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Uneasy twosome: Golf and politics at Saudi Arabia tournament

first_imgGolf usually isn’t all that complicated for Dustin Johnson. He decides where he’s going to play and tries to post the lowest score. The newest addition to his schedule involved a little more than that. Johnson is among several of golf’s biggest stars who are scheduled to play the Saudi International at the end of the month. Johnson and Masters champion Patrick Reed were among the first to sign up last April for the European Tour event, long before Saudi Arabia came under even greater scrutiny over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Johnson said he talked to his corporate sponsors to make sure they didn’t have a problem with him playing. He will be joining a field that features Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau – that makes four of the top five players in the world ranking – at Royal Green Golf and Country Club on Jan. 31. ”Obviously, that was a concern with our team,” Johnson said. ”I’m going over there to play a sport I’m paid to play. It’s my job to play golf. Unfortunately, it’s in a part of the world where most people don’t agree with what happened, and I definitely don’t support anything like that. I’m going to play golf, not support them. ”I’m not a politician. I play golf.” He also said it might have been a tougher decision if not for so many others going. Along with four of the top five in the world, the Saudi International includes the last two Masters champions – Reed and Sergio Garcia – and former Open champion Henrik Stenson. ”I think any time we’re trying to grow the game and expose the game in a positive way, that’s what we’re trying to do,” said DeChambeau, a four-time winner on the PGA Tour last year. ”I don’t think it’s a bad decision as long as they want us there. That’s what I’ve heard – they want us there. And they want to have a little bit more exposure in the game of golf. And that’s what I’m trying to do.” It’s not all goodwill, of course. The purse is $3.5 million, though the primary income for these players is appearance money, likely to be in the $1 million range for the biggest names. That’s common for some European Tour events, especially early in the year in the Middle East, which hosted its first golf tournament in Dubai in 1989 and now has six on the Arabian Peninsula. Johnson and Koepka start their journey this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, an event that in years past has featured top players like Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson. Saudi Arabia’s human rights record has come under intense scrutiny since the killing in October of Khashoggi, who wrote critically of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in columns for The Washington Post. He had been living in self-imposed exile before he was killed and dismembered inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, according to Turkish media and officials. European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley deflected concerns when he introduced the Saudi International to the schedule in November. ”As like many global companies, we monitor the situation in the areas countries, areas we play and the viability of the golf tournament, and I can simply say that the Saudi International is on our schedule in 2019,” Pelley said. ”And I really don’t have anything more to add than that.” Among those not going is Paul Casey, who last April was listed as ”confirmed” for the tournament with Johnson and Reed. He says that was never the case, only that he had entertained the idea of going. ”But there were a lot of questions,” Casey said. ”Do I want to go to Saudi? That was the main question.” There also was the matter of Casey being an ambassador for UNICEF, with the logo on his golf bag. ”There are a lot of places in the world that I have played and continue to go, which you could question … some human rights violations that governments have committed,” he said. ”I thought I’d sit this out one.” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has granted releases for his members to play the tournament, held the same week as the Waste Management Phoenix Open. He said the U.S. tour’s only involvement was making sure the trip was safe for its players. ”Those are all terrible things that have happened, and that’s what gives us concern about our players’ safety,” Monahan said about recent develops in Saudi Arabia. ”Our players are independent contractors. Ultimately, they’re going to make their own choice. Our job is to make them as informed as they can be.” Koepka, who won two majors last year and was the PGA Tour Player of the Year, also said he received no pushback from his sponsors. Like Johnson, it was another offer to play golf in a new spot. The PGA Tour runs a developmental tour and sponsors a World Golf Championship event in China. The European Tour has had Turkey on the schedule since 2013. ”People are always going to have different views on politics wherever you go,” Koepka said. ”All these places, there’s a bit of conflict if you want to get into it. I’m not going to get into it. It’s going to be an unbelievable field of golf there. Hopefully, you can spread some goodwill through golf when you’re there.”last_img read more

