Moriya Jutanugarn picks Catriona Matthew in headline pairing for $1m Aramco Team Series – Bangkok

Moriya Jutanugarn picks Catriona Matthew in headline pairing for $1m Aramco Team Series – Bangkok
Ariya Jutanugarn explains her draft pick ahead of the Aramco Team Series – Bangkok, which starts Thursday at the Thai Country Club. (Golf Saudi)
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Updated 11 May 2022

Moriya Jutanugarn picks Catriona Matthew in headline pairing for $1m Aramco Team Series – Bangkok

Moriya Jutanugarn picks Catriona Matthew in headline pairing for $1m Aramco Team Series – Bangkok
  • Thai superstar selects Solheim Cup legend with captain’s pick for LET event

BANGKOK: Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn will partner up with Solheim Cup star Catriona Matthew in one of the headline fourballs at this week’s Aramco Team Series – Bangkok.

She used her captain’s pick in Tuesday night’s pre-tournament draft to recruit the Scot, an 11-time Tour champion and Major-winner, but perhaps most revered for her back-to-back roles captaining Team Europe to Solheim Cup success.

Spanish Ladies European Tour rookie Paz Marfa Sans will complete the professional side of the team with the addition of an amateur golfer before play gets underway at the Thai Country Club on Thursday.

“Playing in my home country is very exciting,” said Jutanugarn, who is making her second appearance in an Aramco Team Series event. “I wanted to pick the legend Catriona as she’ll make me feel a lot more calm – maybe I can learn from her as well. I’m really happy with my team. For us, I think it’s just a case of going out, enjoying it, and having fun. If we do, I’m sure we’ll be good!” 




Patty Tavatanakit

Asked if her captain for the week, the world’s No. 50, was a player she respected, Matthew said: “Oh, absolutely! I’ve played a lot with Moriya on the LPGA over the years. I haven’t seen her in a wee while, so I’m delighted to be playing together and being able to catch up.”

Jutanugarn was one pick earlier in the draft than her younger sister, Ariya, who is competing in the same Bangkok event, which has been added to the LET calendar for the first time this year.

Ariya, like her sister, used her captain’s selection to recruit a Scot – Laura Beveridge. Anne-Charlotte Mora of France was the third addition to the team. Asked about her captain’s pick, the two-time Major-winner said: “I’ve not known so much about Laura, but I had been looking at all the stats before picking her, so I’m pretty sure she’s going to help the team. Already we’re having so much fun, talking about what we’re going to eat today, and where the good Thai food is! I’m pretty sure we’re going to be a good team.”

This week’s debut Bangkok leg will be the first of five $1 million Aramco Team Series tournaments on the LET calendar for 2022 – and the first with the three-day event’s new format.

Updated from last year’s inaugural Series, the teams will now compete over only 36 holes – the Thursday and Friday of the tournament – with $500,000 prize money split between the lowest scoring fourballs.

Saturday’s final day of play will see only the lowest scoring 60 players and ties from the opening two days return to the course to battle it out for a share of another $500,000, this time in individual earnings.

Big names set to compete with the likes of the Jutanugarn sisters include fellow Thai superstar Patty Tavatanakit, who selected Finland’s Noora Komulainen as her captain’s pick – and who returns home to compete ranked as the world No. 13.

England’s Charley Hull has a blistering Aramco Team Series record, with three top 10 team finishes and a solo victory in last year’s New York event. She chose good friend and fellow English golfer Lauren Taylor as her teammate for the week’s fourball action.

Australia’s Whitney Hillier leaned on her mother’s Thai heritage to recruit Chonlada Chayanun, whose home course is this week’s host course.

The Aramco Team Series — Bangkok kicks off a run of ATS events for the 2022 season and is followed by four more $1 million tournaments in London, Sotogrande, New York, and Jeddah.


Eddie Howe hopes Newcastle relegation battles are a thing of the past

Eddie Howe hopes Newcastle relegation battles are a thing of the past
Updated 1 min 9 sec ago

Eddie Howe hopes Newcastle relegation battles are a thing of the past

Eddie Howe hopes Newcastle relegation battles are a thing of the past
  • A remarkable second half of the season saw the Magpies coach lead the club to safety after the team had failed to win any of the opening 14 matches
  • Eddie Howe: I have an idea of what I want to do and where I want to take the team and the changes we need to make

NEWCASTLE: Eddie Howe hopes this season is the last Newcastle United fans will have to worry about Premier League safety.

The Magpies secured their top flight status with two games of the campaign left, having failed to win any of their first 14 top matches. A 2-0 victory over Champions League-chasing Arsenal was the icing on the cake on what has been a remarkable season in many ways.

