Dubai Ladies Masters: Florentyna Parker leads as tributes paid to late caddie

Dubai Ladies Masters: Florentyna Parker leads as tributes paid to late caddie

Dubai Ladies Masters, round one (reduced to 54 holes)
-5 F Parker (Eng); -4 S Giquel-Bettan (Fra), C Woods (US); Selected others: -2 K Walker (Sco); -1 L Hall (Wal), G Hall (Eng), J Ewart Shadoff (Eng); level A Caudal (Fra), C Hull (Eng)
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England’s Florentyna Parker moved into the lead of the Dubai Ladies Masters as play resumed after the death of caddie Maximilian Zechmann on Wednesday.

Zechmann, 56, was caddying for France’s Anne-Lise Caudal when he collapsed on the 13th fairway and later died in hospital. Play was suspended and the event reduced to 54 holes.

A minute’s silence was observed at midday local time on Thursday.

Parker completed her first round in five-under-par 67 to lead by one shot.

Caudal also resumed on Thursday and completed her round in an even-par 72.

Parker, ranked fourth on the LET Order of Merit, hit seven birdies on the back nine on Wednesday morning before play was suspended for the day.

She struggled on the back nine after the resumption, going round in 38 after two birdies, two bogeys and a double-bogey at her last hole, the ninth.

That was still enough to lead by a stroke from France’s Sophie Giquel-Bettan and Cheyenne Woods of the United States.

Zechmann also caddied on the men’s European Tour for several players including Markus Brier and Marcel Siem, and tributes were also paid at the Hong Kong Open on Thursday.

Players and caddies wore black ribbons as mark of respect – as was also the case in Dubai – while several players wore all-black outfits.

Spain’s Rafa Cabrera Bello shot a six-under-par 64 to lead by stroke at the end of the first round at the European Tour’s final event of the calendar year.

Anthony Joshua: Eric Molina aims to knock out British heavyweight champion

Anthony Joshua: Eric Molina aims to knock out British heavyweight champion

Joshua v Molina
Venue: Manchester Arena Date: Saturday, 10 December Time: Ringwalk at about 22:30 GMT
Coverage: BBC Radio 5 live, plus live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app

Eric Molina hopes to emulate his mentor Oliver McCall when he fights Britain’s Anthony Joshua for the IBF heavyweight title in Manchester on Saturday.

McCall upset Briton Lennox Lewis in 1994, knocking him out in the second round to take his world title.

Unbeaten Joshua, 27, is making the second defence of the belt he won in April.

“I always envisaged having a moment like Oliver had against Lewis,” said the 34-year-old American.

“Oliver has meant so much to my career and showed that in the heavyweight division, anything is possible.

“The knockout is the only way I’m going to win and I’ve got nothing to lose. Anthony Joshua and all of Britain will be surprised.”

At the final pre-fight news conference, Joshua said he would make Molina “look like a novice” at the Manchester Arena.

Molina replied: “You have to make me look like a novice, that’s why you got me here. If you slip up for one second, you’ll be dancing.”

However, there was none of the bad blood that coloured Wednesday’s undercard news conference, when Dereck Chisora flipped over a table after exchanging words with his opponent Dillian Whyte.

Molina is a quietly spoken contender from Texas, whose other job is teaching disabled children in his home town of Weslaco.

He lost his first fight as a professional in 2007 but has been beaten only twice in 27 bouts since.

In 2012 he was knocked out in the first round by Chris Arreola, before lasting nine rounds with WBC champion Deontay Wilder last year. In his most recent fight in April, Molina caused an upset by beating Poland’s Tomasz Adamek.

“I was supposed to last two rounds against Wilder, I was supposed to lose to Adamek in Poland, so let people keep talking,” said Molina.

“I believe Wilder is the best heavyweight in the world and the hardest puncher. I want Joshua to prove me wrong. I want to test him, take him to the limit.”

Anthony Joshua: Eric Molina aims to knock out British heavyweight champion

Molina has been friends with McCall for six years and often reminisces about one of the biggest upsets in heavyweight history, when McCall flattened Lewis in two rounds to hand him his first defeat as a professional.

Saturday’s fight will be the first time Rob McCracken is in Joshua’s corner.

