Shane Lowry confident he will take some stopping in Abu Dhabi

The Irishman was once again in fine form around the National course in the UAE capital. (AFP)
Updated 17 January 2019
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Shane Lowry confident he will take some stopping in Abu Dhabi

  • Irishman Lowry leads by one shot after gritty round in UAE capital.
  • Westwood and Oosthuizen in hot pursuit at Rolex event.

LONDON: For the second day in a row it was a case of catch me if you can at the
Abu Dhabi Golf Championship as Shane Lowry remained on top of the leaderboard.
The Irishman shot a record-equalling 62 in the first round to make a statement of intent in the UAE capital. He followed that up with a more sedate two-under 70 yesterday to stay out in front on
12-under, a shot ahead of South African duo Louis Oosthuizen and Richard Sterne.
Having made such a great start, Lowry knew he had to keep his concentration and that if he hung in there, he would stay ahead of the rest of the field.
“I’m really happy with that,” the world No.75 said.
“I knew today was going to be a bit of a weird day after shooting such a low score (on Wednesday). 
“I just tried to go out and play like I played. To be honest, right from the start, I really feel like I played pretty well today. I think
I gave myself a lot of chances.
“Some of the shots early on were pretty horrendous. I battled back and hit some really nice shots out there, and hit some in close and made some birdies. I was happy with myself.”
Lowry has had a patchy run of form over the past 12 months, with only three top 10 finishes in 2018. But on the National course he has looked back to his best. Yesterday he showed grit and determination to bounce back from two bogeys in the first three holes. He fired in four birdies over the remaining holes to stay on top of the leaderboard.
And Lowry claimed he is in the sort of form that will make it tough for his rivals to catch him.
“I am happy to be in the lead going into the weekend,” he said.
“My iron play is good and playing the par-3s very well. I am happy with where my game is at and I am looking forward to the weekend.
“This is a huge event and it would be nice to get off to a good start, get some Race to Dubai points on the board and kick on from there.”
If Lowry is to stay ahead of the impressive field and win his first title since the 2015 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, he will have to hold off the challenge of a revitalized Lee Westwood. The former world No. 1 backed up his opening 66 with a four-under 68 to lie two shots back. The Englishman won the Nedbank Challenge — like the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, one of the eight events that make up the cash-rich Rolex series — in December and has looked close
to his brilliant best over the first two rounds.
A good showing in the UAE will help him get back into the world top 50 and into the Majors, one of Westwood’s aims for the year.
Also showing the sort of form that made him one of the best golfers in the world was Oosthuizen. The former Open champion shot a four-under 68 to lie on 11-under going into the final two rounds, and he is looking forward to trying to chase down Lowry.
“Trying to win any event and going into the weekend really close, it’s always exciting,” the South African world No. 26 said.


Algeria ready for ‘match of a lifetime’ — Guedioura

Updated 19 July 2019
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Algeria ready for ‘match of a lifetime’ — Guedioura

  • The Cup of Nations showpiece marks the climax not only of Algeria’s campaign on the field, but of their fans’ recent political campaign in the stands

CAIRO: Algeria midfielder Adlene Guedioura says Friday’s Africa Cup of Nations final against Senegal represents the “match of a lifetime” as his country bids to capture the title for a second time.

The Desert Foxes lifted their lone trophy on home soil in 1990 but coach Djamel Belmadi has reinvigorated a team that crashed out in the group stage two years ago and then flopped in World Cup qualifying.

“I think it’s the match of a lifetime for a lot of players in the team and for Algeria,” said Guedioura, who at 33 is the oldest member of the squad.

The Nottingham Forest journeyman has started five of six games in Egypt and insisted much of the credit for Algeria’s eye-catching performances must go to former national team midfielder Belmadi.

“He really knows the players and what he wants. The good thing is he knows how to get through to the players and how to listen,” said the 48-time international.

“If you don’t have a good cook you can’t have a good recipe. With that we realize we can be all together and it’s important to be a team.

“It’s important for Algeria because we used to have good individuals and now we feel very strong as a team and we want to achieve as a team.”

A Youcef Belaili goal earned Algeria a 1-0 victory over Senegal in the group stage, but Belmadi was quick to point out the statistics were heavily weighted in their opponents’ favor.

“Of course we can lose this match. We have an opponent that is number one in the FIFA rankings for Africa. They were at the World Cup. We were eliminated in the first round in 2017,” said Belmadi.

“If you get to the final, the aim is obviously to win it. The game in the group stage wasn’t decisive but now it is and that’s the difference.”

He added: “The most important is to stay concentrated and determined yet calm at the same time.”

Algeria will have the backing of an additional 4,800 fans for the final.

Some of them will arrive in Cairo on military planes organized by Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui.

The Cup of Nations showpiece marks the climax not only of Algeria’s campaign on the field, but of their fans’ recent political campaign in the stands.

In April, long-standing president Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned after weekly Friday protests against his expected candidacy for elections, and football fans have been heavily involved in demonstrations.

“We know what’s happening. The people we represent have been wonderful,” said Guedioura

“It’s magnificent what is happening. We’re focused on football but we want to win the final for the people,” he added.