Korda sisters set for sun-drenched showdown at the $1m Aramco Team Series Sotogrande

Jessica Korda, left, captained her team (pictured) to victory at last year’s Aramco Team Series New York. (Supplied)
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Updated 05 July 2022

Korda sisters set for sun-drenched showdown at the $1m Aramco Team Series Sotogrande

  • Nelly and Jessica Korda to compete at La Reserva Club, Aug. 18-20
  • First time the pair will have played in Spain; their second Aramco Team Series event

JEDDAH: American sisters Nelly and Jessica Korda are heading to Spain for the first time, with both confirmed for next month’s $1 million Aramco Team Series Sotogrande.

The siblings will tee off in front of their maiden Spanish crowd at La Reserva Club, Aug. 18-20, in what will be their second Aramco Team Series event presented by the Public Investment Fund.

Both Nelly and Jessica were part of history when they played in last year’s debut Aramco Team Series New York, the first-ever Ladies European Tour event to be played on US soil.

For older sister Jessica — a six-time LPGA-winner — that was just the start of a history-making week, as she captained her team to victory in the event’s unique four-ball format.

Former world No. 1 and US Olympic gold medalist Nelly was one shot shy of bagging the same tournament’s concurrent solo contest. 




Nelly Korda at the Aramco Team Series New York. (Supplied)

Now, both will return to battle it out against the biggest and best names on the Ladies European Tour under the Sotogrande sun this summer.

“I’m so excited to be heading to play in Spain for the first time,” said major-winner Nelly, currently ranked world No. 3.

“It’ll actually be my first ever time visiting Spain, so I’m really looking forward to getting there and seeing and experiencing what I’ve always imagined to be this amazing culture. The golf course at La Reserva looks incredible too so it should be a great week.

“Jess and I both played in the Aramco Team Series event in New York last year and loved the format. It’s something different having the separate team-individual formats going on at the same time which is fun,” she continued. “With the Solheim Cup taking place just round the corner from Sotogrande next year, this will also be the perfect opportunity for me and some of the other Americans in the field to get a bit of a lay of the land and a feel for playing in Spain, with the hope of being back there 12 months later. I’m excited to get out there and can’t wait to see what Sotogrande has in store for us.”

Jessica — who has finished in the top 10 in all five women’s majors — said: “New York’s Aramco Team Series was a great event. Having won the team side of it was a lot of fun. I am looking forward to getting a chance to play that same format again.

“I’ve never actually played in Spain — this will be my first time. Spain has had such a massive influence on golf, from big name players like Seve (Ballesteros), Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm to Carlota Ciganda and the many Spanish girls making an impact on both the LPGA and LET.

“The Spanish fans are known to have some fiery passion too, so I can’t wait to tee it up in front of them for what should be a pretty special atmosphere in Sotogrande.”

The pair will be joined by a host of big-name Spanish golfers, including Solheim Cup hero Ciganda, rising talent Ana Pelaez Trivino, Nuria Iturrioz and Carmen Alonso, as part of a field packed with global stars, more of whom will be announced in due course.

To secure tickets — which start at just €5 ($5.14) — or to find out more, visit aramcoteamseries.com or follow the event on social media @aramco_series.

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Ozzy Osbourne closes Commonwealth Games as Birmingham parties

Updated 09 August 2022

Ozzy Osbourne closes Commonwealth Games as Birmingham parties

  • The show, celebrating Birmingham’s rise from the wreckage of World War II and its emergence as a diverse and vibrant modern city, brought 11 days of sporting action to a close
  • Sporting powerhouse Australia have topped the table at every Games since 1990 except in 2014, when England finished in first place in Glasgow

BIRMINGHAM: Legendary Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne brought the curtain down on the Commonwealth Games in spectacular style on Monday as dominant Australia celebrated finishing top of the medals table yet again.

Athletes swarmed Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium for a closing party that also featured UB40, Dexys and a tribute to Peaky Blinders, the global hit TV show about the city’s most notorious gang.

