Kaymer five ahead after testing day at Pinehurst

In pursuit of his second major title, the 29-year-old German conjured a miraculous eagle at the par-five fifth on the way to a two-over-par 72 in blazing sunshine at Pinehurst Resort where scoring was at its most difficult for the week.

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With very little margin for error on approach shots into domed greens running increasingly fast and firm, Kaymer bogeyed two of his last six holes but sank a six-foot birdie putt at the 18th for an eight-under total of 202 in the year’s second major.

“Two-over par is not as bad as it looks on the scorecard,” the former world number one told reporters. “I kept it very well together, even though I didn’t hit as many great shots as yesterday and Thursday. Overall it’s a decent round.

“They put the pins in very, very tough positions. I think 18 was the only pin where you could be aggressive. The other flags, if you hit it to 25 feet, it was a good shot.

“I didn’t hit many fairways today, so the challenge tomorrow will be to keep going and not try to defend (the lead). If you try to defend, then you don’t swing as free.”

Kaymer, a commanding six strokes clear overnight after setting a U.S. Open low for 36 holes with a 10-under aggregate of 130, finished five ahead of Americans Rickie Fowler and Erik Compton, whose 67s were the best of the round.

Swedish world number two Henrik Stenson and long-hitting American Dustin Johnson were a further shot back at two under after carding 70s on a day when Fowler and Compton were the only players in the 67-man field to dip under par.

“Very, very pleased with today’s work,” Fowler told reporters after a five-birdie display on a day when the average score was 73.82. “I kept it in play and stayed out of trouble when I could.

“I can put myself in contention with the rest of the group, and see what Martin does,” Fowler said of Sunday’s final round.

“If he goes out and posts double digits (under par), it’s going to be impossible for us to catch him. It’s like a second tournament going on.”

‘MOVING DAY’

Reigning U.S. Open champion Justin Rose of England inched his way back up the leaderboard with an even-par 70 to end what is traditionally known as ‘Moving Day’ at the majors at one over, nine strokes off the pace.

Australian world number one Adam Scott (73) and 2011 winner Rory McIlroy (74) did not fare as well as they finished a further two shots back at three-over 213.

Tricky pin positions, many of them tucked away in the corners of Pinehurst’s infamous turtleback greens, and increasingly slick conditions presented a daunting challenge for the players in the third round.

Kaymer, seeking his second major title after winning the 2010 PGA Championship, made his first bogey at the treacherous par-four second where he three-putted from long range, just off the front of the green.

That dropped him back to nine under, but still six strokes in front after playing partner Brendon Todd also bogeyed the hole.

Kaymer narrowly missed a birdie opportunity from nine feet at the third, then did well to drop only one stroke at the par-four fourth after taking an unplayable lie when his tee shot ended up next to a pile of pine needles.

He punched a low third shot down the fairway, well short of the green, struck his fourth to 15 feet and coolly sank the bogey putt before pumping his fist with relief.

With his lead cut to five strokes, Kaymer appeared to be in trouble at the fifth when his tee shot sailed left into a native waste area behind a small bush.

From there, however, he brilliantly struck a high draw to six feet and sank the eagle putt to get back to 10 under, seven ahead of his closest pursuers.

Kaymer again stumbled with a three-putt bogey at the difficult par-three sixth, where his first putt rolled off the edge of the green, before he parred the next three holes to remain at nine under.

The German dropped further shots at the par-four 13th, where he three-putted, and at the par-three 15th, where his tee shot ended up just short of the green, but his birdie at the last earned him extra breathing room with a five-stroke advantage.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Julian Linden)

All Blacks big men show the way

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen reckons he has a tight five primed to hit their straps at next year’s World Cup.

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His big men got the biggest tick for improvement following the 28-27 second Test defeat of England in Dunedin on Saturday to clinch the three-match Test series.

Eclipsed in the first Test in Auckland, the tight brigade responded with a dominant scrum and superior lineout, allied with some ruthless work at the breakdown when New Zealand got on top in the second half.

“Apart from that first 10 to 15 minutes, when we seemed to be a little bit shell-shocked, I think we dominated the game and that all started up front,” Hansen said.

The All Blacks conceded penalties when shunted back by some early drives from the bigger English pack but established control when the speed of the game accelerated.

