Thursday, 17 December 2009

Tiger voted Athlete of the Noughties - He has been a very active boy...

Rumours that Don Cheadle is putting himself forward for the role in a Tiger Woods biopic have gathered pace with the uncovering of this photo. Uncanny isn't it - Need a clue? Don is the one in the Puma shirt...

So there it is, Tiger Woods, was voted Athlete of the decade by US sports editors in an Associated Press poll, getting 56 of the 142 votes to beat out cancer defeater and seven time Tour winner Lance Armstrong and clean cut 15 time grand slam winner Roger Federer.

It's unclear at this point as to whether his extracurricular activities played a role in the win but lets face it who else has dominated their sport to such a degree whilst partaking in what must have been a strenuous nightly regime of personal excercise.

Richly deserved.

It'll likely be of cold comfort to Woods, as it looks as though his sabbatical to save his marriage will not be a successful one, the divorce lawyers have already been called into play. I just hope that he can get things back on track now, before the story turns from a scandal into a tragedy.

In other news - TW:the movie starring Don Cheadle, surely it's on his way.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Tiger Woods, Sex Panther. A big cat marriage made in hot love heaven....

So there hasn't been an advert screened featuring Tiger Woods since two days after "the crash". That's loyalty for you, I mean talk about fairweather sponsors!

I guess at least in the interim Tiger is going to struggle to attract new sponsors, until he gets back on the course and starts ripping it up again. Watch them come back in their droves then as the redemptive powers of another Green Jacket cover over his trangressions or another Claret Jug washes away his personal sins in the eyes of Joe Public. They'll be clamouring over him again like flies round shite...

But for the meantime Tiger may want to take advantage of his hitherto unknown prowess with the ladies. How about stepping into the brogues of Anchorman hero Brian Fantana and working as spokes model for Sex Panther.

I can see it now - "Sex Panther - it brings out the Tiger in you..."

I'm sure there's all sorts of clever approaches you could take on the whole Tiger/Panther angle. Let's hope that the rumours that money was exchanged for transgressions turns out to be unfounded - Brian Fantana sure as hell never had to pay for it. That goes against everything Sex panther stands for. That's why you use Sex Panther - so you don't have to! Let's hope another potential sponsor doesn't go adrift, he'll have to fill the Tiger kitty somehow.
Sex Panther is available for purchase at more than just your local illegal chinese product emporiums - it's gone mainstream - an event which may explain a recent spike in birthrates

Monday, 7 December 2009

World Challenge win for Furyk and a handy lift for wee Graeme.

He might not have won the tournament but the Graeme McDowell certainly acheived what he set out to do at the start of the week. Hovering on the wrong side of the top 50 in the world rankings, McDowell was dangerously close to missing out on next years Masters but after claiming a runners up spot, our wee Graeme should now be guaranteed to be teeing it up at Augusta come April. That must have been his main concern when he was handed this opportunity when it was clear Tiger was unable to attend due to his, ahem, injuries, so bully for him.

He was of course in with an excellent chance of winning yesterday, coming into the final round sharing the lead with YE Yang after a sensational 66 on saturday. He was overhauled in the end though by Jim Furyk, who finished strong to record his second 67 in a row for a total of 13 under. Despite making birdie on the last McDowell still finished one off Furyk. Westwood and Harrington finished joint third, making it a pretty good week for the European big dogs.

Big Jim will be a popular winner. Amazingly it's his first win for over two years. I guess it seems surprising as he has remained a consistent presence on leaderboards throughout that time, finishing runner up as recently as the BMW Championship. It raises him up the rankings to sixth in the world.

His winless streak is something that has bothered him...

"It's bothered me. I'd be lying if I said otherwise. That's your goal every year
to go out and win, and I haven't been able to do it. Hopefully, this will be a
stepping stone."

Fingers crossed it is, we need guys who do it their way up there at the front, and no one swings a club quite like Jim Furyk, with good reason....


Tiger did not make any appearance, he's still in head down mode as the revelations continue, but did post a message on his website.

"As the final round of the Chevron World Challenge begins, I would like to
extend my heartfelt thank you to everyone affiliated with the event, especially
our amazing title sponsor, Chevron. They've been title sponsor for the last two
years and have a vision and passion for creating real opportunities for my
Foundation. I thank them for their ongoing commitment.
I'd also like to thank all of our supporting sponsors and my tireless, dedicated staff, board and volunteers who collectively produce this first-class golf tournament. I am so grateful to them for their efforts, and I am sincerely sorry I was unable to
fulfill my duties as host and player in this important event.
There are also 18 outstanding pros in the field, and I thank them for providing us all with some excellent competition this week.
Lastly, I'd like to thank our fans for continuing to support us. Like them, I am extremely dedicated to this tournament, to my Foundation and the millions of young lives we serve. Thank you all for your support."

I'm sure that the sponsors will find this apology more than makes up for the masses of lost revenue this week. We'll see him next year I guess, if not on Oprah first....

Friday, 4 December 2009

Tigergate - how they could have handled it...

I've been thinking - careful I hear you cry, thats dangerous - but I have been thinking - How, if it were ever possible could Tiger have effectively deflected the attention his very public car crash received. The holes in his story were so wide even he could have driven an Escalade through them. So what could he have done. He should have gone straight for leftfield, came up with an angle we'd have bought if not because it was beleivable then because it was so batshit crazy that it had to be true. To apply more spin than Tiger gets off a 60 degree lob wedge. Here's just a few ideas that just may have saved Tigers bacon...

Option 1 - Blame Steve Williams
Release a statement saying that Tiger was on the wrong end of probably the worst yardage reading Steve Williams had ever given but the Kiwi didn't stick around to take the blame. Having turned up trollied at Tigers thanksgiving do, Williams slurredly told Woods he had Seventy yards Tiger And after failing to spot the danger of the water hazard to the rear too.

Option 2 - Blame Steve Williams Jealous nature
Upon hearing rumours through the grapevine that Tiger had been seen around town with a new caddy, a jealous Steve Williams set out to destroy his potential rival. After long faithful years giving 100% to get his 10% Williams was not going to go quietly into the night. Hiring a team of specialist hitmen via a secure phomeline, he gave the oblique instructions to "Nobble Tigers new caddy". Taking the opportunity whilst secure in the knowledge Woods would be at his Thanksgiving dinner, the hired guns sneaked in and sabotaged his Escalade, mucking up the steering as well as rigging the windows to smash on impact just to piss Woods off. Upon hearing of the crash Williams and realising how terribly wrong he had been, Williams then took advantage of the false rumours about Rachel Uchitel and hired a series of ladies to make false rumours. A benovelent and over protective Woods, realising that Williams would face charges should the truth emerge decided to take the hit to ensure he has his main man on his bag come Augusta.

Option 3 -Blame EA Sports change of direction

The events of the past four days have in fact been an elaborate attempt to expand the incredibly successful Tiger Woods gaming franchise into the Grand theft auto Market. Play as Tiger Woods as he rides in his Escalade - he can't negotiate the driveway from hell, can you? Plans to offer gameplay as a golf club wielding Elin have been shelved due to the negative public reaction - hence Tigers denials of any physical violence taking place. Expect Tiger Woods 11 - "Playa" to be in stores next July.

