McDowell’s World Match Play defence ends

McDowell a loser for once

McDowell a loser for once

Defending champion Graeme McDowell suffered just his third ever defeat in the Volvo World Match Play Championship on Thursday.

McDowell reached the quarter-finals of this event on his debut in 2011, the final in 2012 and won the title last year, while his victory over Alexander Levy in the opening group match on Wednesday made for an overall record of 15 wins from 17 matches.

However, the former US Open champion found Mikko Ilonen in brilliant form at The London Club, the Finn carding seven birdies to hold off a determined McDowell fight back and secure a 2&1 win.

Meanwhile, the losing streak of his Ryder Cup team-mate Stephen Gallacher's in single's matchplay continued as Pablo Larrazabal holes a pitch from 30 yards on the 18th to snatch an unlikely victory.

That made it 10 consecutive singles defeats across six different match play competitions for the Scot, who lost to Phil Mickelson on his Ryder Cup debut at Gleneagles last month.

"I was five under today and have played two guys that haven't had any bogeys," said Gallacher, who lost to Ireland's Shane Lowry in his opening group match and cannot qualify for Saturday's quarter-finals even if he beats Ryder Cup team-mate Victor Dubuisson on Friday.

"It's not a jinx. What happened at the last is typical match play golf as he's won it with a birdie without having been on the fairway. I had a chance to shut the door on him a bit but I hit a poor second shot. If I'd have knocked it on the green, it would have made his fourth shot a bit more difficult.

"In fairness to Pablo, he holed two good par putts at the ninth and 10th to stay one down before he birdied four of the last six holes. I'm gutted to have lost the match like that, but that's match play golf for you. I'm also feeling a bit tired at the moment, to be honest."

Kaymer wins Grand Slam as Rory flops

Kaymer wins the Grand Slam and shows off a dodgy pink jacket

Kaymer wins the Grand Slam and shows off a dodgy pink jacket

Germany’s Martin Kaymer defeated Bubba Watson in a sudden-death play-off to win the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in Bermuda on Wednesday.

Kaymer, who held a two-shot lead over Masters champion Watson following an opening 65, birdied the first extra hole at Port Royal Golf Course after the pair had finished tied on six under par.

The US Open champion holed from six feet on the par-four 18th hole and then saw Watson miss from half the distance to extend the play-off.

"Yes, of course I was surprised that he missed it," said Kaymer, who also beat Watson in the singles in Europe's Ryder Cup victory at Gleneagles last month.

"I had a similar putt earlier in the regular round, just half an hour before we were standing there in the play-off. But his was a little bit longer and I knew that it's not an easy putt.

"On my putt it was quite an advantage that I had the similar putt earlier, just a little bit longer, but pretty much the same line and I knew it didn't break as much as I thought. So that helped me a lot. It was a good stroke and so it went in.

"But I was surprised about him, obviously, you don't want to win a golf tournament that way. Of course I will take it, but you don't really want the other guy missing a short putt."

Watson added: "I thought I hit a great putt. There's no way that ball should go that way, unless it's wind forced. It's just one of those things. It was Martin's time and not my time."

Watson also held a two-shot lead with two holes to play following birdies on the 14th, 15th and 16th, only to drive into water on the 17th and run up a bogey six, while Kaymer birdied the same hole.

World number one Rory McIlroy, who won the Open Championship and US PGA this year, struggled to a 75 to finish two over par, one ahead of Jim Furyk.

Fernando Alonso will leave Ferrari

Fernando Alonso set for McLaren

Fernando Alonso set for McLaren

Fernando Alonso will leave Ferrari at the end of the current Formula One season, according to the Italian team’s recently-departed president Luca Di Montezemolo.

Alonso's decision has not yet been made public by either the Spaniard or the Maranello-based marque, but has been anticipated for the last couple of weeks in the wake of Sebastian Vettel revealing he was leaving Red Bull.

Ferrari have also not yet confirmed whether they will link up with the reigning four-times world champion but Di Montezemolo's announcement on Wednesday paves the way for the German to join the famous company.

Di Montezemolo said on Italian television channel RAI: "Alonso is leaving for two reasons: One, he wants another environment. Two, because he is an age when he cannot wait to win again."

Alonso, a world champion in 2005 and 2006 with Renault, had high hopes of adding to his crowns after joining Ferrari in 2010.

Despite finishing runner-up to Vettel in three of the last four years, including taking the championship to the final race in 2010 and 2012, Alonso has not had the success he would have been craving.

Di Montezemolo admitted that the team's ailing fortunes – Ferrari have not won a constructors' title since 2008, while neither Alonso nor Kimi Raikkonen have topped the podium this season – have been a large factor in the 33-year-old's departure.

He is sixth in the standings this year, with just two podium appearances after finishing third in China in April and runner-up in Hungary in July.

"He was disappointed that he has not won over these last years and wanted new stimulus," added Di Montezemolo, who left his post earlier this week after 23 years in office and has been replaced by Sergio Marchionne, the chief executive officer of parent company Fiat.

Alonso appears to have limited options available to him ahead of next year, with a move mostly likely to McLaren appearing the only choice other than taking a self-imposed one-year sabbatical from the sport.

