Sergio Garica avoids further punishment over damaging greens at Saudi International

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Garcia's temper got the better of him at the Saudi International last weekend. (AFP)
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Updated 04 February 2019
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Sergio Garica avoids further punishment over damaging greens at Saudi International

  • European Tour decide to take no further action after former Masters champion is disqualified from Saudi event.
  • Tour chief Keith Pelley says case is closed after Garcia damages several greens.

LONDON: Sergio Garcia is set to avoid a hefty fine and suspension after European Tour boss Keith Pelley declared the matter “over” following the Spaniard’s stunning disqualification from the Saudi International.
Garcia was thrown out of the event on Saturday after reigning Masters champion Patrick Reed and a number of other players complained that Garcia had displayed his frustration by damaging six greens.
Garcia apologized for his actions and the Spaniard reportedly spoke with Reed and other fellow competitors express his remorse.


The former Masters winner was accused of scuffing up six of the opening greens and also leaving a large divot-like mark on the sixth green of the Royal Greens course.
And while Garcia has a long history of “misconduct”, it seems on this occasion he will escape any further action.
“The incident is over,” Pelley told The Scotsman newspaper. “We have dealt with it. Sergio has apologized to the players and we move on.”
Garcia’s actions were not on film but he was spoken to by tournament director David Williams in the latter stages of his third round.
“I went out after the referees had spoken to me,” said Williams.
“I managed to catch Sergio around the 12th and 13th and there had been no more damage after nine holes. I told him this was a disqualifiable offense. He was in his game zone, but he listened. We exchanged a few pleasantries and then he nodded and carried on walking.
“It was obviously not a good situation to be in. He was obviously very frustrated and it is something very unusual to happen. Some of the marks were similar to what we sometimes see out in South Africa when a buck has run across a green. Over here it could have been a camel.
“The players in the groups immediately behind didn’t know what was going on. They wanted to know what was happening to the greens. To be honest, they were pretty shocked.”

GARCIA ATTACKS BUNKER

Garcia’s third-round playing partner, Renato Paratore of Italy, remarked: “I was not complaining.
“It was a bad day for him and I saw only one hole when he was doing something wrong. I don’t remember what it was. I was focused on what I was doing. But it is okay.”
Garcia had first displayed his frustration during Friday’s second round when he attacked a bunker following a poor shot ahead of just making the cut by two strokes.
“Yes, but that can happen on the course,” added Paratore. “I know him really well and he’s a very good guy off the course. It can happen to everyone.”
Garcia has a long history of petulant behavior dating back to 1999 when he hurled his shoe at an advertising board at the back of the tee during the World Match-Play Championship at Wentworth.
Two years later in Sydney, he incurred a £5,000 fine after kicking a golf cart and attacking a tree with his club when unhappy at being handed a two-stroke penalty for an incorrect drop.
In 2010, Garcia was believed to have been slapped with a $10,000 fine after spitting into a hole during the WGC-CA Championship at Doral in Florida.
And more recently, Garcia kicked in a metal panel of the scorer’s hut after the third round of the Valspar Championship last March.
Later the next month Garcia hurled his driver into bushes after a poor 14th-hole tee shot during the second round of the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio.


NBA, FIBA announce plans for pro league in Africa

Updated 17 February 2019
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NBA, FIBA announce plans for pro league in Africa

  • The Basketball Africa League is a new collaboration between the NBA and the sport’s global governing body FIBA
  • Qualification tournaments will be held to determine those clubs that will take part

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina: The NBA is bringing a pro league to Africa.
The Basketball Africa League, a new collaboration between the NBA and the sport’s global governing body FIBA, was announced Saturday. The initial plan is for the 12-team league to begin play in January, and former President Barack Obama is among those who are expected to have direct involvement with the league’s plan to keep growing the game in Africa through the league and other initiatives.
The scope of what Obama’s involvement will be remains unknown, and it’s yet to be determined which existing club teams will be part of the league. Qualification tournaments will be held later this year to determine those clubs, with teams from Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia expected to be among those taking part. No nation will have more than two teams in the league.
“As we’ve been talking about this concept over the last several months, there’s been a tremendous reception from many of our NBA team owners ... and in addition, several of the partners of the NBA have expressed a strong desire to work with us in Africa,” Silver said.
Silver said Pepsi and Nike’s Jordan Brand — Charlotte owner Michael Jordan was among the owners in the room where Silver made the announcement — are among the partners who have reached out to the NBA and said they want to be part of the Africa league. Silver also said that Obama, an enormous basketball fan, has told him he wants to “be directly involved with these activities in Africa.”
Silver said talks between the NBA and Obama are ongoing. Obama spoke on a video that was shown during the event where Silver announced the league.
“I hope you know through sport, that if you put in effort, you will be rewarded,” Obama said. “I hope you learn through sport what it means to play as a team, and even if you are the best player, your job is not just to show off but your job is to make your teammates better.”
The NBA and FIBA’s involvement will include financial support and resources toward continued growing of the game on the continent, as well as providing training for players, coaches and referees and some infrastructure for the new league. Silver said there are 438 companies in Africa that generate more than $1 billion in revenue annually, but that sport there has not seen the same growth — yet.
“Africa is a huge economic engine,” Silver said. “And one place, though, where we haven’t seen enormous economic growth yet is in the industry of sport. And that’s something that we are all particularly focused on.”
The NBA has held three games in Africa since 2015, all of them selling out — two games in Johannesburg, the other in Pretoria. Many of the league’s current players and coaches, along with several legends and Hall of Famers, have been part of those trips.
“I went with them last year,” Basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said. “The NBA reaches out across the world.”
The league has an office in South Africa, has helped create 87 learn-and-play facilities in seven African nations, and 13 players who were born in Africa on opening-night NBA rosters this season. The league also built an academy in Senegal that opened nearly two years ago.
“It’s a huge joy to see our partnership with the NBA enter uncharted territory as we work together for the first time to maximize the potential of professional basketball in Africa,” said Andreas Zagklis, FIBA’s secretary-general.
This marks the first time the NBA has been involved with the operation of a league outside of North America.
“We’re excited to work closely with the NBA to develop and put in a place a professional league like none that we have ever seen in our region before,” said FIBA Africa Executive Director Alphonse Bile. “Through the Basketball Africa League, we can provide the many great clubs and players with the best possible environment to compete for the highest stakes.”
The NBA says more details about the new league will be released in the coming months.