The Sports Matrix: Friday 15 July 2011

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The Independent Online

Bjorn banishes 2003 ghosts

Thomas Bjorn, who dramatically lost a lead at the 2003 Open at Sandwich, held the joint lead last night. “It was eight years ago. It’s in the past,” he said, after birdieing the 16th hole – his nemesis in 2003. MORE

Strauss: Somerset game is no gamble

Andrew Strauss will play for Somerset today in a guest appearance designed to get him back into form, as well as allowing him a look at India. “It’s not a gamble,” said Strauss. “I haven’t played for three weeks so it was crucial for me to play.” MORE

Fletcher excited to take on England

Duncan Fletcher is pleased to be coaching as he prepares India to play England. “It’s strange being back in this role,” he said. “When I left England I didn’t think I’d be back involved in this way. But I got the bug again.” MORE

Donald fails to build on start

Luke Donald carded 71 yesterday, a disappointment after a promising opening half of 34. Perhaps fortunately, the world No 1 had less attention on him, since he was playing behind a certain Rory McIlroy. MORE

Somerset tough out draw with Notts

Nottinghamshire’s match with Somerset petered out into a draw yesterday. There might have been a result, when Somerset led by 250 with 50 overs left, but they batted on and set Nottinghamshire 321 in 34 overs, and both captains took the draw. MORE

Molinari: 69 is a good day’s work

i columnist Edoardo Molinari writes that his round of 69 “is a good day’s work”. “If you had offered me a 69 before I had started I would certainly have taken it,” he writes, “this is a very difficult golf course.” MORE

GB Athletics team to miss ceremony

Charles van Commenee, head coach of UK Athletics, said that no Team GB track and field athletes will be involved in the opening ceremony London 2012. “It does not fit in with their professional preparation for the Games,” explained the Dutchman. MORE

Liverpool close on Villa’s Downing

Liverpool are close to clinching a £20m move for Stewart Downing. “It’s a terrific signing, there’s no doubt about that whatsoever,” said Jamie Carragher of the England winger. “He will make a difference.” MORE

Contador wilts in the mountains

Alberto Contador’s struggled on the slopes of Luz Ardiden yesterday, being out-run by Cadel Evans, Ivan Basso and the Schleck brothers, finishing the stage in eighth. He is now seventh overall, four minutes behind leader Thomas Voeckler. MORE

England hope for Spain friendly

Fabio Capello is planning for England to play world champions Spain in February as part of their Euro 2012 preparations. The friendly at Wembley would be the last game before Capello’s squad would be announced. MORE

Young amateur Lewis shares lead

The English amateur Tom Lewis holds the joint lead after the first round of the Open. The 20-year-old from Welwyn matched Thomas Bjorn’s five-under-par round of 65 on at Sandwich, in which early favourite Rory McIlroy recorded a one-over round of 71. For most of the day Bjorn was ahead, on the course where his meltdown in the 2003 Open handed the title to Ben Curtis. The Dane broke down in tears at the end of his round, because of the recent death of his father. “He meant a lot to me,” he said. “He would have been very proud of what I did today.” The bigger story was yet to come though, as Lewis, playing with the man after whom he was named, the 61-year-old five-times Open champion Tom Watson, produced a remarkable debut round at a major. MORE

Opinion: James Lawton

Rory McIlroy breathed in considerable relief yesterday; that he was back in the ring and doing what comes most naturally to him. He produced the resolution of a proven champion, pulling back after two early bogeys. MORE

Wigan’s Hoffman to return home

Wigan have failed to persuade their Australian forward Ryan Hoffman to extend his stay. Hoffman has agreed a three-year deal with Melbourne Storm, the club he left at the end of last season. He was only signed on a one-year deal at Wigan. MORE

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