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Kiradech Aphibarnrat wins Malaysian Open

Smokin! Aphibarnrat holds nerve to win Malaysian Open after thunderstorm delay

By
Phil Casey, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

08:28 GMT, 24 March 2013

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UPDATED:

14:01 GMT, 24 March 2013

Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat today held his nerve after an untimely weather delay to claim his first European Tour title with a wire-to-wire victory in the Maybank Malaysian Open.

The tournament had been reduced to 54 holes following thunderstorms on each of the first three days, and another arrived just after the final group had teed off on the 16th hole today.

That meant a two-hour delay with Aphibarnrat one shot ahead of Italy's Edoardo Molinari, who had completed his 67 just before the delay and was safely in the clubhouse.

Smokin: Kiradech Aphibarnrat takes a puff on a cigarette on his way to victory

Smokin: Kiradech Aphibarnrat takes a puff on a cigarette on his way to victory

Hands on: Kiradech Aphibarnrat poses with the trophy after winning the Malaysian Open

Hands on: Kiradech Aphibarnrat poses with the trophy after winning the Malaysian Open

Kiradech Aphibarnrat

Kiradech Aphibarnrat

But Aphibarnrat made light of the disruption, hitting his approach to the 16th to three feet for birdie and then saving par on the next after almost finding water over the back of the green.

The 23-year-old former junior world champion therefore had the luxury of taking six on the 634-yard par-five 18th to complete a closing 70, sealing a a one-shot win over Molinari and claiming the first prize of 303,000.

Denmark's Anders Hansen (66) was third on 11 under, with France's Victor Dubuisson (70) and South African Charl Schwartzel (71) joint fourth a shot further back.

'This means a lot to me,' Aphibarnrat said. 'I had been struggling a lot after getting sick with my thyroid, but I fought and worked hard with my dad and my coach to have today.

'I have to thank my family, my mum and dad have always supported me and I am sure they are in front of the TV watching.'

Realisation: Aphibarnrat won his first European Tour title in Malaysia

Realisation: Aphibarnrat won his first European Tour title in Malaysia

Kiradech Aphibarnrat celebrates

The leaders started the day on the third hole and Aphibarnrat pitched to three feet for a birdie before holing from 15ft for an eagle on the par-five fifth.

At that stage his nearest challenger was Ireland's Padraig Harrington, who had eagled the same hole and also picked up three birdies, but the three-time major winner carded three bogeys in succession on the back nine to fade to sixth.

Bogeys at the seventh and 12th then saw Aphibarnrat joined at the top of the leaderboard by China's Wu Ashun, but as Wu also faded – shanking a pitch on the 16th into the crowd – Aphibarnrat birdied the 14th to edge ahead of Molinari, who was by now in the clubhouse.

The thunderstorm which arrived soon after looked to have come at a bad time for Aphibarnrat, but he added: 'I think it was good for me, I have time to rest and there were a lot of things going through my head. After I birdied the 16th I thought I had a good chance to win.

'The 18th hole I've played 10 times before, but today it was the toughest hole I have ever played, even though I could make six to win.'

Missing out: Edoardo Molinari had to settle for second place

Missing out: Edoardo Molinari had to settle for second place

Molinari was left to rue a number of missed chances, despite having previously missed the cut in all five of his appearances this season.

'It's mixed emotions because I'm very happy to have a good week for the first time in a long time,' said the former Ryder Cup player, who changed coach in December after missing three months following wrist surgery.

'The swing changes (under Sean Foley, who also coaches Tiger Woods and Justin Rose) are starting to pay off which is surprising because I thought it would take a lot longer, but I'm disappointed because I had a lot of chances on the back nine. The 18th is only the second fairway I missed all day which is very disappointing.

'I felt if I birdied the last I might have won outright because it puts a lot of pressure on the guy coming up behind, but unfortunately I think I'll be one or two short.'

Rio Ferdinand caught up in Asian cigarette row

Ferdinand accused of 'endorsing cigarette firm that promotes smoking among children'
Anti-smoking charities accuse the Manchester United star of promoting Indonesian tobacco firm Gudang Garam InternationalUnited say Rio is 'sorry for this misunderstanding'

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UPDATED:

13:37 GMT, 17 June 2012

Rio Ferdinand is at the centre of a row over tobacco advertising after anti-smoking charities accused him of promoting a company that owns one of Asia's biggest cigarette brands.