Birmingham-born Osbourne, known as the “Prince of Darkness,” brought the ceremony to a climax after emerging as the surprise act.

The show, celebrating Birmingham’s rise from the wreckage of World War II and its emergence as a diverse and vibrant modern city, brought 11 days of sporting action to a close.

Earlier, six-time defending champions Australia wrapped up their campaign in style, hammering India 7-0 in the men’s hockey final to end up with 67 golds overall.

Hosts England ended in second place with 57 golds, ahead of Canada on 26 and India on 22, with para sports included in the medal tally.

Sporting powerhouse Australia have topped the table at every Games since 1990 except in 2014, when England finished in first place in Glasgow.

Australia hockey captain Aran Zalewski said winning the Commonwealth Games title is “harder than you think.”

“We have won seven, but it’s not as simple as coming out here and winning,” he said.

“There are so many challenges that go into winning a tournament of hockey.

“To finish off with a special performance like that, really clinical, was very nice.”

Elsewhere on Monday, Scotland’s James Heatly and Grace Reid won the mixed synchronized 3m springboard final, with England pair Noah Williams and Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix taking gold in the 10m event.

India celebrated a golden double in badminton.

World No. 7 PV Sindhu won the women’s singles, overcoming Canada’s Michelle Li, while Lakshya Sen beat Malaysia’s Ng Tze Yong to win the men’s gold.

India’s Sharath Kamal Achanta beat England’s Liam Pitchford 4-1 in the men’s singles table tennis gold medal match.

“The best two weeks of my 40 years of life,” said the winner, who won three golds and a silver in Birmingham. “It can’t get better.”

Birmingham 2022 CEO Ian Reid told a briefing earlier that the Games had been a huge boost for the city and the surrounding area.

He said more than 1.5 million tickets had been sold, with most venues above 90 percent capacity.

“One of the goals at the outset was to put the city on the world map and instil that huge pride across everyone that lives in the region and I think we’ve achieved that,” he said.

“I think that can lead to much bigger and greater things.”

Commonwealth Games Federation CEO Katie Sadleir said there had been “huge engagement” with the Games globally.

She added a number of countries had expressed an interest in staging future Commonwealth Games, including African nations.

She said Birmingham, which already had many facilities in place, could be a blueprint for the future.

“It is definitely not something we want people to spend huge amounts of money and capital investment if it is not needed and desired by the long-term plans for the country,” she said.

The Birmingham Games made history in being the first to award more medals to women than men.

Australian swimming great Emma McKeon became the most decorated athlete in Commonwealth Games history, with 20 medals — including six golds in Birmingham.

And the tiny island of Niue won its first ever Commonwealth Games medal, a boxing bronze for Duken Tutakitoa-Williams.

Commonwealth Games Federation president Louise Martin handed the flag to Linda Dessau, the governor of the Australian state of Victoria, which will host the 2026 Games.

Martin said Birmingham had put on an event “unlike any we’ve seen before.”

“We are emerging from one of the most challenging periods in modern history, where the Covid-19 pandemic has kept us apart,” she said.

“Birmingham 2022 proved to be a special moment when we reunited, when the power of sport to connect us came into sharp focus.”


Everton sign England’s Coady on season-long loan from Wolves

Updated 09 August 2022

Everton sign England’s Coady on season-long loan from Wolves

  • Coady is the fourth player to arrive at Goodison Park during the current transfer window, following the Burnley duo of James Tarkowski and Dwight McNeil as well as Sporting Lisbon defender Ruben Vinagre

LONDON: England centerback Conor Coady has joined Everton on a season-long loan from Premier League rivals Wolves, it was announced on Monday.

The Toffees were left short of defenders after both Ben Godfrey and Yerry Mina were injured during a 1-0 defeat by Chelsea in their opening match of the new league season on Saturday.

This move sees Wolves captain Coady, 29, returning to his home city eight years after leaving Liverpool, where he came through the Anfield club’s academy.

