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Cristiano Ronaldo wins FIFA best player award for 4th time

GRAHAM DUNBAR, AP Sports Writer br /> ZURICH (AP) — Capping what he called the best year of his career, Cristiano Ronaldo won his fourth FIFA best player award on Monday. The double European champion with Portugal and Real Madrid beat great rival Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann to complete a sweep of top individual awards. 'It was a year that was magnificent at a personal level and at a sporting level,' the 31-year-old Ronaldo said in Portuguese in his acceptance speech, which he began by exclaiming 'Wow, wow, wow.' Ronaldo's fourth career FIFA award closed the gap on five-time winner Messi, who has been the runner-up to each Ronaldo victory. His 34.54 percent of total voting points in a 23-candidate ballot was clearly better than Messi's 26.42 percent. Griezmann got 7.53 percent. Voting was by national team captains and coaches, selected media, and fans online. Messi did not attend after being pulled out hours before the ceremony by his club Barcelona to prepare for a cup match on Wednesday. 'Of course, I wish that they (Barcelona players) had been here tonight like in the other years. We have to respect the decision,' Ronaldo said. Yet again, Ronaldo and Messi snubbed each other on ballot papers they got as captains of Portugal and Argentina. Ronaldo selected three Real Madrid teammates headed by Gareth Bale, and Messi picked Luis Suarez atop an all-Barcelona ballot. Ronaldo's 2016 trophy haul included the European Championship, Champions League, and Club World Cup, plus individual best player awards from UEFA and France Football magazine. 'I won a lot trophies, collective and individual, so I am proud,' said Ronaldo, adding he would send the inaugural silver FIFA Best trophy to the museum dedicated to his career on his home island, Madeira. Messi's Barcelona won the Spanish league and cup double in 2016, though Argentina lost another Copa America final. Griezmann's France and Atletico Madrid lost their finals to Ronaldo's teams. Ronaldo's mentors for club and country were beaten to the coaching award by Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri, who earned the prize for a stunning English Premier League title. 'What happened last year was something strange. The God of football said Leicester must win,' said Ranieri, who was in his first season at the unfashionable provincial club widely tipped for relegation. Ranieri rose from his seat and politely shook hands with his two opponents, Madrid's Zinedine Zidane and Portugal's Fernando Santos, plus their partners before heading to the stage. The 65-year-old Italian collected his trophy from Diego Maradona, who earlier Monday played in an exhibition match with other retired greats at FIFA headquarters. Carli Lloyd of the United States won a FIFA player prize for the second straight year, despite a quarterfinals exit at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. With gold-medal winner Melanie Behringer of Germany in third place, Lloyd got more than 20 percent of the vote and five-time winner Marta of Brazil was runner-up with 16.6 percent. Behringer got 12.34 percent. 'I honestly was not expecting this,' Lloyd said. 'I know Melanie did fantastic in the Olympics.' Germany did win the women's coaching prize as Silvia Neid earned her second FIFA prize, after also winning the 2010 award. Neid beat two previous winners: last year's winner, Jill Ellis of the United States, and Pia Sundhage of Sweden, the Olympic silver medalist. The Puskas Award for best goal was won in an online poll by Mohd Faiz Subri, who scored with a wildly swerving long-range free kick for Malaysian club Penang. A players' vote organized by international union FIFPro gave a World XI of: Manuel Neuer (Germany, Bayern Munich); Dani Alves (Brazil, Barcelona/Juventus), Sergio Ramos (Spain, Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Spain, Barcelona), Marcelo (Brazil, Real Madrid); Toni Kroos (Germany, Real Madrid), Andres Iniesta (Spain, Barcelona), Luka Modric (Croatia, Real Madrid); Messi, Luis Suarez (Uruguay, Barcelona), Ronaldo. The First FIFA fan award was chosen by fans and was made to supporters of Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund, who joined in singing the English club's anthem 'You'll Never Walk Alone' before a Europa League quarterfinal. The other nominees were Iceland fans at Euro 2016, and Dutch club ADO Den Haag, whose fans brought soft toys to children supporting rival team Feyenoord. FIFA made its Fair Play Award to Atletico Nacional, the Colombian club which was scheduled to host Chapecoense in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final on Nov. 30. After most of the Brazilian team died in a plane crash flying to the match, Atletico Nacional asked the South American soccer confederation to present the title and trophy to Chapecoense. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 9th, 2017

Djokovic wins, then poses for selfie, Murray advances

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Defending champion Novak Djokovic and top-seeded Andy Murray posted straight-set wins on Wednesday to reach the Qatar Open quarterfinals, but only Djokovic was asked to pose for a selfie by his opponent after the match. Djokovic, a 12-time Grand Slam champion, honored the unusual request of Horacio Zeballos of Argentina after his 6-3, 6-4 win. 'I just have to mention making a selfie after the match was over, that was the first time that I ever had this kind of experience in my career,' Djokovic said on the court. 'So, Horacio, well done. Very original.' Murray had a challenging outing against Gerald Melzer of Austria, the younger brother of former world No. 8 Jurgen Melzer, before advancing to the quarterfinals with a 7-6 (6) 7-5 win. 'He played great, great tennis and was dominating large parts of the match,' said Murray, who was on the defense through much of the match. 'He made it extremely, extremely difficult. I was a bit lucky to through in two sets today. 'I think he's playing much better than someone ranked 69 in the world,' Murray added. In the first set, Murray required nine set points before Melzer mis-hit a forehand to surrender the set. In the second, Melzer saved two Murray match points on his own serve in the ninth game, and then broke for 5-5. Murray broke Melzer's serve on a fourth break point in the 11th game and then sealed the victory on a third match point when Melzer blasted a shot long. 'Today was a perfect example of the depth in the men's games just now,' Murray said. 'I actually played pretty good, but he was hitting the ball huge from both sides. You need to be ready for every single match.' Murray, a two-time champion in Doha, will face Nicolas Almagro of Spain in the quarterfinals. Djokovic never offered Zeballos a break point opportunity, but could only carve out one service break in each set against the Argentine's serve. 'Credit to Zeballos for playing some fearless tennis,' Djokovic said. 'He was stepping in and trying to go for his shots. He wasn't backing up to the baseline.' Djokovic will play qualifier Radek Stepanek of Czech Republic, in the quarterfinals. At 38, Stepanek, who ranked a career-best No. 8 in July 2006, is the oldest ATP Tour quarterfinalist since a 42-year-old Jimmy Connors reached the final eight at the 1995 Halle tournament. Stepanek defeated wildcard entrant Arthur De Greef of Belgium 6-3, 6-2 for his quarterfinal berth. Spaniard Fernando Verdasco needed six match points, three in the second set tiebreaker, to upset fourth-seeded David Goffin of Belgium 6-1, 7-6 (6). Verdasco will play sixth-seeded Ivo Karlovic of Croatia in the last eight. The other quarterfinal will pit third-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic against fifth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France, who beat Dustin Brown of Germany 6-1, 6-3. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 4th, 2017