McCracken, the performance director of Great Britain’s amateur squad, replaces Tony Sims as Joshua’s main trainer, although Sims remains in the camp.

“The camp has been great, he’s boxing well and he’s punching well,” said McCracken, who led Carl Froch to the super-middleweight world title.

“He’s got a lot of ability, a lot of power and a lot of speed, which nobody talks about. He’ll bring fighters on to shots they don’t see.”

Chief support is former amateur sensation Katie Taylor, who has her second professional fight against Brazil’s Viviane Obenauf.

Chisora challenges for Whyte’s British heavyweight title, while Birmingham’s Kal Yafai fights Luis Concepcion for the Panamanian’s WBA super-flyweight title.

Liverpool’s Callum Smith makes the first defence of his British super-middleweight title against Darwen’s Luke Blackledge.

Bury’s Scott Quigg, last seen losing a super-bantamweight world title unification match against Carl Frampton of Belfast in February, fights at featherweight for the first time, against Mexican Jose Cayetano.

Newcastle’s Hosea Burton defends his British light-heavyweight title against London’s Frank Buglioni, while Cuban heavyweight contender Luiz Ortiz is also in action.

Massimo Cellino: Football Association ban Leeds United owner for 18 months

Massimo Cellino: Football Association ban Leeds United owner for 18 months

The Football Association have suspended Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino from all football activities for 18 months and fined the Italian £250,000.

He was charged with breaching the FA’s football agent rules over the sale of Ross McCormack to Fulham in 2014.

In addition, the club have also been fined £250,000.

Cellino, whose ban will start on 1 February 2017, has already indicated to the FA that he intends to appeal against the ruling.

More to follow.

Barcelona invite Chapecoense to play friendly in 2017

Barcelona have invited Brazilian club Chapecoense to play them in a pre-season friendly next summer.

Nineteen Chapecoense players and staff were among 71 people killed in a plane crash as the team travelled to Colombia for the Copa Sudamericana’s first leg.

The friendly would be for the Joan Gamper trophy, which is an annual match between Barcelona and an invited team.

In a statement, Barcelona said they wanted to “pay tribute” to the victims and help Chapecoense recover.

  • Fans pay tribute to crash victims
  • Crash survivor ‘may play again’
  • Chapecoense – a team torn apart

Three Chapecoense players were among six people to survive the crash.

Barcelona said they wanted to make the Joan Gamper trophy “a great tribute to the world of football through various activities around this match”.

“Along with the invitation to Chapecoense to the 2017 Joan Gamper Trophy, Barcelona would like to collaborate on the institutional and sporting reconstruction of the club, and help to recover the competitive level that it had,” they added.

“Barcelona has today sent a formal letter of invitation to the current board of directors of Chapecoense.”

Jerome Wilson: Coma boxer ‘feared something bad might happen’

Jerome Wilson: Coma boxer 'feared something bad might happen'

Hear more from Jerome Wilson and about brain injuries in boxing in 5 live Boxing special, ‘A Survivor’s Story’, broadcast on Thursday 8 December 20:30-22:00 GMT.

Jerome Wilson saw it coming, except he didn’t know it. Call it a fighter’s sixth sense, call it an unconscious premonition. Cynics might call it common sense.

The day before the fight that wrecked his life, Wilson suddenly felt compelled to send a message to his partner’s son.

“I don’t fear any man and I didn’t fear Serge Ambomo,” says Wilson. “I’d never done anything like that. But something must have been telling me something bad was going to happen.”

Wilson’s text message began: “As you know, Calvin, I’m in a very dangerous fight tomorrow night. If anything was to happen to me, promise me that you will do your best to help out with the house, your mum and the kids.”

Wilson told Calvin he loved him, to try harder, to be a good role model and that he would see him after the fight. Calvin replied that everything would be alright.

Jerome Wilson: Coma boxer 'feared something bad might happen'

When Calvin saw Wilson after the fight, everything was far from being alright. Having suffered a bleed on the brain, Wilson was deep in a coma, being kept alive by tubes.

Nobody knew which punch had caused it – the right hand that poleaxed Wilson in the second round? The right hand that finished it? – and nobody ever will. When the man you love is virtually dead, it’s kind of moot.

