What do the independents want?

The three country independents that hold the key to forming a new government have their own list of issues.

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Take a look.

Rob Oakeshott: (MP for Lyne)

· Reviving an emissions trading scheme by going back to the Garnaut report.

· Improve services for rural and regional areas, especially health.

· Ensuring better telecommunications and broadband for the bush.

· Getting a ‘fair go’ for rural and regional Australia

Tony Windsor: (MP for New England)

Mr Windsor is campaigning for a better deal for the bush. He submitted to Ms Gillard and Mr Abbott his bid for regional development:

· Regional affairs to be brought more directly under prime ministerial control.

· A full review of the Henry tax reform proposals – including the mining tax.

· Supports a parliamentary committee on climate change and wants Professor Ross Garnaut to update his report.

Bob Katter: (MP for Kennedy)

Mr Katter released a 20-point wish list to both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott. The main points include:

· No Carbon tax, No emissions trading scheme, No mining tax.

· Rural hospitals under the control of a local hospital board.

· Reducing the market concentration of the Coles and Woolworths supermarket duopoly.

· The creation of a national energy grid and the development of more clean fuel (i.e. ethanol)

· Provision of title deeds providing ownership of homes, businesses and farms to indigenous communities.

(Julia Gillard has rejected Mr Katter’s call to raise trade tariffs)


Clashes at Tehran anti-US rally

Thousands of Iranians have staged a noisy anti-US rally in Tehran to mark the 30th anniversary of the storming of the American embassy by students, as police and opposition supporters clashed nearby.

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US President Barack Obama meanwhile said in a statement marking the anniversary of the event that sparked decades of hostility between America and Iran that the Islamic republic “must choose” whether to open the door to opportunity and prosperity.

Huge crowds from early morning descended on the embassy complex in central Tehran, chanting slogans such as “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.”

They also smashed up posters of the American “Uncle Sam” symbol and chanted “The blood in our veins is a gift to our leader” — a reference to Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The crowd was constantly being swelled by people arriving on foot and by bus, witnesses said.

About a kilometre (mile) away at Haft-e-Tir square in the heart of the capital, riot police armed with batons and firing teargas moved in as several hundred opposition supporters attempted to stage an anti-government protest.

Witnesses said the protesters, who were chanting “Death to the dictator,” refused to disperse and dozens were beaten arrested.

Opposition supporters have since June been staging protests at every opportunity in Tehran against the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a presidential vote they claim was massively rigged.

Wednesday’s anniversary, which has turned into a cornerstone of the Islamic regime, event marks the capture by radical Islamist students of the US embassy compound on November 4, 1979 — just months after the Islamic revolution toppled the US-backed shah.

The students, who took 52 American diplomats hostage and held them for 444 days, said they were responding to Washington’s refusal to hand over the deposed shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

Obama in his statement urged Iran to look to the future rather than the past.

“We have heard for 30 years what the Iranian government is against; the question, now, is what kind of future it is for,” he said.

“It is time for the Iranian government to decide whether it wants to focus on the past, or whether it will make the choices that will open the door to greater opportunity, prosperity and justice for its people.”

Leading Iranian dissident cleric Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri said meanwhile the capture of the US embassy was a mistake.

“The occupation of the American embassy at the start had the support of Iranian revolutionaries and the late Imam Khomeini and I supported it too,” he said.

“But considering the negative repercussions and the high sensitivity which was created among the American people and which still exists, it was not the right thing to do,” Montazeri said in a statement posted on his website.

The anniversary comes at a time when Washington is backing a sensitive nuclear fuel deal for Tehran brokered by the UN atomic watchdog.

US-Iranian relations deteriorated even further during the tenure of former US president George W. Bush, who lumped Iran into an “axis of evil” along with North Korea and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

During his first term as president, Ahmadinejad stepped up Tehran’s anti-US tirade.

And although Washington has made diplomatic overtures towards Tehran under Bush successor Barack Obama, Khamenei said Iran still distrusts the United States.

“Every time they have a smile on their face, they are hiding a dagger behind their back,” he said on Tuesday.

“They are telling us to negotiate, but alongside the negotiation there is a threat… We do not want any negotiation, the result of which is pre-determined by the United States,” he said.

World powers suspect Iran is enriching uranium to make atomic weapons — a charge denied by Tehran — and want its stock of low-enriched uranium (LEU) to be taken out of the country.

