Charley Hull takes the lead on Ladies Day at the Aramco Team Series Jeddah

Charley Hull takes the lead on Ladies Day at the Aramco Team Series Jeddah
World No. 17 Charley Hull has a one-shot lead over defending champion Pia Babnik, Caroline Hedwall and Virginia Elena Carta. (Golf Saudi)
Short Url
Updated 12 November 2022

Charley Hull takes the lead on Ladies Day at the Aramco Team Series Jeddah

Charley Hull takes the lead on Ladies Day at the Aramco Team Series Jeddah
  • The English golfer shot a bogey-free 65 to take a one-shot lead ahead of Pia Babnik, Caroline Hedwall, and Virginia Elena Carta
  • The team championship will be decided in a play-off on Saturday as Team Garcia and Team Wolf are tied atop of the team leaderboard after 36 holes

JEDDAH: The Aramco Team Series Jeddah is set for an exciting final day at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club as world No. 17 Charley Hull takes a one-shot lead over defending champion Pia Babnik, Caroline Hedwall and Virginia Elena Carta, while Team Garcia and Team Wolf will head to the 18th tomorrow for a playoff to determine the team victors.

Hull made her seventh birdie of the day on the last to shoot a blemish-free 65 and take the lead as she sets her sights on her second win in the last three starts.

“It was a really really good front nine. I even missed a couple of putts, but I’m not complaining,” Hull said. “I’ve put some good work in this year, and now it’s all coming together. I wasn’t massively confident coming into this week, but I’m feeling much better now I’ve played some golf and just enjoying it out here.”

Babnik is looking at a repeat of last year’s Aramco Team Series Jeddah victory as she matched Hull’s low round of the day with just the one blemish and eight birdies en route to finish one behind. The 18-year-old said after the round: “I’m really happy, I played really good today. There were some good shots I hit and then the wind stopped, which was frustrating, but overall, I am happy with the round I played. I really played well, gave myself a lot of chances.”

Carta also sits in that second-place spot and accredits some of her strong form this week to the team format at the Aramco Team Series.

“It’s much easier to play well when you have a good team and when you are able to enjoy yourself out there,” she said. “I really played for the team today. I’ll take it one shot at a time tomorrow and see (if) there are birdie opportunities out there. It’s just a matter of giving myself some chances and trying to make some good putts.”

The team championship will be decided on the final day of play with Team Wolf and Team Garcia tied on 29-under after 36 holes of play. The two teams will take to the 18th hole following the conclusion of the individual event tomorrow to decide the Aramco Team Series team champion.

Nicole Garcia, who is just two shots behind the individual lead, led her team of Casandra Alexander, Tereza Melecka and amateur Sonia Bayahya to the top of the leaderboard and commented after the round: “My team was in great spirits, and we really tried hard out there. It was tough to make the putts on these greens, but my team managed to pull it off, so I’m really proud.”

Christine Wolf will be joined in tomorrow’s playoff by teammates Laura Beveridge, Alexandra Swayne, and amateur Raghdah Al-Essawi.

Day two of the Aramco Team Series marked “Ladies Day” at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club where women and girls were invited to participate in free professional golf lessons to encourage participation in the sport, alongside an inspirational talk from Saudi businesswoman, pilot, author, singer and entrepreneur Adwa Al-Dakheel. The day concluded with an incredible live performance from Lady You and her band.