Jerome Wilson: Coma boxer 'feared something bad might happen'

“About a week before the fight, I was having wild dreams and a couple scared me,” says Wilson’s girlfriend, Michelle Boyce. “In one of them, Jerome had been seriously hurt and ended up in a coma. It felt so real. I remember walking into the emergency room, kissing his head and saying: ‘Don’t you dare leave me.’ When I woke up, I rang him and said: ‘I don’t want you to take this fight.'”

After the first fight between Wilson and Ambomo (a barnstorming six-rounder in Wilson’s home town of Sheffield four months earlier, which Ambomo won on points), Boyce had to remove Wilson’s clothes and help him into bed.

“Before that, he had come out of fights fine, maybe with a cut lip,” says Boyce. “But that time I remember thinking: ‘This is quite dangerous. I don’t like this.'”

In the relatives’ room at the hospital, Wilson and Boyce’s three-year-old daughter, still wired after seeing Daddy fight for the first time, ran amok. Along the corridor, doctors told Wilson’s family that he might not live another day.

Jerome Wilson: Coma boxer 'feared something bad might happen'

A quarter of Wilson’s skull was removed, to ease the pressure on his brain, and a fighter’s furious spirit kicked in. Boyce, heavily pregnant, stood vigil. And as she waited for a miracle, Wilson drifted in a strange, parallel universe.

“I was living in a reality that didn’t exist,” says Wilson, who was 29 at the time. “When I awoke from my coma after 10 days, I thought my dad was dead. So when I saw him sitting on the end of my bed, I was very happy to see him but couldn’t grasp why he was there. I didn’t know what was real and what wasn’t.

“I thought I had been communicating with people. My mum kept saying, ‘say I love you’, and I thought I was. When I woke, she told me I hadn’t said anything.

“When Ryan Rhodes (a former British champion and Wilson sparring partner) came to visit, I told everyone to leave the room. When we were alone, I took his hand and said: ‘I’m so sorry for everything that’s happened.’ I thought I’d provoked a fight with Ryan and that it was him who had put me in hospital.”

Wilson slowly pieced together what was real and what wasn’t, while wrestling with the indisputable truth that life would never be the same again.

“Those early days were the darkest,” says Wilson, fighting back tears. “I wanted to be the same person I was before, but had to somehow accept that I wasn’t.

“Processing information took longer, my mind was not working how I wanted it to work. I was in chronic pain because of nerve damage. My mood would go up and down, depending on how my body was feeling. Sometimes I was depressed.

“People would see me and say: ‘You’re looking well!’ I wouldn’t want to complain – people don’t want to hear that – so I’d put on a happy face. It’s frustrating when people think everything is fine and you know things aren’t.

“But if you think you’re fighting a losing battle, all the will goes out of you. It’s a fight I have to take, and I’m winning. If I had no happy days, life wouldn’t be worth living. But the smile on my kids’ faces gives me the energy to continue.”

Eleven months after emerging from his coma, Wilson had a titanium plate inserted in his skull. It made him feel safer – “before, it felt like I could touch my brain and that it might pop out” – but he was still wary of sneezing.

Titanium plate in place, staff at the Sheffield Community Brain Injury and Rehabilitation Team began rebuilding Wilson’s shattered mind and body – always with the knowledge that he would always be missing pieces.

Jerome Wilson: Coma boxer 'feared something bad might happen'

Meanwhile, Wilson grew bitter over his perceived treatment by the British Boxing Board of Control, which he accuses of treating him “like rubbish”.

“When I came close to taking my own life, I knew I had to seek help but there was no help for nearly a year,” says Wilson. “When you hold it all inside, your mind eventually erupts and the lava burns you, inside and out.

“Every fighter should get respect. I have not received that from the Board, not even the simple question: ‘How can we help?’ The duty of care is non-existent. I feel like I’ve been used and tossed out to rot. It’s hard to take.”

Robert Smith, the British Boxing Board of Control’s general secretary, sees things differently. These are testing times for Smith, who is currently investigating the circumstances of Nick Blackwell’s latest injury – the Wiltshire boxer ended up in a coma after his fight with Chris Eubank Jr in March and is in a coma again after an ill-advised sparring session a couple of weeks ago.

“Jerome hasn’t been ignored,” says Smith, who also saw German boxer Eduard Gutknecht punched into a coma by George Groves at Wembley last month.

