Puig, Wolff share lead, Torque tops team leaderboard at LIV Golf Greenbrier

Puig, Wolff share lead, Torque tops team leaderboard at LIV Golf Greenbrier
David Puig of Torque GC shot a 65 on Saturday and is tied for the lead heading into Sunday (Charles Laberge/LIV Golf)
Short Url
Updated 06 August 2023

Puig, Wolff share lead, Torque tops team leaderboard at LIV Golf Greenbrier

Puig, Wolff share lead, Torque tops team leaderboard at LIV Golf Greenbrier
  • Crushers GC Captain Bryson DeChambeau shot his lowest score in a LIV Golf tournament to date on Saturday

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS: David Puig is LIV Golf’s youngest player at age 21. Matthew Wolff is close behind at age 24. They shared a lot of laughs Saturday playing in the same group at LIV Golf Greenbrier. And now they share the lead going into the final round at The Old White course.

Wolff followed up his LIV record tying 61 in the opening round with a 3-under 67, while Puig shot 65, leaving both players at 12 under through the first 36 holes. That’s one stroke better than the trio of Bryson DeChambeau, Richard Bland and season-long points leader Talor Gooch, with four more players another stroke back.

Due to inclement weather, Sunday’s shotgun start has been moved up to 9:05 a.m. EDT. Wolff and Puig will be paired again in the leading group that tees off No. 1 at 9:16 a.m.

“I’m excited to play with him tomorrow,” Wolff said of the young Spanish star. “I’m excited to be tied for the lead. I’m going to go out there and give it my all, and we’ll see what happens.”

Puig said: “The age helps probably to enjoy more … or have fun, maybe. Looking forward to tomorrow.”

The third member of the lead group is Bland, who at 50 years old is the second oldest LIV Golf player.

“I’m trying to keep us oldies still relevant,” said Bland.

As a team, Puig’s Torque GC certainly had plenty of fun, with a cumulative second-round score of 19 under with Mito Pereira’s 62 and Sebastian Munoz’s 64 counting with Puig’s 65. That leaves Torque at 34 under and four shots ahead of Stinger GC. Four other teams are eight shots behind.

Torque is seeking its fourth team title of the season while hoping to close the gap with the league-leading 4Aces GC, who are in 11th place after managing just even par on Saturday.

Meanwhile, DeChambeau might have had the most fun of any individual player Saturday, shooting his lowest score in a LIV Golf tournament. His bogey-free round was fueled by a hot putter, as he converted three birdie attempts of 27 feet or better, including a 47-footer at the 14th hole and a 32-footer at the fourth.

Add increased confidence with the new driver he put in his bag this week, and the Crushers GC captain is feeling good about his game. He took second place last month at LIV Golf Andalucía when Gooch birdied the final hole for his third win of the season.

“Obviously the putting was more important because that’s what allowed me to shoot that far under par,” said the 2020 US Open champ. “But the driving was on par if not better than that … Having this confidence off the tee is crucial to me playing well, and that’s what it’s provided me so far.”

Puig will be looking for his first professional win since turning pro last year. Wolff’s last pro win came in 2019 in just his third start after becoming a pro. Both players are just outside the top 24 in points who receive guaranteed spots at the end of the regular season for next year’s LIV Golf League.

Sunday at Greenbrier could be a big day for the two youngsters.

“I know we’re young but we’re here for a reason,” Wolff said. “I don’t really think anyone else is looking at us like, oh, we’re young. I think they all know we’re going to give it our best. There’s a reason we’re in the lead.”

Here are the standings and counting scores for Saturday’s second round of the team competition at LIV Golf Greenbrier. The three best scores from each team count in every round for their total team score. The team with the lowest cumulative score after three rounds wins the team title.

1. TORQUE GC (-34): Mito Pereira 62, Sebastian Munoz 64, David Puig 65 (Rd. 2 score: -19)

2. STINGER GC (-30): Branden Grace 64, Charl Schwartzel 64, Dean Burmester 67 (Rd. 2 score: -15)

T3. CRUSHERS GC (-26): Bryson DeChambeau 61, Anirban Lahiri 66, Charles Howell III 66 (Rd. 2 score: -17)

T3. SMASH GC (-26): Matthew Wolff 67, Chase Koepka 68, Jason Kokrak 68 (Rd. 2 score: -7)

T3. HYFLYERS GC (-26): Brendan Steele 63, James Piot 66, Cameron Tringale 68 (Rd. 2 score: -13)

T3. RANGEGOATS GC (-26): Talor Gooch 64, Harold Varner III 67, Bubba Watson 68 (Rd. 2 score: -11)

