Justin Rose scents Masters glory but Jordan Spieth eyes redemption

• Englishman shares lead with Sergio García going into final round
• American Spieth keen to make up for last year’s horrific collapse

As Jordan Spieth’s Sunday playing partner, Justin Rose was afforded a closer look than anyone at a record-breaking procession towards Masters glory in 2015. Even as a fellow contender, Rose was taken aback. Twelve months have now passed since Spieth’s horrible, unforeseen capitulation when being denied successive triumphs.

The Masters has a wonderful habit of throwing up recurring themes. As Spieth charged through the field on Saturday, making a 68 to propel himself to four under par, Rose was not of a mind to play second fiddle again. This time in the group immediately behind Spieth, the Englishman signed for a 67 – the lowest score of the day – and a minus six total.

Continue reading…

Bannon and Kushner agree to ‘bury the hatchet’ after White House peace talks

Trump’s chief of staff Reince Priebus tells the feuding pair to end the ‘palace intrigue’ after weeks of damaging infighting

White House aides Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner have met and agreed to “bury the hatchet” over their differences, a senior administration official said, in a bid to stop infighting that has distracted from Donald Trump’s message.

Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, and Kushner, an influential adviser and Trump’s son-in-law, met on Friday at the request of White House chief of staff Reince Priebus who told them that if they have any policy differences, they should air them internally, the official said.

Continue reading…

Phil Mickelson’s rash gamble a fitting end to his uneasy Masters week | Andy Bull

American avoided a court appearance in the prosecution of a celebrity gambler but his luck ran out on the 3rd in a wildly inconsistent display at Augusta

In New York on Friday, a jury finally returned a verdict in the case of William “Billy” Walters. He was convicted on fraud and conspiracy charges. According to prosecutors, Walters made more than $40m through insider trading between 2008 and 2014. This was the fourth time the authorities had gone after him and the first time they had succeeded. Walters, 70, is one of the most famous gamblers in the US today. He once made $400,000 on a single hole of golf, and a flat million on a round. On Saturday, outside the Manhattan federal court, he told reporters he had “just lost the biggest bet of my life”. All of which would have nothing much to do with the Masters, if it were not for the fact Phil Mickelson was named as a potential witness in the case.

According to the prosecution, Mickelson got a stock tip from Walters. Mickelson agreed to turn over the $1m profit he made on the trade and was not charged with any wrongdoing. He wasn’t called, either, after his lawyers said he would plead the fifth. During jury selection, the judge presiding over the case, P Kevin Castel, decided to dismiss one person from the jury pool because “a look of rapture” came over his face when Mickelson’s name was first mentioned. Which sounds about right. Mickelson is still one of the most popular golfers in the US, always a top draw at Augusta. And in the third round here, Lefty was paired with one of the few men who contend with him on that score, Jordan Spieth, so the galleries around him were thicker than ever.

Continue reading…

Washington is confused by Trump’s act. What became of America First? | Anne McElvoy

The political classes in America and here are struggling to make sense of the president’s rapid response in Syria

On Tuesday, as Khan Sheikhun became the latest place name to be added to Syria’s map of horrors, I was sitting in the Beaux Arts splendour of the Senate buildings in Washington for an interview with John McCain, chairman of the armed service committee, former Republican presidential candidate and established hawk in the aviary of American security policy.

McCain was on forthright form, berating secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, for empty rhetoric and leaving the Syrians to sort out their own fate. “To make a statement that the Syrian people will determine their own future themselves is one of the most unusual depictions of the facts on the ground that I have ever heard of. What about the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, what about the Russians, what about Hezbollah?”

Continue reading…

US strikes mark a new turn in Syria and beyond. Destination unknown | Hassan Hassan

It’s not yet clear if there was more in the American response to the chemical attacks than the president acting on impulse. But other powers within and beyond the region might now have to revise their long-term strategies

The decision of the US finally to punish Bashar al-Assad for the use of chemical weapons against civilians will turn out to be, no doubt, a catalyst for a new chapter in the Syrian conflict. Even though US officials repeatedly emphasised the missile strikes on the Shayrat airfield were a one-off punitive measure, the unprecedented move comes amid a set of turning points in different parts of Syria and in the way foreign actors operate there. It is against the backdrop of these changes that the regime’s logic behind the use of chemical weapons should be viewed.

Paradoxically, recent changes in the conflict have seemed to favour the regime. Exactly one week before the missile attack, American officials gave Assad something he long wanted, namely, a new stated policy that his removal was no longer a US objective. This came in the form of top-level remarks from Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, and Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, stating that the long-term status of Assad would be decided by the Syrian people .

Continue reading…