» Sports » Sports Shorts: Sharma in joint lead at CIMB, eyes maiden PGA Tour title

Sports Shorts: Sharma in joint lead at CIMB, eyes maiden PGA Tour title

October 13, 2018 22:48 IST
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A summary of sports events and persons who made news on Saturday 

Shubhankar Sharma

Shubhankar Sharma was in joint lead after 54 holes for the second time in a PGA Tour event, as he carded 6-under 66 to reach 19-under 197 at the TPC Kuala Lumpur West course on Saturday.

Sharma, who held sole lead at the end of 54 hole at WGC0-Mexico, earlier this year, is tied with overnight co-leaders Gary Woodland (67) and Marc Leishman (67). Sharma had seven birdies and the day's lone bogey came after a gap of 21 holes since the second hole, his 11th hole on Friday.

That also means Sharma will play in the lead group of a PGA Tournament only the second time in his career. It is also the second time at the CIMB Classic, that an Indian player has had at least a share of the lead after 54 holes – Anirban Lahiri was leader by four shots after three days in 2015, when Justin Thomas came from behind and won the title.

A win on Sunday will seal Sharma's berth at the Augusta Masters, a spot on Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii and also the Asian Tour Order of Merit.

Only one Indian, Arjun Atwal has won a PGA Tour title, the Wyndham Championships in 2010, and the next best finish in a PGA Tour event has been T-2 by Lahiri at the Memorial in 2017. Lahiri was also T-3 at 2015 CIMB.

Gaganjeet Bhullar (71) had three birdies against two bogeys to be 6-under 210 and T-42, while Anirban Lahiri (68) finally had some putts falling with six birdies, but he dropped a shot each on seventh and 17th. Lahiri was 2-under and T-64th. Rahil Gangjee (73) was lying 77th at 5-over for three days.

Sharma's birdies came on second, third, fifth and seventh and then 10th, 13th and 17th. He missed a couple of short birdie putts, including a four-footer on 16th.

"Yes, I am very happy. I got off to a flyer, front nine was great as I was 4-under through seven. On the back nine I made a lot of crucial par putts and missed a few coming in, but really happy with the way I played and hung in there."

He also pointed out the par save on eighth was rather crucial, at which point he was 4-under through seven holes.

"It (the par) was very important, it could have been a momentum changer. I hit a terrible shot and then had a bad lie and tried to hit a good shot but didn't come off. Could have been a double bogey also, but that third chip was just perfect.

"I think that was the turning point for me. A bogey there would kind have pushed me back. It could have been a potential double as well because it was a tough chip as well."

He showed a lot of confidence, and talked about Sunday's plan.

"I'll just chill out, I won't really do much. I'll just go in, hang out probably with Rahil, maybe with Anirban, talk a little and just do normal stuff that I've been doing every day.

"Good thing is that I've been in this position before so I know what happens and what my mind goes through, so I'll just try and relax myself as much as possible. And the way I'm playing, I'm pretty sure I'll play well tomorrow as well."

The leading trio was two shots ahead of South African Louis Oosthuizen (65) and the first-round leader Bronson Burgoon (67).

The day's lowest card came from the 2009 Open winner, Stewart Cink, who brought home a 63 and is now T-7 alongside five others.

Two-time CIMB winner, Justin Thomas (69) was 12-under and seven shots off the lead on another high-scoring day, when only as many as 60 of the 78 players shot in the 60s.

WADA denies trying to bully athletes' representative

The World Anti-Doping Agency denied on Friday that it had disrespected or attempted to bully athletes' representative Beckie Scott during a debate in which tensions were "running high" over a decision to reinstate Russia's anti-doping organisation.

Scott, chair of the WADA Athlete Committee, said in an interview with the BBC that she was "treated with disrespect" and faced "inappropriate" comments and gestures from the WADA executive committee for her opposition to Russia's reinstatement during a September meeting.

WADA denied that it had mistreated Scott, saying the atmosphere at the meeting was the product of "strong and divergent views."

"Following some remarks made by Ms Scott at the executive committee meeting last month, there was discussion among the members on a number of different topics and it is fair to say that during this stage of the meeting, tensions were running high leading to comments from all sides that reflected the strong views held," WADA said in a statement sent to Reuters.

Scott, an Olympic gold medal winner for Canada in cross-country skiing, felt that the tone of the meeting was more dismissive than inclusive, arguing that WADA had little interest in hearing from athletes or their concerns.

"This behaviour will never be acceptable. Time to show leadership," said WADA Vice President Linda Helleland, who opposed Russia's reinstatement.

"Time to understand one of the reasons WHY WADA Executive Committee exists: To respect and protect the athletes. And listen to their views. It should be no place for bullies!" she said.

Russia's Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) was suspended in November 2015, after an independent WADA report carried out by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren outlined evidence of state-backed, systematic doping and cover-ups in Russian sport.

WADA laid out a road map to compliance, but on Sept. 20 reinstated RUSADA without Russia having fully met two conditions: recognising the findings of the McLaren Report and allowing access to stored urine samples at its Moscow lab.

Travis Tygart, head of the United States Anti-Doping Agency and an outspoken WADA critic, said on Friday that Scott was now speaking for the overwhelming majority of the global athlete community.

"Today’s BBC interview with World Anti-Doping Agency athlete chair Beckie Scott presents a damning and accurate reflection of the fragile state of the WADA-led global anti-doping system as it exists today," Tygart said in a statement. "It is unacceptable that the athlete voice is marginalized by those in charge of WADA and the IOC (International Olympic Committee)."

Kenya's ex-sports minister to be charged over Rio Olympics graft


Kenya's former sports minister will be charged in court in relation to the siphoning of funds meant for athletes who competed in the Olympics in Brazil two years ago, the chief prosecutor said on Saturday.

The East African nation enjoyed its most successful Olympics in Rio, winning six gold medals, six silvers and one bronze, all in track and field, but the performance was blighted by claims of corruption among senior government officials and team bosses.

An investigation had laid the blame on Hassan Wario, the sports minister at the time, and five other former senior officials. They will be charged with 10 counts of abuse of office and failure to comply with the law, said Noordin Haji, the chief prosecutor.

Wario, who was appointed Kenya's ambassador to Austria this year, was not immediately available for comment. The other five ex-officials, including Kipchoge Keino, who headed the national Olympics committee, were also not immediately available.

"The impact of corruption and siphoning of funds meant for the facilitation of our sportsmen and women has a negative impact on their ability to perform optimally," Haji said in a statement.

Wario and others will be charged in relation to the loss of a total of more than 55 million shillings ($545,905), Haji said.

Dozens of senior government officials and business people are facing various charges related to corruption, part of a fresh attempt by President Uhuru Kenyatta since May to crack down on widespread graft.

Critics have accused Kenyatta of failing to deal with corruption during his first term which ended last year, despite promises to do so when he was first elected in 2013.

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