Jerome Wilson: Coma boxer 'feared something bad might happen'

“We’ve had lots of correspondence with Jerome, he’s been visited on numerous occasions by the Central Area council and the Board. The insurance claim is ongoing – these things take time – and we’ve given him money. If he asks for more assistance, I’m sure the Board will look into it. All he needs to do is ask.

“We are one of the only countries in the world that has an insurance policy. We advise boxers to take out further cover, but not one boxer has taken our advice. We can only do so much. Boxers have to take some responsibility themselves.”

For Boyce, who gave birth to a son not long after Wilson left hospital, any advice is too late. In her opinion, nobody should get into a ring in the first place.

“Boxing was in Jerome’s blood but I don’t like it,” says Boyce. “When it goes wrong it can be shattering for everyone involved. And it only takes one punch.

“Boxers don’t get the right information. All these lads see the razzmatazz, names in lights, the cars, the women, the houses and it doesn’t work out like that for most people. They should be made aware that they’re risking their life and if things go wrong, they might not be able to look after their family.

Jerome Wilson: Coma boxer 'feared something bad might happen'

“Jerome got promised a lot of things that never materialised. He was good when he was getting his head caved in, now he’s been thrown on the scrapheap.”

Plans in boxing are not worth the paper they’re written on. Fighters are fired into the game like ball bearings in a pinball machine – which way they travel and how long they last before being swallowed up has a lot to do with luck. But Wilson has adopted the attitude that such an analogy could apply to all of life.

“I’ve watched the fight back,” says Wilson, whose free treatment by the NHS will shortly come to an end. “It was like watching a ghost, it wasn’t me in there.

“But I try not to think about what might have been, if I’d done this or done that, because it can send you a bit crazy. And if I hadn’t boxed, I might be dead. So I don’t think people can use what happened to me as a reason to ban the sport.

“When I was in rehab, lots of people were in a very bad way but I was on the only person in there because of boxing. People had been in car crashes, fallen down the stairs, slipped over in the bath. Boxing is dangerous. But so is life.”

Dustin Johnson’s US Open controversy leads to rule change

Dustin Johnson's US Open controversy leads to rule change

Golf officials have altered the controversial rule that cost Dustin Johnson a one stroke penalty during his US Open triumph this year.

As a result of the incident that significantly overshadowed the final day at Oakmont, the United States Golf Association (USGA) was heavily criticised.

Johnson was penalised after being judged to have been responsible for moving his ball a fraction of an inch on the fifth green during the final round. He had been initially absolved by the referee with his match.

But officials then examined video evidence and informed the eventual champion, seven holes later, that he may be subject to a penalty. As a result the climax of the year’s second major was farcically completed without anyone knowing the leader’s score.

Johnson finished four strokes clear of the field but after meeting USGA staff was told he must alter his score on the par-four fifth from a four to a five, cutting the margin of victory to three shots.

Now the USGA, in conjunction with fellow rule-makers The Royal and Ancient, have acted to prevent similar controversies in the future.

From 1 January, 2017, tournament officials at all levels can invoke a Local Rule which eliminates the penalty when a ball is accidentally moved on a putting green.

“We took the view that the rule was not working as well as it looks on paper and that we needed to try and address this,” David Rickman, executive director of governance at the R&A, told BBC Sport.

“Oakmont was clearly a difficult time and much has been said about that, but it was one of a number of cases that triggered this action.”

Denmark’s Marianne Skarpnord suffered a similar penalty during the women’s event at the Rio Olympics and Justin Thomas was also penalised at this year’s Tour Championship on the PGA Tour.

“In practical terms it means that any competition organiser can introduce this Local Rule and it would mean any accidental movement of the ball on the putting green will be exempt from penalty,” added Rickman.

“So if the player causes the ball to move there is no penalty, they put it back and if the player causes the ball marker to move there is no penalty, just put it back.”

This change applies only to balls accidentally moved by players or caddies. If a ball changes position due to wind or some other outside agency it has to be played from its new position without penalty.

“We had talks with the professional tours at the time of the Olympics and we’ve been discussing it since then and all of the major professional tours and organisers of big events are expected to introduce this Local Rule straight away,” Rickman added.

