What, exactly, is the ‘Drake Curse’?

What, exactly, is the ‘Drake Curse’?  The so-called ‘Drake Curse’ is a series of unfortunate, but hardly supernatural, coincidences that are associated with the Canadian rapper Aubrey Drake Graham, otherwise known by the mononym ‘Drake’. Since he rose to prominence as a recording artist in 2009, Drake has posed for photographs with, and/or endorsed, some of the top athletes in the world and, more often than not, they have subsequently suffered misfortune of one form or another.

Of course, Drake isn’t really ‘cursed’ or ‘jinxed’ but, for anyone remotely superstitious, his uncanny ability to put the mockers on heavily favoured, elite sportsmen and women is definitely cause for concern. In April, 2019 alone, Drake was pictured alongside footballers including Jadon Sancho of Borussia Dortmund, Pierre-Emerick Aubmeyang of Arsenal and Sergio Aguero of Manchester City, who all suffered major reversals of fortune almost as soon as the pictures were uploaded to social media.

The latest high-profile ‘victim’ of the Drake Curse was former unified world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, who posted a photograph of himself and the Toronto rapper on Instagram shortly before his shock defeat by virtually unknown Mexican Andy Ruiz Jr. at Madison Square Garden on June 1, 2019. In what Joshua billed as the ‘bout to beat the curse’, Ruiz Jr., who weighed in at a seemingly overweight 268 pounds and could be backed at 25/1 beforehand, won by technical knockout in the seventh round, creating the biggest heavyweight boxing upset since James ‘Buster’ Douglas knocked out Mike Tyson in Tokyo in 1990.

What is the lowest score ever recorded in Golf?

The lowest score ever recorded in competitive golf, as recognised by Guinness World Records, is 55, achieved by Australian professional Rhein Gibson at River Oaks Golf Club in Edmond, Oklahoma on May 12, 2012. The 26-year-old had already set the course record of 60 the previous week but, starting from the tenth tee, recorded six birdies and two eagles for an outward nine of 26, followed by six birdies for an inward nine of 29, and a total of 55, 16 strokes fewer than the number supposedly required to complete the 6,850-yard course. Originally from New South Wales, but educated at Oklahoma Christian University, where he was a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) All-American, Gibson was twelfth on the money list for the developmental Golfweek National Pro Tour, but had a world ranking of 1,444.

Several other rounds of 55 have been documented, such as that recorded by American professional Homero Blancas in the Premier Invitational at Longview, Texas in 1962, but are not recognised by Guinness World Records because the course was deemed too short or the round deemed non-competitive. By contrast, Gibson conquered a full-sized 18-hole course with what his playing partner Eric Fox called ‘an almost perfect round of golf’.

Are tennis umpires paid?

Are tennis umpires paid?  The simple answer is yes, they are, but in a hierarchical structure, based entirely on ability, all tennis umpires start at the bottom of the profession. In Britain, to become a line umpire, or line judge – that is, a person responsible for calling a ball ‘In’ or ‘Out’ – they must pass basic training at the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) before ‘running the line’ at local, county and regional tennis tournaments. A line umpire typically earns around £20,000 per annum.

However, for line umpires who excel, the LTA offers a further accreditation course, which includes a written examination on the Rules of Tennis, which introduces them to life as a chair umpire. Once accredited, in the professional game, chair umpires typically earn around £30,000 per annum, although at the higher end of the scale, a main umpire, or ‘designated official’, can earn upwards of £50,000 per annum.

Tennis umpires’ pay made the news in September, 2018, after a protracted argument between Serena Williams and chair umpire Carlos Ramos during her defeat by Naomi Osaka in the U.S. Open final. After a series of code violations, including calling Ramos ‘a liar’ and ‘a thief’ – for which she was later fined $17,000 – Williams still took home $1,850,000 in prize money; Ramos, one of the highest-rated chair umpires in professional tennis, received just $450, the daily rate paid by the United States Tennis Association (USTA).

How many teams will contest the 2022 World Cup finals?

How many teams will contest the 2022 World Cup finals?  The 2022 World Cup finals are due to kick-off at the 80,000-capacity Lusail Iconic Stadium – still in planning – in Lusail, Qatar, on November 21, 2022. At the time of writing, in April, 2018, the Qatari Football Association (QFA) is working on a 32-team tournament, featuring a total of 64 matches, although Gianni Infantino, President of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), will be seeking approval to expanding the tournament to 48 teams, and 80 matches, at the annual FIFA Congress. Indeed, a feasibility study conducted by FIFA has already identified the need for two additional stadiums – in addition to the minimum of eight already in planning, or under construction – in one or more countries in the Gulf if the World Cup is extended.

Of course, Qatar is still subject to a diplomatic, economic and travel embargo from its Gulf neighbours Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, among other countries so, with the Sultanate of Oman ruling itself out as a World Cup co-host, Infantino is rapidly running out of options. Kuwait, which has remained neutral during the diplomatic crisis, is the only viable alternative, but has no stadiums that meet FIFA standards and has additional human rights and cultural issues, including a complete ban on alcohol, to contend with, not to mention a national team ranked lower than Mauritius or Tahiti.

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