7. CLEEKS GC (-10): Richard Bland 63, Bernd Wiesberger 67, Martin Kaymer 67 (Rd. 2 score: -13)

8. MAJESTICKS GC (-20): Ian Poulter 66, Henrik Stenson 66, Lee Westwood 69 (Rd. 2 score: -9)

9. FIREBALLS GC (-19): Abraham Ancer 65, Sergio Garcia 66, Carlos Ortiz 67 (Rd. 2 score: -13)

10. RIPPER GC (-17): Cameron Smith 64, Marc Leishman 66, Matt Jones 68 (Rd. 2 score: -12)

11. 4ACES GC (-12): Patrick Reed 67, Peter Uihlein 70, Dustin Johnson 73 (Rd. 2 score: Even)

12. IRON HEADS GC (-11): Scott Vincent 64, Kevin Na 66, Danny Lee 67 (Rd. 2 score: -13)

‘World class’ Foden reaches new heights as Man City inflict more misery on Man Utd

‘World class’ Foden reaches new heights as Man City inflict more misery on Man Utd
Updated 04 March 2024

‘World class’ Foden reaches new heights as Man City inflict more misery on Man Utd

‘World class’ Foden reaches new heights as Man City inflict more misery on Man Utd
MANCHESTER: Pep Guardiola said Phil Foden has become a “world class” talent capable of deciding big games after the 23-year-old scored twice in Manchester City’s 3-1 win over Manchester United on Sunday.
Marcus Rashford’s wonder strike had fired United into a shock lead at the Etihad.
Erling Haaland was then guilty of a miss that will go down in Premier League folklore when he fired over an open goal just before half-time.
But Foden ensured City ceded no ground in the title race as he blasted into the top corner to level and then produced a composed finish 10 minutes from time.
Haaland atoned for his earlier miss in added time as City moved to within one point of Liverpool ahead of a top-of-the-table clash between the two next Sunday.
“I always had the feeling he would score goals and now he is winning games. To become a world class-player at that age you have to win games,” said Guardiola.
“He lives to play football. That’s why with 18, 19 years old he proved things but now he’s more mature.
“He always scored goals but now scores goals that win games and when you do this, you reach another level as a player.”
An 11th league defeat of the season for United leaves Erik ten Hag’s men 11 points adrift of the top four with 11 games remaining.
United could have few complaints after being outplayed and having just one shot on target, even if it was a spectacular one.
Rashford rounded on his critics this week as he hit back at questions of his commitment.
The England international has been a pale imitation of the forward who scored 30 goals last season for most of this campaign, but showed a glimpse of the quality by smashing in off the crossbar from long range.
Guardiola’s men dominated from that moment on, but were kept at bay for nearly an hour by wayward finishing and some fine goalkeeping by Andre Onana.
Twice the Cameroonian foiled Foden when clean through, while Rodri was also denied by a smart stop low to his left.
United’s lead remained intact until half-time but only thanks to a moment that will be replayed for years.
City finally cut the visitors’ massed defense to shreds as Rodri’s cross was headed back across goal by Foden, inviting the finishing touch from Haaland.
However, he incredibly turned the ball over with the goal gaping from point-blank range.
The rearguard action from the Red Devils was finally undone as Foden produced a strike to match Rashford’s in the first half.
Ten Hag was furious that a foul had not been awarded to Rashford at the other end, but he appeared to go to ground too easily under contact from Kyle Walker.
Rodri picked out Foden, who cut inside and arrowed a blistering shot into the top corner.
A slick one-two between Foden and Julian Alvarez opened up the United defense for the decisive goal as the England international fired in his 18th of the season.
“That’s my aim, to turn up in the big games,” said Foden, who has now scored six goals in nine Premier League games against United.
“That’s what I want to do. I think this season I’m proving that.
“I understand what it means to the fans. It means everything to me. To score is even better, but it was all about the win today.”
Haaland’s redemption rounded off a fine afternoon for the English champions.
Rodri dispossessed Sofyan Amrabat and teed up the Norwegian to curl beyond Onana for his 28th goal of the season.

IT firm Atos announces Riyadh HQ, sports technology center during LEAP conference

IT firm Atos announces Riyadh HQ, sports technology center during LEAP conference
Updated 03 March 2024

IT firm Atos announces Riyadh HQ, sports technology center during LEAP conference

IT firm Atos announces Riyadh HQ, sports technology center during LEAP conference
  • The firm said its new Riyadh HQ and center of excellence would also help support Saudi Arabia’s development

LONDON: Global information technology services firm Atos announced on Sunday its plans to open a sports technology center in the second quarter of 2024 as part of its new MENA (Middle East and North Africa) headquarters in Riyadh.

