Graeme McDowell wins Saudi International by two shots

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Graeme McDowell from Northern Ireland celebrates with the trophy after he wins the final round of the Saudi International at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020. (AP)
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A beaming Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland with the trophy. (Photo courtesy: Noel A. Alipoyo / OR Media Madarat)
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Updated 02 February 2020

Graeme McDowell wins Saudi International by two shots

  • The veteran touring pro from Northern Ireland uses his wealth of experience to beat a strong field

KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY: Graeme McDowell reminded everyone that, at 40, he can still seal the deal by winning the Saudi International by two shots on Sunday.
Winless on the European Tour for five and a half years, the veteran touring pro from Northern Ireland pulled through under pressure from the biggest names in golf, including American stars Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson.
“This win is special. I’m very excited and relieved I was able to get the job done,” McDowell, fighting back tears, said following his victory.
“The birdies on 14 and 15 were just huge at the time. This is a difficult golf course — it’s unusual to win feeling as uncomfortable as I did on a lot of these holes because it’s a tough course in tough conditions. This is a huge, world-class field with the world number one with massive world ranking points.
“It’s been 10 years since I won a US Open, 10 years probably since I played the best golf of my life. I feel like I’m moving back in the right direction,” added McDowell.
As expected, the chasing pack — notably Johnson and Mickelson — mounted a back nine charge to try to overhaul McDowell’s lead.
Johnson had two eagles — on Nos. 4 and 18 — and birdie on 9 against two bogeys in a 3-under 67 card and 10 under total in a fighting finish in his defense of the title in swirling winds at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City.

“I’m pleased with the way I played, but I would have liked to given Graeme a little more pressure coming down the stretch,” said Johnson.
“It was really hard to make putts — but I hit a lot of really good shots.”
Mickelson rattled in three birdies on the trot from the second hole and was three under at the turn. He birdied the 18 to rebound from a bogey at 16 for a 67 and 9 under total, three shots behind the winner.
Thomas Pieters of Belgium mixed seven birdies and two bogeys for a 65 (33-32) to join Mickelson at 9 under, as did first-round co-leader Malaysian Gavin Green, who enjoyed an eagle-birdie finish that steadied a wild even par 70 that contained five bogeys and further birdies on the second and sixth holes.
McDowell hit the turn at level par, dropped a shot 13 that saw his two-stroke lead cut to one. But he rebounded with those back-to-back birdies from 14. Regaining enough breathing room, McDowell played conservative golf and parred the rest of the holes to post the winning total of 12 after a closing 70.
“It’s my first time in Saudi Arabia and the setup of the course was magnificent. It’s been a brilliant event and I can’t wait to return next year,” said McDowell, confirming his intention to return for the 2021 tournament to defend his title.
McDowell’s playing partner Frenchman Victor Dubuisson had his game unravel, as he finished on 4-over 74 to be at 7 under in a big group that included, among others, Spain’s Sergio Garcia (64), Mexican Abraham Ancer 67 and England’s Ross Fisher (68).


NBA star LeBron James opts out of wearing social justice message on Lakers jersey

Updated 12 July 2020

NBA star LeBron James opts out of wearing social justice message on Lakers jersey

  • ‘It is just something that didn’t seriously resonate with my mission, with my goal’
  • But Lakers star still working behind the scenes to improve the lives of others

LOS ANGELES: NBA superstar LeBron James said Saturday he would opt out of wearing a social justice message on the back of his jersey because it doesn’t “resonate with his mission.”
James, who has often spoken out against racism and police brutality in America, is passing on the NBA’s plan to help bring attention to racial inequality by having players wear messages like “I Can’t Breathe” instead of their family names.
“I didn’t go with a name on the back of my jersey,” the Los Angeles Lakers forward James said Saturday. “It was no disrespect to the list that was handed down to all the players.”
“I commend anyone that decides to put something on the back of their jersey. It is just something that didn’t seriously resonate with my mission, with my goal.”
James says he wishes he had had some input into the jersey change.
“I would have loved to have a say on what would have went on the back of the jersey. I had a couple of things in mind, but I wasn’t part of that process which is OK.”
“I don’t need to have something on the back of the jersey for people to understand my mission and what I’m about and what I am here to do.”
The vast majority of NBA players have decided to pick a social justice message when play resumes in Orlando, Florida.
James is one of just about 17 players out of 285 so far who have opted to continue using their family names on the back of their uniforms.
The list of suggested messages, agreed on by the players union and NBA owners and then made available to players, includes “I Can’t Breathe,” which is what George Floyd said more than 20 times before he died with a white police officer kneeling on his neck.
Other messages include: Black Lives Matter; Say Their Names; Vote; Justice; Peace; Equality; Freedom; Enough; Power to the People; Justice Now; Say Her Name; Sí Se Puede (Yes We Can); Liberation; See Us; Hear Us; Respect Us; Love Us; Listen; Listen to Us; Stand Up; Ally; Anti-Racist; I Am A Man; Speak Up; How Many More; Group Economics; Education Reform; and Mentor.
James said even though he isn’t taking part in the jersey messages, he is still working behind the scenes to improve the lives of others, especially people in the Black community.
“Being able to use my platform, use the NBA’s platform, to continue to talk about what’s going on. Because I will not stop until I see real change for us in Black America, for African Americans, for people of color. And I also believe I can do both, though.”
James said he always expected to play in the restart to the season: “I am here for one goal and one goal only and that is to win a championship.”