Prop Tony Woodcock, at 33 and with 109 caps, is a veteran but the rest of the tight five is relatively youthful, leaving Hansen confident they are still short of their peak.

Hooker Dane Coles (27) and prop Owen Franks (26) are still young by front row standards but it is the potential of locks Sam Whitelock (25) and Brodie Retallick (23) which has Hansen most excited.

“Brodie Retallick, as he always does, emptied the tank and Sam was excellent in the air.

“They could be the two best locks in the world at some stage.”

Veteran hooker Keven Mealamu, 35, now second in the pecking order behind Coles, says the 17-cap rake had served his apprenticeship and could be regarded as an established Test performer.

“That was a huge Test for Dane and I thought he passed with flying colours.

“It’s a young forward pack but a few of them have been around for a little while now. I think we’re in really good hands.”

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw wants the same intensity up front in the third Test in Hamilton on Saturday.

He said it was obvious that England were puffing when denied possession for extended periods late in the first half.

Even though New Zealand trailed 10-6 at halftime, McCaw believed they had the tourists’ measure, a dominance borne out by England’s final missed tackle count of 32.

“It’s like any team who has to tackle a lot, you start to go down on your haunches and gasp for air.

“We had to come out in the second half and capitalise on that.”

FIFA ‘ignored’ terror alert over Qatar bid

A security briefing ordered by FIFA less than a month before it awarded Qatar the 2022 World Cup found the Gulf state was a “high risk” target for terror attacks during the tournament, the Sunday Times reported.

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The British newspaper accused members of football’s world governing body of having “ignored its own terror alert” in choosing Qatar in a secret ballot in December 2010, in a third week of revelations raising questions about the decision.

The security review of bid countries, ordered by FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke in mid-November 2010, reportedly found that Qatar would find it “very difficult to deal with a major incident” during the World Cup.

It was written by Andre Pruis, the South African police chief in charge of security at the 2010 World Cup and FIFA’s security consultant for the current tournament in Brazil.

In documents obtained by the newspaper, Pruis acknowledged he only had time for a “very limited threat assessment”, based largely on US anti-terrorism information.

“The terrorism threat against Qatar relates to its location – its proximity to countries with inter alia (among other issues) an al-Qaeda presence,” the briefing said.

But Pruis identified several large infrastructure projects as potential targets, and warned the proximity of key venues to each other presented problems of overlapping security zones, of crowd control and traffic.

“In view of the risks related to the centralised approach, Qatar is allocated a risk rating of high,” he said.

“I am of the view that it would be very difficult to deal with a major incident in such an environment without having to cancel the event.”

The Sunday Times has alleged that former Qatari football boss Mohamed Bin Hammam paid more than $US5 million ($A5.41 million) to gain support for the emirate ahead of the bid vote.

In this week’s edition, the newspaper detailed the alleged support given to Bin Hammam afterwards by the chief executive of the Qatari bid, Hassan al-Thawadi, in his failed campaign to replace Sepp Blatter as FIFA president.

Qatar has strongly denied allegations of corruption, and in a new statement on Saturday called the reports “baseless and riddled with innuendo”.

The Sunday Times also raised questions about the behaviour of a FIFA investigator charged with looking into rumours of a voting pact between Qatar and Spain-Portugal, which unsuccessfully bid for the 2018 World Cup.

Head of security Chris Eaton left FIFA in 2012 to become director of integrity at a new multimillion-dollar International Centre for Sport Security in Doha.

His lawyers told the newspaper there had been “nothing improper whatsoever” about the appointment and said Eaton’s reasons for leaving FIFA were “entirely unconnected to Qatar”.

England praise high-speed All Blacks

Close as they’ve come to toppling the All Blacks in two Tests, England admit they’re still not yet worthy of dining at world rugby’s top table.

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The tourists once again pushed the world champions to the limit in a 28-27 loss at Dunedin on Saturday to follow a 20-15 defeat in Auckland last week.

While the second Test scoreline was closer, it flattered England who scored two late tries.

However, they were still highly competitive, dominating the opening half hour before getting blown away when New Zealand increased the tempo.

Assistant coach Andy Farrell said the All Blacks’ ability to deliver and to play an intense, error-free game at high speed still set them apart.

