Saudi national golf trio to feature in International Series England

Saudi national golf trio to feature in International Series England
Othman Almulla of Saudi Arabia and his caddie walk down the 9th fairway during the Saudi International in February. (Andrew Redington/WME IMG)
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Updated 24 May 2022

Saudi national golf trio to feature in International Series England

Saudi national golf trio to feature in International Series England
  • Local stars Othman Almulla, Faisal Salhab and Saud Al-Sharif join line-up in Newcastle as Asian Tour hosts debut event in the UK next month

Saudi national golf team’s Othman Almulla, Faisal Salhab, and Saud Al-Sharif will join a world-class line-up at next month’s International Series England at Slaley Hall Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort, near Newcastle, from June 2-5.

The trio will compete alongside American Sihwan Kim, currently ranked first on the Asian Tour Order of Merit; Korean Joohyung Kim, last season’s number one; former US Open champion Graeme McDowell from Northern Ireland and Thailand’s 15-year-old wonderkid Ratchanon “TK” Chantananuwat.

All of the players currently ranked in the top 10 on the Asian Tour Merit list will compete in the $2 million tournament, which breaks new ground as it will be the first time the Asian Tour has sanctioned a tournament in the UK. The opportunity will mean a full turnout of the Tour’s membership for the ninth event of the 2022-23 season and the second International Series event.

Following their respective 2021 triumphs — a year that also saw Saudi national team golfers clinch the title at the 40th edition of the Arab Golf Championship, beating more than 10 countries by a comfortable nine-shot margin — Almulla, Salhab and Al-Sharif will head to Slaley Hall for their second big appearance in an Asian Tour tournament after their participation in the PIF Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers.

Almulla, the Kingdom’s first-ever professional golfer, said: “I’m excited to be competing in the international series event being held at Slaley hall. To have these opportunities to compete on the world stage against some of the best players in the world is a privilege I cherish. I’m lucky to have the support and guidance of Golf Saudi to help me succeed in my professional golfing career.”

Salhab said: “I’m proud to be competing against some of the best golfers in the world, participating in such tournaments will only make my game better.

“Golf Saudi has done an amazing job in growing the game of golf within the Kingdom and being in this tournament reflects their massive support for us as players. Representing my country internationally means a lot to me and I hope I can do it in the best way.”

Al-Sharif said that he is looking forward to competing alongside his countrymen. “I’m really excited. Playing against top players on a world-class course and in a competitive atmosphere is a huge boost for our confidence and will help us become better golfers. We’ll be making the most out of this experience and showcase a positive side of Saudi golfers to the world.”

Sihwan Kim is leading the way on the Tour thanks to two victories, including a win at the first-ever International Series event, played in Thailand in March, and has earned close to half a million dollars, but Slaley Hall will also see a host of other in-form players competing.

Korean Bio Kim, who is second on the Merit list, and third-ranked Phachara Khongwatmai from Thailand will compete after recently recording their first wins on the Asian Tour following its restart in November last year after a two-year break because of the global pandemic.

Joohyung Kim, who at 19 became the second-youngest winner of the Merit title in January, has picked up where he left off from last season, with top-10 finishes in his last three events to sit in fourth place on the rankings.

Kim will make his way to the UK after competing in this week’s US PGA Championship in Oklahoma. Thailand’s Sadom Kaewkanjana and South Africa’s Justin Harding, also in action at the season’s second Major Championship, will also be making the trip across the Atlantic. 

Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond, the 2019 Merit champion and six-time winner on Tour; Malaysian Gavin Green, the 2017 number one; and Australian Scott Hend, the most successful international player on the Tour with 10 victories and the 2016 Merit list winner will also be looking for strong performances in England.

Chinese-Taipei’s Chan Shih-chang, a two-time winner on the Tour since last year’s restart, and Thailand’s Nitithorn Thippong, also a winner this season, will add to a stellar line-up.

“The International Series England is a landmark event for the Asian Tour which provides our members with a great opportunity to compete internationally in an exciting, new location,” said Cho Minn Thant, commissioner and CEO, Asian Tour.

“An incredibly strong field with assemble for the tournament, which is a reflection of the appetite our members have for the International Series and will also allow us to showcase the Asian Tour’s depth in world-class talent to European fans. We have also received enormous interest from international players wanting to be part of the Asian Tour having seen our steady growth over the past few months.”

The International Series England is promoted by LIV Golf and will be followed by eight more International Series events this season.


Usyk and Joshua hold public workouts ahead of big showdown

Usyk and Joshua hold public workouts ahead of big showdown
Updated 17 August 2022

Usyk and Joshua hold public workouts ahead of big showdown

Usyk and Joshua hold public workouts ahead of big showdown
  • The Ukrainian and British fighters hit the pads with their trainers and spoke to the media

JEDDAH: Fight Week preparations for the Rage on the Red Sea stepped up a gear on Tuesday night when 12 fighters from the card held public workouts at Jeddah’s Saudi Airlines Club.

