Countdown to Saudi International starts with event for media and influencers at Riyadh City Boulevard

Countdown to Saudi International starts with event for media and influencers at Riyadh City Boulevard
Saudi golf coach Reem Alqubaisi gives a newcomer tips on the game during the event at Riyadh City Boulevard. (Golf Saudi)
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Updated 24 January 2022

Countdown to Saudi International starts with event for media and influencers at Riyadh City Boulevard

Countdown to Saudi International starts with event for media and influencers at Riyadh City Boulevard
  • Guests received coaching workshops and took on golf challenges ahead of the tournament at King Abdullah Economic City’s Royal Greens Golf and Country Club on Feb. 3-6

RIYADH: With the PIF Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers less than two weeks away, Saudi Arabia’s leading golf coaches joined forces to host an evening introducing 60 influencers and members of the media to the sport.

The event was held at “First Golf” — a new golfing entertainment destination managed by Golf Saudi that sits at the heart of Riyadh City Boulevard.

The guests received tuition, took on golf challenges, spoke to tournament officials as well as seeing the revered Saudi International trophy that was reclaimed last year by US star Dustin Johnson — the world No. 3.

The PIF Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers is just weeks away with some of the world’s best biggest stars teeing off at King Abdullah Economic City’s Royal Greens Golf and Country Club on Feb. 3-6.

The tournament, now part of the Asian Tour, is helping to spread interest in golf in the Kingdom, part of Golf Saudi’s strategy to see more Saudi nationals become active in the sport as part of Vision 2030. Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s fastest growing golf markets with ambitions for 2025 that include getting 3.5 million people to take up the sport for the first time, 320 contracted schools for golf curriculum activity and 135,000 children actively engaging in the sport.

“Since the inaugural Saudi International tournament in 2019, we’ve seen the golf market really thriving in the Kingdom,” said Ed Edwards, Golf Saudi chief operating officer.

“Participation numbers, interest and engagement is growing year-on-year here in the Kingdom. Hosting world class and international tournament gives an amazing platform for our mass participation programs here at Golf Saudi to roll out across clubs, schools and the wider golfing industry.

“Facilities like ‘First Golf’ makes the sport more accessible for newcomers in a fun and relaxed way for all abilities and all ages. We’re creating modern and urban touch points to allow more opportunities for Saudis to engage with the game at a purely social level,” he said.

The media evening saw Golf Saudi’s coaches give specialist coaching and education on the sport. The coaches are also overseeing the Kingdom’s very best talent — with the national teams currently notching wins recently at the Arab Golf Championship and Jordan Open as participation increases on the regional and Asian circuits.

“It’s so encouraging to see women, men, boys and girls really get into this sport — and swing a club for the very first time,” said Reem Alqubaisi, a Golf Saudi coach.

“Initiatives and modern facilities similar to what we have here at First Golf provide a great environment to introduce and educate people on this amazing sport. Everyone has been trying to smash their driver, inspired by Bryson DeChambeau and the other stars who will heading to the Kingdom in the next two weeks.”

DeChambeau will be part of a star-studded field packed with Ryder Cup stars and Major-winning golfers heading to compete in the PIF Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers, where the likes of defending champion Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Lee Westwood, Shane Lowry, Tyrrell Hatton and Louis Oosthuizen will join him.


AC Milan win first Serie A title since 2011

AC Milan win first Serie A title since 2011
Updated 17 sec ago

AC Milan win first Serie A title since 2011

AC Milan win first Serie A title since 2011
  • Fans partied in Milan and poured onto the pitch in Reggio Emilia as the ‘Rossoneri’ returned to the top of the Italian game after years of poor teams and financial problems since their last league crown in 2011

