Puerto Rico, February 24 (ANI): India’s veteran star Arjun Atwal, who has been preoccupied with his father’s health issues, will see action for the first time in nearly four months when he tees up at the Puerto Rico Open starting on Thursday.
He will be joined by Anirban Lahiri, who last featured on the PGA Tour three weeks ago at the Farmers Insurance Open. The two last played at the same event in Bermuda, a holiday isle like Puerto Rico.
Atwal’s father, popularly called ‘Bindi’, has been a major influence in his golf career. The senior Atwal has rarely missed a big appearance by his son, including at the majors.
Now Atwal will be playing for him, as also his friend, Tiger Woods, who suffered a serious car crash on Tuesday and underwent surgery after suffering comminuted open fractures to the upper and lower sections of his right leg, along with significant trauma to his ankle.
Ahead of his first tournament of 2021, Atwal, who is India’s lone winner on the PGA Tour, said, “It’s obviously a lot of rest, but personally we’re going through some (difficult) stuff with my family. My dad’s been fighting two types of cancer.
“He’s getting his treatment back in India now. He was with us for the last five months in Orlando. He’s doing better. So I didn’t really touch my clubs for a couple of months, maybe three months after Bermuda, and just started practicing,” he added.
He is looking physically fit after changing his lifestyle and undertaking a new fitness regime last year. “I quit alcohol completely. It’s so good. I realized I’m going to be 48 next month and I was getting to the point where my nerves weren’t quite as good around the greens. And I had seen some of my friends maybe my age or slightly older struggle with the same thing, so I figured I would just try it. As a result, I lost weight and I started working out and just started to feel better.
“I’ve got this trainer, he’s like a physical therapist and a trainer. With all my aches and pains he gets me sorted, gets me going for the day. It’s not a lot of lifts, a lot of weight training, it’s a lot more with flexibility and strength with bands,” added Atwal, whose career has been blighted by back injuries.
Lahiri, who like Atwal is a former Asian No. 1, was unable to get a start in the Waste Management Phoenix Open after losing in a play-off in the Monday qualifiers and did not gain entry into last week’s The Genesis Invitational.
Soon after his last appearance at Torrey Pines, he said, “My game seems to be fine; I just need to get four good rounds and not drop those bogeys and doubles. Hopefully, it is ironed out.”
While Atwal last saw PGA TOUR action in October, Indo-Swede Daniel Chopra, a two-time winner on the TOUR and a popular figure in Indian golf, last teed up at the Corales Puntacana Championship in September 2020.
Lahiri is paired with Chopra and Branden Grace of South Africa in the morning, while Atwal plays with Scott Brown and Shawn Stefani in the afternoon wave.
This week’s Puerto Rico field includes a few established golfers including Englishmen Matt Wallace and Ian Poulter, who are ranked No. 55 and 59 respectively on the Official World Golf Ranking.
There are other young players on the rise including Will Gordon, Joohyung Kim, Davis Riley, Justin Suh, Kristoffer Ventura and Brandon Wu who join experienced stars including major champions Padraig Harrington and Lucas Glover.
Viktor Hovland won the tournament a year ago and broke the “curse” of Puerto Rico by winning a second TOUR tournament outside of Puerto Rico. This week, Hovland is playing the World Golf Championships-Workday Champions at The Concession.
Atwal, who won the 2010 Wyndham Championship, is treating the Puerto Rico Open with his full attention despite being the opposite of a World Golf Championships this week.
“I look at it as just as important as any other tournament on the PGA TOUR. The prize money might not be the same, but you still get a two-year exemption and I believe now you get in the Masters as well. So all the perks are the same. Even when I was playing in World Golf Championships back in the day, I considered all these tournaments the same, and I still do. I don’t think you could ask anybody here or anybody at the World Golf Championships, they all consider every tournament they play in just as important,” he said.
As he prepares to turn 48 next month, he is encouraged to see fellow veterans Stewart Cink and Brian Gay winning on TOUR this season.
