PALM HARBOR- Reigning British Open champion Ernie Els has withdrawn from this week's US PGA Tampa Bay Championship because of nagging soreness in his right hip. The 43-year-old South African said in a blog posting on the PGA website that his only outing of the week will be a Tuesday trip to Augusta National for a "gentle walk" around the Masters course ahead of next month's first major of the year. "Other than that I'll have to pretty much rest-up for most of this week," Els said. "Doctors orders, as they say."
SYDNEY - Mark Schwarzer will take over as captain of the Socceroos for what coach Holger Osieck describes as a must-win World Cup qualifier against Oman in Sydney on March 26. Veteran goalkeeper Schwarzer will lead the side onto Stadium Australia in the absence of suspended regular skipper Lucas Neill. Overseas-based players Tim Cahill, Mile Jedinak, Tommy Oar and Tom Rogic return to the 23-man squad named on Wednesday after missing last month's friendly against Romania.
MELBOURNE - Marc Murphy knows all about AFL leadership, but coach Mick Malthouse says there could still be some tough lessons ahead for the new Carlton captain. After several weeks of speculation, the Blues confirmed on Wednesday that Murphy would take over from Chris Judd. Vice-captains Andrew Carrazzo and Kade Simpson were the other main contenders for the role. Murphy, 25, was the No.1 pick in the 2005 draft and has been part of the Blues' leadership group since his second year at the club. Still, Malthouse warned the star onballer that the captaincy would sometimes mean not being too popular with team-mates. "You can't baulk at that and this will be the testing time of a new captain ... to find that out over the duration of a 12-month period, because you're going to have highs and lows," Malthouse said.
Parko vs Slater
GOLD COAST- The world's top two ranked surfers Joel Parkinson and Kelly Slater will meet in Wednesday's final of the season-opening men's world tour event at Kirra Point on the Gold Coast. Australia's defending world champion Parkinson eliminated Tahiti's Michel Bourez in the semi-finals to set up the title-deciding clash with American legend Slater. Slater scored a perfect 10 wave while beating local favourite and former world champion Mick Fanning in his semi.
SYDNEY - Parramatta coach Ricky Stuart has moved to temper early season expectation on his side after their impressive opening to the NRL season. The Eels hammered the Warriors in a promising first-round hitout in which Chris Sandow and Jarryd Hayne starred but Stuart conceded Thursday night's match against Canterbury at ANZ Stadium is a much sterner test of their first grade credentials. "We started off in a good manner, we showed we have some footy in us," Stuart said yesterday. "But it's not just about results this year it is about the bigger picture. We are playing against a team this week that have just come off a grand final ... we are wooden spooners. If we can just hang in there ... at the end of the day if we are within two or three tries of the Bulldogs I will be happy."