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Manassero sets pro date Hamilton: McLaren on a flyer

GOLF: Italian Matteo Manassero has confirmed he will turn professional in May after becoming the youngest player to qualify for The Masters at Augusta next month. The 16-year-old reigning British amateur champion, who finished a brilliant 13th in the Open last July, said that he will make his pro debut at the Italian Open on May 6-9.

Meanwhile, Ireland's Graeme McDowell has kept his place in the world's top 50 and will therefore be part of the field for next week's WGC-CA Championship in Miami.


1. Tiger Woods 12.37pts, 2 Steve Stricker 7.83, 3 Phil Mickelson 7.42, 4 Lee Westwood 6.94, 5 Ian Poulter 6.29, 6 Paul Casey 5.94, 7 Jim Furyk 5.26, 8 Martin Kaymer 5.13, 9 Rory McIlroy 4.93, 10 Pádraig Harrington 4.83, 49 Graeme McDowell, 90 Shane Lowry.

Irish add relay team for Doha

ATHLETICS: Ireland have extended their team to 15 for this month's World Indoor Championships in Doha by including a men's 4x400m relay team.

The team set a qualifying standard of 48.5 seconds for the event, and Irish team boss Patsy McGonagle said that David Gillick, Brian Gregan and David McCarthy will not be involved in it while they are still involved in their individual competitions at the March 12-14 event.

That explains why AAI has included four other 400m runners -- Nick Hogan (DSD), Brian Murphy (UCC), Billy Ryan (Ferrybank) and Tim Crowe (Dooneen).

Hamilton: McLaren on a flyer

Motorsport: Lewis Hamilton thinks McLaren are in a strong position ahead of the Bahrain grand prix next week.

It is a far cry from a year ago when the team were at the back of the pack after a poor pre-season, but Hamilton finished at the top of the timesheets at the conclusion of the final test in Barcelona yesterday.

Hamilton said: "I think we're in a strong position (but) it really is impossible to say who is the fastest."

NBA: Dallas 89 Charlotte 84, Cleveland 124 New York 93, Orlando 126 Philadelphia 105, Atlanta 116 Chicago 92, Portland 103 Memphis 93, San Antonio 106 New Orleans 92, Houston 116 Toronto 92, Phoenix 101 Denver 85, LA Clippers 108 Utah 104.