Singapore storms threaten McIlroy money bid in Barclays Open
Singapore storms threaten McIlroy money bid in Barclays Open
After a rain-hit first day, play was suspended twice before finally being abandoned for the day as forked lightning streaked the skies and heavy downpours hit par-71 Sentosa Golf Club.
Thailand’s Chapchai Nirat and Simon Dyson held the joint lead midway through their second rounds, with half the field yet to take the course and more rain forecast for the weekend.
Organizers said more delays could force them to slash the event from 72 to 54 holes or to complete the fourth round on Monday. Last year, it was cut to 54 holes and still only finished on the Monday morning.
“At present, our aim is still to complete 72 holes, weather permitting,” said tournament director Jose Maria Zamora.
“However, if we do suffer more delays we would then decide, in consultation with the sponsor and promoter, whether to reduce the tournament to 54 holes or complete the fourth round on Monday,” he added.
Reducing the tournament could be inconvenient for world No.1 McIlroy, who was tied for 29th after 12 holes of his second round and needing a high finish to confirm himself as Europe’s top prize money-winner this year.
The 23-year-old, bidding to become only the second man to seal the money titles on both sides of the Atlantic in the same year, completed his first round five shots off the pace and went straight back out for round two.
Watched by tennis star girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki but suffering from a cold, McIlroy made a wretched start to his second round with bogey and double bogey in his first four holes.
But some razor-sharp iron shots got him back to one-under-par for the tournament before he was hauled off the course for the second time, in a golf buggy with Wozniacki sitting cozily on his lap.
Chapchai was a first-round leader at the 2005 Singapore Open, and in 2009 he set a world 72-hole scoring record with a staggering total of 32-under-par 256 to win India’s SAIL Open.
However, the victories have since dried up and after only one top-10 finish this year, he said he had taken his father’s advice to lose some weight and had been visiting a Buddhist monastery to improve his temperament.
“I’ve been going there a lot to calm myself. I used to be very hot-tempered and I get frustrated easily especially at such a young age,” said Chapchai, 29.
“My parents sent me to the monastery and I became a monk for a while. My temper is better now but I still try to go back to the monastery once in a while.” Ryder Cup star Francesco Molinari, his fellow Italian Matteo Manassero and Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn were a shot back from Chapchai and Dyson at five-under-par during their second rounds.
Last year’s runner-up, Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines, hit the shot of the day with a 161-yard hole-in-one on the par-three second — the second ace of the tournament, after Edoardo Molinari’s on day one.
Organizers of the event, sometimes referred to as “Asia’s Major,” have admitted they are keen to move it to a different time of year to avoid the notorious storm delays.
Saudi Arabia prepare to step up World Cup preparations with Italy test
- Green Falcons play the Azzurri in Switzerland
- Mancini: 'Saudi Arabia are a fast and physical team'
Italy coach Roberto Mancini is wary of the threat posed by Saudi Arabia ahead of their friendly on Monday in St.Gallen in Switzerland.
The four-time global champions failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and are looking to rebuild ahead of the 2020 European Championships. Mancini was appointed in May to take over the national team and breathe in some new life.
“This is a vital game for us,” Mancini told Saudi Arabian television ahead of the friendly. “We know that Saudi Arabia are preparing for the World Cup so this is a great chance for us to build for the future,” said the former Manchester City boss.
“Saudi Arabia are a fast and physical team,” added Mancini. “All of the players are technically very good and we are looking forward to the test. We have to be careful as some of the players are playing for their World Cup place.”
Mario Balotelli is set to win his first international cap in four years for Italy after being recalled by Mancini.
“We didn’t make the World Cup,” said Balotelli. “Now we have to forget about that and focus on the future.”
The former Manchester City, AC Milan and Liverpool forward is looking forward to the challenge on Monday.
“We have to forget about what happened earlier this year and the fact that we didn’t qualify,” said Balotelli. “That is history now and we are really looking forward to playing Saudi Arabia. I haven’t played for the national team for a long time and I feel that I still have a lot to offer.”
Saudi Arabia are coming off the back of two 2-0 friendly victories against Algeria and Greece in a Spanish training camp that took place in May, but a good result against Italy would increase confidence levels further.
The lowest-ranked of all the 32 teams at the World Cup have a busy preparation period and take on Peru and Germany after the Italy clash. Saudi Arabia will meet the hosts Russia in the opening game of the 2018 World Cup in Moscow on June 14. After that, the Green Falcons take on Uruguay and Egypt in Group A.
“Any game is an important one in the build-up to the World Cup,” Saudi Arabia coach Juan Antonio Pizzi said on Sunday. “But playing Italy is something special. If we can get a good result then it can give us confidence to go on and have a good tournament. The important thing for us is that we feel we believe at this level and that is why we can try and push Italy all the way.”
The Green Falcons have been in Switzerland for a week in what is the fifth and final leg of their World Cup preparations. “Preparations are running smoothly and perfectly,” said Nawaf Al-Temyat, the vice president of Saudi Arabian Football Federation and chairman of World Cup 2018 preparation team, in a video on the federation’s Twitter account.
“We look forward in the coming three weeks to strong preparations. We’ll be playing three tough games against tough opponents. The Italian team has a new coach, Mancini, which is a great motivation for us. The Peruvian team is also a strong one and might be full of surprises in the World Cup. The coach and the players are very skilled.”
The Green Falcons have won three, lost three and drawn one of the seven games since Pizzi replaced Edgardo Bauza.
“We always say in the Saudi team that performance should be good during friendlies and results should be good in official games,” added Al-Temyat. “This means results are not important in friendlies but our performance is.”