US lead Presidents Cup as Kim gives Internationals a spark

US lead Presidents Cup as Kim gives Internationals a spark
Tom Kim of South Korea and the International Team celebrates his hole-winning putt to win the match 1-up with teammate Si Woo Kim of South Korea against the US Team on Sept. 24, 2022. (AFP)
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Updated 25 September 2022

US lead Presidents Cup as Kim gives Internationals a spark

US lead Presidents Cup as Kim gives Internationals a spark
  • The Internationals split the morning matches, and the way this Presidents Cup has gone for them, not losing ground felt like a win

CHARLOTTE, US: The Americans have a juggernaut in Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas that moved them closer to another victory in the Presidents Cup on Saturday.

The International team has a spark plug in 20-year-old Tom Kim, who delivered the emotion and big putts that made it clear the Americans will have to work for it.

The day started with the Americans having a mathematical chance to clinch the cup. It ended with them holding an 11-7 lead, with 12 singles matches left on Sunday.

Spieth and Thomas became only the second US partnership to win all four team matches in the Presidents Cup, handily winning their foursomes match in the morning and their fourballs match in the afternoon.

The Internationals split the morning matches, and the way this Presidents Cup has gone for them, not losing ground felt like a win.

And then it got better.

They rallied over the final hour in two matches to turn deficits into 1-up wins, taking the afternoon session by winning three of the four matches.

The star was Kim, the youngest player at Quail Hollow and perhaps the biggest personality. He started the comeback with a 55-foot eagle putt on the par-4 11th hole against Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele.

They were all square going to the last, Si Woo Kim already out of the hole, and Tom Kim facing a 10-foot birdie putt for the win. He took a few steps back as the ball neared the hole, dropped his putter and slammed his cap to the ground in a raucous celebration.

“I wanted that putt more than anything in the world,” Kim said.

Moments later, Adam Scott and Cameron Davis rallied from 1 down with three holes remaining when Davis made a 12-foot eagle putt on the 16th and a 15-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole to go 1 up.

On the final hole, Sam Burns hit his approach to 4 feet that gave him and Billy Horschel a chance to earn a halve. And then Davis made a 10-foot birdie for another point.

Every point is big for the International team, already depleted from four players who left the PGA Tour for Saudi-funded LIV, and already dealing with eight straight cup losses.

The Americans are still very much in control, needing only four wins and a halve from the 12 singles matches in the final session.

Spieth and Thomas have led the way. The only other US tandem in a Presidents Cup to go 4-0 was Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker at Harding Park in 2009. The Internationals had Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace do the same in South Korea in 2015.

Thomas and Spieth have been close friends for 15 years, dating to junior golf and international outings. This is the first time in a Presidents Cup that they have been paired together, and both are on their games. It a lethal combination.

Even so, the end of the matches gave Spieth pause.

“We’ve got to go get the job done tomorrow and win two more points for our team,” Spieth said. “I’d love to get a singles win, and I know Justin would, too. We’re going to be close enough where our two would be obviously extremely important.”

Kim won both his matches Saturday, teaming with K.H. Lee in morning foursomes to beat Burns and Masters champion Scottie Scheffler, 2 and 1.

Scott is playing on his 10th team — eight losses and one tie — and was shut out until he and Hideki Matsuyama took down Collin Morikawa and Cameron Young in the morning, and Scott and Davis proved to be a great Australian duo in the afternoon.

“Any victory against the US team has got to be really hard fought,” Scott said. “So this feels good.”

Max Homa is still having the week of his life. After his late heroics the night before, he partnered with Tony Finau in a 4-and-3 victory over Si Woo Kim and Davis. Homa sat out the afternoon session. He is 3-0 in his debut playing in a cup.

Schauffele and Cantlay lost for the first time in three matches this week. They were 2 up after 10 holes and were 3 under the rest of the way, with Schauffele making a 40-foot birdie putt from short of the 15th green for a 1-up lead that looked like it would carry them to another point.

Instead, Si Woo Kim made a 4-foot birdie putt to square the match on the 16th, and a 5-foot par putt to keep it tied on the 17th. Tom Kim was so nervous he covered his eyes and was peaking through his fingers, pumping his fist when the putt dropped.

And then the 20-year-old Korean had the stage to himself at the end, and he delivered a winner. Left to be seen is what one putt — one point — can do for an International team that still has a four-point deficit to overcome.


