Long-odds Leishman a good bet

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Long odds aside, Marc Leishman is shaping up as a serious contender at the US Open.

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The bookmakers must have missed the memo on the affable Victorian who enters Chambers Bay as arguably Australia’s most in form golfer but opened at 126-1.

Since returning to competitive golf after almost losing wife Audrey to toxic shock syndrome, an ordeal that kept him from playing the Masters, Leishman has been building to something big.

Playing with a new, carefree perspective he contended in New Orleans, was a giant killer at the World Golf Championship Match Play, showed some flashes of brilliance at the Players Championship and Crowne Plaza Invitational and then was tied fifth in his last start at the Memorial Tournament just two weeks ago.

And with Chambers Bay setting up to have a more British Open feel than a typical US Open, the 31-year-old will also take strength from his fifth-place finish at Royal Liverpool last year.

“I definitely think I’m building to something big.

“My form’s been good, the last couple of months things are trending in the right direction, the putter feels good and I’m excited about the week,” Leishman said.

“The US Open is not usually my favourite tournament, but this is different.

“The fairways are more generous here, and the green, you’ve got to use a lot of imagination, whereas normally you’ve got to just hack it out at the US Open and hope that you judge it somewhat right.”

Leishman has braced himself for the inevitable frustration of bogeys, but while in the past he might have stewed on them for too long, these days he moves on and gets back to business.

“Obviously after what happened to Audrey, my perspective is a little different and I think I play my best golf when I don’t really care what the outcome is – just try to hit a shot and if it comes off, great; if it doesn’t, it’s not going to change my life,” he said.

“That’s going to be really good around here because there’s going to be times when you hit really good shots and it finishes in really bad positions.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if 10 over won it, so mindset is a big thing and I’m just going to try to have a really good one this week and not worry about the score.”

“Someone’s got to win it, and hopefully I’m one of those guys in it at the end.”

Adam Scott seeks spark from caddie

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Adam Scott hopes reuniting with hard-edged master caddie Steve Williams will reignite his spark and set him on the path to US Open glory.

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Scott will go in the Open at Chambers Bay on Thursday a year removed from being world No.1, now down to No.12 after a fruitless 2015 campaign thus far.

Williams and Scott, who combined at 16 majors over the last four years, notching up his 2013 Masters title and 12 other top-15 results, are back together after splitting at the end of last year.

Since then, Scott has struggled, with his best result in the last three months a tie for 24th at the Crowne Plaza Invitational, where he was defending champion, culminating in him letting new caddie Mike Kerr go.

“Obviously he (Williams) brings something out in me. The last few years have been really positive,” said Scott on Tuesday.

“Hopefully the old spark lights up again as I am just trying to get something going.

“I have just struggled with that this year and I think this will help.”

While the pair had plenty of success, by the end of their stint in 2014 frustrations were clearly evident as their differing personalities clashed.

Williams, a Kiwi who was also on the bag for 13 of Tiger Woods’ 14 major championship triumphs, is widely known as the best in the business and has a hard competitive edge.

Scott, while also competitive, is calmer in nature and when combined with the also calm Kerr was unable to fire.

“I spent four years playing with him (Williams) at a really high level and enjoying that energy,” Scott added.

“It is tough to maintain that.

“There is a lot of strain and pressure doing that and there has been a bit of a letdown on my side in the last six months from that.

“This is the thing to get me back up there.”

It was a reunion that may not have happened, given Williams was enjoying his retirement, racing cars and coaching rugby.

But he declared himself ready to be the help Scott needs for this week and also at the British Open, the WGC Bridgestone and the US PGA Championship in their limited reunion.

“Absolutely, I wouldn’t be here otherwise,” said 51-year-old Williams.

“I’ve absolutely 100 per cent enjoyed not being a caddie — just having a normal routine. When you’ve been out here as long as I have, you don’t miss that.

“But look, if you had an option to come back and work a few tournaments, it’s a pretty good four to work.

“This is a fantastic place (and) St Andrews (for the British Open) – there’s no better place than that in golf.”

Serbia to face Brazil in U-20 World Cup final

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The match grew spiteful in the final few minutes of extra time with Youssouf Kone, who had scored Mali’s goal, sent off when he received a second yellow card for apparent dissent.

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He then appeared to push Argentine referee Mauro Vigliano and needed to be ushered away by his team mates before he trudged off North Harbour Stadium in Auckland.

Andrija Zivkovic opened the scoring in the fourth minute for Serbia, though they could have had at least another three goals as Mali’s defence disintegrated.

Mali, however tested Serbia throughout on the counter attack and they got back into the game when they spread the ball to Kone who slammed it from 35 metres out past the diving Predrag Rajkovic to level the game.

The goal rejuvenated Mali and Rajkovic was forced to tip a Soulemayne Diarra rocket from 25 metres over the bar less than two minutes later.