Chile amateur goes from no big victories to Masters

DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer   HONOLULU (AP) — Toto Gana hit what he described as the 'best shot I've hit in my whole life,' a wedge to 3 feet for a birdie to win the Latin America Amateur Championship and earn a trip to the Masters in April. His best shot produced his biggest trophy. Asked what his greatest achievement in golf was before his victory in Panama, the 19-year-old from Chile said: 'I didn't have any achievements, to be honest. I had won a couple of tournaments at home when I was really, really young.' The Latin America Amateur completed its third year, a stroke-play tournament created by Augusta National, the USGA and the Royal & Ancient to spur growth in that part of the world. It follows the successful launch of the Asia Pacific Amateur. The Asia Pacific Amateur is producing a higher pedigree of champions — Hideki Matsuyama won twice, and the winner last year was Curtis Luck, the reigning U.S. Amateur champion. The last two Latin America winners were surprises — Gana and 16-year-old Paul Chaplet of Costa Rica last year. The other winner was Matias Dominguez of Chile, who was a junior at Texas Tech. Gana said the only hard part about his victory was beating Joaquin Niemann of Chile, one of his best friends who won the Junior World in 2015 at Torrey Pines. 'I really never thought I could win this tournament because all the other players have won many other tournaments, very big tournaments,' Gana said in a conference call after his victory Sunday. 'What I did was keep a cool head. When I saw that I had a chance to win, I believed in myself that I could do. And I gave it my all.' Chile will have a player represented at Augusta National for the second time in three years. The only other Chilean player at the Masters was Enrique Orellana, who missed the cut in 1964. Gana has flair, and he showed how much passion he has for golf when explaining how he got started. 'When I was a little boy, 8 years old, my stepfather taught me to play golf on the practice range,' he said. 'When I shot a really nice shot, I never quit.' Gana will be enrolling at Lynn University in Florida. ___ BLOOMING START: Justin Rose played the Sony Open as part of the new 'strength of field' regulation on the PGA Tour that requires players who played fewer than 25 events last year to add a tournament they had not played in four years. Rose was so excited about this year that he might have started earlier if he would have been eligible. He failed to win a PGA Tour event for the first time since 2009. But in a year slowed by injury, Rose geared himself for golf's return to the Olympics and won the gold medal in Rio. That was worth an exemption into the four majors (Rose already is eligible for them), but the PGA Tour did not offer a spot in SBS Tournament of Champions. 'I didn't inquire,' Rose said about Kapalua. 'But in my mind, I was surprised that it didn't count in a way, just because, why wouldn't it? It's a one-off thing.' He thought maybe the tour would only give a spot to Kapalua if the gold medalist was already a PGA Tour member, much like it treated the HSBC Champions early on in its World Golf Championships history. Rose chuckled, however, when he realized his history in Hawaii. 'It's funny enough, I don't have the right to say I should have been at Kapalua,' he said. 'Because I've won six years in a row and I've only been once.' A birdie on the final hole at the Sony Open gave him second place alone, which was worth $648,000. ___ PLAYING TO HIS STRENGTH: Jason Dufner is the defending champion at the CareerBuilder Challenger, where he won last year for the first time since the 2013 PGA Championship at Oak Hill. What changed? Very little. He attributed the drought to a neck and shoulder injury that he suffered at the 2014 Masters. Dufner tried to play through it all year until he was forced to pull out of his title defense in the PGA Championship at Valhalla, which kept him off the Ryder Cup team. Playing with the injury led to bad habits with his swing, which led to bad shots, too many memories of bad shots and eventually shattered confidence. 'People don't realize, once you start playing, you have to redo everything,' Dufner said. 'You see it with a lot of guys coming back. It takes them 6, 8, 12 months. I spent 2015 trying to get back to where I was.' Where he wants to be is one of the top ball-strikers in the game. As for putting? He manages. Dufner has finished no higher than No. 143 in the key putting statistic over the last four years, and while he has to pay attention to his setup, it's not as though he's going to abandon what got him here (his swing) to pour everything into becoming Jordan Spieth. 'I've been putting bad for 17 years,' he said. 'It's tough to change. I can hit it good enough to make up for it. I'll wait for my weeks where I putt good and try to win.' ___ THE RACE TO MEXICO: Mackenzie Hughes won the RSM Classic, and his first thought was going to the Masters. Now that it's beginning to sink, the Canadian rookie has reason to consider other tournaments that were not on his schedule at the start of the season. First up is the World Golf Championship in Mexico. The top 10 in the FedEx Cup standings through the Honda Classic are eligible for the Mexico Championship, and there are only six tournaments between now and then. That's also true for Pat Perez, who tied for third at Kapalua and is No. 3 in the FedEx Cup. Rod Pampling is at No. 6. The other World Golf Championships event in March is based off the world ranking, so those three players have much more to do for them to get into the top 64. One player who might have secured his spot was Kevin Kisner, who shot 60 in the third round of the Sony Open and wound up in a tie for fourth. That took Kisner from No. 51 to No. 41, making it difficult to fall that far in two months. ___ DIVOTS: Justin Thomas moving to No. 8 in the world means that six of the top 10 players are under 30. ... The Golf Writers Association of America has voted former PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem for the William D. Richardson Award for outstanding contributions to golf. For the GWAA's award for press cooperation, it was a tie between Ben Crenshaw and Stewart Cink. They will be honored at the GWAA annual awards dinner on April 5 in Augusta. ... The three courses used for the CareerBuilder Challenge — PGA West Stadium Course, PGA West Nicklaus and La Quinta — ranked among the top 10 in easiest courses on the PGA Tour last year. ... The fourth Latin America Amateur Championship will be played at Prince of Wales Country Club next year in Santiago, Chile. ... The European Tour now has eight events in its Rolex Series with China-based HNA Group signing a five-year deal to be title sponsor of the French Open. That will raise the purse to $7 million in line with other Rolex Series events. ___ STAT OF THE WEEK: Justin Thomas hit 34 drives that went at least 330 yards during his two weeks in Hawaii — 20 on the Plantation Course at Kapalua, 14 at Waialae Country Club. ___ FINAL WORD: 'If there's no defense, then you ought to be able to make birdies. If there's wind, you ought to be struggling.' — Kevin Kisner. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2017

Thomas caps off record week with trophy at Sony Open

DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer   HONOLULU (AP) — Challenged only by the record book, Justin Thomas won the Sony Open on Sunday with the lowest 72-hole score in PGA Tour history. Thomas capped off his wonderful week at Waialae that began with a 59 with his second straight victory. He two-putted birdie from 60 feet on the par-5 18th and closed with a 5-under 65 to set the record at 253. Tommy Armour III shot 254 at the 2003 Texas Open. 'It's been an unbelievable week. Unforgettable,' Thomas said before going to sign his historic card. Make that two weeks. The 23-year-old from Kentucky won the SBS Tournament of Champions at Kapalua last week by three shots, then destroyed the full field at the Sony Open to win by seven shots. Thomas is the first player since Tiger Woods in 2009 (Buick Open and Bridgestone Invitational) to win back-to-back weeks by three shots or more. 'I felt like I was trying to win a tournament for second place,' Jordan Spieth said, summing up the helpless feeling of everyone. That honor went to Justin Rose, who closed with a 64 to finish alone in second. Spieth shot a 63 to finish alone in third. The first full-field event of the year on the PGA Tour was a one-man show. Thomas began the final round with a seven-shot lead and no one got closer than five shots all day. His only nervous moment was an 8-foot par putt on the sixth hole when he was five shots ahead. He made that, and the rest of the day was a Pacific breeze. Thomas joined Ernie Els in 2003 as the only players to sweep Hawaii, and this performance might have been even better. Thomas was 49-under par for his two weeks, compared with Els at 47 under. Thomas joined Johnny Miller (1974 and 1975) and Tiger Woods (2003, 2008, 2013) as the only players since 1970 to win three of the their first five starts in a PGA Tour season. It started last fall with the CIMB Classic in Malaysia. He moved to No. 8 in the world. 'He's got full control of his game, full confidence, and he's executing under pressure,' Spieth said. 'It's a lot of fun to see. Certainly stuff that myself and a lot of our peers have seen going back almost 10 years now. He's certainly showing the world what he's capable of.' No one ever lost a seven-shot lead in the final round of a PGA Tour event, a fact that never entered the conversation on a balmy afternoon at Waialae. Thomas, thinking more about the trophy and another record when he started the final round, took no chances early on. He was 1 over through seven holes, making a soft bogey with a three-putt from 45 feet on No. 4 and a tough par save on No. 6, and still no one got closer than five shots. But when he poured in a 20-foot birdie putt on the eighth, Thomas shifted into another gear. That was the start of four birdies in five holes — the exception was a birdie putt he missed from just inside 10 feet — and he stretched his lead to as many as nine shots. Waialae was vulnerable all week with not much wind, fast fairways and greens that were softer than usual. Thomas produced the eighth sub-60 round in PGA Tour history on Thursday. Kevin Kisner had a shot at 59 on Saturday until missing a 9-foot eagle putt on his final hole. And on Sunday, Chez Reavie made a hole-in-one with a 6-iron on the 17th hole that gave him a shot at a sub-60 round. Only a bogey on the sixth hole (he start on No. 10) stopping him, and he had to settle for a 61. That matched the third-best score of the week. Even in easier conditions, no one played like Thomas. He felt the nerves early, perhaps knowing that he could only lose with such a big lead. But when he made the turn with a six-shot lead, it was a chase for the record, and there was no stopping him. He hit a lob wedge over a bunker to 3 feet for birdie on the 14th, made a 12-foot par save on the 15th and picked up the last birdie he needed on the par-5 18th by easily reaching the middle of the green. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2017

