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Karrie Webb surges at women’s golf major

Karrie Webb has fired a five-under-par 67 to be seven shots off the pace heading into the final round of the first women’s golf major of the year, the ANA Inspiration tournament in California.

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After opening with a bogey, Webb a seven-time major champion, with wins in this event in 2000 and 2006, went on a birdie blitz through the middle of her round.

The Australian veteran made back-to-back-to-back birdies at holes eight through 10, making par at 11 before birdies at 12, 14 and 15 to be tied 14th.

Webb has her work cut out to catch tournament leader, 22-year-old South Korean rookie Sei Young Kim, but she has some good memories to call on.

In 2006 Webb started the final round six shots behind Mexican star Lorena Ochoa and shot a seven-under 65 to finish in a tie before winning in a playoff.

Kim, who already won the Bahamas LPGA Classic during her debut season, is 10-under and will take a three-shot lead into the final round after shooting a three-under 69 third round.

Kim made two late birdies to surge clear.

She holed a downhill 18-footer from the fringe on the par-4 16th and made a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th.

While Kim was strong down the stretch those around her faltered, with American’s Morgan Pressel (bogeys at 16 and 17) and Stacy Lewis (bogeys at 15 and 17) dropping shots rapidly.

Kim’s immediate challenger and playing partner in the final round will be Lewis, who is outright second at seven-under after a 68.

Pressel (710, fellow American Brittany Lincicombe and Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn (70 are tied third, one stroke behind Lewis.

World No.1 Lydia Ko of New Zealand slipped further down the leaderboard after hitting a second consecutive round over par and is tied 48th at two over.

Ko hit a two-over 74 in the third round, which followed a one-over score in the second round which ended her run of successive sub-par rounds at 29.

She reached that mark with her one-under 71 on the opening day to equal the record set 11 years ago by Swedish great Annika Sorenstam.

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Wright into round three at Bells surfing

Australian Tyler Wright has flirted with a potential shock early exit at the Rip Curl Pro before advancing to the third round at Bells Beach.

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The Australian looked to have the round-two clash against Pauline Ado safely in her keeping on Sunday, only for the Frenchwoman to put together a high-scoring wave in the final minute.

After a long deliberation, the judges decided Ado had come up just short, with the 21-year-old Wright winning by 14.14 points to 14.03.

“It was very close,” said Wright, who has lost in the final in each of the past two years at Bells to Hawaiian Carissa Moore.

“I possibly could have made a mistake by taking that last wave of mine which was a five.

“The wave didn’t do what I thought it might do and then her wave did exactly what I thought it would do.

“That’s just the way it is – that’s Mother Nature.

“It was a really tight heat but that’s what we come here for, those good battles.”

Australian Laura Enever made a late charge, only to come up just short in her second-round clash with rookie sensation Tatiana Weston-Webb from Hawaii.

Weston-Webb has made a flying start to the year, having reached the semi-finals at last month’s Quiksilver Pro on the Gold Coast.

She looked to have Sunday’s match-up all wrapped up, only for Enever to almost overtake her with a big wave in the final minute.

Silvana Lima – the 2009 Bells Beach champion – ended the challenge of Victorian Nikki van Dijk.

The Brazilian won 17.50 to 14.60.

Later in the day, Moore and Australian Sally Fitzgibbons advanced straight to the quarter-finals with contrasting third-round wins.

Moore dominated her three-way third-round clash against Lima and France’s Johanne Defay, while Fitzgibbons (16.17) just edged out American Lakey Peterson (16.04) in an encounter which also included Hawaiian Alessa Quizon (12.36).

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Flanagan relieved at Sharks’ NRL win

Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan admitted to feeling a combination of relief and excitement after his side ended a run of 10 straight losses stretching back to July last year to beat the Sydney Roosters.

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Inspired by rookie five-eighth Jack Bird, who scored two tries in only his second NRL game, the Sharks ran out 20-12 winners on Sunday to taste victory for the first time in 253 days.

Bird and 19-year-old fullback Valentine Holmes shone for the Sharks and Flanagan admitted he had a selection headache ahead of Friday’s clash with Newcastle with Ben Barba available again after suspension.

“I was really proud the way we defended and just hung in there,” Flanagan said.

“Birdy had a great game, scoring two tries. We knew he had it in him.

“When we put Birdy there, I knew he’d play well. I want that selection headache. That’s the challenge for me and I’m really happy to have it.”

Bird debuted against Gold Coast last week, coming off the bench and played in the centres, and Flanagan admitted it would be hard to move him out of the halves where he and Jeff Robson dominated the Roosters’ James Maloney and Mitchell Pearce.

