Wednesday, January 19, 2022

July 14, 2021  SANDWICH, England (AP) — Danny Willett shrugged his shoulders, grabbed his tee, and returned to his caddie beside the fourth tee at Royal St. George’s. He’d just hit what he thought was the ideal drive during his final practice round at the British Open, only for one of the bumps on the course’s lunar-like landscape to throw it offline and into the rough.

“Kicked left,” Willett said, before smiling. “Never asked for it!”

Expect the unexpected will be the motto for the world’s best golfers this week as they get a crack at links golf for the first time in two years in this picturesque corner of southeast England.

In some respects, this British Open will feel as though golf has returned to normal. There will be some 30,000 fans roaming the Sandwich links daily from Thursday, the biggest golf crowd at a major since the pandemic. One man was wearing a dragon onesie next to the ropes on the sixth hole Wednesday, having been cruelly fooled by a group of friends into wearing a costume.

Those ooohs and aaahs and rumbling roars from a distance are all part of Open lore, and they’ll return. How golf missed them last year, when its oldest championship was canceled for the first time since 1945 because of the coronavirus outbreak.

“Big-time sporting events need big-time crowds,” R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said.

Then again, this week couldn’t be more different. Players are being kept in a strict bubble to comply with COVID-19 restrictions devised by the R&A and are at risk of disqualification for breaching rules.

“It’s probably inevitable that we will have some problems,” said Slumbers, who has already seen Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama and Zach Johnson, the 2015 British Open champion, withdraw after testing positive for the virus and Bubba Watson forced to pull out for being a close contact of a positive case.

During a practice round on Monday, Phil Mickelson appeared concerned he was getting too close to spectators. “He was like, ‘Can you just give me some space, I don’t know who you are,’” said English qualifier Nick Poppleton, who played alongside Mickelson.

On Wednesday, a spectator threw a ball to Mickelson for him to sign. The PGA champion immediately threw it back, without signing it, and wiped his hands with a towel.

And then there’s the course at Royal St. George’s, disrespected by some and unloved by many more for being unfair. Balls can be propelled almost sideways by the undulations on the fairways, some of which can be unhittable especially in dry and fast conditions.

The fairways on the first and 17th holes promise to be particularly tough, not to mention the one on the fourth, as Willett can attest.

“It’s not my favorite of the (Open) rotation,” Brooks Koepka said of a course once described to American golfer Charles Howell III as “the world’s largest pinball machine.”

Helping the players this week is the rain that has lashed down on the course — the southernmost of the 10 on the rotation — which has made it green and soft. On the 17th hole Wednesday, a drive-by Garrick Higgo plopped up upon landing on a side-slope, taking the pace out of the ball as it dribbled toward the semi-rough. Some fairways also have been widened.

Against that, the rough is knee-high in places and is thick and lush rather than wispy.

“There are certain lies out there it’s going to be a pitch back to the fairway,” big-hitting Bryson DeChambeau said of rough he described Tuesday as “diabolical.”

“And that’s including for everybody.”

Lee Westwood said he’d been informed by Slumbers that the fairways would be watered later in the week to stop them from drying up and maintain their softness, given the thickness of the rough.

Royal St. George’s, it seems, will give and take this week. But if the wind picks up like it did on Wednesday, it will be a mighty challenge.

Connor Worsdall, a 23-year-old Englishman playing in his first Open, had the privilege of being joined for the final two holes of his practice round Wednesday by No. 1 Dustin Johnson and DeChambeau.

Clearly thrilled, he said at the back of the 18th green that it was the best surprise he could have received before his opening round and that Johnson and DeChambeau briefly spoke to him before leaving the course.

“They just gave me some advice,” Worsdall said, “to just treat it like a normal 18 holes as much as you can.”

At Royal St. George’s that might just be impossible.

SXM Radio Online

Entertainment

September 7, 2021  NEW YORK (AP) — Actor Michael K. Williams, who as the rogue robber of drug dealers Omar Little on “The Wire” created one of the most beloved and enduring characters in a prime era of television, died Monday. Williams was found dead Monday afternoon by family members in his Brooklyn penthouse apartment, New York City police said. He was 54. His death was being investigated as a possible drug overdose, the NYPD said. The medical examiner was investigating the cause of death. Little, a “stick-up boy” based on real figures from Baltimore, was probably the most popular character among the devoted fans of “The Wire,” the HBO show that ran from 2002 to 2008 and is re-watched constantly in streaming.