ONE Championship: Bigdash retains title; Catalan, Subora victorious

ONE Championship returned to the Jakarta Convention Center for another evening of world-class mixed martial arts (MMA) action. ONE: QUEST FOR POWER set the tone for what will be an amazing 2017 for ONE Championship with a series of compelling bouts featuring the absolute best in local and international MMA talent. In the main event, ONE Middleweight World Champion Vitaly Bigdash retained his title, defeating top contender “The Burmese Python” Aung La N Sang by unanimous decision after five rounds. div>  /div> div>In the main event of the evening, ONE Middleweight World Champion Vitaly Bigdash of Rostov-on-Don, Russia impressed with a great show of strength in a dominant performance over “The Burmese Python” Aung La N Sang of Myanmar. Throughout the bout, Bigdash kept N Sang at bay with his sharp combinations, while on the mat he connected with multiple elbows. After five rounds of action, it was a clear win for Bigdash who met very little resistance in outlasting the durable N Sang to remain undefeated, retaining his ONE Middleweight World Championship. /div> div>  /div> div>In the co-main event of the evening, 27-year-old Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen of Sydney, Australia authored one of the most spectacular finishes of the evening, stopping Japanese MMA veteran Kazunori Yokota with strikes to win by technical knockout just past the midway point of the first round. Yokota stalked Nguyen, looking to throw combinations but Nguyen timed Yokota with an overhand right that dropped him to the canvas. From there, Nguyen jumped on his foe and rained down punches from the top to earn the stoppage victory. /div> div>  /div> div>Lightweight contenders Vincent “MagniVincent” Latoel and Vaughn “The Spawn” Donayre put on an exciting show for fans in attendance, tagging each other with intense combinations for the majority of the three-round lightweight contest. On the mat, Donayre showcased his grappling skills, threatening with various submissions off his back. Latoel however was more consistent throughout and scored points with his takedowns and cage control. All three judges saw the bout in favor of Latoel to win by unanimous decision. /div> div>  /div> div>The highly-anticipated lightweight showdown between Georgi Stoyanov of Bulgaria and Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev of Russia ended on an unfortunate note, as the bout resulted in a No Contest ruling. Although Arslanaliev swarmed Stoyanov from the beginning of the bout and completely outclassed the Bulgarian, an ill-advised technical ground kick landed for Arslanaliev and Stoyanov was unable to continue. /div> div>  /div> div>Dutch featherweight standout based in Jakarta, Anthony “The Archangel” Engelen, put on a masterful performance, stopping Malaysian fight veteran A.J. “Pyro” Lias Mansor in under two minutes in the first round of a scheduled three-round bout. Engelen pressed Mansor up against the cage fence with a combination before a beautiful right hand felled Mansor, earning Engelen one of the most spectacular knockouts of his career. /div> div>  /div> div>Fans were treated to an action-packed clash of colossal light heavyweights as Igor Subora of the Ukraine and Sherif Mohamed of Egypt pushed each other to the limit in a tremendous three-round show of determination from both fighters. Subora effectively used his reach advantage to keep the smaller, stockier Mohamed at bay with his boxing throughout the bout. In the third round, both fighters fought through sheer exhaustion to make it to the final bell as Subora did just enough to outlast Mohamed to earn the unanimous decision. /div> div>  /div> div>Local martial arts hero from Jakarta, “The Terminator” Sunoto, brought the crowd to its feet with a riveting performance to defeat Cambodia’s Chan Heng by technical knockout just a little under three minutes into the first round. Sunoto wasted no time in taking the fight directly to Heng, challenging the Khun Khmer practitioner to a striking showdown at the center of the ONE Championship cage. Sunoto however, proved too much for the Cambodian after he gained mount and unleashed the ground-and-pound. /div> div>  /div> div>Unbeaten Indonesian flyweight prospect Stefer Rahardian defeated Jakarta-based Liberian fighter Jerome S. Paye via unanimous decision in the second preliminary bout of the evening. Rahardian showcased tremendous cage-control for the majority of the fight, smothering Paye with a consistent attack that left the Liberian stifled throughout the contest. The 30-year-old Rahardian left very little openings for Paye who just couldn’t get his offense going. In the end, Rahardian had just enough in the tank to complete a comprehensive three-round performance, earning the nod on all three judges’ scorecards. /div> div>  /div> div>Strawweights Rene Catalan of the Philippines and Adrian Matheis of Indonesia kicked off ONE: QUEST FOR POWER with a spirited display of mixed martial arts action, on a bustling Saturday night in Jakarta. After a dominant first round from Catalan, one that saw the Filipino attempt various finishes, the end came swiftly in the second when Catalan was able to execute an armbar to earn the submission victory. /div> div>  /div> div> strong>COMPLETE RESULTS /strong> /div> div>  /div> div>MW Title: Vitaly Bigdash defeats Aung La N Sang by Unanimous Decision /div> div>  /div> div>Featherweight bout: Martin Nguyen defeats Kazunori Yokota by TKO (Strikes) at 3:36 minutes of round 1 /div> div>  /div> div>Lightweight bout: Vincent Latoel defeats Vaughn Donayre by Unanimous Decision /div> div>  /div> div>Lightweight bout: Georgi Stoyanov, Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev (No Contest) /div> div>  /div> div>Featherweight bout: Anthony Engelen defeats AJ Lias Mansor by Knockout (KO) at 1:42 minutes of round 1 /div> div>  /div> div>Light Heavyweight bout: Igor Subora defeats Sherif Mohamed by Unanimous Decision /div> div>  /div> div>Bantamweight bout: Sunoto defeats Chan Heng by TKO (Strikes) at 2:30 minutes of round 1 /div> div>  /div> div>Flyweight bout: Stefer Rahardian defeats Jerome S. Paye by Unanimous Decision (UD) /div> div>  /div> div>Strawweight bout: Rene Catalan defeats Adrian Matheis by Submission (Armbar) at 2:08 minutes of round 2 /div>.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2017