Main event boxers Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua, who meet for the second time, at the King Abdullah Sports City Arena on Saturday, gave fans and the media a first glimpse of how they’re shaping up going into their heavyweight showdown.

Usyk, who defends the unified world heavyweight titles, said: “I’m very pleased that I’m going to fight very soon. I’ve been watching Anthony Joshua for years already, so I’ve learned a lot and look forward to the fight.”

Commenting on everybody in his homeland of Ukraine being able to watch the bout for free, Usyk added: “I’m also very pleased about this as we all worked hard to ensure this outcome.”

Usyk and Joshua hit the pads with their trainers and interacted with members of the public and media during their 10-minute sessions, teasing what’s to come when they go head-to-head on fight night.

“Previous experiences are helpful, but ultimately, it’s all about what you do on the night. Whoever throws and lands the most punches wins,” said Joshua. “I’m focused, ready to do my best, and get the job done.”

“Saudi Arabia’s been very good to me, shout out to everyone here (in the Kingdom),” he continued. “I’ve had a good time, everyone at the hotel and gym has been looking after me, and it’s been like a second home,” he added. “I’ve good memories of here from last time out (against Andy Ruiz Jr. in 2019) and it’s time to create new ones.”

Also on show was Zhang Zhilei ahead of his bout with Filip Hrgovic, rivals Callum Smith and Mathieu Bauderlique, as well as Badou Jack, Andrew Tabiti, Rashed Belhasa, and Bader Samreen.

Rounding out the dozen boxers were Ziyad Al-Maayouf and Ramla Ali, who were given huge support from those in attendance.

They will both make history at the Rage on the Red Sea as the first Saudi and female fighters, respectively, to feature on an international professional card in the Kingdom.


UAE president heaps praise on Emirate’s first woman to win World Games medal

UAE president heaps praise on Emirate’s first woman to win World Games medal
Updated 52 min 32 sec ago

UAE president heaps praise on Emirate’s first woman to win World Games medal

UAE president heaps praise on Emirate’s first woman to win World Games medal
  • Shamma Al Kalbani was Emirate’s first woman to win a medal at World Games

DUBAI: UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan has congratulated Shamma Al Kalbani for becoming the first Emirati woman to win a medal during the World Games.

The president met Kalbani – who scooped bronze in the 63kg category women’s jiu-jitsu at the Birmingham World Games in July - alongside the other Emirati winners of the jiu-jitsu competition at the games on Monday.

The competition, which took place in Birmingham, Alabama, is one of the most important global multi-sport events in the world.

The UAE grapplers won five medals at the championship, with Faisal Al-Ketbi winning gold in the 85 kilogram and open weight categories, and Mohammed Al-Suwaidi taking home silver in the 69 kilogram division. Shamma Al-Kalbani became the first Emirati female athlete to clinch a medal at the World Games, winning two bronze medals in the 63 kilogram and open weight categories.

 

 

He also congratulated the board of directors of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation and commended their efforts in developing the martial art.

In response the delegation thanked the president for his support of the sport in the country.


Saudi Arabia take football silver at Islamic Solidarity Games after 1-0 loss to Turkey

Saudi Arabia take football silver at Islamic Solidarity Games after 1-0 loss to Turkey
Updated 17 August 2022

Saudi Arabia take football silver at Islamic Solidarity Games after 1-0 loss to Turkey

Saudi Arabia take football silver at Islamic Solidarity Games after 1-0 loss to Turkey
  • The defeat in Konya ends a run of 10 consecutive victories for the Kingdom’s U-23 team

Saudi Arabia’s footballers fell short of gold in the football competition at the Islamic Solidarity Games after a 1-0 defeat to hosts Turkey in Konya on Tuesday.

The loss ends the team’s run of 10 straight victories, stretching back to the triumphant AFC U-23 Asian Cup in Uzbekistan in June, for the young Green Falcons.

The winning goal was scored by Metehan Altunbas, of Turkish club Adanaspor, in the 27th minute of the match.

Saudi’s players received their silver medals from President of the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, who is also the president of the Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation.

The podium finish is Saudi’s second in the Islamic games across its five editions.

The team’s coach, Saad Al-Shehri, had previously won the competition as a player with Saudi Arabia in 2005.


Brazil-Argentina World Cup qualifier definitively canceled

Brazil-Argentina World Cup qualifier definitively canceled
Updated 17 August 2022

Brazil-Argentina World Cup qualifier definitively canceled

Brazil-Argentina World Cup qualifier definitively canceled
  • Even if the match were replayed, its result could not affect the outcome of qualifying, with Brazil topping the group and Argentina finishing second

RIO DE JANEIRO: Last year’s aborted World Cup qualifier between Brazil and Argentina will not be replayed, the two South American countries’ football associations said on Tuesday.

