Monthly archives: May, 2019

PGA Championship contender Dufner stays in his own zone

Renowned for unflappable persona, American Dufner shrugged off a potentially damaging double-bogey at the par-four fifth and, with barely a change in his facial expression or body language, eked out a one-over-par 71 in Saturday’s third round.

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He covered the back nine in a flawless one-under-par 34 on a tricky day for scoring at blustery Oak Hill Country Club, ending the round by sinking a 10-foot par putt at the last to secure second place, one shot behind leader Jim Furyk.

“The golf course played a little bit tougher today than yesterday,” said Dufner, who had fired a sizzling seven-under-par 63 on Friday to seize a one-stroke lead in the season’s final major.

“The wind picked up a little bit, which made club selection difficult. But I hung in there. It could have gone sideways quick there after the fifth hole.

“You have got some difficult holes right there, six and seven are pretty tough. I put it together. I played pretty good on the back nine, had a couple of looks I wish I would have made a better run at.”

Dufner conceded he had been fortunate to par the last, watching nervously as his 10-footer curled around the right edge of the hole before dropping into the cup from the back.

“I was just trying to have dead speed where it would go over the lip, maybe just fall in,” he said. “I definitely thought I missed it as it went by the hole. But gravity kind of took over and it was perfect speed to fall in that back lip.”

Dufner, a double winner on the PGA Tour, will play in the final group at the PGA Championship for a second time in three years.

LOSING STEAM

He lost out in a playoff to fellow American Keegan Bradley in the 2011 edition at Atlanta Athletic Club where he led by five strokes in regulation while playing the fourth-last hole before losing steam.

Asked what he would take from that experience going into Sunday’s final round at Oak Hill, Dufner replied: “Patience. There are a lot of guys that have a chance to win this tomorrow.

“It’s a tough golf course. Guys are going to make bogeys. Guys are going to make birdies. You don’t have to play perfect to win these events. I just think patience is of the utmost importance on a Sunday in a major.

“You’re never really out of it, even if you make a bogey or two in a row, you can always come back and have a chance to win that thing on the back nine.”

Dufner triumphed twice on the 2012 PGA Tour and this year he has become something of a cult figure – largely because of the ‘Dufnering’ craze which went viral on social networking websites in April.

The previous month, he visited a school in the Dallas area to help promote the Byron Nelson Championship and a picture was taken of him apparently nodding off as he lay with his back to a wall, arms by his sides and legs stretched out in front of him.

Since then, multiple versions of ‘Dufnering’ have been posted by golfers, golf fans and the general public on Twitter and other forms of social media.

“Like most things in my life, I don’t take things too seriously,” said Dufner. “But it’s been a good response and I think people have had a kick out of it.”

That unflappable approach certainly helped Dufner on Saturday as he maintained his bid for a first major title by calmly accepting both the good and bad that came his way, and then moving on.

“There were a couple of times today where I was pretty frustrated with things, with the way things were going,” he said. “If you lose your head out there you can lose track. I think it’s important to stay even keel for the most part.”

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Frank Pingue)


Toovey backs Manly to cope with Souths

Manly coach Geoff Toovey is hopeful Anthony Watmough will be fit to return to action before the final round of the NRL season after the NSW star was diagnosed with a posterior cruciate ligament injury.

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Watmough limped off during the first half of Sunday’s 27-12 win over the Warriors and will sit out Friday’s crunch clash with second-placed South Sydney at Gosford.

The Sea Eagles, who sit in third, go into the game in red-hot form having chalked up 225 points in just six games – and face a Souths side going through a sticky patch, losing three of their last four to slip off the top of the ladder.

Toovey admits the loss of Watmough against one the best packs in the competition will be a big blow but said the manner in which his side dealt with the Warriors’ big forwards after the representative back-rower’s exit gives him great confidence.

“They are a very large pack of forwards as were the Warriors,” Toovey said.

“But I thought we handled them pretty well and hopefully we can do the same against Souths.

“Choc’s (Watmough) injury has settled quite quickly and I am hoping he’ll be back in two weeks.”

Justin Horo, who was rewarded with an upgraded contract last week after some brilliant displays following his release by Parramatta at the end of last season, will replace Watmough after sitting out Sunday’s game with a calf strain.

Toovey wouldn’t be drawn on Sam Burgess’ ‘squirrel grip’ incident after the Englishman pleaded guilty to a contrary conduct charge on Tuesday.

However, he said the return to action of Greg Inglis will make up for the loss of Souths’ star forward.

“Sam has been in terrific form, but I am sure one of his brothers will come in for him,” he said.

“They have all done terrific this year and give great momentum for Issac Luke out of dummy-half.

“Without Inglis Souths are a lot less potent and he is a real threat and he is at least worth six-to-12 points for them.”


Wallabies focus on Bledisloe not rankings

Prop Ben Alexander says the Wallabies are too busy plotting ways to beat the All Blacks to be bothered by their latest slide in the rugby rankings.