And while that season-opening run and the subsequent recovery set Newcastle Premier League records, Howe does not want to walk that same road again, with his eyes fixed firmly on progress and ambition at St James’ Park.

Howe, whose side plays Burnley on the final day of the season on Sunday, said: “There are no guarantees in football and that’s what makes the game so beautiful because you never know what’s around the corner.

“We have ambitions to improve, so I hope we’re not in this position again of fighting through the season. The Premier League is so difficult, it examines you in so many different ways. The competition is fierce, everyone will have different aims and dreams.

“All I can pledge is I will do everything in my power to make sure we come back a stronger team but there are no guarantees.”

While Howe is playing it coy with his future predictions, the ambitions of the ownership model at Newcastle is clear — they want regular success and silverware on Tyneside before the decade is out.

“They care. They care deeply,” said Howe of the club’s owners, the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, PCP Capital Partners and RB Sports & Media.

“They care about the players and staff, they want to be involved and be actively helping. They were that way right from the start.

“After (the defeat to) Cambridge, they (Amanda Staveley, Mehrdad Ghodoussi and Yasir Al-Rumayyan) came to see me and the staff, of course at that moment, we were low. It meant a lot to see them come in and support us and say ‘come on, we go again.’ The week after was Watford and they supported us again.

“When you look back after a successful period, those moments are so important. A big thank you to them.”

Lots of public talk of reduced budgets and Financial Fair Play concerns have been raised by Newcastle sources in recent weeks, leading some to conclude it will be a frugal summer on Tyneside.

However, a hard-and-fast rule in business is not to tell potential sellers just how much cash you’re operating with.

The club’s accounts for the period ended Jun. 30, 2021, prior to Mike Ashley’s majority sale to PIF, show the football club made a loss of around $15 million.

Under the Premier League’s Profit and Sustainability rules, club’s can operate a $131 million loss over three seasons.

The 34 pages posted to the club’s filing history on Companies House also show that since acquisition, the club’s owners have pumped $209,500 into the company, which, although not stated, is likely to have covered operating costs, infrastructural upgrades and January transfers as well as the hiring of Howe and the sacking of Steve Bruce.

So is Howe expecting a tough summer, or one another record-breaking spend?

“It’s very difficult to plan a summer transfer window because as I’ve said before, of the unpredictability of the market,” he said.

“Of course, I have an idea of what I want to do and where I want to take the team and the changes we need to make. That’s one thing having that idea in your head but the other is executing it. We’ll see what happens.”


Footballer Fahad Al-Muwallad banned for 18 months by Saudi Arabian Anti-Doping Committee

Footballer Fahad Al-Muwallad banned for 18 months by Saudi Arabian Anti-Doping Committee
Updated 17 May 2022

Footballer Fahad Al-Muwallad banned for 18 months by Saudi Arabian Anti-Doping Committee

Footballer Fahad Al-Muwallad banned for 18 months by Saudi Arabian Anti-Doping Committee
  • Al-Ittihad, Saudi national team star tested positive for banned substance before King’s Cup semi-final against Al-Feiha in April

RIYADH: Al-Ittihad and Saudi Arabia star Fahad Al-Muwallad has been suspended from all football activities for 18 months after testing positive for a banned substance.

The Saudi Arabian Anti-Doping Committee confirmed the news on Monday, according to Arabic sports daily Arriyadiyah.

The committee clarified that the player waived his right to open the B sample at the hearing during which all the supporting documents for the case were reviewed.

Al-Muwallad was tested before Al-Ittihad’s King’s Cup semi-final against Al-Feiha on April 4, a match the Saudi Pro League leaders lost 1-0 to exit the tournament.

In a statement, the SAADC said: “The period of suspension of Fahad Al-Muwallad from participating in all internal and external sporting competitions begins from the temporary suspension period on March 28 of this year.”

While the player has been banned from taking part in any competitions, the statement added that he could return to training in the last two months of the suspension period.

Al-Muwallad was previously suspended in 2019 for testing positive for a banned substance after a Saudi Pro League match against Al-Nassr.


Saudi gaming champ Musaed Al-Dossary ready for FIFA 22 Champions Cup in Doha

Saudi gaming champ Musaed Al-Dossary ready for FIFA 22 Champions Cup in Doha
Updated 17 May 2022

Saudi gaming champ Musaed Al-Dossary ready for FIFA 22 Champions Cup in Doha

Saudi gaming champ Musaed Al-Dossary ready for FIFA 22 Champions Cup in Doha
  • Tournament will this month see top 16 Arab gamers compete for $50,000 total prize pot

RIYADH: Saudi gaming superstar Musaed Al-Dossary was optimistic ahead of taking part in the FIFA 22 Champions Cup powered by Ooredoo Nation later this month.