I'm available for PR advice on a pro rata basis...

He's not the messiah - He's a very naughty boy!

And then a booming voice said "Let there be no false idols before me - as a precaution I've set up a website called TMZ to catch out the naughty false messiahs in particularly embarrassing and public circumstances...

I think we all feel a bit let down by Tiger, but some have invested more time and devotion to him than others and are feeling the pinch a bit more as a result. One such person is the pastor of Tiger's church.

The First Church of Tiger Woods - celebrating the emergence of the "true" messiah - has been running since 2000. Nine years. Nine years of celebrating one of the most amazing golfing talents the world has ever seen. It's a really funny website and is worth a retrospective look - it drives home just how highly we all thought of Tiger.

But in light of the recent revelations the founder and chief celebrant of the church John Ziegler has turned his back on Woods, his fallen idol. It's a pretty good barometer of the feelings of some of his most ardent fans. The ones who invested so much in following his career are no feeling the most disenchantment at his fall from grace.

The church is to be disbanded - the name of the website changed to "The Damnation of Tiger Woods" and the man who used to preach his Gospel has resolved not to write of Woods again except to cover the breaking tales of his "transgressions" as and when they come out. It's a full blown conversion from the evangelist to chronicler of his demise.

“After several days of evaluation, I have decided to disband the First Church of Tiger Woods (as indicated by the graphics at the top of this website) and I will not renew the TigerWoodsIsGod domain name when it expires in a couple of months. Any future commentary on this site (which may not happen at all) will be regarding Tiger’s failings in relation to his affair/accident debacle which continues to unfold almost by the hour."

“Because the First Church of Tiger Woods has been in existence since late 1996 and this website has been around since early 2000, you might think that such a decision might be difficult. In this case, it was not. Unfortunately, Tiger Woods has made it all too easy to realize that he is no longer worthy of any special admiration. “The events of the past few days have revealed Tiger to be a serial adulterer, a blatant liar and a selfish coward. While I am sure I will always respect his ability as a golfer, that was only a very small part of why this much-misunderstood website was created and why it became such a big part of my life. "

“As I have documented in my columns below, Tiger is clearly no longer deserving of being seen as a role model or a hero and he has needlessly squandered his unique potential to be a positive force in our country and the world. While I am relatively sure that Tiger will make a comeback from this sad episode and that there will be great moments for him in the future, I personally am done with Tiger Woods and I doubt that I will even care very much about whatever else he might achieve on the golf course (for someone who once vowed to make sure he lived until he saw Tiger get to 19 major championships, I have a hard time believing I can write those words with such ease).”

In doing so Ziegler seems to have broken in spectacular fashion the tenth of his commandments, a commandment which seems to have an almost freakish prescience to this weeks goings on.

X. Thou shall pay no attention to Tiger’s apparent flaws. (we at the First Church are sure that there are good reasons for Tiger’s over-commercialization, temper, choice of girlfriend, lack of college degree, conflict of interest with CBS sportsline, and acceptance of appearance fees through his deal with Buick. One can not question the will of God.)

There's been a lot of people who seem to still be resolutely keeping this commandment but I'm beginning to sense that the attitude of the many shall begin to follow that of his once greatest prophet in turning their back on Woods.

It think it's telling that the actual breaking point seems to have come from Woods no show at the Chevron World Challenge -

"Now, there is no doubt about it. Tiger Woods is a lying coward. Even after all the missteps of the past couple of days, if Tiger had shown up, done his press conference, finally told the whole truth, played his guts out and donated his winnings to to his foundation, it would have been possible to forgive him and perhaps eventually restore him to his place atop the lofty pedestal that he alone had seemingly been to born to occupy. We learned today that is not going to happen. "

I think he has a point. I think Tiger could have done himself a lot of favours by doing something like this rather than concentration on the poor attempts he's made at damage limitation. Amen brother John, Amen. Hopefully though when Tiger does get off the naughty step and back onto the course he can still appreciate him for the amazing Golfer he is.

In an alternate Universe, Woods might have got away with it...

The Tiger Woods Crash saga has not been a complete disaster for all involved. Just nearly all involved. Apart from those making money off the back off selling their stories there has been one entirely blameless beneficiary.
Yes, curious disciples of Tiger, maybe thinking that there is some small nugget of physics knowledge contained in the paperback which is the key to his success have rushed to get their hands on it. The author, John Gribbin, said he was "delighted that anyboy's reading my books. I just wish it was one that's still in print."
Here'es the blurb on what Gribbins back catalogue is about...
Best known for In Search of Schrödinger's Cat, an exploration of the mysteries of quantum physics still selling well 25 years after it was first published, Gribbin has amassed a back catalogue which ranges widely over modern science. His latest book is In Search of the Multiverse, which charts ideas about alternative realities from Hugh Everett's many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics to recent developments in M-theory pointing to a landscape of alternative universes in string theory.
Then at the bottom of the article possibly the best put down to come out of this yet -
"Perhaps Woods will see if he can find a universe in which none of this ever happened," suggested Gribbin.

Ian Poulter Rises to the World Challenge... but rounds out with a damp fart finish

Ian realised on looking at the ball that it wasn't his, but he'd just recorded a birdie so he kept walking...

In and amongst all the hullabaloo, some proper Golf Tournaments are actually taking place this week. That includes the Chevron World Challenge. Of course the concentration of covereage is on who is not there this week, the golfing world still reeling from the news that Vijay Singh is one of two high profile withdrawls. But with or without the massive interest generated by Vijay's presence as defending champ, there's still enough big names left to make this a cracker of a shoot out.

18 players are invited there this week and leading the way early doors are Zach Johnson and Ian Poulter, sharing the lead on four under The charasmatic Englishman should really have been out in front and was making the running but as he tweeted himself, it was the par 5's which stopped him really running away with it and a poor double bogey to finish too.

"hello folks, not quite the finish i was looking for. played the 5s so poorly 2 3 putt pars and a bogey, should have shot a really low round"

As it is he's got quite a few just on his tail, Johnson obviously, Harrington one back and then Furyk, Cink and Y.E. Yang too. Newly crowned European number One Lee Westwood is one under alongside TW replacement Graeme McDowell.

I'd like to see Poulter do well this week, Golf could do with a touch of the feelgood factor he brings right now. I do worry that he may suffer from no making hay when the sun shines though...

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Tigers comments on current events - is that what they're calling it these days...

First of all, I love the the little "By Tiger Woods" at the top of the page. It kind of lends it the feel of a letter of apology written by a naughty schoolboy, saying sorry for breaking the window of the old lady next door. Cap in hand, looking up doe eyed as he hands it over, he knows he made a boo boo. It's what we've all been waiting for - no not a blow by blow account of what went on, an apology to those deserving of it, his family. About time.

Here's the statement in full.

Tiger comments on current events

By Tiger Woods

I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart. I have not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves. I am not without faults and I am far short of perfect. I am dealing with my behavior and personal failings behind closed doors with my family. Those feelings should be shared by us alone.

Although I am a well-known person and have made my career as a professional athlete, I have been dismayed to realize the full extent of what tabloid scrutiny really means. For the last week, my family and I have been hounded to expose intimate details of our personal lives. The stories in particular that physical violence played any role in the car accident were utterly false and malicious. Elin has always done more to support our family and shown more grace than anyone could possibly expect.

