Federer plans a party not a wake as he prepares to lay his professional career to rest

Federer plans a party not a wake as he prepares to lay his professional career to rest
Federer’s legendary, 24-year career will come to an end at the Laver Cup. (AFP)
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Updated 23 September 2022

Federer plans a party not a wake as he prepares to lay his professional career to rest

Federer plans a party not a wake as he prepares to lay his professional career to rest
  • Swiss tennis legend teams up with long-time rival Rafael Nadal for a doubles match at the Laver Cup in London

As Roger Federer prepares to say farewell to competitive tennis on Friday, teaming up with his greatest rival, Rafael Nadal, for one last doubles match, his millions of adoring fans around the world are bracing themselves for what is sure to be an emotional weekend.

Federer’s legendary, 24-year career will come to an end at the Laver Cup, where the Swiss maestro is part of Team Europe along with the other members of the so-called tennis Big Four: Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.



They will take on Team World at London’s O2 Arena, which witnessed numerous battles between the formidable European quartet during the years it served as host venue for the season-ending ATP Finals.

London is also where Federer claimed 11 percent of his career victories, lifted the Wimbledon trophy eight times, and clinched two of his six ATP Finals titles.

As such, it is one of many places around the globe that have played a significant part in Federer’s storied career, during which he gained unrivaled popularity that made it seem like he had home-court advantage wherever he competed.

As we reflect on that career, it is impossible to ignore Federer’s connection to the Middle East, especially Dubai, which for nearly 15 years was considered his second home.

He first competed at the Dubai Tennis Championships and the Qatar Open in Doha in 2002. After a visit to the UAE in 2004 he decided to buy an apartment there and use it as a second base for training at various points during the tennis season.

“On the way back from Bangkok, when I beat (Andy) Roddick in the finals there, I came through Dubai, met up with Tony Roche for a practice session, sort of an undercover operation,” Federer once said of that 2004 trip.

“I remember it was brutally hot, I think like 39 degrees every day. I had a good time practicing. It was peace and quiet and I kind of enjoyed it here. I think I came back one more time for a vacation and practiced some more. I was like, I think this works well for practice and leisure.

“The next thing I knew, I had an apartment. It all happened quite quickly. It was funny how it all worked out.”

Between 2002 and 2019, Federer competed in the Dubai Tennis Championships 14 times. He retires with a 53-6 win-loss record there, and lifted the trophy eight times. It is one of four tournaments he has won eight or more times, the others being the Halle Open (10), the Swiss Indoors (10) and Wimbledon (eight).

While Federer has played to sell-out crowds at stadiums the world over and enjoyed a tremendous amount of support from fans at each and every venue, his supporters in Dubai treated him like a local hero because essentially that is what he was. The annual tennis tournament there became one of the most-attended sporting events on the emirate’s busy calendar in large part because of him.

A video recently shared by the Tennis Channel showed a match in Dubai between Tomas Berdych and Borna Coric that was temporarily halted early in the first set because of a noisy commotion coming from outside the stadium. The reason? Federer had arrived and was being mobbed by screaming fans looking for autographs and photos taken with him.



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Federer’s last appearance at the Dubai tournament, in 2019, recorded its own slice of tennis history when he defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final to claim the 100th title of his career.

In some ways it was a “full-circle” moment as it came 17 years after Federer first competed in the emirate, a debut in which he was accused of tanking by the tournament director, who tried to withhold his prize money.

Reflecting on that 2002 controversy after his victory in 2019, Federer said: “Tanking second round? I played frustrated the last couple of games in the match against Rainer Schuettler because I was young and crazy. I was so fed up with my game. I just started to go for big shots.

“The tournament director wasn’t happy with what he saw. Anyway, he withheld everything but the tour said, ‘No chance you can do this. Roger tried, so it’s all good.’

“Then I came back the next year, wanted to prove a point. I ended up going for four in a row, so … that’s what happens sometimes. You have to learn it the hard way.”

