Lyle fights way into PGA Tour opener

Jarrod Lyle has displayed his trademark fighting qualities to qualify in a playoff for the US PGA Tour season opener after tournament organisers failed to offer a sponsor invite.

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Returning to the tour for the 2014-15 season after beating leukaemia for the second time, Lyle was widely expected to be afforded a sponsor’s invite to the Frys广西桑拿, Open in Napa, California, but he was controversially overlooked.

Rather than just pack it in and wait for next week, when sponsors of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas have already ensured Lyle will get a start, the Victorian travelled to Napa, shot six-under 66 in Monday’s qualifying and then survived an eight-man playoff for four spots to get in.

It is another small chapter in an inspiring journey for the 32-year-old Victorian.

When forced by illness to leave the tour during the 2012 season Lyle had won $363,685 ($A415,997) meaning he will have to earn $283,825 ($A324,123) in 19 events to equal No.125 on the 2012 money list and earn a full tour card once more.

Players on medical exemptions often struggle to get into fields as they are extremely low on the priority list, leaving them to the mercy of sponsors.

“I was disappointed not to get an invite, mostly because they didn’t even let me know. We just had to wait until the field was finalised on Friday,” Lyle told AAP.

“I understand invites are hard to get and plenty of worthy players want them but it was a shame they didn’t at least let us know.

“My wife Briony was pretty devastated but I told her I had a chance to qualify and what better way to stick it to them. Thankfully I was able to get it done.”

Lyle says the experience has further steeled him for the season ahead.

“I am now really looking forward to Thursday and hopefully I can kick start the season in style.”

Fellow Australians Mat Goggin and Greg Chalmers were also part of the playoff on Monday with Goggin getting through to the tournament proper.

Robert Allenby, Stuart Appleby, Aaron Baddeley, Steven Bowditch, Matt Jones, Marc Leishman and Cameron Percy round out the Australian tilt in the season opener.

Percy is the only ‘newcomer’ to the main tour in 2014-15 after graduating from the secondary tour.

It is the 40-year-old’s third trip to the big show after 2010 and 2013 while he also played on conditional status in 2011.

This time around he feels better equipped to cement himself.

Despite catching a stomach virus during the secondary tour playoffs and losing almost five kilograms Percy is back to full strength.

“I feel ready and this time around I have some extra confidence after winning on the web广西桑拿, tour this year,” Percy said.

“I have also got a new caddy who has been out here for years and years and he keeps me a lot calmer.

“In the past I maybe would dwell on some bad breaks too long but I am a lot calmer in dealing with these things.”

Player burnout takes toll on Kiwis squad

End-of-season fatigue has taken its toll on the Kiwis’ Four Nations rugby league squad with the late withdrawals of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves.

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The Sydney Roosters duo have been omitted from coach Stephen Kearney’s 24-man squad named in Wellington on Tuesday.

Kearney said feedback from both players and their club had centred around exhaustion at the end of a challenging season, and the New Zealand selectors had looked at the bigger picture in leaving the pair out.

Waerea-Hargreaves and Tuivasa-Sheck played in all but one of the Roosters’ 27 NRL matches this season.

Tuivasa-Sheck in particular had backed up in two demanding seasons, separated by last year’s World Cup, is looking at moving into a new position next year at fullback.

“You could see the effect it was taking on him by the back end of the season,” Kearney said.

“If Roger’s in healthy shape next year, in good shape for his club, then obviously he’s going to be in good shape for the Kiwis too.”

Meanwhile, Australian coach Tim Sheens, in Wellington as part of preparations for the Four Nations final at Westpac Stadium on November 15, said injury had also taken its toll on the Kangaroos.

“I think about 80 per cent of the guys that have dropped out with us have been forced out with shoulder surgery,” he said.

“Every one of them has been disappointed at having to pull out – they don’t like giving up their Australian jumper.

“I don’t think in six years I’ve had anyone say to me ‘I’m too tired to play for Australia’. Most of them have been really, really upset about it.”

Four new faces, including 19-year-old Penrith winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, have made Kearney’s cut for the Four Nations tournament involving Australia, England and Samoa.