The Manchester United defender features in billboard advertisements and YouTube videos in Indonesia that promote Gudang Garam International's internet-based sports channel, Intersport.

But the company is one of Indonesia's largest tobacco firms and its cigarettes, flavoured with spices such as cloves and cinnamon, are popular with children.

Apology: Manchester United said Rio Ferdinand was sorry for any misunderstanding resulting from his appearance in the ads

Apology: Manchester United said Rio Ferdinand was sorry for any misunderstanding resulting from his appearance in the ads

A spokesman for Ferdinand, who supports the global children's charity Unicef, insisted that the footballer, who does not smoke, was advertising the sports channel and not tobacco.

It appears that Ferdinand, one of many international football stars to appear in the ads, had been unaware that Gudang Garam International makes much of its profits from tobacco or that his image would be used on billboards which carry the cigarette brand logo.

Its Intersport channel shows Premier League football matches and helps to raise the profile of English football in Asia,

The spokesman added that Ferdinand was consulting lawyers about the use of his image in the campaign.

Talking point: The clip with Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand

Talking point: The clip with Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand

The World Health Organisation predicts smoking will kill one billion people worldwide this century.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of the anti-smoking group Ash, said sponsorship deals such as this were banned in the UK because of concerns that they promoted cigarettes to young people.

She also called on Ferdinand to dissociate himself from GGI.

'Rio talks a good talk about putting children first when he tweets for Unicef, but he has to put his money where his mouth is,' Ms Arnott told The Observer.

'Well over a third of 15-year-old boys in Indonesia smoke and smoking rates among the young have increased sixfold since 1995.

'Rio is estimated to be worth 40m and to earn more than 100,000 a week; does he really need to do this

'I hope now he realises what he's done he'll apologise.'

Message The promo clip with Rio Ferdinand

Separately, Indonesia's National Commission for Child Protection has written to the Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson urging him 'to have this unhealthy promotion removed immediately'.

In the YouTube videos, Ferdinand, wearing a red football kit and displaying the GGI corporate badge, says how 'football is everything and everything about football is only on Gudang Garam Intersport'.

The final scene cuts to the Intersport logo, which is then followed by the Gudam Garang International logo and a tobacco health warning.

The gaffer: United boss Sir Alex Ferguson

The gaffer: United boss Sir Alex Ferguson

Tobacco firms worldwide are keen to cultivate the next generation of smokers, but their efforts are hampered by blanket advertising bans in Europe.

No such laws apply in Indonesia, where GGI also operates a music website – which anti-smoking groups claim is another attempt to reach young people.

Andrea Crossfield, the director of
Tobacco Free Futures, which is campaigning for cigarettes to be sold in
plain packets in the UK, said: 'I don't believe that it is a coincidence
that Gudang Garam chose a Manchester United player to promote their
brand sponsorship of Indonesian football, as the iconic Manchester
United kit so closely resembles their own cigarette brand colours.'

Ian
Gray, from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, told
Environmental Health News: 'We must be concerned about the prevalence
of smoking internationally, particularly in the developing world, where
it is a major killer.

'It is particularly galling to see a prominent UK celebrity recognised by young football supporters the world over participating in such a distasteful and ill-advised campaign.'

A United spokeswoman told The Observer: 'The contractual agreement between Rio and Gudang Garam Intersports runs to 31 October 2012, at which time all forms of advertising will cease.

'Both Manchester United and Rio Ferdinand are sorry for this misunderstanding and will endeavour to ensure that it is not repeated in the future.'

Roberto di Matteo the miracle worker! How Chelsea boss forced Roman Abramovich"s hand

Di Matteo the miracle worker! How Chelsea boss forced Abramovich's hand

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UPDATED:

21:22 GMT, 28 April 2012

The Andre Villas-Boas regime at Chelsea ended with arguments and confrontations.

Roberto di Matteo's began with a team
meeting. Nothing could better illustrate the respective approaches of
the two young managers to Chelsea's season and the vastly different
responses they have elicited from their players.

For Di Matteo, whose first act as
manager was to bring the squad together in a team meeting to make a pact
until the end of the season to help each other, this has been an
extraordinary three months.