FairPoint efficiencies expected to result in $6.6 million annualized savings

first_imgConsolidated Communications,FairPoint Communications, Inc (Nasdaq CM: FRP) says it is continuing to improve its operations. Along with expansion of broadband services, it has reduced employment by 78 through buyouts and layoffs. The location of the employment reductions were not announced.”We’re making good operational gains and we are proud of the 8.4 percent gain in broadband subscribers in 2011 ‘ the highest percentage gain among our industry peers,” said FairPoint CEO Paul Sunu.Earlier in March, FairPoint offered employees, who are members of the Communications Workers of America, an opportunity to take advantage of early retirement incentives. Forty-six employees were accepted for this voluntary retirement program, which takes effect March 30. The company believes this effort will result in expected annualized operating expense savings of approximately $3.8 million, with the full benefit realized in 2013. The company expects to provide severance or incentive payments of approximately $2.3 million.Additionally, FairPoint is expecting to realize further savings by consolidating operational functions. Thirty-two non-represented employees will be leaving the company as their positions are eliminated. The expected result is annualized operating expense savings of approximately $2.8 million and severance payments of approximately $400,000. “The telecommunications industry is transforming rapidly and FairPoint is positioning itself to compete,” Sunu said. “We continue to be optimistic about our business strategy, including progress being made on the regulatory front. As we continue to align for the future, FairPoint is focused on our customers and the exciting challenges in the telecommunications marketplace.” CHARLOTTE, N.C., March 30, 2012 /PRNewswire/last_img read more

Former UMN student-athlete carving out path in sport apparel

first_imgFormer UMN student-athlete carving out path in sport apparelSarah Klecker, who competed in cross country and track and field at the U, has designed apparel for wheelchair racing and even running in the frozen tundra.Bit Klecker Brendan O’Brien, Sports ReporterSeptember 25, 2020Jump to CommentsShare on FacebookShare on TwitterShare via EmailPrintSarah Klecker is passionate about two things in life: running and sports apparel.Luckily for her, those two passions go hand in hand. But throughout her time as a student and athlete, Klecker has had to find a way to balance running with her professional goals within the realm of sports product design.“Being a [former] athlete at Minnesota and then going into performance apparel design, they kind of bounced off each other nicely,” Klecker said. “That being said, the balance of those things was not easy because apparel design was incredibly time intensive.”Designing sports apparelKlecker earned her undergraduate degree in apparel design at Minnesota in 2017 and then attended the University of Oregon to earn her master’s degree in sports product design. While in graduate school, Klecker worked on various sports apparel projects to help solve problems she identified within the running community.One project was inspired by Paul Robinson, the only person to run a mile in Antarctica: Klecker designed a running shoe that would perform better in the conditions of the frozen tundra. She also worked on creating ideal running apparel for The Speed Project, an event in which teams of runners race from Los Angeles, California to Las Vegas, Nevada, experiencing drastically different temperatures throughout the race. But Klecker said one of her favorite projects to work on was designing racing apparel for women’s wheelchair racers.“We have the same goals and start at the same start line, but physiologically and biomechanically, it’s entirely different,” Klecker said. “It was just interesting because there were a lot of unique problems to solve that weren’t being addressed by running apparel in the running community.”Over the years, Klecker has done some remote apparel work for Target. She also just started working for The Squad, an apparel consulting firm based in Portland, Oregon. While she said Minnesota will always be home, Klecker enjoys being out in Portland, the sports apparel hub of the United States. “Portland has been really fun because it is the center of the sport product design world, at least in the United States,” Klecker said. “You’ve got Nike headquarters, Adidas United States headquarters, Under Armour is out here, Columbia is out here and elite athletes train out here.”A life of runningRunning has naturally been a part of Klecker’s life since she was a child. She and her five other siblings were raised by two competitive runners. Her mother, Janis, is a former Olympian who competed in the 1992 marathon. Klecker was a member of the Gophers’ cross country and track and field teams from September of 2013 to May of 2018. Her sister, Bit, is currently a redshirt junior competing for the Gophers’ women’s track and field and cross country teams.Just because her time as a student-athlete ended over three years ago does not mean running is no longer an important aspect of Klecker’s life. Since she moved out to Oregon, she joined the Bowerman Track Club Elite and competed in a marathon in early December with the hopes of qualifying for the United States Olympic Trials. Klecker came a few minutes away from qualifying but said she will keep training and see where the next four years take her.“It was a solid first step, and I think I could run faster the next time,” Klecker said. “I really loved the training for it.”For now, Klecker is not quite sure where these two passions will take her, but she does know she is excited for the adventure.“I feel like I am going to be the person who is going to be shifting around for a little bit,” Klecker said. “I do think I will end up wanting to work for a larger company. I like working with a smaller company right now because I get to wear many different hats, but I would also like to be a little more focused in my work.”last_img read more

Fukushima prevails at Higuchi

first_img IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5 Fukushima brought her number of career wins on the Japanese tour to 19, in addition to two on the U.S. circuit.The 33-year-old shot a final-round 70 that gave her a share of the lead with Yokomine at 9-under-par 207 after the regulation 54 holes at the Musashigaoka Golf Course.“I fell behind them early on but managed to hang in there,” Fukushima said after making a two-putt birdie on the extra hole — the par-5 18th — while referring to playing partners Yokomine and Ai Miyazato in the final threesome. GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMEScenter_img HANNO, Saitama Pref. – Akiko Fukushima stole the limelight from two of the popular youngsters on the women’s tour on Sunday, edging overnight leader Sakura Yokomine in a playoff to win the Hisako Higuchi IDC Otsuka Ladies.Fukushima birdied the first extra hole to seal her second victory of the year following her triumph in last month’s Munsingwear Ladies Tokai Classic, where she signaled her recent resurgence with her first title in two years.last_img read more

‘The right decision was made’

first_imgIn stark contrast to the relationship between Cricket South Africa and the national team last year, acting chief executive Jacques Faul said it was time for the organisation and players “to stand together” which is why the decision was made to bring the Proteas back early from India.South Africa were scheduled to play three ODIs in India but after the opening game in Dharamsala last week was washed out the decision was made to cancel the tour due to the coronavirus outbreak.The Proteas arrived back in Johannesburg early Wednesday morning.ALSO READ: ‘Rapid change’ means Proteas go into self-isolation“It’s time for us to stand together, the world is in crisis and we have to react in a way that will safeguard lives. It’s wonderful that the Proteas are back and our policy was safety first for all the people involved. We thank the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) because it was not an easy decision and there are big financial implications for India. But we will return and honour the fixtures. But our players had to come first,” Faul said.Dr Shuaib Manjra, CSA’s chief medical officer who was specifically praised by the acting CEO for his “sterling leadership”, also explained that there was only a short period of time between the tour being given the go-ahead and the global situation changing so rapidly as to make the return of the Proteas imperative.“Prior to the tour, CSA did a risk assessment which determined that it would be safe because India had only 30 isolated cases and they were not in the cities we were due to play in. At that time the world was a very different place, India was low risk and we decided to tour with precautionary measures put in place. But while on tour the world became a very different place, Covid-19 has changed the global environment.“It moved from the east to the west, the World Health Organisation declared it a pandemic and countries started closing their borders. India was still low risk, South Africa also, but we had to look at what was happening and predict potential risks like borders being closed and being stuck in a foreign country.“We could have been prevented from leaving India. The players’ frame of mind was the determining factor in the decision, the players think about their families and getting stuck overseas,” Manjra said.Faul urged all cricket fans to support the government’s measures to combat Covid-19 as they were the best way of beating thevirus.“CSA has stopped all cricket activities for the next 60 days and we encourage people to act responsibly. Please do the right thing and don’t go ahead with any cricket activities. This is a very serious situation and we are implementing safeguards as far as possible. We call on all people in cricket to do the right thing.“Our staff will be working remotely and the CSA board has set up an exco to speed up decision making as well as making extra money available.“We are very fortunate this has happened towards the end of our season as we move into winter, so the financial impact will not be that big, but it will be negative,” Faul said.For more sport your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.last_img read more