Sharma opens with solid 69 as Fox leads at the Irish Open
Indian golfer Shubhankar Sharma slotted six birdies against three bogeys for a solid 3-under 69 in the opening round of the Horizon Irish Open.
At 3-under, Sharma was T-37 when the round ended late in the evening on Thursday after being inside Top-20 at one stage.
Ryan Fox, who started from the 10th, had just two birdies on the back nine on the 10th and 17th.
On his second nine, the front side of the Mount Juliet Estate, Fox went on a birdie spree with six in all for 6-under. He had four in a row from first to fourth and then again on sixth and eighth.
Sharma recovered from an early bogey on third with birdies on fifth and seventh. On the back nine, he birdied 10th but dropped a shot on 11th, birdied 13th and 14th before giving away a shot on 16th.
He then birdied 17th and closed with par for 69 with the hope that he would not drop as many in the second round.
It has been a pattern for Sharma for the past few months to grab a lot of birdies, but also drop a few shots along the way.
Sharma was playing with Stephen Gallacher, who was relishing the Indian’s company.
Gallacher won the last Hero Indian Open held back in 2019 and is still waiting to defend that title. He shot 72 with six birdies, four bogeys and a double on a day that was good for scoring.
Carrying four-year-old memories of when he came ever so close to winning this event, Fox carded eight birdies in a stunning opening round 64.
As full capacity crowds descended on the County Kilkenny venue to the historic national open for the first time since 2019, home heroes Pádraig Harrington, Shane Lowry and Séamus Power were the star attractions at the event. But it was Fox, who took centre stage at Mount Juliet.
The 35-year-old Kiwi had come agonisingly close to winning this event in 2018, missing out in a play-off to Russell Knox.
Fox is a shot clear of Frenchman Frederic Lacroix, Jorge Campillo of Spain, Paraguayan Fabrizio Zanotti and Marcel Schneider of Germany.
World number 36 Seamus Power and Niall Kearney were the leading Irishmen after round one, both carding four under rounds while Padraig Harrington and Shane Lowry will enter day two on two under and one under respectively.
“I’m more surprised, to be honest, than anything else. I’ve been fighting it on the range the last couple days after the weekend, and certainly didn’t look like it early in the round,” Fox said.
“I made a couple of birdies, but I was scrapping away, and then stop and collect on seven, eight, hit a great wedge shot in there and made a few putts as well.” Harrington looked like finishing at four-under but late bogeys spoilt the chance as Lowry admitted the course was “fairly scorable there this morning”.
Ridhima finds form on the second nine, shoots 68 to be ninth in Germany
India’s Ridhima Dilawari’s perseverance finally paid off as she returned a fine card of 4-under 68 to be in the Top-10 after the opening round of the Amundi German Masters.
Ridhima, who turns 24 later this month, had a slow start with an even par back nine after starting on the tenth.
Ridhima had four birdies against no bogeys to be placed T-9 with 68, which was five shots behind the runaway leader Sweden’s Jessica Karlsson, who fired an opening round of 63.
The scores were modest for some of the other Indian girls as Amandeep Drall (71) was T-45th and amateur Avani Prashanth, playing her first LET event outside India, carded an eventful even par 72 as did Diksha Dagar and they were both T-60.
Things did not pan out too well for Vani Kapoor (74) at T-87th and Tvesa Malik continued to struggle as she shot 76 and was T-110. They will all need solid second rounds to make the cut, which is likely to fall around par or 1-over.
Ridhima, who has just come off a win on her domestic Hero Women’s Pro Tour, was even par after 10 holes. She then birdied second, fourth, sixth and seventh for a fine card.
This season Ridhima has made just two cuts in five previous starts on LET and those were in April in Australia, where she finished T-25 and T-59.
Amandeep also started on the tenth and suffered a double bogey on the 11th and she was 2-over till the 12th. She then birdied three in a row from fifth to seventh and finished at a respectable 1-under.
Avani opened with an action-packed 72 with seven birdies, five bogeys and a double bogey, while Diksha, one of the only two Indian women to have won on the LET, carded 72 with three birdies and three bogeys.
Jessica, 29, who began her round from the 10th tee, carded a bogey-free day with six birdies in her first nine holes and three birdies in her final five holes.
Five players are in a share of second place three shots back on six-under-par including German duo Leonie Harm and Esther Henseleit. England’s Gabriella Cowley also signed for a round of 6-under 66, after rolling in three birdies apiece on the front and back nine.