One of the boys: Chelsea manager Robert Di Matteo

One of the boys: Chelsea manager Robert Di Matteo

On Tuesday night, having masterminded the epic victory over the team widely regarded as the world's best, he disappeared alone along one of the underground tunnels in the Nou Camp stadium and up into the city above.

It was just 20 minutes after an epic win and the world was clamouring to congratulate him but Di Matteo took the time out to seek a quiet spot with mobile reception and speak to his family. 'I needed a few minutes on my own, just to calm down a little bit,' he said.

Those who know him well might suggest that he also took time to have a crafty cigarette – but he insisted not. 'Smoking is not healthy,' he said, with the hint of a smile.

If still wary, Di Matteo has been noticeably lighter and more assured since the Barcelona win. It is understood that he spoke with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich on Thursday and it is likely that he has been told that his ability to unite the dressing room and his tactical acumen have put him in pole position to manage the side next season.

The alternatives, Joachim Loew and Laurent Blanc, are now battling against the man in possession, while Pep Guardiola is expected to stick to his resolve to take a sabbatical after quitting Barcelona.

Open to question: The new-look Di Matteo

Open to question: The new-look Di Matteo

So what has changed in Di Matteo, a manager who seemed to struggle to communicate when West Bromwich won just three in 18 games last season and was sacked with his side sliding to relegation

'Arrogant and aloof' were words often used to describe him. But at Chelsea in the last three months he has been anything but as he has led the club to the finals of both the Champions League and FA Cup.

Where Villas-Boas irked the players with his schoolmasterly tone, which was particularly hard to take from a 33-year-old who had never played the game, Di Matteo has been consensual.

If Villas-Boas was in the vicinity of a throwin, he would approach the player and instruct him where to pass. Such micro management infuriated. Di Matteo, by contrast, was relaxed when John Terry issued instructions from the bench in extra time against Napoli.

Where his predecessor was obsessed with copying Barcelona, Di Matteo has been expedient and, ironically, finished off not just the Catalans' Champions League campaign but also saw off Guardiola, Villas-Boas's ultimate role model.

Asked about Di Matteo's tactical changes this week, Branislav Ivanovic emphasised the lack of ideology. 'He doesn't try to put out a team with one strategy,' said Ivanovic. 'He does the opposite. If a player has a quality, he tries to show this quality on the pitch. The first couple of games when he started to be our coach was important to him and to us as well. We started to play trying to win. It doesn't matter how or which way.'

Happy days: Di Matteo celebrates in the Nou Camp

Happy days: Di Matteo celebrates in the Nou Camp

Indeed, those early games against Birmingham, Stoke and Napoli were crucial. Though many players would like him to get the job next season, he was not received with universal acclaim at first. After all he was tarnished by association with the old regime. To his credit, he had not distanced himself from Villas-Boas as tensions grew with the squad but had appeared supportive.

Yet, when given the chance to take over, everything changed. Suddenly, players felt they were not being treated like naughty schoolchildren but as adults; tactics which were previously imposed are now discussed as a team; and communication, which was cursory and confrontational, is now conciliatory.

Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard were summoned to see Villas-Boas just hours before the Champions League game in Naples to be told they were not playing. The only problem was that Villas-Boas had not communicated one-to-one with Lampard for three months before that, so the meeting ended in acrimony, as did Cole's. Di Matteo has left out senior players without rancour because, when they have been excluded, the long-term strategy was explained to them.

Salomon Kalou is a prime example of Di Matteo's man-management. Out of contract in the summer and virtually discarded by Villas-Boas, he has been used to great effect as a wide player with defensive responsibilities, both as a substitute and starting in important games against Benfica and the FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham.

Now he is likely to start the Champions League final. 'We have to give credit to Robbie,' said Kalou. 'You can see that he brought something new. He brought everyone together, not excluding any player. He gave a chance to everyone.'

Kalou has become a model team player. He cheerfully acknowledges the Champions League final might be his last game for the club but there is no bitterness. 'If it is my last game, it'd be nice to win,' he said. 'I've been at the club six years and the Champions League is the only thing I haven't won. I hope to have it on my CV!'