But no matter how intense curiosity about public figures can be, there is an important and deep principle at stake which is the right to some simple, human measure of privacy. I realize there are some who don't share my view on that. But for me, the virtue of privacy is one that must be protected in matters that are intimate and within one's own family. Personal sins should not require press releases and problems within a family shouldn't have to mean public confessions.

Whatever regrets I have about letting my family down have been shared with and felt by us alone. I have given this a lot of reflection and thought and I believe that there is a point at which I must stick to that principle even though it's difficult.

I will strive to be a better person and the husband and father that my family deserves. For all of those who have supported me over the years, I offer my profound apology.

The main thing to be said is that whilst still pretty defensive, and not entirely forthcoming, at least he's made a public apology and acknowledgement that he has made "transgressions", which I think is about as sordid and detailed an insight into what Tiger did from his own mouth as you're ever gonna get. To me that's enough. He's put his hands up, said he's done something wrong and that he wants to work that out with his family.

Again I don't think it's going to be enough to stop the salacious rumours from flying around but what sort of statement ever would - at least he's taking a humbler stance, rather than making out it's entirely the medias fault. What struck me about his first statement was that while attempting to take the heat off Elin, there was no hint of an apology, just an unrepentant lash-out at the media for trying to piece together a particularly odd event in a superstars life from scraps of blurry information at a time of intense speculation about his personal life.

This statement changes the tone, something which definitely needed to happen as commentators became increasingly unsympathetic to a silent Woods. They might not appreciate his complaints but I think with his acknowledgement of blame and appeal to be let deal with this with his family may things may now cool off a little. Some will still hanker for the sackcloth and ashes humiliation in the street but this should sway public opinion into letting it die.

I'm just surprised it didn't come sooner - what has he said that could not have been said two days ago? Other than perhaps "I have been dismayed to realize the full extent of what tabloid scrutiny really means"... But I think when someone offers an apology, you're obliged to take it at face value and at the end of the day it's his wife and kids he has to make this up to, not the tabloids and not us.

Tiger, you have let the side down a bit, but I think in the coming days as far as the fans are concerned, you'll find your apology accepted.

So tell me Tiger, how does one amuse thyself in those long lonely hours on the road?

I do love the delicious irony, right below a statement, just released where Tiger apologises for his "transgressions", is a link to a chumly Q and A where Tiger answers questions on how he copes with life on the road, away from his family...
Rupert from Houston asks - Do you enjoy playing so far away from home? I can imagine that, now that you have children, it's got to be hard to be so far away from them.
TW - "You're exactly right, Rupert. Now, it's very difficult to leave Elin and the children, and I'm sure it's only going to get tougher. Once Sam and Charlie start school, it won't be easy to take them out of class for a week-long trip. A veteran pro once told them it's tough to leave them as babies, but once they ask you not to go, it breaks your heart. That's something I'll always remember. "
I like the typo there, It's like the veteran pro was talking to his kids. Maybe he was reassuring them that Daddy will find it harder to go in later years... You'd think a PR eagle eye would have moved that by now. But then they haven't been doing a great job handling this now have they.
Just read Tigers statement - a public apology to his family - the least he could do really - quite a bit more gracious than the previous statement too. Not a full blown confessional but I think that might be enough. For some at least...

Video of Tigers crash - seemingly from the makers of Captain Scarlet...

Just saw this on the Guardian Sport Blog, by way of GeoffShackleford. It's possibly the greatest reanactment of anything ever. The sooner that Crimewatch adopts this technology the better, ratings would soar. Much less crimes would probably be solved buy isn't that a price worth paying?

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

As my ma would say, "Tell the truth and shame the devil"

Tiger is now getting some sage advice from an unlikely source on how he should handle the media storm that currently swirls around him. No less a man than the wild thing himself John Daly.

"The thing that Tiger needs to look at is, whatever happened, just tell the truth."

Amen John, you can never underestimate the forgiving nature of the public at large. As John McCain might have put it, Joe the plumber want's to know what's what. He doesn't care what you've done, just come out say you know what, this happened, if needs be say you're sorry and let's move the hell on with things. It's an attitude which has certainly served Daly well. There are few of Daly's indiscretions which are not in the public domain and does one man jack hold any of them against him? No, they love him all the more for it. Joe the plumber loves a straight talker. It worked for Letterman after all, they'll seemingly forgive anything Britney gets up to and love her for it and would Amy be so big without the Rehab?

Daly went on to advise Woods to coem to the tournament this week, and I think that's also a good idea, better to face the music sooner rather than later than risk attempting a Howard Hughes existence til next years schedule kicks off.

"Hopefully he'll go out there with his wife and his kids and support the sponsor of his tournament. The most important thing right now is for them to be together.

"He'll get over this. The family will get over it. They'll move on. Golf needs him. I hate for something like that to happen to anybody. I just want him and his wife and kids to be happy and for him to keep pursuing the goals that he had. Tiger's the biggest asset the tour's had in a long, long time. Whatever happened, as long as he's okay that's all that matters. Golf needs him badly... no doubt."

Truth John, the longer you leave it the harder it gets...

Any worries the sponsors may have had about Woods not being there have will no doubt have been assuaged by the knowledge that my countryman Graeme McDowell has stepped into the breech to fill the gap left by Woods. Our Graeme is a marketeers dream, news interest always spikes when Northern Ireland's third most famous Golfer is in the field... It's a fantastic opportunity for him to bag enough ranking points to get into the worlds top 50 again and take a spot in the Masters. I bet there are a few guys sitting around the 50 mark wondering how the hell his agent swung that for him!

The happy news for the sponsors though is that with Woods absence being reported worldwide, I doubt that so many people have ever been aware that the Chevron World Challenge would be taking place this weekend. That's why Golf needs Woods, he's pure Box office.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Tis' the season for non golf related golf stories...

And as if it's not bad enough that Tiger's embroiled in a media scandal, reports are now being made that Padraig Harrington has lost millions on an investment in a technology company gone badly awry. Padraig has long had connections with Irish financier Dermot Desmond - a man richly involved in the world of sport through his horse-racing ventures, has been a shareholder in Man United and owns roughly a third of Celtic Football Club (three of Irelands greatest sporting passions covered there!) and it's with Desmond that this investment was reportedly made.

They are said to have made a total investment of stg£21.8 million into U4EA Technologies in Britain over several years. However, U4EA went into administration in July.

What proportion of this investment was Harringtons is unclear but it seems he would have taken a significant hit. It's likely that Desmond would be the larger investor - he is currently 4th on the Irish Rich List and could probably stand to lose a bit more than Padraig.

Harrington has been dogged with speculation recently that he has lost money both when the Bernie Madoff and Allen Stanford revelations came to light, which seemed to have no real foundation. He did say at the time though that he had actually been lucky to have signed the sponsorship deals he has, at the time he did, as they are now looking very favourable in the current economic climate. With the amount of advertising that has been featuring the world number four recently, along with the not insignificant prize money he's accumulated, I think he may be alright to weather this storm. I very much doubt he put all his eggs into this one particular basket.

