SOLAIRE PHL OPEN: Mamat, Meesawat wrest control as Lewton fumbles

STA. ROSA, Laguna – Former champion Mardan Mamat of Singapore birdied the difficult backside par-3s of The Country Club in impressive fashion but fumbled on the daunting closing hole and dropped to joint lead with Thai Prom Meesawat at 70 at the start of the 100th Solaire Philippine Open at The Country Club here yesterday.
Englishman Steve Lewton actually kept it a three-way logjam in one stretch at the back in a separate flight but the defending champion wavered at the finish, bogeying two of the last six, including the 18th, to fall to joint third with Korean Taehoon Kim at 71.
The elite field struggled on the long layout that measures up to 7,735 yards despite the absence of the wind early on and majority floundered when the gusts started to whip up in afternoon play, sending the scores soaring and the players tumbling off the crowded leaderboard in the record $600,000 event presented by Solaire Resort and Casino.
But Mamat, 50, and Meesawat stood up to buck the challenge and seize control in a kind of start that could lead to a shootout in the next three days over a course where small mistakes could lead to big numbers.
“It’s very fortunate to play under-par in this course. It’s not easy out there but got a lucky break in some of the holes and made a couple of putts,’” said Mamat, a five-time winner in Asia, including the Phl Open at Wack Wack in 2012, and the Singapore Masters in 2006 that also served as a European Tour event.
He used a 3-wood on the 276-yard No. 11 and banged in an 11-foot putt then hacked a 9-iron to within two feet and drilled it. But he missed grabbing the solo lead with a closing bogey after missing the green and a bad chip, enabling Meesawat, who had two victories in Asia, including a playoff win over Miguel Tabuena in 2016 in Taiwan, to get a shared view of the top.
The Thai veteran banked on a three-birdie string from No. 8 to put himself in early contention for the top $108,000 purse in the 72-hole championship organized by the Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Lewton, who nipped absentee American Johannes Veerman in a playoff here last year, looked headed to taking up from where he left off – putting up a three-under card after 12 holes. But he bogeyed No. 13 then dropped another stroke on the tough par-4 closing hole.
Jay Bayron thought he had all figured out the Tom Weiskoph-designed course with a three-under card after eight holes, sparking hopes for a big start for a local player who missed the Open title by one in 2011 at Wack Wack. But he bogeyed the long par-4 No. 9 and though he recovered the stroke with a birdie on the par-5 10th, the veteran Davaoeño campaigner reeled back with three straight bogeys from No. 11 then traded two birdies with the same number of bogeys in the last five holes to finish with a 72.
Other even par scorers were Malaysians Bin Jailani Amir Nazrin, Leun Kwang Kim and Nicholas Fung, Aussie David Gleeson and Alvaro Arizabaleta of Colombia,
Miguel Tabuena, winner in the rain-shortened Open at Luisita in 2015, eagled the 10th but bogeyed two of the next five and slipped to joint 11th at 73, including American Nicolas Paez, Dutch Guido Van der Valk and multi-titled Tony Lascuña, Gerald Rosales, champion of the all-peso Open in 2000, and Lloyd Go, who topped the PGT Q-School recent at Splendido.
A slew of others also turned in impressive starts, only to stumble on the terrors that lurked on the bunkers, roughs and greens of the dreaded layout with the winds coming into play late in the day.  Lascuña had a one-under card with six holes to play but dropped three strokes on the tight par-4 No. 4 and dropped to 73 after a birdie on No. 8 while Go blew a two-under card after seven holes at the back as he bogeyed four of the next seven, needing to birdie the par-5 eighth to save a 73.
Two weeks after edging Tabuena with a five-under overcall card to claim the TCC Invitational crown, Micah Shin found the layout not to his liking this time, tripping with a two double-bogey-marred 40 start at the back. He birdied No. 3 but bogeyed the next three and ended up with a 78.
At joint 63rd, the 21-year-old Korean-American is barely in the 65-player plus tie cut line unlike a host of other pre-tournament favorites in the event sponsored by ICTSI, Meralco, PLDT, Smart, Bulgari, Diamond Motor Corp., BDO, Central Azucarera de Tarlac, Amon Trading, Dynamic Sports and Custom Clubmakers.
Jhonnel Ababa, one of the hottest local players with back-to-back victories on the PGT Asia last January, gunned down three birdies but fumbled with five bogeys, including three in a five-hole stretch from No. 11. He wound up with a 74 and tumbled to joint 16th with Jerson Balasabas, Rico Depilo, American John Kelly, England’s Matt Killen and Kwang Leun Kim of Malaysia.
Angelo Que, a former Open winner who won three titles here at TCC Invitational, failed to recover from an OB mishap on No. 4 as he limped with three more bogeys against two bogeys for a 75, six shots behind the leader in a tie with 12 others.
Clyde Mondilla, the reigning PGT Order of Merit winner, shot himself in the foot with a fat 80 marred by seven bogeys and a double bogey against a lone birdie while two-time champion Frankie Miñoza virtually bowed out with an unlikely 87 marred by two double bogeys, one quadruple bogey and seven bogeys in a birdie-less round.(pr)

