Green snatches HSBC Women's World Championship with dramatic birdie on 18

Green snatches HSBC Women's World Championship with dramatic birdie on 18
Hannah Green of Australia poses with the trophy after winning the HSBC Women's Wold Championship at the Sentosa Golf Clubin Singapore on Sunday. (AP Photo/Danial Hakim)
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Updated 03 March 2024
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Green snatches HSBC Women's World Championship with dramatic birdie on 18

Green snatches HSBC Women's World Championship with dramatic birdie on 18
  • Green completed a hat trick of birdies over the closing holes to snatch victory when her snaking putt on the 18th green curled into the cup to a huge ovation
  • It was the Australian’s first win in Asia and also eased the heartbreak of finishing second in Singapore three years ago

SINGAPORE: Australia’s Hannah Green drained a remarkable 30-foot birdie putt at the final hole to edge Celine Boutier of France and win the HSBC Women’s World Championship by a stroke in Singapore on Sunday.

The US LPGA Tour’s flagship event in Asia had looked like it was heading for a playoff after Boutier’s 5-under 67 put her in the clubhouse at 12-under par and for Green to draw level with birdies at the 16th and 17th.

But the Australian completed a hat trick of birdies over the closing holes to snatch victory when her snaking putt on the 18th green curled into the cup to a huge ovation.

“I knew I needed to at least birdie the last to win by one,” said world No. 29 Green, who was drenched in champagne by her fellow Australian competitors in celebration after finishing the tournament on 13-under 275.

“As soon as that putt went in, I was like, ‘Oh, my God, I’ve won!’,” said the 27-year-old, who lifted her fourth LPGA Tour title.

“You have to take these highs when they come because it doesn’t always come and golf can be a learning sport sometimes.

“Celine played great today but she didn’t end up with the trophy in her hands. But she should still be proud of how she performed under this pressure,” said Green.

It was the Australian’s first win in Asia and also eased the heartbreak of finishing second in Singapore three years ago.

“I almost won the championship in 2021 when I was playing it for the first time,” said Green.

“I remembered I three-putted 17 and then three-putted again on 18 to lose. It feels great to have this trophy in my hands now.”

Playing in the group ahead of Green on the Tanjong course at Sentosa Golf Club, Boutier was unable to make a birdie over her closing holes to put pressure on the Australian and missed a great chance on 17.

“I knew my putt (on 17) was going to be important but it ended up being short-sided. It was frustrating,” said world No. 3 Boutier.

“I gave myself chances. I made some putts and also missed some. But such things happen and I can’t be too mad about my round today.”

Ko Jin-young of South Korea, who was defending her 2022 and 2023 titles, briefly threatened to get into the mix when she drained a monster 90-foot birdie putt at the 11th.

But two bogeys followed and her 1-under 71 saw her finish six shots behind Green on 7-under 281.

Japan’s Ayaka Furue took a two-shot lead into the final round Sunday but had a day to forget, completing a 3-over card of 75 with a scruffy double bogey at the 18th to finish six behind playing partner Green.

World No. 1 Lilia Vu, who started the day five shots back of the lead, withdrew during her final round because of illness.


‘I was so poor as a child I shared a bed with 7 siblings — now I’m worth $300,000 thanks to esports’

‘I was so poor as a child I shared a bed with 7 siblings — now I’m worth $300,000 thanks to esports’
Updated 13 sec ago
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‘I was so poor as a child I shared a bed with 7 siblings — now I’m worth $300,000 thanks to esports’

‘I was so poor as a child I shared a bed with 7 siblings — now I’m worth $300,000 thanks to esports’
  • After his star performances at the Esports World Cup in Riyadh, champion roamer Rowgien ‘Owgwen’ Unigo, who plays for Saudi Arabia’s Team Falcons, shared his heartwarming and life-changing story

RIYADH: When it comes to tales of rags to riches, Rowgien “Owgwen” Unigo’s story is hard to beat. As a youngster, he shared a bed — not just a room — with his seven siblings. Now, as a 23-year-old professional esports player, he has career earnings of $300,000.

“I grew up in a very poor family,” Owgwen, from Quezon City in the Philippines, and a world champion roamer for Saudi Arabia’s Team Falcons in “Mobile Legends: Bang Bang,” states matter-of-factly.