Announced at the LEAP 2024 conference, an Atos statement said the center would enable the firm to continue providing “best-in-class IT services and solutions to global sporting events” and “develop cutting-edge technology applications to benefit athletes, fans and the sports sector in Saudi Arabia.”

Marc Veelenturf, CEO for the Middle East and Turkiye at Atos, said: “Through the Sports Technology Center of Excellence, Atos will empower organizations in Saudi Arabia with the technologies needed to thrive in the Kingdom’s digital economy. Drawing upon our best-in-class digital tools and IT solutions, the center will become the epicenter for major events technology and digital innovation in the region.” 

The firm said its new Riyadh HQ and center of excellence would also help support Saudi Arabia’s public sector initiatives, transformation projects and various giga-projects and smart destinations such as Expo 2030 and Saudi Entertainment and Amusement Expo.

Mutaz Salem, general manager at Atos, said: “Atos will enable Saudi’s major projects to become pioneering, future-proof smart destinations rooted in tradition, sport and culture with strong expertise and experience.”

Javier Escudero, commercial director at the firm’s Major Events arm, said: “The center of excellence will be located in the heart of Riyadh to provide major events with seamless technology, orchestrating flawless operations and secure data flow.

“Our unique track record in sport includes over 25 Asian projects such as the Olympic Games, and Asian, Arab and Gulf Games. Atos’ innovative solutions will serve as the backbone, enabling organizers to captivate audiences worldwide while ensuring reliability and precision behind the scenes.”

Table-toppers Multan Sultans defeat Karachi Kings by 20 runs in PSL clash

Table-toppers Multan Sultans defeat Karachi Kings by 20 runs in PSL clash
Updated 03 March 2024

Table-toppers Multan Sultans defeat Karachi Kings by 20 runs in PSL clash

Table-toppers Multan Sultans defeat Karachi Kings by 20 runs in PSL clash
  • Usman Khan played a brilliant innings of 106 runs not out to build momentum for Multan
  • Chasing 190 runs to win, Karachi Kings could barely reach 169 runs at the end of 20th over

ISLAMABAD: Table-toppers Multan Sultans defeated Karachi Kings by 20 runs in their Pakistan Super League (PSL) 9th edition match at the National Stadium in Karachi.

Multan decided to bat first after they won the toss. Usman Khan played a brilliant innings of 106 runs not out to build momentum for his side.

Along with Khan, Mohammad Rizwan scored a half century to power Multan to 189 runs. In response, Karachi could only score 169 runs from their 20 overs.

“Sultans Supremacy in Karachi,” the PSL commented on X after the match. “Multan keep their place at the top of the standings after achieving a commanding win over Karachi.”

Blessing Muzarabani took two wickets for 32 runs, while Hasan Ali dismissed one for 34 runs.

Chasing 190 runs to win, Shoaib Malik and Shan Masood scored 38 (28) and 36 (29) respectively. Mohammad Nawaz chipped in with 27 runs not out as Karachi reached 169 at the end of 20th over.

Usama Mir dismissed two for 29, while Khushdil Shah and David Willey took one wicket each.

This was Multan’s sixth win from their seven matches, while Karachi have won only two of their six games this season.

Joaquin Niemann crowned LIV Golf Jeddah champion

Joaquin Niemann crowned LIV Golf Jeddah champion
Updated 03 March 2024

Joaquin Niemann crowned LIV Golf Jeddah champion

Joaquin Niemann crowned LIV Golf Jeddah champion
  • Crushers GC team to beat after stunning performances at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club

JEDDAH: Joaquin Niemann once again proved he is the hottest golfer on the planet right now and Crushers GC showed they are the most dominant team in the LIV Golf League with stunning performances at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club.

The Chilean golfer, captain of Torque GC, won the individual title by four shots with birdies on his last two holes. A four-under par 66 took him to 17-under par, four clear of Stingers captain Louis Oosthuizen (67) and his compatriot Charl Schwartzel (68).

Niemann’s win, his second of the season in three starts after LIV Golf Mayakoba, was remarkable, but it was the performance of the Bryson DeChambeau-led Crushers (-38) that became the talk of the golf course. They staged a magnificent charge on the final day, coming back from 11 shots behind and beating overnight leaders Stingers (-34) by four shots.