The original fixture, in September last year, was halted when Brazilian health officials stormed onto the pitch after seven minutes in Sao Paulo, alleging COVID-19 quarantine breaches by the visitors.

But with nothing riding on the match as both countries have already qualified for the World Cup, which begins in Qatar on Nov. 20, they had pleaded with world football’s governing body FIFA to cancel the match definitively.

“The Brazil-Argentina match will not be played,” the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) and Argentine Football Association (AFA) said in a joint statement.

“AFA, CBF and FIFA have resolved the dispute at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).”

Both countries argued that playing the match as scheduled on Sept. 22 would adversely affect their World Cup preparations.

FIFA ruled in February that the game must be replayed and in May it rejected an appeal by both federations to have the match canceled, while also hitting them with fines worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The two federations then took their case to CAS, which was due to rule this month.

Both countries qualified for the World Cup with several matches to spare in the single South American qualifying group.

Even if the match were replayed, its result could not affect the outcome of qualifying, with Brazil topping the group and Argentina finishing second.

Brazil have won the World Cup a record five times while reigning Copa America holders Argentina are twice champions.


Serena Williams gets door from Raducanu in Cincinnati opener

Serena Williams gets door from Raducanu in Cincinnati opener
Updated 17 August 2022

Serena Williams gets door from Raducanu in Cincinnati opener

Serena Williams gets door from Raducanu in Cincinnati opener
  • Raducanu broke Williams at the start of both sets to claim victory in what was her first and likely last meeting with the 23-time Grand Slam singles champion

CINCINNATI: Serena Williams bowed out of the WTA/ATP Cincinnati Masters at the first hurdle on Tuesday, losing in straight sets to US Open champion Emma Raducanu as the end of her glittering career looms ever closer.

Williams, who last week indicated that she is planning to retire after this month’s US Open, was no match for British teenager Raducanu, who romped to a 6-4, 6-0 win.

The 40-year-old Williams left the court swiftly after the defeat without speaking to television reporters and did not hold a press conference.

Raducanu broke Williams at the start of both sets to claim victory in what was her first and likely last meeting with the 23-time Grand Slam singles champion.

“I was nervous from the first point to the last,” Raducanu said. “Serena is dangerous and can come back from any situation.

“I had to stay focused. I’m so pleased I managed to keep my composure.”

Williams, winner of titles here in 2014 and 2015, was competing in only her fourth match of 2022 after starting her season at Wimbledon due to injury.

Raducanu announced her intentions from the start with a break to love of Williams and never let up.

The young Briton improved to 14 wins, 17 defeats since winning the Open last September from a qualifying start.

Raducanu meanwhile said she was honored to be part of the spectacle on Tuesday in what was one of Williams’ final games as a professional.

“We all need to honor Serena and her amazing career,” she said. “I’m so grateful for the experience of playing her and for the fact that our careers have crossed.

“All she has achieved is inspirational. It’s a true honor to share the court with her.”

Raducanu never let Williams into the match.

The young Londoner seeded 10th took a 4-1 lead in the opening set and completely swept the second, advancing on her first match point, an unreturnable serve.

Raducanu committed a single unforced error in the opening set compared to a dozen for Williams.

Williams’ elder sister Venus took a 7-5, 6-1 loss earlier in the day, losing to 2016 champion Karolina Pliskova.

In the men’s draw of the joint event, Nick Kyrgios began the last major US Open tuneup with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

The Australian marched through with 29 winners — including 10 aces — and three breaks of the Spaniard’s serve to reach the second round.

The 28th-ranked Kyrgios has won all 11 of his first-round matches this season and won his 22nd match since returning to the ATP in June after skipping the clay season.

He now faces good friend Taylor Fritz after the American crushed Sebastian Baez 6-1, 6-1.

“Physically, I didn’t feel the best, but you have to keep pushing, keep trying,” Kyrgios said.

“Alejandro’s a hell of a player, he’s got a lot of shots at his disposal. I had to serve well and dictate,” the Montreal quarter-finalist added. “It was tricky conditions out there, the courts are a lot more lively than Montreal, it was harder to control the ball.”

It marked a happy return to Cincinnati for Kyrgios, who was fined a record $113,000 during a spectacular meltdown at the tournament in 2019

“I’ve played some amazing tennis here and had some crazy outbursts,” he said. “It’s a flip of the coin as to which Kyrgios shows up here.”

Elsewhere, Spanish third seed Carlos Alcaraz advanced in his tournament debut, defeating American Mackenzie McDonald 6-3, 6-2.

Italian 10th seed Jannik Sinner celebrated his 21st birthday by beating Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-7 (9/11), 6-4, 7-6 (8/6).