Defending champ Steele, Duncan, Hoge share Safeway Open lead

Brendan Steele follows his shot from the second tee of the Silverado Resort North Course during the first round of the Safeway Open PGA golf tournament in Napa, Calif. on Thursday. (AP)
Updated 06 October 2017
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Defending champ Steele, Duncan, Hoge share Safeway Open lead

NAPA, California: Brendan Steele opened his Safeway Open title defense Thursday with a 7-under 65 for a share of the lead with Tyler Duncan and Tom Hoge in the PGA Tour’s season opener.
Lucas Glover, Chez Reavie, Emiliano Grillo and Jamie Lovemark were two shots back at 67.
Steele had an eagle, six birdies and a bogey. Last year at Silverado, he birdied the final three holes to overcome a four-shot deficit and beat Patton Kizzire by a stroke for his second PGA Tour title.
“A little bit of everything worked for me today,” Steele said. “I had a really good ball-striking day. I don’t think I missed a green, so that really helps. And then I had a good putting day as well, so you put that together and it’s going to be pretty good.
Duncan, making his first start as a PGA Tour member, also had six birdies, an eagle and a bogey.
“I thought the course would fit my game because hitting the fairways is important,” said Duncan, whose only other PGA Tour event was the 2015 US Open. “There are a lot of sections in the greens that you’ve got to hit into and to hit it into those sections from the rough is pretty challenging.”
Hoge, beginning his fourth PGA Tour season, had seven birdies. He had a back-nine 30 with six birdies.
“I played really well the whole day,” said Hoge, whose PGA Tour career best is a tie for fourth in August at the Barracuda Open. “I was in a lot of fairways, on a lot of greens and the made a few putts.”
Steele didn’t miss a green in regulation.
“The greens are not holding very well, you have to be in the fairway,” Steele said. “I think this is the way that it’s meant to be played. It plays really nicely this way.”
Zach Johnson, the 12-time PGA Tour winner playing the event for the first time, had a 68 with five birdies and a bogey.
“I love it. I liked to the moment I stepped foot on it,” said Johnson, whose last title was the 2015 British Open. “You can’t fake it around here. It’s right out in front of you. There are a couple of tee shots and a couple of approaches where you have to pay attention. It’s a very classic golf course.”
Phil Mickelson, the 42-time PGA Tour winner beginning his 27th PGA Tour season, birdied the 18th from 7 feet for a 69. The 47-year-old Mickelson, playing in his 91st PGA Tour event since his last title at the 2013 British Open, had five birdies and two bogeys.
Sang-moon Bae, the 2014 tournament winner, shot 73. He’s playing in his first tournament since a mandatory 21-month military stint in South Korea.
John Daly, the two-time major winner who won the PGA Tour Champions’ Insperity Invitational in May, had a 74. Daly has missed the cut in 12 straight PGA Tour events.


Buck stops with Juan Antonio Pizzi for Saudi Arabia’s ‘shameful’ World Cup defeat to Russia

Updated 17 June 2018
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Buck stops with Juan Antonio Pizzi for Saudi Arabia’s ‘shameful’ World Cup defeat to Russia

The vice president of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation said the future of Juan Antonio Pizzi will not be discussed in the media as the Green Falcons try to get to grips with the “bitterness” of the heavy defeat to Russia on the opening night.
Saudi Arabia suffered their second heaviest defeat in World Cup history when the hosts put five unanswered goals past them at the Luzhniki Stadium.
Federation president Adel Ezzat called the performance “totally unsatisfactory” while General Sports Authority chief Turki Al-Sheikh labelled the effort “a total fiasco.”
Pizzi took his share of responsibility for matters, calling the outcome “a shameful situation” and former Green Falcons international Nawaf Al-Temyat concurred that the buck stops with the coach.
“The coach is technically responsible for the loss of our team,” said Al-Temyat in a video interview published on the Saudi Arabian Football Federation Twitter account.
“You are well aware that we cannot discuss the decisions taken by the coach during the match and the actions to be taken before the media.”
Saudi Arabia enjoyed 60 percent of possession, but failed to muster a single shot on target. Russia were more clinical in both boxes and the Green Falcons struggled to cope with their directness.
“We lost on the style,” Al-Temyat said. “We allowed them to impose their way of playing that differs from ours, and it is physical. The ball acquisition was null. It is a technical issue that needs to be addressed. They did not cooperate together as required.”
Saudi Arabia need to pick themselves up before facing Uruguay on Wednesday, but Al-Temyat believes it may take a while to get over the Russia game.
“We should not forget what happened and the bitterness of what happened (on Thursday), but this should be addressed in a proper way that reflects the players, the administrative staff and the national team,” he said.