765K World Cup visitors fall short of Qatar’s expected 1.2 million influx

765K World Cup visitors fall short of Qatar’s expected 1.2 million influx
Updated 11 sec ago

765K World Cup visitors fall short of Qatar’s expected 1.2 million influx

765K World Cup visitors fall short of Qatar’s expected 1.2 million influx
  • The influx of visitors represents a 25 percent boost to the country’s resident population of 3 million

DOHA: Qatar received just over 765,000 visitors during the first two weeks of the World Cup, according to an organizers’ report obtained by Reuters, falling short of the country’s expectations for an influx of 1.2 million during the month-long event.

A huge surge in visitors at this stage is unlikely with only eight teams staying on in Doha, and eight games left out of the 64 in the tournament that began on Nov. 20.

Organizers had previously identified the peak period for international visitors to be Nov. 24-28 during the busy group stage, when 32 teams were playing four matches every day.

The Dec. 7 report was prepared by the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC), which organizes the tournament, and said that the first 17 days of the World Cup saw 765,859 international visitors, more than half of whom have now departed.

The report registered 1.33 million match ticketholders and 3.09 million tickets sold across the eight stadiums in Qatar for the tournament that ends on Dec. 18.

A Qatari official, who did not wish to be named, confirmed the figures. The SC did not respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.

The tournament in Qatar, the first to be held in the Middle East, is considered one of the most expensive in terms of tickets, hotels and alcohol, sales of which are restricted.

Fewer international visitors than originally forecast led to an unexpected glut of accommodation but has also averted major over-crowding or traffic headaches in Qatar, the smallest country by both population and area to host the World Cup.

The influx of visitors represents a 25 percent boost to the country’s resident population of 3 million, of which only about 10-12 percent are Qataris.

“With over a week of competition still to go, a wave of new visitors has started arriving from the nations that made it to the quarterfinals,” the Qatari official told Reuters.

More visitors are expected to flock to Qatar for popular matches and after the country lifted entry restrictions for nationals and residents of fellow Gulf states.

Cumulative stadium attendance at the first 52 matches was 2.65 million, the document said.

Previously, world soccer’s governing body FIFA said that stadium attendance in Qatar had surpassed attendance at stadiums during a corresponding period at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

On Tuesday, hundreds of Moroccan fans flew into Qatar on special flights arranged ahead of their team’s victory over Spain. It is expected that similar fights will be laid on to allow last-minute fans to fly in from overseas to watch their teams advance through the tournament’s final three rounds.

Visitors to Qatar must obtain a Hayya identification card ahead of travel as it doubles as a mandatory entry visa during the tournament period. On Tuesday, Qatar dropped this requirement for Gulf Cooperation Council countries. 


Yankees agree to record $360m MLB deal with Judge: reports

Yankees agree to record $360m MLB deal with Judge: reports
Updated 08 December 2022

Yankees agree to record $360m MLB deal with Judge: reports

Yankees agree to record $360m MLB deal with Judge: reports
  • Judge’s contract is the richest in MLB history for any non-pitcher

NEW YORK: Superstar slugger Aaron Judge has agreed to a Major League Baseball record nine-year deal worth $360 million to return to the New York Yankees, according to multiple reports on Wednesday.
The 30-year-old US free agent outfielder, who smashed an American League record 62 home runs last season, had rejected a seven-year Yankees offer worth $213.5 million before the 2022 campaign.
His new deal, according to ESPN and MLB’s website plus multiple New York media outlets, means Judge made $150 million by betting on himself in the 2022 campaign, when he led MLB in homers, runs scored with 133 and runs batted in with 131.
Judge, who batted .311, was named the 2022 American League Most Valuable Player.
At an average of $40 million per season, Judge’s contract is the richest in MLB history for any non-pitcher, $4 million more per season than Mike Trout’s 12-year deal worth $426.5 million.
The only MLB players with richer per-year deals are pitchers Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander.
The National League’s San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres were also pitching offers at Judge, according to reports.
In the 2022 season, Judge chased the AL and Yankees one-season homer record of 61 set by Roger Maris in 1961. The late-season drama of his quest extended to October 4, when he smashed his 62nd homer against the Texas Rangers.
Judge, the 2017 AL Rookie of the Year, sparked the Yankees to 99 wins and their sixth consecutive playoff appearance since his arrival. New York was swept by eventual World Series champion Houston in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series.