The prospect of him joining the Woking-based team throws into doubt the destiny of 2009 champion Jenson Button, whose deal with McLaren expires at the end of the season.

The Briton has been confident of retaining his seat and could yet form a strong partnership with Alonso were McLaren to decide to keep the 34-year-old on – instead of their other driver Kevin Magnussen – when the team switches to Honda engines next year.

Hamilton claims Russian success

Lewis Hamilton is only the fourth driver to win nine races in a single Formula One season

Lewis Hamilton is only the fourth driver to win nine races in a single Formula One season

Lewis Hamilton became only the fourth driver in Formula One history to win nine grands prix in a season by taking the chequered flag at the inaugural race in Russia.

President Vladimir Putin, who arrived at the Sochi Autodrom he had built to ensure the sport came to his country after the 37th lap, looked on with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone as Hamilton coasted to victory.

Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg was again second, remarkably so as he managed 52 of the 53 laps on one set of Pirelli tyres after a move on Hamilton into turn one saw him flatspot his front rubber.

The ninth one-two for Mercedes this season – one short of McLaren's 1988 record – guaranteed the Brackley-based marque the constructors' crown for the first time, one which had been anticipated for some time given their dominance throughout the course of this campaign.

As far as the drivers' championship is concerned, Hamilton now has a 17-point lead over Rosberg, with 100 up for grabs from the final three races in the United States, Brazil and Abu Dhabi.

After crossing the line Hamilton said over the radio: "Congratulations to the team on winning the constructors' championship. Great job man! History in the making!"

In his message to the team Rosberg recognised he had messed up as he said: "Sorry guys, that was unnecessary, but thank you for the unbelievable car that I was able to recover from that."

As for Hamilton, only Michael Schumacher, Sebastan Vettel and Nigel Mansell have won nine or more races in a single campign.

Hamilton has also now equalled Mansell's British record of 31 race wins, and this was as easy as they come.

From the 38th pole position of his career, Hamilton angled his car to the right to cover off Rosberg alongside him on the grid, and for the most part it worked perfectly.

Rosberg, however, found the slipstream, and on the longest run now in F1 down to the first braking zone, the German pulled out from behind Hamilton and grabbed the lead.

On the approach to the first turn, though, Rosberg outbraked himself, immediately flatspotting his tyres, forcing him to cut across the vast run-off area at that corner.

Almost instantly, given the advantage he had gained, Rosberg was told by his team to give the lead to Hamilton to which he replied: "I have to box because of vibrations."

After switching from the soft to medium-compound Pirelli tyres, the 29-year-old – running 20th of the 21 drivers – then asked as to his strategy, to which he was remarkably told: "We think we need to go to the end on this set."

It was a message Jenson Button scoffed at when he was informed as to Rosberg's plan, which appeared to bear fruit when, after 22 laps, the latter declared he was "feeling a lot of degradation".

At that stage Rosberg had forced his way up to ninth, 46 seconds off of Hamilton, who made his sole pit stop after 27 laps.

Four laps later, and with a move on Williams' Valtteri Bottas through the first corner that resulted in the Finn taking evasive action, Rosberg was back up to second – courtesy of all but Vettel having pitted – and 20 seconds adrift of his team-mate.

Despite Button's dismissal, Rosberg had few issues in making it home, 13.6secs down on Hamilton, with Bottas third and Button fourth, just as the top quartet had started the race.

It was Putin who then presented the race winner's trophy to Hamilton, and the constructor's one to Mercedes technical executive director Paddy Lowe.

Federer confirms he is still a master

Federer wins yet another big prize

Federer wins yet another big prize

It seemed as if Roger Federer’s time at the top of tennis world was coming to an end a year ago, but his impressive run in 2014 continued with another big win at the Shanghai Masters.

As Federer beat the gallant Gilles Simon 7-6 (8/6) 7-6 (7/2) in a tight final in China, hie confirmed his status as world No.2 was justified and now he will set his sights on glory in the ATP World Tour finals in London next month.

Federer, who will move ahead of his old foe Rafael Nadal in the ATP rankings on on Monday, was playing the better tennis but the second set also went to a tiebreak, where the 17-time grand slam winner wrapped up victory in an hour and 52 minutes.

Simon got off to the perfect start and silenced the largely Federer supporting crowd by breaking the Swiss in the first game.

The rest of the set went with serve to leave Simon serving to take it but Federer earned himself two break points and, while the first one went long, Simon found the net on the second to allow his opponent to level things up.

The 33-year-old easily took the next game and had two set points against the serve but Simon battled back and it went to a tie-break, which the Swiss maestro just edged.

The Frenchman was showing great spirit as he was made to work hard on his serve while providing little resistance against Federer's.

He did mount some pressure in the 12th game and gained two set points against the serve but Federer saw them off and took it to another tie-break.

The second tie-break was far simpler than the first for Federer as a stunning forehand gave him set point and Simon found the net to prompt an almighty roar of celebration from the champion.

"It's been an unbelievable week for me personally," said Federer.

"I got very very lucky to come through the first round, saving five match points, so I know what a privilege it is to be here today.

"I couldn't be more happy. It's been an absolute dream week for me.

"I'd also like to congratulate Gilles for fantastic play not just in the final but for the entire week and I hope you can keep it up for the rest of the year."

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