TOKYO – Great Britain’s Paul Casey is in position to challenge for a medal Sunday in the final round of men’s golf at Kasumigaseki Country Club.

Casey, a former Arizona State golfer, shot 66 Saturday and is 12 under par through three rounds, two shots behind leader Xander Schauffele and one back of Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama.

“Tomorrow is a big deal,” Casey said. “It gets knocked quite a bit, doesn’t it? It’s why do we need it (Olympics) and all this kind of stuff. But the guys that are here are very aware of what this means.

“It’s been better than I could have imagined. It’s motivated me, it’s inspired me. It’s already been a win. I just hope it’s a really big win.”

Casey will try to join 2016 Olympic gold medalist Justin Rose, also from Britain, by earning a medal in golf’s second Games appearance after being out since 1904.

Slovakia’s Rory Sabbatini, who played in college at Arizona, is 7 under, tied for 17th.

Other Team Arizona results Saturday included:

— Sarah Sponcil of Phoenix and her beach volleyball teammate Kelly Claes rallied past a Brazilian team Saturday, moving undefeated into elimination matches at Shiokaze Park.

The Americans play Canada’s Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson in the round of 16 on Sunday.

Sponcil and Claes came from a set down to beat Brazil’s Ana Patricia Silva Ramos and Rebecca Silva 17-21, 21-19, 15-11.

They finished 3-0 in group play while Bansley and Wilkerson went 1-2 in their pool.

— Taylor Ruck of Scottsdale finished sixth in the women’s 200-meter backstroke for Canada on the next to last day of swimming at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre. 

Ruck, 21, still can come away from Tokyo with a second medal (and four overall in two Olympics) if Canada’s 4×100 medley relay places in the top three Sunday.

— ASU NCAA women’s discus champion Jorinde van Klinken of Netherlands was 14th in qualifying, two spots shy of qualifying for the final. She threw 61.15 meters, well off her 2021 world best 65.94 on May 20. 

Sage Watson, who ran for UA, advanced to the women’s 400-meter hurdles semifinals, in 55.54, 18th overall in the first round. 

Griner, Taurasi combine for 26 in U.S. basketball win over Japan

TOKYO – Phoenix Mercury teammates Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi combined for 26 points Friday in a U.S. women’s basketball win over Japan.

The U.S. trailed 30-28 after the first quarter at Saitama Super Arena then had a big second quarter (21-10) and steadily pulled away for its second win in Tokyo and 51st consecutive in the Olympics.

A’ja Wilson led the Americans with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Breanna Stewart also had a double-double (15/12), Griner scored 15, Jewell Loyd 12 and Taurasi 11.

Mercury guard Skylar Diggins-Smith did not play due to injury but did participate in warmups.

The U.S. completes pool play Monday against France, which won 87-62 over Nigeria (0-2).

Former Arizona State guard Promise Amukamara had a team high 11 points and three assists for Nigeria, which next plays Japan (1-1). Former Arizona forward Ify Ibekwe added five for the Nigerians.

Australia women’s basketball, coached by the Mercury’s Sandy Brondello, dropped to 0-2 with a 76-74 loss to China. The Opals next play Puerto Rico and must win to have a chance to make the quarterfinals. 

— Taylor Ruck of Scottsdale advanced to the women’s 200-meter backstroke final for Canada at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. She swam 2:08.73 in the semifinals and also was on the Canadian 4×100 medley relay that qualified first for the final in 3:55.17.

— On the first day of track at the Olympics, Rachel Schneider of Flagstaff was 17th in the women’s 5,000-meter first round in 15:00.07. She was two spots below qualifying for the final. 

— The men’s golf second round at Kasumigaseki Country Club was postponed due to weather conditions (it rained in some parts of Tokyo on Friday). 

Former ASU golfer Paul Casey is tied for seventh at minus 7 with one hole remaining in his round. Rory Sabbatini (Slovakia), who played in college at Arizona, is 6 under par.

American Xander Schauffele is the clubhouse leader at minus 11.

— Arizona Diamondbacks Triple-A pitcher Luis Castillo earned a save with one inning of relief with two strikeouts for the Dominican Republic in a 1-0 win over Mexico.

The Dominicans now are 1-1 after opening with a 4-3 loss to Japan.