In return, world powers would offer Tehran 20 percent enriched uranium as fuel for an internationally supervised nuclear reactor in the capital.


Shocking Melbourne Cup win

Shocking has won the $5.

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5 million Melbourne Cup ahead of Crime Scene and Mourilyan in the nation’s biggest race, giving lucky punters a return of $10 to each dollar they placed on his winning run.

Owned by former Cairns resident Laurence Eales, the four-year-old was trained by Mark Kavanagh and ridden by Corey Brown.

He was Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s pick for winner of the nation-stopping race.

For jockey Corey Brown, the win made up for the heartache of his narrow defeat on Bauer 12 months ago.

Internationals take second and third

Shocking and international raider Crime Scene pulled away from the pack in the straight and had the race between them before the four-year-old got the better of the Godolphin galloper.

Another international, Mourilyan, ran on late for third.

Brown had been booked to ride Vigor in the Cup but picked up the mount on Shocking when Vigor didn’t make the final field.

Sydney-based Brown said winning the Cup was a dream come true after seconds aboard Bauer, who was beaten by a nose by Viewed in a photo finish last year, and by Mr Prudent in 2002.

“Last year was very disappointing but I’ve got it,” Brown said.

“I’ve finally won the Melbourne Cup.

“My dream has come true, I can’t describe it, it’s unbelievable.

“Great job Mark Kavanagh and the horse, he travelled three deep with no cover, I know he had the light weight but he toughed it out so well.”

Melbourne punters going all out

Punters were not holding back with their bets on a blustery day at Flemington, with $11.6 million at stake by 10.30am (AEDT) by Victorians for the big race – ahead of the same time last year.

Gary Davies at TAB SportsBet were expecting a total exceeding $130 million across Victoria and NSW by the time the race started.

“The biggest bet we’ve had for the Cup today at fixed odds was $100,000 on Alcopop – so that punter stands to win $500,000,” Mr Davies told AAP.

Alcopop firmed into second favourite from $6.00 to $5.50 behind the Bart Cummings-trained Viewed.

But punters jumped on to another Cummings horse ahead of Shocking’s shocking win, rallying behind Roman Emperor.

The 8-1 Roman Emperor had more money put on him than Viewed.

Betting slow at Randwick

NSW bookmaker Colin Tidy said there was some early support for Allez Wonder, the outsider of master trainer Bart Cummings’ trio of runners at Sydney’s Randwick racecourse.

“They’ve mostly been betting around the favourites and generally the smaller punters don’t start betting early on the Cup, they’ll wait until just before the race,” Tidy said.

“Overall, it’s a lot quieter here than previous years but we had a professional punter put a good bet on Allez Wonder at $31.”

Cummings was represented by Viewed, the early favourite on the NSW totalisator, and AJC Derby winner Roman Emperor who is second pick ahead of Alcopop.

As revellers in Victoria arrived decked out in designer glory, New South Welsh fans celebrating the nation’s big race were warned not to get carried away with Cup-day barbecues, as a fire warning was put in place.

How they fared in full:

1. Shocking

2. Crime Scene

3. Mourilyan

4. Master O’Reilly

5. Harris Tweed

6. Alcopop

7. Viewed

8. C’est La Guerre

9. Kibbutz

10. Newport

11. Daffodil

12. Munsef

13. Gallions Reach

14. Leica Ding

15. Ista Kareem

16. Allez Wonder

17. Capecover

18. Basaltico

19. Zavite

20. Spin Around

21. Roman Emperor

22. Fiumicino

23 and last Warringah

Changingoftheguard scratched


I owe my England chance to Warne, says Carberry

The former Australia spinner told British media one-test Carberry would make a better opener than talented youngster Root and was duly vindicated on Wednesday when county cricket veteran Carberry shared an unbeaten first wicket stand of 318 with Cook on the opening day of the Hobart tour match against Australia A.

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Warne, who now dissects English players as a television pundit after a career of worrying them with his legspin, may live to rue praising 33-year-old Carberry after his former Hampshire protégé got a big confidence boost with his unbeaten 153 at Bellerive Oval.

“I think Shane Warne is basically the reason I actually got a chance to play test cricket,” Carberry told reporters of his mentor, who captained Hampshire from 2004-07.

“I was a young guy who was a little bit lost in county cricket. I didn’t really get an opportunity.