Way to go: Di Matteo outfoxed Barcelona's coach Pep Guardiola

Way to go: Di Matteo outfoxed Barcelona's coach Pep Guardiola

Petr Cech rated Tuesday night's performance as the greatest in his time at the club. 'I don't think you can find in the history of the game a team who were 2-0 down, lost two central defenders and were down to 10 men against the best team in the world, yet managed to play that confidently,' he said.

Yet questions remain about Di Matteo and Chelsea beyond this week's euphoria, and one is addressed by Ivanovic: 'For us, what happened last week is one of the biggest and most successful weeks in our careers. But we still haven't done anything big yet.'

Indeed, lose the FA Cup final, finish fifth and lose in Munich, and they will not be recording this season in the Chelsea annals.

Equally, there is the future to address. Di Matteo will have to prove he can inspire players over an entire season and not just as a short-term antidote to an unpopular manager.

Then there is the question as to whether Chelsea have actually made progress this season. In August it was more or less agreed among the directors that the players, style and tactics should change to emulate Barca.

Now, Chelsea have reverted to a direct, counter-attacking team and, against Barcelona, an ultra-defensive one. Nothing wrong with that; it just is not Abramovich's vision for the club. Having been threatened with extinction, the squad have fought back. 'The question of rebuilding is coming from outside,' said Ivanovic.

'Maybe I can't tell you, because I'm inside and I'm with the guys every day but I think we can play another three or four years at the same level, because you are getting more experience. You are getting closer and closer, so it means stronger and stronger. Yes, it's good when you refresh the team with some new guys. But I think the basis of the squad is very good.'

Change, it seems, is coming, with German winger Marko Marin signing yesterday for 7million. So, will a new cultural revolution be required next season

'That's something for the people at the club to decide, not for me,' said Di Matteo. 'I'm confident the directors will make the right decision. I have faith in the club.'

Will they have faith in him Win in Munich and they surely will.

Drastic surgery needed to save the nation"s favourite

Drastic surgery needed to save the nation's favourite after deaths overshadow race

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 15 April 2012

The British Horseracing Authority have promised a balanced and comprehensive review of the two horse deaths that scarred the John Smith’s Grand National for the second year running.

But when they have collated the statistics and reviewed the videos, the decisions they must take are to level out the drop on the landing side of fences, notably Becher’s Brook, and reduce the number of runners by up to a quarter.

Traditionalists will blanch at the prospect. Some will accuse me of betrayal of the sport on which I report, but after the deaths of Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Synchronised and According To Pete, drastic surgery is necessary.

Tragic: Gold Cup winner Sychronised fell during the Grand National and was later put down

Tragic: Gold Cup winner Sychronised fell during the Grand National and was later put down

The aftermath of Saturday’s race should have been celebration. After four-and-a-half miles and 30 jumps, the John Hales-owned Neptune Collonges, the first grey to win for 51 years, had beaten Sunnyhillboy by the thickness of a cigarette paper under an inspired ride from Daryl Jacob to secure the trainer’s championship for Paul Nicholls.

Back in third, Katie Walsh on Seabass had secured the best ever finish for a female jockey.

But memories of a race that fired my love of the sport are joyless. They are the grief of Synchronised’s trainer Jonjo O’Neill and the grim faces of his owner JP McManus and officials.

On the opening day of the meeting, I wrote about the significant changes undertaken since both Dooney’s Gate and Ornais lost their lives a year ago.

Fatality: According to Pete also died as questions were once again asked about the race's safety

Fatality: According to Pete also died as questions were once again asked about the race's safety

They included beefed-up entry criteria to weed out potential risks as almost 250,000 was spent on a range of welfare measures.

Three fences were altered, including a
five-inch reduction of the drop on the landing side of Becher’s. /04/15/article-0-12987260000005DC-602_634x438.jpg” width=”634″ height=”438″ alt=”Neck and neck: Neptune Collonges (near) and Sunnyhillboy fought out a thrilling finish” class=”blkBorder” />

Neck and neck: Neptune Collonges (near) and Sunnyhillboy fought out a thrilling finish

Both deaths on Saturday were tragic
accidents. Synchronised fell at Becher’s Brook but galloped on riderless
and jumped five fences until the stumble that broke his hind leg.
According To Pete had jumped Becher’s Brook on the second circuit when
he cannoned into the prostrate On His Own and broke a foreleg.

The key objective for the BHA must be to
have fewer fallers. More runners on their feet is the safest option and
it would not detract from the spectacle.

