Sunday 25 February 2018

Irish PGA lead for Mortimer

GOLF: Connemara's David Mortimer will be bidding to complete a unique double when he takes a one-stroke lead over Damien McGrane and Damian Mooney into the final round of the Irish PGA at Seapoint.

The 35-year-old Galwayman claimed this title at Druids Heath four years ago but following his impressive win in the Glenmuir PGA Professional Championship at The Oxfordshire last month, he will become the first Irishman to win both titles in the same year if he hangs on for victory today.

"More than my win in this championship four years ago, I'll be drawing on the win I had three weeks ago in the British PGA," Mortimer said after a three-under-par 69 gave him the slender lead on seven-under par.

Mortimer will partner tour star McGrane for the final round. He also shot 69 to move to six-under par. Joint overnight leader on five-under, Mooney got to nine-under par for the championship with seven holes to play but had to settle for a 71 after three late bogeys.

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Pádraig Harrington showed signs of getting his game in shape before next week's Ryder Cup with a third round of 69 in Paris yesterday.

Harrington only made the cut at the Vivendi Cup right on the mark of two-under par courtesy of three birdies in his last six holes. But the Dubliner recovered from a shaky start yesterday to card a total of eight birdies on the Marly course.

Harrington dropped a shot at the first and birdied the third, but then ran up a double bogey on the fourth and bogeyed the fifth to no doubt leave European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie a worried man.

However, the 39-year-old -- one of Montgomerie's three wild cards for Celtic Manor -- rediscovered his composure to par the sixth and then birdie four of the next five holes.

Further birdies followed at the 13th and 16th and, after a bogey on the 17th, Harrington finished in style with a birdie at the last. At five-under par, the triple major winner was still only in a tie for 40th place, eight shots behind joint leaders John Parry and Jarmo Sandelin.

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ATHLETICS: Northern Ireland's athletics team have been given a big boost in their preparations for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi with a chance to do some late preparations at a training camp in Portugal.

All 10 athletes that make up the track and field team have travelled to the Algarve where they will enjoy warm weather and top-class facilities to hone their preparation and put them in an upbeat mood for the Games.

They will remain in the Algarve for a full week before travelling on to Delhi where the preparations for the Games have come in for heavy criticism.

"We feel that this is a good investment for the sake of the athletes and give them a chance to compete to their potential in the Games" said Northern Ireland Athletics Press Officer, Claire McCoy.

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RUGBY: Centre Kieran Butler and flanker Akhlaque Khan grabbed a brace of tries each in Leinster's 36-8 victory over Ulster to almost guarantee the Blues the under 18 Clubs Inter-provincial Championship at Donnybrook yesterday.

They just need to avoid a heavy defeat to Connacht next week to get the job done. Here, there was an impressive fluency to Leinster's approach with No 8 Eoghan Masterson, goal-kicking centre Thomas Daly and Khan particularly dominant. Ulster could not defend the gain line when Leinster moved into top gear and had to make do with a single try of their own from centre Jay Malcolm.

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HANDBALL: Kerry's Ashley Prendiville (Ballymacelligott), claimed this year's All-Ireland Softball (60x30) women's title last night when she defeated clubmate, Maria Daly, in a hard-fought all-Kerry final. Prendiville, who won back-to-back titles in 2007-2008 and was last year's beaten finalist, had been the hot pre-match favourite to regain the title she lost last year.

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MOTORSPORT: Fernando Alonso made it back-to-back poles after clinching top spot on the grid for today's Formula One Singapore Grand Prix.

Ferrari went into the Italian Grand Prix a fortnight ago without a pole for 29 races, but have suddenly come alive in qualifying with Alonso outgunning Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, who will start second..

Meanwhile, Keith Cronin from Bantry yesterday became the British Rally Champion for the second year in succession, by finishing third in International Rally Yorkshire in his TEG Sport Subaru. The Corkman's British title win of twelve months ago was the first Irish win in the series since the legendary Billy Coleman, 35 years earlier, and he won two of this year's six rounds to repeat his success.

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SNOOKER: Mark Williams yesterday recovered from 2-0 down to beat China's Ding Junhui 3-2 and book his place in the semi-finals of the World Open in Glasgow.

Ding looked set for a berth in the last four when he fired in breaks of 81 and 45 in the opening two frames, restricting Williams to just 28 total points and a highest break of 13 in the process. But the former world champion won a scrappy 28-minute third frame to get back into the match and then levelled the scores by taking the fourth 68-0.

In a tense decider Williams quickly took the upper hand with a break of 49 before breaking down. Ding got in amongst the balls three times but was unable to make a sizeable contribution and Williams held his nerve to seal victory. Peter Ebdon also booked his place in the semi-finals with a 3-1 victory over Martin Gould while Ronnie O'Sullivan beat Stephen Maguire on a similar scoreline.

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ROWING: Reigning single sculls rowing champion, Sean Jacob of UCD Boat Club retained his title at the national championships in Cork .

Jacob had a comfortable win finishing nine seconds ahead of second placed Richard Coakley of Skibbereen. This is Jacob's third Championship win in this event.

Sunday Independent

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