McIlroy begins US PGA conquest, Lampard’s Derby stun Leeds in thriller

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Ireland defender Richard Keogh celebrates Derby’s win over Leeds with Jack Marriott. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA

Ireland defender Richard Keogh celebrates Derby’s win over Leeds with Jack Marriott. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA

The opening round of the 2019 US PGA Championship gets underway today, with New York’s devilishly difficult Bethpage Black the setting for the year’s second Major. There are four Irish golfers in the field - Shane Lowry (12.29pm), Graeme McDowell (12.51pm), Pádraig Harrington (6.05pm) and Rory McIlroy (6.38pm). The latter is bidding to lift the famous Wannamaker Trophy for a third time, and end his five year drought in the Majors - but it won’t be easy. From New York, Philip Reid writes: “If reputations are meant to instil fear, then this notoriously difficult layout, which is set to test the mental strength, shot-making and physical fibre of each and every player in the field, has claimed some sort of hierarchal place.” But the course layout should, in theory, be suited to McIlroy’s game - especially off the tee: “And so, a certain type of player has an edge: long, straight. Those golfing bombers who like to flex their muscles. Think Brooks Koepka. Think Dustin Johnson. Think McIlroy.” You can follow all four rounds of the tournament via the Irish Times liveblog, which will be running from around 1pm this afternoon.

Elsewhere Leeds United’s long exile from the top flight of English football will continue, after they were beaten 4-2 by Derby County at Elland Road last night - the Rams progressing to the Championship playoff final after a 4-3 aggregate win. The hosts had looked destined for Wembley after Stuart Dallas gave them a 24th-minute lead but Frank Lampard’s side staged a stunning comeback, with Jack Marriott’s 85th-minute goal meaning they became the first side in playoff history to progress having lost the first leg at home.

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