The other uncapped players are North Queensland second rower Jason Taumalolo, 21, Cronulla utility Sosaia Feki, 23, and Warriors prop Suaia Matagi, 26.

Penrith utility Lewis Brown returns to the squad for the first time since 2011.

Three other players named in the New Zealand train-on squad also weren’t considered because of injury – Warriors pair Konrad Hurrell and Ben Matulino and Panthers prop Sam McKendry.

The Kiwis open their campaign against Australia in Brisbane on October 25.

Kiwis squad: Gerard Beale, Adam Blair, Jesse Bromwich, Lewis Brown, Greg Eastwood, Sosaia Feki, Kieran Foran, Tohu Harris, Siliva Havili, Peta Hiku, Shaun Johnson, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Thomas Leuluai, Issac Luke, Simon Mannering, Suaia Matagi, Sam Moa, Jason Nightingale, Kevin Proctor, Jason Taumalolo, Martin Taupau, Manu Vatuvei, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Dean Whare.

Vic parties promise to double jobs growth

Job growth will almost double in Victoria no matter who wins the state election, the major parties promise.

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Premier Denis Napthine has pledged to create more than 200,000 new jobs in the next five years, while Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews promised 100,000 in the next two years.

About 110,000 new jobs have been created in Victoria since the 2010 election, but the unemployment rate is 6.8 per cent, the highest on the mainland.

Dr Napthine pinned the majority of the promised new jobs on his government’s $27 billion infrastructure program, which was announced in May.

“This is a total package that will drive jobs forward in this state,” Dr Napthine told reporters on Tuesday.

Dr Napthine’s $33 billion plan included $6.6 billion for skills, training and manufacturing support, most of which had been previously announced.

Mr Andrews has offered Victorian companies tax breaks for hiring youths, the long-term jobless and retrenched workers as part of a $1 billion plan.

He said the coalition’s job figures could not be trusted.

“This is desperate Denis Napthine playing `pick a number, any number’,” Mr Andrews said.

Dr Napthine was questioned on why the 200,000 figure was not in the printed jobs plan.

“It’s based on clear advice and assessment from the department,” Dr Napthine said.

Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Mark Stone said the premier’s target was “doable” if Victoria played to its strengths.

“It’s ambitious, clearly ambitious, based on 110,000 over the last four years,” Mr Stone said.

Australian Industry Group Victorian director Tim Piper said he hoped the jobs targets could be achieved, and a pipeline of infrastructure projects would be needed to get it done.

Dr Napthine refused to comment on reports a leak from his office had given Labor the jump on the jobs plan.

“I’m not interested in those matters. I’m interested in providing good government for the people of Victoria,” he said.

A number of the coalition’s proposals, including plans for trade offices in Singapore and South America, were pre-empted by Labor’s Monday release.

New spending in the coalition plan includes $30 million in government vouchers for Victorian manufacturing businesses to invest in innovation and equipment.

Victorian year nine and 10 students at risk from disengaging from school will also be put into work experience as part of a $9 million plan.

Many of the other initiatives in the plan had already been announced, or were extensions of current programs.

COALITION GOVERNMENT VERSUS LABOR ON JOBS POLICY:

COALITION

* $33 billion infrastructure, skills, training, manufacturing support investment

* 200,000 jobs created over five years

* 60,000 new apprenticeships

* 3000 jobs announced in next three weeks

* $30 million manufacturing innovation fund

* New government business offices in South America and Singapore

* $9 million to put disengaged school students into work experience

LABOR

* $1 billion jobs plan

* $100 million fund to create 100,000 jobs over two years

* $1000 payroll tax breaks for hiring youths, long term jobless and retrenched workers full time

* Independent panel to advise on $500 million for jobs, investment

* $200 million grant program for high-growth areas including pharmaceuticals, new energy, food, fibre, international education

* $200 million investment fund for regional projects

* Bring four trade missions to Victoria; new government business offices in South America, Turkey and Singapore.

RLPA suggests rotation policy to NRL

The rotation policy was an abject failure in Australian cricket, but a similar system is being floated in rugby league to manage player burnout.