Even if he is in Dire straits, yer man Desmond should be good for a few quid in a tight spot...

I just hope that as with Tiger, trouble in his personal life does not effect his game on the course, just when he's been rediscovering the form which made him a major winner.

Tiger speaks - says very little...

So Tiger has come out and made a statement in which he's pretty much said nothing to clarify what actually went on other than to smack down rumours circulating about the actions of his wife Elin. He wants to make sure the blame is placed squarely on his shoulders and put paid to the accusations currently broiling about his wife. He hasn't really succeeded Here is the statement in full, straight from the Tigers mouth, so to speak.

"As you all know, I had a single-car accident earlier this week, and sustained some injuries. I have some cuts, bruising and right now I'm pretty sore. This situation is my fault, and it's obviously embarrassing to my family and me. I'm human and I'm not perfect. I will certainly make sure this doesn't happen again.

This is a private matter and I want to keep it that way. Although I understand there is curiosity, the many false, unfounded and malicious rumors that are currently circulating about my family and me are irresponsible. The only person responsible for the accident is me. My wife, Elin, acted courageously when she saw I was hurt and in trouble. She was the first person to help me. Any other assertion is absolutely false.

This incident has been stressful and very difficult for Elin, our family and me. I appreciate all the concern and well wishes that we have received. But, I would also ask for some understanding that my family and I deserve some privacy no matter how intrusive some people can be. "

It's done little to stop the rumour mill from a churning and I don't think at this stage that he can expect to get away without at least giving a partial explanation for how he managed to crash his Escalade within the confines of his own home. Until he does, then the questions surrounding the actions of his wife on the night will continue. The limited details that are in the public domain mean it can't really be any other way.

Why was it necessary to smash the window to get him out ? Was the car locked and she couldn't get in any other way? I've only just seen these pictures of the car and up until this point I'd thought it was the back window of the car which was smashed, which seems an odd point of entry to help a guy in the drivers seat. But it seems to be the rear door window on the left hand side, which I guess makes more sense if you can't get the door open. (Though if reports are true that there were actually three windows smashed that kind of blows that out the water...) If that's the case and she is a "hero", then why can't he say that - it would go some way to stop the absolute pasting she's getting in the press just now. It's fair enough I think to tell us to get stuffed if we're snooping into his private life but if his own actions have got him into a situation like this I think he owes it to those around them to set the record straight if it needs to be. If Elin did nothing that she shouldn't be proud of then how is this helping her? The silence is doing neither him nor his wife any favours.

What does get my goat more than the media blackout is the continuing refusal to cooperate with the police investigation. It is debatable as to whether he has an obligation to reveal anything to the public but surely he has to make himself accountable to the police and answer their questions in a timely fashion just like anyone else. You or I would not be able to put off speaking to the police in the manner Woods has and I was surprised that he was able to postpone the interview for another day - he should have now spoken to the police, so perhaps some more details will be forthcoming. I doubt he'll be able to avoid saying more at the planned press conference tomorrow at the Chevron World Challenge in Thousand Oaks, hosted by Woods, anyhow.

The appearance of a coverup only leads to these spirals of rumours, and no matter the reason, theres enough affection out there for Tiger to forgive whatever it was but evading the police and avoiding questions will only serve to use up that goodwill. Appearing like a man who has something to hide is doing him no favours. Hopefully someone will tell him that. Thats what makes us human isn't it, making mistakes - and a man willing to admit what they were gets a lot more respect.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Tiger, he's only human. Who knew?

I’ve been reluctant to make any kneejerk, reactionary comments over the recent occurrences inTiger Woods personal life. Mainly I feared the wrath of the millions of ardent Woods fans who believe that bit when he walks on water in his 09 advert was actual documentary footage. I’ve been waiting to hear some sort of statement from the great man himself or to hear a few more details perhaps from the police report. The fact that it’s been over 48 hours and we’ve heard little more than the bare bones details of the intial police report makes it tough to sit here and not let your head start adding two and two together to make scandal… With all the stories and theories being bandied about, it’s hard not to, I don’t buy most of them, especially the more salacious ones but I do have questions…

The biggest question for me is the fact that Woods has put off speaking to the police in this manner. It only arouses suspicions all the more. There has been many an article written already, explaining how fiercely protective Woods is of his privacy and also how defensive he has become in his dealing with the media of late and this could well go towards explaining why Woods is reluctant to come forward and speak to the police. Any account he give will soon become public and he’ll be anxious to try and keep any revelations to an absolute minimum so he’ll want to be prepared for it but for now the deafening silence will remain a hotbed for rumours to grow.

But coming on the back of the accusations of an illicit affair with “New York Party girl” Rachel Uchitel it doesn’t look great for young Eldrick… I think it’d be a bit naive to believe the “Pubic Enquirer” straight off the bat but coming on the back of those rumour mill reports it lends a bit of credence to the accusation. I did think that the quotes of how Tiger was apparently promising to leave his wife, the beautiful Elin, and his two young children made the story sound too preposterous to even acknowledge. I mean this is a women who made similar allegations about David Boreanz not so long ago. Yes, David Boreanz, of Bones and Buffy fame. Clearly not getting the attention anticipated from this foray into the tabloids, she cranked it up a notch or ten and went for the most famous sportsman on the planet. Now when I read that I was convinced there was nothing to it, surely to god a man of Woods stature doesn’t have to go chasing after David Boreanz “alleged” cast-offs? Apparently Rachel now denies any sort of affair with Woods but it’s clearly unsettled the Woods household.

But then the crash. There are a number of things which don’t add up for me. First there’s the where and why of this night-time excursion. I guess he wouldn’t be the first top rank sportsman to feel the need to go for a head clearing night time cruise. Lest we forget, Rocky did just that when he had argued with Adrian over his revenge seeking fight with Ivan Drago. But then Rocky chose a Ferrari, the perfect vehicle for such a therapeutic cruise, and had sufficient skill to negotiate the driveway of his mansion.

Which leads me to another little point which I want answering. He was reportedly in an SUV. He reverses into a fire hydrant, I guess if you did so in a fit of pique, you may well attempt to say to hell with it and drive on, but you’d be a bit more careful wouldn’t you when you do attempt to drive forward. There must have been something badly wrong for him to stack it into a tree. Then apparently the concerned Elin, comes running down, golf club in hand to smash the back window and rescue Tiger. It’s an SUV, if it’s so badly damaged that you can’t get the doors open and you need to smash in the back window, then I doubt very much Tiger would have gotten away with just some facial lacerations. It doesn’t ring true to me.

Plus, do you hear your husband having an accident down the driveway and run to the scene with a golf club? Did she run back to the house to get it or what was the deal there…

Basically, there are a lot of questions that are waiting to be addressed and the sooner they are the sooner Tiger can hope to move on from them. Whatever the reasons or answers I hope that he comes out the other side happy and well in his personal life and that any troubles he does have don’t affect his play on the course. Lest we forget, he is just a guy, seemingly going through some pretty average joe life issues just now. It’s just he’s not an average joe, he’s been nigh on a real life superman til this past week, only just been proclaimed the first sporting billionaire – it really does happen to the best of us.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Lee pips rory at the last in the Race to Dubai

What a way to finish out the Race to Dubai. I am of coursed biased towards our wee Rory, being from 'Norn Iron' myself but you can do nothing but tip your hat to the emphatic manner in which Lee Westwood claimed his second European crown last week. It was an amazing performance. I'm sure McIlroy would have thought third place would virtually guarantee him the coveted cash prize but the wily Westwood knew what he had to do from the start and set about it in unrelenting fashion.