IOC confirms negative results

IOC Statement

The final notification of all remaining test results from the Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR) delegation has been received from the Doping-Free Sport Unit (DFSU).

The IOC can confirm that all the remaining results are negative.

Therefore, as stated in the Executive Board decision of 25th February the suspension of the Russian Olympic Committee is automatically lifted with immediate effect.(pr)

Request to invite 15 athletes and coaches to PyeongChang 2018 for the Olympic Athlete from Russia group declined

News Release

Request to invite 15 athletes and coaches to PyeongChang 2018 for the Olympic Athlete from Russia group declined

Based on the recommendation of the Invitation Review Panel, the Olympic Athlete from Russia Implementation Group (OAR IG) has met to discuss the request by the suspended Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) to invite 13 more athletes and two more coaches to the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.

On 2 February 2018, the suspended ROC provided a list of 15 people whose suspension had been lifted by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Thirteen are still active athletes and two are retired athletes who competed at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014 and are now acting as support personnel.

While the Invitation Review Panel noted the CAS’s decision of 1 February 2018, it also noted that the full reasoning for these decisions had not been made public. The Panel highlighted that its role, according to the IOC Executive Board decision of 5 December 2017, was not to establish ADRVs, but to confirm that athletes can be considered clean for a potential OAR invitation to the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. Therefore, the Panel unanimously recommended that the IOC not extend an invitation to the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 to the 15 individuals requested by the suspended ROC.

To give further assurance that all information available to the Panel had been analysed and assessed, the Panel reviewed all 13 athletes submitted by the suspended ROC for OAR invitation places using the same methodology as its initial review of 16 and 17 January 2018 − on a case-by-case basis, individually and anonymously.

Following the detailed analysis conducted by the Panel, its members observed that there were additional elements and/or evidence, which could not be considered by the IOC Oswald Commission because it was not available to it, that raised suspicion about the integrity of these athletes. The additional information included data from the LIMS database, traces of prohibited substances, evidence of steroid profile manipulation and further confidential information provided to the Panel by WADA. In addition, the Panel agreed that the decision of the CAS had not lifted the suspicion of doping or given the Panel sufficient confidence to recommend to the OAR IG that those 13 athletes could be considered as clean.

With respect to the two officials (coaches), the Panel took the view that, due to the evidence available from the Oswald Commission reports and additional information at the disposal of the Panel, these two individuals should not be considered for an invitation to attend the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.

The Invitation Review Panel is chaired by Dr Valérie Fourneyron, the Chair of the International Testing Agency (ITA) and former French Sports Minister. It includes Mr Günter Younger, Head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Intelligence and Investigations Department; Mr Pedro Goncalves, GAISF DFSU Project Manager in charge of the Pre-Games Testing Task Force secretariat; and Dr Richard Budgett, Olympic rowing champion and IOC Medical and Scientific Director.

In a second step, the recommendation of the Invitation Review Panel was assessed and accepted by the OAR IG, which is chaired by IOC EB Member Nicole Hoevertsz and includes IOC Athletes’ Commission Member Danka Bartekova and IOC Director General Christophe De Kepper. The OAR IG confirmed that no additional invitations will be extended to these 15 individuals. The decision has been communicated to the IOC Athletes’ Commission which supports this position.

Vic Manuel PBAPC Player of the Week

With his knee issues now a thing of the past, Vic Manuel is back to his explosive self, helping Alaska stretch its winning run to six this past week in the PBA Philippine Cup.

