Unlikely champs par for course at British Open

Unlikely champs par for course at British Open

SANDWICH, England — As workers pieced together plastic tables and hammered the last tents into place Sunday, Aaron Baddeley got an idea of just how punishing a British Open course can be when you don’t hit the ball straight.

Coming to the final hole of a friendly practice game with fellow Aussie Geoff Ogilvy, Baddeley sprayed his tee shot far to the right, toward the sponsor suites that were still being spruced up before the crowds descend on Royal St. George’s.

Baddeley ignored the vacuum cleaner humming in the background and hopped over two metal barricades, hoping to locate the ball in the tall, thick grass.

No chance.

“This course rewards someone who’s playing really well,” Ogilvy said. “The guy who’s playing the best is going to win.”

While that may sound like an obvious thesis, the third major of the year has a knack for producing champions that don’t fit the mold.

Eight years ago, the last time an Open was held on the seaside in southeastern England, a guy named Ben Curtis — barely known at the time beyond family and perhaps a few guys in the locker room — claimed the claret jug while hitting shots on the practice range, preparing for a playoff he didn’t even need.

PHL captures 2 gold, 2 silver, two bronze medals in Jakarta

PHL captures 2 gold, 2 silver, two bronze medals in Jakarta

MANILA, July 11 (PNA) — The PLDT-ABAP team came home during the weekend from an expedition in the 21st President’s Cup with a haul of two gold, two silver and two bronze medals.

The nine-member team of veterans and potentials waged battle in a tournament featuring 28 countries and nearly 200 boxers in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Josie Gabuco started the finals on a high note with a come-from-behind victory over Gui Jing Shan of China in the 48-kg division.

Gabuco trailed in the first three rounds even as she took the fight to her opponent. But the scores were consistently indicative of a different style and the Filipina had to raise her aggressive extra notches in the fourth to turn the tide, 14-11.

Nesthy Petecio, 19, left nothing to chance as she dominated Vietnam’s Le Thi Bang from the get-go and won convincingly, 19-12, in the 51-kg class to bag the Philippines’ second gold medal.

But Ian Clark Bautista, the 16-year-old who drew raves from the crowd here for his giant-slaying prowess, finally met his match in Naoya Inouye of Japan, who played excellently to the judges’ hands in earning an incredible 27-10 win in the 49-kg category.

Tour rest day welcome after crash carnage

Tour rest day welcome after crash carnage

ALEXANDE Vinokourov of Kazakhstan, second right, is helped by his teammates after crashing during the 9th stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 208 kilometers (129 miles) starting in Issoire and finishing in Saint Flour, central France, Sunday July 10, 2011. (AP)


SAINT-FLOUR, France — The bleeding and battered Tour de France had a welcome day off after its worst round yet of crashes, a strange and dangerous ordeal in which a car took out riders.

Riders and fans were shocked by images of Johnny Hoogerland soaring off his bike and scraping a barbed wire fence Sunday, after he and another rider were sideswiped by a media vehicle on the narrow course.

Riders were scathing in their criticism after the crash, which incredibly wasn’t the first time this tour that a rider has been driven into by a press vehicle.

“I feel so sorry for johny. This is a scandal what happen,” Swiss champion Fabian Cancellara said in a message to his Twitter followers after the race.

Spain‘s Luis Leon Sanchez won the ninth stage on a day full of wild crashes, while France’s Thomas Voeckler finished second to take the leader’s yellow jersey from Thor Hushovd.

Yao’s agent mum on All-Star center’s future

Yao‘s agent mum on All-Star center’s future

HOUSTON — Yao Ming’s American agent would not confirm reports that the Houston Rockets’ All-Star center is retiring, saying Yao has scheduled a July 20 news conference in Shanghai to reveal his plans.

John Huizinga said Saturday night that he was “not in a position” to say whether Yao had informed the NBA that he planned to retire.

“I’m not in a position to do that,” Yao’s agent said in a phone interview. “He’s going to have a press conference on July 20. What that says is that’s the time Yao is going to make a statement, and I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to say anything before he does.”

Yahoo! Sports first reported Yao’s intention to retire. Neither the Rockets nor the NBA could comment on the reports because of the lockout.

The 7-foot-6 Yao has been plagued by leg and foot injuries late in his career, and missed 250 regular-season games over the past six seasons. He played in only five games last season, before sustaining a stress fracture in his left ankle.

Yao was hoping to return to Houston, even though his contract expired after last season. He also acknowledged earlier this year that injuries may force him into retirement.

PHL Davis Cuppers drop playoff match vs Kiwis

PHL Davis Cuppers drop playoff match vs Kiwis

THE Philippines dropped its third straight match against host New Zealand in the Davis Cup Group I Asia/Oceania 1st Round Relegation Play-off in Hawera.

The Filipino-American tandem of Cecil Mamiit and Ruben Gonzales proved to be no match against New Zealand’s Marcus Daniell and Artem Sitak, 7-6 (0) 6-3 6-2, in the doubles event.

The Philippines are now 0-3 against the Kiwis in their Group I playoffs match. The loss dropped the Filipinos to the second round playoff where they will try to keep their Group I spot.

The Philippines will still have to wait for its opponent in the second round playoffs. The losing team will be relegated to Group II in 2012.