The U.S. won its opener 8-1 over Israel (0-2). Ian Kinsler of Tucson/ASU was 0-of-4.

Sarah Sponcil, Kelly Claes advance easily in beach volleyball

TOKYO – Sarah Sponcil of Phoenix and Kelly Claes won easily in Olympic beach volleyball Thursday at Shiokaze Park.

They beat a Kenyan team 21-8, 21-6, improving to 2-0 ahead of their final pool match Saturday against Brazil’s Ana Patricia Silva Ramos and Rebecca Silva (1-1).

Sponcil and Claes are No. 3 in FIBV rankings, first among U.S. teams.

Other Team Arizona results Thursday included:

— Kia Nurse of the Phoenix Mercury scoring nine points for Canada women’s basketball, a 74-53 winner over South Korea. The Canadians improved to 1-1 ahead of a game against Spain on Sunday.

U.S. women’s basketball, with its Mercury trio of Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner and Skylar Diggins-Smith, goes to a 2-0 start Friday against Japan.

— In men’s BMX, Corben Sharrah of Tucson advanced to the semifinals, finishing fourth in his quarterfinal (one of three). Sharrah, 29, is in his second Olympics, finishing ninth at Rio in 2016.

— Men’s golf began at Kasumigaseki Country Club with England’s Paul Casey, who played in college at Arizona State, shooting 4-under 67. He is tied for eighth, four shots behind leader Sepp Straka of Austria.

“You could feel the tension out there, which is not normal,” Casey said. “It’s normally really cool, day in, day out. First round of anything, even a major, there’s a buzz, but there’s a jovialness, There’s maybe a little play that goes no between the players in the group. But it was like total business. That was quite interesting.”

Archer Brady Ellison wins first two individual matches

TOKYO – World No. 1-ranked recurve archer Brady Ellison won his first two Olympic individual matches Wednesday.

Ellison, seeded No. 2 in the 64-man bracket, took 6-0 decisions over Iran’s Milad Vaziri Teymoorlooe and India’s Pravin Jadhav at Yumenoshima Park.

The four-time Olympian from Globe-Miami advanced to the round of 16 and will shoot next Saturday when men’s individual medals will be decided.

Ellison, 32, was an individual bronze medalist at the 2016 Rio Olympics. He also has two team silver medals but has yet to win a medal in two tries (mixed, men’s team) in Tokyo.

— Also Wednesday, Team Arizona results included Hali Flickinger of Sun Devil Swimming qualifying second in the women’s 200-meter butterfly at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. 

Flickinger, already a bronze medalist in the 400 IM, will swim with a second Olympic medal at stake Thursday. 

France’s Leon Marchand, an Arizona State incoming freshman, was 18th in men’s 200 IM preliminaries, falling just short of making the semifinals.

— U.S. cyclist Brandon McNulty of Phoenix was 24th (first America) in the men’s individual time trial. He covered 44.2 miles at Fuji International Speedway in 59:57. Earlier, McNulty was sixth in the men’s road race.

— In a women’s tennis quarterfinal, the U.S. team of Bethanie Mattek-Sands of Phoenix and Jessica Pegula lost to Brazil’s Laura Pigossi and Luisa Stefani, 1-6, 6-3 (10-6). 

Then in mixed doubles, Mattek-Sands and Rajeev Ram fell to Germany’s Laura Siegemund and Kevin Krawietz in another third set tiebreaker, 6-4, 5-7 (10-8). Mattek-Sands was a mixed doubles gold medalist at the 2016 Rio Olympics. 

— The U.S. men’s rugby sevens team closed out its Olympics with a 21-14 win over Canada and 28-7 loss to South Africa in the 5/6 placement match. Brett Thompson and Maceo Brown, both of Tempe, played for the Americans, who finished with a 3-3 record.

— Olympic baseball play began with Japan edging Dominican Republic 4-3. Luis Castillo, who plays for the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Triple A team in Reno, Nevada, pitched one scoreless innings for the Dominicans.

UA diver Delaney Schnell wins silver medal in synchro 10-meter

TOKYO — Delaney Schnell of Tucson and partner Jessica Parratto won an Olympic silver medal in women’s synchronized 10-meter diving Tuesday.

