VYSOKY UJEZD, Czech Republic – Callum Shinkwin shot an opening 6-under 66 Thursday to take the lead at the D+D Real Czech Masters. After finishing second last month at the Scottish Open – his best result on the European Tour so far – the 24-year-old Englishman opened with a birdie at the Albatross Golf Resort near Prague. Enjoying sunny conditions early in the day that changed to rain later, Shinkwin dropped one shot at the third hole and another on No. 14 but also added seven more birdies for a one-stroke lead. ”It was very good today,” Shinkwin said. ”My iron play to be fair was probably my strongest part but everything was good, and if everything is good you can’t really score bad.” Full-field scores from the D+D Real Czech Masters Pontus Widegren of Sweden, South African Dylan Frittelli and another Englishman James Heath are all tied in second after carding 67. A group of eight, including American Julian Suri who won the Made in Denmark event on Sunday, is one stroke behind them. Paul Peterson of the United States opened the defense of his title with a 3-under 69. Starting on the back-nine, Eddie Pepperell eagled the par-5 No. 12 and added four birdies to join fellow Englishman Shinkwin at the top of the leaderboard before falling back with a couple of double-bogeys on the front nine to finish with 69. The Czech event marks the beginning of a year-long qualification process for an automatic spot on Europe’s team for the 2018 Ryder Cup.
TALLADEGA, Ala. — Stewart-Haas Racing renewed its partnership with Aric Almirola and Smithfield Foods earlier this week, maintaining the driver-sponsor combination on the No. 10 Ford Mustang in the NASCAR Cup Series for 2020.The partnership started back in 2012 in Almirola’s first full-time year in the NASCAR Cup Series. “Having a sponsor in this day and age is pretty critical,” Almirola said Friday at Talladega Superspeedway. “We knew it was going to happen, just a matter of dotting all the I’s and crossing all the T’s.”Almirola declined to reveal the terms and length of the renewal, which have not been made public.When asked if this renewal provides more job security and a look into his future, Almirola said performance was still the ultimate goal.“We haven’t had the year we had last year and that’s just part of the sport,” said Almirola, who was eliminated from the playoff picture after the Round of 16. “Not the year we wanted but we’re going to continue to strive for success and move the needle.”Almirola is the defending race winner at Talladega, where he claimed a victory that locked him into the Round of 8 for the 2018 NASCAR Playoffs.RELATED: Almirola, Smithfield back at SHR