Golf: Journeyman Collins shoots 60 in PGA Tour event in Alabama

FILE PHOTO: PGA-The Greenbrier Classic - First Round
FILE PHOTO: White Sulphur Springs, WV, USA; Chad Collins on the 16th fairway during the first round of The Greenbrier Classic golf tournament at The Old White TPC. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

July 21, 2017

(Reuters) – Journeyman Chad Collins flirted with golf’s magic number before settling for an 11-under-par 60 in the second round at the Barbasol Championship in Alabama on Friday.

Collins reeled off six consecutive birdies from the 11th hole, and walked to the 17th tee needing one more to record only the 10th sub-60 round on the PGA Tour.

But he missed a 12-foot birdie putt at the par-three 17th, and then drove into rough at the par-four 18th at the Robert Trent Jones Trail Grand National course in Opelika and could not get his approach anywhere near the hole.

“It was an awesome day,” Collins told after posting a 15-under 127 total for a five-stroke clubhouse lead over fellow American Brian Gay.

“I gave (shooting 59) a run. I’m not too disappointed at all about 60.

“You’ve got to make a lot of putts to shoot rounds like that. You’ve got to hit it well too and I did both of those. It’s a nice breath of fresh air …to be in this situation come the weekend.”

Collins, 38, has played 179 events in his PGA Tour career, with a third place his best finish. Coming off 11 missed cuts in his past 12 starts, he seemed an unlikely candidate to shoot 60.

“It’s been a struggle this year up until this point but to see myself in this situation is nice and I’m really looking forward to the weekend,” he said.

“I’ve gained a little bit of confidence ball-striking wise and I’ve gained in confidence with the putter…

“It’s a grind with the heat and a tough course if you’re not striking the ball well. You’ve just got to hang in there and plug along.”

Jim Furyk has the lowest ever score on tour, a 58, and there have been eight rounds of 59.

(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; editing by John Stonestreet)

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Poland moves closer to passing contested Supreme Court reform

Members of Poland's lower house of parliament attend the first reading of a bill introduced by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party that calls for an overhaul of the Supreme Court in Warsaw
Members of Poland’s lower house of parliament attend the first reading of a bill introduced by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party that calls for an overhaul of the Supreme Court in Warsaw, Poland June 18, 2017 Agencja Gazeta/Slawomir Kaminski/via REUTERS

July 18, 2017

By Pawel Sobczak and Marcin Goettig

WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland’s parliament moved closer on Tuesday to giving itself the power to appoint Supreme Court judges, ignoring opposition assertions that the move would politicize the judiciary.

Lawmakers from the ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party and their coalition partners passed the bill in its first reading and moved immediately to the second and final reading, amid frequent opposition cries of “Shame!” and “Cowards!”.

Opposition deputies vowed to extend the all-day debate as long as possible into the night to delay the bill’s passage into law.

Since winning an election in 2015, PiS has sought to increase the government’s influence over courts and prosecutors as well as state media, prompting the European Union to launch a review of the rule of law in one of its newest members.

PiS says the judicial reform is needed to make the courts accountable and ensure that state institutions serve all Poles, not just the “elites” that it portrays as the support base for the opposition.

“PiS … will carry out this reform to the end,” Prime Minister Beata Szydlo told the assembly.

Opposition parties say the bill violates the constitutional separation of powers and could potentially give the ruling party influence over election results through the Supreme Court that validates them – charges that PiS rejects.

President Andrzej Duda, who is backed by PiS and usually supports its legislation, said Poles were “not satisfied with how the justice system functions”.

But he threw up a surprise obstacle by saying he would not sign the bill into law unless parliament agreed to increase the majority needed to appoint the panel that would pick future judges.

The bill will retire all the Supreme Court judges unless they get the approval of a judicial appointments panel whose members will mostly be nominated by parliament.


Last Friday, parliament passed a law ending the terms of current members of the panel, the National Council of the Judiciary (KRS), and giving parliament the power to choose 15 of its 25 members.

But Duda on Tuesday insisted that appointments to the KRS should require a three-fifths majority in parliament – a condition that would make it difficult for PiS and its partners to push through appointments to the panel on their own.

Opposition parties say shortening the judges’ terms is unconstitutional.

“If the president seriously wanted to stop what’s going on, he should veto (all) the bills,” said Borys Budka, deputy leader of the main opposition party, Civic Platform (PO).

