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Garcia does not feel extra pressure because of pick

Sergio Garcia insists he has nothing to prove ahead of next week's Ryder Cup, despite his controversial wild card selection.

Garcia won the 2017 Masters but has missed the cut in his last five major championship starts, with his only top-10 finish in a strokeplay event since March coming in the French Open at the Ryder Cup venue of Le Golf National.

"I don't need to show anyone," the 38-year-old said ahead of the Portugal Masters in Vilamoura.

"The only thing I have to do is go out there and help team Europe, my team-mates and my captain and vice-captains – not only with the game on the golf course but outside, in the team room and everything.

"There are things that are important to have in a team. I think that is one of the reasons why Thomas (Bjorn, European captain) picked me, not only because of the game he knows I can play but what I can bring outside of the golf course into the team room and stuff."

Garcia has not competed since the middle of August, a tie for 24th in the Wyndham Championship proving insufficient to qualify for the play-offs via the top 125 on the FedEx Cup standings.

"I told Thomas, 'If you end up picking me, I'll make sure that I play something coming into the Ryder Cup'," added Garcia, who needs three points in Paris to overtake Nick Faldo as the top European points scorer in Ryder Cup history.

"I didn't want to be without playing for four or five weeks coming into such a big and amazing event. Portugal seemed like a good fit and I'm happy that I decided to come here. Obviously the course is nice, it's going to be a good test and I'm excited for it.

"I took a couple of weeks off and started practising again. The game feels pretty good. Obviously there are some things here and there that I would love to do a little bit better and that's what I'm working on. The game overall feels good.

"It's just a matter of hopefully getting some good momentum, start building on that. If I can do that then I can gain some confidence and some good rhythm, that's the goal this week.

"Obviously getting a win would be amazing, you can't beat confidence. That would be nice but more than anything I just want to get some rhythm, get some competition juices flowing, that's one of the main reasons that I wanted to come here."

Denmark's Thorbjorn Olesen is the only other member of the Ryder Cup team competing in Vilamoura, a place he knows well.

"It's a place I always like to come back to," Olesen said. "I actually went here earlier this year to train for five days with my coach and caddie. It's a place I've always enjoyed coming to – nice weather, good food.

"I feel like I know the course really well. I haven't particularly performed the last few years here but I still feel like I've played pretty well. Qualifying for the Ryder Cup didn't make a change at all.

"I probably took eight or nine days off without any golf, so obviously started the middle of last week to get back into it and I'm slowly getting back into the rhythm and hopefully can be fully ready on Thursday."

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Cricket Australia faces a backlash in Perth as fans locked out of shaded seats in 38-degree heat

Email Cricket Australia faces fan backlash after closing shaded areas at Perth Stadium for second Test By Clint Thomas

Posted December 13, 2018 08:20:41

Photo: Many cricket fans will be forced to sit in direct sun on the lower levels of Perth Stadium. (ABC News: Jarrod Lucas) Map: Perth 6000

"Fan first" was the phrase spruiked by former West Australian premier Colin Barnett in the lead up to the opening of the state-of-the-art Perth Stadium.

"As the Government has said all along, the new Perth Stadium will be a world-class venue built with a 'fan first' philosophy," he said in 2013.

World-class? Yes. Fan first? Hmmm.

As the first Test match at the new venue approaches, many have been left disgruntled.

Cricket Australia has caused controversy by choosing not to open the top tier of the stadium for the second Test between Australia and India due to poor ticket sales.

hundreds of fans looking dour leave the stadium. Photo: Fans are unhappy with the decision, with temperatures forecast to hit 38 degrees on Friday. (ABC News: James Carmody)

It means many cricket fans will be forced to sit in direct sun on the lower levels, in temperatures that will be approaching 40 degrees Celsius.

Peter Wright from the Perth suburb of Carlisle, who has been a cricket fan for 60 years, slammed Cricket Australia's decision as "ridiculous".

"I was astounded, we've put up with sun exposure at the WACA for years and years and years," he said.

"I thought at last we've got a solution and then suddenly Cricket Australia, who I don't think paid any money towards us having the stadium, it was mainly a public-funded thing, tell us we can't sit in the shade in our own stadium.

"I'd just like to know how Cricket Australia has the right to decide this for our populace?"