Storm stays calm to lead McIlroy by 3 shots at SA Open

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Graeme Storm will take a three-shot lead into the final round of the SA Open as he bids for his first European Tour title in 10 years. The Englishman turned in a third-round 67, the same as Rory McIlroy, who moved into second to set up an intriguing fight on Sunday. 'I'd like to be a few shots better or at least a few shots closer to the lead,' McIlroy said. 'But hopefully, I can get off to a good start tomorrow and put a bit of pressure on Graeme and make it interesting.' Storm had five birdies on Saturday and extended his bogey-free run to 41 holes to leave him at 17-under 199 and on the verge of a second European Tour title after winning the Open de France in 2007. 'I have never played with Rory before and I know him really well so it will be a lot of fun,' Storm said. 'If he hits a good shot and pips me or beats me comfortably, or whoever makes a move from behind, I can't really control that. All I can do is control my golf ball. 'If I can shoot another score in the 60s I'll be pleased even if I don't win. I have come here as a big underdog so that is fine with me.' It would complete an amazing turnaround for Storm, who thought he lost his playing privileges by just 100 euros in October but was then handed a reprieve after Patrick Reed opted not to play the Final Series. 'I find myself now in a position that I have only been in a couple of times over the past few years,' Storm said. 'Things have been difficult and last year was a tough year but it has given me a new lease of life and I hope to continue playing well. 'I thought I had lost my card and all of the privileges that come from playing on the European Tour, and when that happens you realize that you can't afford to lose it.' McIlroy twice caught Storm at the top of the leaderboard with the help of a stunning eagle from 157 yards on the par-4 seventh and a hat trick of birdies on the back nine. But the second-ranked McIlroy, who almost pulled out of the tournament on Friday with a back complaint, bogeyed the 18th as Storm put in a consistent performance to extend his second-round lead by one shot. 'The back was a little tender this morning — I didn't really get much sleep last night,' McIlroy said. 'I couldn't get comfortable and I had to wake up in the middle of the night to take a couple of painkillers, but the physios did a good job on me this morning and strapped me up pretty well, and then gave me a couple of anti-inflammatories, which helped. 'It was a bit uncomfortable for the first five or six holes but then I took another couple of anti-inflammatories in the middle of the round and it actually felt pretty good on the back nine so hopefully it will continue to feel that way.' Storm has led a tournament three times after 54 holes on the European Tour, but hasn't converted any of those leads into victories. Jordan Smith (68) looked set to challenge Storm after four birdies and an eagle but bogeyed the final two holes to leave him four shots behind his compatriot, level with home favorite Jbe Kruger (69). Italy's Edoardo Molinari equaled the course record with a 63 — as Storm had done Friday — to surge more than 30 places up the leaderboard into a tie for fifth. Molinari is at 12 under, alongside South African duo Dean Burmester (67) and Jaco Van Zyl (68), French pair Romain Langasque (68) and Joel Stalter (65), and American Peter Uihlein (70). .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2017

'Nothing is impossible. I am living proof of that.' - Milan Melindo

strong>'NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE.' /strong> This is what the new IBF interim world Jr. light flyweight champion Milan Melindo wishes to impart to aspiring boxers and champions alike. Barely two months after his impressive win over then-IBF number-three ranked light flyweight Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr. at the Cebu Coliseum, Melindo has already set his sights on his next goal. In an interview with ALA Boxing, Melindo shares that he now looks forward to becoming a regular world champion. While there's no final date yet for a fight against regular IBF World Light Flyweight champion Akira Yaegashi, Melindo hasn’t stopped training since coming back to the gym a week after his most recent championship win.  “I didn’t even feel like going on a vacation for the holidays. I know I still have to train harder, I want to train harder”, Melindo added.  strong>Q: Do you feel like you need to train harder because Yaegashi’s a better fighter? /strong> strong>Milan Melindo /strong>: Yes and No. Yaegashi is a good fighter. He doesn't have the world title if he isn’t. But that is not why I am more relentless in my training after my latest fight. I realized what helped me win is the strong motivation from my past two attempts at world titles. Because of the experience, I felt a stronger will to finally win and make something out of my dreams. I want to train harder because I want more. I don’t want to go back to just dreaming of being in this level. There’s more out there, and that’s what I want now. strong>Q: How different is Milan Melindo now? /strong> strong>MM /strong>: There’s not much difference in me as a person. I am the same Milan before I won the title. I want people to know that. What I am is thankful. I am very happy to have finally won a world title for all of us. I am happy I was given the chance fight again despite my failures the past years. More importantly, I am happy with how I turned my doubters to believers. It gives me more confidence to aim higher not just for myself, but also for my gym and country. This is for all of us. strong>Q: Why do you think you succeeded this time? /strong> strong>MM /strong>: I prayed to win. I have to admit, the last fights I had, I don’t pray to win. I pray for guidance instead. I pray for our safety. I was always dependent on our training and my skills as a fighter. But this time, I prayed since I got the date and confirmation of the fight. I prayed all the time. I asked for this. I also worked so hard to win. I realized it does take everything from you to get what you really want to happen. strong>Q: What’s next for Milan Melindo? /strong> strong>MM /strong>: I want to be a regular world champion first. After that, I hope to challenge the other world champions in my division. It’s strange because before I got this title, I was only focused on actually winning it. Now that I have it in my hands, I want to achieve more. I want to get my country on top of the rankings again. It’s the reason I’ve been spending more time training instead of resting after my fight. There’s this want in me that’s keeping me on the move. Milan added that he wants to get his story out, how he failed not once, but twice, before he won his first title. He believes he can inspire other Filipino athletes. “I know not everyone gets the opportunity to big fights, that is why I am very thankful to my manager, my promoter, all the people behind ALA Gym and ALA Promotions, my coaches, stable mates that I’ve sparred with, my family, and of course our TV partner ABS-CBN Sports. Without everyone, the media, and fans who’ve always supported us fighters, I wouldn’t be able to get to where I am now. This is the motivation everyone needs and I hope, everyone finds. I hope the young fighters out there who have yet to conquer their own dreams know my story and continue to do what they believe in. I know I’ve yet to achieve mine too, but I hope they don’t give up when they fail and do their best every time they go in the ring. I hope they continue reaching for their dreams because nothing is impossible. I am living proof of that.” .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 13th, 2017

Former England coach Graham Taylor dies at 72

ROB HARRIS, AP Global Soccer Writer   LONDON (AP) — Graham Taylor, the England coach derided for failing to qualify for the 1994 World Cup after flourishing as a club manager working for pop star Elton John, has died. He was 72. Taylor, who won admiration by leading Aston Villa and Watford into the top-flight in the 1980s, died early Thursday of a suspected heart attack, his family said. 'The family are devastated by this sudden and totally unexpected loss,' a family statement said. Taylor is one of only four managers to have taken the same team from the fourth to the top division in English soccer, and he achieved it within five years at Watford. Elton John, who owned Watford during Taylor's two stints in charge, said it was a 'sad and dark day' for the club. 'He was like a brother to me,' John wrote on an Instagram post . 'We shared an unbreakable bond since we first met. We went on an incredible journey together and it will stay with me forever. 'He took my beloved Watford from the depths of the lower leagues to uncharted territory and into Europe. We have become a leading English club because of his managerial wisdom and genius.' Taylor reached the pinnacle of English management when he was hired by the national team in 1990, inheriting a side that reached the World Cup semifinals. 'His enthusiasm for life and football was incredible,' former England player Paul Gascoigne said. Taylor guided England to the 1992 European Championship, but the team was eliminated at the first stage, setting the tone for the rest of his time with the national team. After England lost 2-1 to Sweden in its final game at Euro 92, The Sun tabloid trashed Taylor with the headline: 'Swedes 2 Turnips 1.' Taylor's head was superimposed on a turnip, a caricature that led to the manager becoming known harshly as 'Turnip Taylor.' 'It hurts and that's what really, really annoys me,' Taylor recalled in a 2012 BBC documentary. 'They have no recognition about how much it hurts you. They think you don't care. 'And those people that know it hurts you, they put the knife into you so it hurts you even more.' Taylor's decision to grant behind-the-scenes access to a television crew for the qualifying campaign for the 1994 World Cup backfired when the extent of the strain of the job was exposed. In 'The Impossible Job,' Taylor was filmed complaining about a refereeing decision during a qualifier against the Netherlands, telling the linesman: 'Tell your mate he's just cost me my job.' Reflecting later on his shortcomings in the England job, Taylor said: 'I am not bitter. I am just disappointed in myself.' The failure to reach the 1994 World Cup in the United States was a blot on Taylor's accomplishments in management after a modest playing career ended at age 28 due to a hip injury. Having already become the youngest person to attain a full Football Association coaching badge, Taylor was able to move straight into management with Lincoln after playing for the team. After winning the fourth tier, Taylor moved south to Watford. With the boardroom backing of John, Taylor guided Watford from the fourth division to the first division (then the top tier), an FA Cup final and European competition in five years from 1978. John then allowed Taylor to move to Aston Villa, where he secured promotion to the top-flight and a second-place finish in 1990. He returned as club management after his England management, taking Watford back into the Premier League and enjoying one final spell at Villa before leaving the dugout for good in 2003. He was a regular commentator on matches in recent years for BBC radio. He is survived by wife Rita and daughters Joanne and Karen. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 12th, 2017