It wasn’t long before Federer became a serial winner not only in Dubai but on all of the sport’s grandest stages.

Along the way he would stop off in the UAE for preseason training and would even practice there in the summer, sometimes, to build endurance and stamina in the extreme heat.

He was regularly spotted on the courts at Al-Qasr or Meydan. He frequented popular restaurants such as Tasha’s or Flamingo Room. He even invited young players to train with him from time to time. Soon, other players started to follow his lead and use Dubai as a training base.

“Maybe I set the trend a little bit,” Federer said in 2015. “I’m very happy I took that decision and I’m sure it’s helped me, in the process, to be mentally more sane as well on the tour. Knowing I have a place to come back to, I can leave my bags, I come home and feel like, maybe I’m not in Switzerland but it still feels a little bit like home. It’s been good for me.”

Federer’s most striking moment in Dubai did not come during competition. Instead, it took place in 2005 when he played tennis with Andre Agassi on a court laid out on the helipad of the seven-star Burj Al-Arab hotel, 690 feet above the ground. Video footage of the spectacle, which was organized to promote the Dubai Tennis Championships, is arguably among the most watched in all of sports. Organizers claim it has been viewed more than three billion times.



“I didn’t know at the time when we were doing this that it was going to have such an impact,” said Federer.

“I had an idea of how we could make it better by making sure we had a helicopter that was going to film it all around to really show what kind of a platform we were playing on, instead of maybe just having a picture taken from the hotel where you couldn’t really tell how high up we are. And I think that made one of the differences.

“And ever since, everybody talks about it and I hear stories of people saying, ‘Can we play tennis here at the tennis court?’ And they tell them, ‘We don’t have one.’ And they’re like, ‘No, no, I know you do.’ It’s just a myth now, which is fantastic.”

This weekend’s action in London at the Laver Cup is shaping up to be something very special. On Thursday, Federer, Nadal, Murray and Djokovic shared a court during a doubles practice session in front of packed stands at the O2.

Federer and Nadal will take on Team World’s Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock in a doubles match on Friday. It is set to be Federer’s only game during the event and will mark the last time the 41-year-old plays a competitive professional game.

“It would be safe to say that everyone would like to be part of that (doubles match),” Team World captain John McEnroe said on Thursday.

“No one was running away from that one, believe me. I don’t think it gets a whole lot more exciting than that, to be part of sort of history. We had to flip some coins there.”

For Federer, ending his career at a team event such as a Laver Cup and partnering with his fiercest rival for his final match is the kind farewell party he was hoping for.

“I was in a very worried, scared place to face the music, the media, the fans and everything, being able to talk about it in a normal fashion without getting emotional, just because I know how much it means to me,” Federer said of his retirement.

“But I feel like I probably went through a lot of different stages — I don’t know if you can call it grieving — and then you get to, I really don’t want it to be a funeral. I want it to be really happy and powerful and party mode, rather than the other side.”

Judging by the photo Federer shared online on Thursday of the Big Four on a boat in tuxedos as they headed to the Laver Cup Gala, the party has already started.

How Ons Jabeur helped bring WTA tennis to Tunisia

How Ons Jabeur helped bring WTA tennis to Tunisia
Updated 03 October 2022

How Ons Jabeur helped bring WTA tennis to Tunisia

How Ons Jabeur helped bring WTA tennis to Tunisia
  • A chance conversation with IMG’s Vickie Gunnarsson in Abu Dhabi last December paved the way for the establsihment of Jasmine Open

Although she refuses to take credit for it, Ons Jabeur has played a crucial role in bringing a WTA tournament to her home country of Tunisia for the very first time, and the popular world No.2 will be the main attraction when the event kicks off in Monastir on Monday.

The Jasmin Open is just the second tournament on the WTA calendar taking place in North Africa and it came to life thanks to a conversation Jabeur had with IMG’s Vickie Gunnarsson at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship (MWTC) in Abu Dhabi last December.

