Archive for July, 2019

France’s Quesne eyes major debut after birdie blast

By admin | 苏州美甲

The world number 125 sunk birdies in four of his five opening holes, eagled his eighth and picked up a further shot a hole later to go into the turn at seven-under, vying for the lead with twice major winner Rory McIlroy.


Quesne bogeyed his tenth – a par four – but recovered with two more birdies to move to eight-under before a double bogey at the last left him three shots adrift of McIlroy’s 63.

“I really enjoyed this one, I hit a lot of very good shots, holed some putts and one bad shot on the last one, but that’s golf – I’m not superman,” Quesne told Reuters.

Quesne is France’s No.4 golfer, behind Victor Dubuisson, Gregory Bourdy and Raphael Jacquelin, but the 33-year-old said he was more concerned with improving his overall standing than becoming than becoming his country’s number one player.

“I’m looking towards the world rankings so I can play a major, which I’ve never done. It’s my goal this year,” said Quesne, a late bloomer who only took up golf aged 17 and turned professional six years later.

He remained on the challenger circuit for several years, but joined the senior tour in 2010 before an unhappy season led him to lose his card.

Quesne bounced back to become a fixture on the European tour from 2012, winning that year’s Andalucía Open as well as the 2013 Italian Open.

He has made a mixed start to 2014, claiming joint-eighth at Durban’s Volvo Golf Champions, but trailing in 52nd in Abu Dhabi and 28th in Qatar earlier this month. Dubai, the final leg of the so-called Gulf Swing, has proved more agreeable.

“The course is in very good condition, the greens are amazing. As the day progressed the greens got faster so we have to manage this,” said Quesne.

When asked whether he expected to be high up the leaderboard after Friday’s second round, Quesne was phlegmatic.

“I just try to play my game and we will see,” he added.

(Reporting by Matt Smith; editing by Justin Palmer)

Rueda welds cohesive Ecuador World Cup team

By admin | 苏州美甲

But the void left by striker Cristian Benitez’s sudden death at 27 last year will be almost impossible to fill on the threshold of this year’s tournament in Brazil, Rueda told Reuters.


“A player of Cristian’s characteristics, both for his human qualities and footballing skills is practically irreplaceable,” the Colombian said. “You don’t find that round the corner.

“There will be another player because there must be eleven… In this short time of four months (to the finals) you can’t replace a player groomed over several years,” the 57-year-old told Reuters in an interview this week.

Ecuador, who reached the finals for the first time in Asia in 2002, face Switzerland, France and Honduras looking to improve on or at least equal their second round place in Germany in 2006 where they lost to England.

“We don’t have (recent) World Cup experience but we do have a great squad with lots of motivation and we’ll have to make up for that lack of experience with order, obedience and great tactical discipline,” said Rueda.

Ecuador’s three opponents in Group E played at the previous finals in South Africa with poor results, including Honduras under Colombian Rueda, and many of their players will be going to a second consecutive tournament.

The only Ecuadorean players with World Cup finals experience likely to go to Brazil are midfielder Alejandro Castillo of Saudi side Al-Hilal and Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia.

Rueda, who likes to study his rivals in minute detail, will stick to the same tactical plan against all three group opponents that served Ecuador well in the South American qualifiers since he took charge in 2011.

The Ecuador team have set themselves the goal of leaving a mark in Brazil in name of Benitez, who died last August from heart failure in Qatar where he was playing club football. He had contributed four goals in the qualifiers.

“The happiness is gone, the goals have gone and we’ve all put in the effort (to make light of his absence), it’s not been easy,” said Rueda, who will name his World Cup squad on May 26.

Valencia is a key player for Ecuador as a “a man of the (football) elite” although team work is Ecuador’s outstanding feature, he added.

“This team has great virtues, players with great talent, very committed, with good discipline, they’re a team with great harmony,” Rueda said.

Ecuador will play warm-up matches against Australia in London on March 5, the Netherlands in Amsterdam on May 17, Mexico in Texas on May 31 and England in Miami on June 4 before travelling to Brazil.

(Writing by Rex Gowar in London; Editing by Justin Palmer)

Another pitfall awaiting sloppy Napoli

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Instead they drew against all five teams and, rather than chasing Juventus, are now looking over their shoulders at Fiorentina, who are challenging them for third place which earns a spot in the Champions League playoff round.


Atalanta, who host Napoli on Sunday (1400 GMT), are 12th with 24 points from 21 games, just the type of team Napoli (44 points) are prone to slip up against.

Even more frustratingly, Napoli have won the more difficult games, beating AC Milan, Lazio, Hellas Verona and Fiorentina away and thumping Inter Milan 4-2 at home.

Benitez, who has rebuilt Napoli this season with the 64 million euros the club earned by selling Edinson Cavani to Paris St Germain, has been exasperated as a combination of sloppy defending and erratic finishing have cost his team crucial points.

Despite the slip-ups, the former Liverpool, Chelsea and Inter coach sees a bright future for the club especially after signing Brazilian midfielder Jorginho from Hellas Verona during the January transfer window.

“Jorginho has personality,” he said. “He’s not afraid of making mistakes, he’s a player with qualify who can do very well here.

“We’ve brought him to Napoli because he’s different to the midfielders we already have and gives us tactical alternatives.

“We are in a phase where we are growing and I’m very positive for the future,” added the Spaniard. “We have players in the team who can player at the top level for another four or five years.

“We are among the top three in Italy and this is a great chance to carry on with our project and aim higher.”

Inter Milan’s miserable run looks set to continue as they visit leaders Juventus on Sunday (1945), only a week after the clubs fell out over the failed exchange of Fredy Guarin and Mirko Vucinic.