The tournament, being staged in the Qatari capital Doha from May 24 to 25 before concluding on May 28, will welcome the Arab world’s top 16 FIFA 22 gamers and more than 2,000 spectators.

A total prize pot of $50,000 will be up for grabs, with the winner taking $25,000, the runner-up $15,000, while third- and fourth-place finishers will receive $5,000 each.

The 2018 FIFAe World Champion, who plays under the moniker MS Dossary, told Arabic sports daily Arriyadiyah: “I am happy with the return of live attendance competitions and championships, and taking part in the neighboring nation of Qatar is certainly of importance to me.

“I hope that the tournament will be of the desired level for e-sports lovers, and I am fully prepared to face other elite players and win the title,” he said.


Hammoud Al- Saiari becomes first-ever Saudi to coach in north Africa’s top-flight leagues

Hammoud Al- Saiari becomes first-ever Saudi to coach in north Africa’s top-flight leagues
Updated 17 May 2022

Hammoud Al- Saiari becomes first-ever Saudi to coach in north Africa’s top-flight leagues

Hammoud Al- Saiari becomes first-ever Saudi to coach in north Africa’s top-flight leagues
  • After stints with second-tier clubs in Kingdom, Al-Saiari appointed head coach of Tunisia’s AS Rejiche on short-term contract

RIYADH: For some time now, there have been calls for more Saudi Arabian players to head overseas.

Not only does this provide vital international experience for the country’s best talent to develop and then bring back to the national team and their colleagues it also gives opportunities for young players at home to step up to fill the gap.

It is also exciting to see how they perform. That is why the prospect of stars such as Salem Al-Dawsari heading overseas to play in Europe is an enticing one.

It has yet to really happen but then, all of a sudden, there is news of a Saudi coach taking over a foreign team at a high level.

On Sunday, it was announced that Hammoud Al-Saiari had been appointed as head coach of Tunisian top-flight club AS Rejiche. He is the first Saudi tactician to work in the north African country.

Al-Saiari, who has experience with second-tier teams at home such as Al-Ain, Al-Nahda, and Jeddah, replaces local boss Ferid Ben Belgacem.

“I have contracted with Rejiche and am proud to be the first Saudi coach to work in a strong league in a different country,” Al-Saiari said, thanking the president of his new club.

The east-coast team are not one of the powerhouses of Tunisian football and were promoted to the top tier in 2021. For them, the current league season is over after finishing fourth in Group B just outside the play-off places (the 16-team top tier is divided into two groups of eight with the top three from each progressing to the next stage).

The new man will be in charge for the Tunisian Cup which starts next month. If Al-Saiari can impress during the competition, then he is likely to be handed a lengthier contract to take control of the team for next season.

This is an encouraging and natural response to the situation at home. There are some fine coaches in the top tier of the Saudi Professional League, but they are all foreign. Opportunities for home-grown managers are few and far between and they are usually confined to short-term caretaker positions or second-tier jobs.

At Al-Ettifaq, Khaled Al-Alwi’s time in charge came to an end in October and so the league lost the last permanent local who was replaced by Vladan Milojevic. The Serbian was himself replaced in March by Patrice Carteron and the team are still deep in relegation trouble, so perhaps there is something to be said for sticking with Saudi talent.

In East Asian countries, there is usually more of a mix between foreign and domestic tacticians. Almost half in the Japanese top tier are foreign, with South Korea having just one international boss, a situation also not seen as ideal.

Foreign bosses bring new ideas, methods, and experience and those that are committed and enthusiastic can make a real difference to the league as well as individual players. It is also great for local coaches to pit their wits against counterparts from Brazil, Serbia, Argentina, and the Netherlands and to also learn from them.

However, in the absence of opportunity it is natural that coaches will seek pastures new, and it is a good sign. Al-Saiari’s move should be huge news in Saudi Arabia and fans and media in the country should get behind their export to Tunisia, a level that is decent in Africa and would rival most in Asia.

A big-name player such as Al-Dawsari going overseas is always going to grab the headlines but if Saudi Arabia can start exporting coaches, then it will be a huge benefit to the country and also show those budding tacticians starting out that there is a professional pathway in the game.

What should also happen is that if the likes of Al-Saiari and other Saudi bosses can have success abroad then they will be more attractive to clubs at home. It all helps to strengthen the domestic football scene.

All this is a lot of pressure to place on one coach who has a short-term contract with a mid-table Tunisian club but for the situation to change, there always has to be a first.