Gunnarsson, the director of IMG tennis events and tournament director of the MWTC, got to witness Jabeur’s talent and charm up close when the Tunisian was brought in as a late replacement for a Covid-stricken Emma Raducanu at the exhibition event in Abu Dhabi 10 months ago.

Jabeur dazzled the crowd with her unique and playful game style and connected with the kids during the clinics and autograph sessions she took part in away from the match court.

The interest in tennis in Tunisia, North Africa and the Arab world has shot through the roof over the past couple of seasons thanks to Jabeur’s history-making feats that saw her reach back-to-back finals at Wimbledon and the US Open this summer and become the highest-ranked Arab player and African woman in history.

Egypt’s Mayar Sherif has also played a part as she cracked the top 50 earlier this season and became the first from her country to lift a WTA trophy just last Saturday in Parma.

IMG, one of the key players in the global tennis industry, recognize the potential for the sport in North Africa and Gunnarsson floated the idea of staging a WTA tournament in Tunisia to Jabeur while chatting on the sidelines of the MWTC last year.

“It’s the WTA sanction we had in Rio de Janeiro, which has moved a little bit; ended up in China, and now we had to find a new home for it,” Gunnarsson told Arab News of the origin story of the Jasmin Open.

“It was actually after Ons Jabeur came to Abu Dhabi last year and I chatted with her. I asked her, ‘You’re Tunisian and tennis seems to be booming there and you’re a great role model, do you think Tunisia would be interested in hosting a WTA 250 event? It was a wild chance, right?

“She said, ‘Actually yes, tennis is huge in Tunisia now and it’s growing, so let’s give it a shot’. So she introduced me to Salma (Mouelhi-Guizani), the president of the Tunisian Tennis Federation, and we started talking and Salma was like, ‘Yes, we want to do this’.”



IMG have leased the tournament to the Tunisian federation for three years but are supporting the hosts by sending a team to Monastir – a coastal city south of Tunis – to help them put it all together.

“We want it to be a success. They have an option to continue after three years and we want them to as well. Hopefully the tournament is successful here and we can continue, that’s the goal really,” added Gunnarsson.

The venue is the Magic Life Skanes hotel, a beachfront resort providing courts and facilities to host the tournament as well as accommodation, all in one site. A new 2,500 capacity center court was constructed just for the event and two more courts were transformed into show courts.

“Here it’s an incredible time for tennis,” said Gunnarsson during a video call from Tunisia.

“We had a press conference with Ons two weeks leading up to the event in Tunis and the place was packed, for a 250 tournament; everybody was there for Ons and to follow what’s going to happen. It’s a big deal for them, they’ve never had this big of an event.”

Jabeur, who does her preseason training blocks at the same venue in Monastir every year, is proud to see her homeland stage a WTA tournament and says it’s a “dream come true”.

“Honestly I’m surprised with how amazing the organization is here, given how little time they had to prepare for it. I know people working at the hotel and everyone managing the hotel and the federation really want this to be successful,” Jabeur told Arab News on Sunday.

“I’m very proud that they’re organizing this in Tunisia. I’ve been asking the players if they need anything; it feels like I’m the one hosting the tournament for some reason, I think it’s an Arab thing. I’m very happy with the way the tournament is going. I’m very excited to play here.”

Is she knocking on her fellow players’ doors offering room service?

“Literally I was going to do that. I was asking if they have the almond milk and everything. I was teasing the players, saying, ‘Look at this beach view, you don’t have this in Ostrava’,” laughed Jabeur, referring to the WTA tournament taking place simultaneously in Ostrava, Prague this week.


While she is aware of her role in boosting tennis as a whole in Tunisia and the Arab and African region, Jabeur believes all she did to help the Jasmin Open get off the ground was “connect the right people at the right time”.

“I don’t want to take credit for an amazing thing that the federation did with Vickie, with the hotel, to build the center court at such short notice, with all the authorization. I feel like I didn’t do anything about this, I just connected people at the right time,” said the 28-year-old star.  

