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Golf without Tiger Woods? His fellow players can barely imagine | Golf News – Times of India

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BRADENTON: As a golf prodigy growing up in Northern Ireland, Rory McIlroy not only yearned to compete against his idol Tiger Woods but also hoped to become his good friend. Both dreams came true.
That might explain why McIlroy was miffed when asked Wednesday if he thought that Woods, given his history of rallying from past physical setbacks, might be especially suited to overcome the extensive leg injuries he sustained in a harrowing car crash Tuesday.

“He’s not Superman,” McIlroy responded. “I think everyone should just be grateful that he’s here, that he’s alive, that his kids haven’t lost their dad.”
At the same time, McIlroy was perfectly positioned to address the looming question as Woods begins yet another long, arduous recovery: Will golf, and the sports world in general, be prepared if Woods cannot summon yet another comeback?
“We’re all sort of heading towards that day that Tiger wasn’t going to be a part of the game,” McIlroy said as he prepared for a PGA Tour event this week in central Florida. “I’m not saying that that was soon.”

02:00Tiger Woods was ‘fortunate’ to survive crash: Officer

But McIlroy saw the wreckage of the SUV Woods was driving.
“It’s inevitable that one day he won’t be a part of it,” McIlroy said, “and that’s going to be just something that the game of golf and the tour is going to have to deal with and adapt to.”
McIlroy holds out hope that Woods will return to the tour, yet he conceded: “It may be the end of seeing the genius at work with a club in his hand. But there’s still a lot of other ways that he can affect the game in a great way.”

McIlroy, who has assumed a role as an influential voice for players on the PGA Tour, may have been more forthright than any of his peers Wednesday, but on the subject of how much the tour will miss Woods, he was not alone.
On the grounds Wednesday at the Concession Golf Club, where the Workday Championship will begin Thursday, the mood was somber as the players absorbed the meaning of what will be a lengthy absence for Woods.
“Very quiet on site today, everyone’s head was down,” said Xander Schauffele, who is ranked fourth in the world. “It’s kind of strange to share the same idol as everyone else out here, but we all do for a good reason. He is the reason a lot of us are playing golf.”
Despite his travails – many self-generated – Woods has become a respected elder in the golf community at age 45, in part because it seemed clear that he was already living on borrowed time. In the packed galleries that followed him in recent seasons, a new phenomenon emerged: scores of young children accompanied by parents who were eager to show their offspring the great Tiger Woods.
Now, with new, debilitating injuries added to a list of infirmities that included a damaged spine that has required five surgeries and knee troubles that led to three operations, he will most certainly not be playing for quite a while – if ever again. That will leave a tremendous void in golf. Yes, various ailments have kept Woods away from the game for years. But it will be very different this time.
When Woods was briefly exiled from the game during the scandal spawned by his serial marital infidelities, he was 33 years old. He was still in his 30s when his back and knees began to betray him. Now, though, golf may be forced to contemplate turning the page from the Tiger era.
Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour commissioner, knows how much Woods has meant to the game. In addition to attracting more commercial interest and television ratings to tournaments, Woods prompted people who didn’t even know they liked golf to follow the sport worldwide.
“He’s the inspiration; he’s the standard,” Monahan said Wednesday, standing alongside the practice putting green of a tournament that will award more than $10 million in prize money.
Jon Rahm, the No. 2 player in the world, said Woods was, to some extent, irreplaceable.
“He is that big,” Rahm said. “There is a different atmosphere when Tiger’s playing in a tournament than when he’s not playing. Even if the top 20 players in the world are playing, if he’s not there you can tell the difference. So, it’s sad to see.”
“I just hope he can get out of the hospital,” Rahm added, “and he can still play with his kids and have a normal life.”
McIlroy, who was 7 when Woods won his first major championship, recalled a lunch they had together in the spring of 2017, shortly after Woods’ back fusion surgery. The meal was haunting to McIlroy because Woods had difficulty walking and standing.
“He won the Masters two years later,” McIlroy said. “I don’t think people, to this day, realize the struggle and the things he had to deal with to get to the point where he won at Augusta in 2019.”
Nonetheless, on Wednesday, McIlroy had little interest in predicting Tiger Woods’ future in the near term. He had other memories of his idol and close friend.
“I can’t think of any greater comeback in sports,” McIlroy said, “than the journey that he made from that lunch in 2017.”



