Santos takes 1-shot lead in Qatar

Updated 23 January 2013
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Santos takes 1-shot lead in Qatar

DOHA: Ricardo Santos of Portugal made five birdies on his back nine to finish with a 7-under 65 yesterday in the opening round of the Qatar Masters, taking a one shot lead over Anthony Wall and Peter Whiteford.
Santos, the European Tour’s rookie of the year in 2012, had a total of eight birdies to go with a lone bogey on his second hole. Coming off a fourth-place finish at the Abu Dhabi Championship on Sunday, the 30-year-old golfer from Portugal is looking for his second win on the European Tour.
“Well, I just played really well, especially my short game,” the 183rd-ranked Santos said. “Today I missed a few shots from the tee but then recovered very well and just kept it like that.”
Wall of England shot a bogey-free round that included four birdies on the front nine and a final birdie on the par-5, 18th. Whiteford, of Scotland, collected six birdies in a bogey-free round.
“You don’t often get Qatar with no wind, so took advantage of it and actually hit the driver for the first time better to give myself a few chances,” Whiteford said. “It was one of those days it could have been a lot better almost. A lot of positive stuff, hit a lot of good putts.”
Six players including Simon Khan of England were another stroke back in a tie for fifth, while another 13 were a further shot behind.
Among those were two of the players in the marquee group of the day — former top-ranked Martin Kaymer and fifth-ranked Justin Rose, who just missed out on a playoff Sunday in Abu Dhabi and finished second. Fourth-ranked Louis Oosthuizen, coming off a victory in the Volvo Champions, finished with a 71 after an errant approach shot and some poor putting led to a double bogey on the 18th.
Rose was penalized a shot on 17 when his ball moved on the green just before he was about to putt.
Kaymer had the topsy-turvy round of the group, holing out from 150 yards for an eagle on the fourth but then bogeying 18 when his chip from thick rough came up short and he missed a 10-foot par putt. The German struggled with his game for much of last year but has turned it around since playing a starring role in Europe’s Ryder Cup victory.
“Got lucky with one shot and made eagle on a par 4, and then it was very difficult to make putts,” said Kaymer, who also had three birdies down the stretch. “The greens are a little of a struggle this week, and obviously in the afternoon they don’t get better, but overall 4 under is a good score.”
Several Manchester United players — including Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes — were in the gallery, as the team is training in Qatar.
“I had hold of my 3-wood into 18 and I sort of looked up to the balcony and I saw all these guys, many wearing black, so I knew it was them, although Wayne was in a red shirt,” Rose said. “That definitely added a bit of focus going into my last shot into 18 as I tried to impress the lads. It was a nice way to finish.”


India and Pakistan ready to renew rivalry in Dubai showdown

Updated 18 September 2018
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India and Pakistan ready to renew rivalry in Dubai showdown

  • India brace for Pakistan after surviving stern test against minnows Hong Kong
  • Usman Shinwari: Any player who performs well in an India-Pakistan match will find his career reaches a new high

DUBAI: As delirium sweeps the UAE ahead of the mouth-watering encounter between arch rivals India and Pakistan in the Asia Cup, it seems one man — at least outwardly — is not as excited as the rest of the country and cricketing fans the world over.
India captain Rohit Sharma played with a straight bat when asked about the biggest clash in world cricket, set to take place today at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. On his first Asia Cup media outing the 31-year-old seemed unconcerned by the impending showdown with their fiercest opponents, his focus instead on facing Hong Kong, who Sharma and Co. had a big scare against on Tuesday.
“Right now, we are not focusing on Pakistan as (first) we are playing Hong Kong,” Sharma said on Sunday. “Obviously we have to focus on that particular team but once we have finished that game we will focus on Pakistan and what their strengths and weaknesses are.”
These are clearly the words of a man so media trained that by now he could easily be on the other side of the desk, asking the same questions he and his colleagues sometimes enjoy batting back with crafted clichés that speak of focusing on “one game at a time” or the like.
Sharma was clearly right to not take his eyes off the ball with Hong Kong — they are not here to merely make up the numbers, as their brilliant, battling performance on Tuesday illustrated. But at the same time, Sharma will be all too aware that as India skipper the one match you do not want to lead your side to defeat in is the one against Pakistan, regardless of competition and location.
Clearly India are not leaving Pakistan preparations to the 14 hours or so (sleep included) between the close of the Hong Kong clash and the toss prior to resuming Indo-Pak cricketing rivalry. To suggest they are would be naive at best.
A year on from Pakistan’s show-stealing Champions Trophy final victory over the old enemy in June last year, and a whole five years since the two sides met outside of an ICC or ACC event due to strained political relations, the appetite for the first of potentially three matches at this year’s Asia Cup is huge and one borne out of starved hunger.
Pakistan’s Usman Shinwari, fresh off defeating Hong Kong on Sunday, was more candid than Sharma.
“Any player who performs well in an India-Pakistan match will find his career reaches a new high, and every player dreams of doing well in this contest,” the fast bowler said. “I took three wickets (against Hong Kong), I hope that can be five wickets against India.”
Shinwari’s sentiments were echoed by his captain, Sarfraz Ahmed, who is absolutely clear on the levels of expectation that this fixture demands from fans on both sides of the border.
“The passion is always there,” said Sarfraz. “When you play against India everyone wants us to win as it’s against India.
“The fans say that whatever happens you have to win but as a captain I have to win against every team. It would be the same for India whose fans want them to win. It has happened in the past that any player who performs in the Indo-Pak match becomes a national hero.”
UAE cricket fans cannot wait for the clash. It took just a few hours for the first batch of tickets to be snapped up, the second bought in equally ravenous fashion. It has left a huge number of tickets now being touted across online marketplaces, social media platforms and, ultimately, will likely see the inflated resales being pawned outside the stadium on matchday too.
An expected 25,000 fans will swell the Ring of Fire, set to deal not only with cricket’s most fierce rivalry but also with all the unpredictability that will be thrown their way.
The famed traffic jams around Hessa Street, leading up to the stadium, and local entrances of Dubai Sports City will heave and efforts have been made to ease the burden of vehicles that will cart both sets of fans in and out of the area. Gates will open from 12p.m. local time, a whole three and a half hours before the first ball has been bowled. In an emirate where the last-minute rush is a daily fact of life, this will be not be an easy thing to execute but that, alongside the immense presence of volunteers and security, should prove welcome additions to the day’s running order.
This, though, is India vs Pakistan. Anything could happen.