Jabeur has taken the opportunity to show her fellow players all that Tunisia has to offer, inviting them over for vacations in hopes to boost her nation’s tourism.

Monastir hosts lower-level ITF tournaments 52 weeks a year, following a model initially adopted by Egypt, where the Red Sea resort town of Sharm El Sheikh had been doing that for years. The idea is to raise the hotel’s occupancy by having tennis players around all season, while also providing young up-and-comers from the region the opportunity to contest smaller tournaments to move up the rankings without spending too much money on travel.

“It gives a solid platform from the grassroots. It’s very smart and it’s taken them a few years to be ready to have these big tournaments; Egypt should also be ready for a big one I think, especially now with Mayar Sherif. So I think that’s super exciting,” explained Gunnarsson.

“I think on the men’s side they would be up for it too, for sure I think men’s tennis is also very popular here, especially on the grassroots level. The women are the most successful currently at the top but I’m sure there will be men coming up as well.”



On the back of Sherif’s recent success, there has been interest from Cairo to host a WTA tournament and the Egyptian is keen to see tennis develop more and more in her nation.

“My whole life I believed that Egypt has incredible talent, we have unbelievable potential; we just lack the system,” said Sherif.

“At the moment, we have a lot of $15k tournaments, we have a lot of ITFs, so many tournament weeks, and that encourages young players to come up. What’s missing is a proper system.

“Myself, as Mayar, I believe my tennis career is only the start of my journey. I really wish to help young girls come up and make it in the sport, because I believe it’s very, very possible.

“Ons, and myself, we have given them that belief, they don’t have an excuse not to believe anymore. So to stage a WTA 250 tournament in the region, for them to watch us live and to see how we’re not too far, that’s huge, and hopefully this will impact the next generations.”



Gunnarsson believes success on the tennis court can only go so far and recognizes that the special qualities Jabeur possesses are the real driver behind her popularity and influence.

“I think she is an incredible role model. I think a lot of people can identify with her, she’s very personable, a really good person, and she’s funny, she’s got humor, it’s like she has the responses ready when people tease her or ask her questions,” said Gunnarsson.

“I think also the Minister of Happiness thing (Jabeur’s nickname); people here in Tunisia really embrace that. It’s been tough times for a long time now… they needed that person to represent happiness to them and that’s what she’s become, especially in Tunisia.

“I can see Ons here, the impact that she has, and I think tennis alone won’t do it, but I think she has the character also. She’s super charming and people just love that. They were joking the other day when Tunisia played a football game, they were saying they should put Ons on the pitch. Everybody is talking about Ons.

“Mayar seems to be a charismatic person as well, so I think she has tremendous potential to be something similar to Ons. It helps when the tennis and personality go hand in hand.”



Jabeur will return to Abu Dhabi again this December for the MWTC, where she will face 2021 US Open champion Raducanu in an exhibition clash.

“I think it’s going to be significant. It’s the best line-up,” said Gunnarsson of the Abu Dhabi showpiece.

“I think Ons drives so much interest from the Arab world, and that’s who we want to inspire in the first place. When the tournament was set up initially 13 years ago to grow the interest for sports in the region and get more people moving and active and stuff, especially Arabs.

“So Ons works perfectly for the goals of the tournaments, she fulfills all those objectives and she is a huge role model, so we’re very excited about that.”

For Jabeur, she hopes this tournament in Tunisia is just the start and hopes to see more big events pop up in the region.

“Hopefully we can have like a small tour of several tournaments here in Africa one day,” she added.

England’s Hull holds off Ko, Lin to win LPGA Volunteers Classic

England’s Hull holds off Ko, Lin to win LPGA Volunteers Classic
Updated 03 October 2022

England’s Hull holds off Ko, Lin to win LPGA Volunteers Classic

England’s Hull holds off Ko, Lin to win LPGA Volunteers Classic
  • The 26-year-old Englishwoman edged Lin by one stroke and Ko by two to snap a six-year LPGA win drought that Hull said had been a long wait

WASHINGTON: England’s Charley Hull captured her second career LPGA title on Sunday, holding off New Zealand’s Lydia Ko and China’s Lin Xiyu to win the Volunteers of America Classic.