It wouldn’t make the race risk-free but would establish firmer foundations for a defence against those hell bent on its destruction. And it would still be just as exciting if 18 or 20 runners out of a line-up reduced from 40 to 30 crossed the Melling Road with a chance. Most of us who remember the victory of Bobbyjo in 1999 do not reflect on it as a lesser contest — yet only 32 runners lined up.

Success story: Daryl Jacob on Neptune Collonges

Success story: Daryl Jacob on Neptune Collonges

More can be done at Aintree and not just because we are concerned with the cosmetic appearance of the sport that has wider implications for jump racing.

More than 70,000 spectators were at Aintree on Saturday and the same number will be there next year no matter what happens.

But we should want to make changes — want to build on the welfare successes that have been achieved.

I want to be proud of the sport’s biggest day, just as I was of one aspect on Saturday.

A jockey ban for excessive use of the whip for a second successive year would have added to the furore but Jacob and, particularly, Richie McLernon on the tiring runner-up Sunnyhillboy performed with admirable professionalism in pursuit of the prize.

Their actions showed how seriously the current crop of competitors take their responsibilities to their mounts and the historic prize, when it would have been easy for them to recklessly chase victory at all costs.

Aintree and the BHA have shown the same responsibility in the last year. Their decisions now must be brave and bold.

Roberto Mancini begs Balotelli to quit his smoking habit

Stub it out, Mario! Mancini begs Balotelli to quit his five-a-day smoking habit

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has revealed that controversial striker Mario Balotelli is refusing to give up a smoking habit thought to involve up to two packets of cigarettes a week.

Balotelli has been photographed with a cigarette in his hand and seen smoking when out with friends in Manchester.

What a drag: Balotelli puffs away on a cigarette

What a drag: Balotelli puffs away on a cigarette

The Italian is not the first footballer to use cigarettes but last night Mancini admitted he has tried – and failed – to persuade the 21-year-old to give up.

The City boss said: ‘Yeah, yeah, I know this. I know that he smokes. For me, it’s not OK but I’m not his father or his mother.

‘If he was my son I would give him a kick on the a** but he is not my son! I told him that it is better you don’t smoke. I am against cigarettes always. For this reason my son doesn’t smoke. There are players who smoke in Italy and I think also here. I don’t think he smokes a lot – five or six a day. But I told him not to.’

Mancini was all smiles as he discussed his club’s most newsworthy player on Friday and clearly doesn’t feel Balotelli’s habit is having an impact on his performances on the field.

Up in smoke: Mancini wants Balotelli to kick the habit

Up in smoke: Mancini wants Balotelli to kick the habit

Holland legend Johan Cruyff, former Nottingham Forest winger John Robertson and one-time Chelsea striker Gianluca Vialli all smoked regularly during hugely successful playing careers, while England striker Wayne Rooney has also been photographed with cigarettes, as has Chelsea’s Ashley Cole.

The development is another sign of Balotelli’s headstrong character, though, and it would appear that he is partial to lighting up on more than just special occasions.

Balotelli is expected to be in the City squad to face Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Sunday, a game City feel they must win if they are not to be left behind by United’s resurgence.

No stranger to controversy: Balotelli has a habit of making the back pages

No stranger to controversy: Balotelli has a habit of making the back pages

City will be knocked off the top of the Barclays Premier League table if United beat bottom club Blackburn at Old Trafford on Saturday lunchtime.

Mancini said: ‘Up until now we got many, many points. It is difficult to keep that up. Until now us, United and Tottenham have had a fantastic season but if we want to win this title we will have to fight every game because United are very strong.

‘They are used to being at the top for a long time. But I don’t think for us it makes any difference whether we are on the top or behind by one point. I think we scored 53 goals in 18 games and we didn’t score any goals against West Bromwich last week. There will be some moments when we don’t score any goals. United won’t score five goals every game like they have the last two or three weeks, either. This is normal.

Firing blanks: City failed to score against West Brom

Firing blanks: City failed to score against West Brom

‘It’s important that we’ve scored 53 goals so far and we will score many more in the next 20 games of this championship.

‘United are strong. I never thought that this championship was finished because last year Chelsea had seven points more than United and didn’t win.

‘I think the situation can change in December and January but it is important to be on top at the end.’