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On the back of their opening Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship series loss to New Zealand last Saturday the Wallabies dropped a spot from world No.3 to No.4 – their worst ranking since early 2008 when they were fifth.

They were leap-frogged by England, with world champions New Zealand and South Africa filling the top two spots.

But Alexander says winning back the Bledisloe Cup from the All Blacks for the first time since 2002 is the first goal and the rankings will take care of themselves if the team performs well.

“We’re not focused on the rankings, we’re focused on winning the Bledisloe Cup,” Alexander said.

“All the rankings and seedings takes care of itself.

“Obviously you want to be No.1 so until you’re that you won’t be satisfied but we won’t be dwelling on that. We will be dwelling on the job that needs to be done.”

Ahead of their second Bledisloe Cup clash in Wellington on Saturday, Alexander said the Wallabies needed to shore up several areas including their defence, with missed tackles proving costly.

“There was some sloppy work at the breakdown and the All Blacks capitalised.”

The prop said he was enjoying playing under new coach Ewen McKenzie, who won 51 caps propping for Australia.

Another former Test prop Andrew Blades is an assistant.

“It’s good, the more props in charge the better,” Alexander said.

“There’s Bladesy and Ewen there now, get a prop running the backs and we might go alright.”


Labor hopeful upstaged by Abbott

It looked like a political ambush, but Labor candidate Jason Yat-sen Li says he got his word in despite being upstaged by Tony Abbott in his own electorate.

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Mr Li on Monday spoke at a NSW Business Chamber event in North Ryde, a suburb in the heart of the electorate of Bennelong he hopes to win on September 7.

But the Labor hopeful, handpicked by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, was forced to play second fiddle after Opposition Leader Tony Abbott arrived to a warm reception with a full media pack in tow.

Mr Li faced a tough crowd after Mr Abbott, Liberal MP Bruce Billson and local MP John Alexander warmed up a receptive audience.

Mr Li wouldn’t say comment on whether he felt set-up.

“I think the NSW chamber only learned about the plans very early in the morning as well, so they had very little notice,” he told reporters.

“We came here in good faith and we said what we had to say, so we’re happy to be here.”

It wasn’t easy for the Labor candidate, who was accosted as he walked off stage by a local businessman who asked Mr Li to spell out his credentials.

Mr Li said he had “vision” and “courage”, but Epping businessman Warwick Stacey wasn’t convinced.

“I have not seen that in the Labor Party,” he quipped.

A recent poll shows Labor is facing annihilation in Bennelong, with Mr Li trailing Mr Alexander 65 to 35 on a two-party preferred basis.

Mr Li dismissed the poll, admitting that while he was behind things certainly weren’t that dire.

“We don’t believe in that particular poll,” he said. “We are the underdogs, but it’s certainly not as bad as that poll showed.”


Rudd plays down makeup artist attack

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says he was “in the zone” when he’s alleged to have been rude to a makeup artist and has chalked up her Facebook attack to a misunderstanding.

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Freelance makeup artist Lily Fontana did Mr Rudd’s makeup before the second leaders’ debate in Brisbane on Wednesday and later said she’d never had a client treat her so badly.

Ms Fontana took to Facebook to compare her interactions with Mr Rudd and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.

“One of them was absolutely lovely, engaged in genuine conversation with me, acknowledge(d) that I had a job to do and was very appreciative,” she said on her page, which is public.

“The other did the exact opposite!

“Oh boy, I have (n)ever had anyone treat me so badly whilst trying to do my job.

“Political opinions aside … from one human being to another … Mr Abbott, you win hands down.”

Fontana later removed the post from Facebook but not before it was shared more than 1200 times.

She said she didn’t expect so much attention: “What a lesson to learn. I’ve removed the post and regret making the comments I did.”

Mr Rudd downplayed the incident.

“I have no hard feelings in terms of the comments which this person has now withdrawn,” he told reporters in Torquay.

He said sometimes misunderstandings occur.

“You know something, when you’re preparing for a debate with two or three minutes to go and someone walks in and puts a bit of stuff on your face, you smile, you’re in the zone,” he said.

He joked he didn’t like having make up applied to his face at the best of times.

Mr Abbott said Ms Fontana – who he mistakenly called “Tilly” – did his makeup in a different room to Mr Rudd so he did not witness any rudeness.

“I thought she did a great job making my craggy face as presentable as possible, we had a great conversation,” he told reporters in Sydney.

Sky News, the official broadcaster of the debate, distanced itself from Ms Fontana’s comments.

“The individual is not a staff member and we don’t agree with them,” the broadcaster tweeted.

It’s not the first time Mr Rudd has come under fire for being rude to people behind the scenes.

In April 2009 he was criticised for reportedly making an RAAF flight attendant cry because his preferred meal was not available on a plane.

A month later he was accused of getting angry over a hairdryer in Afghanistan although he denied the incident.

And last year a video surfaced of Mr Rudd thumping a table, swearing and berating embassy staff as he tried to record a message.