“B.G. (Gay) is a member at my course, at Isleworth in Orlando, and I see him practically every day, and he’s older and he’s my inspiration right now because just for him to win Bermuda was so cool to watch. He’s such a good guy. And same for Stewart, he’s such a nice guy. And they’re all my age so it gives me kind of some encouragement. Hopefully, I can get my butt in gear and get going.” (ANI)
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Happy to inform that I have tested Covid-19 negative: Harmanpreet
India women’s T20I skipper Harmanpreet Kaur on Friday announced that she has recovered from coronavirus and urged everyone to take all precautions amid the pandemic.
Harmanpreet had tested positive for Covid-19 last month and was under home quarantine. Having tested negative, the cricketer has made an appeal to everyone to follow all necessary protocols to fight the pandemic. “Happy to inform you all that I have tested -ve & I’m feeling better. My only message to y’all is to take care & be extra careful. The virus is real & it’s dangerous. Follow all the protocols set up by the authorities. Wishing strength to the ones who are in the middle of the fight,” she tweeted.
Harmanpreet was last seen on the cricket pitch in the five-match ODI series against South Africa, in which India lost 4-1. In the five-match series, the right-handed batter went on to score 160 runs with her best score of 54 coming in the fourth ODI of the five-match series in Lucknow.
In the fifth and final ODI, Harmanpreet had suffered a hip-flexor injury and as a result, she did not play the three-match T20Is against South Africa. India lost the three-match T20I series against South Africa 2-1 and the hosts were able to win just the final game of the three-match T20I series. In the absence of Harmanpreet, Smriti Mandhana had led the Indian women’s team in the T20I series.
ANSHU MALIK, SONAM MALIK AND SAILORS QUALIFIED FOR OLYMPICS INCLUDED IN TOPS
Six athletes which include two wrestlers and four sailors have been included in the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) core group.
This is as per the policy decision taken at the 56th meeting of the Mission Olympic Cell held on April 7, where it was decided that all Olympic-qualified athletes will be supported through TOPS. “Women’s 57 kg wrestler Anshu Malik and women’s 62 kg wrestler Sonam Malik have been included in the TOPS core group after attaining their Tokyo Olympic quotas at the Asian Wrestling Olympic qualifier,” an official statement read.
Both the athletes were previously a part of the TOPS development group. They are among six wrestlers to win quotas for the Tokyo Olympics.
Joining them in TOPS would be the four sailors who attained qualification at the Mussanah Open Championships. Nethra Kumanan became the first ever Indian female sailor to qualify for the Olympics. Vishnu Saravanan qualified in the laser standard class event and the team of K.C. Ganapathy and Varun Thakkar qualified in the men’s 49er class event.
There are 113 individual athletes who are supported through the TOPS scheme in the core group, where support is also given to the men’s and women’s hockey teams.
Ben Stokes to undergo finger surgery, sidelined for 12 weeks
England and Rajasthan Royals all-rounder Ben Stokes, who was ruled out of the remainder of the Indian Premier League (IPL) due to a finger injury, has been sidelined for up to three months, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) confirmed on Friday.
ECB also informed that a repeat X-ray and CT scan on Thursday revealed that Stokes has a fracture of his left index finger and the all-rounder will fly home on Saturday for the surgery.
“England all-rounder Ben Stokes will be out for up to 12 weeks after a repeat X-ray and CT scan on Thursday revealed that he has a fracture of his left index finger,” the ECB said in an official statement.
“Stokes, who is currently in India with Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League, will fly home tomorrow. He will have surgery in Leeds on Monday,” the statement further
The England all-rounder had sustained the injury during the game against Punjab Kings on Monday. The incident occurred during the Punjab innings as Stokes went forward to complete the catch off Punjab batsman Chris Gayle.
Stokes was visibly in pain even though he did come out to bat in the Rajasthan innings—a match which the Sanju Samson-led side lost by four runs.