Despite of the loss, the Filipinos (ranked 36th) still enjoy a 3-2 edge in their all-time head-to-head match-up with the Kiwis (40). The Philippines’ latest win was a 4-1 result in 2009.

Djokovic defeat leaves Serbia tie in balance

Djokovic defeat leaves Serbia tie in balance

LONDON – Novak Djokovic’s first outing since he won the Wimbledon crown ended in disappointment when he and Nenad Zimonjic failed to earn Davis Cup champions Serbia the winning point in their quarter-final tie against Sweden on Saturday.

Six days after conquering the All England Club, world number one Djokovic would have fancied his chances of wrapping up the tie for Serbia as his team mates had won both of the opening singles.

However, Djokovic, who sat out Friday’s action with a knee complaint, and Zimonjic stumbled to a 6-4 7-6 7-5 defeat by Simon Aspelin and Robert Lindstedt in Halmstad.

“It is incredible, the kind of match you dream of winning. We met one of the world’s best doubles players and the world’s best singles player, and I would suggest it is our best match,” Lindstedt told Swedish media.

Serbia will now hope Djokovic will be back in action on Sunday as they need to win one of the two reverse singles if they are to keep alive their chances of defending their title.

Jeter reaches 3,000 hits, goes 5-for-5

Jeter reaches 3,000 hits, goes 5-for-5

NEW YORK – New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter rose to the occasion in spectacular fashion Saturday, going 5-for-5, including the game-winning hit against the Tampa Bay Rays, as he passed 3,000 hits in his career.

Jeter became the 28th Major League Baseball player and first Yankee to reach the milestone with a home run in the third inning off Tampa Bay left-hander David Price.

Not content with that, he added three more hits and singled home the winning run in the eighth to give the Yankees a 5-4 victory.

“If I’d tried to write that script and given it to someone, even I wouldn’t have bought it,” Jeter told reporters after the game. “It was a special day.”

Jeter, 37, who has struggled this season and just returned from injury, became the first major league player to reach the mark since Craig Biggio did it with the Houston Astros in June 2007.

He became the fourth youngest player to reach the milestone, behind only Ty Cobb (34), Hank Aaron (36) and Robin Yount (36), and is the 11th member of the esteemed group to have collected all his hits for one team.

Djokovic to lead Serbia vs Sweden in Davis Cup

Djokovic to lead Serbia vs Sweden in Davis Cup


LONDON – Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic will get straight back into action on Friday when he leads defending champions Serbia in their Davis Cup quarter-final in Sweden.

The 24-year-old new world number one will take on 355th-ranked Ervin Eleskovic in the second singles rubber in Halmstad after Viktor Troicki plays Michael Ryderstedt.

With Sweden missing their top player Robin Soderling, Serbia are clear favourites to reach the semi-finals but Djokovic resisted the temptation to rest.

“Davis Cup is always important,” Djokovic told the official Davis Cup website on Thursday. “Me being here proves enough how I value this competition and how much I like playing for my country.”

Djokovic, who beat Rafa Nadal on Sunday to win his first Wimbledon title, has suffered just one loss in 49 matches in 2011, an astonishing run that began after he helped Serbia win the Davis Cup final for the first time at the end of 2010.

Hinrichsen, de Jong to join Azkals in Bahrain

Hinrichsen, de Jong to join Azkals in Bahrain


THE men’s national football team has confirmed that two of its foreign-based midfielders, John Patrick Hinrichsen and Jason de Jong, will join the training camp in Bahrain.

Via Twitter, team coordinator and media liaison Ace Bright said Hinrichsen and de Jong will arrive in Manila Saturday. They were on the national team for the ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup in 2010.

Hinrichsen was with the team at the training camp in Germany while de Jong was considered for the national Under-23 team for the coming Southeast Asian Games.

Bright also said the team will resume its training sessions at the Alabang Country Club Saturday morning.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) has appealed the one-game suspension of team captain Aly Borromeo and attacking midfielder Stephan Schrock.

PHL team bags 49 medals in Special Olympics in Greece

PHL team bags 49 medals in Special Olympics in Greece


Philippine athletes won 49 medals in the 2011 Special Olympics World Games held in Athens, Greece June 25 to July 4, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Friday.

The medals include 21 gold, 13 silver and 15 bronze.

“Team Philippines won gold medals in athletics, powerlifting, swimming, bocce, and rhythmic gymnastics, while the silver and bronze medals were also won in these five sports events, in addition to bowling and badminton,” the DFA said.

The 47-member Philippine delegation had participated in seven of 22 sports events at the Special Olympics. More than 7,000 athletes from nearly 180 countries competed in the games.

The DFA said the Philippine delegation included 38 special athletes and their coaches and trainers. Leading the Philippine team was Ma. Theresa Macapagal, president of Special Olympics Philippines.

Jeter’s journey to 3,000

Jeter’s journey to 3,000

NEW York Yankees’ Derek Jeter leads teammates onto the field for a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday, July 7, 2011, at Yankee Stadium in New York. (AP)

NEW YORK — Hard to imagine now, but there was a time when Derek Jeter didn’t think he would get a single hit in the big leagues.

A skinny teenager in the low minors, he would spend lonesome nights calling his parents back in Michigan, crying that he was totally overmatched at the plate. His fielding was worse — fans behind first base would start ducking when balls bounced to him, afraid the scatter-armed shortstop would zing another throw into the seats.