Jordan Smith, Adrian Otaegui take surprise early lead at DP World Tour Championship in Dubai

Jordan Smith of England plays his third shot from a bunker on the 18th hole during day one of the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates on November 15, 2018 in Dubai. (Getty Images/Andrew Redington)
Updated 15 November 2018
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Jordan Smith, Adrian Otaegui take surprise early lead at DP World Tour Championship in Dubai

DUBAI: Jordan Smith and Adrian Otaegui shared the lead after day one of the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai as Francesco Molinari tightened his grip on the European Tour’s season-long crown.
England’s Jordan Smith and Spain’s Adrian Otaegui have a share of the lead going into Friday’s second round of the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, as Francesco Molinari moved closer to sealing the Race to Dubai crown.
Smith and Otaegui both shot rounds of 66 at Jumeirah Golf Estates to sit six-under par, one shot clear of the defending champion Jon Rahm and former Masters champion Danny Willett.
Italian Molinari knows a tie for fifth place with one other will secure him the European Tour’s season-ending title, but he looks set to go one better as he was just a shot further back after a 68 on the Earth Course.
Defending champion Tommy Fleetwood needs to win the tournament to have any chance of denying Molinari, and the Englishman was three shots off the lead after a 69.
“I hit a lot of good shots on that front nine,” early leader Smith said. “I just couldn’t quite find the hole. I hit a lot of good putts, all burning the edge and then something clicked on that back nine and they started going in. I think you can just take a lot of confidence into the next few days.”
Otaegui, who remained bogey-free in his first round, has two wins on the European Tour but neither of them have come in 72-hole stroke play.
“I played really well,” he said. “I was solid from tee-to-green. I left myself lots of birdie chances. I thought I putted well. Six birdies, no bogeys, it’s always a very good start. It’s more important to have a good finish, as well.”
Otaegui made a birdie-birdie start and then added another on the par-five seventh to turn in 33. Gains on the tenth and 14th had him within one and a stunning third into the last set up a closing birdie.
Elsewhere, Rory McIlroy’s announcement that he would play only two European Tour events in 2019 was the main talking point on Thursday.
Former European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley has criticizedthe Northern Irishman for what he calls a “baffling” decision.
“It’s very disappointing,” McGinley said. “I’ve been racking my brains wondering how that can be.
“Obviously Rory sees it in other ways and has got his own rationale for that, although I’m finding it hard to understand,” added McGinley.
World No. 7 McIlroy has to play four European Tour tournaments, apart from the majors and World Golf Championship events, in order to retain Tour membership.
So far, McIlroy has only two tournaments on his schedule and he may miss the Irish Open, which he has hosted for the last four years.


Liverpool return to top of the table with 3-1 win over arch-rivals Manchester United

Updated 16 December 2018
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Liverpool return to top of the table with 3-1 win over arch-rivals Manchester United

  • Shaqiri braces gives Reds deserved win over United at Anfield.
  • Mourinho's men well beaten as Liverpool leapfrog Manchester City ti return to top of the table.

LIVERPOOL: Two deflected Xherdan Shaqiri strikes handed Liverpool victory over Manchester United in the Premier League for the first time in nine attempts as Jurgen Klopp’s men moved back to the top of the table with a 3-1 win at Anfield on Sunday.
United manager Jose Mourinho claimed ahead of the game that the league leaders have had luck on their side this season, but while there was fortune in substitute Shaqiri’s two goals in the final 17 minutes, the visitors did not deserve anything more than a fifth defeat of the season.
Liverpool leapfrogged Manchester City to finish the weekend where they started, a point clear at the top, and move a mammoth 19 clear of United, who remain in sixth and are now 11 points off the top four.
The contrasting form showed by both sides this season continued as United strained to keep a rampant Liverpool at bay and were only level for so long thanks to a huge error by home goalkeeper Alisson Becker.
Sadio Mane had given Liverpool the lead before Jesse Lingard levelled when Alisson dropped a routine cross at the feet of the England international.
United had the ball in the net first on a rare foray forward but Romelu Lukaku was flagged offside despite not getting a touch to Ashley Young’s free-kick.
But Liverpool then laid siege to the visitors’ goal with David de Gea stretching to keep out a low drive from Roberto Firmino, Young clearing off the line and Fabinho firing wide from the edge of the box.
Only Manchester City have kept Klopp’s side from scoring in the Premier League this season and a United defense that has kept just one clean sheet in the league since September never looked capable of holding out like they had in their two previous visits to Anfield.
Mourinho’s men were finally breached when Mane controlled Fabinho’s chipped ball into the box on his chest and volleyed past the onrushing De Gea.
However, Liverpool’s momentum was punctured by an Alisson gift 12 minutes before the break.
The Brazilian was Liverpool’s hero with an injury-time save to secure the Reds’ place in the last 16 of the Champions League against Napoli on Tuesday.
But he spilled Lukaku’s simple cross into the path of the grateful Lingard to bundle the ball into an unguarded net.
The second half followed a similar pattern with one-way traffic toward the Kop as Liverpool sought the goal to take them back to the top of the table.
De Gea scrambled low to his left to palm Firmino’s prodded effort to safety, while Dejan Lovren and Virgil van Dijk saw efforts deflected behind.
Jurgen Klopp turned to Shaqiri to unlock the United defense 20 minutes from time and the Swiss international needed just three to put Liverpool back in front.
De Gea did well to prevent Ander Herrera turning Mane’s cross into his own net, but the ball fell for Shaqiri and his effort cannoned off Young and in off the underside of the bar.
Seven minutes later, Shaqiri got lucky again when, this time on his favored left foot, his shot flicked off the diving Eric Bailly to leave De Gea helpless.