“I came to Hampshire and from day one he made me feel very very much at home. He gave me the backing any young player needs and allowed me to play a brand of cricket that I wanted to play.

“So I think he was very influential in terms of me actually doing what I’ve done and obviously getting a chance of playing for England.”

England are bidding for a fourth straight Ashes success after winning the first of this year’s back-to-back series 3-0 at home.

SCATHING CRITICISM

Warne’s scathing criticism of Cook, saying his lack of invention as a captain could cost England the Ashes, drew a predictable “look at the scoreboard” response from Cook on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the England captain let his bat do the talking as he compiled an unbeaten 154 to pick up where he left off in Australia after his dominant three-century effort during the 2010-11 Ashes tour, which England won 3-1.

Pundits suggested Cook should ignore Warne’s ‘trash talking’ but he appeared to heed the Australian’s more constructive advice when Root was named to play at number five in Hobart.

Carberry played his sole test against Bangladesh in 2010 and has not had a second chance since, having suffered a blood clot in his lung that prevented him boarding long-haul flights and with former captain Andrew Strauss and Cook firmly ensconced at the top of the order until a year ago.

Concerned that health problems could cut his career short, he became a qualified electrician and had little idea he would be padding up for England on their tour Down Under until a few weeks ago.

“Nothing much was really explained to me,” Carberry said of his selection as an opener for the Hobart match on Wednesday.

“I was just told: ‘Carbs, you’re going in with Cookie’ and that was good enough for me.

“To do it for England is a very special moment and (in) Aussie (Australia) to do it, even better.”

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Ken Ferris)


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Louw backs breakdown specialist Gray in battle on floor

Louw, South Africa’s chief exponent in poaching and securing the ball on the ground, says the art plays a much greater role in matches in the northern hemisphere where referees are generally happier to allow teams more opportunity to contest.

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“Richie has been great for us, he is a great addition to the coaching set-up with his philosophies around the breakdown,” Bath loose forward Louw told a news conference in Cardiff, where Saturday’s test takes place.

“Being a Scot he is obviously a bit more attuned to how the guys play over here. He brings a different perspective to that area.

“The guys have really caught on to him and believe in his views and the things he is saying. He has come up with some great drills and helped the guys develop their skills at the breakdown.

“We are now making the correct decisions, especially on defence, when to go in and when not to, and on attack you obviously want to get in there early to stop the opposition slowing your ball down.”

Irishman Alain Rolland will be in charge of Saturday’s match, the first time he will referee Wales since their 9-8 World Cup semi-final defeat by France in 2011 in which he sent off Welsh captain Sam Warburton.

“I think we have seen in the past, certainly in the last year, that northern hemisphere referees like to allow the breakdown to develop and allow more of a contest there,” Louw said.

“I think it is a big point in northern hemisphere rugby, guys do compete there, they like to counter-ruck and slow the opposition ball down. It is going to be a big challenge for us.

“The breakdown is a massive element, if we have a good platform to attack from it is always going to make you better as a side.”

After Wales this weekend, South Africa will play Scotland in Edinburgh on November 17 and France in Paris on November 23.

(Writing by Nick Said; Editing by Sonia Oxley)


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Banker payment was ‘insurance policy’, says F1’s Ecclestone

Billionaire Ecclestone is defending a $100 million damages claim brought by German media firm Constantin Medien who accuse him and three other defendants of deliberately undervaluing Formula One in the 2005 sale to safeguard his position as CEO.

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The legal fallout from the sale of a controlling stake in the business to CVC is threatening Ecclestone’s four-decade hold on the glamorous motor sport and complicating stalled efforts to float it on the stock market in Singapore.

A Munich court in 2012 jailed Gerhard Gribkowsky, former chief risk officer at German bank BayernLB, for tax evasion and bribery for taking a $44 million payment after the 2005 sale.

Ecclestone, 83, said he paid Gribkowsky 10 million pounds ($16 million) but said that was because the German banker was threatening to make damaging claims about a family trust to the British tax authorities that could have cost him up to 2 billion pounds.

“What I paid him was a very small amount, what I call an insurance policy,” Ecclestone told a hearing at the High Court in London, calling it “quite a cheap insurance policy”.

He said there was no link to a deal in which CVC paid BayernLB $830 million for a 47 percent stake in Formula One. “This issue was nothing to do with anyone except Gribkowsky and myself, nobody else.”