“In the second half they showed why they are world champions. Their speed of thought and speed of the game was outstanding,” he said.

Coach Stuart Lancaster was proud his team were able to absorb the assault and respond with their own late strikes.

It only took a couple of key mistakes early in the second half to open the door, he said, lamenting some poor choices to offload and some loose kicking.

“It’s decision-making at the highest level that we need to look at,” Lancaster said.

Flanker Tom Wood, one of five first-choice players restored for the second Test, admired New Zealand’s ability to withstand another fierce England challenge.

“They weather the storm and back themselves with their fitness to turn up the heat in the second half and blow teams away. They’re used to that feeling,” Wood said.

Manu Tuilagi, so effective as a blockbusting centre for England in the first Test, played a limited role on the wing.

Lancaster won’t consider his selection options until after the tour match against the Crusaders in Christchurch on Tuesday.

“I thought we created lots of opportunities and three tries in Dunedin isn’t a bad return either so we’re heading in the right direction,” he said.

Crows won’t celebrate win over Kangaroos

There is no celebrating for the Adelaide Crows as coach Brenton Sanderson demands they end their maddening inconsistency.

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The Crows impressed as they crushed fellow AFL finals contenders North Melbourne, by 36 points in their AFL clash at Adelaide Oval on Saturday night, squaring their win-loss ledger for the season at 6-6 and moving closer to a spot in the top eight.

But the fact they have still not strung consecutive wins together this season is a big concern for Sanderson who is supplying tough love in search of a remedy.

“I am really hard on this group so there were no celebrations in our rooms,” he said.

“They enjoy the win for five minutes and then we come back to work on Monday and we look forward to trying to beat the Bombers next week.

“Like our fans, we cannot accept this up and down, good week, bad week, it has to stop soon, it has to end.

“You can’t manufacture extra reasons to get yourself up.

“It has to be driven by individuals, it has to be driven by our young leadership group that our behaviours and our standards are maintained every week.”

North Melbourne coach Brad Scott had a similar demand for his players after witnessing a performance against the Crows he described as ‘uneven’.

Scott suggested his team must learn to stop relying on senior stars such as the ageless Brent Harvey, who collected 31 touches and kicked two goals, to drag them over the line.

“It comes back to inconsistent performances of some of the players,” said Scott.

“Boomer (Harvey) can’t do it all by himself and we only had a couple of others giving that sort of effort as well.

“We looked a little bit shell-shocked at times, the ball was there to go and get, and guys just stood there looking at each other.

“We had the 22 that could and should have got the job done and they didn’t.

“Adelaide were desperate, they needed to win and played accordingly, whereas we just rolled out there and waited to see what they had and tried to counter punch.

“That’s no way to beat good sides.”

Saturday’s defeat has left the Kangaroos clinging to seventh position and at risk of dropping out of the eight with Essendon and the Crows nipping at their heels.

They have a chance to bounce back and cement their position in the top eight next Sunday when they take on Melbourne at the MCG.

Bishop moves to calm Jerusalem furore

The federal government will advise Islamic counterparts there is no shift to its Middle East policy as it seeks to calm an “overreaction” to its decision to stop calling East Jerusalem “occupied”.

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Islamic nations are furious at the change, which they say was made without consultation, and there are fears a diplomatic row could affect Australian exports.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is blaming Labor for what she says is a “complete and utter overreaction”, while she prepares to meet ambassadors in Canberra in coming days to try to quell tensions.

“We support a two-state solution where Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace behind internationally recognised boundaries,” she told Network Ten on Sunday.

Trade Minister Andrew Robb stood by the government terminology, which he said was “most fitting” for the long-disputed section of the ancient holy city.

“There was a misunderstanding or an overreaction,” he told Sky News.

“Once it’s clarified that our position on Israel has not changed one iota then hopefully this issue will pass.”

A group of ambassadors from Islamic countries – including key cattle and sheep export markets – have warned they could block Australian farm exports to the Middle East if the position isn’t reversed.

The move would be disastrous for Australian farmers and could jeopardise the government’s efforts to break into new export markets in Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Ms Bishop will meet ambassadors in Canberra to explain the government position and advise them there had been no change in policy.