Wozniacki's Sydney run ends again before quarterfinals

SYDNEY (AP) — Former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki's streak of not advancing past the quarterfinals in her past seven Sydney Internationals was extended in stifling heat on Wednesday. In temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) for much of the match, Wozniacki lost 7-5, 6-7 (6), 6-4 to Barbora Strycova in a duel that stretched to 3 hours, 19 minutes. Both players were treated for foot injuries during a grueling second set on Ken Rosewall Arena. Wozniacki came back from 5-2 down in that set, and then 5-0 in the tiebreaker, to win it and force a third set. 'It was brutal out there ... but you just try and think like you're on a beach drinking pina coladas,' Wozniacki said. 'That's basically your train of thought. You know that it's the same for both players, so I was just trying to mentally just try and keep cool.' Strycova will meet the winner of the night match between second-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska and qualifier Duan Yingying in Friday's semifinals. Former Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard continued her strong start to the year with a 6-2, 6-3 quarterfinal win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Bouchard had a breakout season in 2014, reaching the semifinals at the Australian Open and French Open before making the final at Wimbledon. But she has only gone past the fourth round at a major once since then and slipped to No. 46 at the end of last year. 'I feel more and more confident every day,' Bouchard said Wednesday. 'I feel like I'm getting back into the rhythm of things a little bit, but it's a long road ...' The Canadian's semifinal opponent will be Sydney-born Johanna Konta of Britain, who beat Daria Kasatkina 6-3, 7-5. Konta broke Kasatkina's service in the 11th game, helped by a double-fault to set up break point in that game. Last year at the Australian Open, Konta became the first British women to make a Grand Slam semifinal since 1983 before losing to eventual champion Angelique Kerber. In men's play at Sydney, two-time defending champion Viktor Troicki beat Paolo Lorenzi 6-3, 6-4. Second-seeded Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay defeated Nicolas Mahut of France 6-4, 2-6, 6-2. At Auckland, New Zealand, American John Isner narrowly avoided the fate of two former champions when he beat Tunisia's Malek Jaziri in a third-set tiebreaker to advance 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (6) to make the quarterfinals of the ASB Classic. Isner won his last three points with volleys at the net. 'The way I need to finish points is that if I can I have to try and finish them at the net,' Isner said. 'I did that three times in a row and I'm very proud of that.' Four former champions were scheduled to play second-round matches Wednesday but by the time the second-seeded Isner took the court, two had bowed out. Defending champion and No. 1-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut was forced to withdraw before play began because of a stomach virus, handing New Zealander Ruben Statham a place in the second round as a lucky loser from the qualifying rounds. The 2015 champion Jiri Vesely was due to play Bautista Agut and thought he had caught a break when the Spaniard withdrew and the 434th-ranked Statham took his place. But Vesely had a tussle on his hands before winning 6-7 (6), 7-5, 6-3. Four-time champion David Ferrer was first up on center court and lost 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (4) to Robin Haase of the Netherlands. At the WTA's Hobart International, former French Open finalist Lucie Safarova was beaten 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 by Japanese qualifier Risa Ozaki. Ozaki will next meet Romanian Monica Niculescu. Top-seeded Kiki Bertens advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 11th, 2017

Justin Thomas holds on to beat Hideki Matsuyama at Kapalua

br /> DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer   KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) — Justin Thomas kept reminding himself that a one-shot lead with two holes to play is never a bad place to be on the PGA Tour. Ignoring that his five-shot lead was nearly gone against Hideki Matsuyama, Thomas thought more about the great golf that had put him in this position Sunday at the SBS Tournament of Champions. He responded by hitting an 8-iron from 214 yards on a downhill lie that was so pure he stopped to admire it before it landed. It plopped down in front of the pin and settled 3 feet away for a birdie. Matsuyama three-putted for bogey, and Thomas was on his way to a comfortable victory at Kapalua that moved him into the conversation of golf's young stars. 'The best shot I hit this week,' Thomas said. 'There's a tree that's a little slanted, and it's a perfect aiming point. I just kind of aimed it there and made sure I held onto the club, if anything, to make sure my miss was right. ... And really, I just flushed it. As soon as it came off, I knew it was going to be perfect.' Matsuyama, going after his fourth straight victory worldwide, knew he needed to make his 30-foot birdie putt to stay in the game. He ran it 8 feet by, missed the par putt coming back and was out of chances when Thomas hammered another tee shot on the par-5 18th. Thomas closed with a two-putt birdie for a 4-under 69 and a three-shot victory, his second of the PGA Tour season that moved him to No. 12 in the world. His other two PGA Tour title were at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia. 'I think it's potentially floodgates opening,' said Jordan Spieth, his best friend in golf since they were teenagers. 'The guy hits it forever. He's got a really, really nifty short game. He manages the course well. He's playing the golf course the way it should be played, and honestly, he's taking advantage of the easier holes. 'It's awesome to see,' Spieth said. 'He's going to be tough to beat next week, too.' Spieth closed with a 65 and tied for third with Pat Perez (67) and Ryan Moore (71). Matsuyama, who made two soft bogeys on the front nine to fall five shots behind, made it more of a game than anyone expected. The 24-year-old from Japan holed a flop shot for eagle on the 14th hole, and then Thomas hooked a 4-iron into the hazard on the par-5 15th hole and made double bogey. Just like that, Thomas went from a five-shot lead to a one-shot lead, and Matsuyama had a 10-foot birdie putt on the 16th to tie for the lead. The putt narrowly missed, and Thomas answered with his 8-iron for birdie to end it. Matsuyama closed with a 70. 'My putter let me down there at 16, 17 and 18,' Matsuyama said. 'I tipped my hat to Justin. He played well all day long.' Thomas is the only player to beat Matsuyama over the last three months. In his last six tournaments worldwide, Matsuyama had four victories and a pair of runner-up finishes — both to Thomas, in Kuala Lumpur and Kapalua. Thomas, who finished at 22-under 270, said his immediate thoughts were booking a return trip to Kapalua next year for the winners-only event. 'It changes things going forward because I know I'm coming back here,' Thomas said. The scenery down the 18th toward the blue Pacific, where humpback whales spent the afternoon breeching and splashing their tails, was even better because his parents were watching him win for the first time. His father, Mike Thomas, is a longtime head pro in Harmony Landing in Kentucky who is still his coach. Spieth closed with a 65 to tie for third with Pat Perez (67) and Ryan Moore (71). Spieth and Jimmy Walker came down to the 18th to congratulate the winner. Thomas started the final round with a two-shot lead and no one got closer until his blunder on the 15th. One of the longest hitters in golf with his slight build, Thomas really did miss a shot until the ninth hole, and that's when he got a huge break. With the wind stiff and in his face, he got quick with his driver and hit a snap-hook into the knee-high weeds left of the fairway. He hit a provisional for a lost ball and was about ready to abandon the search when a TV spotter was summoned to give an indication where it went. They found the ball, and it was sitting up a few inches above the roots, allowing Thomas to at least hack out into the fairway. He followed with a 3-wood onto the green for a two-putt par after starting with a shot that made double bogey appear likely. Thomas wasn't so fortunate on the 15th. 'I stumbled more than I would have liked to do,' Thomas said. 'But it shows where my game is at right now. I had some woes there, but I stuck it out to still get it done.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 8th, 2017