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Priyanka Gandhi slams Centre on fuel prices, says ‘Modi govt’s pitch is full of high inflation’ | India News – Times of India

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NEW DELHI: Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Thursday slammed the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government over the hike in prices of fuel and gas.
Taking to Twitter, the Congress leader commented that the Modi government’s pitch is full of high inflation for the common people.
“In the last three months, the price of domestic gas cylinders have increased by Rs 200. Petrol and diesel have already moved towards hitting a century. The pitch of the Modi government, who is batting for his billionaire friends at both ends of the economy, is full of high inflation for the common people,” Gandhi tweeted (roughly translated from Hindi).

The prices of petrol and diesel have been increasing continuously for more than 10 days and in some states, the price of petrol has even crossed Rs 100 in some states. Opposition parties also held protests in different parts of the country over the rise of prices of diesel and petrol.
Earlier on Sunday, Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to convey “every citizen’s anguish and deep distress regarding the spiralling fuel and gas prices.”





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germany vs india: India men among teams closest to a hockey medal at Tokyo Olympics: Germany coach Kais al Saadi | Hockey News – Times of India

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NEW DELHI: After a long wait and failed attempts to end the year-long Covid-forced hiatus, the Indian men’s hockey team is finally in international match mode and has hit the road with a tour of Europe.
In Germany for their first of two assignments, the visitors will take on the Rio Olympics bronze medallists for their first competitive games in more than a year, followed by matches against Great Britain in Belgium.
“I am very happy that India have come to Germany in these difficult times,” said Germany’s coach Kais al Saadi, welcoming the Indian team led by veteran goalkeeper PR Sreejesh.

Before taking off for Europe, Hockey India tried to get back on the pitch with the ‘Summer Series’ in South Africa, but it was called off due to a surge in Covid-19 cases and mutation of the virus there. After that, the Asian Champions Trophy in Dhaka was postponed.
“There are really good and friendly connections with the [Indian] federation, especially with [India coach] Graham Reid,” Al Saadi told Timesofindia.com.
Regular India skipper Manpreet Singh opted out of the tour due to personal reasons, while two other experienced players — drag-flicker Rupinderpal Singh and striker SV Sunil — have also not been picked.
Rupinder has been omitted due to an injury but the reasons to not include Sunil are unknown.

(Graphic shared by Hockey India on Twitter)
“As Manpreet, Rupinder and Sunil are world class players, every team would miss them. But India has a big talent pool with very talented youngsters, so I am sure they will play with a strong and competitive team,” Al Saadi said in response to Timesofindia.com’s question.
The German coach spoke the most encouragingly about India in context of the upcoming Tokyo Olympics in July-August this year.
“The Indian team is an important team to compare with, because they improved a lot in the last few years and are truly amongst the closest medal candidates for Tokyo,” he further told TimesofIndia.com about India’s chances at the Games.

Besides the two matches against the hosts on February 28 and March 2, Saadi said that the German team will also try and have a “common training session” with the visitors with all the Covid-related precautions in place.
“We will do [play] two Test matches and will also try to do a common training session, always with Covid-19 tests before. We will work in a very safe bubble for everyone,” Al Saadi said.

After Germany, India will take on Great Britain on March 6 and 8 in Belgium.
India last played an international fixture on February 22, 2020, when they hosted Australia for the FIH Pro League tie in Bhubaneswar.