On a difficult, windy day, captain DeChambeau led from the front with the day’s lowest round of eight-under 62, which helped him finish fourth in the individual standings, while Charles Howell III contributed a 64 and Anirban Lahiri 65 (both tied sixth). They beat the previous record of the biggest comeback by a team in LIV history by four shots (4Aces in Adelaide last year).

Niemann now has three wins (Australian Open in December and two LIV wins), a third, a fourth, and a fifth position in his last six starts worldwide.

He started the final round two ahead and immediately increased that margin with a birdie on his opening hole. Thereafter, he continued to hit one good shot after another, with the only bogey of the day on the 13th hole, which also happened to be only his second bogey of the tournament. He closed with birdies on the 17th and 18th, which came after a huge drive of 410 yards.

The 25-year-old from Santiago, who has received a special invitational to play this year’s Masters and also qualified for the Open Championship following his win in Australia, said: “It feels amazing. It’s a super special moment. It’s always nice when you win, but I’m more proud of how I’m playing right now and the way I played out there today. It was a tough day. It was windy.

“I think this is the most confident I have ever felt on a golf course, the best I’ve ever played. I just want it to keep going in the same direction. There is a lot more to improve, and I think I just need to be curious about that and see how much I can learn.”

Niemann won $4 million and 40 points, which takes him to the top of the individual standings after three tournaments at 80 points.

Crushers were off to a solid start, but the real momentum boost was provided by DeChambeau, when he eagled the par-5 18th hole with a 20-feet putt, and then almost willed in a 15-feet birdie putt on his next hole to take his team level with Stingers. Howell and Lahiri kept adding birdies and it turned out to be a romp for the team.

On whether he thought a win was possible at the start of the day, DeChambeau said: “No, but I knew that our team is good enough to do it any day, especially with four scores counting. I can count on these guys to play really well.

“The top priority for us was to play our best, and it obviously showed today. Especially in these conditions, when it’s really windy, we do pretty well. We just hold our heads high.”

Lahiri said: “Bryson’s low round was the key. That was unbelievable golf. I was playing so well given the conditions that I thought I might be one of the lowest scores of the day, and if that gets beaten by two of my own teammates, it just shows how well we played as a team.”

Crushers are the reigning Team Championship winners and have moved to the top of the team standings. With a second place in Mayakoba, they now have 68 points, 18 ahead of second-placed Smash GC.

UAE Pro League review: Al-Wasl maintain 8-point lead over Al-Ain at top of table

Al-Wasl have an 8-point lead over Al-Ain at the top of the ADNOC Pro League. (@AlWaslSC)
Al-Wasl have an 8-point lead over Al-Ain at the top of the ADNOC Pro League. (@AlWaslSC)
Updated 03 March 2024

UAE Pro League review: Al-Wasl maintain 8-point lead over Al-Ain at top of table

Al-Wasl have an 8-point lead over Al-Ain at the top of the ADNOC Pro League. (@AlWaslSC)
  • Walter Zenga’s Emirates endure another defeat, look set for drop

DUBAI: Relentless leaders Al-Wasl heaped pressure on Cosmin Olaroiu’s underperforming Sharjah, Spain icon Andres Iniesta’s sinking Emirates Club looked doomed, and Farhad Majidi’s inconsistent Ittihad Kalba-reign was brought to an ignominious end during ADNOC Pro League’s matchweek 15.

Friday’s grandstand clash in Dubai witnessed goals from Abdulrahman Saleh and outstanding UAE attacker Ali Saleh to maintain Al-Wasl’s grip on their first title since 2006-07 with a 2-0 triumph, while pushing star-studded Sharjah 13 points off the pace.

On the same evening, Tunisia playmaker Haykeul Chikhaoui’s ferocious opener sent improving Ajman on their way to a 2-0 win which moved them nine points away from danger and pushed Walter Zenga’s bottom-placed Emirates – enduring a 10-match losing streak – eight points from safety.

Fellow promoted outfit Hatta showed fight in a 5-3 reversal at AFC Champions League quarter-finalists Al-Ain and third-placed holders Shabab Al-Ahli Dubai Club required an instant brace by substitute Yuri Cesar in an eventual 3-0 victory at 10-man Khor Fakkan.

Shambolic defending caused 13th-placed Kalba’s 2-1 loss to Al-Bataeh and was followed by the exit of former Iran under-23 and Esteghlal boss Majidi after almost two years at the helm. Ex-Brazil and Napoli defensive midfielder Allan netted an unlikely pair to hand Al-Wahda the Abu Dhabi Derby spoils in a pulsating 3-2 defeat for Mirel Radoi’s unconvincing Al-Jazira, while Alfred Schreuder’s flourishing Al-Nasr rose to sixth with a 1-0 triumph versus Baniyas – their fourth in five top-flight fixtures.

