SPORTS DAY: Harding takes ‘nerve-wracking’ maiden title

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SPORTS DAY: Harding takes ‘nerve-wracking’ maiden title

Your roundup of the sporting news of the day

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GOLF
SA’s Harding wins maiden European Tour title
South African Justin Harding claimed his maiden European Tour title with a six-under-par 66 in the final round of the Qatar Masters to win by two strokes at the Doha Golf Club on Sunday. Harding made three birdies in the first four holes and birdied three of the final four to finish 13 under par, ahead of nine other golfers who finished 11 under. South Korea’s Choi Jinho ended the final round with a stunning eight-under-par 64 but could not reel in Harding. “It was nerve-wracking, especially coming off. It’s a situation I haven’t really been in,” said Harding, who bogeyed the sixth and seventh holes. “I didn’t enjoy it but it’s good fun, I’m glad it happened and now we move on. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens going forward and playing in some bigger events.” Harding is the fifth South African to win the event after Darren Fichardt, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen plus Branden Grace, who won back-to-back titles in 2015 and 2016.
SOCCER
‘I’m not your wife,’ Ogbeide tells Mosimane
Mamelodi Sundowns’ tense Champions League showdown against Nigeria side Lobi Stars took an ugly turn when coach Pitso Mosimane and his visiting counterpart, Solomon Ogbeide, were involved in a heated exchange after the encounter at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday night. Tempers flared after Mosimane accused Ogbeide of refusing to shake his hand when the two sides met in the away leg in Enugu in the beginning of 2019. Ogbeide‚ who initially did not want to be part of the post-match press conference‚ said there was a misunderstanding about a training venue in Enugu. “In Nigeria there was an argument when Sundowns wanted to train early on an artificial pitch‚” he said. “I asked my boys to leave the field and called Sundowns to train but they refused. I refused to shake his hands in the first match in Nigeria but it is in the past. “After the match here I tried to shake his hand but he refused and I said, ‘okay‚ I am not your wife’.”
BOXING
Experienced ref Laine for Lerena’s return to ring
Vastly experienced referee Jean Robert Laine from Monaco has been appointed to officiate the eagerly anticipated return to the boxing ring of reigning IBO cruiserweight champion Kevin “Two Guns” Lerena. The 26-year-old Lerena‚ a big drawcard at Emperors Palace in Kempton Park‚ will put his belt on the line against Artur “Thunder Man” Mann from Germany in the main contest of the “No Mercy” bill of Golden Gloves on Saturday night. Laine‚ originally from Haiti but based in Monaco‚ has handled many world title fights recently‚ including the WBA mini flyweight championship between newly crowned holder Knockout Freshman from the Philippines and Byron Rojas from Nicaragua.
RUGBY
Bulls, Sharks in contrasting but deserved places
With a much-needed bye week looming‚ the Bulls and the Sharks are in contrasting but deserved places after four consecutive Super Rugby matches. The Bulls mechanically dismantled the Sharks 37-14 at Loftus Versfeld. While they again missed out on the bonus point‚ the Bulls have won three out of their four fixtures. Those wins came against South African opposition while they lost away to the Jaguares. If they’re not set up for an assault when they return to action on March 23 when they host the Chiefs‚ they’ll never be set again. Coach Pote Human said they’ve been happy with the progress they’ve made and the lack of bonus points isn’t an issue for them at the moment.
SOCCER
Firmino and Mane keep Liverpool in the race
Two goals each for Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane helped Liverpool to keep in touch with Premier League leaders Manchester City with a 4-2 win over lowly Burnley at Anfield on Sunday. Juergen Klopp’s side move to 73 points, one behind City, who beat Watford 3-1 on Saturday. Both teams have eight games remaining. The visitors took a surprise lead in the sixth minute, with Ashley Westwood scoring direct from a corner although Burnley’s James Tarkowski looked to have impeded Liverpool keeper Alisson Becker. Liverpool drew level when Tarkowski and Clarets keeper Tom Heaton made a mess of a low cross from Mohamed Salah and Firmino was left with the simplest of tap-ins. Sadio Mane then put Liverpool ahead with a fine curling finish after a poor clearance from Jeff Hendrick was blocked by Adam Lallana.