“SHAKEN DOWN”

Ecclestone has run Formula One for four decades, turning it into a money-spinner with annual revenue of around $2 billion generated by races held around the world watched by hundreds of millions of TV viewers.

A German court is due to decide next year whether Ecclestone himself should stand trial on bribery charges linked to the Gribkowsky payment. Ecclestone denies any wrongdoing.

Giving evidence in the damages case brought by Constantin Medien, Ecclestone repeated previous statements that he was being put under pressure by Gribkowsky who he feared would make false claims about his tax affairs.

He denied misleading Formula One board members including Martin Sorrell, chief executive of advertising group WPP, and Peter Brabeck, chairman of Nestle, about payments to Gribkowsky.

“It wasn’t the slightest concern of theirs,” he said. “I paid him because I was being I said ‘shaken down’,” he added, saying this was what he had told the Formula One directors in 2011 after Gribkowsky had been arrested.

Constantin is the successor to German media firm and former shareholder EM.TV. It says it missed out on a share of the proceeds had the sale price for the stake exceeded $1.05 billion.

It argues that Ecclestone favoured a sale to CVC because it planned to keep him on as CEO of a business which he continues to run as a hands-on chief executive.

Questioned repeatedly in court about newspaper reports quoting him after the Gribkowsky arrest, Ecclestone said: “Most of these journalists should be working closely with, what’s his name, Jeffrey Archer,” referring to the best-selling author and former Member of Parliament.

(Editing by David Holmes)


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South Africa recall World Cup winners Pietersen, Fourie

Fourie has not played for the Springboks since the 2011 World Cup after deciding to continue his rugby career in Japan, while Pietersen has not featured this year.

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Both played in the 2007 World Cup-winning campaign and are among five key backline players from that tournament named in the team by coach Heyneke Meyer along with captain Jean de Villiers, wing Bryan Habana and scrumhalf Fourie du Preez.

“We’re very fortunate to have two world class players in JP and Jaque available for selection and I wanted to get then into the action as soon as possible,” Meyer said in a South African Rugby Union (SARU) press release on Wednesday.

“They bring a vast amount of experience to the team and it was clear from our training sessions thus far that they are in great form and ready for Test rugby.”

Uncapped 22-year-old prop Frans Malherbe also comes in for the injured Jannie du Plessis, while the only other change to the pack of forwards is at lock, with Flip van der Merwe starting next to Eben Etzebeth in the middle row.

“Frans has big boots to fill, but he’s been with us for most of 2012 and shown good form since recovering from injury recently and we don’t have any doubts that he has what it takes to make the step up,” said Meyer.

“He’ll have two players with more than 50 Test caps each next to him in the scrum, and his general work-rate across the field and on defence is very good. I’m very happy for Frans.”

Pieter-Steph du Toit, could also make his test debut after the lock was included on the bench.

South Africa and Wales last met in Wellington during the pool stage of the 2011 Rugby World Cup. The Springboks won 17-16 thanks to a late try by Francois Hougaard.

South Africa team:

15-Pat Lambie, 14-JP Pietersen, 13-Jaque Fourie, 12-Jean de Villiers (captain), 11-Bryan Habana, 10-Morne Steyn, 9-Fourie du Preez; 8-Duane Vermeulen, 7-Willem Alberts, 6-Francois Louw, 5-Flip van der Merwe, 4-Eben Etzebeth, 3-Frans Malherbe, 2-Bismarck du Plessis, 1-Tendai Mtawarira

Replacements: 16-Adriaan Strauss, 17-Gurthro Steenkamp, 18-Coenie Oosthuizen, 19-Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20-Siya Kolisi, 21-Ruan Pienaar, 22-JJ Engelbrecht, 23-Willie le Roux

(Reporting by Nick Said in Cape Town; editing by Ken Ferris)


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Springboks hand Malherbe Test debut

Prop Frans Malherbe is to make his debut for South Africa against Wales on Saturday, while other injuries have forced coach Heyneke Meyer into picking an experienced backline.

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The 22-year-old Malherbe comes in for the injured Jannie du Plessis and faces a baptism of fire against a tested Welsh front-row of British and Irish Lions veterans Adam Jones, Richard Hibbard and Gethin Jenkins.

“Frans has big boots to fill, but he’s been with us for most of 2012 and shown good form since recovering from injury recently and we don’t have any doubts that he has what it takes to make the step up,” Meyer said on Wednesday.

Malherbe will pack down alongside hooker Bismarck du Plessis and experienced Zimbabwe-born prop Tendai Mtawarira, something not lost on Meyer.

“He’ll have two players with more than 50 Test caps each next to him in the scrum, and his general work-rate across the field and on defence is very good,” the coach said.

The only other change to the pack is at lock, with Flip van der Merwe starting next to Eben Etzebeth in the second row.

Star backs JP Pietersen and Jaque Fourie are also back in the Springbok team for the match at the Millennium Stadium.

It will be Fourie’s first Test for South Africa since the Rugby World Cup in 2011, while a combination of injury and non-availability means Pietersen is back for his first taste of international rugby yet this season.

“We’re very fortunate to have two world-class players in JP and Jaque available for selection and I wanted to get them into the action as soon as possible,” Meyer said.

“They bring a vast amount of experience to the team and it was clear from our training sessions thus far that they are in great form and ready for Test rugby.”

A second uncapped player, Pieter-Steph du Toit, could make his Test debut for the Springboks, the lock having been included on the bench for this Test.

“To see Frans and Pieter-Steph make the step up to Test match rugby is wonderful,” Meyer said.

“They are two very promising young players and deserve to play for the Springboks, just like we’ve used, with great success, players such as Willie le Roux, Jan Serfontein, JJ Engelbrecht, Arno Botha, Marcell Coetzee, Siya Kolisi, Eben Etzebeth and Trevor Nyakane in the last two seasons.”

Saturday’s match will be the first time the two countries have met since the Springboks edged a 2011 World Cup pool game in Wellington 17-16.

Wales, however, went on to reach the semi-finals and take successive Six Nations titles.

Wales have beaten South Africa just once in 26 internationals stretching back 107 years.

South Africa (15-1)

Pat Lambie; JP Pietersen, Jaque Fourie, Jean de Villiers (capt), Bryan Habana; Morne Steyn, Fourie du Preez; Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts, Francois Louw; Flip van der Merwe, Eben Etzebeth; Frans Malberhe, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira

Replacements: Adriaan Strauss, Gurthro Steenkamp, Coenie Oosthuizen, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi, Ruan Pienaar, JJ Engelbrecht, Willie le Roux


Russia apologises to Norwegian journalists held on Olympic trip

Norwegian broadcaster TV2, the country’s official games broadcaster, said its journalists Oeystein Bogen and Aage Aune had been questioned, detained and searched by police who claimed that one of them had been using drugs.

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Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement sent to Reuters that local law enforcement officials abused their posts in the incidents last week, leading to “a series of unwarranted actions towards the citizens of Norway”.

“In this regard we apologise to Mr Bogen and Mr Aune. The current situation will undoubtedly be worked out in detail and those guilty will receive the corresponding punishment.

“We would like to assure you that the executive authorities of the Russian Federation will take all necessary measures to avoid the repetition of similar cases in the future,” it said.

Russia is spending more than $50 billion on preparations for the 2014 Games. President Vladimir Putin wants to use the Winter Olympics to show to the world a modern face of Russia more than 20 years after the fall of the Soviet Union.

A statement by Human Rights Watch said the journalists had been detained several times travelling in and out of the Sochi region, which borders the volatile North Caucasus.

One of them was forced to drive to a local drug clinic after officers claimed he might be on narcotics. This incident ended only when another officer arrived at the centre saying there had been a ‘misunderstanding’, HRW said.

Russia said that a technical mistake had provided false information about the journalists to law enforcement officials.

Russia ranks 148th out of 179 countries on the World Press Freedom index compiled by the journalist watchdog Reporters Without Borders.

(Reporting By Thomas Grove; editing by Ralph Boulton)


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Rio club has hit with Che Guevara shirt

Madureira, a third division team from Rio de Janeiro’s gritty north side, put Che’s famously bearded face on their seven-a-side shirts to commemorate a tour of the island they made 50 years ago.

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The goalkeeper’s jersey is designed exactly like the Cuban flag.

The new maroon outfield designs, featuring the shadow of the revolutionary’s image, have not yet been used in an official match, but they are already a huge hit with fans.

Sales have rocketed from the usual 10 a month to more than 3000 in the weeks since it was launched.

