India's Shubhankar Sharma gets Masters invitation

India's Shubhankar Sharma, a two-time winner on the European Tour this season, held the lead after 54 holes at the World Golf Championship in Mexico. (AP)
Updated 06 March 2018
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India's Shubhankar Sharma gets Masters invitation

PALM HARBOR, US: Shubhankar Sharma can add another achievement to his rapid rise. He's going to the Masters.
Two days after Sharma held the 54-hole lead in his first World Golf Championships appearance, the 21-year-old from India accepted a special invitation to play in the Masters next month.
He will be the fourth Indian to play the Masters, and the second to receive a special invitation. Jeev Milkha Singh, a mentor to Sharma, received one in 2008.
"Golf is a global game, and throughout our history we have extended invitations to deserving international players not otherwise qualified," Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley said. "As his results have proven, Shubhankar Sharma is a remarkable young player."
Sharma was at No. 462 in the world three months ago when he shot 61 in the second round and won the Joburg Open. He closed with a 62 last month to win the Malaysian Open, making him the only two-time winner on the European Tour this season.
Sharma also leads the Race to Dubai.
"I am deeply honoured to be found worthy of invitation by the Masters Committee. It's a dream come true. My gratitude," Sharma said on Twitter.
He held at two-shot lead going into the final round of the Mexico Championship last week, but he failed to make a birdie until the 12th hole and a string of bogeys late in the round dropped him into a tie for ninth.
It still was enough for Sharma to rise to No. 66 in the world.
This is the first time since 2013 the Masters has awarded a special invitation. It usually reserves such invitations to international players who, unlike PGA Tour members, do not have as much access to qualifying, such as winning PGA Tour events or making it to the FedEx Cup finale at the Tour Championship.
International players typically are among the top 100 in the world ranking when they receive an invitation.
Sharma, who turned pro at 16, is playing this week at his home course (DLF Golf Club) in New Delhi at the Hero Indian Open. He is on the bubble in the final week of qualifying for the next World Golf Championship, the Dell Technologies Match Play in two weeks in Austin, Texas.


Heartbreak for Mohamed Salah and Egypt as Russia all but secure last-16 spot

Updated 19 June 2018
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Heartbreak for Mohamed Salah and Egypt as Russia all but secure last-16 spot

ST. PETERSBURG: Russia scored three goals in a 15-minute span early in the second half to set up a 3-1 win over Egypt on Tuesday, moving the host nation to the brink of the World Cup’s knockout stage.
Mohamed Salah won and converted a penalty for a consolation goal on his return from injury but Egypt’s first World Cup in 28 years could be over in barely five days following a second straight loss.
Ahmed Fathi poked the ball into his own net — the fifth own-goal of the tournament — to put Russia ahead in the 47th minute. Then Denis Cheryshev and Artyom Dzyuba scored in quick succession to leave Russia on course for a victory that followed up a 5-0 opening-night win over Saudi Arabia.
It was Cheryshev’s third goal of the World Cup, putting him tied with Cristiano Ronaldo at the top of the scoring chart.
Russia’s place in the round of 16 will be assured if Uruguay wins or draws against the Saudis on Wednesday. Those two scenarios would also eliminate Egypt, which started with a 1-0 loss to Uruguay.
The hopes of 100 million Egyptians were raised when Salah was selected in the starting lineup, the Liverpool forward making his comeback after 3 1/2 weeks out with damaged ligaments in his left shoulder after a tangle with Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos in the Champions League final.
Salah trotted out for his pre-match warmup to roars from Egypt fans, who at times appeared to outnumber their Russian counterparts. They shouted every time Salah’s face flashed up on the big screen and when his name was announced before kickoff.
Yet from the start, it was clear that Salah was staying out of anything too physical and there was no concerted effort from his Egypt teammates to pick him out each time. He didn’t touch the ball until the seventh minute.
He did win the penalty — confirmed by the video assistant referee after Salah was pulled down by Roman Zobnin. He converted it in the 73rd minute, but it wasn’t enough. Egypt is still without a victory in six World Cup matches.
Russia is nearly assured of advancing from the group stage for the first time since the Soviet era.
Cheryshev, who entered the World Cup as a fringe player, is proving lethal in front of goal, with his latest a side-footed effort from close range from Mario Fernandes’ cross in the 59th. Dzyuba’s goal was more direct, the striker chesting down a long ball from defender Ilya Kutepov, beating his marker and curling home a low finish.