Uruguay beats Ghana 2-0 at World Cup but both teams out

Uruguay beats Ghana 2-0 at World Cup but both teams out
Updated 14 sec ago

Uruguay beats Ghana 2-0 at World Cup but both teams out

Uruguay beats Ghana 2-0 at World Cup but both teams out
AL-WAKRAH, Qatar: This time, Luis Suarez cried on the sidelines after Uruguay was eliminated from the World Cup despite a 2-0 win over Ghana on Friday.
The result also put Ghana out of the competition.
Suarez played a key role in both first-half goals scored by Giorgian De Arrascaeta and Uruguay appeared headed for the round of 16 after inflicting more pain on Ghana 12 years after their now-infamous meeting in the quarterfinals at the World Cup in South Africa.
Then, Suarez denied Ghana a winning goal with a deliberate handball on the goal-line and having been sent off, he celebrated wildly on the sidelines when Ghana missed the resultant penalty.
Uruguay was in a position to go through in Qatar until South Korea’s late goal gave it a 2-1 win over Portugal in the other Group H game. That meant Uruguay needed to score one more goal in the dying minutes of its game to qualify.
It didn’t and was eliminated because it had scored fewer goals than South Korea in the group stage. Suarez was distraught on the sidelines and covered his face with his shirt having been substituted in what was likely his last World Cup appearance.
Uruguay’s goals came in a six-minute spell soon after Ghana raised more memories of the 2010 quarterfinal by missing a penalty.
A Suarez shot led to De Arrascaeta’s opener and Suarez set up the second with a clever pass that De Arrascaeta volleyed in. After those two strikes, Uruguay thought it was on its way to the knockouts.
Ghana captain Andre Ayew, the team’s only survivor from the 2010 squad, had his penalty saved by Sergio Rochet in the 21st minute and the game changed immediately after that. De Arrascaeta scored in the 26th and 32nd minutes to crush Ghana hopes.
But the Uruguayans were ultimately also crushed.
Suarez had been substituted when the screen at Al Janoub Stadium suddenly flashed that South Korea was in second place in the group after a late goal against Portugal.
Uruguay surged forward in search of the goal that would have put it through. Substitutes Maximiliano Gomez and Sebastian Coates both missed late chances and Suarez was crying after the final whistle.

Saudi motorsport chiefs predict ‘best ever’ Red Bull Car Park Drift world final in Jeddah

Saudi motorsport chiefs predict ‘best ever’ Red Bull Car Park Drift world final in Jeddah
Updated 56 min 12 sec ago

Saudi motorsport chiefs predict ‘best ever’ Red Bull Car Park Drift world final in Jeddah

Saudi motorsport chiefs predict ‘best ever’ Red Bull Car Park Drift world final in Jeddah
  • Jeddah will host 21 drifters from 18 different countries who will battle it out to be named the Red Bull Car Park Drift King

JEDDAH: For the first time ever the Red Bull Car Park Drift World Final will be held in Saudi Arabia on December 8 in Jeddah.

Organizers Saudi Motorsport Company and Jeddah Corniche Circuit are promising fans the “best ever” season-ending event as tickets for the final have gone on sale.

Jeddah will host 21 drifters from 18 different countries who will battle it out to be named the Red Bull Car Park Drift King of Drift for 2022. 

Expert power control, pure pace, and the most delicate of touches will be the difference between victory and defeat for the competitors, set to deliver packed grandstands and a festive atmosphere.

For Saudi motorsport fans, the event will welcome three competitors from the Kingdom. Those drivers will be confirmed at a qualifying event on 3 December.

With tickets available for all fans of high octane, Saudi Motorsport Company (SMC) CEO, Martin Whitaker, said he is counting down the days to one of Jeddah’s biggest automotive moments. 

“I believe the Jeddah Corniche Circuit is one of the best ever venues in the long and impressive history of the Red Bull Car Park Drift and we expect an event which is more than equal to this stunning location,” he said.

“This is such a special event for the region, and we are so proud to be able to bring it to Jeddah and give drifting fans the chance to experience world-class competition.

“Of course, with three Saudi Arabian drivers competing in the final we expect the crowd to be more enthusiastic than ever and how special it would be to see a local driver crowned the King of Drift,” he added.

The Saudi drivers will go head-to-head with drifters who qualified in competitions from Jamaica to Mauritius, Sri Lanka to Pakistan, Kenya to South Africa, while the series also travelled through Poland, Estonia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, as well as Qatar, Oman, UAE, Bahrain, Jordan and Lebanon.


‘Little Pep’ Gvardiol coming up big for Croatia at World Cup

‘Little Pep’ Gvardiol coming up big for Croatia at World Cup
Updated 02 December 2022

‘Little Pep’ Gvardiol coming up big for Croatia at World Cup

‘Little Pep’ Gvardiol coming up big for Croatia at World Cup
  • The fact that Croatia conceded only one goal in their three group games at the World Cup is largely down to the performance of Gvardiol
  • He’s nicknamed “Little Pep” because of the similarities of his last name with that of Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola

DOHA: For 90 minutes, the hulking, masked mass that is Joško Gvardiol kept Belgium’s big-name strikers at bay with timely tackles — none bigger than his stop on Romelu Lukaku two minutes into stoppage time.
Then the 20-year-old Croat who is fast becoming the most sought-after center back in Europe went over to the side of the field and reached up to embrace his mother and cry.
The fact that Croatia conceded only one goal in their three group games at the World Cup is largely down to the performance of Gvardiol, who, despite his hefty stature, is nicknamed “Little Pep” because of the similarities of his last name with that of Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.
“He’s the best defender in the world,” Croatia coach Zlatko Dalić said through a translator after Thursday’s game. “Even if he’s not currently No. 1, he will become No. 1.”
While he only recently extended his contract with Leipzig through 2027, Gvardiol is reportedly a big transfer target for Chelsea, which should have no problem paying a 50 million euro ($50 million) release clause inserted into his deal with the German club.
In the meantime, veteran Croatia defenders Dejan Lovren and Domagoj Vida, who are both 33, have taken Gvardiol under their wing. His addition to a team that in 2018 reached the World Cup final has added another dimension in terms of physicality and youth.
“He enjoys great support from Lovren both on and off the field, and Vida also helps with extra advice,” Dalić said. “I am happy to watch how good they work together.”
Gvardiol is wearing a face mask during the tournament because he broke his nose when he collided with Willi Orbán during a Bundesliga match on Nov. 10 — the day after he was named to Croatia’s World Cup squad.
Up next for Gvardiol and Croatia is a match in the round of 16 on Monday against a Japan squad that are coming off an inspiring victory over Spain and managed to advance ahead of four-time champion Germany, which was eliminated in one of the most competitive groups.
“Before the end of the group stage, if we could choose the opponent in the next round, maybe some would say Japan,” Dalić said Friday. “But after seeing that they beat both Germany and Spain, they are anything but an easy opponent.”
The core of Croatia’s team remains their experienced midfield trio of Luka Modrić, Mateo Kovačić and Marcelo Brozović — plus winger Ivan Perišić.
At the age of 37 with 158 international appearances, Modrić is still able to dominate soccer’s biggest games with both Real Madrid and Croatia.
Perišić, who is also 33, never seems to tire on the left wing. He ran 72.5 kilometers during Croatia’s seven matches in the 2018 World Cup and could break that mark in Qatar.
While coach Roberto Martinez announced he was leaving Belgium’s squad after their “Golden Generation” was eliminated following a 0-0 draw with Croatia, Dalić said he isn’t through with his national team — no matter how Croatia finishes this tournament.
“This team are a mix of youth and experience,” he said. “I have more plans for Euro 2024 and only then might I reflect on taking some other steps and moves in my career.”


Berhalter ‘hopeful’ on Pulisic fitness for World Cup last 16

Berhalter ‘hopeful’ on Pulisic fitness for World Cup last 16
Updated 02 December 2022

Berhalter ‘hopeful’ on Pulisic fitness for World Cup last 16

Berhalter ‘hopeful’ on Pulisic fitness for World Cup last 16
  • Chelsea star Pulisic suffered a pelvic contusion following a heavy collision while scoring the winning goal in Tuesday's 1-0 victory over Iran
  • Berhalter said Pulisic was on the mend and would be tested later Friday during training

DOHA: United States coach Gregg Berhalter is “hopeful” Christian Pulisic will be fit to face the Netherlands in Saturday’s World Cup last-16 clash but striker Josh Sargent remains a fitness doubt.
Chelsea star Pulisic suffered a pelvic contusion following a heavy collision while scoring the winning goal in Tuesday’s 1-0 victory over Iran.
The 24-year-old was subsequently substituted and went to hospital following the game for tests.
Berhalter said Pulisic was on the mend and would be tested later Friday during training.
“Regarding Christian, we’re going to see him on the training field today,” Berhalter told a news conference on Friday.
“It looks pretty good, but we’ll have to see him on the pitch to get confirmation of that.”
However, there remain concerns over Norwich striker Sargent, who also picked up a knock in the win over Iran.
“With Christian we’re hopeful, with (Josh) a little less so,” Berhalter said.
“But we’ll see. At this stage of the tournament it’s go time. If you can push through it, you do. I’m sure he’ll have that mindset.”
The United States advanced to Saturday’s second round meeting at the Al Khalifa Stadium after finishing second behind England in Group B.
Captain Tyler Adams said the American squad had been energised by the support at home, where record numbers of viewers have tuned into the USA’s games in Qatar.
“The support from the US has been surreal — it’s really cool to see how much a tournament can change the perspective of people watching soccer,” Adams said.
“That was one of our goals coming into the tournament. The further we go, the more support we gather. We want the next generations to come to have that support.
“When we can play an attractive style, and fight and represent the country in the right way, you’re going to gather that support.”
Berhalter said the US squad had “felt a responsibility to use this World Cup to create momentum in the United States for soccer.”
“That’s why we want to keep going and do well and make the country proud,” he added.