Schnell, who dives in college at Arizona, and Parratto are the first U.S. Olympians in the event.

They scored 310.80, finishing between teams from China and Mexico at Tokyo Aquatics Centre.

“This is my first Olympics and my first event in the Olympics so for me I tried not to have expectations and just to enjoy every moment,” Schnell said.

“I went into this event very confident. The nerves weren’t really there, and I was like I have a really good feeling about this.”

Parratto said, “I didn’t know until pretty much the last dive. I feel like this event is always so close, so there’s always that team that’s kind of fighting to get almost a bronze. That’s kind of what my mindset was.

“But to come away with a silver is just mind blowing honestly. It just goes to show that if you stay focused and you’re confident, anything can happen.”

Schnell also will compete in 10-meter platform on Aug. 4.

“For me it’s been everything and more than I could have imagined even with COVID protocols,” she said. “I don’t feel that it’s been all that different from a standard Olympic Games other than there’s no spectators.

“We still have the village, we still have the food courts, we still have the access to all these things that we thought we wouldn’t. Really it’s having no expectation, that helped a lot.”

Also Tuesday, in another event with Team Arizona participants, the U.S. men’s rugby sevens team lost 17-12 to South Africa then 26-21 in a quarterfinal to Great Britain.

Brett Thompson of Tempe scored against South Africa.

The U.S. led 21-0 over Great Britain before suffering a loss that took it out of medal contention. 

Kia Nurse scores 16 in Canada women’s basketball loss

Olympic women’s basketball pool play began Monday although the U.S., with its trio of Phoenix Mercury players, doesn’t start until Tuesday against Nigeria.

Canada was in action Monday, falling 72-68 to Serbia at Saitama Super Arena.

Mercury wing Kia Nurse had 16 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists for Canada, which overcame an eight-point halftime deficit for a 45-45 tie at the end of the third quarter.

Arizona’s Shaina Pellington had two points in 13 minutes for the Canadians, who next play South Korea (0-1) on Thursday.

Australia, coached by the Mercury’s Sandy Brondello, opens against Belgium on Tuesday.

Other Monday results involving Team Arizona athletes included:

— Allison Schmitt of Sun Devil Swimming advancing to the 200-meter freestyle semifinals. She was 12th in the first round in 1:57.10.

Former ASU swimmer Richard Bohus was on Hungary’s fith-place 4×100 freestyle relay.

— The U.S. rugby sevens team started 2-0 by beating Kenya 19-14 then edging Ireland 19-17 at Tokyo Stadium. Maceo Brown and Brett Thompson, both of Tempe, are playing off the U.S. bench. Brown played on Grand Canyon’s club team.

— Sarah Sponcil of Phoenix and beach volleyball partner Kelly Claes opened with a 2-1 win over Lithuania’s Tina Graudina and Anastasija Kravcenoka. The Americans won 21-13, 16-21, 15-11 at Shiokaze Park and next face teams from Kenya on Thursday and Brazil on Saturday.

Sponcil and Claes are ranked third in the world, highest among Americans.

— Alana Smith, who grew up in Mesa skating at Kids That Rip with Jagger Eaton, had a rough day in women’s street skateboarding at Ariake Park. She was 20th of 20 in qualifying, a day after Eaton won a bronze medal in men’s street.

— Softball wraps up Tuesday, weather permitting, with the U.S. playing Japan for the first gold medal in the sport since 2008, when Japan upset the U.S. in the Beijing Olympic final.

In a final round robin game Monday, the U.S. edged Japan 2-1, setting the stage for a championship game that could be postponed by forecasted rain.

Late Monday, former Arizona State pitcher Dallas Escobedo threw a five-hit complete game for Mexico in a 4-1 win over Australia. That boosts Mexico (2-3) into the bronze medal game against Canada (3-2).

Former Sun Devils Chelsea Gonzales and Sashel Palacios each went 1-of-3 for Mexico.

Canada beat Mexico 4-0 on July 21. 

Brandon McNulty of Phoenix takes sixth in cycling road race

The U.S. didn’t win a medal on the first full day of the Olympics for the first time since 1972, but Phoenix cyclist Brandon McNulty came close Saturday.