Klopp's decision to field youngest ever side backfires

br /> JEROME PUGMIRE, AP Sports Writer   Juergen Klopp's decision to field Liverpool's youngest ever team backfired Sunday as the Premier League title contender was held 0-0 at home by fourth-tier Plymouth in the third round of the FA Cup. Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino also made sweeping changes, and was made to sweat as his side left it late to beat second-tier Aston Villa 2-0. Chelsea had an easier time, sweeping aside third-tier Peterborough 4-1, with Spanish forward Pedro scoring twice. With games coming thick and fast during the festive season and a midweek trip to Southampton looming in the first leg of the League Cup semifinals, Klopp made 10 changes from the team that drew 2-2 with Sunderland on Monday. But instead of keeping players rested for other competitions, the Liverpool manager now faces an unwanted replay at Plymouth. 'It's my responsibility, the whole thing, the lineup and performance. We could have done better,' Klopp said. 'If you want to see it (the result) in a bad way then I am 100 percent responsible, I have no problem with that.' Liverpool is in second place in the Premier League and well positioned to challenge for the title. Plymouth is second, too, but in the far less glamorous League Two. Despite this it still seemed a risky move by Klopp to select a team with an average age of 21 years, 296 days. 'There is a long season still to go and we need to change,' Klopp said. 'If you make that many changes, it doesn't make it easier for the boys.' The 17-year-old Ben Woodburn — Liverpool's youngest-ever scorer — made his full debut alongside 19-year-olds Ovie Ejaria and Sheyi Ojo in a three-man attacking midfield supporting lone striker Divock Origi. Trent Alexander-Arnold made only his second Liverpool start. Attacking midfielder Adam Lallana, forward Roberto Firmino and England striker Daniel Sturridge were on the bench. Woodburn and Ojo went close early on as Liverpool dominated. But for all of its possession, Liverpool struggled to create further chances. 'We started well but then we lost patience too early,' Klopp said. Klopp brought on Sturridge shortly after the hour mark, and he went close almost immediately with a low shot past the right post. Sturridge then clipped another shot narrowly wide as Liverpool continued to push forward. But even with the introduction of Lallana and Firmino late on — and six minutes of injury time — the winner never came. There were no such frustrations at Stamford Bridge, with Belgium striker Michy Batshuayi and Brazil midfielder Willian getting the other goals. Defender Ben Davies put Tottenham ahead and South Korea forward Son Heung-min scored for Tottenham in the last 20 minutes, while Middlesbrough eased past second-tier Sheffield Wednesday 3-0. Also, 16-year-old Ryan Sessegnon scored Fulham's winner in a 2-1 win at Cardiff — a match pitting teams from the second-tier Championship. Defending champion Manchester United crushed Championship side Reading 4-0 on Saturday, but Premier League Bournemouth, West Bromwich Albion and Stoke lost to lower-league opponents, while Arsenal needed a late winner against Preston to reach the fourth round. ___ CHELSEA 4, PETERBOROUGH 1 Striker Michy Batshuayi got a rare start and welcome goal for his club while Spanish forward Pedro made it three in three games. After Pedro put Chelsea ahead in the 18th minute, Batshuayi made it 2-0 shortly before halftime. Midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek expertly cushioned a cross from the right into Batshuayi's path, and he drilled in a low shot into the bottom corner for his fourth goal of the season. Since joining from French club Marseille for a reported fee of 33 million pounds (around $40 million), Batshuayi has struggled to get games and he had not scored since netting twice in the League Cup on Aug. 23. Pedro set up Willian's goal in the 53rd for 3-0 and — after John Terry was shown a straight red card for hauling back Lee Angol — forward Tom Nichols scored for the visitors. With 15 minutes left, Pedro's curling shot completed a comfortable win. ___ TOTTENHAM 2, ASTON VILLA 0 Defender Ben Davies' first goal for the club was a timely one after second-tier Aston Villa frustrated the home side. Mauricio Pochettino made nine changes from the Tottenham side that beat Chelsea 2-0 in the Premier League on Wednesday and fans at White Hart Lane had to wait until Davies headed home in the 71st minute. South Korea forward Son Heung-min turned in a cross from France midfielder Moussa Sissoko with 10 minutes left. ___ MIDDLESBROUGH 3, SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY 0 Central midfielder Grant Leadbitter put the Premier League side ahead with a free kick in the 58th minute, and Spanish forward Alvaro Negredo showed his alertness to make it 2-0 shortly after. Negredo charged down goalkeeper Joe Wildsmith's attempted clearance, and the ball went off Negredo and into the net. Dutch midfielder Marten de Roon wrapped up the win against the Championship side in injury time. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 8th, 2017

A guide to FIFA's options for expanding the 2026 World Cup

GRAHAM DUNBAR, AP Sports Writer   FIFA is preparing to decide Tuesday on adding 16 more teams to the 2026 World Cup for a 48-team tournament. President Gianni Infantino's favored format would break with soccer tradition to play in groups of only three teams. Two would advance from each group to a Round of 32 knockout bracket. If agreed by the Infantino-chaired FIFA Council in Zurich, the 2026 hosting contest could formally open in weeks. A co-hosted North American bid is widely seen as the best option. Here are some things to know about overhauling the greatest competition in the world's most popular sport: ___ WHY EXPAND? A bigger World Cup was an Infantino campaign promise before his election last February, when his plan was 40 teams. It might have been key. Infantino's momentum for victory in a second-round poll was a three-vote lead over Sheik Salman of Bahrain in the first. Sheik Salman had promised only to review if more World Cup teams were wanted. Infantino also pledged to give more of FIFA's money to member federations — all 211 are now entitled to $5 million from each World Cup — and send more to continental and regional soccer bodies. So, more teams also had to mean more games, earning more revenue from broadcasters and sponsors. The '16x3' format arguably works better with only group winners advancing. But that would leave total matches unchanged at 64. Infantino also wants to create fervor in the extra countries which would qualify. In the short-term, competing national teams attract more sponsors. The long-term goal is appealing to more young people who are the future players, fans and officials. Expect to hear much FIFA talk of helping the next Costa Rica or Iceland — feelgood stories at the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016 — by inviting 16 more teams to the party. ___ 48-TEAM OPTIONS A near-consensus is growing around the '16x3' option revealed just one month ago. All 80 games would be played in exclusive time slots. That's more hours of TV exposure for sponsors and sales time for broadcasters in the same 32-day tournament period. By advancing two teams from each group, a Round of 32 ensures most teams still play at least three matches. FIFA's own analysis predicts this format will raise revenue by 20 percent from the equivalent $5.5 billion forecast from the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The flaw for purists is planning for penalty shootouts to settle drawn group matches. If each game has a 'winner' that guards against teams colluding on a mutually favorable result in the last group games. Previously, Infantino suggested an opening playoff round of 16 matches to decide who would join 16 seeded teams in a traditional 32-team group phase. That was unacceptable to many FIFA members federations who said 'one-and-done' teams were not part of a real World Cup. It also would stretch the tournament to 39 days. ___ 40-TEAM OPTIONS Infantino's plan from one year ago is now almost friendless. Either of two options, 10 groups of four teams or eight five-team groups, gives lopsided or weak match schedules, FIFA judged. In '10x4,' only 76 matches are played and only six group runners-up advance from a muddled tiebreaker process to a Round of 16. In '8x5,' the 88 matches include meaningless ones in a flabby group phase ripe for collusion. Also, the four semifinalists would play eight matches and that workload is unacceptable to European clubs releasing employees to national-team duty. ___ PROVEN 32-TEAM FORMAT Why fix something that is not broken? Germany, the defending champion, has publicly asked this question. The 32-team format and perfect 64-match bracket has worked well since being introduced at the 1998 World Cup in France (where Europe had 15 teams). FIFA acknowledged that it produces the best soccer — 'the highest absolute quality' of games pitting high-ranked teams against each other. Recall that former winners Italy, England and Uruguay were drawn in the same 2014 World Cup group — and yet Costa Rica finished top. Still, enough of FIFA's 211 members want change and their chance to play. ___ WHO WILL PLAY? A big question is likely not being resolved Tuesday. FIFA has yet to announce exactly how many entry slots each of six confederations would get for their own qualifying program. Quotas for a 40-team World Cup were proposed in December 2015 by a FIFA advisory group that included Infantino, then UEFA's general secretary. Some saw a cynical move to sweeten skeptical FIFA voters who were being asked to vote through modernizing and anti-corruption reforms on the same day they picked a new president. Then, assuming a single host nation would get automatic entry, the proposal for sharing 39 qualifying slots was: Europe 14; Africa 7; Asia 6; South America 5; North, Central America and Caribbean 5; Oceania 1; plus a final slot awarded 'based on sporting merits using a method yet to be defined.' Going from 40 to 48 can add at least one more from each continent. Who could those new teams be? On current form, maybe Wales and Panama, Congo and Burkina Faso, Uzbekistan and Oman, will bring something new to the 2026 World Cup. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 8th, 2017