Dutch, Argentines meet again with World Cup history in the air

Dutch, Argentines meet again with World Cup history in the air
Updated 08 December 2022

Dutch, Argentines meet again with World Cup history in the air

Dutch, Argentines meet again with World Cup history in the air
  • Argentina have the pride that comes from being two-times world champions
  • Netherlands carry the baggage of being three-times beaten finalists

DOHA: Merely a glance at their iconic orange or blue and white striped shirts is enough to evoke memories of World Cups past and more history will surely be written on Friday when the Netherlands face Argentina in their quarterfinal.

Argentina have the pride that comes from being two-times world champions while the Netherlands carry the baggage of being three-times beaten finalists.

The game is far from being a nostalgia-fest, however, pitting one of the greatest forward of all time against one of the finest defenders of the modern era, with Lionel Messi trying to unpick a defense marshalled by Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk.

The game also pits the youngest manager in the tournament against the oldest.

Argentina’s 44-year-old coach Lionel Scaloni, in his first major tournament, will have to out-think the wily 71-year-old Louis van Gaal, whose resume includes league titles with Barcelona and Bayern Munich as well as a Champions League victory with Ajax.

The South Americans came into the tournament, as always, with high hopes in their homeland of a victory to match those celebrated in 1978 and 1986, while the Dutch had more tempered expectations given their failure to qualify four years ago.

It has been smooth progress in Qatar for the Dutch though, who topped their group and then beat the US in the last 16 with some comfort and style, looking solid at the back and — despite critics labelling them dull — — increasingly effective in their attacking play.

With Memphis Depay’s fitness gradually improving and Cody Gakpo having enjoyed a good tournament, the Dutch have a punch to their attack that many feared would be missing.

Argentina began the tournament with a shock loss to Saudi Arabia, one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history, but recovered to finish first in the group. Messi then turned on the style as they overcame Australia to book their place in the last eight.

Van Gaal unsurprisingly sees Messi’s creativity as a serious threat but he raised some eyebrows when he also hinted at the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner’s lack of defensive work-rate.

“Messi is the most dangerous creative player, he is able to create a lot and to score goals himself. But when they lose the ball he doesn’t participate much, this gives us chances,” he said.

Surprisingly, given their pedigree, Argentina have never beaten the Netherlands inside 90 minutes in their nine meetings in World Cup and friendly encounters.

But it is their victory on penalties in Sao Paulo in the semifinal in 2014 that lingers in the mind for Van Gaal, who was in charge of the Netherlands at the time.

Van Gaal noted that while Messi was neutralized by the Netherlands in that game it counted for little given that the Argentines advanced after a shootout to end the Dutch dream of finally celebrating a World Cup title.

A fonder memory for Dutch fans is of the 1998 World Cup where Dennis Bergkamp secured a place in the last eight with a wonderful last-minute finish in a 2-1 victory.

Bergkamp is one of many superb talents that the Netherlands has produced since they made the world take notice of them in the 1970s with a team inspired by the brilliant Johan Cruyff.

Widely considered to be one of the best teams never to win the World Cup, the Dutch finished runners-up in 1974 and 1978 — in the latter final losing 3-1 to hosts Argentina.

Top technical skills and clever tactics have been part of the Dutch game ever since but World Cup success has evaded them, with only the 1988 European Championship title offering some consolation.

There is no player of the level of Bergkamp, Cruyff or Marco van Basten in this current version of the team in orange, with perhaps only the towering center-half Van Dijk meriting comparison in terms of class.

But the Argentines, who know their football history and their struggles with the Netherlands, expect to face a well-drilled team which so far in this tournament has not looked in much trouble.

“It’s not as brilliant as previous Dutch teams, but they are very clear on what they do,” said Scaloni. “This is going to be a great match between two historic teams.”


Miedema fires Arsenal closer to Women's Champions League last eight

Miedema fires Arsenal closer to Women's Champions League last eight
Updated 08 December 2022

Miedema fires Arsenal closer to Women's Champions League last eight

Miedema fires Arsenal closer to Women's Champions League last eight
  • Miedema found the net after 16 minutes as the London side opened a three-point lead over defending champions Lyon

PARIS: Dutch international Vivianne Miedema scored the only goal as Arsenal defeated Juventus 1-0 on Wednesday to move to the brink of the Women’s Champions League quarter-finals.