“We are seven siblings and we just lived in our grandparents’ house. All seven of us shared one big bed. I’m the eldest. Sometimes my other siblings would wake up during the night because the space in the bed wasn’t big enough for all of us. It meant we suffered from lack of sleep.”

The family also struggled to feed themselves. His mother, who ironically worked in a restaurant, and unemployed father, divorced when he was young.

“We were so poor that we only had broth and rice to eat — broth and rice every day, every week,” says Owgwen. “The broth was from a neighbor for free. The rice was from our grandmother, whose house we all lived in. It wasn’t enough with seven siblings. It was really hard.”

Despite all this, he developed a passion and talent for gaming, playing whenever and wherever he could with friends and people he met who saw his ability.

Owgwen, whose incredible gaming moves are adored by millions of fans across the globe, remembers quite vividly the first time he won a “Mobile Legends: Bang Bang” amateur tournament in the Philippines.

“I thought: ‘there’s money here,’” he recalls. “I won — I won money for winning these tournaments, and that helped a lot when it came to providing for my family. As an eldest son, it helped my family survive through everyday life.”

His dream was to become a professional esports player. The barrier to that, as a 19-year-old still to be signed up, was getting time off from his job as a call center agent to compete as much as possible and be spotted.

“Luckily, Coach Ducky scouted me,” says Owgwen of Francis “Ducky” Glindro, a fellow Filipino who is the coach for Team Falcons. “He secured me my spot in esports and the rest is my journey.”

Owgwen adds: “I support three siblings. They are only children — aged 14, 12 and 11 — and are still going to school. I help my family provide for what they need. And, of course, the bills I help with too.

“It means a lot to me to be able to do that. Life is hard when you don’t have anything, and you have to survive in your life. It helps my family, and me, to experience a normal life.

“I’ve made, like, $300,000. It’s been life-changing for me and my family. It makes me feel really good I can give my family whatever lifestyle they want.

“What motivates me the most is that I came from poverty. It really drives me to compete and play competitively against my opponents.”

In addition to supporting his family, he also recently set up his first business — an internet cafe and gaming hub in Binangonan, around 30 km from Manila, the capital of the Philippines. His dad helps him run the gaming hub.

“Business is booming,” Owgwen smiles.

Growing up, Owgwen could never have dreamed of the places that his gaming exploits have taken him to around the world. Having traveled on a plane for the first time two years ago, when he was 21, he has since been to Cambodia, Indonesia, Romania, Japan and Saudi Arabia.

The latest venture is the Esports World Cup in Saudi Arabia, the largest gaming festival in the world, running for eight weeks from July 3 until Aug. 25 at Boulevard Riyadh City.

The elite competition is where the best players and clubs on the planet battle it out for the Esports World Cup Club Championship. The tournament has a prize pool of $60 million, the largest in the history of esports, and truly life-changing money.

With Owgwen in fine form, Team Falcons qualified for the “Mobile Legends: Bang Bang” final earlier this month at the Esports World Cup. However, in an incredible game-for-the ages showpiece, in front of a raucous crowd at a packed Saudi Esports Federation Arena, they were beaten 4-3 by Malaysian outfit Selangor Red Giants.

As disappointed as Owgwen was, overcoming setbacks is something the Filipino knows all too well. He also sees the big picture and was blown away by the passion for gaming and esports in the Kingdom.

“It’s so big here,” says Owgwen. “Saudi Arabia supports esports. It really helps us shine as athletes that otherwise might not have the opportunities. It really means a lot to me. I think it’s a pleasure to serve Team Falcons here.

“They have trusted us with their name. We made it to the Grand Final but sadly we didn’t win the championship. But it was still a great experience for us in our journey here in Saudi Arabia.”

Asked whether he wants to become a millionaire through esports, Owgwen replies: “I’m not focused on the money. I’m focusing much more on winning esports games and helping my teammates be better on our ‘ML:BB’ journey.”

And his message to those who were once just like him, with only their dreams and love of family to live for?

“Don’t stop,” he says. “Don’t stop catching your passion. If you really like your passion then you won’t have any regrets, and you too can come this far.”


