Vettel takes pole in Brazil
Sebastian Vettel emerged from plumes of spray on Saturday to deliver a typically accomplished lap in treacherous conditions and claim pole position for the season-closing Brazilian Grand Prix. Smiling and relaxed, the four-time champion made light of the heavy rain, repeated postponements and obvious dangers to secure his ninth pole of the season, the 45th of his career, and extend his Red Bull team’s run of poles to nine. Vettel clocked a best lap of 1 minute, 26.479 seconds to finish 0.7 seconds clear of nearest rival and fellow German Nico Rosberg of Mercedes. He was more than a second clear of third-placed Fernando Alonso of Ferrari and his own teammate, soon-to-retire Australian Mark Webber. Lewis Hamilton, the 2008 champion, was fifth in the second Mercedes ahead of Romain Grosjean of Lotus, Daniel Ricciardo and his Toro Rosso teammate Jean-Eric Vergne. Local hero Felipe Massa, who leaves Ferrari after this weekend’s contest, was ninth and Nico Hulkenberg of Sauber 10th.
Three lead at Titleholders
Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum fired a bogey-free five-under 67 on Saturday to seize a share of the LPGA Titleholders third-round lead alongside Natalie Gulbis and Gerina Piller. Gulbis shook off a watery bogey at the par-five first hole at Tiburon Golf Club and carded eight birdies in a seven-under 65. Gulbis is seeking to add a second LPGA title to a resume that includes a victory at the 2007 Evian Masters. Piller and Pornanong are both fighting for a first career LPGA title, although the Thai golfer won the unofficial HSBC Brazil Cup last season. Piller, like Pornanong, notched five birdies in her five-under 67 to join the leading trio on 11-under 205. They were two strokes in front of a group of four players on 207 — overnight leader Sandra Gal of Germany, China’s Feng Shanshan, and Americans Stacy Lewis and Lexi Thompson. Michelle Wie of the US carded a 66 and was alone on 208, one stroke in front of a group that included South Korea’s Inbee Park. Taiwan’s Candie Kung shot a 75 to be tied for 45th place on 220.
Schwartzel in pole position
Joint leader overnight and pre-tournament favorite Charl Schwartzel moved into a one-shot lead at the South African Open on Saturday after a three-under 69 put the Johannesburg native in control heading into the final round. The 2011 Masters champion drained five birdies against two bogeys on a clear, breezy day at the par-72 Glendower club layout to lead Italian Marco Crespi (70) and Denmark’s Morten Orum Madsen (69) with 18 holes to play. Madsen climbed into a tie for second with overnight co-leader Crespi after carding a three-under 69, while the Italian remains well positioned despite dropping a shot to Schwartzel on the day. Former champion Hennie Otto of South Africa is alone in fourth after a sparkling round of 65 that included seven birdies over the final eight holes.
Quigg defends his title
Scott Quigg defended his World Boxing Association super-bantamweight title with a second-round stoppage of Argentina’s Diego Silva in Manchester, England, on Saturday. The 25-year-old Englishman twice floored Silva with a powerful right hand, and the beaten challenger was left flat on his back and in need of medical assistance. Quigg had been elevated to the title earlier this year and was, in the opinion of experienced observers, fortunate to hold on to the belt in a draw against Cuba’s Yoandris Salinas last month.