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With the Four Nations fast approaching, Kangaroos star Johnathan Thurston has renewed calls for the NRL to make its jam-packed schedule fairer on players.

Thurston will be one of the few senior stars left in an Australian squad heavily affected by injury, and believes the current calendar is proving too much to sustain.

One proposal put forward by the Rugby League Players Association to the NRL is not to reduce the number of fixtures, but to more actively manage the workload of players.

Thurston says there needs to be an appreciation at league headquarters that there are welfare concerns amongst players.

“I think the schedule is too much,” said Thurston.

“But it’s what we’ve got and the RLPA are doing their best to reduce the amount of games.

“It needs to be both ways.”

The issue of player burnout has become an annual debate around this time, when internationals are added onto the end of a long club and State of Origin season.

New Zealand on Tuesday left Roosters duo Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Jared Wearea-Hargreaves out of their squad for the tournament, specifically citing burnout.

The RLPA had an extensive meeting with NRL powerbrokers earlier this year on issues of player burn-out and the negotiation process remains ongoing.

According to an RLPA spokesperson, there’s a number of proposals on the table, including resting players from certain matches who have endured a particularly heavy workload.

For example, a star like Thurston who has played a full season including finals, plus three State of Origin matches, may be given a break from the post-season internationals to avoid burning out.

There’s no simple solution, but seasoned representative players have been crying out for the issue to be properly addressed for years, particularly as the game has become faster and more physically taxing.

Australian coach Tim Sheens will be missing a host of stars including Billy Slater and Paul Gallen when the Kangaroos team is named next week.

However, Thurston admits there’s a silver lining to the rare mass changes in personnel.

“We’ve got great depth of talent, whoever comes in we’ve got full confidence they’ll do the job,” he said.

“There’s a standard the boys have set before us and we’re continuing that standard.

“The new boys that come in they’ll see that standard and rise to the challenge so it’ll be good for us old blokes to see some fresh faces.”

Aust man’s family frustrated by no charge

Australian teacher Robert Scott is fighting for life in hospital and has racked up more than $1 million in medical bills after suffering a fractured skull during an attack on a California residential street.

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The 26-year-old and former champion rower from the NSW mid-north coast town of Pacific Palms has been in a coma and on life support for almost two months.

He was a PE teacher at several Tamworth high schools before flying to Canada to work at the resort town of Banff.

“The doctors don’t know if he will recover,” Robert’s father, Stephen, told AAP.

“He is lucky to be alive.

“They say he’s young and could make some kind of a recovery and we’re just staying positive and want our Rob back.”

Robert was flown on a Lear jet air ambulance from California to Sydney last week, where he remains in a coma and on life support in Royal North Shore Hospital.

The flight added to the already extremely high medical bills he accumulated in intensive care at Fresno’s Saint Agnes Medical Centre, despite having travel insurance.

But the insurance company might not pay the bills because he was drunk when he was hit.

He had a blood alcohol level of .24, but the Scotts deny alcohol played a role in the attack and are frustrated the man who attacked him has not been charged.

The attack happened at about 9pm on August 17 in Fresno, a city 320 kilometres north of Los Angeles.

Local Gilbert Romero was arrested nine days later, but was released without charge.

Robert was walking with friend Helena Sordal along a Fresno street with an 18-pack of beer.

What happened next is in dispute.

Ms Sordal said Robert spoke to a woman who was sitting with a young child in a car double parked on the wrong side of the road.

Romero then allegedly ran from a nearby house and shouted, “What are you doing to my girl?”.

“Robert had his hands down, backing away and said, ‘I don’t want any trouble’,” Robert’s father, recalling how Sordal described the incident, said.

“But the guy hit him.”

Romero, however, alleged Robert shouted an expletive at the woman and child and took a swing at Romero but missed. He said he punched Robert in self-defence.

Stephen Scott remained in California to ensure Fresno police and the District Attorney prosecuted his son’s attacker.

The family has hired Fresno lawyer Benjamin Tryk, and has been supported by the Australian consulate in San Francisco.

“At the moment they haven’t carried out a proper investigation,” Stephen Scott said of the Fresno police.

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer disputed allegations police had not given the case a high priority and said the investigation was continuing.