Several thousand people gathered in front of the presidential palace in a peaceful protest against the reforms, holding candles in their hands.

The parliament building had been cordoned off with barriers and guards since Sunday, when thousands protested against the Supreme Court legislation in Warsaw and other cities.

The tensions have echoes of a standoff in December when opposition leaders blocked the podium of the debating chamber for a month ahead of a budget vote, after objecting to PiS plans to curb media access to parliament.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive, was due to discuss the judicial bills in Brussels on Wednesday, having expressed concerns for months about the direction of reforms in Poland.

The separation of powers between executive and judiciary is a fundamental democratic principle for the EU, but in many member states the effectiveness of separation can be as much a matter of political culture as of formal structures.

The PiS government remains broadly popular, benefiting from record-low unemployment, a robust economy and increased social welfare spending.

(Additional reporting by Warsaw bureau; Writing by Lidia Kelly and Justyna Pawlak; additional reporting in Brussels by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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After deadly shooting, Israel says Jerusalem’s Noble Sanctuary to reopen Sunday

Muslim women pray in front of the Dome of the Rock, on the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, during Laylat al-Qadr in Jerusalem's Old City
Muslim women pray in front of the Dome of the Rock, on the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, during Laylat al-Qadr in Jerusalem’s Old City June 21, 2017. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

July 15, 2017

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel will reopen the Noble Sanctuary-Temple Mount compound on Sunday, a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday, after the holy site had been shut down over a deadly shooting attack.

Two Israeli policemen were shot dead by three Arab-Israeli gunmen on the outskirts of the compound on Friday. Its closure by police hours before Friday prayers prompted anger among Muslim worshippers and Arab states who called for one of the city’s holiest sites to be reopened without delay.

(Reporting by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

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Cycling: Boiling-hot Kittel claims fifth Tour stage win

Cycling - The 104th Tour de France cycling race
Cycling – The 104th Tour de France cycling race – The 178-km Stage 10 from Perigueux to Bergerac, France – July 11, 2017 – Quick-Step Floors rider Marcel Kittel of Germany sprints for the win. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

July 12, 2017

By Julien Pretot

PAU, France (Reuters) – German Marcel Kittel was once again a cut above the rest as he claimed his fifth victory in this year’s Tour de France, winning a crash-ridden 11th stage in emphatic style on Wednesday.

The Quick-Step Floors rider, who now has 14 stages to his name, left it late to launch his sprint but easily beat Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Norway’s Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data).

Boasson Hagen raised his arms as if he had won but was comprehensively beaten by Kittel and Groenewegen after 203.5km from Eymet.

Britain’s Chris Froome retained the overall leader’s yellow jersey on a relaxed day for Team Sky’s defending champion, but some of his rivals did not have a quiet day.

Three of the main contenders crashed as last year’s runner-up Romain Bardet, third overall, Jakob Fuglsang (fifth) and twice winner Alberto Contador (12th) hit the deck in separate incidents.

Fuglsang was involved in a crash at the feed zone and sustained small fractures in his wrist and elbow but he will start on Thursday, his Astana team said. Astana’s Dario Cataldo was forced to abandon the race because of a wrist injury after the Italian also fell.

Frenchman Bardet, meanwhile, avoided serious injury.

“I escaped unhurt but now I’m happy that the flat stages are over,” said Bardet, who is expected to attack in Thursday’s 12th stage, a 214.5-km trek featuring three major climbs and a summit finish in Peyragudes.

Contador, who slipped down the general classification after a bad day in the Jura mountains on Sunday, fell off his bike 25km from the finish but managed to make it back to the peloton with the help of his Trek-Segafredo team mate Jarlinson Pantano.

He suffered bruises to his hip and elbow. Contador’s fall was the latest in a series of crashes on the Tour for the Spaniard, who was forced to abandon the race in 2014 and 2016.

“I never believed in bad luck, but this Tour is putting me to the limit, especially psychologically,” he said.

“But those who think I will give up don’t know me.”

At that point, the main pack was traveling at full speed as the sprinters’ teams rode hard at the front to catch the last fugitive of the day, Maciej Bodnar of Poland.

