Li Haotong’s heroic round puts pressure on co-leader Dustin Johnson in Saudi Arabia

Li Haotong’s heroic round puts pressure on co-leader Dustin Johnson in Saudi Arabia
Li Haotong of China made four eagles on Saturday, including two in his last two holes, to grab a share of the lead with American Dustin Johnson at the Saudi International. (AFP)
Updated 02 February 2019

Li Haotong’s heroic round puts pressure on co-leader Dustin Johnson in Saudi Arabia

Li Haotong’s heroic round puts pressure on co-leader Dustin Johnson in Saudi Arabia
  • Johnson started the third round with a three-stroke lead and shot 65
  • Haotong’s incident-filled round of 8-under 62 saw him draw level with the American

LONDON: Li Haotong of China made four eagles on Saturday, including two in his last two holes, to grab a share of the lead with American Dustin Johnson at the Saudi International at the end of a third round in which Sergio Garcia was disqualified for damaging two greens.
Haotong’s incident-filled round of 8-under 62 — which also included a double bogey — finished with him driving the green at the 17th to set up a 6-foot putt for eagle before making a 3 at the par-5 18th.
Three of his eagles came on par 4 holes.
Johnson started the third round with a three-stroke lead and shot 65. The world No. 3 and Li were 16 under overall and five strokes ahead of Tom Lewis, who shot 62 for third outright.
Garcia was disqualified for “serious misconduct,” the European Tour said in a statement, after he shot 71.
The former Masters champion said “in frustration, I damaged a couple of greens, for which I apologize for, and I have informed my fellow players it will never happen again.”
Meanwhile, Haotong was quick to thank his lucky stars after his miraculous round at the Royal Greens.
“I think it was very, very lucky today. Those eagles, especially last couple shots, were really solid, but apart from that, honestly, my play, wasn’t that good. But I did made a lot of par putts.”
When asked about his round and its remarkable finish with his final eagle, Haotong said: “It was another lucky bounce on that one. I mean, off the tee, driving the bunker about two yards short to carry the bunker, and bounce over the bunker, it was lucky.
“Quite exciting on that one,” he added.
The Chinese superstar was confident of holding on to Johnson’s coat-tails, especially after his win in the region last year, when he triumphed in Dubai over Rory McIlroy.
“I just want to play my best, especially compared to last week.
“So I just have to put myself in the position, hopefully I get used to that feeling and play and enjoy myself on the final round.”
Front-runner Johnson was pleased with his efforts on Saturday.
“I thought I played well. Probably played just as well as I did (on Friday). 
I gave myself a lot of opportunities, made a lot of good putts and just holed a few more (on Friday) than I did today, that was the only difference,” he said.
And the American paid tribute to the efforts of Haotong on the back nine.
“I heard when I was done, that’s pretty impressive. Four eagles in a golf tournament is pretty good, but four in one round, you take that any day.”
Johnson has won majors and PGA tournaments all over the world, but victory in Saudi Arabia would mark his first win on the European Tour, something Johnson is keen to achieve.
“It’s definitely an opportunity for me to see what I’ve got and I definitely would like to win a regular European Tour event. I’ve played in a few now. That’s something I haven’t done and so that would be a nice little way to send it back to the US (on Sunday).”


Robert Saleh becomes first Muslim head coach in NFL history

Lebanese-American Robert Saleh served as a defensive assistant with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Seattle Seahawks and the Houston Texans before his head coach role at the New York Jets. (AFP/File Photo)
Lebanese-American Robert Saleh served as a defensive assistant with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Seattle Seahawks and the Houston Texans before his head coach role at the New York Jets. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 15 January 2021

Robert Saleh becomes first Muslim head coach in NFL history

Lebanese-American Robert Saleh served as a defensive assistant with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Seattle Seahawks and the Houston Texans before his head coach role at the New York Jets. (AFP/File Photo)
  • Saleh, who has been defensive coordinator at the San Francisco 49ers since 2017, will replace Adam Gase
  • Will be the third Arab-American head coach in the NFL

LONDON: The New York Jets said Friday they were appointing Robert Saleh as their head coach, making him the first Muslim to lead a team in the National Football League (NFL).

Saleh, who has been defensive coordinator at the San Francisco 49ers since 2017, will replace Adam Gase, who was fired at the end of a disappointing 2020 regular season.

“Saleh will become the Jets’ 20th head coach in franchise history and their 18th coach appointed to take Green and White reins before the start of a new season,” the Jets posted on their website.

He beat other candidates for the job, including the Tennessee Titans’ assistant coach Arthur Smith, and was wanted by at least six other franchises including Super Bowl LII champions the Philadelphia Eagles, the Detroit Lions and the Los Angeles Chargers, according to ESPN.

Before his stint in San Francisco, Lebanese-American Saleh served as a defensive assistant with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Seattle Seahawks and the Houston Texans.

He will be the third Arab-American head coach in the NFL after Abe Gibron, who is also Lebanese-American, and Rich Kotite, but he will be the first Muslim, according to a statement from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

His no-nonsense approach to defensive play made him a popular figure with his players and 49er fans.

“He makes sure there’s no grey area in terms of coaching and teaching,” San Francisco linebacker Fred Warner said last month. “There’s a lot of coaches out there who just coach. But he’s a great teacher.”

Another of his former players, Richard Sherman, congratulated him on the appointment. He tweeted: “The @nyjets got a great one! Congrats to them!”

His appointment was also welcomed by the Muslim civil rights body, the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

He will have a tough task at the Jets, turning around the fortunes of a team that has failed to make the playoffs since the 2010 season, currently the NFL’s longest active postseason drought.

With quarterback Sam Darnold failing to hit the heights he promised after being picked No. 3 in the 2018 draft, Saleh’s first job will be to find a solid option in that position if he is to bring success to East Rutherford for the first time since 1968.