There should be a few more people interested in the Tunisian Cup next month and if AS Rejoice can show signs of improvement in the knockout competition, then next season could be fascinating indeed and also meaningful for the future.


Newcastle deal heavy blow to Arsenal’s Champions League hopes

Newcastle deal heavy blow to Arsenal’s Champions League hopes
Updated 17 May 2022

Newcastle deal heavy blow to Arsenal’s Champions League hopes

Newcastle deal heavy blow to Arsenal’s Champions League hopes
  •  A 2-0 win at celebratory St James’ Park means Eddie Howe’s team ended their home campaign on high note

NEWCASTLE: “Something special is stirring at St. James’ Park. Strap yourselves in. Howay the Lads.”

The message was simple but stirring, beautiful while charged with steely intent.

This was a club tweet to follow a statement performance that will have alarm bells ringing from London to Liverpool and Manchester and back.

Newcastle United weren’t meant to stay up this season. They weren’t meant to dazzle and delight. At Christmas the Championship was beckoning. And while the depths of winter despair thaw into spring then summer, pain has been replaced with hope and joy. The sleeping giant of English football is stretching its legs and readying itself for battle.

Having failed to lay a glove on Liverpool then Manchester City, Newcastle United, at the 14th attempt this campaign, beat a side in the Premier League top seven.

And while Eddie Howe’s United look light years away from the top two, they were head and shoulders above shell-shocked Arsenal, who looked like a rabbit in the headlines at an electrically charged St. James’ Park.

Champions League contenders? On this evidence, and playing at this level, it will be Newcastle featuring heavily in the conversation next season, not just Arsenal.

“Brilliant way for us to sign off here,” said Howe.

“I was very, very pleased with our performance, it was probably our best performance by some distance since I’ve been at the football club. The most pleasing thing was we were dominant in the first-half, but I’ve seen that so many times where the dominant team then drop off in terms of energy levels and intensity levels and the game totally changes.

“I’ve got to give my players big credit that we didn’t. We were probably better in the second-half. Full credit to the group and a great way to finish off here.”

Howe’s United put the Gunners on the ropes from minute one. Pressing high and forcing errors, Miguel Almiron and Callum Wilson, starting his first game since December, were instrumental in setting a frenetic pace that the visitors could not live with.

Aaron Ramsdale, as shaky as he’s looked all season, had to be at his best to palm away an Allan Saint-Maximin effort, while Ben White was on hand to deny Wilson his seventh of the season.

That pair’s battle was one of the most intriguing on the pitch, with Wilson playing on the shoulder and running in behind at will — and it was one such second-half run that brought the opener.

A bursting Joelinton drive down the left saw the big Brazilian, a colossus in midfield all evening, cut across to Wilson and just as he was about to turn in, White got a boot on it to beat Ramsdale at the front post.

Cue a sonic boom that will send shockwaves into the Tyneside night, reverberating across the English game — rarely, if ever, has St. James’ been this loud.

And United, putting in their best performance of the campaign, weren’t finished there.

Goal-thirsty Wilson came close twice more as he went in hunt of one of his own and it was from his tenacity that No.2 was born.

His challenge at the feet of Ramsdale saw the ball squirt out to Bruno Guimaraes, who netted his fifth of the season.

Beating Arsenal, whose Champions League dream looks to have gone up in smoke, feels like a real move in the right direction.

“Yeah, it feels like a step forward, definitely,” said Howe.

“That was a challenge we poised — could we get a positive result against one of the top six? I felt we were capable of it but we needed to see it. That was the challenge we responded to really well. The way we started the game, the intensity in our play, our pressing was very good.

“I thought you saw tonight a progression and evolution in terms of the football we played. How we handled the ball I thought we were creative, we looked like we could score, maybe not so much in the first-half but definitely in the second. We’re seeing an improvement in all areas.”

Is this a window into the future of Newcastle United? It certainly felt as such.

While this was the end of United’s home season, it very much feels like only the start.

This Newcastle is united. This Newcastle means business. Watch out English football, a new contender is sharpening its tools. Newcastle United are back, and no longer around to simply make up the numbers.

Howe said: “I’m very, very proud to be connected with the club. An incredible thanks from me to the supporters for how they have handled a very difficult situation this year.

“When you think back to Cambridge and Watford, how they reacted after those games was absolutely magnificent and I think that paved the way for us to build some confidence, some unity and the spirit that we needed to go on the brilliant run we’ve been on.

“The support tonight was absolutely incredible. The atmosphere around the stadium was something I’ve not really experienced before. A big thank you to them.”