The exhausted Bora-Hansgrohe rider was reined in 250 meters from the line before Kittel stole the show yet again.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot, editing by Ed Osmond)

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Iraqi Prime Minister congratulates armed forces for Mosul ‘victory’

Iraqi Federal police celebrate in West Mosul
Iraqi Federal police celebrate in West Mosul, Iraq July 9, 2017. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani

July 9, 2017

By Stephen Kalin

MOSUL, Iraq (Reuters) – Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi arrived in Mosul on Sunday and congratulated the armed forces for their “victory” over Islamic State after nearly nine months of urban warfare, bringing an end to jihadist rule in the city.

Islamic State’s defeat in Mosul three years after taking the city is a major blow for the hardline Sunni Islamist group, which is also losing ground in its operational base in the Syrian city of Raqqa from where it has planned global attacks.

The group, however, still controls territory in Iraq and is expected to revert to more conventional insurgent tactics such as bombings as its self-proclaimed caliphate falls apart.

The battle for Mosul – by far the largest city to fall under the militants’ control – has left large areas in ruins, killed thousands of civilians and displaced nearly 1 million people.

“The commander in chief of the armed forces (Prime Minister) Haider al-Abadi arrived in the liberated city of Mosul and congratulated the heroic fighters and Iraqi people for the great victory,” his office said in a statement.

State television later showed Abadi touring Mosul on foot alongside residents of Iraq’s second-largest city.

Air strikes and exchanges of gunfire could still be heard in the narrow streets of Mosul’s Old City, where the group has staged its last stand against Iraqi forces backed by a U.S.-led international coalition.

Abadi met commanders in west Mosul who led the battle, but he has yet to issue a formal declaration that the entire city has been retaken from the group which is also known as ISIS.

Abadi’s spokesman, Saad al-Hadithi, said victory would not be formally declared until the few remaining Islamic State militants were cleared from Mosul.

Still, France and Britain, members of the coalition that has conducted air strikes and provided training and assistance to Iraqi forces on the battlefield, welcomed the defeat.

“Mosul liberated from ISIS: France pays homage to all those, who alongside our troops, contributed to this victory,” French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted.

“I congratulate Prime Minister Abadi, and the Iraqi forces who have been fighting on the ground with great bravery and care against a brutal opponent,” British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said in a statement.

While celebrating “the removal of the death cult from Mosul”, Fallon said the military operation was not over.

“This barbaric group remains dug in west of the Euphrates and clearing operations in and around Mosul will be needed because of the threat from improvised explosive devices.”

In Washington, National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton, when asked whether the battle for Mosul was complete, replied: “Situation not resolved, but we are monitoring.”


Iraq still faces uncertainty and long-term stability will be possible only if the government contains ethnic and sectarian tensions which have dogged the country since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

The fall of Mosul exposes fractures between Arabs and Kurds over disputed territories, and between Sunnis and the Shi’ite majority.

The group vowed to “fight to the death” in Mosul, but Iraqi military spokesman Brigadier General Yahya Rasool told state TV that 30 militants had been killed attempting to flee by swimming across the River Tigris that bisects the city.

Cornered in a shrinking area, the militants resorted to sending women suicide bombers among the thousands of civilians who are emerging from the battlefield wounded, malnourished and fearful, Iraqi army officers said.

The struggle has also exacted a heavy toll on Iraq’s security forces.

The Iraqi government does not reveal casualty figures, but a funding request from the U.S. Department of Defense said the elite Counter Terrorism Service (CTS), which has spearheaded the fight in Mosul, had suffered 40 percent losses.

The Department of Defense has requested $1.269 billion in U.S. budget funds for 2018 to continue supporting Iraqi forces, which collapsed in the face of the few hundred militants who overran Mosul in 2014.

Backed by coalition air strikes, an array of Iraqi forces gradually clawed back territory from Islamic State until reaching Mosul, the group’s de facto capital in Iraq, last October.

It is almost exactly three years since the ultra-hardline group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, proclaimed a “caliphate” spanning Syria and Iraq from the pulpit of Mosul’s medieval Grand al-Nuri mosque.

Abadi declared the end of Islamic State’s “state of falsehood” a week ago, after security forces retook the mosque – although only after retreating militants blew it up.

The United Nations predicts it will cost more than $1 billion to repair basic infrastructure in Mosul. In some of the worst affected areas, almost no buildings appear to have escaped damage and Mosul’s dense construction means the extent of the devastation might be underestimated, U.N. officials said.

(Writing by Isabel Coles; Additional reporting by Maher Chmaytelli and Maya Nikolaeva; Editing by Michael Georgy and Robin Pomeroy)

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