Ronaldo favored to win his 4th FIFA award as world's best

GRAHAM DUNBAR, AP Sports Writer br /> Cristiano Ronaldo's remarkable run of success can continue with a fourth FIFA award as the world's best player on Monday. A European champion with club and country last year, the Real Madrid and Portugal forward is favored to beat great rival Lionel Messi and France forward Antoine Griezmann when winners of the rebranded Best FIFA Football Awards are presented in Zurich. Messi leads Ronaldo 5-3 in their career-long duel for FIFA's top individual prize. However, Ronaldo is set to complete a hat-trick of major awards for 2016 after taking home trophies presented by UEFA and France Football magazine's prestiguous Golden Ball. FIFA will also name the best women's player, and the best coaches in men's and women's soccer. Voting is by national team captains and coaches, selected journalists and — for the first time — an online poll of fans. Each category counts for 25 percent of the points. Here is a look ahead to the awards ceremony: ___ CRISTIANO RONALDO After Messi in 2015, it was Ronaldo's turn to win the Champions League in 2016 as the prolific scorer netted 16 goals in the competition. He also got the decisive penalty in a shootout after a 1-1 draw with Griezmann's Atletico Madrid. But where he really dominated Messi was on the national-team stage. Ronaldo captained Portugal to a long-awaited first title at the European Championship — two weeks after Messi's Argentina again lost the Copa America final to Chile. Portugal seemed a long way from glory, and faced a humiliating group-stage exit, before Ronaldo's two goals helped salvage a 3-3 draw with Hungary. He also netted in the 2-0 semifinal win against Wales. In the final against host France, Ronaldo went off injured in the first half, then returned to the bench for extra time as — with his knee strapped — he passionately urged teammates on to a 1-0 win. For good measure, Ronaldo scored a Club World Cup final hat trick against Kashima Antlers in December, but that was after FIFA voting had closed. ___ LIONEL MESSI Messi looks to extend a streak of being winner or runner-up in nine straight seasons since placing second behind Kaka of Brazil in 2007. Last year, Messi and won a Spanish league and Cup double with Barcelona. Yet there was another painful Copa America final loss — a third straight year Argentina lost a major final without scoring — and a Champions League quarterfinal exit against Atletico. Nearing his 30th birthday, Messi's prolific scoring rate has not slowed, and 10 goals in the Champions League group stage means that Ronaldo's season record of 17 — set in 2013-14 — is within his sight this year. ___ ANTOINE GRIEZMANN Griezmann's goals helped get France and Atletico Madrid into major finals in 2016. In the Champions League final in Milan, Atletico trailed 1-0 to its city rival when Griezmann missed with a penalty kick that struck the crossbar. Still, he confidently converted his kick in the penalty shootout. Griezmann's six goals at Euro 2016 made him the tournament top scorer. In a tricky round of 16 match, his two goals overturned an early Ireland lead, and he also struck twice — including a coolly taken penalty — against favored Germany in the semifinals. However, he missed two good chances in the final against Portugal as France 1-0 in extra time. ___ COACHING AWARD Could the coach of a provincial club side beat the men who coached European champions Real Madrid and Portugal? Yes, when that coach is Italian Claudio Ranieri and his team, unheralded Leicester City, won an English Premier League title that delighted and stunned fans worldwide. Zinedine Zidane started 2016 having never coached a senior match. The newly appointed Madrid coach won a Champions League title within five months and started 2017 riding a 37-match unbeaten run. Fernando Santos marshalled one of the less obviously talented Portugal teams of recent years to win Euro 2016 despite winning only one of its seven matches during the 90 minutes. ___ WOMEN'S AWARDS Germany's Olympic gold medal-winning team is favored to sweep the awards. Midfielder Melanie Behringer is challenging two past FIFA award winners: defending champion Carli Lloyd of the United States and five-time winner Marta of Brazil. All three coaching candidates are previous FIFA award winners: Silvia Neid of Germany, last year's winner Jill Ellis of the United States and Pia Sundhage of Sweden. ___ FIFA AWARDS FIFA has added a Fan Award to its annual ceremony, and all three candidates from an online poll are European. Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund, whose fans sang You'll Never Walk Alone before a Europa League match at Anfield; Dutch club ADO Den Haag, whose fans brought soft toys to children supporting rival team Feyenoord; and the Iceland fans at Euro 2016 for their inspirational clapping salute to players after games. A fans' vote will also decide the Puskas Award for best goal. The candidates are: Marlone of Corinthians, Daniuska Rodriguez of the Venezuela women's Under-17 team, and Mohd Faiz Subri of Malaysian side Penang. FIFA will also present a Fair Play award, and members of the players' union FIFPro worldwide have voted to select a World XI team. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 6th, 2017

James Rodriguez comes through for Madrid in Copa del Rey win

  MADRID (AP) — James Rodriguez made the most of a rare start for Real Madrid on Wednesday, scoring twice in a convincing 3-0 win over Sevilla in a first-leg match in the Copa del Rey's Round of 16. Less than a month after he called for more playing time and said he might leave the club if things didn't change, the Colombian midfielder got to start at the Santiago Bernabeu. And his performance showed that Rodriguez believes he should still be considered for a place in Zinedine Zidane's regular starting lineup. 'Obviously we all want to play,' Rodriguez said. 'We all go through bad moments, but this is like a new beginning for me. I'm staying, I'm staying in Madrid.' He opened the scoring with a low, left-foot shot from outside the area in the 11th minute, and netted his second by converting a penalty just before halftime after Luka Modric had been fouled inside the area. 'He played a good game,' Zidane said of Rodriguez, who was cheered loudly by the crowd when he was substituted near the end. 'He scored the goals and worked well. I'm happy for the match he had.' Defender Raphael Varane scored the other goal with a header from the middle of the area in the 29th, as Madrid extended its unbeaten streak to 38 games - one short of the Spanish record set by Luis Enrique's Barcelona last season. Zidane, celebrating one year at Madrid's helm, had downplayed Rodriguez's complaints following the Club World Cup in December, saying he counted on the talented midfielder going forward. He included Rodriguez in Wednesday's lineup after resting some of the regular starters, including Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema. Madrid, which beat Sevilla in the European Super Cup five months ago, will be the clear favorite for the second leg in Seville on Jan. 12. The teams are only four points apart atop the Spanish league, with Madrid first and Sevilla third. Sevilla lost last season's Copa final to Barcelona, which plays at Athletic Bilbao on Thursday. Also Wednesday, Real Sociedad earned a 3-1 home win against Villarreal in another matchup between teams near the top of the Spanish league table - Villarreal is fourth, one spot ahead of Real Sociedad. In a game between second-division clubs, Alcorcon and Cordoba played to a scoreless draw. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 4th, 2017