Miedema found the net after 16 minutes from a Stina Blackstenius cross as the London side opened a three-point lead over defending champions Lyon.

They also have a five-point advantage on Juventus with just two group games left later this month.

Earlier, Lyon romped past Zurich 4-0 in their Group C clash with striker Melvine Malard scoring twice.

American international Lindsey Horan put Lyon 1-0 up on 14 minutes before Malard made it 2-0 with a towering header on the six-yard line after 65 minutes.

Malard nodded home again with 10 minutes remaining before Delphine Cascarino’s long range shot deep into injury-time made it 4-0.

“We’re back in it,” said Lyon coach Sonia Bompastor. “Now we have to win our last two games... our destiny is in our hands.”

In Group D, Bayern Munich defeated Barcelona for the first time in four attempts as a 3-1 win took them level on nine points with the Spanish side at the top of the table.

Klara Buehl, on her 22nd birthday, and Lina Magull put the German side 2-0 up inside the opening 10 minutes in front of a crowd of 24,000 at the Allianz Arena.

Lea Schueller added a third on the hour mark before Brazilian forward Geyse hit a consolation for the Spanish vistors five minutes later.

Benfica are third with six points after coming from behind to defeat Swedish outfit Rosengard 3-1.

The home side took an early lead through Olivia Schough after 30 minutes.

But Benfica’s Canadian striker Cloe Lacasse scored twice in three minutes just before halftime with Nycole Raysla making it 3-1 shortly after the restart.


Vinícius Júnior thanks Ancelotti for success at World Cup

Vinícius Júnior thanks Ancelotti for success at World Cup
Updated 07 December 2022

Vinícius Júnior thanks Ancelotti for success at World Cup

Vinícius Júnior thanks Ancelotti for success at World Cup
  • Vinícius Júnior arrived in Qatar without knowing if he was going to get a chance to start for Brazil
  • He said Ancelotti was one of the people who gave him guidance ahead of soccer’s biggest tournament

DOHA: Brazil forward Vinícius Júnior praised Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti for his success at the World Cup.
Vinícius Júnior arrived in Qatar without knowing if he was going to get a chance to start for Brazil, but heading into Friday’s quarterfinal match against Croatia, no one questions his spot in the lineup or his importance for the team.
He said Ancelotti was one of the people who gave him guidance ahead of soccer’s biggest tournament.
“I talked with Ancelotti and he gave me a lot of advice to help me become a starter with Brazil. He gave me a lot of confidence,” the 22-year-old Vinícius Júnior said Wednesday. “He was always was tough with me when he needed to be. He is like a father to me.”
Vinícius Júnior was often questioned at Madrid while Zinedine Zidane was the coach, but quickly established himself as a starter with Ancelotti in command. The Brazil forward said the Italian coach is always sending him messages.
“He is good not only with the technical aspects of the game, but also with how he deals with his players,” Vinícius Júnior said. “I have been improving a lot and Ancelotti has helped me with that. He and (Brazil coach) Tite are very similar and they talk to each other a lot.”
Vinícius Júnior, who has a goal and two assists in the three World Cup games, said he also learned from Madrid midfielder Luka Modric, who will be one of his opponents on Friday at Education City Stadium.
Vinícius Júnior said the pass he gave for Lucas Paquetá’s goal in the round of 16 against South Korea, using the outside of his foot, was something he learned from Modric at Madrid.
“He is always teaching me things, on and off the field,” Vinícius Júnior said. “He helps me every day, making sure I’m always improving. He is a reference to me, playing at a high level at 37 years old, that is something rare. I’m happy that I’ll be playing against him, and let the best team win.”
Within Brazil’s national team, Vinícius Júnior said he also gets advice from Neymar.
“He told me how the World Cup is different than anything else,” Vinícius Júnior said. “He told me that, and I always remember it. And when the national anthem played, I realized what it all meant.”
Vinícius Júnior was among the Brazilian players criticized for their dance celebrations at the World Cup. He had already been targeted because of that while with Madrid. But he promised even more dancing if Brazil keeps succeeding in Qatar.
“The goal is the most important moment in soccer, not only for those who score them but for the entire country,” he said. “We still have many celebrations left, and hopefully we can keep scoring and dancing like this until the final.”