Team Falcons Vega hoping Riyadh crowd can cheer them to Esports World Cup glory

Team Falcons Vega hoping Riyadh crowd can cheer them to Esports World Cup glory
Updated 35 min 50 sec ago
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Team Falcons Vega hoping Riyadh crowd can cheer them to Esports World Cup glory

Team Falcons Vega hoping Riyadh crowd can cheer them to Esports World Cup glory
  • Saudi-based team began their quest for success in ‘Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Women’s Invitational’ by topping Group A on Wednesday after wins over CFU Serendipity and Cloud9
  • The competition runs until Saturday at Boulevard Riyadh City and has the largest women’s esports prize pool of $500,000

Headline:

 

Standfirst 1:

 

Standfirst 2:

 

By Arab News

 

RIYADH: The women stars of Team Falcons Vega are hoping the passionate support from home fans can help propel them to “Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Women’s Invitational” glory at the Esports World Cup in Riyadh.

Team Falcons Vega are one of 12 teams battling it out at the MWI event for the largest prize pool in the history of women’s esports — with the winners claiming $180,000 of the $500,000 total.

Organized by Montoon and the Esports World Cup Foundation, the MWI group stages continue on Thursday, with the top two sides from each of the four groups advancing to the playoffs. The quarterfinals take place on Friday, with the semifinals and grand final on Saturday.

It was an excellent start for Team Falcons Vega in the group stages of the competition on Wednesday at Boulevard Riyadh City. They topped Group A — dubbed the “Group of Death” thanks to the quality of the teams drawn together — after victories over both CFU Serendipity and Cloud9.

Team Falcons Vega player Agatha, from Jakarta, Indonesia, said: “I’m very happy because we’re so excited to be a part of this tournament, the MWI. Being No. 1 and winning is a big goal for me — if we can achieve No. 1, it would be great.

“To represent Team Falcons is a really good opportunity for us. In Riyadh, I feel everyone loves Falcons. This is the Falcons’ homebase and this is the first experience for me of going out and everyone going ‘Go, Team Falcons!’ I think the supporters really help us mentally and boost our performance on stage.”

Agatha’s teammate Thall, also from the Indonesian capital, agrees: “I’m so excited because the people here are so nice. They all say: ‘Go Falcons, go Falcons!’

“It’s great to have that welcome and that support. The arena is very good. This is the best arena I have played at. It’s my first experience of a facility here (in Saudi Arabia) and it’s so good.”

Agatha, 22, whose real name is Angelia Agatha, said about the cash on offer: “I think this prize pool would change my life, especially for my family. I would love to give it to my mum and dad. Family comes first, right? I’ve been in esports since I was 19 so this tournament really matters to me.”

Thall, 20, whose real name is Talitha Ambar Maheswari, added: “I’m so happy because I’ve played in ‘Mobile Legends’ for three years and this is my first international tournament in Riyadh. I’m so excited.”

Asked if she had a message for young Saudi Arabian female gamers, Agatha said: “I think everyone must try and achieve their dreams — you must try. When you dream and you try, and when you train hard, you can achieve it.”

Group B of the MWI features DreamMax Girls, Net Angels and Omega Express. Group C consists of Falcon Vega MENA — with players from Egypt participating for the side — VSG (Victory Song Gamers) and Zino Lillies. Group D has Team Vitality, Gaimin Gladiators and Tidal Legends Gaming in action.

With 66 of the best “ML:BB” women players in the world, some 14 nationalities are represented in the tournament. This includes the Philippines, Indonesia, China, Egypt, Malaysia, Brazil, Cambodia, Myanmar, Russia, the US, Vietnam, Paraguay, South Korea and Thailand.

The MWI is a significant addition to the Esports World Cup, which kicked off at Boulevard Riyadh City on July 3 and runs until Aug. 25. The tournament reflects the growing presence of female gamers, who make up 48 percent of the sport in Saudi Arabia.

The Esports World Cup, which has a $60 million prize pool, the largest in history, features a unique cross-game structure pitting the top clubs and players against one another across 22 global competitions in 21 leading games.