Meanwhile, Rajasthan Royals clinched a thrilling win over Delhi Capitals, thanks to David Miller’s 62-run knock followed by Chris Morris’ cameo at the Wankhede Stadium on Thursday. With 27 needed off the final two overs, Morris stepped up to the occasion to take his side over the line with two balls to spare. He hit two sixes off Kagiso Rabada’s penultimate over and accumulated 15 runs from it.
ASIAN WRESTLING: MAIDEN GOLD MEDALS FOR VINESH AND ANSHU
ALMATY: Olympic-bound wrestlers Vinesh Phogat and Anshu Malik won their maiden Asian Championship titles after comfortable triumphs in their respective summit clashes here on Friday.
There was no stopping Vinesh in the absence of the Chinese and Japanese rivals as she cruised to the title without losing a point in the 53kg category. She has notched up seven podium finishes at the Asian meet over the years, including three silver medals before this edition.
The 19-year-old Anshu, who bagged the Tokyo Games quota here a few days ago, was yet again impressive as she underlined her progress in the senior circuit with yet another confident performance in 57kg. She won her final 3-0 and was never really troubled by Mongolia’s Battsetseg Altantsetseg, except for a double-leg attack initially in the bout. The Mongolian was mostly busy defending and Anshu kept her lead intact for gold.
Earlier in the day, Vinesh won by technical superiority against Mongolia’s Otgonjargal Ganbaatar and Taipei’s Meng Hsuan Hsieh while an injured Hyunyoung Oh from Korea did not turn up for the semi-final. Vinesh, who had won a bronze in the Delhi edition of the Continental championship last year, moved 6-0 up in the final and finished the bout in style by pinning her rival in the first period itself.
Anshu won her first two bouts by technical superiority against Uzbekistan’s Sevara Eshmuratova and Kyrgyzstan’s Nazira Marsbek Kyzy to reach the semi-final. Her quick moves and tremendous energy had her rivals gasping for breath.
Also reaching the final was Sakshi Malik, who is competing in 65kg, having missed her claim in her pet 62kg category. Competing much better than she was in the trials, the Rio Games bronze medallist won her first two bouts by technical superiority and was leading 3-0 against Hanbit Lee when the Korean suffered a knee injury and opted out of the contest. She will fight for gold against Mongolia’s Bolortungalag Zorigt.
Also doing well was Divya Kakran, who is competing in the 72kg category. She stunned reigning Asian Champion Zhamila Bakbergenova from Kazakhstan 8-5 on her way to the third round.
SUNRISERS WANT TO TURN THE TABLES ON IN-FORM MUMBAI INDIANS
SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH) has had a disastrous start in the IPL 2021 so far, losing both their games. On Saturday, however, they would fancy their chances against defending champions Mumbai Indians (MI) in Chennai, hoping to turn things around for themselves.
David Warner-led SRH have lost against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), whereas Mumbai Indians, after losing to RCB in their season opener, came back strongly to defeat KKR in their next match.
Warner, Manish Pandey and Jonny Bairstow have all hit fifties in the season thus far but their contributions haven’t translated into wins as SRH have faltered towards the end of the match in both their games. MI, on the other hand, after losing a close game against RCB, choked KKR in the death overs to register their first win.
For several years now, leg-spinner Rashid Khan has been SRH’s go-to man with the ball, having returned 2 for 24 and 2 for 18 from his quota of four over in the two games this far. West Indies all-rounder Jason Holder, drafted into the SRH XI for the match against RCB, returned three wickets but couldn’t contribute with the bat as the team failed to chase 150 after being 116 for 2 at one stage. As for Bhuvneshwar Kumar, SRH’s strike bowler, he has had a mixed result so far, with returns of 1 for 30 and 1 for 45 from his four overs in the two outings.
The 2016 champions will expect more consistency from their players when they take on the defending champions at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.
In the previous match, Rohit Sharma and his boys snatched a victory from the jaws of defeat when they outdid KKR in the death overs. After they were restricted to 152, Mumbai looked all but out of the contest when KKR’s Nitish Rana and Shubman Gill added 72 runs in just under 9 overs for the first wicket. But a flurry of wickets in the last five overs saw KKR slip from 122 for 3 to 140 for 7, and they eventually lost the match by 10 runs.