“Birdy’s a footy player and he’ll play wherever we put him … but he did a really good job for us tonight,” he said.

Skipper Paul Gallen said he felt the result had been coming and claimed three of the team’s four defeats this season were self-inflicted.

“We just had to stick to the systems and the gameplan and we did that and, even when they scored that second try, you just have to go back to what you do well and that is to kick long and defend well,” Gallen said.

“I got the boys on the bus and said we have beaten ourselves in three of the four games.

“We’re not where we want to be – 0-4 is not good, but we dead set had beaten ourselves. It’s a step forwards.”

Roosters coach Trent Robinson admitted his side were off the pace and had no complaints about the loss.

“It was disappointing. Not about the start, we had to defend a lot and then we probably we weren’t on our game,” he said.

“They went set for set with us and the try with 10 (before) halftime to go was disappointing but to go in 4-0 down was a pretty good result considering how the possessions went. But it wasn’t our best game today.

“Credit to them – they fought well and didn’t do much apart from complete high and kick well when they needed to and it got them the win.”

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Senior Labor figure released after being detained at airport on foreign fighter suspicions

The former president of the Northern Territory Labor party has been released after he was detained at Darwin airport after returning from the Middle East, reports the ABC.

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It’s believed Matthew Gardiner left Australia earlier this year to join Kurdish forces fighting Islamic State.

He was stopped by Customs officials at Darwin airport early on Sunday, the ABC reports.

The Australian Federal Police say they have spoken to a Darwin man on his return to Australia.

“Inquiries relating to his activities while overseas are ongoing and as such it is not appropriate to comment further at this time,” an AFP spokesperson said.

It is not known if he is still in custody.

Mr Gardiner, 43, previously served as an Australian Army combat engineer in Somalia in the early 1990s, the ABC reports.

In a statement a spokesperson for Attorney-General George Brandis made it clear that even though Mr Gardiner was fighting against IS he would be in breach of Australian law.

“It is illegal to fight in Syria for either side of the conflict,” the spokesperson said.

“If you fight illegally in overseas conflicts, you face up to life in prison upon your return to Australia.

“We know there are some Australians who think they’ve made the right choice in becoming involved in overseas conflicts, but that choice only adds to the suffering in Syria and Iraq and it’s putting those Australians and others in mortal danger.”

Federal Labor leader Bill Shorten told the ABC he was relieved Mr Gardiner was “back home safe and sound”.

“But I’m concerned anyone thinks they should be getting involved in these foreign conflicts, no matter what their intentions,” he said.

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Bulldogs duo face contrary conduct charges

Canterbury’s David Klemmer and James Graham look almost certain to face contrary conduct charges from the NRL’s match review committee on Monday following Friday’s explosive clash with South Sydney.

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The fiery Bulldogs skipper is in under scrutiny after his reaction to being penalised for attacking the legs of Adam Reynolds as he lined up a late field goal attempt at ANZ Stadium.

Reynolds was left with knee ligament damage following the incident that saw Graham placed on report.

Referee Gerard Sutton subsequently enforced the little-known ruling that states a penalty must be taken from 10 metres should the kicker be impeded.

It led to him being surrounded by an apoplectic Graham and Klemmer who was then sin-binned for abusive language.

The pair has been accused of inciting the Bulldogs fans with a section of the crowd hurling projectiles at the officials as they exited the field.

The NRL are likely to conclude their probe into the events that proceeded the game later this week, but the match review committee will release their charge sheet from the first five games of the round on Monday.

In addition to Klemmer and Graham, Bulldogs centre Josh Morris is facing a stint on the sidelines after kicking Issac Luke in the head as he scored what turned out to be an eight-point try for the Rabbitohs.

Luke could also be in trouble with the NRL following his homophobic Tweet aimed at Bulldogs fans who were slamming players on the social media site.

The Bulldogs are potentially facing a points deduction following the behaviour of their supporters with a suspended penalty hanging over the club from 11 years ago when they last caused problems at an NRL ground.

But they found an unlikely ally in the form of Brad Arthur, coach of bitter rivals Parramatta on Sunday.

“I seriously don’t think they should be (deducted points),” Arthur said.

“But that’s up to the NRL to make those decisions, it’s got nothing to do with me.”

Police say they are continuing to investigate the bottle throwing, with two men identified and legal action expected against them.

They also face bans for life from NRL matches.

In separate incidents outside the stadium, a 21-year-old Rabbitohs fan was knocked down and received a cut above his eye after being allegedly shoulder-barged from behind post-match.

A 38-year-old was arrested and charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm over the incident and granted conditional bail.

A 22-year-old man has also been arrested and charged over the alleged assault in which a boy was pushed to the ground not long after kick-off.

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