Rory confident of Shanghai surprise

first_imgRory McIlroy has not won all season, has gone from world number one to sixth in the rankings and is 62nd on a European Tour money list which he won last year to go with the US equivalent and five victories, including a second major title. “If I don’t play good enough here, then there’s a good chance I won’t play in Dubai. I think there’s a bigger chance of me winning this tournament than not playing in Dubai, I feel.” With next week’s Turkish Airlines Open currently not on his schedule, McIlroy needs to climb into the top 60 on the Race to Dubai this week to have a chance of qualifying for the DP World Tour Championship in November. The 24-year-old is less than 4,000 euros (£3,400) behind Garth Mulroy in 60th place, but by not playing in Turkey will need to win much more than that to feel safe. The first prize of just over 1million euros (£856,000) would of course take care of everything and the two-time major winner can take confidence from his one-shot victory over Tiger Woods in their 18-hole exhibition match at Mission Hills on Monday. “I’m looking forward to going out there and playing well,” added McIlroy, who has been backed by Woods to get back to winning ways before the end of the season. “I feel like I’m capable of winning this golf tournament and I feel like my game’s coming together nicely. “I did a little short game work over the last couple days and I feel like if I can get that part of my game where it needs to be, then I’ve got a good chance. “I’m really glad that this tournament is back here at Sheshan,” he added. “It’s a golf course that I’ve done well on, as you’ve said, and it’s a golf course that I really like. It’s one of my favourite venues of the year quite honestly. “Of course I expect myself to be a lot higher than that (62nd). I won the Race to Dubai last year and I was second in 2011 and I was second in 2009. So I’ve been a factor in it for the last few years and to be down where I am obviously doesn’t feel too good and is a reflection of how my year has gone. “It’s just the reality and the reality is I haven’t played well enough to be a factor.” Race to Dubai leader Henrik Stenson could only finish 34th in last week’s BMW Masters across the city in Lake Malaren, despite a closing 65, but the Swede slightly extended his lead over Graeme McDowell to 443,725 euros (£378,666) after McDowell finished in a tie for 53rd. “With the preparations leading into last week I wasn’t in the shape I wanted to be, but I finished with a good score on Sunday so I feel pretty good about my game,” said FedEx Cup winner Stenson, who has been plagued by a wrist injury. “I would be hoping to be in contention one of these last three weeks. I can’t walk around waiting for the right things to play out. I need to have some good results if I am going to finish on top and win The Race to Dubai.” US Open champion Justin Rose is just behind McDowell in the standings as he looks to finish the year as European number one for the second time, having achieved the feat in 2007. “To continue to win big events is obviously a huge goal and it would be nice to cap off a great year with a strong finish,” Rose said. “I’m excited about the opportunity to win my second Race to Dubai. It wasn’t the Race to Dubai in my era, it was obviously the Order of Merit, but to get my name on that trophy again would be a huge honour with so many great names who have done that. “Henrik is chasing down history this year in terms of winning both the FedEx Cup and the Race to Dubai. He’s a good friend of mine and I’ll certainly be pleased for him if he’s the guy to do it, but obviously I want to make it as tough as I can for him. “I think it’s going to take some great golf from me. This week is a huge opportunity to make big inroads as there is big prize money on offer. “I know I’m not necessarily defending champion, but we went to Turkey last year and I managed to win the match-play style event so hopefully it will be a nice place for me to revisit. “I’ve also got strong memories of Dubai where I finished really strong last year as Rory birdied the last five to beat me. So I feel like I’ve got good vibes going into the final three events.” Defending champion Ian Poulter is also looking to create a little piece of history this week. If the Ryder Cup star, who also won the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in 2010, can claim his third WGC title he would become only the second player after Woods to defend a WGC title. But the bookmakers surprisingly agree with a buoyant McIlroy’s assertion that he is more likely to win the WGC-HSBC Champions event in Shanghai this week than miss out on the season finale in Dubai. “It’s a big week obviously, it’s sort of make or break,” said McIlroy, who faces a field featuring 40 of the world’s top 50 at Sheshan International Golf Club. Press Associationlast_img read more

