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Sunday 22 October 2017

McDowell putts Levy in his place at Match Play

Golf: Graeme McDowell's putter resembled a magic wand as he began his Volvo World Match Play title defence by dispatching Alexander Levy of France 3 & 2 in his opening round-robin group match.

Levy, who triumphed at the rain-shortened Portugal Masters last week, was two-under for his round but could not cope with a turbo-charged performance from McDowell who ignored the sopping wet conditions by rattling in seven birdies in 16 holes.

Elsewhere, Shane Lowry notched seven birdies to beat Stephen Gallacher 3 & 2.

McDowell (right), who eclipsed Thongchai 2 & 1 in last year's final in Bulgaria, said he was particularly pleased with his form on the greens against Levy.

"Alexander is a very good young player but didn't make as many putts as I did," the world number 18 said. "These greens are outstanding considering how much rain this course has taken. The surfaces here are as good as any you will see - generally if you hit a good putt it will go in."

Kaymer claims Grand Slam glory

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

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. "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 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.

O'Connor banned for European start

RUGBY: Alan O'Connor (right) will miss Ulster's first two games of the new European Champions Cup and a PRO12 League match after being handed a three-match ban for his high tackle in last weekend's clash with Glasgow at Ravenhill.

The second row forward appeared before a PRO12 rugby disciplinary committee yesterday, following the citing complaint made against him for a dangerous tackle on Glasgow's Mark Bennett last Saturday.

The disciplinary committee considered evidence of the injuries suffered by Bennett (who was left unconscious) and having listened to representations made by and on behalf of the player, found that the incident was at the mid-range of the IRB sanctions for this type of offence, carrying a six-week sanction.

In the absence of any aggravating factors and in light of several compelling mitigating factors, including the player's exemplary previous playing record, the disciplinary committee applied a three-week reduction from the entry point and suspended the player from playing for three weeks.

Marussia 'shocked' by allegations

Motor Sport: Marussia have expressed shock and anger at media allegations that French driver Jules Bianchi had ignored warning flags and been told to go faster by the Formula One team before he crashed and suffered critical head injuries in Japan.

The British-based outfit issued a statement rejecting what it referred to as "entirely false" reports about events at Suzuka 10 days ago.

"The Marussia F1 Team is shocked and angered by these allegations," it said. "At a time when its driver is critically ill in hospital, and the team has made clear that its highest priority is consideration for Jules and his family, it is distressed to have to respond to deeply upsetting rumours and inaccuracies."

Marussia said Bianchi had slowed when the yellow warning flags, which tell drivers to be prepared to stop, were waved by track marshals following an earlier accident in the same location involving Adrian Sutil's Sauber.

Bianchi, a promising driver with close ties to Ferrari, remains in a critical but stable condition in hospital in Japan after his car aquaplaned off the track and into a recovery tractor that was removing Sutil's car.

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