Agence France-Presse

The girl just wants to have fun

WASHINGTON-- Brittany Lincicome, hoping to be a trailblazer, will become only the sixth woman to compete in a men’s PGA Tour event when she tees off Thursday at the Barbasol Championship. The 32-year-old American, a two-time major champion and eight-time LPGA winner, will be among 132 starters at Keene Trace Golf Club while most of the top men’s players compete in the British Open at Carnoustie. “I’m really, really excited,” Lincicome said in a Tuesday essay on The Players Tribune website. “I’ll just be out here swinging for the fences and having the time of my life.” Swedish superstar Annika Sorenstam became the first woman in 58 years to appear in a PGA event when she played the Colonial in 2003, missing the cut. Michelle Wie later played in a handful of PGA events, never making the cut. Babe Zaharias and Suzy Whaley also competed in PGA tournaments. “All the girls in the locker room thought it was awesome,” Lincicome told reporters Tuesday. “That was really cool. They have been really supportive.” While her nerves were tested being in contention last week, Lincicome expects she will be nervous at the start -- “I’m sure the first three or four holes I will be.” Lincicome wrote in her essay she pondered accepting the offer to play on a sponsor’s exemption for days because she worried “about how this whole thing might backfire or cause some people to lash out toward me.” “I’m not trying to compare myself to the guys. I’m not trying to compare our games. I just want to go out and have a good time,” Lincicome said. “It will be like playing in a major, but with the guys. I just want to have fun.” Lincicome recalled playing on a high school boys golf team, rivals unhappy to risk losing to a girl.

Air strikes kill 12 in rebel town

BEIRUT, Lebanon -- Unidentified air strikes have killed 12 civilians in a rebel-held pocket of southern Syria as regime ally Russia presses talks for Damascus to retake the area, a monitor said Wednesday. The deadly strikes late Tuesday hit Nawa, the last town under rebel control in the southern province of Daraa, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The Britain-based monitor said it could not determine whether the strikes on the town in the west of the province were carried out by the regime or its Russian ally. The regime has in less than a month retaken more than 90 percent of Daraa province, which borders Jordan and was the cradle of Syria’s ill-fated 2011 uprising. But opposition fighters in Nawa -- where tens of thousands of people live -- have resisted. After regime forces launched a ferocious offensive on June 19, Russia pressured rebels to hand over eastern parts of the province in early July, and the provincial capital last week. Other towns in the west of the province have also joined the deal. “Negotiations were ongoing Wednesday towards Nawa joining the reconciliation deal” with the regime for the wider province, Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said. A ceasefire deal announced earlier this month between the regime and rebels in Daraa province did not include jihadists. On Wednesday, Russian air strikes and regime barrel bombs targeted hills outside Nawa held by the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group, led by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate. Heavy air strikes also pounded a southwestern corner of the province controlled by the Islamic State jihadist group.

