American Luke Guthrie takes a four-shot lead into the weekend at the BMW Masters in Shanghai, after an up-and-down 1-under par 71 took him to -8, while Paul Casey headlines a group of six players in second place on 4-under par. My prediction that John Daly would start brightly fade and then fade badly was largely right: two bogeys and a double bogey in the last five holes gave him a 2-over-par 74, to put him tied for 9th on 2-under par. But Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter are among those lurking on 1-under-par and it should be a good weekend.
A brief departure from China for this week’s Sports Talk column to discuss one of the best – and most unusual – sport stories of the year: the non-Fellowship of the Ring. It turns out this story made news at the time eight years ago, with media asking back then if it Putin had stolen it. Kraft stuck to the script, but, eight years later, is apparently fed up and wants the ring back. Putin has since insisted through a spokesman it had always been a gift. It’s hardly a case for the ICC, but it will be interesting to see if there are any further developments. Here’s the piece:
It’s been a good week for unexpected sports stories.
When I wrote this profile of Cheng-Tsung Pan earlier in the week, it wasn’t because I thought he would win the US Open – he’s a 21-year-old amateur golfer who’s a sophomore at the University of Washington, after all – but because he’s a great story: the caddie mother, the father who taught him golf from books, arriving in the US on his own without speaking a word of English, and now one of the best amateur golfers in the world.
Fearless prediction: he’s still not going to win the rain-delayed US Open, but it looks like he will make the cut by a mile. When bad light stopped play on Friday, he was halfway through his second round and standing at even par, 2-under for the day and one shot off the lead.
One. Shot. Off. The. Lead.
Last November, when 14-year-old Chinese golfer Guan Tianlang won the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship to become the youngest player ever to qualify for the Masters, another young golfer missed out by the narrowest of margins. In second place, a single shot behind, was Taiwan’s Pan Cheng-tsung, who fired a stunning 65 to close the tournament, six shots better than Guan’s final round.