‘We don’t fear anyone,’ says European captain Bjorn

Thomas Bjorn’s got one eye on the Ryder Cup and one eye on Tiger Woods. (Reuters)
Updated 24 September 2018
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‘We don’t fear anyone,’ says European captain Bjorn

  • Thomas Bjorn: I spent 25 years playing professional golf with Tiger Woods on the scene, and any time he does anything great, that’s a story and that’s where we want to see him
  • Bjorn: We don’t fear anyone because we’ve played against them so many times before individually but we respect our opponents and know what we are up against

Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, FRANCE: Europe captain Thomas Bjorn said ‘his team “don’t fear anyone” as they prepare to take on a powerful United States line-up packed with nine major champions including a resurgent Tiger Woods at this week’s Ryder Cup.
France’s Le Golf National, just south of Paris, is only the second European venue outside of Britain and Ireland to stage the biennial showdown in which the United States will be targeting a first win on foreign soil since 1993.
The Americans are bidding to retain the trophy after a 17-11 rout at Hazeltine two years ago, and bring over a squad that has combined for 31 major titles — compared to just eight for Europe.
“These are 24 of the best players in the world, and you know, when they go up against each other, they are all capable of amazing things on both sides,” Bjorn told reporters at a joint press conference with US counterpart Jim Furyk on Monday.
“We don’t fear anyone because we’ve played against them so many times before individually but we respect our opponents and know what we are up against. That I think is the key to all this.
“We’ll go out and do what we can and play our game. What stands on the other side we know is one of the strongest American teams of all time, and we know we’ve got to play our best to come up against this team.”
The star attraction in France will undoubtedly be Woods, who is making his first Ryder Cup appearance since 2012 following a long road back from injury that threatened to curtail his career.
Woods won the Tour Championship on Sunday at East Lake for his 80th career US PGA Tour title, two shy of Sam Snead’s all-time record, and his first victory in 1,876 days.
“I spent 25 years playing professional golf with Tiger Woods on the scene, and any time he does anything great, that’s a story and that’s where we want to see him,” said Bjorn.
“We want to see him at the top of the game. He does so much for the game of golf. Watching that last night, I thought it was brilliant to watch. It was great for the greater aspect of the game.”
Fans chanted “Ti-ger, Ti-ger” and “U-S-A, U-S-A” amid a spectator stampede surrounding Woods in a rush to see him on the 18th green, with the 42-year-old fighting back tears before his clinching putt.
“I think you could see the emotion in talking about fighting back tears. I think the arms in the air and the fist in the air, it was important for him to win,” Furyk said of Woods.
“When you look at now, maybe comparing past Ryder Cups to this one, I think what’s so special is Tiger has engrained himself in our team atmosphere and became such a big part of the team in 2016 as a vice captain, and then again in 2017 as an assistant captain at the Presidents Cup.
“I think it’s special for him now to kind of join these younger players as a teammate.”
Furyk says Woods’ presence will simply add another level of anticipation to an event that is expected to welcome more than 270,000 fans through the turnstiles.
“It obviously brings — not that this event needs much more energy or that brought to it; it’s probably the biggest, the grandest event in all of golf but it will add that much more excitement, I believe, and you know, it’s exciting either way, but it adds to it,” he said.


River edge out Boca after extra time to win Copa Libertadores

River prevailed 5-3 on aggregate after the first leg finished 2-2. (AFP
Updated 10 December 2018
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River edge out Boca after extra time to win Copa Libertadores

  • River Plate came from behind to beat bitter Argentine rivals Boca Juniors 3-1 in extra time
  • The fixture postponed on three occasions and then relocated from Buenos Aires to Madrid

MADRID: River Plate won the Copa Libertadores by beating their fiercest rivals Boca Juniors 3-1 after extra time on Sunday, bringing an end to a final tainted by violence and moved more than six thousand miles away from Argentina.
Boca took the lead through Dario Benedetto but Lucas Pratto equalized before Juan Quintero and Gonzalo Martinez scored in extra time, aided by Wilmar Barrios being sent off, to win a fittingly dramatic contest for River.
It means River prevailed 5-3 on aggregate after the first leg finished 2-2 and the club reclaim the trophy they had last won in 2015, lifting it for the fourth time in their history.
“The only thing I feel is sadness for not winning the cup and giving it to the people of Boca,” Boca coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto said.
“It is difficult to say to people that we haven’t won, especially those that made so much effort to come from Argentina.”
Postponed on three occasions and then relocated from Buenos Aires to Madrid, the supporters of these two great clubs showed in the Santiago Bernabeu why this fixture had been billed as one of football’s greatest ever.
Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann and Diego Godin were among the 62,200 in attendance.
But, despite the bouncing huddles in the streets, the plumes of blue and red smoke, the swinging scarves, fluttering flags and fans that were chanting in their seats three hours before kick-off, there was nothing to extinguish the lingering sense of regret.
There was no repeat of the scenes that cast a shadow over Argentinian football and saw the original game at River’s El Monumental on November 24 postponed, when around 50 fans attacked Boca’s team bus and left some of their players injured.
Madrid, which will also host the Champions League final in June, was chosen in part because of its record of hosting major events and the security, which included around 2,500 police officers, did its job before kick-off.
Fans were separated into zones either side of the stadium and had to go through checks even to enter the area immediately surrounding it.
The shame was only that the operation was not as thorough 15 days ago and that a minority decided to take advantage.
Both clubs were allocated 25,000 tickets, with 5,000 of those reserved for residents of Argentina. The fear had been most of those buying would be tourists and neutrals, but the atmosphere suggested different.
Both teams had initially refused to play in Spain’s capital but as the losers, Boca’s sense of grievance will now become more entrenched.
They felt River were responsible for the chaos two weeks ago and should have forfeited the trophy. They took their case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but the appeal was rejected on Saturday.
When the players shuffled out two hours before kick-off to inspect the pitch, they held up their phones to capture the thousands already inside and the view of a stadium most of them had never played in before.
The cheers grew louder when they came out for kick-off. Then there were whistles as the teams swapped ends and each were greeted by their opponent’s fans behind the goal.
Jonatan Maidana was playing for Boca when they last won the Copa Libertadores 11 years ago and, now in the red and white of River, he almost gave his former club an early lead, slicing just over his own crossbar.
The game lacked quality but came alive one minute before half-time. Nahitan Nandez’s superb pass split two River defenders and Benedetto kept a cool head, guiding into the corner, before taunting the beaten Gonzalo Montiel.
River had been inferior but improved. Their first real attacking move was also a brilliant one as Leonardo Ponzio and Quintero exchanged passes before the latter pulled back for Pratto to sweep home.
The game meandered toward full-time and seemed destined for penalties until Barrios was shown a second yellow card for a tackle on Exequiel Palacios and soon after, Quintero struck.
It was a goal worthy of winning the tournament, as he collected 25 yards out, glanced up and whipped the ball in off the underside of the crossbar.
Leonard Jara almost snatched a late Boca goal but his shot nicked the outside of the post. Then, with Boca’s goalkeeper Esteban Andrada up for a corner, River added the final touch.
Martinez ran the ball into the empty net and River’s substitutes and staff were already pouring onto the pitch to begin the celebrations.