Thais lead Champion Tour

CARMONA, Cavite – Thai Ploychompoo Wirairungreung turned in a solid even-under 65 to wrest a two-stroke lead over Taiwanese amateur Hou Yu-Chiang at the start of the ICTSI Champion Tour at the Manila Southwoods on Wednesday. Wirairungreung also outshone local bet Princess Superal. While majority of the starting 100-player field struggled on the soggy fairways of the Legends course that played longer than its 6543 yardage, Wirairungreung and Hou, who shot a 67, romped off with the day’s two bogey-free rounds as they seized the 1-2 posts in the $75,000 event sponsored by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. Hou’s sister Yu-Sang, also an amateur, missed wresting solo third with a bogey on the par-5 17th and dropped to joint third with Thai Chatprapa Siriprakob at 69 while Superal holed out with a birdie to save a 70 for a share of fifth with Taiwanese Lee Hsin and Lee Chia-Pei, Aunchisa Utama and Supamas Sangchan of Thailand and Singapore’s Amelia Wong. What made Wirairungreung’s feat doubly impressive was that she did it on her first foray on a rain-hit course that she said suited her game. “This is the course I love. My approach shots are good and I like the fairways though it’s wet because I can chop the ball,” said the 23-year-old Wirairungreung, who flashed solid driving and iron play to upstage Superal and Taiwanese Ching Huang in one of the featured threesomes, highlighting her impeccable 32-33 round with superb putting that helped produce seven birdies, including four at the front. “I really had it going. Even when I’m in trouble, I would recover and make par saves,” said the 5-11 shotmaker from Chiang Rai, winner of two pro events who drilled in four birdies at the front inside 14 feet, birdied Nos. 12 and 13 and capped her sterling round with a nine-footer on the 18th. Yu-Chiang also turned in a flawless card of 34-33 that kept the 18-year-old Taiwanese in step with Wirairungreung after 12 holes before the Thai, who placed second to amateur Yuka Saso in the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour’s kickoff leg at Ayala Greenfield last January, birdied No. 13 to take control before matching Superal’s closing birdie to gain a two-shot cushion in the 54-hole championship. “I didn’t expect to play this way. The course was quite short so I took advantage by giving myself more birdie chances,” said Yu-Chiang. Superal never got to get closer to Wirairungreung despite going two-under after 12 holes as the LPGT winner at Highlands and Riviera last March faltered with a bogey on No. 13 before regaining the stroke on the last. But the other fancied locals failed to dish out the games expected of them with reigning Ladies PGT Order of Merit winner Pauline del Rosario blowing a one-under card after five holes at the back with two bogeys and a double-bogey, needing to birdie the ninth to salvage a 74, nine strokes off the pace. LPGT Eagle Ridge winner Chihiro Ikeda stumbled with a 75 while former three-time LPGT OOM champion Cyna Rodriguez shot herself in the foot with a 78 marred by two triple bogeys, a double bogey and one bogey against three birdies. The next best local players after Superal were amateurs Sunshine Baraquiel and Harmie Constantino, who carded identical 73s for joint 30th while Annika Cedo, also an amateur, matching Del Rosario’s two-over round in the 54-hole tournament.

Elon Musk apologizes for slur

WASHINGTON, United States -- Elon Musk has apologized for calling a British caver who helped rescue 12 Thai boys from a cave a “pedo”, retracting a comment that had drawn widespread outrage and briefly sent shares in Tesla tumbling. “Pedo” is short for pedophile. Tesla CEO Musk issued the apology on Wednesday to Vernon Unsworth, who worked on the rescue of the “Wild Boars” football team and had ridiculed Musk’s plan to recover the trapped group using a miniature submarine. “(H)is actions against me do not justify my actions against him, and for that I apologize to Mr. Unsworth and to the companies I represent as leader,” Musk wrote on Twitter. Musk’s extraordinary tirade against Unsworth was widely condemned, raising concerns over the entrepreneur’s leadership following a series of previous social media attacks on Wall Street analysts, journalists and employees. His spat with Unsworth began after the British caving expert dismissed Musk’s plan to rescue the Thai football team from the Tham Luang cave as a “PR stunt”. Unsworth had said the plan to use the device to extract the boys through a narrow series of twisting, flooded tunnels would have had “absolutely no chance of working”. He added that Musk could “stick his submarine where it hurts.”

Bouchard zaps Bacsinszky in Gstaad

GSTAAD, Switzerland-- Eugenie Bouchard quelled a home threat at the Gstaad WTA tournament on Tuesday, fighting back to beat Timea Bacsinszky 4-6, 7-6 (7/1), 6-4 for a second-round place. The 146th-ranked Canadian who played the Wimbledon final four years ago but has since suffered through season after season of disappointment and a tumbling ranking, spent more than two and three-quarter hours in overcoming two-time Roland Garros semi-finalist Bacsinszky. The Swiss who once stood ninth in the world, missed the entire clay and grass season after tearing her right calf muscle during a match warm-up in Rabat last spring. She has played - and lost - only five matches this season - her ranking stands at 761. Bouchard exited in the Wimbledon second round a fortnight ago, then switched to clay last week by entering a lower-level event, where she also lost her opening match. Despite her clay victory, the 24-year-old is keeping any hopes of turning her career round on an extremely low simmer. “All the conditions were against me,” said the former member of the ranking Top 5. “She is Swiss, playing at home as a former Top 10 player on her favorite surface. It was a battle. I can’t compare this match to any previous (recent) ones. All I know is I had to battle.” Bouchard lost the opening set in 44 minutes despite taking the early lead on a break and was severely tested in the second. That set featured six breaks of serve, with Bouchard again losing an early break and eventually forced to play a tiebreaker. Though she did not consider the decider a particularly key factor, Bouchard won it handily to get right back into the fight as light began to fade in this VIP alpine village populated by both jet-setters and local farmers. Bouchard went up a break in the third set, racing away to 4-1, but was reeled in to 4-3 by the home player.

