Belgian Pieters takes early lead in Dubai

Thomas Pieters. (AFP)
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Updated 23 January 2020

Belgian Pieters takes early lead in Dubai

  • Thomas Pieters, a former Ryder Cup winner, rolled in eight birdies to set the early pace, despite a double bogey on the first hole, having started on the 10th

DUBAI: Belgium’s Thomas Pieters fired a 5-under 67 in difficult conditions to grab a one-shot lead after the opening round of the Dubai Desert Classic on Thursday.

The former Ryder Cup winner rolled in eight birdies to set the early pace, despite a double bogey on the first hole, having started on the 10th.

“I know I’m hitting the ball quite nice and I’m just looking forward to the next three days,” said Pieters, who won his fourth European Tour title at the Czech Masters last year.

“It’s always a bit scary starting out, you don’t know what to expect even though you’ve put the work in — that competitive mindset sometimes takes a while to kick in. But I think today was one of my better rounds of the year.”

American David Lipsky sits alone in second place after a four-under 68, but a host of big names appear ready to pounce.

Last year’s winner Bryson DeChambeau carded a 70, while former major champions Padraig Harrington, Louis Oosthuizen and Sergio Garcia all signed for one-under first rounds of 71.

It was a bad day for Lee Westwood, though, after the 46-year-old followed his impressive victory last week in the Abu Dhabi Championship by slumping to a six-over-par 78.


Treble-chasing Bayern to hunt their 2nd title this season on Saturday

Updated 04 July 2020

Treble-chasing Bayern to hunt their 2nd title this season on Saturday

  • Due to COVID-19 pandemic, only 700 fans will be allowed into the stadium for the final game

BERLIN: Treble-chasing Bayern Munich are hunting their second title this season in Saturday’s German Cup final, a behind-closed-doors showdown that should have been an “absolute highlight” for success-starved Bayer Leverkusen fans.

Normally, the end-of-season showpiece final at Berlin’s iconic Olympic Stadium would be a festive affair in front of a packed house of 75,000 supporters.

However, due to the coronavirus pandemic just 700 will be allowed into the enormous stadium for this year’s final, including both teams, their backroom staff and officials.

Germany head coach Joachim Loew is one of the few invited guests.

After the final whistle, when German FA president Fritz Keller hands over the trophy, only the cheers of the winning team will echo around the cavernous stadium.

Former Bayern president Uli Hoeness finds it “a pity” that no fans will be present for the Berlin spectacle, while Leverkusen sports director Rudi Voeller feels the same before his club’s first cup final since 2009.

“For our fans, this would have been an absolute highlight after many years,” said former Germany midfielder Voeller.  “To play in this giant cauldron in front of just a few spectators is quite sad.”

Nevertheless, holders Bayern are determined to defend the cup, even if head coach Hansi Flick admits that without traveling support, their fans will be “very, very absent.”

Having lifted the Bundesliga trophy last Saturday for the eighth straight year, Bayern are targeting the next piece of silverware in their treble bid before tackling the Champions League in August.

“The boys are up for it and want to win the next title, we will do everything we can to achieve that,” said Bayern sports director Hasan Salihamidzic.

“We are very optimistic that we will come out as winners.”

 

Sane joins Bayern

Separately, Leroy Sane has targeted Champions League glory with Bayern Munich after joining the Bundesliga giants from Manchester City for a fee of around €50 million ($56 million) on Friday.

The Germany winger has returned to his home country on a 5-year contract after receiving the blessing of City coach Pep Guardiola.

“Bayern is a very big club and has big goals — these goals suit me as well,” said the 24-year-old Sane.

“I want to win as many titles as possible with Bayern, and the Champions League is at the top.”

The Bundesliga champions did not give the transfer fee, but Sky Sports and the BBC have reported that Bayern and City agreed a fee of €60.8 million. 

 

 

German daily Bild claim the fee is around
€50 million.

BERLIN: