February 8, 2021

Dustin Johnson of the USA.

Dustin Johnson won his second Saudi International in three years – he was second once – as he showcased his preference for the Saudi International. Though he was not really in trouble he still had to stave off the challenge of Tony Finau and Victor Perez.

The PGA TOUR’s top star, Johnson, who is the World Number One, won his third title in eight starts and fourth in 13, as he cemented his position at the top of world rankings even more. He has a huge lead of more than three and a half average points over second ranked Jon Rahm.

India’s sole player in the field, Shubhankar Sharma, missed the halfway cut.

Johnson, who won the inaugural event here two years ago before finishing as runner-up to Graeme McDowell 12 months later, carded a closing 68 at Royal Greens Golf and Country club to finish on 15 under par. That was two clear of Finau and Justin Rose.

“Conditions when we started were really tough,” Johnson said. “I knew I was hitting it well, I saw the leaderboard and I knew the guys were playing well.

“I kept giving myself chances – I didn’t hole any of them but I hit good shots and I finally holed a really nice putt on 13 and from there on I played solid.”

He added: “Couldn’t hole any putts today. Just the reads, I’d see it going left to right it would go right to left; I’d see it going right to left it would go left to right. It was tough all day today.

Perez had been progressing patiently and a fine approach to six feet on the 15th saw him join Finau one adrift of the leader.

Finau three putted the 16th to drop two back, although Johnson and Perez in the group behind also found problems on the par three. The Frenchman hit his tee shot into a swale to the right of the green and, after pitching through the putting surface, ran up a double bogey to end his challenge.

Johnson failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker but, after Finau had bogeyed the 17th attempting to force the issue, Johnson produced a magnificent drive on the same hole to leave a simple up and down for birdie.

There was still some drama to be had on the last – Finau was a whisker away from holing out from the sand for eagle, while Johnson found a bunker off the tee and almost picked out another trap with his lay-up.

However, once his ball settled on the fairway he was able to conservatively pitch to the middle of the green and two putt for the win.

Rose made five birdies in a flawless closing 65, while Perez missed a birdie chance on the last to finish alongside Scotland’s Callum Hill in fourth.

With inputs from

Raninder Singh (Photo credit: Twitter)

National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) President Raninder Singh on Monday announced, that he would be persuading the General Body of the National Federation, scheduled to meet on March 5, 2021, to stay the recent decision taken by the Governing Body, to ban certain Shooters from the next Nationals for disciplinary reasons. 

Invoking powers vested on him as President, Singh said, “It has always been our endeavor to act in the best interests of our Sport and our Shooters. As such, no one is as pained as us when at times severe action is needed to be taken on anyone belonging to the Shooting fraternity, most of all, on our dear Shooters. I received several requests from the parents and the affected Shooters themselves on the recent decision taken by the Governing Body.”

“As such I have decided to refer the decision to the General Body, scheduled to meet early next month, and persuade them to not implement the said decision. However, this will certainly be a one-off, and any such disciplinary breach, will not be tolerated in the future.”

In a meeting held last week, the Governing Body of the NRAI had banned the following Shooters from taking part in the next Nationals, for breach of discipline.

1.   Sriharsha R. Devaraddi
2.   Keshav Sharma
3.   Vikram Singh Bhati
4.   Imroz Ahmed
5.   Pratyush Aman Barik
6.   Yashaswini Singh Deswal
7.   Tarun Kumar Dahiya
8.   Meenal Yadav
9.   Tejpreet Kaur Oberoi
10. Dilpreet Singh
11. Rajeev Ranjan
12. Visnu Shivraj Pandian
13. Krishan Kumar
14. Jyothi H Sannakki
15. Ishank Ahuja

World champion powerlifter Mahant Gaurav Sharma, who recently switched to shooting, is all set to take part in the 36th Delhi State Shooting Championship, scheduled to start on February 8 at the Manav Rachna Shooting Ranges, Village Pali, Haryana.

Gaurav had earlier won the bronze medal in 10m ARM shooting event at the Khelo Masters Games 2019-2020 in Ghaziabad. 

Excited about the event, Gaurav said, “After lockdown this is my first event. I am really happy with it. I want to give my best. My coach Falaq Sher Alam is guiding me well.” 

Gaurav will take part in the Double trap event this year. Gaurav, who took up powerlifting at the age of 17, is a giant of the sport. He had won two gold medals at the European Championships in 2019. 

“For any athlete it is an honour to represent India and when the tricolour goes high, you can’t express that feeling,” Gaurav said. 

The Delhi athlete also clinched two gold medals at the 2016 World Powerlifting Championships in England. In 2007, he won four gold medals at the Commonwealth Championships in New Zealand. 

Initially starting out as a weightlifter, Gaurav later switched to powerlifting under the guidance of Dronacharya awardee coach Bhupender Dhawan. But now he has switched to shooting. “Shooting is something that helps me keep calm. I will try to participate in more shooting competitions now,” he added.