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18th hole jinx continues for Pak

»Pakistan returned to the World Cup of Golf after a gap of 27 years this week and would be enjoying mid-leaderboard respectability but for an 18th hole jinx.
Muhammad Munir and Muhammad Shabbir shot 10 birdies in Saturday's fourballs but a double bogey at the last, where they dropped three shots on Friday, left them just one spot off the bottom of the leaderboard at the 28-team event.

"If they hadn't dropped those five shots they'd be right in it," Taimir Hassan Amin, secretary general of the Pakistan Golf Federation (PGF), told Reuters as he walked the 18th fairway at the Mission Hills Golf Club.

Munir and Shabbir fired their country back into the World Cup for the first time since 1982 by finishing third in Asian qualifying in August.

"They're really good players but they don't play enough," he said. "They were apprehensive because it was their first time playing the World Cup. It's a really big thing for our golf, it will help motivate our youngsters."

Political unrest has played its part in restricting playing time for the country's top players with the Pakistan Open at the Karachi Golf Club being cancelled for the last two years because of security concerns. "We are battling perceptions that it is unsafe," Amin said. "People don't realise that Karachi is a thousand miles from where the trouble is. But the media keeps reporting the problems so the players feel it would be unsafe."

Raikkonen close to rally deal

»Finland's 2007 Formula One champion Kimi Raikkonen could be close to agreeing a deal with Citroen to compete in the world rally championship next year, the official wrc.com website reported on Friday.

The website said nothing was signed yet but quoted a source close to the former McLaren and Ferrari driver saying only small details remained to be tied up before an official announcement.

It said the 13-race programme was believed to be funded by energy drink company Red Bull, a Citroen sponsor who also have their own Formula One teams.
Citroen could offer Raikkonen a competitive car, with Frenchman Sebastien Loeb taking the rally world title for the past six years.

Raikkonen had said he was planning to take a year out of Formula One after being replaced at Ferrari by Spain's double world champion Fernando Alonso and failing to reach an agreement with McLaren.

Lara awarded Order of Australia

»West Indian batting legend Brian Lara has been appointed an honorary member of the Order of Australia.

The Australian government in a statement on Thursday hailed Lara’s “service to Australia-Caribbean relations by promoting goodwill, friendship and sportsmanship through the sport of cricket”.

“Lara has been pivotal in enabling cricket coaching workshops to be conducted for talented young cricketers,” the statement says.

“By facilitating the use of Australian coaching staff locally, he has been the key to furthering a positive image of Australia in the Caribbean.”

No more age excuses please: Wenger

»Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has warned his maturing team there can be no more age excuses if the club fails to land any honours for a fourth successive season.

"There is a period for any team to come out and show its strength. For my team this moment has come," the Frenchman said ahead of Sunday's clash with Premier League leaders Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal's last trophy came in 2005 when the north London club beat Manchester United on penalties to win the FA Cup, but since then a succession of high-profile player departures and a stadium move have limited the funds available to Wenger.
The manager has instead set about moulding a free-flowing team of talented youngsters, who Wenger feels have matured considerably.

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