“It’s incredible to join Everton,” Coady told his new club’s website.

He added: “I’ve grown up around the city, I know the football club, how big this club is and what it means to the supporters.

“I’m someone who was desperate to come here, to play for this club. I’ve got family and friends who are massive Evertonians.

“I’m here to give absolutely everything I’ve got for this football club.”

Coady is the fourth player to arrive at Goodison Park during the current transfer window, following the Burnley duo of James Tarkowski and Dwight McNeil as well as Sporting Lisbon defender Ruben Vinagre.

“We are delighted to bring a player of Conor’s quality and vast experience to Everton and he fits into how we want to play as a team,” said Toffees manager Frank Lampard.

Coady was on the bench for Wolves’ first game of the season, a 2-1 loss away to Leeds.

He moved to Wolves from Huddersfield in 2015 and has played in 196 out of a possible 198 league games during the past five seasons for the Midlands club.

Just minutes after Coady’s move was announced, Wolves said they had signed Valencia forward Goncalo Guedes on a five-year contract for an undisclosed fee.

“We have been monitoring Goncalo for a long time and are very pleased to welcome him to Wolves,” said chairman Jeff Shi of the 25-year-old Portugal international, who was coached by Wanderers manager Bruno Lage at Benfica.

“He has natural talent and has performed very well across Europe and for his country, and we think he is well suited to the Premier League.

“Goncalo worked with Bruno at Benfica and played with many members of our squad previously, so we’re confident he will settle quickly into the group here.

“Now, we are delighted that Goncalo is a Wolves player and look forward to giving him a warm welcome at Molineux this Saturday.”


Kyrgios ends title drought at Citi Open; Samsonova takes women’s crown

Updated 08 August 2022

Kyrgios ends title drought at Citi Open; Samsonova takes women’s crown

  • This marks quite a bit of unusual consistency for Kyrgios, who was coming off a run to his first Grand Slam final at the All England Club, where he lost to Novak Djokovic last month

WASHINGTON: Wimbledon runner-up Nick Kyrgios ended a three-year title drought by claiming the trophy at the site of his last triumph, saving the only break point he faced in the Citi Open final Sunday along the way to a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Yoshihito Nishioka.

Kyrgios’ seventh career tour-level championship came where his sixth did in 2019 — on the hard courts of the US Open tuneup in the American capital.

Earlier Sunday, Liudmila Samsonova won her second career WTA title by coming back to beat sixth-seeded Kaia Kanepi 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the Citi Open women’s final.

As usual when Kyrgios is on his game, the serve led the way for the 27-year-old Australian: He hit 12 aces and won 22 of 25 first-serve points. He won all nine of his service games against Nishioka, making him 64 for 64 in the tournament, wrapping up the week by saving all 10 of his opponents’ break points. The only one Kyrgios had to deal with Sunday came at 3-2 in the first set, and Kyrgios dismissed it via a volley winner.

At the other end, Kyrgios managed to break Japan’s Nishioka, who is ranked 96th and eliminated top-seeded Andrey Rublev in the semifinals, three times — in the opening game of each set and again in the match’s final game.

This marks quite a bit of unusual consistency for Kyrgios, who was coming off a run to his first Grand Slam final at the All England Club, where he lost to Novak Djokovic last month. Kyrgios did not get any rankings points for that showing — there were no points awarded to anyone at Wimbledon — but the title in Washington will push him from 63rd to 37th, within shouting range of a possible seeding at the US Open.

Play begins at Flushing Meadows on Aug. 29. That is less than a week after a court hearing in Australia is scheduled for a common assault allegation against Kyrgios.

Samsonova is a 23-year-old Russian who reached a career-best ranking of 25th in May but is currently 60th after needing to sit out part of the season, including Wimbledon, because of her country’s attack on Ukraine. She used a powerful serve that reached 119 mph against Kanepi to make her way through the bracket at the hard-court tournament, including a victory over reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu.