5 questions for a new year, starting with Tiger Woods

br /> DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer   KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) — The new year in golf is consumed by an old topic, this time with a twist. Instead of wondering when (or if) Tiger Woods will play, the question now is how will he play? And here's another question: Who ever imagined a time when the guys he beat for so many years would be rooting for him to play better? 'I think we've proved that golf does not need Tiger to be successful,' Brandt Snedeker said last month in the Bahamas. 'That being said, golf is better when Tiger is around. I don't think we need Tiger necessarily any more. We all want Tiger. I think golf is a better product, it's better TV and I want to see Tiger play again. It's fun. You see the crowds he brings and he still has an innate ability to do something only a couple of guys can do.' No one commands attention like Woods. The biggest problem for golf might be battling the perception that it matters only when Woods is playing. Compared with last year, that's a nice problem to have. There remains a battle for supremacy, minus any talk about a 'Big Three.' Europe has to face a Midwestern crowd, this time in the Solheim Cup. Two of the majors are going to courses that have never held one — Erin Hills for the U.S. Open, Quail Hollow for the PGA Championship. The first tee shot of the year is Thursday. Answers to a few topics will take months to sort out. TIGER WOODS By most accounts, Woods made a successful return in the Bahamas, except for the one that matters. He finished in 15th place out of 17 players and 14 shots out of the lead. But it was a start, and a healthy one. The best bet is that Woods will return at Torrey Pines at the end of the month, and with each event, the measure will shift form his health to his score. Jack Nicklaus is mostly curious about his motivation, and he speaks from experience. Nicklaus won his 16th and 17th majors at age 40, and he refers to his final major in the 1986 Masters as 'an accident in many ways.' 'It's really difficult when you've had as much success as I had over a long period of time to charge your batteries, day after day, and go back out and say, 'Man, I want to do this again.' That's what he's going to have to do,' Nicklaus said. 'Whether he can do that or not, I don't know. That's going to be the question.' THE BATTLE FOR NO. 1 Jordan Spieth started last year at No. 1, won three times and fell to No. 5. Spieth, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy were separated by 0.76 points of their world ranking average going into last year, so some movement was inevitable. Day has been at No. 1 since the end of the March, and while there is slightly more separation at the top, there are a half-dozen players or more who could end 2017 at No. 1. McIlroy came on strong at the end of the year. Dustin Johnson won the U.S. Open and was the PGA Tour player of the year. Henrik Stenson won his first major and became a threat every time he teed it up. Hideki Matsuyama ended last year by winning four of his last five tournaments. A different player has finished No. 1 for the eighth consecutive year. Odds are this will be the ninth. MAJOR MYSTERIES No one knows what to expect at the U.S. Open for the second time in three years. The USGA took golf's second-oldest championship to Chambers Bay in the Pacific Northwest in 2015, and now heads to Erin Hills in the middle of Wisconsin. The last time the U.S. Open went to two courses in a three-year span that had never held a professional major was Hazeltine (1970) and Pebble Beach (1972). Then again, Pebble had been around since 1919 and hosted the U.S. Amateur four times. Erin Hills opened in 2006. The PGA Championship is going to Quail Hollow, the North Carolina club's first time holding a major, though it has held the Wells Fargo Championship since 2003. CUPS RUNNETH OVER The Americans will be going for a third straight victory in the Solheim Cup when it goes to Iowa this summer. Nothing brings out passion in team golf quite like the United States vs. Europe. The Presidents Cup also holds some intrigue. The International team has lost six straight times and has won only once since the Presidents Cup began in 1994. More pressure would seem to be on U.S. captain Steve Stricker, not only because the Americans haven't lost since 1998, but because he is the likely Ryder Cup captain for 2020 at Whistling Straits in his native Wisconsin. Speaking of Ryder Cup captains, expect the next American skipper to be named next week. But those matches are two years away. WHAT WILL PHIL DO NEXT? Phil Mickelson was runner-up at a major for the third straight year since his last victory, which was the 2013 British Open at Muirfield for his fifth major. The focus, as always, will be whether Lefty can complete the career Grand Slam at the U.S. Open. At age 46, and having gone through two hernia operations in the offseason, it would seem a victory anywhere would suffice. Mickelson, however, shouldn't be ruled out after last year. He made 10 birdies in a Ryder Cup singles match against Sergio Garcia. He shot 267 at the British Open, matching the fourth-lowest score in major championship history. Just his luck, he got only a half-point against Garcia, and he was runner-up at the Open. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 4th, 2017

World No. 1 Murray wins his opening match of 2017 in Doha

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Top-ranked Andy Murray extended his winning streak to a career-best 25 matches by defeating Jeremy Chardy of France 6-0, 7-6 (2) in his first match of the year at the Qatar Open on Tuesday. Murray attained the No. 1 ranking in his final match of the season last year, winning a career-best ninth title by upsetting then No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the ATP Finals championship match. Murray, who won back-to-back Doha titles in 2008 and 2009, was greeted enthusiastically by the crowd when he took to the court. One fan held up a handwritten sign, 'Welcome to Doha Sir Andy,' referencing his recently being knighted by Britain's Queen Elizabeth. Murray won the opening set by posting only one unforced error and seven winners. In all, Murray had nine unforced errors and 18 winners. The 69th-ranked Chardy settled into the second set, even managing to break Murray's serve in the first game. But from 2-2 in the second set tiebreaker, Murray reeled off five straight points to finish off the match. Murray, who has beaten Chardy in nine of the 10 matches they have played, will face Gerald Melzer of Austria in the next round. Fifth seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France, playing in Doha for the first time since he won the title in 2012, ousted Andrey Kuznetsov of Russia 6-1, 4-6, 6-2. The win booked Tsonga a second-round outing against Dustin Brown of Germany. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 3rd, 2017

Tabuena, Que finish last in World Cup

The Filipino pair of Miguel Tabuena and Angelo Que finished the final round where they started the day before, last place, as they ended a disappointing partnership in the World Cup at Kingston Heath on Sunday......»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsNov 27th, 2016

Czech retain Fed Cup

Czech Republic cemented its status of best team in the world by retaining its Fed Cup title on Sunday after Barbora Strycova and Karolina Pliskova won the decisive doubles match in the final against France......»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsNov 15th, 2016

Czech Republic retains Fed Cup title, its 5th in 6 years

STRASBOURG, France (AP) — Czech Republic cemented its status of best team in the world by retaining its Fed Cup title on Sunday after Barbora Strycova and Karolina Pliskova won the decisive doubles match in the final against France. The .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 13th, 2016

Giroud and Gameiro competing to start up front for France

PARIS — Despite helping France reach the European Championship final, striker Olivier Giroud finds himself once again fighting for his place in the national.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsNov 10th, 2016