- Pan Am Games: Canadian Armstrong retains shot title with record throw
- Tennis: Wozniacki, Kvitova, Stosur in winning starts
- Golf: The weather headache for PGA Tour organisers
Posted: 25 Oct 2011 06:53 PM PDT
GUADALAJARA, Mexico (Reuters): Canadian shot putter Dylan Armstrong came to Mexico to boost his training routine late in the season and walked off with the Pan-American gold medal after a record-breaking throw on Tuesday.
Armstrong, silver medallist in the Daegu world championships, won with a fifth throw of 21.30 right after being overtaken by his closest challenger Carlos Veliz and retained his Pan-am title.
The Cuban had just put the shot 20.76, four centimetres further than Armstrong's earlier competition-leading throw.
The 30-year-old Armstrong broke the record set eight years ago by American Reese Hoffa of 20.95 in Santo Domingo.
Asked to comment on his response to Veliz's throw, Armstrong said: "Yes, it took me a while to get into my rhythm," he told reporters. "My head's not in competition mode, I just went through the motions."
The Games, a quadrennial event involving the countries from Canada down to Argentina and Chile, are being held later in the year than usual and Armstrong had been concentrating on his training at home after the world championships from Aug. 27 to Sept. 4.
"I was training anyway so it's no different to do that at home or here, it was another opportunity to compete," he said at the brand new Telmex stadium in this western Mexican city.
Winning was a pleasing bonus.
"It means a lot, a medal's a medal," he said.
"With a championship medal, it makes a difference going to London," he added of next year's Olympic Games, but the modest giant does not court fame.
"I don't see myself (as being) in the spotlight, I just keep my head down and do my thing. Don't get me wrong, I like the pressure."
Argentine German Lauro, who threw 20.41 metres just two centimetres short of his personal best, won the bronze medal in a competition in which Americans Russell Winger and Noah Bryant disappointed.Full content generated by Get Full RSS.
Posted: 25 Oct 2011 05:12 PM PDT
ISTANBUL (Reuters): Caroline Wozniacki gave another gritty demonstration of why she has enjoyed a virtual year-long stranglehold on the world number one ranking with a 5-7 6-2 6-4 defeat of Agnieszka Radwanska in her opening match at the WTA Championships on Tuesday.
With world number two Maria Sharapova losing to Samantha Stosur for the first time in her career in the day's late match, the pugnacious 21-year-old Wozniacki is inching closer to a second consecutive year end at the top of the tree despite still waiting for a grand slam title.
Her hard-fought victory meant Denmark's most-photographed athlete, not least because of her romance with Northern Irish golfer Rory McIlroy, joined Petra Kvitova, who has an outside chance of de-throning Wozniacki, at the top of Red Group.
Czech leftie Kvitova, whose stunning Wimbledon triumph helped power her up to third on the latest WTA ranking list, showed a few early and late nerves on her tournament debut as she opened proceedings inside Istanbul's cavernous Sinan Erdem Dome with a 6-2 6-4 defeat of Russia's Vera Zvonareva.
"I was nervous because it was my first time playing at the Championships," Kvitova, the first Czech to qualify since Jana Novotna in 1998, told reporters after allowing a 4-1 lead to slip in the second set but then recovering her poise.
While her match was played out to polite applause from the hardly-engrossed 10,000 crowd, the middle match of the day set the standard for $4.9 million year-ending showpiece which will be played in the majestic Turkish capital for three years.
Wozniacki, whose unerring consistency has earned her a total of 54 weeks as No.1, was made to play catch-up against Radwanska who gained the initiative early with some beautifully-timed effortless winners.
Catch up she did, however, moving 0-40 ahead when Radwanska served at 4-5 in the first set only to blow all three set points. World number eight Radwanska seized on her let-off, breaking in the following game and then clubbing away a forehand to pocket a 64-minute first set.
With her father Piotr offering some animated words of wisdom at virtually every change of ends, Wozniacki reeled off four games from 2-2 in the second set to level the match and appeared to be in control in the deciding set when a stunning backhand winner to end a superb rally put her 4-2 ahead.
However, she gifted a break back with a double-fault in the next game and Radwanska, who had her right shoulder taped, began to play some inspired tennis to drag herself back to 4-4.
Wozniacki squandered one match point but a tired-looking Radwanska forehand into the net at 4-5 ended the duel. Should Wozniacki win another round-robin match and reach the final she will be guaranteed the top ranking going into 2011.
"It was a tough battle out there," she told reporters. "We had a lot of long rallies and I'm very happy to pull through." The atmosphere is very nice here, it's a huge crowd.