It really does make you wonder what Westwood might have done had he kept the momentum going after his early successes. For someone to win so freely and seemingly easily at the start of their career to virtually drop off the radar of the golfing world for the best part of two years, I think most would have bet against a return to the lofty echelons of the game. Maybe it was the faith shown in him by Woosie to throw him a wild card for the Ryder cup, faith which he duly repaid in spades that got him back on the road to success. Whatever it was he has emerged a stronger steelier player. His game has always been built on solid driving but what was a very solid tee to green game has become a truly outstanding one. The confidence he now has with the big stick is second to none and with good reason. Which is the main reason that Westwoods claim he's ready to go on and bag majors is one I'd wholeheartedly agree with. He's been edging closer and closer these past few years and surely he'll get the luck to go on and take one soon. Though we said that about Monty didn't we...

It's no small statement to make but if Lee had a chipping game to match the rest of his play, he'd be a major winner by now. If he had a major for every time that's been pointed out...

Friday, 20 November 2009

I thought these guys were rich? They can't even knock a few houses together...

When the players showed up for the showcase event of the year, at the Earth Course, Jumeirah Golf Estates, for the pinnacle of the Race to Dubai - to contest for what will be the most richly awarded prize in European Golfing history - they may have wondered quite where the money was going to be produced from. Even the richest parts of the world have found these credit crunch times difficult it seems, as the luxury courseside homes meant to have been snapped up by rich westerners to entertain their chums during the event remain in various states of completion - it's one of the most expensive of building sites you'll ever come across. Not the opulent surroundings that the organisers would have been anticipating they would present to the world. As an indicator of just how behind schedule and underfunded the event has become, grandiose plans for the Earth course being played on this week to be joined with Wind, Air and Fire courses have been shelved, only Fire is thought to remain a possibility of ever being actually made.

The lake feature beside the 6th hole is said to stink to high heaven, which begs the question how can a country - lets not forget the entire season long Order of Merit has been renamed the Race to Dubai by virtue of this tournament - a country which in 18 months built the most spectacular venue for the season ending Formula one race, including a marina, a track spanning Hotel which changes colour and the immense Ferrari World theme park on Yas Island which was so breathtaking in scale I couldn't quite believe it was real. Look at the pictures. Is this why the Race to Dubai has been left looking like it's finished a bit soon? The audience for an F1 race is worldwide and massive and I think I know where the priority may have lay. It seems to me to be a bit of a kick in the teeth for the European tour that things have been left in this state for what was to be the Flagship event.

Fortunately, no matter what state the course surroundings are in, the course is up to scratch and the main men have shown up, McIlroy and Westwood are going at it hammer and tongs over the first two rounds, and it appears that they're going to give the organisers a script which may make up for any shortcomings on the luxury villa side of things...

Friday, 30 October 2009

Each hold back to see what the other is going to do as the Race to Dubai gets cagey.

The organisers of the Volvo World Match Play Championship at Finca Cortesin GC must have been licking their lips at the prospect of the four guys currently fighting it out in the Race to Dubai going head to head this week. They probably have a bit of a sour taste in their mouth now however as they watch the four main protagonists propping up their respective tables.

They're just not playing ball.

Saying that, McIlroy and westwood are having better luck in this mornings matches, it may kick into life soon....

Monday, 26 October 2009

The race is on anyone can still win, any one of four people (thought in all likelihood it's not gonna be Paul Casey - and you'd fancy Kaymer to choke)

We're rapidly approaching the zenith of the most exciting race ever to take place in the history of European Golf. It's safe to say thatThe Race to Dubai has truly captured the imagination of accountants of european professional golfers all over the globe. And it couldn't be any hotter up there at the top.

Ideally, the race has been kept as Open as possible between the four contenders still vying for the prize (coinkydink? me think not...). Messrs Westwood, Kaymer, Casey and McIlroy are each in different groups for the World Matchplay at Finca Cortesin, setting up a potential four way battle. Here's the standings at the moment.

European Tour Race to Dubai
1 Lee Westwood Eng 2,241,940 euro
2 Martin Kaymer Ger 2,155,765
3 Rory McIlroy NI 2,032,695
4 Paul Casey Eng 1,965,150
5 Geoff Ogilvy Aus 1,606,805
6 Oliver Wilson Eng 1,533,534
7 Ross Fisher Eng 1,524,347
8 Simon Dyson Eng 1,395,317
9 Angel Cabrera Arg 1,385,499
10 Soren Kjeldsen Den 1,240,053

I have a feeling it's more of a three horse race, with Casey coming back from injury it'll be a big ask for him to compete. McIlroy has shown already in his short career that he is quite a handful in the matchplay format, I fancy him to go well and close the gap at the top.

These boys should be aware thought that they need to make hay while the sun shines, with the USPGA tour chief off sniffing around the emirates, the prizefund may not be around for too much longer.

Monty held his grin as he received the Vardon trophy despite Faldo's derogatory chant of "It's not a f***ing Major"

But it wasn't always such fantastically corporate thing. In days of yore men battled it out for the Order of Merit - get that, "merit" - awarding acheivement throughout the golfing year. Less mercenary times those... Granted it was still about the accumulation of vast sums of money (shamefully exposing just how blooming rich those guys are) but there was no huge pot of gold sitting at the end of an oily rainbow back then. Handily I've supplied you with a list of the previous winners, back when it was about the glory (and only partially about the money), such things need to be documented for posterity. It's all part of the service.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Tiger does it for Freddie - world rejoices to see Couples smiley face

Kim smiled through gritted teeth as Freddie's vice like grip made powder of his bones - Couples will not stand for flouting of Golf Cart Health and Safety Regulations

If anyone was going to get the best out of Tiger Woods in the midst of a team format, Freddie Couples was surely that man. If you're doing it for Freddie, you're not gonna want to let the man down. The thought of a crestfallen Fred would be too horrible to contemplate, no, you must strive to make sure you're putting a rosy smile on those cheeks.

Which is why I was less than surprised to see Tiger rip it up at the Presidents Cup. The Couples Factor dictated he would do so. Also, asides from being effortlessly motivational just through his sheers lovability (you wish you were huggin Fred right now, don't you) there is also the sage captaincy he shown. All Tiger wants is to be sent out with a wise old hand who is not a major rival or potential rival for media attention - step forward Steve Stricker.

So relaxed was El numero uno, that he hadn't realised he'd bagged the momnetous "winning" putt.

"Did I really? I had no idea," he said when it was pointed out to him that he just won the trophy for his team. "I was just trying to get my point."

You see, he doesn't really give a pish about whether the team won, it's all about Tiger. Maybe that shall be the secret that Corey Pavin can employ to get more out of him at the Ryder Cup. Make it a personal competition for him. Make him chase the individual points record, point out that he has the oppotunity to go flawless in the Ryder stright after a flawless Presidents. Put up a big post comparing his crappy record to the journeymen down the years that racked up points for fun. Cause there's only won thing you'll be able to get him interested in and that's winning for him...

