Golf - LPGA Commissioner Whan sees women's gains in game

By Larry Fine
| RANCHO MIRAGE, California

RANCHO MIRAGE, California Golf is getting younger, more global and more female, all to the delight of LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan.

Rather than cringe at the Asian dominance of the largely U.S. tour a decade ago, Whan embraced the global appeal of the game and now revels in the growth during his eight-year reign.

Everton seek rare derby win as European hopes grow

By Martyn Herman
| LONDON

LONDON Everton will target a first victory over Liverpool in nearly seven years on Saturday knowing that if they succeed an unlikely pursuit of a top-four finish might start to be taken seriously.

Spurred by Romelu Lukaku's goals, Ronald Koeman's side have closed steadily on the battle for Champions and Europa League qualification and victory in Saturday's early kickoff at Anfield would, temporarily at least, lift them into fifth spot.

First 2017 women's major may bring joust for top rank

By Larry Fine
| RANCHO MIRAGE, California

RANCHO MIRAGE, California The first major of the women's golf season could lead to a changing of the guard at the top of the rankings at the ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills Country Club starting on Thursday.

Teen sensation Lydia Ko has held the top spot for 75 consecutive weeks but the New Zealander could be supplanted by Thai Ariya Jutanugarn, who she pipped last year to win her second major.

Fognini in Miami Open semis with win over Nishikori

An out-of-sorts Kei Nishikori was sent packing from the Miami Open on Wednesday, beaten 6-4 6-2 by unseeded Italian Fabio Fognini.

Second seed Nishikori was unusually lethargic throughout the match, allowing Fognini to become the first unseeded player to make the Miami semi-finals since 2007.

It took the 29-year-old barely an hour to beat Nishikori in a match in which both players struggled on serve.

Fognini will play either Rafa Nadal or Jack Sock in the semi-finals.

Figure skating - Wenjing and Cong stand tall among walking wounded

By Pritha Sarkar
| HELSINKI

HELSINKI Chinese duo Wenjing Sui and Cong Han emerged unscathed in a field littered with the walking wounded to grab the lead in the pairs competition at the figure skating world championships on Wednesday.

While their leading rivals had to compete with a dodgy hip or a sliced knee, Wenjing and Cong avoided any visible mishaps to earn 81.23 points for their 'Blues for Klook' short skate.

LPGA chief says sport trumps push to boycott Trump course

By Larry Fine
| RANCHO MIRAGE, California

RANCHO MIRAGE, California While the ANA Inspiring Women in Sports Conference was underway this week, a plane flew over Mission Hills towing a banner reading: "USGA & LPGA: DUMP TRUMP".

The banner, sponsored by women's advocacy group UltraViolet, referred to July's U.S. Women's Open championship scheduled to be played at the U.S. president's Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Halep talks herself into defeat against Konta at Miami Open

Britain's Johanna Konta recovered from the brink of defeat at the Miami Open on Wednesday to beat third seed Simona Halep in the quarter-final.

Halep was only two points from victory in the second set, but could not put away her opponent, who pounced on the Romanian's evident emotional fragility to prevail 3-6 7-6(7) 6-2.

"It was a really tough match, very high level," Halep told the WTA after the match.

"I was so close to winning, I was two points away in the tiebreak, but she played very strong and deserved to win today.”

Third tier club chairman Tapia voted AFA president

By Rex Gowar
| BUENOS AIRES

BUENOS AIRES The Argentine FA, lacking proper leadership since 2015 and fearful its national team might not reach the World Cup finals, elected a third-tier club chairman and former roadsweeper as its president on Wednesday.

Claudio “Chiqui” (little one) Tapia of Barracas Central, who play in the Primera B Metropolitana division, was the sole candidate in the election, but needed the support of a majority of delegates, which he achieved by scooping 40 out of 43 votes cast.

Banned Turkish distance runners to lose Olympic medals

LONDON Turkish female distance runners Elvan Abeylegesse and Gamze Bulut are set to be stripped of silver medals from the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games after being handed bans for doping on Wednesday.

The sanctions will also mean the reallocation of medals awarded a decade ago at the 2007 Osaka athletics world championships.

Both women appeared on Wednesday on the IAAF's latest list of doping violations and sanctions.

Figure skating - Down but not out, Kostner determined to pen her own ending

By Pritha Sarkar
| HELSINKI

HELSINKI When Carolina Kostner was slapped with a lengthy ban in 2015 for attempting to cover up her ex-boyfriend Alex Schwazer's use of illegal performance-enhancing substances, it seemed that her career had come to an inglorious end.

However, the enforced time out from the sport only served to deepen Kostner's passion for figure skating and now aged 30, the Italian was back competing at the world championships on Wednesday.

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