Hull, whose only other LPGA triumph came at the 2016 Tour Championship, fired a 7-under par 64 to finish 72 holes on 18-under 266 at Old American Golf Club at The Colony, Texas.

That was good enough to edge Lin by one stroke and Ko by two to snap a six-year LPGA win drought that Hull said had been a long wait.

“I feel very proud of myself,” Hull said. “I had come close a few times since but I’ve put in some good work this year.”

Thailand’s Atthaya Thitikul was fourth on 272. Her compatriot Moriya Jutanugarn shared fifth with American Cheyenne Knight on 273.

Hull said she feels like better things are coming after her breakthrough.

“My game is there. It was just my confidence and now I’m confident,” Hull said. “I felt really good. I felt like I was really in control of my round, especially coming in.

“I could have made some more birdies and I hit good putts and they just rolled over the edge.”

Lin sank a 25-foot eagle putt at the par-5 17th to momentarily match Hull for the lead, but the 26-year-old Englishwoman answered moments later with a six-foot downhill birdie putt to reclaim the lead on 18-under.

At the 18th, Ko lipped out from 12 feet for birdie while Lin and Hull, in the next and final group, gave themselves birdie chances as well.

Hull missed from 18 feet and tapped in for par, leaving Lin a 14-footer to force a playoff, but the putt faded left and Hull had the triumph.

“It was quite brilliant, actually. I found it quite exciting,” Hull said. “When ‘Janet’ (Lin) made eagle on 17, I enjoyed that. It made me want to birdie the last. I hit a good putt. I missed. But it was great fun.”

Lin, a 26-year-old from Guangzhou, matched her best LPGA finish, a runner-up effort in March in Thailand.

Ko, a 25-year-old Seoul-born star, is a two-time major champion who captured her 17th career LPGA title in January at the LPGA at Boca Rio.

She hasn’t won twice in a season since claiming four titles in the 2016 campaign.

Ko opened and closed the front nine with back-to-back birdies to reach 14-under, grabbing a share of the lead with 54-hole co-leaders Hull and Lin.

Hull surged early with four birdies in the first seven holes only to make a bogey at eight while Lin opened with a birdie and added others at the par-5 sixth and par-4 10th.

Hull leaped ahead with three birdies in a row at the 12th, par-5 13th and 14th to reach 17-under, seizing a three-stroke edge with four holes remaining.

Lin stumbled with a bogey at the par-3 11th but answered with a birdie at 13.

Ko birdied the 15th and 17th and Lin birdied the par-3 16th to set up the closing drama.

Real Madrid’s perfect season ends as Benzema misses penalty kick

Real Madrid’s perfect season ends as Benzema misses penalty kick
Updated 03 October 2022

Real Madrid’s perfect season ends as Benzema misses penalty kick

Real Madrid’s perfect season ends as Benzema misses penalty kick
  • It was the third straight penalty miss by Benzema against the Osasuna goalkeeper

MADRID: It was not the return to action that Karim Benzema had hoped for.

Back in Real Madrid’s squad after a long injury layoff, the France striker missed a second-half penalty kick that helped to end the team’s perfect start to the season.

Madrid’s streak of nine straight victories in all competitions was halted after a 1-1 home draw against 10-man Osasuna in the Spanish league on Sunday.

The result also cost Madrid the league lead, as it was surpassed by Barcelona following its 1-0 win at Mallorca on Saturday. Both teams are tied on 19 points but the Catalan club is ahead on goal difference.

Benzema, who had missed three straight matches because of a right leg injury sustained before the international break, had a chance to give Madrid the lead in the 79th minute, but his shot from the spot was saved by Osasuna goalkeeper Sergio Herrera.

