Pro golf returns without fans in South Korea

Bae Seon-woo of South Korea watches her tee shot on the 10th hole during the first round of the KLPGA Championship on Thursday. (AP)
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Updated 15 May 2020

Pro golf returns without fans in South Korea

  • Bae Seon-woo, Kim Char-young and Hyun Se-lin in three-way tie for lead on 67

YANGJU, South Korea: Players were ordered to keep two meters apart and there was no touching the flagsticks without gloves as women’s professional golf returned post-coronavirus in South Korea on Thursday.

Spectators were barred from the Lakewood Country Club as the KLPGA Championship, a domestic tournament, got underway with world top-10 players Park Sung-hyun, Kim Sei-young and Lee Jeong-eun in the field.

In an unusually quiet round in Yangju, northeast of Seoul, none of the trio could break par, with Park and Lee carding one-over 73s and Kim 74. Joint leaders Bae Seon-woo, Kim Char-young and Hyun Se-lin all shot 67.

The tournament, normally overlooked outside South Korea, is the first high-level women’s golf to be played since the US-based LPGA suspended its season in February.

With sports fans around the world long deprived of live action, rights have been sold to broadcasters in countries including the US, Canada and Australia.

“Interest is very high since this is the first golf tour in the world amid the pandemic,” the KLGPA said in a statement.

To avoid any coronavirus infection, players were advised to keep two meters (six feet) apart on the course and minimize physical contact, while touching the pin without gloves was prohibited.

Players also had to wear masks before and after their rounds, but could choose whether or not to do so during play — with most deciding against.

Apart from the host broadcaster, media were restricted to the first and 10th tees, with personnel required to wear face masks at all times.

“I was surprised to see so many camera crews at the first tee, feeling as if I was seeing a gallery,” Park said.

“From the second tee, it became all quiet and you could hear every little sound,” she added. “It felt a little boring, yet refreshing.”

South Korea is a hothouse for women’s golfing talent, with eight players in the current world top 20.

Park, the world N0. 3 and a double-major winner, sixth-ranked Kim — a nine-time winner on the LPGA Tour — and No. 10 Lee Jeong-eun are part of a 150-strong field chasing the $180,000 winner’s check from a tournament-record purse of $2.5 million.

Bae, one of the first-round leaders, only completed two weeks of self-isolation six days ago following her arrival from Japan.

Playing without fans was a “pity,” Kim Sei-young said after her pre-tournament practice.

“Usually a lot of fans show up, more here in Korea than in the US,” she said. “But I’m thankful for just even being able to play.”

Everyone entering the course had their temperature checked and had to provide their personal information.


‘Loved and appreciated’ Bale starts as Spurs win, Celtic undone by Milan

Updated 23 October 2020

‘Loved and appreciated’ Bale starts as Spurs win, Celtic undone by Milan

PARIS: Gareth Bale said it felt good to be “loved and appreciated” after helping Tottenham to a 3-0 win over LASK of Austria in the Europa League on Thursday.
The Welsh international started his first match since his return from Real Madrid and played for an hour before Jose Mourinho gave him a break.
Bale had come on as a substitute last Sunday with Tottenham 3-0 up against West Ham before his team collapsed to give up a 3-3 draw.
“It is amazing to be back,” Bale told BT Sport on Thursday.
“It is a big reason why I play well and why I came back. You want to be loved and appreciated. I will give everything for this shirt.”
However, he admitted it will take time to find his feet.
“I am a bit stiff. It is like a mini pre-season for me and I am trying to get minutes into the legs,” he said.
Despite Bale starting, it was on-loan Carlos Vinicius who made an impressive debut in the Group J opener.
Vinicius started in place of the resting Harry Kane and he made goals in either half for Lucas Moura and Son Heung-min, while he would have also netted himself had Andres Andrade not scored an own goal.
Bale made that goal where Andrade put through his own net.
Leicester made the perfect start in Group G with a comfortable 3-0 win over Zorya Luhansk of Ukraine.
James Maddison, Harvey Barnes and Kelechi Iheanacho were on the scoresheet.
In Glasgow, Celtic struggled against Serie A leaders AC Milan who were 2-0 up at half-time thanks to goals from Rade Krunic and Brahim Diaz.
Mohamed Elyounoussi reduced the arrears after the break, but Jens Petter Hauge broke clear to secure Milan’s Group H 3-1 win in stoppage time.
Milan were so comfortable that they could afford to take off Zlatan Ibrahimovic just after the hour.
Earlier Thursday, Arsenal came from behind to down Rapid Vienna 2-1 and Rangers beat Standard Liege 2-0.
After a goalless first half Arsenal went behind when keeper Bernd Leno fluffed a clearance on a night he will want to forget.
Taxiarchis Fountas capitalized on Leno’s clanger, much to the joy of the 3,000 home fans allowed in to watch under coronavirus safety protocol, but the Gunners then turned the game around in four second half minutes.
David Luiz put them level with a deft glancing header off Nicolas Pepe’s free-kick, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang then tapping home to bag the three Group B points.
It was an eventful night for Mikel Arteta’s side.
Alongside eight yellow cards, there was an eye-catching display from Thomas Partey on his first start since his transfer deadline day move from Atletico Madrid.
A frustrated follower of the game from his London sofa was Mesut Ozil, who has been left out of both Arsenal’s Europa League and Premier League squad.
“When I can’t support on the pitch tonight, I will support in front of the TV in London.” tweeted Ozil.
The other Group B game was being played out in Dublin where Dundalk, only Ireland’s third ever representative in the group stage, were beaten 2-1 by Norwegians Molde.
In Belgium, Steven Gerrard’s Rangers took on Standard Liege fresh from their Old Firm derby win over Celtic which moved them four points clear in the Scottish Premiership last weekend.
James Tavernier scored from the spot after Noe Dussenne handled in the area to put them into a 19th minute lead.
Then three minutes into stoppage time Kemar Roofe produced a wonder goal from the halfway line, the ball flying over the head of bewildered keeper Arnaud Bodart.
Benfica had claimed the first goal of the night and they went on to beat Lech Poznan in Poland 4-2 in the other Group D game.
Elsewhere, Bayer Leverkusen ran riot 6-2 against French side Nice and Spanish side Granada, in their first ever European campaign, beat PSV Eindhoven 2-1.