“The factory can’t keep up with demand,” Madureira’s president Elias Duba told Reuters.

“It’s taken on a whole life of its own.

“I wasn’t going to have the big team use them, but all the attention has convinced me otherwise.”

The club chose to honour Che, the Argentine-born revolutionary who helped Fidel Castro to power in Cuba in 1959, after playing five games there in 1963. Che met the players at their hotel in Havana and was at the last game of their unbeaten tour, Duba said.

Madureira claims to have undertaken the longest overseas tour of all Brazilian clubs. In the 1950s and 1960s, Brazilian sides, including Pele’s Santos and Garrincha’s Botafogo, would regularly spend months abroad playing money-spinning friendlies.

In 1963 Madureira spent 144 days in countries as far flung as Japan and the United States, playing 36 games, and winning 23 of them.

The club is now talking to Cuban authorities in the hope it can return there for a pre-season tour in 2014. With their Che shirts.

“It’s really beautiful, one of the nicest shirts I’ve seen in a long time,” said goalkeeper Robertinho. “Even fans of other teams want to buy it.”


Woods backs Mickelson move to cut heavy schedule

British Open champion Mickelson announced last week that he would be scaling down his appearances next year.

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The five-times major winner did not indicate which events he would miss but his comments suggested the U.S. PGA Tour’s money-spinning FedExCup playoff series might be on the chopping block.

“I don’t blame him (for cutting down), I don’t blame him at all,” world number one Woods told Reuters in an interview ahead of his participation in this week’s inaugural Turkish Airlines Open in the south western city of Antalya.

“I don’t know what he’s going to cut down, we have 15 tournaments as a minimum for voting membership (on the U.S. Tour).

“But I just think it’s important to be fresh, it’s important to be ready for the major championships, the World Golf Championships, the Players Championship,” added Woods.

The 14-times major winner said that even when the four majors are over for the season, players still have the FedExCup to support in August and September.

“With the FedExCup at the end of the year I can see where guys are taking breaks,” said Woods. “Some of the top Europeans are playing right now in this stretch through the Race to Dubai (finale) and then going down to South Africa.

“You need to find blocks of your time for your off season. Everybody has different times when they like to take the off season so you’ve just got to figure out what’s best for you.”

This week’s event in Turkey and the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai that follows bring an end to the 2012-13 European Tour campaign.

However, no sooner does the curtain go down on one year than it almost immediately rises again to herald the start of the 2013-14 season with the South African Open in Gauteng on November 21.

STRICKER EXAMPLE

Woods cited U.S. Ryder Cup playing partner and world number seven Steve Stricker as the perfect example of a leading golfer who has derived tangible benefits from reducing his tournament appearances.

“Steve cut back his schedule this year and had his best year just because he felt he was more mentally fresh and I think that’s pretty important,” said the 37-year-old American.

“It’s tougher nowadays especially with our playoff system and with the European Tour and their playoff system (the Final Series) and their minimum number of events have increased.

“A guy has to play a lot more events around the world and it is very hard to stay fresh,” said Woods.

The world number one is pleased to be in Turkey for the penultimate tournament of his season before he bows out by hosting his own World Challenge event in California next month.

Woods said he was always interested to see new emerging golfing markets pop up around the world.

“I think the inclusion of golf in the 2016 Olympics (in Rio de Janeiro) has changed the dynamics of how we think about golf,” he explained.

“There are other countries that are now getting more involved. China for example has been unbelievable in what they have done in the last 12 years.

“The number of kids that have come through their programmes and you see a little kid like Guan (Tianlang) make it to the U.S. Masters at age 14 this year,” said Woods.

“That’s what is coming, that is the next wave of kids. Give them another 10, 20 years and you’re going to see certain countries start to dominate the game of golf.”

Woods begins his title challenge at the $7 million Turkish Open in the company of U.S. Open champion Justin Rose and European money-list leader Henrik Stenson in Thursday’s opening round at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal course.

The trio tee-off at 1105 local time (0905 GMT).

(Editing by Ken Ferris)


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Bjorn can restore peace between Tour and players, says Rose

Last week former world number one Ernie Els described as “farcical” the rule that members must play in two of the three events leading up to the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai in order to be eligible for the last of the four Final Series tournaments.

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Els, who has been a member of the European circuit for almost two decades, said he would register his disapproval by skipping the $8 million (5 million pounds) season-ending event in Dubai.