Rohit Sharma (43) and Suryakumar Yadav (56) scored for the defending champions but MI will expect more out of their middle order.
Rahul Chahar got 4 for 27 and Trent Boult returned 2 for 27 against KKR and Jasprit Bumrah was reliable as ever at the death as MI bowled exceedingly well to derail KKR’s chase.MUMBAI INDIANS
• Rahul Chahar took 4 wickets against KKR
• Krunal Pandya is economical in both matches
• Rohit & Surya Kumar Yadav are in good touch
• Trent Boult and Jasprit Bumrah have done well
• Batting does not click despite the top-class battingSUNRISERS HYDERABAD
• Warner & Jonny Bairstow are top-class batsmen
• A good pace attack of Bhuvi and Natrajan
• Rashid Khan shows good economy & wicket-taking ability
• The lower middle-order is a weak link
• Manish Pande is yet to find his sublime touch
CHAHAR, MOEEN, DU PLESSIS HELP CHENNAI BECOME ‘SUPER KING’
Chahar’s four wickets helped CSK restrict Punjab Kings to a paltry 106/8. In response, Chennai easily chased down the target with 26 balls to spare.
Right-arm pacer Deepak Chahar picked four wickets before Faf du Plessis and Moeen Ali helped Chennai Super Kings (CSK) register an easy win over Punjab Kings in the Indian Premier League (IPL) match here at the Wankhede Stadium on Friday evening.
Chahar’s four wickets had helped CSK restrict Punjab Kings to a paltry 106/8. In response, CSK easily chased down the target with 26 balls to spare thanks to a quickfire 46 off 31 from Moeen. CSK defeated Punjab Kings by six wickets to open their account in the ongoing IPL. Chasing 107, CSK had a slow start as the side scored just eight runs in the first 18 balls with both openers trying to get into the groove in the initial overs.
Ruturaj Gaikwad was seen struggling a bit, but Faf du Plessis eased the pressure with two fours and a six in the fourth over. Ruturaj’s stint came to end in the fifth over as he tried to pull Arshdeep Singh but top-edged the ball with Deepak Hooda making no mistake.
Moeen Ali, who then came into bat, started smashing right from the word go as CSK got a move on. In no time, CSK raced to 64/1 in 10 overs having scored just eight in the first 18 balls.
Du Plessis kept scoring at run a ball but Moeen continued his onslaught as CSK got almost home before he departed in the 13th over with just 17 runs more to win.
However, CSK did suffer further hiccups as they lost Suresh Raina and Ambati Rayudu in consecutive balls but Du Plessis and Sam Curran ensured the MS Dhoni-led side got over the line in the 16th over.
Earlier put in to bat first, Punjab Kings had a horrific start as the side lost four wickets within the powerplay. Chahar wreaked havoc as he sent back Punjab Kings’ top order except for skipper Rahul, who became the victim of Jadeja’s brilliant throw.
Chahar first cleaned up Mayank for a duck in the first over and then dismissed Gayle and Pooran within a span of six balls to reduce Punjab to 19/4 after Rahul’s run out.
Deepak Hooda and Shahrukh were in the middle for Punjab Kings at the end of the powerplay but the former chipped it straight to mid-off in the seventh over as Chahar bagged his fourth wicket for the day.
Shahrukh and Jhye Richardson then tried to revive the Punjab innings with a brief 31-run stand before Moeen Ali cleaned the Australian all-rounder in the 13th over.
But Shahrukh kept the scoreboard ticking and hit timely boundaries to release some pressure. Dwayne Bravo dismissed Murugan Ashwin in the 17th over but Shahrukh took Punjab Kings over the 100-run mark. Sam sent Shahrukh back in the hut in the final over as Punjab Kings were restricted to 106/8 in their allotted 20 overs.
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