It was the third straight penalty miss by Benzema against the Osasuna goalkeeper. He had two penalties saved by Herrera in April when Madrid won.

And things were clearly not going Benzema’s way as shortly after the striker had a goal disallowed for offside.

“We needed Benzema to convert the penalty,” Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said. “He usually does. It was an accident that sometimes happens.”

Vinícius Júnior had opened the scoring in the 42nd after finding the far corner with what appeared to be a cross attempt into the area, but the visitors equalized with a header by Kike García in the 50th.

Osasuna went a man down when David García was sent off for the foul on Benzema that prompted the penalty.

It was Osasuna’s first draw after four wins and two losses this season, keeping the Pamplona club in sixth place. It got the point at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium despite playing without the suspended Chimy Ávila, one of its best players.

Ancelotti was without veteran midfielder Luka Modric and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois because of injuries.

A minute of silence was held before every Spanish league match in honor of victims of the tragedy at a soccer stadium in Indonesia on Saturday night.


A goalkeeper’s mistake six minutes into second-half stoppage-time allowed Valencia to pull off a 2-2 draw at Espanyol.

Espanyol goalkeeper Álvaro Fernández thought a high shot by Eray Comert toward the goal was going wide and let the ball go, but it ended in the net for the visitors’ equalizer.

Fernández dropped to the ground in despair and later put his hands together over his head with a plea for forgiveness from home fans.

Espanyol was looking for its first home win of the season. It is winless at its stadium in seven straight matches, going back to last season.

The hosts had taken the lead with Sergi Darder’s goal in the 83rd after Gabriel Paulista opened the scoring in the 53rd and Joselu equalized for Valencia in the 56th.

Valencia, which stayed midtable, played with 10 men after Marcos André was sent off in the 85th. Espanyol, sitting near the relegation zone, had Martin Braithwaite red carded early in stoppage time.


Real Sociedad picked up its second straight league win by beating Girona 5-3.

Alexander Sorloth scored twice and Takefusa Kubo added one of the other goals for Sociedad, which moved to seventh place.

Taty Castellanos was among the scorers for midtable Girona, which has lost two in a row.


Real Betis couldn’t overcome a first-half red card and lost 1-0 at Celta Vigo for its second league defeat of the season.

Gabri Veiga scored a ninth-minute winner for midtable Celta, which was without coach Eduardo Coudet because of a trip back home to Argentina for personal reasons.

Betis lost Luiz Felipe in the 20th with a straight red card.

Manuel Pellegrini’s team remained near the top of the standings, as it was coming off five wins and a single defeat.

Hughes wins Sanderson Farms with birdie on 2nd playoff hole

Hughes wins Sanderson Farms with birdie on 2nd playoff hole
Updated 03 October 2022

Hughes wins Sanderson Farms with birdie on 2nd playoff hole

Hughes wins Sanderson Farms with birdie on 2nd playoff hole
  • For Hughes, it had been six years since his lone victory — also in a playoff — at Sea Island

JACKSON, Mississippi: Whether it was sheer confidence or remarkable resilience, Mackenzie Hughes never doubted he would win the Sanderson Farms Championship. He just never imagined how it would unfold Sunday evening.

Hughes had to make six key putts on the final seven holes — four of them for par — to outlast Sepp Straka on the second playoff hole for his second PGA Tour victory.

“The second one felt a lot harder than the first one, that’s for sure,” Hughes said.

The 31-year-old Canadian renowned for his putter finally made birdie his third time playing the 18th hole at the Country Club of Jackson, pouring in an 8-footer for the win.

But this was as much about pars — the 15-footer on the par-5 14th, the 7-foot putt on the 16th after he couldn’t reach the green from a fairway bunker, and two tough par saves on the 18th hole from 100 feet behind the green in regulation and from a bunker on the first playoff hole.

“I kept telling myself the whole week that I was going to do it. That was the only thing I saw in my mind,” Hughes said. “Those par saves down the stretch, I was just trying to will the ball into the hole.”