Getting the chance to put one over on Yang may have had something to do with it too...

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Exciting times as the big boys strike form

It was a real treat for golf fans yesterday as two giants of the game who have both been struggling for form found it in a big way at firestone. Padraig harrington has been all over the place with his driving of late, as the changes to his swing which he has made have struggled to bed in. Yet it seems to have clicked for him in a big way this week as he goes in to the final round atten under and looking like the champion of old. He has certainly gained some length off the tee if perhaps sacrificing accuracy but it seems to be giving him that next step which he thought his game required. The last few months have been a struggle but it seems to have enhanced his powers of recovery. He's produced som mercurial shots this week to keep the momentum going and it is a talent which will stand him in good stead.

A fine 65 from tiger woods puts him in the final group today as well, a final pairing to get the juices going if ever there was one. The control he had over his shot making yesterday was as good as I've seen from the great one. As butch harmon said in commentary if he kept using that left to right shot shape there would be no reason he should ever lose.

It's a contest we have all been looking forward to for some time and it would surprise me
at all if this was just a warm up for an epic battle between the defending harrington and the predatory tiger at the uspga next week. It should be a humdinger!

Monday, 3 August 2009

Bogey Man strikes blow for American Golf fans, proving at least one of them can be original. Other fans reaction " Get in the Hole"

This is my new hero. No, not Tiger, the other dude. It takes serious cajones to decide that you would rock up to the Buick Open dressed as "a bogey", this man has pulled it off with some gusto. Going all the way with his all in one outfit, this is the kind of commitment that has to be applauded. The writing on his chest could be better but we'll forgive that, it can't be easy to scrawl on your chest in what amounts to a flourescent gimp-suit. I just hope it doesn't prompt a million inferior copycats, this guy nailed it. Though him and a mate could go for a double bogey...

Bogey Man strikes a nochalant pose as cameraman sneakily focuses on tank top girl next door. Tiger Woods peskily gets in the way - he's such a publicity whore!
Almost un-noticed, a small blonde girl attempts to topple the tree on the world number one.

Pint pot man keeps a steely face as Bogey Man gets caught up in the moment - it wasn't the first time a bogey had came between him and girl...
Meanwhile over his shoulder two boys battle fiercely to outdo eachother in the gormless stakes, green shirt boy has the upper hand...

Tiger was tired of hiding his smug satisfaction...

Steve Williams attempt at a Bogey Man costume was lacking in attention to detail, with his money and resources it was a poor effort.

Wait a minute, Tiger won this thing didn't he, after hacking it about like a prune on Thursday, how does he do it. Nice to see Maggies Thatchers lad get a good finish, an honourable second placing for young Roland...

Monday, 27 July 2009

Calc Chalks up the birdies, nine in a row, a new record

Having had a flirt with the leaderboard all through the Open last week, Mark Calcavecchia continued the recent trend of the old dogs rolling back the years this weekend. In his third round he took full advantage of the softened greens and prefferred lies offered on a rainsoaked Oakville in the Canadian Open. Kicking off on the tenth tee the old stager had a remarkable run of nine consecutive birdies, beating the old record of eight which is shared by several PGA tourists over the years. To put it in perspective, the last time eight was acheived was Jerry Kelly back in 2003.

So to go one more was pretty special from the 49 year old former Open winner, as the more you roll in, the more pressure comes with each stroke. As it was, Calcavecchia kept things simple, all nine of his birdie putts coming from withing 15 feet. It all began on the par three 12th, his third and ended as his chip from over the green on the par four 3rd trickled by the hole.

A couple of bogeys coming in left him with a 65, who can blame him for taking it easy over the closing holes, it's quite an effort.

"It is just fly it right to the stick. You give the guys out here no wind and greens that are plugging then you are going to see a lot of low scores."

But it wasn't these guys, it was the dude one year from the champions tour doing it. Self effacing to the last, he wasn't putting any money on the record stnding for long, but I wouldn't be so sure.

"Records are made to be broken. Could somebody make 10 in a row? Sure, it wouldn't surprise me if some guy whips out 10 birdies in a row sometime this weekend, it really wouldn't. These guys are good."

They may be good, but can anyone get that lucky?

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Tom feels his age when he's putting, at least there'll be no young pups for him to beat his week...

Tom Watson has come out and admitted that when it comes to the clutch putts, he starts to feel like the 59 year old he is. It's always been the area of the game which seems to catch the old pros out, they lose a little bit of the bravery of old and the nerves jangle and the knees knock. And that's what Watson feels ultimately cost him a huge place in the record books. However he was glad to have shown that there is indeed plenty of life in the old dog yet.

"I don't deal with the pressure quite as easily as I used to, especially with the putting stroke, but last week was a confirmation that I can still play with the kids on certain courses."

Very true indeed, the Masters may be too much of a long driving competition for him to challenge but the like of the Ailsa Course, where strategy outweighs brute force, gives him a fighting chance. Even now.

Which begs the question, why have we spent the last decade or so adding hundreds of yards to the finest courses in the world to "Tiger proof" them - just let the grass grow. A few extra heights and hollows and your course is safe from embarrassment and will root out the man with the brains to play it. If it led to more weeks like last then I'd be all for it.

The fun doesn't stop for Watson, as he said himself "I'm going right from the frying pan into the fire." The Senior Open is this week at Sunningdale, and he's not in the mood for resting on his laurels just yet. he'll do that on Wednesday.

"I thought about not playing a practice round, but no. I'm in good health. I'm 59 and not hurting, as I did last year with my hip, it feels great. You learn how to pace yourself. On Wednesday I'm taking a day off, which is like taking a nap and naps are really good at my age, I assure you."

I wonder if he's 1500-1 this week...

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

What I meant to say was, he's a Dancing queen - Lyle shouldn have stopped talking long ago...

Lyle didn't just missed hitting Monty from the rough but a hybrid from the fairway took him down...

I missed the opportunity over the weekend to have a proper go at Sandy Lyle for his latest bout of media idiocy. This past few weeks he has single-handedly destroyed the slim whisker of a chance that he had of getting the Ryder captaincy. In fact he went at that whisker of a chance with a blowtorch and pair of pliers and has left it in a decidedly pitiable and mangled state.

It's the worst kept secret in golf that Sandy has been hankering after the captaincy for knocking on the door of fifteen years or more. In that time he's watched as the other members of Europe's Big Five, Ballesteros, Langer, Woosnam, even the hugely unpopular Faldo got the nod ahead of him. He might have understood why the hugely charismatic Sam Torrance was handed the Reins. But to have a man without a major to his name, who could conceivably win an award for "least likely to inspire men to greater things ", voted for by his own family, Mark "Jesse" James, that had to hurt.

And clearly it did, every year, in forthright interviews he's expressed his confusion as to why he had been overlooked. But the recent appointment of his unofficial Cheerleader Colin Montgomerie was clearly the straw that broke the camels back. The committee took somewhat of a knee jerk reaction to the perceived disconnect between Faldo and his young charges - blaming it on the age gap rather than the real character flaws in Faldo which seemed so plain to most, particularly those who read between the lines of Lee Westwoods comments after the event. Suddenly Lyle was dismissed as too old and his personal champion Montgomerie swiftly installed in his stead. His pullout of last years Open after 11 holes hurt his cause also.