The clubs, bitter rivals at the best of times, had already agreed terms for Inter midfielder Guarin to swap with Juve forward Vucinic when the Milan club pulled the plug following protests by their fans.

Inter, who are fifth with 33 points and are just one clear of Torino, Parma and Hellas Verona, have won only one of their nine last matches while Juventus, six points clear of AS Roma, have won 18 out of 21 games this season.

Inter won 3-1 at the Juventus stadium on their last league visit but that heralded a long, steady decline which eventually saw them finish ninth last term and earned coach Andrea Stramaccioni the sack.

Second-placed Roma, who have scored 10 goals in winning their last three games, host Parma as they attempt to keep up the pressure on Juventus after cutting their lead from eight to six points last Sunday. Fourth-placed Fiorentina (41 points) visit Cagliari on Saturday (1700).

(Writing by Brian Homewood in London; Editing by Pritha Sarkar; )

McIlroy sizzles in Dubai; Woods among chasing pack

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Playing the back nine holes first, the Northern Irishman was unperturbed by a 0405 GMT tee-off time, reaching the turn at five-under after sinking a quintet of birdies from the 12th to the 18th.


He rattled in an eagle at the par-five third hole with a 25-foot putt and picked up two further shots in a blemish-free round on the Majlis course.

Playing partner Tiger Woods kept pace initially to be four-under after nine holes, but then sunk nine successive pars to finish on 68, five behind his rival.

Italy’s Edoardo Molinari carded 65 to be two shots off the pace, with defending champion Stephen Gallacher among five players to shoot 66.

“Sometimes you have an early start, it maybe takes you a few holes to get going,” McIlroy told reporters, when asked about his scintillating beginning.

“But whenever you have people on the tee box and cameras clicking, it sort of makes you more alert at that time of the morning when sometimes you’re half asleep.”

It could have been even better for the 24-year-old, who missed a six-foot putt on the opening hole and lipped out another birdie attempt on the fifth hole. Had those gone he could have equalled the course record of 61.

“I drove it well and I can really take advantage of hitting it long and straight here,” McIlroy added. “I got a lot of wedges into greens. If I can keep doing that, hopefully scores like this will become more regular.”


McIlroy has fond memories of Dubai, claiming his first European tour victory at this event in 2009 and also winning 2012’s DP World Tour Championship to become only the second golfer to top the money list in both Europe and United States in the same season.

These achievements helped McIlroy become world number one, but he endured a tough 2013, rarely troubling the leaderboard as he sunk to sixth in the rankings.

The twice major winner has begun to find his form again, winning the Australian Open in December and finishing joint-second at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship earlier this month, with four top-10 finishes in his past five events on the European Tour.

“Getting back to world No. 1, it’s a by-product of playing well, giving yourself chances to win tournaments. If I finish second in every tournament from now to the end of the year, I would be world No. 1, I won’t be happy: I wouldn’t have won,” added McIlroy.

“These scores may look somewhat routine out there but there’s a lot of hard work that goes on behind the scenes to actually be able to go out and shoot scores like this.”

World number one Woods said he was relieved to sink a birdie on his opening hole in Dubai, his first competitive golf since last week’s dire 79 at California’s Torrey Pines, the second-worst round of his professional career.

The 38-year-old found the sand with alarming regularity but was still able to pick up further shots at 13, 15 and 18.

He found it harder going as overcast skies gave way to piercing desert sunshine, missing a 10-foot birdie chance at the second in a barren last nine holes.

“The greens are perfect, absolutely perfect,” Woods told reporters. “They have softened them up so they are a little more receptive but they are still just as fast. I’m sure the guys in the afternoon probably won’t go as low. They were drying out as we were playing.”

(Reporting by Matt Smith, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Syria talks focus on ‘terrorism’

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Syria’s warring sides focused on “terrorism” during a sixth day of talks in Geneva, sparring over who was to blame for the violence tearing their country apart.


For the first time in days, the two sides appeared to have agreed on the topic of discussion, but while they both wanted to talk about “terrorism” their interpretations of who was behind the violence differed widely.

The delegation from President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has long insisted the talks must first address “terrorism” by jihadists and armed groups in the opposition, as well as countries like Arab monarchies and Turkey that support them.

It points out that halting the violence was the first item on the Geneva I communique – the never-implemented roadmap to peace adopted in 2012 and the focus of the current talks.

The opposition National Coalition delegation, however, maintains that setting up the transitional government called for in Geneva I must come first, and must entail Assad’s departure, something the regime flatly rejects.

On Thursday morning, the regime delegation presented a text it wanted the other side to agree on, urging all states to “prevent and stop the funding of terrorist acts”.

The text, obtained by AFP, also insisted that “fighting terrorist organisations and driving them out of Syria is a common objective and duty for every Syrian”.

The opposition rejected the communique as “one-sided” and “unacceptable”, delegations spokesman Louay Safi told reporters, pointing out that the text failed to denounce “the regime’s crimes against humanity”.

The opposition representatives had presented a massive file about “the regime’s violence against the people,” he said.

“The biggest terrorist in Syria is Bashar al Assad,” a source close to the opposition negotiating team told AFP.

“The regime wants to talk about terrorism. Barrel bombs are terrorism. Starving populations to death is terrorism. Torture, imprisonment are terrorism.”

Despite a constant combative tone, relations between the two sides appeared to be thawing, UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi said on Wednesday.

“The ice is breaking, slowly, but it is breaking,” he told reporters, adding though that he did not expect “anything substantive” to come out of the initial round of talks that are set to conclude Friday.

But he stressed that simply getting the parties talking for the first time since the conflict erupted in March 2011 was an important step.