The Serbian captain again saved his side in the 67th minute when Dieudonne Gbakle was through one on one, while the crossbar thwarted Serbia’s Milan Gajic three minutes later when his volley from 25 metres beat the diving Djigui Diarra.

In the early semi-final, Brazil, who won two successive penalty shootouts to reach the last four, ended a 244-minute scoring drought in some style with three goals in the first 20 minutes to effectively wrap up their place in the final.

Brazil were 2-0 up in the first seven minutes with Anda Correa conceding an own goal after a Joao Pedro cross deflected off his leg before Guilherme doubled the advantage.

Boschilia put the game beyond any doubt in the 19th minute when Senegal goalkeeper Ibrahima Sy parried a cross into the midfielder’s path before defender Jorge completed the first half scoring in the 35th minute.

Senegal, who had been unfortunate not to score when Sidy Sarr’s 19th minute shot cannoned off the crossbar, were reduced to 10 men just before halftime when Elimane Cisse received a second booking.

With the match settled in the first half, the game meandered after the break with neither side creating any real chances until Guilherme put a gloss on the victory with his second goal in the 78th minute.

“We’ve had some good games and we’ve had some problems, but as a team we’ve grown through those difficult matches,” Brazil coach Rogerio Micale said. “Today everyone played perfectly.

“I am very happy with my team as a whole. When no one scores against us that shows that our defence is working well and it has been a whole team effort.”

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Nick Mulvenney/Amlan Chakraborty)

Security lapses left US system vulnerable

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US officials say years of cybersecurity lapses have left its governmental personnel agency wide open to hacks that have exposed the private information about nearly every federal employee.

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Democrats and Republicans on the House oversight and government reform committee were united on Tuesday in heaping scorn upon the leaders of the Office of Personnel Management, the agency whose data was breached last year in two massive cyberattacks only recently revealed.

“You failed utterly and totally,” said the committee’s chairman, Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican.

The criticism came from within, as well. Michael Esser, the agency’s assistant inspector general for audit, told the committee of a years-long inability by OPM to meet federal cybersecurity standards.

For a long time, he said, the people running the agency’s information technology had no expertise. These shortcomings made the agency especially vulnerable to cyberattack, he said.

In November, an inspector-general’s audit recommended that the agency shut down some of its networks because they were so vulnerable, Esser testified. The director, Katherine Archuleta, declined, saying it would interfere with the agency’s mission.

The hackers were already inside her networks, she later acknowledged.

“They recommended it was so bad that you shut it down and you didn’t,” Chaffetz said.

Archuleta, stumbling occasionally under withering questions from lawmakers, sought to defend her tenure and portray the agency’s problems as decades in the making. She appeared to cast blame on her recent predecessors, one of whom, John Berry, is the US ambassador to Australia.

Offered chances to apologise and resign, she declined to do either.

Chaffetz said the two breaches “may be the most devastating cyberattack in our nation’s history”, and said OPM’s security policy was akin to leaving its doors and windows unlocked and expecting nothing to be stolen.

“I am as distressed as you are about how long these systems have gone neglected,” Archuleta said, adding at another point, “The whole of government is responsible and it will take all of us to solve the issue.”

Archuleta and the other witnesses offered few new details about the breaches in the public hearing, deferring most questions about methods and damage to a later, classified session.

After that session, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the committee’s ranking Democrat, demanded that the committee hear testimony from two OPM contractors, KeyPoint and USIS, that fell victim to hacks last year. Earlier, Cummings and other lawmakers questioned whether the OPM network was compromised first through hacking of the contractors, and OPM officials declined to answer.

During the open hearing, Donna Seymour, the agency’s chief information officer, confirmed that personnel information on 4.2 million current and former federal employees had been stolen, not just accessed.

The number of security clearance holders whose data has been taken is not yet known, she said. But the records go back to 1985 and include contractors as well as federal employees. Some government officials estimate the number could be up to 14 million.

And because their security clearance applications contain personal information about friends and family, those people’s data is vulnerable as well.

Bournemouth host Villa, Chelsea start against Swansea

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The Cherries, close to liquidation in 2008, follow up their opener with a trip to Liverpool a week later, according to the 2015-16 fixtures released on Wednesday.

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Champions Chelsea begin the defence of their title at home to Swansea City, while runners-up Manchester City kick off at West Bromwich Albion.

With 12 wins from their last 13 opening-day fixtures Chelsea boast the best record in the league.

The first big clash between those clubs expected to fight for the title sees Chelsea visit Manchester City on the second weekend of the new season.

Arsenal, who finished third last season, host Slaven Bilic’s West Ham United in an all-London opener, as Manchester United, whose opening to the season will be complicated by a Champions League playoff tie, take on Tottenham Hotspur at home.

