Thursday 19 April 2018

Golf: McIlroy poised for final push

golf: Rory McIlroy hit a three-under-par 69 to move to within one stroke of fellow-Ryder Cup winner Peter Hanson of Sweden in yesterday's third round of the BMW Masters in Shanghai, China.

Hanson started the day two shots clear, but watched his lead evaporate after bogeys at the fourth, fifth and eighth to finish with a third-round 70 to hold the lead at 16-under.

McIlroy, who is looking to add the European money list title to the US PGA Tour equivalent he has already secured, had the chance to draw level at the top on the 17th, but the ball hit the lip and did not go in.

"Conditions were a bit trickier,'' said world No 1 McIlroy. "They moved a few tees around and the wind was up a bit and from a different direction. But I kept myself in the tournament and it's always nice to go out in the last group on the last day.''

The pair swapped Ryder Cup memories during the round and also talked cars. "I'm a big car freak and have ordered a pick-up truck over in America, while Rory's going for a big Lamborghini,'' said Hanson.

South African George Coetzee, yet to win on the European Tour, was three off the pace after a 65 took him from eighth to third on his own.

Irish duo Shane Lowry and Michael Hoey were two strokes further back. Lowry said: "I had a rocky patch in the middle and was a bit disappointed to miss a putt at the last, but it was another good day at the office.''

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Tiger Woods found lakes, bunkers and cart paths to stall his third-round charge at the CIMB Classic, as Bo van Pelt grabbed a share of the lead after flirting with a magical 59.

Defending champion Van Pelt double-bogeyed the last to sign for a nine-under-par 62 and sit at the top of the leaderboard on 16-under 197 alongside overnight front-runner Robert Garrigus (69), with Woods (69) a further five shots back in joint 10th.

Woods had raced to the turn in 30 after five birdies and four pars, but his round unravelled on the back nine as he dropped five shots to offset two more birdies in Kuala Lumpur where heavy rain led to a second day of preferred lies at the soggy Mines Golf Course.

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gaelic games: Ireland claimed the Hurling/Shinty International Series for a fourth consecutive year with a comfortable 8-11 to 4-3 second Test win over Scotland at Cusack Park.

Offaly's Shane Dooley scored a hat-trick in the first half to put the Irish 5-6 (31) to 1-2 (7) ahead at the half.

A Barry McFall goal early in the second half meant there was to be no way back for the Scots for whom Kevin Bartlett (2-2) top scored.

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formula 1: Sebastian Vettel continued his dominance of the Indian Grand Prix weekend by securing the 35th pole position of his Formula One career.

After winning the last three races to take up the lead in the world title battle, Vettel is on course to extend that advantage should he score a second successive victory at the Buddh International Circuit today.

The 24-year-old German, quickest in all three practice sessions, edged out Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber by just 0.044 seconds, nailing his second flying lap in the top-10 shoot-out after making an error on his first run.

Behind the Red Bulls will be the McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, the former a quarter of a second behind Vettel.

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hockey: Pembroke Wanderers had little difficulty in maintaining their six points lead at the top of the Leinster Division One with an easy 5-1 win over bottom side Avoca. Three Rock Rovers held onto second spot with a 2-1 win over YMCA thanks to an Ali Haughton winner very close to the end.

Glenanne, currently finding it hard to make progress from the lower regions, were rewarded for their efforts when coming from 1-0 down at half-time to beat visitors Fingal 4-1 thanks to a Stephen Brownlow hat-trick.

Newly-promoted North Kildare continued to make their mark in the women's top flight, sharing the points in a 2-2 draw away to Pembroke Wanderers, who had to rely on a last-minute equaliser.

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BASKETBALL: UL went joint top of the Men's Superleague following a 73-61 win over Marian in Belfield last night.

UCD had been on level terms at the interval with Niall Meaney (16 pts) showing well for the home side.

Still only a point down heading in the third quarter, UCD were pushing the league and cup winners all the way when a seven-point run spearheaded by Jason Killeen eventually saw UL pull away.

Killester, meanwhile, slipped to a 90-64 defeat to Neptune with Darren Townes top-scoring on 29 points for the visitors.

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snooker: Mark Allen has asked the first questions of Ronnie O'Sullivan's withdrawal from World Snooker's new flagship tournament in China on medical grounds.

The International Championship in Chengdu, which offers world ranking points on a par with the UK Championship and a first prize of £125,000, gets under way today.

Northern Irishman Allen, among the likely title contenders after overcoming a passport blunder to travel out, wrote on Facebook: "Don't understand why he enters though. If he doesn't wanna play don't enter. It affects draws, rankings, sponsors, seedings and all.''

O'Sullivan's condition was not disclosed -- he was able to play an exhibition match against Jimmy White in Liverpool on Thursday.

O'Sullivan has expressed a dislike for the heavy schedule and travel demands on players, with the ranking system in its present guise placing an emphasis on the importance of players turning out each week.

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tennis: Irish ace James McGee yesterday needed only 57 minutes to romp to a 6-4 6-2 win over Germany's Philipp Dittmer in the qualifying first round of the ATP Challenger Tour event in Eckental, Germany. The 25-year-old Dubliner hammered in a whopping 13 aces to his opponent's one.

The Irish No 1, who will have to win two more matches to clinch a main draw place, next faces the No 6 seed, Austria's Dominic Thiem, or Germany's Michael Mirtchev.

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Serena Willliams cruised into the final of the WTA Championships by beating Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 6-2, 6-1 in Istanbul yesterday and will play Maria Sharapova for her third title at the event.

Sharapova beat Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 6-2 in the second semi-final, a day after Azarenka had made sure of finishing the year as the top-ranked player. Sharapova will finish No 2 even if she beats Williams in today's final.

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Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro advanced to the Swiss Indoors final, setting up a rematch of their epic semifinal at the London Olympics.

Federer brushed aside Paul-Henri Mathieu of France 7-5, 6-4 in the semi-finals, after Del Potro eased to a 6-2, 6-2 win over Richard Gasquet.

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