Lyle felt let down by this, and took it as a personal sleight from Colin. The fact that Monty had sung Sandys praises from the rooftops for so long and pushed him so heavily for the latest post made it all the worse. In Sandys eyes, and as he has said, he could have said no.

And in typical Colin style, he's done the wrong thing. Instead of coming out straight away and offering Sandy a VC role and recommending him for Gleneagles, defusing the situation, he stayed silent. Not just in the media but in real life too. They have hardly spoken since and in this state of Limbo Lyle has loosened his tongue.

He couldn't resist when faced with more questions on his early bath at the Open having a dig at Monty. And what a dig. He tried to conduct of a man with sore hands in terrible weather already massively over par withdrawing before he sustained injury to the actions of a man in need of a win taking one of the dodgiest of drops and swiftly moving on hoping no ones noticed.

He has a point, it was a form of cheating and he must have known, but surely Lyle must have realised how badly dredging up the past would reflect on him. He has publicly attacked the next Ryder Cup captain, how can that possibly enhance your standing as Captaincy material.

But in the subsequent interviews he has given he has far away Sandy is from thinking that. Persistently he has dug himself a deeper and deeper hole. Each apology has been coupled with a qualification that he still believes Colin cheated, one even stating Monty was a bit "strange".

Then he come out and profusely apologised after his first round on Thursday before he was asked straight out, as a man experienced in dealing with the media, should he not have known better than to say what he did. His response indicated that Lyle's brain could not compute a questioning of his media savvy. Instead he seemed to interpret it as a question on how naive Col was being about all this...

"I think Colin is Colin. We do sometimes call him a bit of a drama queen. He is milking it a little bit. He has got to stop hiding behind his manager and come out and have a talk. I want to bring an end to it. We are good friends and we respect each other's games.,"

It all just displayed that if he ever was a safe pair of hands to take on the Ryder mantle, he's not anymore. With the intense media scrutiny he'd be exposed to he can no longer be trusted not to run his mouth off. I'm not saying we don't want someone who can speak his mind, just someone who still realises when they're causing offence, and when they're compounding that offence and certainly someone who knows when it's best to just say nothing.

Who do we have this time? Oh dear, it's Monty...

Monday, 20 July 2009

Westwood tries to hide his wobbles, but we all saw them...

It was interesting to hear from Lee Westwood in his interview yesterday that he was glad he had kept it together on the back nine. What was that Lee? You did what there?

Having had a glorious week off the tee, finding 81% of Fairways, the best in the field, Lee started hocking it about like a Sunday golfer. It was a full blown choke. Leading after nine holes, he had the tournament in his grasp. With two shots in hand he conspired to lose it, unable even to make the play-off. Coming in with a 38, the worst score of an player on the back nine on Sunday. At any point he cold have turned it around to take what would have been a more deserving win to my mind than Stewart Cinks stealth smash and grab. But Lee took bogey on three onf the final four holes. That ain't holding it together and that ain't winning any majors.

But it's all there, he has the game to be a Major champion. He arguably has the strongest driving game out there, long and accurate and his tee to green play is generally superb. But crucially, the killer insctinct which marked him out in his early days on the European Tour seems to have left him of late. He had a fallow period around 2003, 2004 after winning the Order of merit in 2000, he failed to kick on and his career went on the rails somewhat. But he has recovered, with the faith shown in him by successive Ryder Cup Captains being richly rewarded (except for Faldo for whom he didn't perform at all for some reason...) and the talent and promise has seemed ready to be fulfilled this last few seasons.

His game is no doubt improved from his younger days, but the Lee Westwoood of old, won things when he got a sniff, he didn't fall away. But that has been his fate in recent times. He's in danger of becoming the new Sergio at this rate. I think he still is the most likely Brit to win a major, for all the up and coming youngsters who are around. He just needs to get his head right. Maybe call Bob Rotella, it worked for Padraig...

Thats one small tournament for Tom Watson, one giant leap up the ranks...

It's being proffered as consolation for Tom Watson, that he has had a welcome boost in the world rankings thanks to his second place at the Open. But considering Tom has been off the regular tour for some years now and the Open and Masters are the only tournaments he has entered the last two years, I doubt he'll really give a monkeys. But consider this, work with me here, if we remove the silly minimum divisor of forty, Tom would be averaging 15.00 - Why he'd be world number one! And at 59 too...
He may have fallen short of setting quite possibly more golfing records than anyone ever has yesterday, but he has gained one - the biggest leap up the world rankings in history, from World Number 1374 to 105. What odds he's top ten by Christmas?

Sunday, 19 July 2009

As the Man said himself - "It would have been a hell of a story"

Just a few holes too many. That was the problem for Tom Watson. When he'd given so much over the four days, leading virtually from wire to wire, it was always going to be a big ask to extend the magic for four more holes. Watson couldn't put his finger on what went wrong in the playoff, as he described it, it was like the air went out of the balloon, the wheels just came off after that second shot on the 73rd. It was really a sad thing to watch, as it was not what Watson deserved. Sudden death would at least have spared him fighting on on a lost cause, but then it did afford him one more richly deserved round of acclamation on his shot putt on the last. The outpouring of love and admiration was well earned as he provided one of the most compelling of stories ever seen in the Open. But it was the only point inthe whole week when Watson's age actually seemed to be an issue, testament to just how fit and supple he has kept himself.

It's a tournament that always seems to have a story to it, last year it was the return of the old shark, and the defending champ coming in with injury to go on to win. This year there was Ross Fisher with his missus at home ready to pop at any moment. And then there was Tom. Sweet magnificent Tom. He was meant to be there to make up the numbers, be the old guy sucking up the plaudits on day two as he went up 18 and they showed the clips of the duel in the sun and commentators reminisced and then gone home to leave the young guns to settle matters. But I wonder whether it was simply the case, that with all the interviews beforehand, where every paper in the land wanted to go over the events of 1977, the epic battle with Nicklaus, that it awakened some old memories in those old bones, (those that are left, he got a new plastic hip a few months back). The competitive fires got stoked thinking back on old glories and he decided there was one big one left in the old campaigner.

It is almost criminal that Watson didn't win, and it's all the crueller for the fact that Cink was rarely in the mix all week. He bubbled along, under the radar. Had it been Westwood, Goggin, even Goosen, it might have been a bit easier to take but the fact that Cink hadn't even registered as a potential winner until about two holes from home, grates with me somewhat. But then, Mark O'Meara wasn't exactly the one we were looking at until he rattled in that putt on 18 way back when he won his Masters. He cemented his reputation by picking up the Open. It'll take something like that from Cink before we'll really think of him as a Major champion, not the bloke who spoilt the party. I do feel sorry for him in one sense, though - after all, you can't pick your opponents for a playoff and it's pretty hard to come off looking good when you've beaten an old man.

But Watson shall get over it, as he was heard complaining to Mathew Goggin about on the first fairway, he has the Senior Open and then the Senior US Open to play in the coming weeks, I have a feeling his odds for those will be considerably shorter than 1500-1. Tom Watson, you're the very definition of the word legend and you know what, I think it was a hell of a story.

