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The Malaysian Insider :: Sports

Byrd streaks into lead, Ballesteros remembered

Posted: 07 May 2011 07:35 PM PDT

Jonathan Byrd of the US watches his tee shot on the 14th hole during the third round of the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament at the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina on May 7, 2011. — Reuters pic

CHARLOTTE, May 8 — American Jonathan Byrd flew by compatriot Pat Perez with a blistering back nine to seize a one-stroke lead after yesterday's third round of the Quail Hollow Championship on an emotional day in the wake of the Seve Ballesteros's death.

Byrd, a local favourite who attended nearby Clemson University, birdied five of six holes after making the turn on his way to a five-under-par 67 for a total of 15-under 201 going into Sunday's (today's) final round when he will aim for his sixth US Tour title.

Overnight leader Perez led by two shots before a bogey at the par-four 12th where he chipped well past the hole from the back fringe and was overtaken by the Byrd's surge. Perez posted 70 for 202.

Two strokes further back on 12-under 204 were former British Open champion Stewart Cink (68) and former US Open winner Lucas Glover (69). Andres Romero of Argentina (67) and Americans Kevin Na (67) and Bill Haas (71) are four behind the leader.

Byrd had back-to-back birdies from the seventh before making bogey at the ninth. With his red-hot surge after the turn, he had seven birdies during a nine-hole stretch.

"Wow, I did that? I didn't really realise it was going that good there for a while," said the 33-year-old Byrd, who won this year's Tournament of Champions.

Byrd said it took a little while to get accustomed to playing with world number four Phil Mickelson, who shot a 74.

"I was pretty shaky starting off, didn't feel real comfortable out there.

"The environment is pretty distracting. Man, people were excited we were out there playing today. Charlotte was pretty rocking and rolling out there, and I just had a hard time settling down."

'Great loss'

Beyond the birdies and bogeys, many players were shaken by the death of Spain's Ballesteros, a five-times major winner who created excitement around the world with his charismatic personality and genius for the short game.

He died early yesterday morning at the age of 54 after a battle with brain cancer.

"He was a great man, not only on the golf course but off the golf course," said Vijay Singh of Fiji, who shot a 73.

"I think not only people that knew him through golf, but everybody that knew him through what he did for golf, I think it's a great loss and he'll be missed."

Sergio Garcia, who was mentored by Ballesteros, struggled at the end of the round with two double bogeys and a bogey over his last five holes for a 74.

"It's a sad day," Garcia said. "We're all feeling for Seve's family. He's been suffering for quite a while now, so probably better that he's resting now."

Garcia said he was fortunate to have known Ballesteros.

"Well, he was special. He was just such an amazing player, such an amazing person," said Garcia.

"He was just different, the charisma he had and everything. The way he played, the way he went around it, it was great to watch. You know, it's a shame that some of the young guys didn't get to know him more." — Reuters


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United on the verge of record 19th title

Posted: 07 May 2011 07:28 PM PDT

LONDON, May 8 — Manchester United stand 90 minutes away from virtually securing their record 19th English league title and completing Alex Ferguson's 25-year mission to "knock Liverpool off their perch."

Victory for his side at home to Chelsea today (15.10 GMT) would put them six points ahead of the Londoners with two games remaining, though a draw would probably satisfy the Scot as it would retain their three-point cushion ahead of games against Blackburn Rovers and Blackpool.

Although they lost at Arsenal last week to open the door, United have won 16 and drawn one of their home games and remain favourites to land Ferguson a remarkable 12th Premier League crown and edge his side ahead of Liverpool, who won the last of their 18 crowns 21 years ago.

"Everyone is aware of the magnitude of Sunday's (today's) game and if we win we should win the league," Ferguson said ahead of the game that will be pored over by hundreds of millions of TV viewers all over the world.

With a Wembley Champions League final against Barcelona waiting in the wings everything is looking good for United but Chelsea are not about to play the part of admiring guests.

Having trailed by 15-points at the start of March they will ensure United have to be on their toes today and, having won at Old Trafford 13 months ago, they should travel without fear.

"We have to prepare for this game like it's a final," manager Carlo Ancelotti said. "Obviously United hoped they wouldn't have to play this kind of game against us but now they have to fight again for the title." — Reuters

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