Lahiri shoots 69 to lie 32nd at John Deere Classic
India’s Anirban Lahiri started off his quest for a berth into the 150th Open Championship with a 2-under 69 that could have been two-three shots better on the opening day of the John Deere Classic.
Lahiri was lying T-32 as three players not otherwise exempt who finish in the top 10 (and ties) this week earn spots into The Open Championship.
The 35-year-old, who is trying to get a spot into the last Major of the year at St, Andrews later this month, had a birdie-run of four in a row from fourth to seventh.
Lahiri had five birdies against three bogeys. But what hurt him most was missing out two small putts, one inside four feet and another inside five feet and one more of about eighth feet.
In contrast, his four birdie run included conversions from 20 feet and three from between 12 and 13 feet.
Meanwhile, coming off a T2 at last week’s Travelers Championship, J.T. Poston opened his campaign with a 62 for the second straight week. He was two shots clear of Canada’s Michael Gligic, who opened with a bogey-free 7-under 64.
Lahiri and C T Pan were the top Asians at T-32 with 69 each while Cam Davis was the best Asia-Pacific scorer with 68 at T-19.
Poston eagled the par-5 second and had seven birdies in a bogey-free round.
Gligic was second at 64, playing in the final group of the day off the first tee. Vaughn Taylor and Christopher Gotterup followed at 65. Ricky Barnes, Denny McCarthy, Chris Naegel and Dylan Frittelli shot 66.
Defending champion Lucas Glover shot 74 and Jason Day withdrew before round one with a back injury.
Odisha FC women’s team appoints Crispin Chhetri as head coach
Odisha FC has appointed Crispin Chhetri as head coach of the women’s first-team, the club announced on Friday.
Chhetri has previously coached the Odisha State women’s team while also taking Sethu FC to runner-up finish in the 2021-22 season of the Indian Women’s League.
CAB and British Council launch programme for budding cricketers
The Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) and the British Council jointly launched a communication and confidence building programme for budding cricketers of the state at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Friday.
The British Council will deliver two training courses for different proficiency levels in spoken English. These will enable the learners to speak confidently in a wide range of situations and enhance impromptu conversations and extempore speeches.
The date and time of the commencement of the courses will be decided later.
CAB president Avishek Dalmiya said, “Considering the players’ growing exposure to the media through the Indian Premier League (IPL) and other platforms, we want to enable our players with better communications skills that will allow them to stand with more confidence and awareness.”
Nick Low, the British Deputy High Commissioner in Kolkata, said, “I am delighted that the CAB and the British Council are bringing two defining characteristics of Bengal – education and sport – together in an exciting initiative to teach young cricketers’ life-changing English language skills.”
– Y.B. Sarangi
Rain washed out play in the Rs.100,000 AITA women’s tennis tournament at the Joygaon Academy on Friday.
The clay courts were ready for the semifinal matches in the afternoon, but a fresh spell of rain ruled out any scope of play for the rest of the day.
Sonal Patil, Riya Sachdeva, Tamanna Takoria and Medhavi Singh had made the semifinals. With most of the players scheduled to play another tournament at the same venue next week, referee Prasad Apte was not particularly worried about the schedule being upset by the persistent spells of monsoon rain.
Yuki-Saket pair advances to quarterfinals of €45,730 Challenger tournament
Yuki Bhambri and Saketh Myneni beat Luca Margaroli and Yasutaka Uchiyama 6-7(8), 6-2, [10-8] to reach the doubles semifinals of the €45,730 Challenger tennis tournament in Spain.
In the $15,000 ITF women’s event in Tunisia, Jennifer Luikham recovered from the brink of defeat to beat Chiara Girelli of Italy 3-6, 7-6(6), 6-0 in the quarterfinals.
€45,730 Challenger, Malaga, Spain
Doubles (quarterfinals): Yuki Bhambri & Saketh Myneni bt Luca Margaroli (Sui) & Yasutaka Uchiyama (Jpn) 6-7(8), 6-2, [10-8].
$53,120 Challenger, Cali, Colombia
Doubles (quarterfinals): Sriram Balaji & Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan bt Ignacio Carou (Uru) & Facundo Mena (Arg) 7-5, 4-2 (retired).
$15,000 ITF men, Monastir, Tunisia
Doubles (quarterfinals): Boris Butulija (Srb) & Niki Poonacha bt Wang Chukang (Chn) & Faris Zakaryia (Egy) 6-3, 3-6, [10-7].
