US sweeps Solheim Cup fourball matches, takes 3-point lead

Lizette Salas of Team USA celebrates her putt to win the match 6 and 5 on the 13th hole during the afternoon fourball matches of the Solheim Cup at the Des Moines Golf and Country Club on Friday in West Des Moines, Iowa. (AFP)
Updated 19 August 2017

US sweeps Solheim Cup fourball matches, takes 3-point lead

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa: The favored Americans found themselves trailing Europe after a sluggish start to the Solheim Cup.
The US settled down on Friday afternoon, pulling away with a record-setting fourball performance.
The US swept the afternoon fourball matches to take a 5 1/2-2 1/2 lead at Des Moines Golf and Country Club.
Lizette Salas and US newcomer Danielle Kang each won two matches, teaming to beat Carlota Ciganda and Caroline Masson 1 up for the Americans’ lone full point in the morning foursomes, then leading the US to its first ever fourball sweep in the afternoon.
“This is the history we really don’t want. We want the history on Sunday night. We want the Cup,” US captain Juli Inkster said. “We’ve got a lot of work (ahead). I know (European captain) Annika (Sorenstam) is going to get that team fired up.”
Salas and rookie Angel Yin routed Ciganda and Emily Pedersen 6 and 5, and Kang and Michelle Wie topped Madelene Sagstrom and Jodi Ewart Shadoff 3 and 1.
In the other fourball matches, Brittany Lincicome and Brittany Lang beat Masson and Florentyna Parker 3 and 2, and Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller edged Charley Hull and Georgia Hall 2 and 1.
In the morning foursomes, Americans Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson rallied to halve with Hull and Mel Reid. For Europe, Hall and Anna Nordqvist beat Paula Creamer and Austin Ernst 3 and 1, and Karine Icher and Catriona Matthew topped Lewis and Piller 1 up.
The US would find a lot more success in fourball play — dominating so thoroughly that it never trailed in any of the four matches.
Salas and the 18-year-old Yin set the tone for the afternoon. Salas opened with three straight birdies to win those holes, and wins on consecutive par 5s helped the duo end the match in 13 holes.
The 6-and-5 win was the second-largest in Solheim history.
“Everything kind of fell together,” Salas said.
Kang’s putting was solid throughout the day — and back-to-back birdie putts sealed her and Wie’s win after 17 holes.
Lincicome and Lang improved to 3-0-0 as a four-ball tandem, and Lewis made a short birdie putt on No. 17 to complete the sweep.
“It was beautiful. Never seen anything prettier,” Lang said about seeing the leaderboard lit up in the Americans’ red color.
Thompson, fueled by a surge of adrenaline provided by the pro-American crowd singing songs and chanting “USA! USA!” drilled her tee shot on the first hole to set up Kerr’s 12-foot eagle putt to open the three-day, biennial event.
But the Americans stumbled, and they appeared to be finished after Hull’s long birdie chip on No. 16. Thompson birdied the next hole, and Kerr halved the match with another 12-footer on 18 — pumping her fist in the air before the ball even dropped in.
“It was pretty much a you-know-what sandwich out there,” Kerr said. “I’m glad it ended up the way it did.”
Nordqvist dealt with a case of mononucleosis this summer. But she and Hall, playing in her first Solheim Cup, cruised to the only point that came easy for the Europeans.
Europe will likely need Nordqvist and Hall’s teammates to emulate those performances if it hopes to pull closer to the surging Americans.
“I would say that the spirit is still there, if not stronger,” Sorenstam said. “You get a little fired up when you see an afternoon like this. We knew coming in here it was going to be a challenge. And I have fighters on the team, and I believe in them. We’re just going to forget about this day. Tomorrow’s Saturday. New points. Go out there and grab as many as we can.”
After more foursomes and fourballs Saturday, the event will close with 12 singles matches Sunday.

Arab sport stars petition against ‘politicization’ of World Cup by Qatar’s BeIN

Updated 7 min 58 sec ago

Arab sport stars petition against ‘politicization’ of World Cup by Qatar’s BeIN

DUBAI: Some of the biggest names in Arab sport have signed a petition to protest against the “politicization” of World Cup coverage by Qatar-owned broadcaster BeIN. 

The petition has already attracted more than 58,000 signatures, including those of some of the Arab world’s most prominent athletes and media personalities — with all calling for an end to the politically-driven comments carried by some of BeIN Sports’ hosts and pundits.

The website created the petition and invited fans around the world to urge FIFA President Gianni Infantino to investigate the coverage by the Qatari broadcaster’s Arabic channel.

Prominent sports figures, players, commentators and referees have all signed in protest after BeIN’s presenters and pundits were found to be intentionally making political comments in live coverage during and after the World Cup matches.

Among the signatories are Egyptian national football player Ahmed Hassan, Al Arabiya’s Sports Editor Battal Al-Goos, and former Saudi national team captain Yousif Althunaian.

BeIN Sports holds the rights to broadcast World Cup games across the Middle East and North Africa, although its channels are not available in Saudi Arabia, one of four Arab nations locked in a diplomatic dispute with Qatar over the latter’s alleged ties to terror groups. Doha denies the charges. 

“Sport rises above politics. FIFA tried to keep politics away from game. As fans, we are saddened by BeIN using its permission to telecast sports to transmit its political agenda, violating FIFA rules,” the petition read.

“BeIN exploited its rights to aggravate (the) dispute between Qatar and Saudi, insulting our nations during the opening match,” it added.

The petition website includes nine clips from BeIN Sports featuring pundits and presenters politicizing the World Cup’s opening match between Saudi Arabia and the host nation, Russia. The petition is available in Arabic, English, German, French and Spanish.

In one of the station’s broadcasts, a commentator accused Saudi Arabia of “selling out the Palestinian cause,” while in another the host suggested the Kingdom’s top sporting officials will become “prisoners at the Ritz-Carlton,” a reference to the detentions in Riyadh during last year’s anti-corruption drive.

Egyptian media analyst Abdellatif El-Menawy said BeIN had “distorted the global football event” by using it as a political tool against Saudi Arabia.

“This is an infringement of the rules and standards of professional media,” El-Menawy told Arab News on Saturday. 

“BeIN Sports has abandoned neutrality and professionalism,” he added, saying the network’s coverage after Saudi Arabia’s 5-0 defeat by Russia was “gloating” and “sarcastic.”

Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, a Saudi political analyst and international relations scholar, said the political differences between BeIN Sports’ Arabic and English services were similar to those between Al Jazeera’s news channels. 

The news service’s Arabic channel has “unprofessional and unethical” commentary that is not seen on the English station, Al-Shehri said at the weekend. 

Another commentator called the disparity between BeIN Sports’ Arabic and English offerings “Al Jazeera syndrome” — in reference to the different political stances held by the news network’s two main channels. 

Lawyers contacted by Arab News at the weekend called on FIFA to investigate the matter saying the international football governing body “will have to look into and should take very seriously.”