Thursday, October 9, 2014

Stacy leads Sime Darby LPGA

By Jugjet
WORLD No 1 Stacy Lewis of the United States held on tightly onto a shaky one-shot lead with a mob of South Koreans snapping at her heels in the Sime Darby LPGA at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club yesterday.
   Shooting a flawless six-under 65, the American will have to play better gold today to fend of the chasing pack.
   Na Yeon Choi,  Park Hee Young, Ji Eun-Hee and Ryu So Yeon are the K-Pop  group singing behind the American bunched at five-under.
   And after a break from China's Feng Shanshan; Lee Mi Hyang, Shin Jenny and Yang Amy continue the Korean run at four-under and bunched at tied-sixth.
   The weather was hot, and hazy, but the ladies dazzled the crowd with some spectacular putting skills.
     Yesterday, the World No 1 used an aggressive approach on the ninth hole, an approach that led to three consecutive birdies on nine, 10th and 11th. She finished with a bogey-free round and a feeling that she was able to get through the day.
    “Another week I got off to a good start again. It was kind of one of those rounds that early it was actually kind of shaky and had to make a few par putts on the first three holes, but really just kind of hung in there and gave myself a lot of birdie looks at it and was fortunate to make a few. So it was a little bit of an ugly round, but I got a lot out of it.”
     So Yeon Ryu, who after an opening round 66, credited a golf simulator with the growth of golf in Korea. When she was younger, many of her friends were unfamiliar with the game so it was hard to connect with them.
   “After the golf simulator business, people start to play more golf, and I believe our golf population is going to increase a lot,” said said.
    Natalie Gulbis (US) shot 69, Karrie Webb (Aust) carded 70, and Lexi Thompson (US) — who won by four strokes here last year — had a 71. Paula Creamer (US) shot 75.
    Korean Na Yeon Choi had a super day: “I had a great day.  I think the good thing is I started very early, first group, as it was a little bit cooler.
  “But in the afternoon, the heat affected my focus out there.  I think that's why I missed a couple of fairways on the back nine.
   “That's why I got one bogey out there.  But I don't have any regrets out there.  My putt was good.  After last week I had practiced a lot for short game, and I think it just paid off,” said Yeon Choi.

FIRST ROUND SCORES: 65 Stacy Lewis (US).
66 Ji Eun-Hee, Ryu So Yeon, Park Hee Young, Choi Na Yeon (S Kor).
67 Pornanong Phatlum (Thai), Lee Mi Hyang, Jenny Shin, Amy Yang (S Kor), Feng Shanshan (Ch).
68 Catriona Matthew (Scot), Karine Icher (Fra), Haru Nomura (Jpn), Lizette Salas (US), Carlota Ciganda (Sp); 69 Lydia Ko (NZ), Juleita Granada (Par), Azahara Munoz (Sp), Angela Standford, Danielle Kang, Brittany Lang, Gerina Piller, Natalie Gulbis (US), Anna Nordqvist (Swe), Lee-Anne Pace (SA), Ariya Jutanugara, Moriya Jutanugara (Thai), Choi Chella (S Kor), Jodi Ewart Shadoff (Eng).
70 Lee Ilhee (S Kor), Pernilla Lindberg (Swe), Ayako Uehara (Jpn), Karrie Webb, Dori Carter, Kris Tamulus (US), Tidapa Suwannapura (Thai), Beatriz Ricari (Sp), Christina Kim (US), Yoo Sun Young (S Kor).
71 Jessica Korda, Lexi Thompson, Morgan Pressel, Marina Alex, Austin Ernst (US), Suzann Pettersen (Nor), Laura Davies (Eng), Mirim Lee, Hur Mi JIng (S Kor), Katherine Kirk (Aus), Line Vedel (Den), K. Muangkhumsakul (Thai), Candie Kung (Tai), Dewi Claire Schreefel (Ned), Jennifer Rosales (Phil).
72 Charley Hull (Eng), Caroline Masson (Ger), Lin Xi Yu (Ch), Michelle Koh (Mas), Laura Diaz (US); 73 Belen Mozo (Sp), Sandra Gal (Ger), Tiffany Joh (US), Oh Ji Young (S Kor), Ainil Johani Abu Bakar, Aretha Pan (Mas).
74 Kelly Tan (Mas), Kang Haeji (S Kor), Sarah Jane Smith (Aus), Kim Kaufman (US), Mariajo Uribe (Col); 75 Paula Creamer, Mina Hariage (US), Michele Low, Jean Chua (Mas); 79 Amelia Lewis (US).

Rio a million kilometres away for Malaysia

BY Jugjet Singh

IN these rainy days, this column is not being written to steal the ‘almost there’ thunder from the hockey team, but as an early warning that Malaysia’s chances of qualifying for the Rio de Janerio Olympics have reached the F mark in their fuel tank.
The Asian Games was the best chance for Arul Selvaraj’s men to play in Brazil two years from now, but the few near misses in Incheon might just see Malaysia sit out of the Olympics for 16 years.
For the 0-0 effort in the Asian Games semi-finals was erased when Pakistan won 6-5 in the shoot-out. And even though Malaysia only lost 2-1 in Group A and then 3-2 to South Korea in the bronze classification, there is no reason to celebrate the close shaves.
For, now Malaysia will have to play in the World League Semi-finals, and the early indications are that even South Korea and Pakistan are going to find this route difficult to reach Rio.
Those who claim that there was not enough time to prepare the team should look back and digest this fact — Pakistan didn’t play in any international tournament since November 2013 whereas Malaysia played in the Azlan Shah Cup, Champions Challenge 1, World Cup and Commonwealth Games.
Pakistan also almost did not travel to Incheon, as their troubled association did not have enough cash but somehow managed to string a budget at the 11th hour.
Malaysia, realistically, had been in training for the last two years for the Asian Games and the fourth place finish, as compared to Pakistan’s silver, has turned on the hazard lights.
The route to Rio is wet and slippery, and even Brazil who are now ranked 34th, must move to 30th in the world to be eligible to qualify as hosts.
The Asian Games was one of the five continental championships, and the other four qualifiers to Rio will be gold medallists from Africa, Oceania, Europe and South America.
And assuming Brazil break into the 30th, this will leave only six more spots to the Olympics and three each will be on offer in the two World League Semi-finals.
So Malaysia must finish among the top-four in the World League, and hope some of the continental champions finish higher than them, just like the route to the World Cup where they finished fifth in the qualifier but still made it.
This will be hoping against hope, so the World Cup disaster, the embarrassing Commonwealth Games and the almost there Asian Games must be taken as a challenge to improve and not wait on luck.
For this to happen, the players must have the heart to play like the Pakistan teams. They did not have any international exposure, no money, and almost did not travel to Korea but took home a silver medal at the back of a gold medal in the last Games.
And if the sound of three booming thunders this year does not wake Malaysian hockey up, the forecast is that there will be consistent rain and little sunshine as we slip and fall at every stage for the next decade.