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Saudi crown prince has surgery for appendicitis – Times of India

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RIYADH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, has had successful surgery for appendicitis, state media reported late Wednesday.
The 35-year-old prince had “successful laparoscopic surgery (Wednesday) morning for appendicitis at King Faisal Specialist Hospital” in Riyadh, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.
SPA tweeted footage of the prince walking out of the hospital with an entourage and getting into the front passenger seat of a car.
The prince has overseen the most fundamental transformation of Saudi Arabia in its modern history, shaking up the ultraconservative oil giant with an array of economic and social reforms.
But he has also presided over a crackdown on critics including prominent clerics, activists, and royal family members.
He faced a storm of condemnation over the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate in October 2018.
A US intelligence report — soon-to-be released — is believed to have concluded that Prince Mohammed was behind the killing.
The White House has said President Joe Biden will speak with King Salman, not his son the crown prince, when he makes his first telephone call to Saudi leaders.
Biden has not yet spoken to the king but is expected to do so “soon”.



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Japanese WHO expert voices skepticism on China’s theory ‘virus intruded’ into Beijing from abroad – Times of India

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TOKYO: A Japanese expert from the World Health Organization (WHO), who visited Wuhan as part of the investigative team to look into the origins of Covid-19, has voiced skepticism on China’s stance that the virus had originally entered the country from abroad through a cold chain.
Speaking in an interview with Kyodo News, Ken Maeda, a veterinary microbiologist at Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases, emphasised the need for an additional investigation into key places in Wuhan.
“The possibility is not so high” that the virus entered Wuhan on frozen-food packages as China claims, said Maeda.
He further said that there was a “perception gap” between the WHO group and its Chinese counterparts.
“We still have a lot of things we want to know and there remain many challenges,” the WHO expert added.
Weeks after a team of WHO experts launched a probe into the origin of the Covid-19 in Wuhan, the global health body had said that there is no evidence of coronavirus circulation in any animal species in China.
During a press conference, Peter Ben Embarek, the head of the WHO mission in Wuhan, stated four hypotheses on how the virus spread but reiterated that “laboratory incident hypothesis is extremely unlikely to explain the introduction of the virus into the human population”.
“It has not been possible to pinpoint any animal species as a potential reservoir for this disease, and they indicate that currently and also back in 2019 it does not look like there was the circulation of the virus in any animal species in the country,” he said.
He further said that “four main hypotheses or groups of hypotheses” have been identified on how the Covid-19 virus might have introduced among humans.
“Our initial findings suggest that introduction through an intermediary host species is the most likely passway and one that will require more studies and more specific targeted research … The findings suggest that a laboratory incident hypothesis is extremely unlikely to explain the introduction of the virus into the human population,” the WHO expert said.
Speaking on the virus got leaked from Wuhan’s institute of virology, Embarek said, “We also looked at Wuhan’s institute of virology … the laboratory and the state of the laboratory, and it was very unlikely that anything could escape from such a place. We also know that lab incidents are, of course, extremely rare.”



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Explained: The big Indian Railways’ station redevelopment project for airport-style experience | India News – Times of India