What's a $1.6b stadium worth?

A wide shot showing the empty interior of new Perth Stadium with a big screen up one end.
It's cost every WA household $1,500, but is the new "world class" Perth Stadium going to deliver bang for the buck?

Paul, a cricket fan from the Perth suburb of Floreat, who did not want to give his last name, agreed.

"For them to decide to stop people being able to get in the shade … on a 38-, 39-degree day is really quite rude," he said.

"Cricket Australia are on the nose with most people, with the ball tampering sort of kerfuffle, I think they've got to bring the cricketing public back into the fold and get them to support cricket and the Australian team."

'Profit before public health': Cancer Council burns CA

The $1.6 billion stadium was paid for by WA taxpayers at a cost of $1,500 per household.

The top tier was designed with cricket in mind — the gaps at the back of the stands were engineered to allow the sea breeze to enter the stadium and provide relief on those scorching days.

And one of the major sells for cricket to move from the WACA Ground to the new stadium was the increased shade and amenity.

There is hope for cricket fans — the decision to close tier five can be changed at short notice.

A wide shot looking over the Swan River showing Perth Stadium at dawn with clouds reflected on the water. Photo: The $1.6 billion venue was engineered to allow the sea breeze to provide relief to fans. (ABC News: Andrew O'Connor)

Earlier this year, the NRL opened the top tier at the stadium during its double-header after encountering issues with the seats on the lower level.

The decision to make thousands of shaded seats unavailable has also drawn criticism from the Cancer Council.

"To have a stadium that has well shaded seats, and then to simply withhold access to those seats for some unstated reason, but reasons I am assuming are commercial, it makes us angry, because it seems to be a clear case of profit coming before public health," said Mark Strickland, manager of Sun Smart in Western Australia.

'Many of our fans prefer to sit in the sun'

A crowd of 21,000 is expected for day one on Friday.

Cricket Australia has said if that changes it will review the decision to close the stadium's shaded sections, but in the interim it would put measures in place to help the crowd deal with the heat.

Did we get what we paid for?

Did we get what we paid for?
There were lots of promises when Perth Stadium was built. So does it deliver?

"We offer free sunscreen to all fans attending the stadium and encourage them to be sun smart regularly through in-stadium messaging," a Cricket Australia spokesman said.

"Many of our fans prefer to sit in the sun and come prepared to do that.

"There are still plenty of seats available for sale on level one and three which will enjoy shade for a majority of the day."

Cricket Australia has been on a campaign to reconnect with the public following the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa, and the subsequent explosive ethics report into the culture of the organisation.

But episodes like this show many fans still have a long way to go before the heat will start to come off Australian cricket.

Topics: sport, cricket, perth-6000, wa

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Socceroos blow as Mooy ruled out of Asian Cup

Email Aaron Mooy ruled out of Socceroos' Asian Cup defence after suffering knee injury

Posted December 13, 2018 07:32:29

Photo: Aaron Mooy will be out until the end of February after tearing his medial collateral ligament. (AAP: Darren England) Related Story: Socceroos could be undermanned for Asian Cup with doubts over Mooy and Rogic Related Story: Socceroos to meet Syria again as Asian Cup draw announced Related Story: Daniel Arzani confirms he will need operation on torn ACL Map: Australia

The Socceroos' Asian Cup hopes have been dealt a huge blow after it was confirmed star midfielder Aaron Mooy will be out for three months with a knee injury.

The Huddersfield Town schemer suffered a torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee during the Terriers' 1-0 defeat to Arsenal in the English Premier League last Saturday.

It was hoped that the former Melbourne City and Western Sydney man had sustained only minor damage, but the EPL strugglers confirmed on Wednesday the 28-year-old would be out until at least the end of February.

"I'm gutted to be missing an important time for club and country," Mooy told Huddersfield's official website.

A photo of a right leg encased in a black brace surrounding the knee with three thumbs down emojis Photo: The news did not look good when Aaron Mooy posted this photo to social media on Tuesday. (Instagram: Aaron Mooy)

"We've got a lot of fixtures over the Christmas period at Huddersfield Town, but I back the team to continue our good performances and get the results that we're targeting.

"I'm also sad that this injury will rule me out of the Asian Cup. I'd like to wish the Socceroos all the best as they head to the UAE. I'll be supporting them from afar.