Former U.S. Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and Ryder Cup stalwart Sergio Garcia have also said the regulations are asking too much of the players.

“This is the first time there has been this new system so I don’t think anything is set in stone,” world number five Rose told reporters on the eve of the inaugural $7 million Turkish Airlines Open being staged in the city of Antalya.

“Quite clearly the sweet spot has not been found. Thomas is a very good sounding board, I don’t want to call him the middle man but he acts really well between the players and the top executives of the tour.

“I think he has had quite a few conversations with guys in the last couple of weeks just to try and gauge where everybody’s head is at and to try and come up with a great solution.”

The Final Series, which consists of Turkey, Dubai and two big-money tournaments in Shanghai, is Europe’s equivalent of the U.S. PGA Tour’s lucrative FedExCup playoff system.

STRONG TOURNAMENTS

Rose, ever the diplomat, said he could see both sides of the argument between the tour and the players.

“You’ve got to try and play a schedule you feel is going to give you the best opportunity to play well when you want to play well and if that means pacing yourself, you pace yourself,” said the 33-year-old Briton.

“But I also understand the tour’s point of view in trying to incentivise guys and trying to create strong tournaments. They are asking sponsors to put up a lot of money and clearly they want a return on their investment.”

Rose is third in the European money-list with the two events to go, trailing leader Henrik Stenson by 325,000 euros ($436,600) and second-placed Graeme McDowell by 179,000 euros.

Swede Stenson, who picked up $11.4 million for winning the FedExCup and the season-ending U.S. Tour Championship, plays alongside Rose and world number one Tiger Woods in Thursday’s opening round but McDowell is an absentee this week.

First prize at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal course in Belek is worth 848,930 euros and Rose said that emulating his 2007 order of merit triumph would represent the icing on the cake of a memorable season in which he won a major for the first time.

“Before I won the U.S. Open I would have said winning the order of merit was my career achievement and something I was very proud of,” said the Englishman.

“To have the opportunity to do it for the second time, in the modern era and in the new format, would be great.”

(Editing by Sonia Oxley)


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Davies happy with Wales preparation

Bradley Davies has no doubt that Wales’ preparations have been spot on for their latest attempt to floor a southern hemisphere heavyweight.

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Cardiff Blues lock Davies will make his first Wales appearance at the Millennium Stadium since last November when Rugby Championship runners-up South Africa provide the opposition on Saturday.

Wales’ coaching team and captain Sam Warburton have this week underlined the crucial importance of beginning to take major foreign scalps, something that has eluded them since 1999 (South Africa), 1953 (New Zealand) and 2008 (Australia).

That Wallabies win has so far proved the solitary success during more than 20 attempts in head coach Warren Gatland’s five-year reign, even though Wales have won three Six Nations titles, two Grand Slams and reached a World Cup semi-final under the New Zealander’s direction.

Wales now have a first tilt at the Springboks since suffering an agonising 17-16 defeat against them in the World Cup pool phase two years ago, and 40 times-capped Davies is relishing the prospect.

“South Africa are going to challenge us front-on with their style of play,” said Davies, who has been recalled as Alun-Wyn Jones’ second-row partner after missing last season’s Six Nations because of an ankle injury.

“We prepared for it in training last week. Training was physical, and hopefully we can transfer it to Saturday’s game.

“I feel I am ready to run through brick walls, which is normally a good sign.”

Davies was on the bench when Wales lost to South Africa in Wellington, yet in many ways it was a performance of sufficient high quality to underpin their push towards the latter knockout stages.

“We were written off before that game, but we were well in it,” he added.

“Because of that match we turned the corner and the snowball effect gave us momentum to reach the semi-finals.

“I thought we played the better rugby, but at the end of the day history says we lost. There’s been a lot of games we have said we should have won over the last couple of years but we haven’t. We need to start turning those narrow losses into wins.”

Wales’ record against the leading southern hemisphere sides is a particularly poor one when compared with England’s during the professional era.

While Wales have consistently struggled to find a winning formula, England can reflect on a number of victories over the Springboks, All Blacks and Wallabies, including beating Australia five days ago despite not hitting top gear.

“England have shown the way, really,” Davies said.

“They were a bit rusty during the opening 20 minutes last weekend, but they stuck together and their physicality and fitness came through and they got the win.”