioned Hinault in 1986, but Romain Bardet’s second straight podium suggests they may be edging closer while Warren Barguil’s performance also makes him a candidate.
The Team Sunweb rider lit up the race with his attacks in the mountains and in the end he was a deserved winner of the polka dot jersey. The 25-year-old’s win atop the Izoard was his second high mountains victory and showed he can hold off the big boys.
He is now 40/1 to win the Vuelta and despite finishing eighth in 2014, an outright win in Spain looks unlikely, but there is no reason to think he cannot add to the two stages he claimed at the race in 2013.
5. England’s women inspire a nation
Sunday at Lord’s saw a rare sight for English cricket as the women’s team became world champions by beating their Indian counterparts. After setting a modest target of 229, Anya Shrubsole was the hero, taking brilliant figures of 6-46.
The popularity of the tournament has led to talk of the ICC pushing for cricket to be included in the Olympics and the home victory has certainly put pressure on the men’s team ahead of their turn as tournament hosts in 2019.
The men are 4/1 to make it a double and given their current Test woes, targeting a first ever global title could prove a useful distraction.
6. Lionesses shaping up well
It’s not only the country’s female cricketers who are thriving, the footballers have also impressed. Mark Sampson’s side smashed Scotland 6-0 in their opening game at the European Championship in the Netherlands before edging out Spain 2-0 on Sunday.
A point or more in their final Group D match will guarantee top billing in the group and with the side slowly building momentum, they too could be about to emulate the country’s cricketers by claiming their first major title at 16/5.
7. Bengali the Boy for Fahey
On a busy day of racing on Saturday at Newbury, Bengali Boys lit up the Sprint Shield. Richard Fahey’s two-year-old strolled home in the end to give his trainer a third win in the race in five years after stablemate Maggies Angel had floundered.
It was by far the biggest victory of jockey Barry McHugh’s career and the pair are likely to team up again before the end of the season.
The Malton handler insists he has no immediate plans for his charge although a trip to Goodwood appears an obvious option, with the Molecomb Stakes on August 2 of particular interest.
8. Lukaku looking good for United
Although it is always dangerous to read too much into pre-season performances, Romelu Lukaku‘s goal for Manchester United in Thursday’s 2-0 win over local rivals City certainly bodes well.
Much has been made of the Belgian’s £75m move but he proved some of his doubters wrong as he swept home after beating Ederson to the ball.
There is no doubt the 24-year-old still has plenty to prove but having netted 25 Premier League goals for Everton last term, the 4/1 on offer for him to top the scoring charts in 2017-18 could prove an extremely shrewd shout.
9. Mendy makes it to Manchester
Speaking of City and they have also made a big signing in the form of Benjamin Mendy. The left-back was one of Monaco’s shining lights last term and the interest in him made it inevitable he would be snapped up.
The full-back areas have been grossly overlooked at the Etihad in recent years but it appears the club have seen the error of their ways by spending upwards of £100m on Mendy, Kyle Walker and Danilo.
All three are buccaneering, modern day full-backs and the width and energy they provide will only help the 9/5 favourites‘ title push.
10. Cas continue to impress
Despite the absence of leading tryscorer Greg Eden and at one stage having two men in the sin bin, Castleford once again got the job done on Saturday as they won 32-24 down at the Catalans.
It means they finished the regular season 10 points clear of Leeds and having won on their last 12 Super League outings, they are clearly the form team heading into the Super 8s, with a play-off spot all but guaranteed.
Eden is set to return from injury quicker than originally expected, which will have only brought a smile to coach Daryl Powell’s face, and with a fortnight off due to the Challenge Cup, his job now is to ensure his players don’t lose focus in their bid for a maiden Grand Final appearance.
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