"The hard work on my recovery has already started and I'm looking forward to being back out on the pitch."

Socceroos coach Graham Arnold will name his squad for the tournament later this month, with the team beginning its defence of the title it won in 2015 against Jordan in Abu Dhabi on January 5.

Huddersfield, which sits third from bottom in the Premier League table, has also lost inspirational skipper Tommy Smith until after Christmas after the centre-back tore his hamstring.

Coach David Wagner admitted the loss of two of his best players was tough to take.

"The news on both Aaron and Tommy is not something we wanted, but injuries are part of football; we have to deal with it, manage it and carry on into this important December period," Wagner said.

"Aaron and Tommy are both strong characters and will work very hard in their recovery. We look forward to having them back.

"For now, this creates opportunities for others.

"I've said all along that we will need everyone in the squad to contribute and now we should see the benefits of having such a competitive squad."


Topics: socceroos, sport, soccer, english-premier, australia, united-kingdom, england

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Ryan breaks Irish record and secures semi-final spot

Ireland’s Shane Ryan, the European bronze medalist, broke the Irish senior record in the men’s 50m backstroke at the World Short Course Swimming Championships in China.

He finished second, in a time of 23.03 to qualify for the semi-final.

Ryan broke the record in the men’s 50m back by over eight-tenths posting a time of 23.03 to erase Conor Ferguson's 23.84 from the 2017 European Championships.

Ryan qualified for the semi-finals in second overall behind only Guilherme Guido (23.00) of Brazil.

The man from Pennsylvania won the gold medal in this event at the 2017 World University Games and added a bronze this past summer at the European Championships.

That semi-final takes place at 11 am, Conor Ferguson finished 20th overall in the same event (23.98).

That swim by @GreeneDarragh eclipses @planetbreezo 11 year old Irish Record 🇮🇪☘️ #Hangzhou2018

— Swim Ireland (@swimireland) December 13, 2018

Elsewhere Darragh Greene set a new Irish senior record in the men’s 200m breaststroke in a time of 2.07.60, breaking Andrew Brees' 11-year-old Irish best time .

Greene was ranked 21st overall and only eight swimmers advanced to a straight final in the 200m event.

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Guardiola praises City for coming through tough test

Pep Guardiola felt his Manchester City team had come through a stern test as they secured top spot in their Champions League group on Wednesday.
The Premier League champions assured themselves of a favourable seeding in Monday's draw for the last 16 as they came from behind to beat Hoffenheim 2-1 with two Leroy Sane goals at the Etihad Stadium.

City were stretched early on by the Bundesliga side – as they were before claiming a narrow win in Germany on October – while they also took only one point from two games against Lyon in Group F.

Guardiola said: "We finished group stage in the best way. We're in the best 16 teams in Europe.

"It's a big compliment to everyone involved in the group because it was tough. It's more difficult in the Champions League because the opponents are so much better.

"If you sleep a little bit you are in Europa League.

"That's why I say again it is incredible when you get into the last 16 because it is so demanding."

Hoffenheim took a 16th-minute lead with a penalty from former Leicester striker Andrej Kramaric, who also forced Ederson to make a fine save.

City responded by hitting the woodwork through Gabriel Jesus and Nicolas Otamendi before Sane equalised with a superb free-kick on the stroke of half-time.

Sane secured victory with his second on the hour and City, with 18-year-old Phil Foden impressing, could have scored several more as they dominated the second half.

Guardiola said: "Before they scored we were flat, they were better, but after the penalty we were normal and created a lot of chances. The second half the team was much better."

Sane's goals were his first in the Champions League.

The German said: "I'm really happy about the two goals but I'm much more happy that we won. We are now first in the table."

The 22-year-old claimed, however, he was fortunate with his free-kick. "I just tried it and I was lucky today," he said.

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Game On – World darts title up for grabs at Ally Pally

The 2019 World Championship kicks off tonight at Alexandra Palace and it begins as probably the most wide open tournament in PDC history.

Phil Taylor, the 16-time champion of the world, used to dominate the game. The Power is gone, retiring last year after defeat in the final to debutant Rob Cross.

Michael van Gerwen, the world number one and heir apparent to the crown, has won 19 tournaments this year – but only one major, the Grand Prix in Dublin.

