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McIlroy and Bradley pull clear in race for Grand Slam success

GOLF: Rory McIlroy looked to be in a duel with Keegan Bradley for the PGA Grand Slam of Golf title in Bermuda today.

They both opened the 36-hole event for this season's four Major winners with four-under-par 67s yesterday, while Charl Schwartzel managed only a 74 and Darren Clarke slumped to a 77.

McIlroy finished the happiest of the quartet. He was five behind American Bradley after 13 holes, but then got back on terms with three birdies against two bogeys.

He was the last to arrive after playing in China last week and said: "The greens were for me very difficult to read. I think if I had spent a bit more time on them maybe I would have figured them out a bit better.

"I'll have to just read more into the grain and really take that into consideration instead of just the slopes."

Clarke commented: "It was absolute crap and I didn't come all the way here to play that bad, so obviously I'm disappointed. I'll try to find the answer in the bottom of a glass and see how that works."



Taylor cruises into Euro quarter-finals

BOXING: Bray's Katy Taylor recorded a facile 22-3 victory over Italy's Romina Marenda to book her place in the lightweight quarter-finals of the European Championships in Rotterdam.

The three-time world champion, looking to secure her fifth European championship title in a row, forced her Italian opponent into two standing counts in the second round.

She now goes on to face Azerbaijan's Ayzanat Hajiyeva in the last eight and has already defeated her opponent easily in past tournaments.

Meanwhile, Cavan BC bantamweight Ceire Smith also advanced in dramatic circumstances by dropping and stopping Hungarian 2010 European bronze medallist Csila Nemedi in the final round of her fight. She had been trailing 8-4 going into the final round but floored her opponent with a right hook to advance.

Michaela Walsh, Katie Rowland, Lynne McEnery, Kelly Harrington and Sinead Kavanagh were all beaten.



O'Sullivan: I feel like I'm being raped

SNOOKER: Three-time world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan claims he is being "blackmailed" by the game's governing body, saying they are "raping" him by making ranking points available for smaller tournaments.

Earlier this month, the often-outspoken 35-year-old won the seventh in a series of 12 Players Tour Championship (PTC) events being staged by World Snooker in a bid to address previous claims from players that there were not enough tournaments.

As one of the richer players on the professional circuit -- O'Sullivan's career earnings top £6m -- a minimal prize makes little difference, while he insists there are players lower down the ladder who are losing money by taking part in the tournaments, the next of which is in Killarney this weekend.

"I feel like I'm being raped when I'm playing in them," O'Sullivan, a five-time world number one but currently ranked 12 said.

"I feel I'm being blackmailed... most players are going there and losing money, but they're putting ranking points on so it's forcing the players to play in it, which is not great, but what do you do? You have to go."



Evans relishing 'favourable' Tour route

CYCLING: Three-times champion Alberto Contador said Australian Cadel Evans would be his main rival for the 2012 Tour de France after the route, featuring longer time trials, was unveiled yesterday.

"It is a route that perfectly suits Cadel Evans (the current champion)," Contador said after the presentation of the route.

Evans agreed with his rival, saying: "There are longer time trials and it is a little bit flatter next year so that's a little more favourable to the 'rouleurs' (not pure climbers). I think the second half is favourable towards me."

Very steep new climbs, however, are expected to favour Contador over Evans. The race, which will run from June 30 to July 22, includes some 96km of individual time trials -- more than twice this year's amount.

Spaniard Contador, who is awaiting a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) hearing on a failed dope test in last year's race, is arguably the best climber in the world and a strong time-trial specialist.



La Russa wary of elusive Texas threat

BASEBALL: Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said a lack of first-hand knowledge of the Texas Rangers bothered him heading into tonight's opening game of the World Series in St Louis.

Through a quirk of interleague scheduling and the distance between their spring training camps, the teams have not played against one another in seven years. "It's a real issue for us," La Russa said.