CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Rory McIlroy found his comfort zone at Quail Hollow and left with a trophy he badly needed.
McIlroy closed with a 3-under 68 and made it tough on himself at the end Sunday, driving into the hazard left of the 18th fairway and needing two putts from 45 feet for a one-shot victory in the Wells Fargo Championship.
What mattered was ending 18 months since his last victory in the HSBC Champions in Shanghai, along with finding a strong semblance of his game as he prepares to return to Kiawah Island for the PGA Championship.
McIlroy seized control with two splendid bunker shots, getting up-and-down for birdie on the reachable par-4 14th and the par-5 15th, and then holding on at the end.
Abraham Ancer ran off three straight birdies and nearly closed with a fourth one, posting a 66 for a runner-up finish, the fourth of his career as the Mexican seeks his first PGA Tour title.
McIlroy finished at 10-under 274 for his 19th career victory, and his third at Quail Hollow.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - Alex Cejka won the Regions Tradition on Sunday in only his third PGA Tour Champions start, beating defending champion Steve Stricker with a birdie on the first hole of a playoff.
A childhood refugee from communist Czechlosovokia (now the Czech Republic), the 50-year-old Cejka made a 10-foot birdie putt on No. 18 and Stricker missed an 8-footer with a chance to extend the playoff at Greystone Golf & Country Club.
Cejka had turned a three-stroke deficit into a two-shot lead over the final nine holes for a 5-under 67. His winning putt was from a similar spot to the one Stricker made for birdie in regulation to force the playoff.
Stricker, who won the last time the event was held in 2019, closed with a 68 to match Cejka at 18-under 270.
JUNO BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Austin Eckroat and Pierceson Coody got the United States off to a fast start, and Cole Hammer and Stewart Hagestad finished off Great Britain & Ireland in the Walker Cup.
Ricky Castillo won again, too, and the Americans took five of the 10 afternoon singles matches and tied another at Seminole Golf Club for a 14-12 victory.
The Americans won for the third straight time to take a 38-9-1 lead in the biennial event first played in 1922.
PATTAYA, Thailand (AP) - Ariya Jutanugarn closed with a 9-under 63 to win the Honda LPGA Thailand by a stroke and become the first home winner in 14 years.
Jutanugarn won her 11th LPGA Tour title and first since July 2018. She finished at 22-under 266 to edge fellow Thai Atthaya Thitikul, the 18-year-old who missed a 4-foot birdie putt at the last to force a playoff.
Patty Tavatanakit, the 54-hole leader and winner of the first LPGA Tour major of the year, closed with a 70 to tie for third with Angel Yin (66), three-time Thailand winner Amy Yang (64) and So Yeon Ryu (64).
DARLINGTON, S.C. (AP) - Martin Truex Jr. got nervous in a hurry near the end of his dominating drive at Darlington Raceway. Barely pushed much of the race, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver suddenly saw Kyle Larson catching up in the closing laps.
Truex, though, called on his steady demeanor and track focus to pull away for his third NASCAR Cup Series victory this season.
The victory gave Truex some payback at Darlington from the last time here last September, when he led 196 laps, yet finished 22nd after tangling for the lead late with Chase Elliott. This time, Truex made sure he had no issues by running out front - often holding a 10-second lead on the field - to win for the second time at the track “Too Tough To Tame.”
Truex led 248 of the 293 laps for his 30th career victory in NASCAR’s top series. He’s the only driver with multiple wins over the year’s first 12 races.
Truex Took control midway through the first of three stages, moving in front on a restart and settling in for a long ride up front. Truex led the final 21 laps to take the first stage, then the last 36 as he collected the second stage win by some 14 seconds over his JGR teammate Kyle Busch. Truex broke out when racing resumed for the final stage and easily managed a couple of rounds of green-flag pits stops to stay ahead.
Larson was second with Busch third.
TRACK & FIELD
WALNUT, Calif. (AP) - Seattle Seahawks receiver DK Metcalf couldn’t catch the field in his heat of a 100-meter race at the USA Track and Field Golden Games on Sunday, finishing ninth out of nine but in a respectable time of 10.37 seconds.
Although Metcalf didn’t earn a spot in the final, he did pick up the respect of sprinters who were out to prove that track speed was far different from football fast.
Wearing earrings and a gold necklace, Metcalf burst out of the blocks in fine fashion. He wasn’t left behind either and pretty much kept in the mix until the finish line. The winner of his heat was Cravon Gillespie, who finished in 10.11 seconds to barely edge Mike Rodgers and went on to win the race.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - John Tortorella is out as coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets after six seasons.
General manager Jarmo Kekalainen said in a statement that parting ways with the winningest coach in franchise history was a mutual decision.
The 62-year-old Tortorella was in the last year of his contract, and the separation wasn’t a surprise after a tumultuous season that saw the Blue Jackets plunge to last place in their division amid the coach’s admitted failure to influence the team culture.
The Blue Jackets went 227-166-54 under Tortorella, including a franchise-best 50-24-8 finish in 2016-17. But the wheels fell off during a terrible 2020-21 season (18-26-12).
The Blue Jackets were unable to win consistently but managed to stay within striking distance of a playoff spot in the Central Division until late March when the losses began piling up.
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) - Coach Rick Tocchet won’t return for a fifth season with the Arizona Coyotes, the team announced, saying the sides “mutually agreed to part ways.”
The move comes after the Coyotes missed the playoffs for the seventh time in eight seasons.
The Coyotes reached the postseason last year when the format was rejiggered due to the coronavirus pandemic and beat Nashville in four games before losing to Colorado in five.
Arizona was in playoff position heading into the final month of the 2020-21 season, holding the fourth spot in the West Division before losing 12 of 15 games to get eliminated. The Coyotes closed a 24-26-6 season with a pair of wins over San Jose to finish three points behind St. Louis for the West’s final playoff spot.
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