“There’s been a terminological clarification,” Mr Abbott told reporters in Houston in the US on Saturday.

“We absolutely refuse to refer to ‘occupied’ East Jerusalem.”

Mr Abbott said people were reading too much into what began merely as an argument between Attorney-General George Brandis and Greens senator Lee Rhiannon.

“In the end, given the particular sensitivities in the Middle East right now … we all have to be conscious of being constructive,” he said.

Some Islamic nations are reportedly considering a motion in the United Nations General Assembly condemning Australia.

The issue comes just a few weeks out from a yet-to-be formally announced visit to Australia by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Mr Netanyahu, who will be the first sitting Israeli PM to visit Canberra, told the opening of his most recent cabinet meeting that Australia’s change of words was “courageous” and “refreshing”.

He said Australia had refused to “sanctify a lie”, and anyone who was interested in a peaceful resolution should realise it must be based on truth, and not “historical lies”.

Inquiry into HSU to begin in Sydney

Health Services Union (HSU) whistleblower Kathy Jackson will be among witnesses called to give evidence at the royal commission into union corruption, starting on Monday in Sydney.

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Two former high flyers, disgraced ex MP Craig Thomson and former HSU boss and ALP national president Michael Williamson have already been sentenced over fraud relating to the misuse of members’ funds.

Williamson, who was HSU general secretary from 1995 to 2012, was sentenced to at least five years in jail earlier this year for “leeching” almost $1 million from the union and then recruiting others to hinder a police investigation.

During the hearing, Judge David Frearson labelled him a “parasite” motivated by “pure greed”.

In March, Thomson was sentenced in the Melbourne Magistrates Court to 12 months jail for spending more than $24,000 of members’ money on prostitutes and personal expenses while national secretary of the HSU.

The HSU’s acting national secretary Chris Brown said the union would be pursuing Thomson to recover the misused money, including funds linked to matters dealt with by a Fair Work investigation but not brought to court.

As well as blowing the whistle on Williamson and Thomson, Ms Jackson has been accused of using $1 million in union funds to pay off two personal credit cards, which she says were used for work expenses.

It’s further alleged she also withdrew $220,000 in cash using union bank cheques.

Seven witnesses are listed to appear before the commission, which is scheduled to run from Monday to Thursday.

The commission’s focus shifts to the HSU after last week examining an alleged slush fund legally established in the early 1990s by Julia Gillard and run by her ex-boyfriend and former Australian Workers’ Union official Bruce Wilson.

The inquiry will be held before Commissioner Dyson Heydon.

Emissions cuts still on target: Hunt

Environment Minister Greg Hunt says Australia will hit greenhouse gas reduction targets easily, despite his government’s push to dismantle the carbon tax and a reported backflip on funding for solar energy.

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Climate change mitigation was a focus during Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s recent visit to the White House, where US President Barack Obama said he accepted the government’s mandate to repeal the carbon tax.

But Mr Obama urged Australia and other nations to adopt “ambitious domestic climate policies as the basis of a strong international response”.

“The big point here is that the carbon tax hasn’t been doing its job,” Mr Hunt told Seven Network on Sunday.

“Why did the Australian people vote to get rid of it? Because you had a $7.5 billion tax on electricity and gas … [and] emissions went down by 0.1 percent in the first full year of the carbon tax.”

New modelling by energy advisory firm RepuTex suggests Australia can expect to fall well short of its target of five per cent emission reductions by 2020.

Its analysis predicts that by 2020 the emissions reduction fund alone will purchase between 30 and 120 million Australian carbon credit units, leaving a carbon shortfall of more than 300 million tonnes.

Mr Hunt says the country is still on track.

“We will hit our targets and we’ll do it easily,” he said.

The assurance comes as Fairfax Media reports Mr Hunt was forced to back down from a promise to the Clean Energy Council last November that the coalition was still committed to its $500 million “1 million solar roofs” program, a policy leftover from the 2010 election.

Mr Hunt reportedly described the flagship solar rebate program as a “shining beacon” of the government’s direct action climate policy – though the policy had not been reaffirmed by Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Asked to respond to the report, Mr Hunt said: “We’ve added $1 billion during the course of the budget process to the emissions reduction fund … we’ve had to make some difficult choices.”