Liverpool have an immediate opportunity to avenge a 6-1 loss to Stoke City on the final day of last season with a return to the Britannia Stadium on the opening weekend.

Bournemouth will provide the novelty factor though after they were promoted as Championship title winners under up-and-coming young manager Eddie Howe.

Their fans will already be pencilling in a home date against Manchester United, who they famously beat as a third-tier side in 1984, although they will have to wait until the second half of the season to welcome Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea to the 12,000-capacity Goldsands Stadium.

Other key fixtures include the Manchester derby at Old Trafford on Oct. 24, Chelsea hosting Arsenal on the weekend of Sept. 19 and a heavyweight festive meeting between Manchester United and Chelsea on Dec. 28.

The Premier League season starts a week earlier than last season because of the Euro 2016 Championship next June.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

Terry Campese suffers another torn ACL

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Terry Campese has suffered another major knee injury.

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The former Raider again tearing his anterior cruciate ligament, this time while playing in the UK Super League with Hull KR.

The former Raiders five-eighth limped off against Castleford a fortnight ago, and further scans have revealed he suffered a ruptured ACL and will undergo surgery.

Campese was seen as a potential Man of Steel after making an impressive start to his Super League career and recently signed an extended contract with the Robins, who are struggling to make the top eight.

Hull KR coach Chris Chester said: “It’s very disappointing to lose Terry for such an extended period as he is an instrumental part of our team and a fantastic leader within the squad.

“He has really settled into the Super League competition and was playing some fantastic rugby for us, so to be without him for the rest of the season is tough to take.”

Hull KR have already been linked with Parramatta halfback Chris Sandow and Chester admits he is looking for a short-term replacement for Campese.

“Albert Kelly and Maurice Blair played very well in the halves against Widnes on Sunday and we’ve also got the likes of Connor Robinson and Matty Marsh waiting for an opportunity,” Chester said.

“There’s also the option of bringing somebody in to replace Terry for the rest of the season, so we’re keeping all options open at this stage, but Terry’s health is the most important thing right now.

“He’s in good hands with the specialists, along with our own medical team, and he’ll get our full support as we hope to see him back out on the field in the best possible shape next season.”

Michelin enter bidding for F1 tyre contract

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The French tyre maker announced on its Twitter feed that it had entered a tender, launched by the governing body, before a Wednesday deadline.

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Current supplier Pirelli are considered the favoured candidates, with some senior figures in the sport opposed to a switch to 18-inch wheels from the current 13-inch ones.

“Whether we’ll be selected or not, we’ll see,” Michelin motorsport head Pascal Couasnon told motorsport苏州纹眉会所,.

“But I’d say we want to be coherent with our proposals and offer the opportunity to the teams and the drivers to have a tyre that enables everyone to express themselves and drive to the max.”

Drivers regularly complain that the current rules force them to look after fast-deteriorating tyres and ease off the throttle to save fuel.

Michelin withdrew from Formula One in 2006, a year after a farcical U.S. Grand Prix that went ahead with only six cars after all the Michelin-equipped teams withdrew on safety grounds.

Formula One has had a sole supplier since then, with Bridgestone replaced by Pirelli in 2011.

Couasnon said Michelin preferred competition but the technological challenge could come from the rules themselves.

“When you are not allowed to change tyres and refuel at the same time at Le Mans, the teams need tyres that can handle several stints,” he said.

“So even without rivals, you’re being challenged in a technical way by your clients. That’s what we want to do in F1.

“If there are several tyre suppliers, perfect. If there is only one, then a switch to 18-inch and a show made with tyres that you don’t change every 10 laps is already a pretty nice technical challenge that will be useful for all of us.”

Formula One’s commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone has already indicated he opposes that.

“All Michelin would do is make a rock-hard tyre that you could put on in January and take off in December because they don’t want to be in a position where they can be criticized,” he said last month.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

NT police search for ‘vigilante’

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Northern Territory police are looking for a man they believe was involved in a revenge attack over the fatal shooting of a Darwin man.

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Police are seeking Alfred Walker, 40, over an incident that occurred on Saturday night.

It followed the death that morning of Fabian Brock, 25 who was shot in the head while behind the wheel of his car.

“We’d like to speak to Mr Walker in relation to taking matters into his own hands” and seeking retribution over Mr Brock’s death, detective Acting Superintendent Lee Morgan told reporters on Wednesday.

“He’s pretty difficult to locate which is why we’ve gone public, to encourage him to come forward.”

Police believe Mr Walker is still in the Darwin area.

It is believed that on Saturday night Mr Walker and Shayne Robert Mulhall, 33, visited a Palmerston home and threatened its occupants over Mr Brock’s shooting.

During a raid on Monday night police arrested Mulhall, who appeared in the Darwin Magistrates Court on Wednesday on charges of aggravated assault, going armed in public and unlawfully entering a home.