In Maradona’s shadow, Messi strives for Argentina’s forever love

In Maradona’s shadow, Messi strives for Argentina’s forever love
Updated 02 December 2022

In Maradona’s shadow, Messi strives for Argentina’s forever love

In Maradona’s shadow, Messi strives for Argentina’s forever love
  • Adoring Argentines give Messi fantastic backing in Qatar
  • Argentines traditionally more ambivalent to Messi than Maradona

BUENOS AIRES/DOHA: Lionel Messi’s passionate performances at the Qatar World Cup are earning him oodles of love from Argentines, but their old favoritism for Diego Maradona may resurface unless he brings home the trophy on his final attempt.
The two diminutive and brilliant No. 10s have dazzled the world with their prolific goalscoring and strikingly similar styles, relying on low center of gravity to swerve and slalom their way past defenses, ball glued to flashing feet.
Yet only Maradona, who died two years ago, has won the biggest trophy. He dragged a mediocre team behind him in 1986 when his “Hand of God” goal against England became a symbol of national defiance after the shame of the Falkands War defeat.
For years, Argentine fans said that no matter how many Ballons d’Or and trophies Messi won with Barcelona, he could never match Maradona until he too lifted a World Cup.
And why, they asked, was he so shy and introverted whereas their lovable rascal Maradona had entertained them so richly with jokes, songs and expletive-laden tirades against authority?
Was Messi even a true Argentine anyway, some grumbled, especially older fans. After all, he left for Spain at 13 while Maradona was more one of their own, born in a slum and working his way up through local clubs including Boca Juniors.
Messi has, of course, enjoyed more success in sheer numbers of goals and honors than Maradona, even surpassing his national appearances this week as he drove Argentina into the last 16 of the World Cup. And he has kept himself in great shape whereas Maradona succumbed to drugs and wild living in ways that frustrated and saddened even his most loyal fans.
Those close to Messi say that though his shyness may have disguised it in the past, there was always nothing he longed for more than to bring glory to Argentina. That passion was laid bare when he broke down in tears after leading Argentina to the Copa America in 2021, their first major trophy in 28 years.
“Argentines always had a love-hate relationship with Messi,” said 44-year-old fan Gustavo Franchini in Buenos Aires.
“We always compare him with Maradona, who won the World Cup 36 years ago, since when we haven’t won again ... Everyone says he has to win the World Cup to achieve Maradona’s stature and many, like me, think that even then he doesn’t match him,” he added, noting how Maradona carried the 1986 team almost solo.
In Qatar, on Messi’s fifth and final quest, he has been the beating heart of the squad and Argentina appear to have as good a chance as any to lift the trophy on Dec. 18.
Packing out stadiums in Qatar and bars and parks back home, fans have backed Messi throughout, cheering his two goals, encouraging him after a penalty miss, and parading his image proudly on myriad flags and banners.
Many of the banners show Messi and Maradona together, some depicting the late No. 10 smiling down from heaven at his heir. And Messi himself has opened up emotionally to rally the team and nation after their shock defeat to Saudi Arabia. He has celebrated goals wildly with fans and lead celebratory songs on the pitch and in the changing room after they beat Mexico and Poland.
“After the Copa America he seems to have eased up, he’s more relaxed, enjoying it,” said another fan Facundo Moreno, 39, also in the Argentine capital.
“For me, Messi has always felt and done his all for the national team, from his first game until now. He’s my idol,” he added. “Maradona and he have totally different personalities but on the pitch they both do the same.”
Marcelo Sottile, a sports journalist and author of a book about Messi, said that while his clean-cut image and polite persona mirrored the sort of person Argentines aspired to be, the rebellious Maradona reflected more of who they really were.
However, there is a generation gap among those who remember and revere Maradona most and younger fans less prejudiced against Messi, he told Reuters.
“I have an 18-year-old son who never questioned Messi, who never said ‘you play well for Barcelona but not for Argentina’,” he said. “Messi has suffered from being a venerated star in Barcelona but often under attack here in Argentina.”