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Indian Railways is redeveloping several railway stations including New Delhi and CSMT across its network to offer passengers airport-style world-class experience. The stations are being redeveloped with private sector participation and focus on revenue generation. Ved Parkash Dudeja, Vice Chairman, Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA) tells TOI’s Smriti Jain about the railway station redevelopment economics, measures to invite private players and what passengers can expect. Edited excerpts:
Explain railway station economics, how will these redeveloped stations earn and where will the money be spent?
Railway stations provide guaranteed footfall which is beneficial in two ways. A user charge will be introduced which will be added to the ticket cost of the passenger and transferred to the developer from time to time. That will be a continuous steady stream of revenue once the station is redeveloped. To use the redeveloped facilities, passengers will have to pay a nominal user fee depending on the class of travel – it will go on increasing from sleeper to AC.
The developer will build a concourse which will have kiosks and F&B (Food & Beverage) and shopping outlets. With assured footfall the sale of items from these shops will also pick up and licensing of these kiosks will be given by the developer to different retailers. Parking fee will be another source of revenue.
On the expenditure front, the developer will have to construct the mandatory component of the station. Also, there will be regular expenditure on servicing the constructed portion. The developer will have to spend on the Operations and Maintenance because a standard of facilities will have to be maintained for the concession period. This will be up to 60 years depending on the type of station and agreement.
The real estate component will be clubbed with the station component. Some real estate development rights will also be given to the developer from where he can generate revenue for investment in the station.
Currently, we are spending railway money on the station redevelopment. This ambitious programme of railway station redevelopment needs a lot of investment, which railways is unable to shell out. Railways has to invest in other infrastructure projects such as new lines, gauge conversion and other essential projects which are required for network expansion and safety works. This will be a win-win situation where a private developer will be invited to invest on the station and get revenue for up to 60 years. Stations are at prime locations in the various cities and also offer guaranteed footfall – that’s the strength the public sector offers. Private sector will bring innovation and efficiency to the project. They will invest capital to develop state of the art amenities to give world-class experience to passengers.
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Will railways get a share of the revenue that the private developer will earn?
First, the asset will be developed which will be owned by railways. We will get an asset worth hundreds and thousands of crores without spending any money. Railway will be able to give a better user experience to the public. Every station may not be financially viable or may not generate enough revenue for the developer to be able to share with us. But yes, there will be a revenue sharing agreement for the bigger stations where the revenue is sufficient to be shared after the maintenance and operations cost are taken care of.

NDLS: Artist impression of proposed New Delhi railway station redevelopment

What are the major steps being taken to invite private sector participation?
Private sector can only be attracted if you give them the assurance that the development will not be halted. RLDA has been in the business of land development since 2007 but in the last 3 years or so, a lot of regulatory relaxations have come through for giving more comfort to the developer. Earlier the lease period was only 45 years, in 2017 this was increased to 99 years. This allows for residential development to also take place on the surplus railway land. Surplus railway land has a lot of potential which could not be unlocked earlier due to regulatory hurdles.
In October 2018, the Union Cabinet approved that railways does not need change of land use for commercial development of their land. That decision has been circulated to all the states so that now railway or RLDA can approve their plans of development in consultation with the local authorities. The approval of local authorities is not required but they have to be consulted to ensure that the development is harmonious with the surrounding development and it is as per the DCR norms of that area. We are ensuring that whatever development we propose creates value for the city.
What are the major projects RLDA is working on?
We are redeveloping 62 stations across the country including New Delhi, Tirupati, Dehradun, Puducherry, Nellore, Ernakulam, Gomti Nagar Lucknow, Faridabad, Panipat etc. In addition, there are 84 colony redevelopment projects. Railway colonies are spread out on very large tracts of land in the form of single-storey, double-storey quarters, which are ages old. They are in a very dilapidated condition and have already outlived their designed life.
The colonies will be redeveloped by utilising the surplus SAR available. We will be leveraging the potential of land, extra SAR will be given the developer to generate revenue and create railway assets afresh. We will be developing new houses and plus RLDA will get revenue as a consequence of monetisation of surplus SAR available. We have recently awarded a colony at Guwahati despite COVID. There the developer is developing some 156 houses as a replacement of the existing quarters and he will also be paying us Rs 75 crore as upfront lees. Railways own land in the main areas of various cities and the houses are very old and spread out on very large areas. We are monetising the potential of this prime land.
The third vertical is greenfield commercial properties as standalone without any development. These land parcels are also being directly offered to the developer for development and for generating revenue for the railways.
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Will RLDA spend money on these projects?
RLDA was formed as part of an Amendment to the Railway Act in 2005 with the sole purpose of developing and monetising surplus railway land. RLDA’s mandate is to generate and maximise the revenues from land without spending money from railways. Some small expenditure is made for development of sites in the form of making master plans of the area, fencing, boundary walls etc. But overall it is a net revenue generating model for colonies as well as station development. It is cost neutral to the railways and all the new assets are to be created by unlocking the revenue potential of land.
Which major players have shown interest in the projects so far?
For the New Delhi railway station project, RFQ was opened in early February and 9 developers have participated in this process. Arabian Construction Company, GMR, Adani, Anchorage Infra, Omaxe – these are some of the developers which have shown interest.
What are the top things passengers can look forward to? Are you planning any airport-like check-in mechanism?
I will give the example of New Delhi railway station. Today, if you approach the station, you encounter a lot of congestion while entering. Sometimes you have to get down a kilometre away. Also, most passengers reach an hour in advance. At present the platforms are not fit to cater to all needs of passengers waiting for trains. Once we redevelop the station, it will be a different experience. There will be a departure lounge for relaxation, food and beverage outlets and even great shopping experience. This will be similar to the experience at an airport.
There will be access control on the platform. Those with platform tickets will be allowed in the concourse area, but may not be allowed on the platforms to avoid congestion. Platform gates will be opened 20-25 minutes before the departure of the train.