Samsonova’s other championship came last year at a grass-court tournament in Berlin. Kanepi, a 37-year-old from Estonia, was seeking her first trophy since 2013. She left the court for a medical timeout in the third set Sunday because of what she said was an abdominal muscle problem.

“I guess a lot of matches and a lot of serving this week,” Kanepi said.

Kyrgios’ victory was shown on Tennis Channel, which shunted the women’s final off its main station and instead aired pickleball — because, tournament chairman Mark Ein said, of a prior commitment.

Both women are quite capable of terrific serving and showed so right away: Kanepi closed out her first service game with a 96 mph ace; Samsonova finished off hers with a 112 mph service winner.

“She served better than me today,” Kanepi said, “and maybe that was the key.”

Samsonova’s take? The vital factor was her ability to eventually attack Kanepi’s serve.

This was big-serve, quick-strike tennis between a pair of women with similar playing styles on a humid, 90-degree Fahrenheit (32 Celsius) afternoon. Some spectators held umbrellas to provide shade; portable electric fans were placed next to sideline seats to offer a bit of respite to the players during changeovers; Samsonova held a plastic bag filled with ice atop her head.

Samsonova earned her first break opportunity of the match an hour in, when Kanepi dumped a forehand into the net. Samsonova converted it and went ahead 4-3 when Kanepi sailed a backhand long.

Kanepi’s mistakes kept mounting and, suddenly, the second set belonged to Samsonova as part of a five-game run.

Helped by a double-fault, Samsonova broke to lead 5-3 in the third, then served it out.


Ashleigh Buhai claims Women’s British Open in playoff

Updated 08 August 2022

Ashleigh Buhai claims Women’s British Open in playoff

  • For Buhai, the win more than made up for a near-miss at that 2019 Women’s British Open, when she led the event at the halfway stage at Woburn but finished fifth

MUIRFIELD, Scotland: After seeing a five-shot lead slip away in the final round, Ashleigh Buhai still managed to secure a first major title at the Women’s British Open.

Buhai kept her composure to beat In Gee Chun — and the setting sun — in a playoff at Muirfield on Sunday for her first career victory in an LPGA Tour event.

With the light fading, the South African golfer made a superb bunker shot on the fourth playoff hole to leave herself with a short par putt, while Chun settled for a bogey.

The 33-year-old Buhai calmly rolled in from less than three feet and then clutched her face in relief, before being drenched in water and other beverages by her entourage.

“I was surprisingly calm,” Buhai said about the clutch bunker shot that secured the victory. “My caddie said to me on the last one, I don’t want to brag, but she said ‘Show them why you’re No. 1 in bunkers this year.’ So, you know, she gave me the confidence. Maybe it’s got something to do with Muirfield and South Africans and bunker shots.”

Ernie Els also won the men’s British Open in a playoff at Muirfield in 2002 after a memorable bunker shot during the final round. This was the first time the Women’s British Open was played at Muirfield, a club that didn’t even allow female members until 2019 following a vote two years earlier.

Buhai made things a lot more difficult than they had to be, though.

She entered the final round with a commanding five-shot lead and was still three strokes ahead before a triple bogey on the par-4 15th that put her level with Chun.

Both players missed long birdie putts on the 18th as they settled for a playoff after finishing on 10-under 274.

“I know there are a lot of people in South Africa with lots of gray hairs right now after that 15th hole,” Buhai said. “But I’m very proud of myself, the way I dug deep and kept myself in it to get into that playoff.”

Buhai shot a 4-over 75 in the final round, while Chun carded a 70.

Hinako Shibuno of Japan, the 2019 champion, finished one shot back in third after missing a chip from just off the green that would have made it a three-way playoff.

Chun was in trouble on the first two playoff holes, but her short game bailed her out both times.

On the first, Chun sent her second shot into a bunker while Buhai found the heart of the green. But the South Korean hit a near-perfect bunker shot to within a few feet of the hole to salvage the par.