September 8, 2021 LOS ANGELES (AP) — Britney Spears’ father filed Tuesday to end the court conservatorship that has controlled the singer’s life and money for 13 years. James Spears filed his petition to terminate the conservatorship in Los Angeles Superior Court. “As Mr. Spears has said, again and again, all he wants is what is best for his daughter,” the document says. “If Ms. Spears wants to terminate the conservatorship and believes that she can handle her own life, Mr. Spears believes that she should get that chance.” Judge Brenda Penny, who oversees the case, will need to approve the move. Britney Spears attorney Matthew Rosengart said in an email the filing “represents another legal victory for Britney Spears — a massive one — as well as vindication for Ms. Spears.”

September 8, 2021  NEW YORK (AP) — With Katie Holmes and Lil’ Kim on his front row and singer Marina on the mic high above his runway, Christian Siriano helped kicked off New York Fashion Week’s first big pandemic round of in-person shows Tuesday with a flurry of neon and lace-inspired in part by all the Italian women in his life. From ornate Gotham Hall, beneath a stained-glass skylight 70 feet up, Siriano’s commitment to size inclusivity was never stronger as he opened and closed the show with plus-size breakout model Precious Lee. She first walked in a stunning yellow trouser suit with wide loose pants and an asymmetrical jacket, a matching crossover bralette underneath.

September 7, 2021  VENICE, Italy (AP) — Paul Schrader knows he has a limited number of films left, so whatever he does from here on out is going to be for himself. At 75 years old, the writer of “Taxi Driver” and “Raging Bull” and director of “American Gigolo” and “Mishima” was even somewhat prepared to call it a day after his 2018 film “First Reformed,” for which he got his first Oscar nomination. He didn’t want to. He just knew it might be the reality. “I thought I would go back to this character again for about the fifth time,” Schrader said in a recent interview. By “this character” he means “the man in the room.” It’s Travis Bickle. It’s John LeTour. It’s Julian Kay. And it’s a formula he’s been working with for 45 years.

Business News

September 8, 2021  -Stocks were mostly lower in Asia on Wednesday after a lackluster session on Wall Street, where weak jobs data and pandemic concerns weighed on sentiment. Shares rose in Tokyo after economic growth for the April-June quarter was revised upward to an annualized 1.9% from an earlier estimate of 1.3%. “Any feel-good factor was ignored, though, given the climb was less than half of the 4.20% fall in Q1,” Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a commentary. “Japan will be lucky to break even this year as the current Covid-19 wave will almost certainly have weighed on domestic consumption,” he said.

September 8, 2021 NEW YORK (AP) — There will be something missing at two Whole Foods stores opening next year: the rows of cashiers. Amazon, which owns the grocery chain, said Wednesday that it will bring its cashier-less technology to two Whole Foods stores for the first time, letting shoppers grab what they need and leave without having to open their wallets. Cameras and sensors track what’s taken off shelves. Items are charged to an Amazon account after customers leave the store with them. But there will be an option for those who want to shop the old-fashioned way: Self-checkout lanes will be available that take cash, gift cards and other types of payment. Amazon first unveiled the cashier-less technology in 2018 at an Amazon Go convenience store and has expanded it to larger Amazon supermarkets. But it will be the first time it has appeared at Whole Foods, a chain of more than 500 grocery stores Amazon bought four years ago.

September 8, 2021  BEIJING (AP) — An avalanche of changes launched by China’s ruling Communist Party has jolted everyone from tech billionaires to school kids. Behind them: President Xi Jinping’s vision of making a more powerful, prosperous country by reviving revolutionary ideals, with more economic equality and tighter party control over society and entrepreneurs. Since taking power in 2012, Xi has called for the party to return to its “original mission” as China’s economic, social and cultural leader and carry out the “ rejuvenation of the great Chinese nation.” The party has spent the decade since then silencing dissent and tightening political control. Now, after 40 years of growth that transformed China into the world’s factory but left a gulf between a wealthy elite and the poor majority, the party is promising to spread prosperity more evenly and is pressing private companies to pay for social welfare and back Beijing’s ambition to become a global technology competitor.

Fashion News

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