More than 1,500 players, representing over 60 nationalities, are battling it out at the Esports World Cup this summer. Week four’s competitions include the “PUBG Mobile” and “Overwatch 2” contests.


Eiffel Tower stadium wows Olympic beach volleyball players: ‘I got goosebumps’

Eiffel Tower stadium wows Olympic beach volleyball players: ‘I got goosebumps’
Updated 25 July 2024
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Eiffel Tower stadium wows Olympic beach volleyball players: ‘I got goosebumps’

Eiffel Tower stadium wows Olympic beach volleyball players: ‘I got goosebumps’
  • The first training session for the Olympic beach volleyball athletes took place Wednesday at the photogenic venue
  • The Eiffel Tower stadium, with its 12,000 seats, is poised to be a centerpiece of the Paris Olympics and Paralympics

PARIS: Lezana Placette felt a wave of calm looking up at Paris’ most iconic landmark.

“Whenever I get a bit nervous, I’ll just turn my head and look at the Eiffel Tower. That should help remind me what I play for,” the French beach volleyball player said, standing on the sand of the Olympic stadium in the tower’s shadow for the first time.

The first training session for the Olympic beach volleyball athletes took place Wednesday at the photogenic venue.

The French women’s team, Placette and her teammate Alexia Richard, took the court for a 45-minute session under sunny Parisian skies. The duo, who have played together for a decade, will represent France in their first Olympics together.

“I got goosebumps stepping into the court and imagining the French fans cheering,” Richard said.

The Eiffel Tower stadium, with its 12,000 seats, is poised to be a centerpiece of the Paris Olympics and Paralympics. The atmosphere during practice was a blend of excitement and reverence, as athletes familiarized themselves with the venue installed in a park that once served as the training grounds for Napoleon Bonaparte.

The Paris organizers have made an effort to creatively tie the Summer Games to the city’s rich history, setting events like BMX, 3x3 basketball and skateboarding in the historic La Concorde square, and the equestrian competition in Versailles. For many athletes, the presence of the Eiffel Tower adds an unparalleled sense of grandeur.

“We’ve got the best seat in the house. I don’t know who made the call for setting us here, but I really appreciate it,” Adrian Carambula from Italy said.

Yorick de Groot of the Netherlands, participating in his first Olympics, also took in the extraordinary setting. After his practice session, the 24-year-old spent several minutes capturing the moment with photos, selfies and videos, both with his coaches and alone, cheerfuly laying in the white sand.

“I have to show this to my people at home, to make sure that they believe me. This is a memory that I will never forget,” de Groot said.

The anticipation is heightened by the promise of a full stadium, a stark contrast to the empty venues of the Tokyo Olympics due to COVID-19. Organizers have announced that most of the competition will be played to sold-out crowds.

“Visualizing a packed stadium like this is what gets me going,” said Carambula, who at 36 believes this will be his last Olympics after competing in Rio and Tokyo.

French President Emmanuel Macron visited the stadium on Wednesday, accompanied by Tony Estanguet, head of the Paris 2024 organizing committee, and French Sports Minister Amélie Oudea-Castera. Macron shared his enthusiasm in a selfie video from the top row of the stands facing the Eiffel Tower.

“See the rings behind me? And the Eiffel Tower? Everything is ready, let’s open up the Games,” Macron said.

After the beach volleyball tournament, which starts Saturday, the stadium will transition to host the blind football competition during the Paralympics.


Messi-less MLS fall 4-1 to Mexican league in All-Star Game

Messi-less MLS fall 4-1 to Mexican league in All-Star Game
Updated 25 July 2024
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Messi-less MLS fall 4-1 to Mexican league in All-Star Game

Messi-less MLS fall 4-1 to Mexican league in All-Star Game
  • Inter Miami’s Lionel Messi did not play for MLS due to a right ankle injury suffered in Argentina’s victory over Colombia in the Copa America final
  • Argentine striker German Berterame and Moroccan winger Oussama Idrissi also scored for the Mexican league’s elite squad in the triumph at Columbus, Ohio

WASHINGTON: Second-half goals by Argentine strikers Juan Brunetta and Maximiliano Meza gave Mexico’s Liga MX a 4-1 victory over Major League Soccer in Wednesday’s MLS All-Star Game.