The solar “debacle” is the latest in a string of broken government promises on renewable energy policy, opposition climate change spokesman Mark Butler said.

“When Greg Hunt talked about this the Australian people [and] the solar industry were of the view that the renewable energy target was a bipartisan position,” he told Sky News.

Heart recipient Compton in mix at US Open

Erik Compton, twice a heart transplant recipient, has put himself in contention to win the US Open with the round of his life.

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On a baked and difficult Pinehurst No.2 course, Compton and Rickie Fowler shot three-under-par 67s – the only sub-par rounds of the day – to be tied second, five strokes behind Germany’s Martin Kaymer (72).

“This is obviously a very special week to be playing well,” Compton said. “To be in the mix at the US Open, it’s a dream come true. Tomorrow is a big day.”

The 34-year-old American, whose mother is Norwegian, is playing in only his second major after missing the cut at the 2000 US Open in Pebble Beach. He has played 13 pro seasons but never won a US PGA Tour title.

“Doesn’t mean I can’t compete because I’ve had a few detours in my life,” Compton said. “I’m looking forward to getting out there.”

Facing tension-packed putts is less intense for someone who received his first heart transplant at age 12 in 1992 and a second in 2008 after driving himself to a hospital following a heart attack.

“I have been through a lot in my life, a lot more pressure situations than hitting a tee shot on 18,” Compton said. “Putting things in perspective may help me.”

“I had lunch with Jack Nicklaus at Muirfield last week and he winked at me and said I would have a special week. It was neat.

“So maybe it’s just kind of a self-fulfilling thing that I brought on myself but I felt like I was going to have a great week.”

Compton practiced with South African major winners Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Ernie Els and realized he could do well.

“We had a great money game. I felt comfortable,” Compton said. “I joked around with them.”

Compton said that if his fairytale golf story should have a major win as its next chapter on Sunday, it might just be the end for him.

“I might just sail off and never play golf again,” Compton said.

“If I were to win the tournament, it would be obviously something that would be extremely special, not only for me, but for my family, those who have been around me and those who have been through some tough times.”

Taylor set to be let off Origin leash

A teammate has affectionately compared him to a big Labrador but Queensland will hope for a lot more than a few licks when they unleash Dave Taylor in State of Origin game two.

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In the past Taylor’s bark had been worse than his bite, and the hulking Gold Coast utility’s attitude has been questioned as he failed to reach his obvious potential.

Considered to be in the Origin doghouse in recent times, Taylor seems poised to cap a turnaround by ending a two-year exile and coming off the Maroons bench in Wednesday night’s must-win clash with NSW in Sydney.

Queensland coach Mal Meninga appeared to reveal his hand when Taylor, Ben Te’o, Jacob Lillyman and Chris McQueen started on the bench in the team’s Origin dress rehearsal, Sunday’s opposed session against the Maroons Under-18s at their Gold Coast camp.

Taylor was considered such a lost cause in his last Origin campaign in 2012 that Meninga contemplated never picking the Gold Coast giant again.

But Gold Coast and Queensland teammate Nate Myles predicted Taylor would be a howling success in game two after witnessing his transformation first hand.

“You can never question Dave’s heart. He is like a big Labrador,” Myles said.

“He’s always got the right intentions.

“But he’s always going to be the one who decides his own fate.

“He’s changed a few things at training and you can just see how his form is getting better and better.

“I try to help him because of the person he is.

“A lot has been said about his talent but, once he realises that he can decide his own destiny, his potential will be endless.”

Apart from his attitude, Myles believed his teammate had also collared his on-field unpredictability, at least partly.

“You know what he can do. You just don’t know if he is going to do it at the right time and situation,” he said.

“Hopefully he gets on when we are in a good position and then he can do some good things to help the team.”

Queensland backrower Sam Thaiday could barely recognise the man he first met as a cocky – but still very large – 17-year-old at the Broncos.

“His wife and his two girls have really settled him down and he is enjoying the Gold Coast lifestyle,” he said.

“When I first met him at the Broncos he was a child superstar.

“He was really good in the junior ranks and thought he could just walk into the NRL but he’s learned lessons and hard ones over the years.

“It’s good to see the big fella back.

“In Origin you need that spark and an X-factor.”