Arsenal confirm loan signing of Kim Kallstrom

first_imgThe Swedish international joins on a season-long loan from Spartak Moscow. Press Association The 31-year-old travelled to London from Abu Dhabi, where he had been training with the Russian club during their winter break, and has finalised a loan deal until the end of the season, which will help boost an Arsenal squad weakened by Aaron Ramsey’s injury setback. At his scheduled media conference on Thursday morning, Wenger had ruled out a deal for Schalke’s Julian Draxler, but confirmed he was looking to bring in at least one other player. Kallstrom started his career at Djurgarden before joining French club Rennes and then on to Lyon in 2006, where he won the Ligue 1 title and Coupe de France, both twice. Having played at the 2006 World Cup and also three European Championships, he left for Spartak in the summer of 2012 and made 10 appearances this season before the winter break. It has been reported Wenger could also further bolster Arsenal’s attacking options with veteran Lazio forward Miroslav Klose, the 35-year-old German international. However, any suggestion Arsenal were closing in on 20-year-old Schalke talent Draxler – valued at some £37million by the Bundesliga side – were rejected by Wenger. “The Draxler situation has been created by the newspapers, not by me,” the Arsenal boss said. “You ask me, what is that situation? I say nothing is happening on that front. He will stay at Schalke.” Wenger added: “We are open-minded and active. We look at the opportunities. “We are still trying to bring at least one body in because we are a bit hit now by the red card for (Mathieu) Flamini, the setback of Ramsey and the fact that (Jack) Wilshere is not available, which I hope will be short term. “We are in an area where we had plenty of players, suddenly we are a bit short. It is 80/20 and I am confident we will be able to do something today.” Arsenal drew at Southampton in midweek and were then knocked off the top of the table when Manchester City romped to a 5-1 win at Tottenham. The Gunners, though, could regain the lead should they beat Crystal Palace on Sunday, with City hosting third-placed Chelsea on Monday night. “The results are not made by the winter transfer market, they are made by the performances on the pitch. On that front we have shown we can be very competitive,” said Wenger. “Why should we not (believe)? We are in a position to be able to do it after 23 games with the squad we have available now, so why should we suddenly give up?” Ramsey, 23, had been one of the stand-out performers in Arsenal’s impressive start. However, the Wales international has suffered a setback in his rehabilitation from a thigh problem. “It is certainly a few weeks. It will be between four to six weeks. I count six, so I have no bad surprise,” Wenger said. “Of course it’s a blow for us because we recently lost (Theo) Walcott for a long period, now Ramsey is out for a long period and it is a big setback.” Arsenal will be without Flamini for three matches following his red card at Southampton, while fellow midfielder Wilshere continues to recover from an ankle problem and should be fit to face Liverpool next weekend. Meanwhile, Gunners midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong has joined Sky Bet Championship side Barnsley in a permanent deal. The 22-year-old made a total of 16 first-team appearances for Arsenal, and had loan spells at Wolves, Charlton and Fulham, but his development was hampered by a series of injury setbacks. Frimpong, who won a first full cap for Ghana in a World Cup qualifier against Sudan in March 2013, hopes to rebuild his career with the Tykes. “Danny Wilson called me yesterday and wanted me to come play and help the team push out of the relegation zone. Hopefully I can help the team achieve that this season,” Frimpong said on Barnsley Player. “I wouldn’t say I’m fit yet, but the only way to do so is to play games. The more I play, the better I’ll get.” Frimpong added: “It will be difficult, but it’s very important you start off well and make sure your first game is a good game. I am quite confident I can do that. “It’s football and no matter where you go you have to respect your opposition. There are some very good players in the Championship.” last_img read more