Here are Arab News’ top picks and a talking point from the latest action.

Player of the week: Allan (Al-Wahda)

Al-Wahda supporters could have been tricked into thinking they had landed Kaka, instead of Allan.

Their skipper’s granite reputation was earned via winning countless midfield battles in Serie A and the Premier League, rather than through artfully dispatched doubles.

Saturday’s unexpected turn, however, made all the difference on home soil when they welcomed floundering near-neighbors Al-Jazira to Al-Nahyan Stadium.

It was quite the way to open his ADNOC Pro League account, after being recruited back in September 2022.

A deft dummied shot and incisive strike through numerous flailing Pride of Abu Dhabi-defenders made it 2-0 on 41 minutes. The 33-year-old had also clipped in the 17th-minute free-kick from which on-form Iran midfielder Ahmad Nourollahi eventually back-heel half-volleyed the opener.

Even better was to come past the hour mark. By that point, a frantic derby had swung back toward the Pride of Abu Dhabi after ex-Fulham player Neeskens Kebano struck twice to make it 2-2.

Allan’s stepover at pace on the edge of the penalty box sent retreating Moroccan youngster Mohammed Rabii off balance, prior to lashing into the roof of stranded UAE goalkeeper Ali Khaseif’s net. It was a fitting winner for a high-quality and high-drama clash.

For fourth-placed Al-Wahda, January’s call to draft in former Ajman miracle-worker Goran Tufegdzic has been rewarded with seven points from nine. Al-Jazira, meanwhile, are yet to ignite since snaffling ex-Romania boss Radoi from Bataeh and slipped to seventh.

Goal of the week: Ali Saleh (Al-Wasl)

Whatever challenge is put in front of Al-Wasl, they have got the firepower to overcome it.

Their ninth win from their last 10 top-flight outings was sealed by homegrown hero Saleh.

The 24-year-old collected UAE colleague Caio Canedo’s flicked header, composed himself and then curled past helpless Sharjah goalkeeper Adel Al-Hosani from 20 yards. It was a beautiful way to produce a seventh goal contribution in 14 matches.

Al-Wasl remain in control of their title destiny, eight-points ahead of Al-Ain with a game extra played. It also feels increasingly perplexing why Saleh was handed just 210 minutes on the way to the UAE’s dispiriting round-of-16 exit at 2023 Asian Cup.

Coach of the week: Daniel Isaila (Ajman)

A fine rescue job is being performed by Daniel Isaila at 11th-placed Ajman.

Last season’s dark horses in sixth spot had rapidly declined to relegation certainties under Caio Zanardi. Friday’s consummate win against Emirates featured 13 attempts on target to the visitors’ three, even with Iniesta starting in the league for the first time since Dec. 1.

Isaila has transformed horizons since October’s hire. The acumen which evolved outsiders Baniyas into shock 2020/21 runners-up has been transplanted at Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Stadium.

What to do with Olaroiu?

It is not unfair, or unkind, to expect far more from fifth-placed Sharjah.

Their third league loss of a befuddling campaign has kept The King far away from the crown. A points deficit counted in double digits with 11 matches still to play was not expected when the 2023-24 season kicked off.

It is an unbalanced team which is performing below the sum of their parts. Worryingly, serial trophy hoarder Olaroiu’s once-golden touch appears to be waning.

“I am not the one who makes the decisions regarding contracts with players,” was the Romanian’s pointed comment post-match, according to Dubai Sports.

What happens next is the glaring question.

Sharjah’s 11 at Zabeel Stadium contained ex-Barcelona and Juventus superstar Miralem Pjanic, ex-Porto and Al-Hilal attacker Moussa Marega, 184-goal UAE veteran Sebastian Tagliabue, and South Korea’s World Cup 2022 performer Cho Yu-min. They boasted more possession (55 percent/45 percent) and attempts (14/12), yet Al-Wasl’s greater desire proved crucial.

Last season’s disappointing seventh-place finish was forgiven, amid an unprecedented sweep of four domestic trophies. This term, however, has been stained by group-stage collapse in the AFC Champions League, quarter-final elimination in the ADIB Cup, a 6-2 humiliation to Shabab Al-Ahli in the UAE Super Cup, and failure to threaten in the ADNOC Pro League.

Schreuder’s ascendant Al-Nasr and Al-Ain await, either side of the international break. This could be a situation careering toward breaking point.