Argentine striker German Berterame and Moroccan winger Oussama Idrissi also scored for the Mexican league’s elite squad in the triumph at Columbus, Ohio.

MLS had won both prior All-Star meetings with Mexican league rivals, playing to a 1-1 draw and winning 3-2 on penalty kicks in 2021 and taking a 2-1 triumph in 2022.

Berterame, a 25-year-old forward for Mexico’s CF Monterrey, opened the scoring in the 16th minute.

Cucho Hernandez, a Colombian winger for the Columbus Crew, equalized for MLS in the 17th minute.

Idrissi answered for Liga MX in the 41st minute to give his squad a 2-1 lead at halftime.

Reserve Brunetta, a striker for Tigres UANL, boosted Liga MX’s lead in the 68th minute and Meza, a winger for Monterrey who also came off the bench to start the second half, added another goal in the 69th for the final margin.

Inter Miami’s Lionel Messi did not play for MLS due to a right ankle injury suffered in Argentina’s victory over Colombia in the Copa America final.

Messi, who also missed two MLS games last week, is uncertain for Miami’s home game Saturday against Puebla as Inter begin defending the Leagues Cup, a second-year tournament involving MLS and Liga MX clubs that begins on Friday.
 


Iga Swiatek: Clay queen targets Olympic gold

Iga Swiatek: Clay queen targets Olympic gold
Updated 25 July 2024
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Iga Swiatek: Clay queen targets Olympic gold

Iga Swiatek: Clay queen targets Olympic gold
  • The Polish world No. 1 has been dominant on the red clay of Paris, winning four of the past five tournaments
  • Swiatek has sporting pedigree — her father Tomasz represented Poland in rowing at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul

PARIS: Iga Swiatek is returning to a happy hunting ground as she seeks a first Olympic crown to add to her four French Open titles at Roland Garros.

The Polish world No. 1 has been dominant on the red clay of Paris, winning four of the past five tournaments and is unbeaten there since a quarterfinal loss to Greece’s Maria Sakkari in 2021.

The five-time Grand Slam champion, who won the US Open in 2022, is seeking to go much further than she did at the Tokyo Games in 2021, where she lost to Paula Badosa in the second round.

Swiatek, 23, has had plenty of time to prepare for the Paris Olympics after her early exit from Wimbledon, where she lost in the third round to Yulia Putintseva.

The painful defeat on the grass at the All England Club brought Swiatek’s 21-match winning streak to a shuddering halt.

She was asked afterwards how she would prepare for the Olympics in Paris.

“For sure I’m going to take a lesson and rest a bit more,” she said. “I don’t know, I feel like even though I didn’t perform well at this tournament, because of how the whole season is looking, I deserve it.

“I should literally do it better because I’m not going to be able to go through the whole season playing good tennis.”

In 2020, Swiatek announced herself to the tennis world when she won the French Open without dropping a set.

She was the first Polish player, male or female, to win a Grand Slam singles title and has dominated the event since, with her one blip coming three years ago.

Last month she beat Italy’s Jasmine Paolini in a one-sided final, becoming the fourth woman in the modern era to lift the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen four times after Justine Henin, Chris Evert and Steffi Graf.

The world No. 1 also completed a Madrid-Rome-Roland Garros clay treble. The only other woman in history to do it in the same season is Serena Williams.

Swiatek has sporting pedigree — her father Tomasz represented Poland in rowing at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.

“Normally a small child has trouble hitting even one or two balls but she could keep it going for dozens of shots,” recalls Artur Szostaczko, her first coach.

“She was a fighter.... I knew that if it went to a super tie-break, there was no need to worry — Iga wouldn’t crack under the pressure.”

Szostaczko taught Swiatek until she was 10 years old.

She was then coached by Michal Kaznowski, who remembers that Swiatek always wanted to be treated on an equal footing with her hard-working big sister Agata.

“Iga got really mad at me because I proposed some basic drill where I would feed Agata eight balls but only six to Iga because she was younger,” he said

“That made her angry. She went to her dad and said she wants just as many as Agata.”

Swiatek will hope that determination carries her all the way to the gold medal on her favorite courts in Paris.