Sharapova, who until last week was still unsure whether she would be fit to play after twisting an ankle before the China Open, was caught cold by Stosur in their White Group match which finished at nearly midnight local time.
However, she took some positives from a 6-1 7-5 defeat in her first match at the year-ending showpiece since 2007, since when a shoulder injury threatened her career.
"The good thing is that I gave myself a chance and I did everything I could just to be here," the three-times grand slam champion, who plays China's Li Na on Wednesday, told reporters. "I'm happy that I still have a couple of matches to go.
"She was more explosive than me today," added Sharapova who had won all her previous nine matches with Stosur.
Stosur, playing at the Championships for the first time in singles, saved three break points when serving for the match at 6-5 before finally clinching it on her second match point when Sharapova blazed a return long.
The Australian can take a huge step towards the semi-finals if she beats Victoria Azarenka in Wednesday's first match.Full content generated by Get Full RSS.
Posted: 25 Oct 2011 05:15 PM PDT
LOS ANGELES (Reuters): Hurricanes, earthquakes, lightning, slow play, burrowing moles - Mark Russell has had to contend with a wide range of obstacles in his role as a tournament director for the PGA Tour.
There were 45 events during the 2011 season that ended with the Disney Classic in Florida on Sunday and by far the biggest headache for Russell has been the vagaries of the weather.
"We're like airline pilots - hours of boredom and moments of terror," Russell told Reuters with a glint in his eye while reflecting on this year's tour. "The weather is by far our biggest problem.
"It's great when you set the golf course up and we have good weather, the players stay in position and we don't need any rulings. But we play a game that is basically outdoors daylight till dark.
"If you count the pro-am, that's five straight days and it's very difficult to go somewhere and get five straight days without a weather change. We can't take a chance on people getting struck by lightning so we monitor that very closely."
In one of the most unlikely buildups to any PGA Tour event, the Aug. 25-28 Barclays Classic in Edison, New Jersey, faced the threat of Hurricane Irene after a rare earthquake had struck the area earlier in the week.
Hardly surprisingly, the tournament was eventually reduced to 54 holes because of the severe weather and American Dustin Johnson ended up winning the title shortly before the arrival of a heavy thunderstorm.
"We deal with volatile weather from time to time and we have meteorologists on our staff," Russell said. They have the best equipment and they are invaluable.
"But no two situations are ever the same so there is no standard operating procedure. You've got to look at what you have with the weather, evaluate the situation and make a plan from there."
Weather delays in the opening round can be a nightmare for tournament organisers as playing catch-up with a full field of 156 players is never easy. Remarkably, though, there was only one Monday finish on the 2011 PGA Tour due to weather issues - at the frost-delayed Phoenix Open in February.
"If you can at least get some golf in, you've got something in the bank but when you have weather problems on a Thursday morning, there's not much you can do," Russell said.
"Our regulations say that we need to play 72 holes so that's pretty much what we do ... even if it would come down to playing 36 holes on a Monday, which is difficult."
Apart from coping with weather problems, tournament directors and their staff have to set up the golf course, monitor the pace of play and issue rulings when required.
"We decide where the holes go on the greens, we decide where the tees go and then once the golf tournament starts, we are out there monitoring the pace of play," Russell said.
"We spend our whole day dealing with the pace of play and then if somebody needs a ruling, we will come in and make that."
Asked what had been the most bizarre ruling he had experienced, Russell recalled an incident which took place during a playoff between Fijian Vijay Singh and Sergio Garcia for the 2008 Barclays Classic at Ridgewood Country Club.
On the second extra hole, the par-five 17th, Garcia hooked his drive into the left rough from where he hit his second shot behind a huge tree in the right rough.
However, the Spaniard ended up getting a free drop six feet to the left of where his ball had settled - all because of a burrowing mole.
"Sergio was in a situation where the mole was under the ground and the mole was moving the ground while he was trying to play his shot," Russell grinned. "That was a pretty crazy thing, so he got a drop.
"But the rules are the rules. As long as you stand on the rules no matter how crazy it seems, you can't go wrong. If you deviate from the letter of the law, that's when you have a problem."
Russell's definition of a successful PGA Tour event, from his point of view, is very simple.
"We need to stay behind the scenes," he said of the tournament director and his fellow officials. "When you see our staff out and about, nothing good is taking place."Full content generated by Get Full RSS.
|You are subscribed to email updates from The Star Online: Sports |
To stop receiving these emails, you may unsubscribe now.
|Email delivery powered by Google|
|Google Inc., 20 West Kinzie, Chicago IL USA 60610|