MILAN: AC Milan won their first Serie A title in 11 years on Sunday after beating Sassuolo 3-0 in Reggio Emilia to snatch the crown from local rivals Inter Milan.
Needing just a point to claim the Scudetto Milan swept their hosts aside thanks to an Olivier Giroud brace and another from Franck Kessie in the first half in front of an army of away fans at the Mapei Stadium.
Stefano Pioli’s Milan finished two points ahead of Inter, who beat Sampdoria 3-0 at the San Siro.
Fans partied in Milan and poured onto the pitch in Reggio Emilia as the ‘Rossoneri’ returned to the top of the Italian game after years of poor teams and financial problems since their last league crown in 2011.
Milan were imperious in winning their sixth match on the bounce and securing a title which for long tracts of the season looked like Inter’s to lose.
They were helped by a hat-trick of assists from exciting winger Rafale Leao, who has come of age this season and is reportedly a summer target for Paris Saint-Germain.
Giroud has struck some of the most important goals of Milan’s charge to the title and again showed why he is the man for the big occasion in the 17th minute.
He was in the right place at the right time to sweep Leao’s low pass through Andrea Consigli’s legs and send the massed ranks of Milan fans wild.
Sassuolo immediately wilted in the face of a Milan onslaught and practically handed Giroud the chance to net an almost identical second just after the half-hour mark.
Leao was again the provider, this time robbing the ball from Gian Marco Ferrari before rolling another low pass over for Giroud, who lashed in his 11th of the season and made it party time in the stands.
And it was another poor mistake from a Sassuolo player four minutes later which allowed Milan to relax and enjoy the celebrations kicking off around them.
This time it was Maxime Lopez who was robbed by Rade Krunic, with Leao bursting this time down the right and cutting back for Kessie, who smashed in the third to sign off in perfect fashion ahead of his move to Barcelona as a free agent in the close season.
The second half was dedicated to the Milan celebrations and despite some spirited Sassuolo play it was only a matter of time before the away side sealed the title for a 19th time.
Inter fans packed the San Siro in the hope that their team would pounce on a Milan slip-up but it was they who had more problems breaking the deadlock against a Samp team with nothing to play for.
A bubbling atmosphere slowly dissipated as news of Milan’s goals came in and there was also frustration at Inter’s inability to make the most of their clear dominance.
As so often this season it was Ivan Perisic who took matters into his own hands, calmly finishing into the bottom corner with his left foot after being nicely set up by a rampaging Nicolo Barella.
From there Samp gave up the ghost and two goals in as many minutes from Joaquin Correa just before the hour ensured Inter would finish with a win.
Home fans applauded their team off the pitch despite what must have been a painful way to lose their Serie A crown, with the hardcore in the Curva Nord chanting coach Simone Inzaghi’s name in a show of faith which is likely to be shared by the club.
After the title was decided on the last day the relegation battle is also going down to the wire with Salernitana and Cagliari fighting to avoid playing in Serie B next season.
Salernitana sit just outside the drop zone, two points ahead of Cagliari, ahead of their respective matches with Udinese and Venezia.


Newcastle ease to final day win, sending Burnley down 

Newcastle ease to final day win, sending Burnley down 
Updated 22 May 2022

Newcastle ease to final day win, sending Burnley down 

Newcastle ease to final day win, sending Burnley down 
  • Callum Wilson double enough to claim three points despite second half rally from the Clarets
  • Magpies finish season outside top half on goal difference, having been bottom at Christmas

NEWCASTLE: With emotions high and Premier League survival, for some, at stake, Newcastle United’s game-changer Callum Wilson showed the coolest head at Turf Moor to consign Burnley to the Championship and continue the Magpies’ meteoric rise.

A double either side of half time took the United striker’s personal tally to eight goals for the season, and Newcastle’s points to 49, not bettered since 2011/12, when Alan Pardew’s side just missed out on Champions League qualification.

And it is up, rather than down, where Eddie Howe can look, as his team finished the campaign in 11th place, a remarkable feat given they were bottom when he was handed the reins by majority owners, the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia.

A second half rally by the Clarets threatened a survival bid as Maxwell Cornet netted, but it was not to be for the hosts, and the second tier awaits.

With so much at stake for so many on the final day, albeit bar a few million in prize money for the Magpies, head coach Howe could not be criticized for his pre-match selection at Turf Moor.

Fabian Schar was only able to make the bench following his head knock against Arsenal, after just two days out on the training pitches at Benton. In came club captain Jamaal Lascelles to cover.