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JP Nadda launches ‘Lokkho Sonar Bangla’ manifesto crowdsourcing campaign | India News – Times of India

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KOLKATA: BJP chief J P Nadda on Thursday launched ‘Lokkho Sonar Bangla’ (target to build golden Bengal) manifesto crowdsourcing campaign to seek suggestions from more than two crore people in West Bengal ahead of the upcoming assembly elections.
He said the party’s manifesto will stress the socio- economic empowerment of the Matua community, women and youth and put an end to the “cut money” and “syndicate” culture of the state.
“The Lokkho Sonar Bangla campaign will begin on March 3 and continue till March 30. We aim to reach out to more than two crore people of the state spread across all the 294 constituencies.
“There will be 30,000 suggestion boxes. We want to seek suggestions of the common people in our endeavour to build Sonar Bangla,” Nadda said during the launch of the programme.
Nadda said that the BJP aims to build a West Bengal where women can live without fear and students from the Matua community get education and jobs to lead a good life.
“We will end Naxalism in West Bengal. We will end coal smuggling and syndicate and cut money culture,” he said.
Bengali actor Payal Sarkar joined the saffron party in the presence of Nadda.
Assembly elections in the state are due in April-May.



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Mamata Banerjee rides electric scooter to protest against rising fuel prices | India News – Times of India

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NEW DELHI: West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee was seen riding pillion on an electric scooter in Kolkata on Thursday. The move comes amidst rising fuel prices in the country.

The petrol prices in some states have crossed the Rs 100 mark. Amidst this rise in prices, poll-bound West Bengal has offered a VAT cut of Re 1 on petrol and diesel and now the state’s chief minister offered an alternative mode of transport to people.
Banerjee reached Nabanna on the electric scooter and blamed the Modi government for putting such excessive pressure on the common man. She said petroleum products have skyrocketed in the past couple of days.





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India vs England Live Score, 3rd Test Day 2: India eye sizeable first innings lead over England – The Times of India

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So, Day 2 of the Pink Ball Test coming up in just under 30 minutes from now. As nothing went England’s way on Day 1 — poor batting, dropped chances, problem for the bowlers in the landing area and reviews going against them — the visitors will look to bounce back today and try and restrict India, who will look to take a sizeable first innings lead. Trailing by just 13 runs, Rohit will be the key man for India as well as England. The pink ball is once again expected to turn in the first two session and provide assistance to the pacers, late in the evening. The hitman is looking set for another ton and if Rohit scores some big runs today, India are set to win this Test comfortably.





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Times when Shraddha Dangar gave us major fashion goals

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Simplicity is the essence of beauty



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