MOTOR ELECTRIC
Bird win subject to investigation
Britain’s Sam Bird won Formula E’s 50th race and took back the overall lead in the all-electric series in Hong Kong on Sunday, subject to a stewards’ investigation into a penultimate-lap collision. If the results of the season’s fifth round are confirmed, Bird will have 71 points with an 18-point advantage over Mahindra’s Belgian Jerome d’Ambrosio, who failed to finish. Virgin Racing’s Bird made contact with race leader Andre Lotterer’s DS Techeetah at Turn Two, the impact puncturing the German’s tyre and putting the three-times Le Mans 24 Hours winner out of the race. Lotterer had led from the eighth lap with Bird close behind but unable to get past on a narrow track in slippery conditions after earlier showers, with the race stopped early on and featuring three safety car periods. The final result remained uncertain even as the podium presentation went ahead with Swiss driver Edoardo Mortara second for Venturi and Brazilian Lucas Di Grassi third for Audi.
BASEBALL
It’s official, Jennifer Lopez, A-Rod engaged
Singing superstar Jennifer Lopez and retired baseball great Alex Rodriguez have been one of the most glam celebrity couples in recent years. Fans, get ready: a J-Rod wedding is on the cards. Lopez and Rodriguez confirmed on Instagram late Saturday that they are engaged. Both posted a picture of their hands at sunset, with Lopez’s enormous diamond ring. While the multi-hyphenate singer-actress-dancer-producer only captioned the pic with heart emojis, Rodriguez went a bit farther, writing in lower-case letters: “she said yes.” Lopez, 49, and Rodriguez, 43, have been a couple for about two years. RUGBY
Blitzboks in strongest display of season
The Blitzboks won all three pool matches for only the second time in six tournaments this season‚ as they topped their group in Vancouver on Sunday. A confidence-boosting 19-7 win over World Series leaders the US in their final Pool D clash on day one‚ secured top spot and a quarterfinal against Argentina on Sunday night (SA time). The last time the Blitzboks went through the pool stage unbeaten was in round three in Hamilton‚ and on that occasion they advanced to the semifinals. Facing Argentina is no easy task but it’s a better scenario that coming up against England again‚ which is the route the US‚ as pool runners-up‚ have to take. SA last met Argentina in Sydney in round four‚ winning 25-10 in pool play.
CRICKET
Groenewegen takes Paris-Nice opening stage
Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen won the opening stage of the week-long Paris-Nice race, a 138.5km ride around St Germain en Laye, to claim the overall lead on Sunday. The Jumbo-Visma rider outsprinted Australian Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) and another Dutchman, Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick step), who were second and third respectively. Australian Michael Matthews, three times a stage winner on the ‘Race to the Sun’, abandoned the event after a crash.
RUGBY
Wales hunt Gatland’s record Grand Slam
Wales coach Warren Gatland has urged his players to seize the “dream” opportunity of clinching a Grand Slam at home to Ireland in Cardiff next Saturday. Gatland himself stands to secure a place in history in his final Six Nations match as Wales coach after his side showed what he called “great character” for overcoming a week of political turmoil in Welsh rugby to beat a spirited Scotland team 18-11 at Murrayfield. The New Zealander will become the first coach to achieve a hat-trick of Grand Slams if his squad –most of whom were affected by the on-off proposed merger between the Ospreys and the Scarlets – can extend their record winning run to 14 matches with a victory against the reigning champions at the Principality Stadium. “It’s a dream that we can fulfil and do something pretty special as a group of players,” said Gatland, whose 12-year tenure will come to an end after the World Cup in Japan.
– AFP, Reuters and TimesLIVE

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