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.


Kyrgios withdraws from French Open, citing illness

Updated 24 May 2019
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Kyrgios withdraws from French Open, citing illness

  • Roger Federer plays down chances of his winning the mega title

PARIS: After a tantrum in Italy last week, Nick Kyrgios withdrew from the French Open on Friday.

The ATP said the Australian player cited illness as the reason.

Last week at the Italian Open, the 36th-ranked Kyrgios was defaulted and fined during his second-round match after an outburst of rage. Trailing against Norwegian qualifier Casper Ruud, Kyrgios slammed his racket to the clay and kicked a water bottle. Then he picked up a white chair and flung it onto the court.

Kyrgios was fined and lost ATP points but escaped suspension and was expected to play in Paris.

His withdrawal came only days after Kyrgios posted a video online in which he said the French Open “sucks” when compared to Wimbledon, where he trained recently.

In 2015, Kyrgios insulted Stan Wawrinka with crude remarks during a match in Montreal. He was fined $12,500 and given a suspended 28-day ban. He also attracted criticism for deciding not to play at the Olympics because of a spat with an Australian team official, and for firing back at retired players who have offered advice.

Also on Friday, Roger Federer played down his chances of winning the French Open on his first appearance at Roland Garros since 2015, saying that title-winning form might not be “in his racquet.”

The 20-time Grand Slam champion missed the French Open in 2016 through injury before sitting out the next two clay-court seasons in order to focus on Wimbledon.

But he will make his Roland Garros return on Sunday with a first-round tie against unheralded Italian Lorenzo Sonego.

Federer admitted that he is unsure of his title chances, but did compare his current situation with when he ended a five-year Grand Slam drought at the Australian Open in 2017.

“(I) don’t know (if I can win the tournament). A bit of a question mark for me. Some ways I feel similar to maybe the Australian Open in ‘17,” the 2009 French Open winner said.

“A bit of the unknown. I feel like I’m playing good tennis, but is it enough against the absolute top guys when it really comes to the crunch? I’m not sure if it’s in my racquet.

“But I hope I can get myself in that position deep down in the tournament against the top guys. But first I need to get there and I know that’s a challenge in itself.”

Despite being the third seed, Federer faces a tricky draw, with a possible quarter-final against Greek youngster Stefanos Tsitsipas — who beat him in the Australian Open last 16 — and a potential last-four clash with 11-time champion and old adversary Rafael Nadal.

Meanwhile, Nadal said on Friday that he “doesn’t care” if he is the red-hot favorite to lift a record-extending 12th French Open title, insisting that there are a host of players in contention for the trophy.

The world number two holds an incredible French Open win-loss record of 86-2, and hit top form by winning his ninth Italian Open last week with a final victory over old rival Novak Djokovic.