Davies wins US Senior Women’s Open

CHICAGO, United States -- England’s Laura Davies cruised to a 10-stroke victory Sunday at the inaugural US Senior Women’s Open, firing a bogey-free five-under par 68 to complete the rout at Chicago Golf Club. The 54-year-old World Golf Hall of Famer birdied all five par-5 holes to finish 72 holes on 16-under 276, capturing her 85th career triumph worldwide. “It’s great, seeing this trophy paraded down for the very first time and I get my name on it first,” Davies said. “This championship will be played for many years and there will only be one first winner. Obviously quite a proud moment for me to win that.” American Juli Inkster was second on 286 after a closing 73 with England’s Trish Johnson third, two strokes further adrift after a 73 in the showdown for the world’s top 50-and-over women golfers.

Lakers impress Lebron

LOS ANGELES, United States -- With their new superstar LeBron James looking on, the Los Angeles Lakers reached the semifinals of the NBA Summer League with a 101-78 win over the Detroit Pistons Sunday in Las Vegas. The Lakers leapt to a 33-14 lead after one quarter and never trailed. Svi Mykhailiuk paced the Lakers with 19 points, pulling down four rebounds and doling out two assists. Josh Hart added 18 points, four assists, two rebounds and two steals and Xavier Rathan-Mayes chipped in 11 points. At the pre-season tournament that typically gives rookies and young playmakers a chance to hone their skills and make their case for roster spots in the regular season, James created a sensation when he arrived to watch the Lakers’ game clad in gold Lakers shorts and purple shoes. He departed before the summer league lineup of his former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, beat the Toronto Raptors 82-68 to set up a semifinal clash with the Lakers. James signed his new four-year contract worth $154 million with the Lakers earlier this month, a move that Lakers president Earvin “Magic” Johnson called a “huge step” for the team. James made it known on July 1, at the start of the free agency period, that he would depart the Cavaliers for a second time and join the Lakers, ending months of frenzied speculation about the NBA superstar’s next career move.

Haiti leader quits after deadly unrest

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Embattled Haiti Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant resigned on Saturday following deadly violence and looting sparked by a now-abandoned plan to raise fuel prices, triggering a fraught process to form a new government. “I submitted my resignation to the president of the republic,” who has “accepted my resignation,” Lafontant said in the lower house of Haiti’s legislature. Lafontant had faced a potential vote of no confidence had he not resigned -- something he had previously insisted he would not do. Last week, the government in the impoverished Caribbean country announced plans for major fuel price hikes -- 38 percent for gasoline, 47 percent for diesel and 51 percent for kerosene. The announcement sparked mass protests, with streets in the capital Port-au-Prince and other cities blocked with barricades of debris and burning tires. Dozens of shops were looted and burned and cars were set ablaze. At least four people were killed. The government quickly did an about-face and called off the planned price increases. Lafontant, a physician who had little political experience before taking office in February 2017, had faced widespread criticism even before the spasm of violence. Hours after Lafontant announced his resignation, President Jovenel Moise appeared on TV to deliver a short speech, saying he wished to “gather all the forces of the nation, without losing any time, to form an inclusive government with the aim of alleviating the people’s misery and develop agriculture, energy and infrastructure.” The head of state added that while he understood the many were suffering from unemployment and hunger, “violence is not compatible with either development or democracy.” Moise will now have to appoint a new prime minister -- a delicate political exercise in Haiti, where a new government’s general policy plan must be approved by both houses of parliament before it can officially begin working.

Five teen footballers drown

DHAKA, Bangladesh -- Five teenage footballers drowned in a river in southeast Bangladesh moments after they played a friendly match between supporters of Argentina and Brazil, police said Sunday. Police recovered the bodies from the Matamuhuri river at Chokoria town Saturday night, some six hours after the boys drowned as they went to bathe in the coastal river following the match. Local police chief Bakhtiaruddin Chowdhury told AFP that 22 boys from a school played the friendly after dividing themselves between supporters of Brazil and Argentina. Six of them went swimming afterwards clad in jerseys from the South American rivals. “The river at that place was very deep. We rescued a boy. Later five bodies were recovered. The dead included two brothers,” Chowdhury said. Tens of thousands joined their funeral on Sunday, he said.
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