McNulty, 23, took the lead late in the 234-kilometer men’s road race at Fuji International Speedway while dueling out front with Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz. When Carapaz surged with under 10K remaining, McNulty was left on his own then overtaken by the chase pack with less than 5K left.

Carapaz won in 6:05.26 followed by eight cyclists including McNulty coming in at 6:06.33.

Belgium’s Wout van Aert was at the head of that pack for the silver medal and Slovakia’s Tadej Pagacar took the bronze.

McNulty came to Toyko after finishing 69th in the Tour de France riding for UAE Team Emirates. He also is competing in the men’s individual time trial Wednesday.

Also Saturday for Team Arizona:

— Hali Flickinger of Sun Devil Swimming and incoming Arizona State freshman Leon Marchand advanced in 400-meter IM preliminaries.

Flickinger was fifth in 4:35.98 on the women’s side and Marchand seventh among the men in 4:10.09.

In women’s 4×100 free relay prelims, the Canadian team including Taylor Ruck of Scottsdale finished third (3:33.72) and the U.S. with Allison Schmitt of Sun Devil Swimming fifth (3:34.80).

— In softball, former Arizona catcher Dejah Mulipola made her Olympic debut, going 1-of-2 and scoring a run in a 2-0 U.S. win over Mexico.

Former ASU pitcher Dallas Escobedo (0-2) gave up both U.S. runs in two innings on the mound then was replaced by former UA pitcher Danielle O’Toole.

Former ASU players Chelsea Gonzales and Sashel Palacios were a combined 0-of-5 for Mexico, which dropped to 0-3. The U.S. improved to 3-0.

On Sunday, the U.S. plays Australia (1-2) in addition to Canada (2-1) vs. Japan (3-0) and Mexico vs. Italy (0-3).

— Former ASU water polo player Rowie Webster had a goal and an assist in an opening 8-5 win over Canada.

Webster, 33, is a three-time Olympian with a 2012 bronze medal.

Former Sun Devil Lena Mihailovic also played 4:24 for the Australians.

Flickinger, Marchand in 400 IM on swimming opening day

TOKYO — Hali Flickinger of Sun Devil Swimming will begin pursuit of her first Olympic medal Saturday when swimming competition begins at Tokyo Aquatics Centre.

Flickinger, 27, competes in the 400-meter IM heats. She was runner-up in the event at the U.S. Olympic Trials in June.

The women’s 400 IM final is Sunday. Semifinals and finals will be held in the morning in Tokyo for prime time TV coverage in the U.S.

Flickinger moved to Arizona to train with Arizona State coach Bob Bowman after the 2019 World Championships, where she was second in the 200 butterfly. She was seventh in the 200 fly at the 2016 Rio Olympics and also will swim that event in Tokyo.

“I was a little bit relieved that worked,” Bowman said of Flickinger’s training plan for the trials. “Now we have a pretty good picture of what we need to do between the trials and the Games, and she’s been training beautifully so I’m happy with that. She’s No. 2 in the world in both her events.”

ASU incoming freshman Leon Marchand will make his Olympic debut Saturday in the men’s 400 IM in a field that includes his soon to be ASU teammate Jared Arroyo swimming for Puerto Rico.

Marchand, 19, and Bowman, on the U.S. staff, actually will be meeting in person for the first time.

“I’m very excited about him (Marchand),” Bowman said. “He’s such a great young man and works very, very hard. He has high expectations for himself. I’ve never seen him swim live. I’ve only seen him on videos. It will be nice to actually shake his hand or fist bump or whatever we’re allowed to do. He’s a game changer for us (at ASU).”

Archer Brady Ellison begins pursuit of three medals 

TOKYO — Brady Ellison, going into the Olympics ranked world No. 1 in men’s recurve archery, begins his bid for three medals Friday.

Ellison, 32, of Globe-Miami, is competing in his fourth Olympics and has three medals, two team silvers and an individual bronze. He is an individual gold medal contender in Tokyo and also will compete in men’s team and the new mixed team event.

First up is the men’s ranking round Friday at Yumenoshima Ranking Field. Ellison set the world ranking round record of 702 in August 2019. The Olympic ranking round record is 700, set at Rio in 2016 by Korea’s Kim Woojin.