Elsewhere, Kieran Trippier was handed a start, his first since February, in place of Emil Krafth, who himself was unfortunate to miss out after a fine run of form.

The atmosphere was electric, but the home side looked nervy — and it showed in their play, as United took absolute control from very early on.

Dan Burn and Lascelles repelled any direct balls from Burnley, their Premier League trademark, while Sean Longstaff showed his dominance in the middle.

United were forced into a first-half rejig as Joelinton went off with what looked like quite a nasty leg injury — and that might well put an end to any immediate Brazil national team call ups for Newcastle’s player of the season.

Nineteen minutes was all it took for Wilson to come to the party, albeit as survival hope wreckers.

Trippier’s expert set-piece delivery had the Burnley backline all at sea and, as Longstaff looked set to nod back into the danger area, Nathan Collins inexplicably stuck out a fist — in an act only a day like this can inspire — to punch away.

After a look at the VAR monitor, the referee pointed to the spot and Wilson, who did everything but score against Arsenal, made no mistake from the spot, sending Nick Pope the wrong way.

That strike popped a balloon at Burnley, one they would struggle to refill.

The loss of Joelinton had seen a slight adjustment from the usual 4-3-3, to a more unusual 4-2-3-1, and while Miguel Almiron dropped into impressive pockets of space, the home side did begin to get a foothold.

However, on the hour, their task, if difficult before, became a whole lot harder as Wilson and United made it two-nil.

A break down the left from the unusually quiet Allan Saint-Maximin, normally red hot against the Clarets, saw him cross for Wilson at the back post.

In total control, it would not be unlike United to leave the door open a touch for the opposition.

And just nine minutes later Cornet cracked home to reduce the deficit, after Martin Dubravka had parried his original effort.

Cue an onslaught, as Lascelles and Matt Targett were forced into goal line clearances.

Injuries and goals at Leeds, however, took this match away from Burnley, and so too it lessened the bite in their own game as United ended up seeing it out with minimal fuss.

With the three points, United ended the season just outside the Premier League top half on goal difference.

No one could have predicted this. A battle to beat the drop looked certain, a destiny already mapped out. But in the end it was not even close.

As one chapter ends, a new one begins, ready to be crafted by Howe and his players, who will no doubt be stronger in depth of quality come August, when the 2022/23 campaign kicks off.


Man City retain Premier League title with dramatic late comeback

Man City retain Premier League title with dramatic late comeback
Updated 22 May 2022

Man City retain Premier League title with dramatic late comeback

Man City retain Premier League title with dramatic late comeback
  • Ilkay Gundogan came off the bench to score twice with Rodri also on target as Pep Guardiola’s men held off Liverpool’s title charge to win the league by a point

MANCHESTER: Manchester City retained the Premier League title in the most dramatic of fashion as they hauled themselves back from 2-0 down to beat Aston Villa 3-2 with three goals in the final 15 minutes on Sunday.
Ilkay Gundogan came off the bench to score twice with Rodri also on target as Pep Guardiola’s men held off Liverpool’s title charge to win the league by a point.
In scenes remiscent of the first of City’s now six league titles in 11 seasons when Sergio Aguero scored a 93rd minute winner to deny Manchester United the title on goal difference, the champions produced a remarkable comeback at the Etihad.
Goals from Matty Cash and former Liverpool favorite Philippe Coutinho looked set to gift the Reds the title.
Jurgen Klopp’s men did their job by also coming from a goal down to beat Wolves 3-1 at Anfield, but City’s rescue act ensured Liverpool’s bid for an unprecedented quadruple is over.
Gundogan started the comeback as he headed in Raheem Sterling’s cross at the back post.
Rodri then side-footed home from outside the box and Gundogan completed the fightback by tapping home Kevin De Bruyne’s cross at the back post.
Guardiola said before the game he wanted no repeat of Aguero’s legendary late strike a decade ago.
But the Calatan was the most relieved man in Manchester as he sealed the 10th league title of his coaching career in just 13 seasons.
Fans swarmed onto the pitch to celebrate at full-time and the crossbar at the goal where City scored all of their goals was snapped under the weight of supporters sitting on it.