On the second, she needed to make an 8-foot bogey putt to stay in it after sending her second shot wide and then barely making it onto the green with a chip from the tall grass.

Buhai nearly won it on the third playoff hole, but her long putt for the win pulled up a few inches away from the hole.

For Buhai, the win more than made up for a near-miss at that 2019 Women’s British Open, when she led the event at the halfway stage at Woburn but finished fifth.

“Forgive me, there will be a few tears,” Buhai said during the trophy presentation. “Obviously there’s a lot of hard work and many years of dedication going into this.”


South Korean Kim wins Wyndham Championship to secure PGA playoff berth

Updated 08 August 2022

South Korean Kim wins Wyndham Championship to secure PGA playoff berth

  • Kim’s outstanding effort at Sedgefield Country Club, where the 20-year-old played the first nine holes of the final round in eight-under, capped a remarkable week that opened with his quadruple bogey eight at the first hole on Thursday

WASHINGTON: South Korean Kim Joo-hyung fired a stunning nine-under par 61 on Sunday to win the Wyndham Championship, his first US PGA Tour title, and secure his spot in the season-ending playoffs.
Kim’s outstanding effort at Sedgefield Country Club, where the 20-year-old played the first nine holes of the final round in eight-under, capped a remarkable week that opened with his quadruple bogey eight at the first hole on Thursday.
“It’s definitely a week I’ll remember forever,” Kim said after his 20-under total of 260 gave him a five-stroke victory over fellow South Korean Im Sung-jae and American John Huh.
“I can’t believe it — I’m speechless right now,” Kim said, his emotions finally showing after a round in which he looked in supreme control.
“I’ve worked really had to get to this point,” he said, his voice cracking. “Just walking off that 18th green, just thinking about the behind the scenes work.
“It was a hard day. I didn’t know golf was this stressful,” added the player who goes by the nickname Tom in a nod to his childhood love of Thomas the Tank Engine.
Kim roared through the front nine like a locomotive. His opening par was his lone four to go with seven threes and a birdie two.
He hit seven of nine fairways and holed a total of 112 feet of putts in the first nine holes, rolling in a 20-footer at the second and a 24-footer at the par-three third.
He rapped in a 12-foot birdie at the fourth, and gave himself a seven and a half-foot eagle at the par-five fifth.
At the sixth, he rolled in an 18-footer — over his playing partner’s ball marker — then closed the front nine with a seven-foot birdie at the eighth and a 10-footer at nine.
He was in real trouble for the first time at the par-four 10th, where he was in the deep right rough off the tee. His second shot left him short of the green and his third came up 50 feet short of the pin.
He couldn’t convert, finally making a two-footer for his first bogey of the day.
The birdies didn’t come so thick and fast on the back nine, where a testing downhill six-footer at the 12th missed left and a 21-foot birdie attempt at the tough 14th lipped out.
Back to back birdies at par-five 15th and par-three 16th — where he landed his tee shot less than three feet from the pin — boosted his lead back to four strokes and again raised the tantalizing possibility of a sub-60 round.
That failed to materialize as he closed with two pars to add a US title to his two precocious Asia Tour trophies.
Given special temporary PGA Tour membership last month, Kim finished tied for third at the co-sanctioned Scottish Open then secured his US PGA Tour card for next year with a seventh-place finish in Detroit last week.
Now he’s headed to the FedEx Cup playoffs, which start on Thursday with the St. Jude Championship in Memphis, Tennessee, his points total putting him in the top 35 in the standings that decide the 125 players eligible for the playoffs.
It wasn’t something that seemed likely after his disastrous start to the tournament.
“Yeah, I can’t believe I won with a quadruple bogey on the first hole,” he said with a laugh. “Hopefully that doesn’t happen again.”
Kim had started the final round two shots behind leader Im Sung-jae after the weather-disrupted third round concluded on Sunday morning.
Im carded a final-round 68 and Huh posted a 67 to share second on 265.