$100,000 ITF women, Charleston, US
Singles (first round): Victoria Duval (US) bt Riya Bhatia 6-2, 6-2.
$15,000 ITF women, Monastir, Tunisia
Singles (quarterfinals): Jennifer Luikham bt Chiara Girelli (Ita) 3-6, 7-6(6), 6-0.
$15,000 ITF women, Los Angeles, US
Doubles (quarterfinals): Sofia Da Cruz Mendonca & Eduarda Piai (Bra) bt Brandy Walker (US) & Prathyusha Rachapudi 6-2, 7-6(2).
Sahaja Yamalapalli defeats Saki Imamura in quarters
Sahaja Yamalapalli quelled the challenge from Saki Imamura of Japan 6-7(5), 6-0, 6-3 in the quarterfinals of the $25,000 ITF women’s tennis tournament at the Tennis Project, Baliawas, on Friday.
On a long day, when a sharp spell of rain provided the much needed breathing time for the players in the afternoon, the 21-year-old Sahaja won two singles matches and spent about five hours on court, in setting up a semifinal against fourth seed Ekaterina Yashina of Russia.
Second seed Ankita Raina was the other Indian to make the semifinals, and did so with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Punnin Kovapitukted of Thailand in a three-hour battle of wits. If anything, the Thai’s remarkably strong game helped Ankita sharpen her arsenal, as she had no option but to hammer a string of winners to close out the match.
In the semifinals, Ankita will be up against third seed Viktoria Morvayova of Slovakia who played the big points well to tame Rutuja Bhosale for the loss of six games.
It took raw courage to recover from the first set loss when she had led 5-1 for Sahaja, to run up a 6-0, 4-0 lead in the match. The Japanese fought back to bridge the gap, before Sahaja served well to take a 5-3 lead. Saki could not survive the onslaught of Sahaja any more and brought the curtains down on her challenge after nearly three hours of spell binding tennis.
The Japanese, with a heavily strapped thigh, had done the hard work of beating the top seed Diana Marcinkevica of Latvia 6-2, 6-2 earlier in the day.
Singles (quarterfinals): Sahaja Yamalapalli bt Saki Imamura (Jpn) 6-7(5), 6-0, 6-3; Ekaterina Yashina bt Vaidehi Chaudhari 6-4, 4-6, 6-4; Viktoria Morvayova (Svk) bt Rutuja Bhosale 6-4, 6-2; Ankita Raina bt Punnin Kovapitukted (Tha) 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Pre-quarterfinals: Saki bt Diana Marcinkevica (Lat) 6-2, 6-2; Sahaja bt Sowjanya Bavisetti 6-2, 6-4; Ekaterina bt Anna Ukolova (Rus) 7-5, 7-6(6); Vaidehi bt Mihika Yadav 6-3, 6-1.
Doubles (quarterfinals): Diana Marcinkevica (Lat) & Rutuja Bhosale bt Abhaya Vemuri & Apurva Vemuri 7-5, 6-2; Priska Madelyn Nugroho (Ina) & Ankita Raina bt Punnin Kovapitukted & Luksika Kumkhum (Tha) 6-2, 6-2.
Elorda Cup: Jamuna Boro, Ananta Chopde among six Indians to enter semis
World championship medalists Jamuna Boro and Sonia Lather posted wins to enter the semifinals of the Elorda Cup boxing tournament in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, on Friday.
Jamuna beat Aishagul Yeleubayeva of Kazakhstan 5-0 in a women’s 54kg quarterfinal bout.
Sonia defeated another local boxer Zhuldyz Shayakhmetova 5-0 in a 57kg contest.
Former World youth champions Jyoti Gulia (52kg) and Sakshi Choudhary (54kg) also advanced to the last four.
Important results (Indians unless specified): Quarterfinals:
Men: 54kg: Ananta Chopade bt Altynbek Nursultan (Kaz) 5-0; 57kg: Sachin Siwach bt Lyu Ping (Chn) RSC-I; 67kg: Aditya Pratap Yadav lost to Baatarsukh Chinzorig (Mgl) 5-0.
52kg: Jyoti Gulia bt Zhansaya Rakhymberdi (Kaz) 4-1; 54kg: Jamuna Boro bt Aishagul Yeleubayeva (Kaz) 5-0, Sakshi Choudhary bt Muzdiman Balausa (Kaz) 5-0; 57kg: Sonia Lather bt Zhuldyz Shayakhmetova (Kaz) 5-0.