Watson a better bet to make history than old Greg was....

So here we are again, for the second year running we enter the final day of the Open and we're looking at an old stager leading the way. In 2008 it was the great White shark doing the seemingly impossible and somehow you had the feeling he was laways going to be caught by someone and so it proved. The steady play of the first three days became that little bit more shaky and defending champ Padraig Harrington went into overdrive on the final few holes to grab his second claret jug and leave the old Aussie coming in a creditable third. It had a certain amount of inevitability about it. You just knew at some point the wheels were going to come off somewhere. Norman seemed nervous and almost as though he realised he was not supposed to be leading the Open at his age.

This year our elder statesman is the venerable Tom Watson, at an even more advanced age than the 53 year old Norman. Just one year from the big Six-O, Watson has defied expectations and perceptions to mount a challenge that amazingly looks even likelier to bear fruit than the relatively youthful Greg. Why? Its the complete lack of nerves we've seen from Watson. He encountered a huge setback on his Friday front nine as he leaked five shots in six holes and you'd have been forgiven for thinking that was that. But Watson stayed calm, never altered his approach and pulled out some of the most extraordinary putts you could imagine. He's shown that should the rough times come he still has the game and the cool head to keep it together and make birdies.

And that has been his motto this week, not to worry about the bogeys, accept they will come and realise the birdies are out there and he has the putting game to make them. That is what has made the difference for Tom, he has on several occasions on each of the three days had to make some outrageous putts for par and made them, and when there's been a sniff of a birdie on the closing holes he's made them. And that is the other quite extraordinary thing, he is certainly not struggling for stamina. After three rounds he has played the final three holes in five under. SHould it be coming down the stretch and he's still there, he knows he can pick up shots.

And crucially, Norman had a notoriously flaky nature at Majors, under pressure he was likely to crack. The heat of battle only ever seemed to make Watson strnger and thats why I'd say Watson is a hell of a better bet to come through this time - fingers crossed he does.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

TW leads the way, unfotunately for Nike, its the wrong one...

Watson could deny his love for ball no longer...

Same old, same old at the Open this year. A lad with the initials
TW takes the lead over the first two days and has the crowds in raptures doing it. Except it's not the noughties TW whipping up a storm at Turnberry, it's the seventies version showing the whippersnappers how it's done. Tiger is, for only the second time in a major, not around for the weekends play, as a 59 year old Watson revisits the scene of his finest triumph and is finding that the body has retained the muscle memory of how to play Ailsa Craig. It was always going to be hard to top last years hurrah by Greg Norman, bouyed by the spring of his step placed there by stepping out with Chris Evert, Watsons done it and in some style.

The round of day one was immaculate. Not a blemish on the card as he gave a virtuoso display of course management. Birdies at 1 and 3 induced a reaction of the "oh, isn't that nice to see." kind, reserved for the elder statesmen of the game but it was an indication that the old lithe swing of yesteryear was still intact and the eyes can still read a putt or two. Two more birdies came quick after the turn and suddenly heads were turning. Some massive putts were required to hold things together on the closing holes, but where the older players usually fall away, the fearsome competitor Watson proved up the the task, holing monsters for par and one for birdie to take the clubhouse lead. 500-1 that was before play started. The finest round of his career? Quite possibly (though that one in 1977 wasn't shabby either).

He'd have been up there on his own but for one of the most sensational finishes to a round you could ask for from the unheralded Kenichi Kuboya. 2, 3, 3, 3 on the final four - three birdies and an eagle on 17 - hauled the Japanese player to the top of the pack. Yesterday, Watson was off to a flier on 1 again, another birdie in his pocket there, but then the oft predicted collapse associated with guys rolling back the years seemed to kick in. Five bogeys in the next six took him tumbling down the leaderboard, which brought the usual condescending commentary again, too much to expect from a man of his advanced years.

Stuff that. Watson was not down, he was just getting warmed up (takes a bit longer when you're 59). Birdie on 9 stemmed the flow and the old knowing grin was back and he hit the back nine with all the nous he's accumulated, taking birdie on 11, 16 and a
crowd pleasing one on 18 too. The putter is working beautifully for him and the swing is still holding up. I wouldn't bet against him holding on a bit more on this evidence. He's still up there and I think he means to stick around.

As for Tiger, the swing just couldn't hold up in the worsening conditions. He doesn't seem sure whats going to occur. Grimaces not of pain but of worry where his ball is going to finish constantly adorn his face. It's a pity he's not still around for the weekend but fighting himself like that it would not have been pretty anyway.

Flying the yankee flag along with Watson in the final paring today is Stev Marino. Second alternat this time last week, late withdrawls including Phil Mickelson saw a dash from his dad to post his passport to him in time to make the flight over to Blighty. Worth the effort I'd say. He's never played a Links course before, has no idea how hard it is and for now that ignorance is bliss. To be fair, it's taken him two days to learn what most Americans struggle to do in their whole career, the ball needs to go low, and some bumping, running, chasing little beauties from him shot him up top.

Ian Poulter meanwhile, could do with being a bit less excited by his twittering and being a bit more focused on the job at hand - 15 over? I know men of damn near 60 can get it round in 20 less shots.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

The bets that might have been...

Sometimes I hate gambling. Not on religious grounds or anything like that, don't get me wrong, I'm a gambler. It's the disappointments that really get to you. The missed bets. They're the worst. Like the canny wee punt I just missed out on last night. Offering Each way 1/4 odds to 7 places on Paddy power yesterday I had a ponder at some of the big outsiders. There were a few tempters there, and the one I plumped for as the big outsider was a player I don't even like. Michael Campbell, a former Major Champion no less, out at 750-1. I don't like him, precisely for the reason I backed him. He is for 90% of the time a nothing player, but then, out of nowhere he gets hot, and I was hoping he'd get warmed up a little this week. Wrong. Unless something drastic happens overnight, perhaps involving a a Tin Cup style coaching tip such as putting all his change in his right pocket to balance him out, Campbell is gone. And so are my few pennies (I never said I was a "big" gambler!) Maybe I should send him a few extra pennies for his right pocket to sort him out, it could be a shrewd investment.

The other big outsider I had a pop on was David Howell, so unfortunate that he finds himself quoted at 500 -1 these days, were it not for his back injury setting him back so much, with his talent he should be where Paul Casey is these days. He's faring a lot better though and it's looking a canny wee bet.

The proper bets I've had include the Northern Ireland trio, Clarke (who I have to bet on out of tradition now), McDowell and the Rorinator himself. (does that work, I might uses it for a while, see if it catches on). Then Westwood, who is just the model of consistency just now - if only he could chip! Poulter too, so improved over this past year, he has to be worth a look. All each way, some of them have to be in the mix come Sunday. Oh, the other bit of value I saw, Petterson, 300-1, he's better than that price, surely?

The bet I had a little chuckle to myself over was a 1500-1 shot. I almost put a few pennies on it before chiding myself for thinking foolish thoughts on. "Don't be getting carried away on a flight of fancy, he's 59 for gods sake". I should have known better than to doubt Tom Watson...