The first par save on the 18th gave him a 3-under 69 to force a playoff against Straka, who played two groups ahead of Hughes and shot 67 to post at 17-under 271.

On the second playoff hole, Straka missed from 18 feet on the fringe before Hughes made the winning putt. It was the second time in his last four tournaments that Straka lost in a playoff. The other was against Will Zalatoris at the start of the PGA Tour postseason.

“I played good golf on a tough Sunday,” said Straka, who picked up his first PGA Tour title earlier this year at the Honda Classic. “Giving yourself chances to win out here it key. The more you can do that, the more comfortable you’ll be.”

For Hughes, it had been six years since his lone victory — also in a playoff — at Sea Island.

“I was fighting like hell to stay in it,” Hughes said. “Finishing second, while it’s still great, it kind of stings when you’re that close. I just wasn’t going to accept that today.”

The victory comes one week after the Presidents Cup, and Hughes was disappointed not to be included on the International team at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he lives. He wanted to use that as motivation, and it sure worked out that way.

Garrick Higgo of South Africa had a 68 and finished third.

Straka took the lead by getting up-and-down for birdie on the par-5 14th and the reachable par-4 15th. He had to settle for pars the rest of the day.

Hughes had those scoring holes still to play, and he nearly squandered the chance. On the 14th, he was out of position off the tee, his wedge over a tree back toward the fairway came up short in a bunker, he had to lay up again and escaped with a 15-foot par putt.

On the closing hole, he was well left off the tee and punched under a tree and over the green against the grandstand. After free relief, he used putter from 100 feet away off the green with perfect pace to 3 feet for.

On the first playoff hole at the 18th, Hughes came up short in a bunker with only about 15 feet from the edge of the bunker to the pin. He blasted out to 5 feet and made par.

That sent them back to the 18th for a third time, and Hughes closed him out.

Mark Hubbard, who went into the final round with a one-shot lead, managed only two birdies in his round of 74 and tied for fifth.

The final round featured five players who had at least a share of the lead at some point. That included Emiliano Grillo of Argentina, whose round came undone on the par-5 14th when he took a triple bogey without a penalty shot.

Higgo never was part of the lead, though he lingered the entire day and missed an 8-foot birdie putt on the 17th that ultimately kept him out of the playoff.

Stadium tragedy exposes Indonesia’s troubled soccer history

Stadium tragedy exposes Indonesia’s troubled soccer history
Updated 03 October 2022

Stadium tragedy exposes Indonesia’s troubled soccer history

Stadium tragedy exposes Indonesia’s troubled soccer history
  • Saturday's football tragedy in Malang is a tragic reminder that Indonesia is one of the most dangerous countries in which to attend a game
  • Data from Indonesia’s soccer watchdog, Save Our Soccer, showed 78 people have died in game-related incidents over the past 28 years

SEOUL, South Korea: Gaining the right to host next year’s Under-20 World Cup was a major milestone in Indonesia’s soccer development, raising hopes that a successful tournament would turn around long-standing problems that have blighted the sport in this country of 277 million people.
The death of at least 125 people at a league game between host Arema FC of East Java’s Malang city and Persebaya Surabaya on Saturday is a tragic reminder, however, that Indonesia is one of the most dangerous countries in which to attend a game.
“Do remember that the FIFA U-20 World Cup will be the worldwide spotlight since the event will be joined by 24 countries from five continents,” Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo said last month as he pushed for thorough preparations for the tournament.
Since Saturday, the domestic league has been suspended. Widodo has ordered the sports minister, the national police chief and the soccer federation to conduct a thorough investigation into the deadly stadium crush.
Indonesia was the first Asian team ever to play at a World Cup — participating in 1938 as Dutch East Indies — but despite an undoubted national passion for the sport, it has never returned to the global stage because of years of corruption, violence and mismanagement.
Data from Indonesia’s soccer watchdog, Save Our Soccer, showed 78 people have died in game-related incidents over the past 28 years.