“Everything is going well so far,” Ellison said. “We’re dealing with the heat and humidity. Humidity hasn’t been too bad but picked up the other day and you could see the whole entire field starting to feel it. The finals field feels about 10-15 degrees hotter than the actual practice field so that’s interesting.

“There’s a tricky wind that keeps switching left and right, left and right and it’s hard to see a lot of that.  I’m expecting pretty good scores in the finals venue because the wind’s not too bad there. It picks up for sure, but it’s a lot more manageable. When the wind switches, you may not shoot 8s, you might just shoot a 9 on those misses. 

“The team is firing good. We’re all shooting good, having fun and everything’s going pretty good.”

The mixed team competition through the medals will be contested Saturday with the U.S. team to be made official after the rankings rounds Friday.

Mexico, O’Toole take softball loss in extra innings 

TOKYO — Former Arizona pitcher Danielle O’Toole threw a complete game for Mexico on Thursday in a 3-2 extra-inning Olympic softball loss to Japan.

O’Toole, who formerly pitched for the U.S. national team, gave up five hits over 7 1/3 innings at Fukushima Azuma Stadium.

Japan (2-0) pushed across the winning run on a bunt single by Mana Atsumi, scoring Eri Yamada, who started the eighth on second base.

Anissa Urtez homered for Mexico (0-2) in the fifth and drove in a tying run in the seventh for 2-2.

In the top of the eighth, Mexico had runners on second and third with no outs but failed to score. Former ASU infielder Chelsea Gonzales went 0-of-4 including a strikeout in the eighth.

In other softball games Thursday, the U.S. (2-0) won 1-0 over Canada (1-1) and Australia (1-1) won 1-0 over Italy (0-2).

On Saturday, Mexico faces the U.S. in addition to Australia vs. Canada and Japan vs. Italy. Round robin play continues Sunday and Monday before bronze- and gold-medal games Tuesday, the first medals awarded in the sport since 2008.

Mexico softball falls 4-0 to Canada in Olympic opener

TOKYO — Two days before the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony, competition began in soccer and softball, the latter returning for the first time since 2008.

Former Arizona State pitcher Dallas Escobedo allowed two runs in the first inning at Fukushima Azuma Stadium in Mexico’s 4-0 loss to Canada.

Canadian pitcher Sara Groenewegen threw a no-hitter for four innings before leaving with a four-run lead, replaced by Jenna Caira then Danielle Lawrie. 

Mexico finished with two hits, neither by former ASU players Chelsea Gonzales or Sashel Palacios. Taylor McQuillin, out of UA, pitched after Escobedo for 1 2/3 innings.

The U.S. softball team shut out Italy 2-0 and Japan won 8-1 over Australia. UA’s Giulia Koutsoyanopulos went 0-of-2, both strikeouts, for Italy, which managed just one hit in six innings off Cat Osterman. Monica Abbott pitched the seventh for the U.S. 

Dejah Mulipola, who just finished her UA career, did not play for the U.S. 

On Thursday, the U.S. plays Canada followed by Mexico vs. Japan and Italy vs. Australia. 

Julie Ertz sits out first half of U.S. women’s soccer loss 

TOYKO — Arizona native Julie Ertz sat out the first half of the U.S. soccer team’s loss to Sweden on Wednesday in its Olympic opener.

Midfielder Ertz had been recovering from a knee injury. She played all of the second half after Sweden led 1-0 at halftime. 

The Americans lost for a second straight Olympics to Sweden, falling in the quarterfinals at Rio in 2016. They next play New Zealand on Wednesday. 

It was the first loss for the U.S. national team since January 2019, ending a 44-match unbeaten streak. 

More: Team Arizona carrying its highest profile into Tokyo Olympics

More: 10 to watch: For Diana Taurasi, ‘longevity is no coincidence’ as she chases 5th Olympic gold

More: Team Arizona: Tokyo Olympics medal winners

More: Building Team Arizona for Tokyo Olympics: Local connections in Summer Games

More: Distance runner Abdi Abdirahman returning for fifth Olympics at age 44

More: ASU, UA will duel for medals at Tokyo Olympics with equal representation

Reach the reporter at [email protected] or 602-444-8053. Follow him on Twitter @jeffmetcalfe.

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