His lawyer Peter Maley told the court his client did not have a weapon.

Mulhall was denied bail due to the seriousness of the charges against him.

It is believed Mr Brock’s shooting is related to the stabbing of a Palmerston man on Friday night.

Acting Supt Morgan said the man accused of the stabbing, Rodney Kenyon, was a person of interest in the shooting “as are a number of other people”.

He also confirmed police had seized a silver Toyota HiLux in the vicinity of Union Terrace near Lee Point where Mr Brock was shot.

Police seized a number of weapons during Monday night’s raid.

They also seized Mulhall’s car which had been damaged by a shotgun blast.

Acting Supt Morgan would not say if rival gangs were involved in the weekend’s violence.

“There are a number of people in this community who know what happened, we’ve spoken to some of them, but there are a lot more out there. Please, come forward and help us bring the killer of Mr Brock to justice,” he said.

Slim hopes fading for sluggish Swedes

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Three draws in three Group D games gave the Swedes third place, with the United States topping the standings and the Matildas stealing second place thanks to the point won in Edmonton against the lacklustre Scandinavians.

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With 16 of the 24 teams making it to the knockout stages the Swedes still have a chance to go through, but their progress is entirely dependent on results in Groups E and F, which will be decided on Wednesday.

“Today I’m disappointed, yes,” coach Sundhage told Swedish state radio after the draw that felt like a defeat. “Today, I’m a loser.”

Sundhage’s side have been strangely flat in Canada, throwing away the lead in a 3-3 draw with Nigeria before earning a creditable draw against tournament favourites the U.S.

They battled hard against Australia but with striker Lotta Schelin putting in another sub-par performance, they lacked the spark needed to ignite their World Cup campaign.

“Our play didn’t lead to the result we wanted,” a disappointed Sundhage said. “In the last 15 minutes we hoped for more chances with the upper hand that we had.

“I would have liked to have seen more crosses, but there was too much holding the ball and there are no points to be had from that.”

There are several combinations of results that mightthrow the Swedes a lifeline and Sundhage remained positive.

“We haven’t lost and we’ve scored four goals — I’ll take that in the plus column,” she told Swedish radio.

“We have had to take the hardest route and we might still go through tomorrow. If we get a second chance, we’re really going to take it.”

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

DCE still league’s black sheep

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The stage had been set for Daly Cherry-Evans to become Queensland’s white knight in State of Origin II in Melbourne on Wednesday night.

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Instead the Maroons playmaker remains rugby league’s black sheep, it seems, after Queensland’s 26-18 Origin II loss to NSW.

Cherry-Evans polarised the public when he backflipped on a four-year Gold Coast NRL deal and stayed at Manly on a “lifetime” $10 million deal.

Yet a packed MCG crowd appeared to merge as one to boo the Maroons halfback when his image appeared on the big screen as he ran out.

It was a ribbing that had added effect thanks to a record Origin crowd of 91,513.

And it wasn’t the first time Cherry-Evans found a way to bring Origin’s tribal rivalry together.

The only thing Queensland captain Cameron Smith and NSW rival Paul Gallen could agree on before the match was that Cherry-Evans faced the biggest challenge in Origin II.

Suffice to say there was plenty of pressure as he attempted to step up for the injured Cooper Cronk (knee).

But it seems there were no excuses.

Cherry-Evans was filling in for Cronk just as he had done in game two last year.

However, that’s where the similarities ended.

Last year Cherry-Evans struggled in Origin II after having just one training session due to a knee niggle.

This time Cherry-Evans had a full preparation in the Maroons camp.

Unfortunately for the Queensland halfback the result seemed to be the same.

He appeared frazzled, took poor options and was disjointed alongside pivot Johnathan Thurston.

Overall he had a team high three missed tackles.

The signs were ominous for Cherry-Evans when he missed a tackle that led to NSW centre and man of the match Michael Jennings’ fourth minute try.

He may lay claim to a try assist but back-rower Matt Gillett had plenty of work to do, stepping through Paul Gallen and Robbie Farah to score in the 47th minute.

Before the game Queensland assistant Michael Hagan admitted being without Cronk in game two was an “issue”.

But Hagan hoped Cherry-Evans was up for the challenge.

“You want to build a team around someone like that,” Hagan said.

But it remains to be seen if and when Cherry-Evans will be the man for Queensland to build around.

Cronk hopes to return ahead of game three on July 8 in Brisbane.

He has already shown his regenerative powers by returning early from a broken wrist in 2014’s game three.

And Brisbane’s Ben Hunt is currently the NRL’s form halfback.

Cynics could argue at least one thing went to script for Cherry-Evans on Wednesday night.

The boos he copped were expected after he was jeered recently at Queensland home ground Suncorp Stadium playing for Manly against the Broncos.