An Indonesian flag is seen at the funeral of a police officer who died after a riot and stampede at a football stadium in Malang, Indonesia, on Oct. 2, 2022. (Antara Foto via REUTERS) 

Those accused are often associated with supporter groups that attach themselves to clubs, with the biggest boasting hundreds of thousands of members.
Arema intense rivalry with Surabaya meant that no visiting fans were allowed in the stadium on the weekend. Yet violence broke out when the home team lost 3-2 and some of the 42,000 Arema fans, known as “Aremania,” threw bottles and other objects at players and soccer officials.
Restrictions on visiting fans also have failed in the past. In 2016, despite Persib Bandung supporters being banned from a game with bitter rival Persija Jakarta, they were blamed for the death of a Jakarta supporter.
A month earlier, a Persib fan had been beaten to death by Jakarta followers.
In 2018, local media reported a seventh death in six years related to Indonesia’s biggest soccer rivalry.
Soccer fans have accused security officials of being heavy-handed in the past and on the weekend, with witnesses describing officers beating them with sticks and shields before shooting tear gas canisters directly into the crowds. In 2016, police were accused of killing 16-year-old supporter Muhammad Fahreza at a game between Persija and Persela Lamongan, resulting in mass demonstrations demanding an end to police brutality.
“The police who were in charge of security violated FIFA stadium safety and security regulations,” soccer analyst Akmal Marhali told Indonesian media on Sunday, referring to the use of tear gas on Malang fans who entered the pitch after their team’s defeat. That sparked a rush for exits in an overcrowded stadium.
“The Indonesia Football Association may have been negligent for not informing the police that security procedures at a football match are not the same as those at a demonstration.”
FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, prohibits the use of tear gas by on-field security or police at stadiums.

A riot police officer fires tear gas during a riot at a football stadium in Malang, Indonesia, on Oct. 2, 2022. (Antara Foto via REUTERS) 

Usman Hamid, executive director of Amnesty International Indonesia, said police who violated regulations should be tried in open court.
“This loss of life cannot go unanswered. The police themselves have stated that the deaths occurred after police use of tear gas on the crowd resulted in a stampede at the stadium exits,” Hamid said in a statement. “Tear gas should also never be fired in confined spaces.”
The soccer association, known locally as PSSI, has long struggled to manage the game domestically.
In 2007, Nurdin Halid was imprisoned on corruption charges but was able to continue as the organization’s president until 2011. After Halid was banned from running for another term, a rival league, federation and national team emerged.
But chaotic administration continued until FIFA suspended Indonesia in 2015, a sanction that was lifted the following year.
In 2019, when FIFA awarded Indonesia hosting rights for the Under-20 World Cup, it was seen as a vote of confidence.
In June, a FIFA panel inspected the country’s soccer facilities and planning for the May 20-June 11 tournament and proclaimed its satisfaction.
“We are very pleased to see the preparations in Indonesia,” Roberto Grassi, Head of Youth Tournaments for FIFA said. “A lot of refurbishment work has been done already. We have had an encouraging visit and are confident of support from all stakeholders involved.”
Kanjuruhan Stadium, the site of the disaster on Saturday, is not among the six venues listed for the Under-20 World Cup, although nearby Surabaya Stadium is scheduled to host games.
FIFA has not yet commented on any potential impact on the Under-20 World Cup but the weekend tragedy is likely to damage Indonesia’s bid to host the 2023 Asian Cup. It is vying with South Korea and Qatar to become host of the continental championship after China relinquished its staging rights in May.
Indonesia has already co-hosted the tournament, sharing the event in 2007 with Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam and hosting the final in Jakarta, where Iraq beat Saudi Arabia for the title.
That was the last time Indonesia staged a major international soccer tournament. The Asian Football Confederation is expected to announce its decision on the 2023 tournament on Oct. 17.
There is unlikely to be any soccer played before then as people in Indonesia, and football followers around the globe, come to terms with one of the deadliest disasters ever at a sporting event.