Nicknamed the “Muscleman”, Manuel averaged solid numbers of 15.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.5 steals off the bench to power Alaska past Phoenix and GlobalPort, respectively and in the process, earning the PBA Press Corps Player of the Week for the period of January 29 to February 4.

Moving without pain anymore on his knee, the stocky Manuel showed mobility and strength as evident in his 21-point-five-rebound effort in Alaska’s thrilling 105-98 overtime win over GlobalPort Sunday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

The 6-4 Manuel followed up his pair of free throws with an inside stab in extension period to frustrate the Batang Pier, who blew a 13-point lead in the third period, leading to their fourth loss in seven matches.

Prior to their match against GlobalPort, Manuel logged in 10 points and grabbed three rebounds in another off-the-bench role as Alaska routed Phoenix, 93-75 in a lopsided contest.

Alaska, which started the season with back-to-back losses, has won its last six matches

to occupy joint second place with Magnolia, just half a game behind pacesetter San Miguel (6-1) in the race for the two twice-to-beat incentives.

The 30-year-old Manuel bested teammates Calvin Abueva and Chris Banchero, Kelly Williams and Jayson Castro of TNT, Rain or Shine’s Beau Belga, Chris Tiu and Ed Daquioag, SMB’s Chris Ross, Chico Lanete and Fajardo, NLEX’s Cyrus Baguio and Larry Fonacier as well as Magnolia guard Mark Barroca for the weekly citation.

Alaska takes a weeklong respite before swinging back to action on Sunday against NLEX at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. (pr)

IOC Statement on CAS decision

News Release

IOC Statement on CAS decision

The IOC has taken note of the CAS decision, with satisfaction on the one hand and disappointment on the other.

On the one hand, the confirmation of the Anti-Doping Rule Violations for 11 athletes because of the manipulation of their samples clearly demonstrates once more the existence of the systemic manipulation of the anti-doping system at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014.

On the other hand, the IOC regrets very much that – according to the CAS press release – the panels did not take this proven existence of the systemic manipulation of the anti-doping system into consideration for the other 28 cases. The CAS required an even higher threshold on the necessary level of evidence than the Oswald Commission and former CAS decisions.

This may have a serious impact on the future fight against doping. Therefore, the IOC will analyse the reasoned decisions very carefully once they are available and consider consequences, including an appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal.

With regard to the participation of athletes from Russia at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, the decision of the IOC Executive Board (EB) of 5 December 2017 remains in place. It makes it clear that, since the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) is suspended, Russian athletes can participate in PyeongChang only on invitation by the IOC.

The result of the CAS decision does not mean that athletes from the group of 28 will be invited to the Games. Not being sanctioned does not automatically confer the privilege of an invitation. In this context, it is also important to note that, in his press conference, the CAS Secretary General insisted that the CAS decision “…does not mean that these 28 athletes are declared innocent”.


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71st PAL Interclub fires off in Bacolod on March 1

71st PAL Interclub fires off in Bacolod on March 1

BACOLOD – Marapara and Binitin, old layouts here that vary very much in character but offer the same stern tests of golf, will host the 71st edition of the PAL Senior’s and Men’s Regular Interclub championships starting March 1.

Now known as the Negros Occidental Golf and Country Club and the Bacolod Golf and Country Club, respectively, these two courses will take centerstage as Luisita and Manila Southwoods shoot to extend their respective reigns in the Senior’s and Men’s divisions of the country’s unofficial team golf championship.

And unlike in the past, the Men’s championship will see a Sunday ending this year as tournament organizers have decided to give the field three official practice rounds leading to the opening skirmishes on March 8.

Jaime J. Bautista, the indefatigable president of the country’s flag carrier, is expected to hit the ceremonial drive and signal the start of Senior play on Feb. 26, Monday, at Marapara.

Canlubang is again listed as the chief threat to Luisita even if the multi-titled Tommy Manotoc is again expected to miss play owing to some family commitments in the United States.

The Senior field will also have three days to sample both courses, though early reports have it that the Luisitans have already come over to test both layouts and not leave anything to chance.

Southwoods will come into the event as the heavy favorite, more so because Japanese teenager Yuto Katsuragawa has confirmed that he will return to play for the Carmona-based squad.(pr)