China’s Feng stays ahead in Dubai

Updated 08 December 2012
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China’s Feng stays ahead in Dubai

DUBAI: Even a new tournament record round of nine-under par 63 by Dutch woman Dewi Claire Schreefel could not reel in runaway leader Feng Shanshan after yesterday’s third day’s play at the 500,000 euros Dubai Ladies Masters.
At the par-72 Majlis course of Emirates Golf Club, the world No.6 and the highest ranked player in the field, Feng made three birdies in her last three holes for a third-round 67, and that helped increase her lead at the top by five shots.
Schreefel, a 27-year-old from Alkmaar who has been a regular on the LPGA Tour the last two years, made four birdies in her last four holes, apart from five others in a bogey-free round.
The 63 bettered the previous tournament record of 64 by Sweden’s Louise Stahle in the first round of the 2007 tournament.
France’s Gwladys Nocera, who finished second to Laura Davies in the Money List in 2006, shot her third consecutive round of 68 to take sole possession of third place at 12-under 204.
Germany’s Caroline Masson, who needs to finish at least solo third to have a chance to win the Money List this year, was tied fourth one shot behind at 205 after a 69 alongside American Cindy Lacrosse (69).
Spain’s Carlota Ciganda, who leads the Money List right now, faltered with a one-over par 73 round to fall back to tied 20th place at 211.
Ciganda has a lead of 31,959 euros over the second-placed Masson, and they are the only two players in the field who can win the honor of being called the No.1 ladies golfer in Europe.
Defending champion Alexis Thompson shot herself out of contention with an even par 72 round that placed her 11 shots behind leader Feng.
American Michelle Wie felt much better on the course, but a round of 70 could only elevate her to tied 31st place at 213.
Feng’s 18-under par score has already matched the record low winning score (by Annika Sorenstam in 2006 and In Kyung-Kim in 2009), and she still has a round to go.
But the only player from China to win a Major title (this year’s LPGA Championship) said: “I haven’t thought about it and I am happy with that achievement, but we have been lucky this year not to get much wind out there. It could get windy tomorrow and I could still end up higher than that score.
“I don’t really look at the leaderboard during the round, so I did not know that Dewi had come as close as two shots to me. But I am very happy with the way I played the last three holes. To finish with three birdies is always good.
“I don’t think I am going to do anything different tomorrow. Whatever I have been doing the first three days has obviously been good for my golf.” Schreefel, a winner on the LPGA’s Futures Tour in 2009, was aware it would be difficult to back up a round like 63 with something similar.
“Rounds like these are going to come along every once in a while, but I am feeling comfortable with my game,” she said.
“So, I feel another good round is possible. It will be difficult to beat Shanshan given that she has a five-shot lead, but I will give it my best shot.”


Saudi Arabian football clubs helped with debts by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Updated 25 min 13 sec ago
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Saudi Arabian football clubs helped with debts by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

John Duerden RIYADH: The General Sports Authority and Saudi Arabia Football Federation (SAFF) have announced that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will cover all external debts owed by Saudi Professional League clubs.
According to reports, the Crown Prince will provide 1,277,000,000 Saudi riyals (around $340 million) that will not only clear monies owed but also enable clubs to invest ahead of the 2018-19 season.
The issue of debt had become a major issue in the country’s football scene.
“Some Saudi Arabian clubs are currently experiencing financial problems that require immediate and urgent intervention,” the General Sports Authority, which oversees Saudi Arabian sport, said in a statement released on social media.
The body noted that there are a total of 107 cases under appeal at world governing body FIFA regarding unpaid salaries in Saudi Arabia.
“Failure to intervene urgently to rescue clubs may result in damage to the reputation of the Kingdom in general and Saudi Arabian sport in particular,” added the GSA.
“Some Saudi Arabian clubs may face severe disciplinary sanctions because of the failure to meet financial obligations such as the
denial of the registration of players in general or the deduction of points.”
Unpaid salaries were also a factor in Al-Ittihad and Al-Nassr being unable to appear in this year’s AFC Champions League after they were denied AFC club licenses.
Al-Ittihad were the club with the highest debt of 309 million riyals ($82 million) and welcomed the news.
“We are delighted by the generous initiative of His Royal Highness,” Al-Ittihad president Nawaf Al-Muqairn said in an official statement released by the two-time Asian champions.
“This contributes to creating solid ground for all clubs to move toward achieving their goals.”
Legendary Saudi striker Sami Al-Jaber, recently appointed president of champions Al-Hilal, announced his gratitude on social media.
“Great thanks to His Highness the Crown Prince for the great support that the clubs have enjoyed which enables sport in our country to keep pace with the aspirations of our leadership,” Al-Jaber wrote.
The Crown Prince’s move followed the SAFF announcing a new raft of regulations in April that will come into effect next season and are designed to take the league forward. These included restricting club spending on transfers and salaries to 70 percent of revenue. The size of first-team squads has been reduced from 33 to 28, of which five must be homegrown players of 23 or younger.