‘Maybe it was good to lose,’ says Jabeur after French Open shock

‘Maybe it was good to lose,’ says Jabeur after French Open shock
Updated 22 May 2022

‘Maybe it was good to lose,’ says Jabeur after French Open shock

‘Maybe it was good to lose,’ says Jabeur after French Open shock
  • The sixth-seeded Tunisian crashed out to Poland’s 56th-ranked Magda Linette 3-6, 7-6 (7/4), 7-5
  • Jabeur came into the event with a season-leading 17 wins on clay in 2022 and with the prestigious Madrid title under her belt

PARIS: Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur suffered a shock French Open first round exit on Sunday but admitted: “Maybe it was good to lose.”
The sixth-seeded Tunisian crashed out to Poland’s 56th-ranked Magda Linette 3-6, 7-6 (7/4), 7-5.
The 27-year-old was seen as a potential champion in Paris, despite never having previously got past the fourth round.
Jabeur came into the event with a season-leading 17 wins on clay in 2022 and with the prestigious Madrid title under her belt and a runners-up spot in Rome against world number one Iga Swiatek in Rome.
However, she was undone Sunday by 47 unforced errors in the two hour 28-minute match.
“Obviously I was expecting better but we say maybe something happens bad because there is something good happening in the future,” said Jabeur.
“Hopefully the grass season, hopefully Wimbledon, I don’t know, but it’s definitely a great time to reflect and to see what’s going to happen next.”
“So maybe it was a good thing to lose today. I would rather say this and be really tough with myself than waste all the good energy that I got from Madrid and Rome.”
Jabeur said she was not happy to see that she was starting proceedings on Court Philippe Chatrier on the opening day of the tournament, the first French Open with full crowds since 2019 after a pandemic-affected two years.
“Well, honestly, I wasn’t happy to play on a Sunday at 11,” she added.
“I’ve got quite a peculiar relationship with this court, I like it and I don’t like it at the same time.”
Linette had lost to Jabeur in the third round in 2021 having stunned an injury-hit top seed Ashleigh Barty in her previous match.
“I just tried to stay focused after the first set and tried to make her uncomfortable. I was happy to fight for every single point,” said Linette who needed treatment on a leg injury after dropping the first set.
“I shifted my attention to play faster and my racquet speed was faster than in the first set.
“I wanted to put her in the situation where she couldn’t move me around as much.”
Linette, a quarter-finalist on clay at Charleston and Strasbourg this year, next faces either 2020 French Open quarter-finalist, and weekend Rabat champion Martina Trevisan of Italy or Britain’s Harriet Dart for a spot in the last 32.


Verstappen wins Spanish Grand Prix, takes world championship lead

Verstappen wins Spanish Grand Prix, takes world championship lead
Updated 22 May 2022

Verstappen wins Spanish Grand Prix, takes world championship lead

Verstappen wins Spanish Grand Prix, takes world championship lead
  • Verstappen had to overcome being blown off the circuit and into the gravel by a gust of wind early on and some technical niggles

MONTMELO: Max Verstappen reaped the reward of Charles Leclerc’s misfortune to rack up his third straight win this season in Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix and move top of the Formula One drivers’ standings.
Sergio Perez took second for a Red Bull 1-2 at the Montmelo circuit behind the world champion where in 2016 Verstappen had opened his F1 account as a teenager.
Leclerc was sitting comfortably in the lead from pole until lap 23 when a sudden loss of power proved fatal to his Ferrari.
The man from Monaco arrived in Catalonia 19 points in front in the title race, but left it six points behind Verstappen ahead of his home race next weekend.
Verstappen had to overcome being blown off the circuit and into the gravel by a gust of wind early on and some technical niggles.
“Difficult beginning but a good end! I tried to stay focussed, which is not always easy,” he said.
Mercedes showed improved form after a bumpy start to the season with George Russell claiming third.
Lewis Hamilton in the other Mercedes threaded his way through the field after being forced into the pits shortly after the start with a puncture to take fifth.