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

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.

Mayor of town in north Japan bemoans lack of Olympic funds

Updated 15 September 2019

Mayor of town in north Japan bemoans lack of Olympic funds

  • Tokyo is reportedly spending about $20 billion to prepare the city to host the games
  • Tokyo organizers have faced a series of hurdles as they prepare to host the games

TOKYO: The mayor of a town in northeastern Japan that will host Olympic soccer games says his city has received no funding from the central government that has promised to use the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to help in the reconstruction of the region.

The Japanese government and Tokyo 2020 organizers are hoping to use the Olympics to showcase Japan’s recovery from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Several Olympic events, including soccer and baseball, will be held in northeastern Japan.

But with less than a year to go before the opening ceremony, Yutaka Kumagai, the mayor of Rifu in Miyagi Prefecture, says his city has seen no funding from the central government.

“There is no help from the government, we don’t have any budget from them, none,” Kumagai said on Saturday. “Tokyo 2020 is said to be a symbol of the reconstruction but when it comes to the budget, we don’t have any budget from the Olympic games here in Rifu.”

Kumagai made the comments during a media tour of Miyagi Stadium, a 49,000-seat facility in Rifu that will host men’s and women’s football at the 2020 Olympics.

About 50,000 people are still displaced in the Tohoku region as of August, according to the Reconstruction Agency. Yoshiaki Suda, the mayor of Onagawa in Miyagi Prefecture, concurred with Kumagai. Like Rifu, Onagawa is a coastal city that sustained heavy destruction.

“We haven’t received any subsidy, even one yen, from the central government,” Suda said. “Whatever we do for the venues, for the hospitality for the Olympics, we have to do ourselves.”

Some media reports have made the claim that the Olympics have hampered the reconstruction efforts, taking workers away from the region to help with construction in Tokyo.

Japan is one of the most earthquake- and tsunami-prone areas in the world. On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 quake offshore caused a tsunami that triggered meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The quake and tsunami heavily damaged coastal neighborhoods in northeastern Japan and took more than 18,000 lives.

Tokyo, which projected total costs of about $7.5 billion in its winning bid for the games in 2013, is reportedly spending about $20 billion to prepare the city to host the games.

A group of anti-Olympic activists, many from outside Japan, have held small protests and other events this summer under the Japanese title “Han-gorin no Kai” — which translates roughly to No Olympics. They oppose Olympic spending, which they say cuts into budgets for housing and environmental issues.

They also call for more money to rebuild Fukushima prefecture located northeast of Tokyo. Organizers say Fukushima is a main focus of the Olympics, staging baseball, softball and soccer games there to persuade the world the area is safe.

Tokyo organizers have faced a series of hurdles as they prepare to host the games. In August, Tokyo’s summer heat forced an Olympic women’s triathlon qualifying event to be shortened because of high temperatures that are likely to impact next year’s games.

Tsunekazu Takeda, the head of the Japanese Olympic Committee, was forced to quit earlier this year when he was implicated in a vote-buying scheme to land the games. He has denied wrongdoing, but acknowledged he signed off on about $2 million that French investigators allege went to buy votes.