How did events unfold at Oakmont?

Standing over his ball on the fifth green, Johnson made two practice putts. As he prepared to address the ball to take his putt, it moved slightly.

Johnson stepped away, claiming he had not addressed the ball. He checked with a rules official, who was happy there had been no infringement, and playing partner Lee Westwood also absolved him of blame.

Johnson, who missed out on a play-off at the 2010 US PGA as a result of a rules violation, went on to par the hole.

A rules official approached Johnson on the 12th tee and, after a discussion, decided they needed to review the footage of the incident after he had completed his round because he could face a one-stroke penalty.

It meant there was some confusion out on the course among players as to how many shots Johnson was in the lead by.

The penalty stroke was eventually upheld. The USGA’s director of rules Jeff Hall said he had watched video of the incident and decided Johnson’s actions “could have caused the ball to move”.

Hall added: “The first time we had the opportunity to speak to Dustin was the 12th hole. We asked if there was some other reason the ball could have moved. He didn’t state a reason. We decided not to review it with Dustin at the media tent on the 13th hole and instead wait till the end.”

BHA could suspend Graham Gibbons after urine sample switch accusation

BHA could suspend Graham Gibbons after urine sample switch accusation

The British Horseracing Authority is considering whether to suspend the licence of jockey Graham Gibbons after claims he switched his own urine sample with fellow rider Callum Shepherd.

Officials at Kempton’s twilight fixture on Wednesday made the claim against Gibbons regarding a sample for routine dope and alcohol testing.

A BHA spokesman confirmed that because of the seriousness of the allegation it was looking at whether to allow Gibbons to continue riding pending the completion of the investigation.

Gibbons, who served a five week ban after failing a breathalyser test in 2007, is scheduled to take seven mounts at Newcastle on Friday.

Gibbons and Shepherd, whose licence is unaffected, both had one ride each on the Kempton card.

Gibbons finished sixth on Button Up in the second division of a one-mile maiden event.

A stewards’ report on the BHA website said: “The stewards held an inquiry following a report from the clerk of the scales that Graham Gibbons, the rider of Button Up, had substituted the urine sample that he was required to produce with that of another rider, Callum Shepherd.

“Having heard evidence from the sampling officer, Graham Gibbons, Callum Shepherd, Paul Struthers, the chief executive of the Professional Jockeys Association who accompanied Shepherd, and a valet, they forwarded a report to the head office of the British Horseracing Authority for further consideration.”

Robbie McNamara: ‘I don’t ‘deal’ with paralysis, I just go to work’

Robbie McNamara: 'I don't 'deal' with paralysis, I just go to work'

Robbie McNamara would not necessarily enjoy the description of him, but he is an inspiration.

The 28-year-old was paralysed below the waist in April 2015, when his mount in a minor race at Wexford came down the day before he was due to travel to Britain to line up in the Aintree Grand National for a second time.

He was the last jockey to sustain the same kind of life-changing injuries that have affected Freddy Tylicki since his fall in a Flat race at Kempton in October, and now trains 38 horses from his wheelchair.

A long list of injuries led to months of treatment and rehabilitation, but McNamara – whose cousin John Thomas McNamara was paralysed when falling at Cheltenham in 2013, and died three years later – simply won’t acknowledge the word ‘disability’ nor let it interrupt his life.

And he will not thank anyone for suggesting otherwise.

Robbie McNamara: 'I don't 'deal' with paralysis, I just go to work'

“I don’t ‘deal’ with it,” McNamara told BBC Radio 5 live, firmly. “I get up in the morning and just go to work. There’s not a cloud hanging over me. It doesn’t bother me.

“What does bother me is when I go racing and people say ‘oh, it’s great to see you out’ or stuff like that. That annoys me.

“I’m probably making more money than them, I’m probably happier than they are, I probably drive a better car, I live in a nicer house and they’re taking pity on me, and it drives me mad. But it spurs me on.”

For obvious reasons, the extent of Tylicki’s injuries chimed particularly strongly.

Like thousands of others, McNamara witnessed the four-horse pile-up in a routine Kempton race and has been struck by the outpouring of sympathy from across horse racing – Flat and National Hunt – following the incident.

At Clunemore stables in Irish racing’s Curragh HQ, there was a grim feeling of familiarity.