In fact, six men have shared the silverware in 2018: Cross, the world champion; Gary Anderson is the UK and Matchplay winner; James Wade, the main man in Europe; Gerwen Price, the ex-rugby professional a controversial Grand Slammer, and Derry’s Daryl Gurney was the best of the bunch at the Players Championship at the end of November.

The above list can also be supplemented by Mensur Suljovic’s Champions League win in 2017.

That year five men claimed Major wins with Peter Wright getting his one and only big title in the form of the UK Open.

MVG mopped up in 2016, winning all bar the World title after a shock defeat to compatriot Raymond van Barneveld. 2015 had just three different winners.

Van Gerwen was supposed to assume Taylor’s mantle.

The Dutchman has always played it down the comparisons himself, but when he was improving the televised three-dart average record from Taylor’s 118.66 to 123.40 in 2016, a feast was meant to follow.

He has 29 major wins (Taylor notched 78), but only two world titles.

What’s to account for so many different winners this year in particular?

"We’ve seen what Michael can do and how good he is with his 100 averages. It’s made everyone else practice a lot more and dedicate themselves," Gurney told RTÉ Sport ahead of the showpiece, in which a field of 96 players from 28 countries will compete across the Christmas and New Year period.

"If you want to win tournaments you’ve got to beat the best.

"So everyone is putting in the hard work, putting in the hours, getting themselves mentally ready and because there are so many tournaments you are getting a lot more match practice.

Here is the confirmed draw for the 2018/19 @WilliamHill World Darts Championship!

— PDC Darts (@OfficialPDC) November 26, 2018

"Every week you are getting competitive darts against the best in the world, which improves everyone’s game.

"The standard in the PDC has improved and everybody is being more professional."

Gurney is one of six Irish players at the expanded tournament, which boasts a prize fund of £2.5m, with a cool half million going to the winner.

Down’s Kevin Burness, winner of the Tom Kirby Irish Matchplay, will make his World Championship bow against Paul Nicholson on Friday afternoon with the winner back in action against 2015 and 2016 winner Gary Anderson.

On Saturday Mickey Mansell (63 on the order of merit) from Tyrone takes on Canada’s Jim Long with a shot against Benito van de Pas up for grabs.

Sunday’s afternoon sessions see two Irish dartists in action: Limerick’s Willie O’Connor (50) will hope to set up a clash against James Wilson if he can overcome Holland’s Yordi Meeuwisse, while Brendan Dolan (45), the History Maker from Fermanagh faces Yuanjun Liu from China. Joe Cullen awaits the victor.

Gurney is in action on Tuesday evening against either Paul Lim or Ross Smith

Also that night Carlow’s Steve Lennon (38) faces James Bailey of Australia.

A win there would set the 25-year-old up against Alan ‘Chuck’ Norris.

Gurney maintains that he'll treat the tournament like any other, but does admit that winning the Players Championship has moved him onto the next level.

"Definitely [it’s a massive step up]," he said.

"I thought to myself, if I can win another one, I can win a third and a fourth"

"There are doubters out there who might say, ‘you’ve only won one, you’d a bit of luck that week. In the Grand Prix Michael got beaten in the first round, Gary wasn’t in it [for family reasons].

"With all the players in it this time it felt a lot better. I thought to myself, if I can win another one, I can win a third and a fourth."

Apart from the expanded format, the other new aspect of the tournament is the introduction of two places for female qualifiers.

Reigning Lakeside Women's Champion Lisa Ashton will make her Alexandra Palace debut against Dutchman Jan Dekker in another high-profile fixture on the opening night.

Ashton will be joined by Anastasia Dobromyslova, with the Russian ace set to take on Ryan Joyce in her opening tie on Monday.

The bookies have Van Gerwen as the favourite with Anderson in second.

Wright is still third on the list despite some inconsistent form.

Premier League finalist Michael Smith is next on the list followed by Suljovic and Cross, while Gurney and Price are outsiders.

Thursday Schedule of Play (7pm)

Jeffrey de Zwaan v Nitin Kumar (R1)
Martin Schindler v Cody Harris (R1)
Jan Dekker v Lisa Ashton (R1)
Rob Cross v De Zwaan/Kumar (R2)

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