“When the doctor came out and said he is paralysed so early, it was a definitive answer, which I think was better, ” said McNamara, who was on the same course as Tylicki’s sister Madeleine prior to them both receiving trainers’ licences.

“One thing that annoyed me a bit was that I kind of accepted it after two or three weeks, but people around me were saying it might be [less serious] spinal shock.

“Being realistic is important. He’s been dealt his hand and he has to get on with it. It’s not going to be pleasant – it’s a horrible road ahead – but he knows what he has and at least he knows he can get on, whereas I was waking up wishing and hoping all day.”

While acknowledging everyone must come to terms with their situation in their own way, McNamara has told Madeleine Tylicki he is willing to speak to Freddy if she thinks it would help.

Seeing McNamara wheeling himself around the stables or transferring smoothly from the chair into his car before handing down instructions to the riders on the gallops seems to confirm his insistence that anything and everything is possible.

His first runners, at Cork in July, provided McNamara with just the sort of instant impression he had planned – two wins and a second place – plus the added advantage of giving the “pitying brigade something else to talk about other than the accident and the wheelchair”.

Robbie McNamara: 'I don't 'deal' with paralysis, I just go to work'

His training philosophy involves “keeping horses happy”, learnt when working for master trainer Dermot Weld; improved levels of core fitness observed on mornings riding for Willie Mullins, Ireland’s champion jumps trainer; and the latest sports science and technologies.

McNamara has big ambitions, too, with the jump racing festivals at Cheltenham, Aintree – where he’s aiming bumper-horse Rathcannon at a race on the Grand National undercard next April, and Punchestown in his sights, as well as the major Flat prizes across Ireland and Britain.

During 11 successful seasons race-riding, McNamara was renowned for his two wins at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival, his style in the saddle, and for his inevitable sibling rivalry with brother Andrew, who was also unfeasibly tall.

Both are now trainers and you cannot help thinking McNamara is relishing the chance to take on his elder sibling. “I’ll leave him behind quick enough,” he said, grinning.

There is, indeed, no cloud hanging over this guy.

You can hear more from McNamara on BBC 5 Live Sport from 19:00 GMT on Thursday

Arsenal: Arsene Wenger tries to calm Alexis Sanchez & Mesut Ozil fears

Arsenal: Arsene Wenger tries to calm Alexis Sanchez & Mesut Ozil fears

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says the club will do the “maximum of what we can” to keep key forwards Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil in north London.

The pair have been linked with other clubs and, with 18 months remaining on their Arsenal contracts, are in talks with the Gunners about new deals.

“Eighteen months is quite long in football. These players have 18 months, they will be staying 18 months and, hopefully, much longer,” said Wenger.

“I don’t believe that it is a problem.”

He added: “A contract is between two parties and on my side the best position is to achieve it early.

“You have to accept that negotiations are private and secret and we don’t have to explain what we do with negotiations.”

Asked if he is willing to break the club’s wage structure to keep the players, Wenger replied: “Like always we will do the maximum of what we can for every single player.”

Chile international Sanchez has 11 top flight goals so far this season and is the joint leading goalscorer in the Premier League along with Chelsea striker Diego Costa.

Newspaper reports suggest he is a target for the Blues and a Chinese club.

“Why should you go to China when you are playing in England?” said Wenger.

“We live in a world where the great players like Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil earn a lot of money and have the privilege to choose where they want to play.

“The commitment of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil is absolutely total and I’m very pleased with that.”

Charlotte Edwards: Hampshire move for former England captain

Charlotte Edwards: Hampshire move for former England captain

Former England captain Charlotte Edwards has joined Hampshire after ending her 16-year spell with Kent.

Edwards recently took a position as a non-executive board director with Hampshire and Southern Vipers, who she captained to the inaugural Women’s Super League title in the summer.

The 36-year-old retired from international cricket in May, having captained England more than 200 times.

She will play for Adelaide Strikers in the Women’s Big Bash this winter.

“After spending the last year at the Ageas Bowl with the Southern Vipers it felt the right move for me to play my last few years of cricket with the club,” Edwards told the Hampshire website.

“The opportunity has come at a great time in my career and I look forward to playing with such a young and exciting group over the next few seasons.”