Sunday, 29 March 2009

Who says he's gonna settle for three in a row?

Us Irish sports fans had a nice little treat a week ago, as the Irish Rugby team led by BOD himself finally captured a famous Grand Slam victory in the Six Nations. It was a sweet moment perhaps all the sweeter for the fact that it hadn’t happened for the best part of 60 years and Ireland had been on the cusp of achieving it for the last ten only to be continually and cruelly denied. So having got one slam under their belt, Irish sports fans have got a taste for another one – “da paddy slam”.

When Tiger was away, Padraig was at play, popping a few more major titles on the mantelpiece and now he’s strolling into the Masters with the opportunity to become only the third man in history to win three in row. So unlike his compatriots with the oval ball, Padraig probably won’t have too many more cracks at a slam with his wee pimply one.

The thing about this audacious attempt is that strangely it does not seem such an unlikely event anymore. So impressive was Harrington in powering his way to his second Open victory, as was the calm calculated way in which he ripped the USPGA out from under the feet of Sergio last year – memories of both leave you with the feeling that if you were to see Padraig with a sniff of it come Sunday 12th, he’ll be popping a green jacket on.

It’s not like any of us really expected him to kick on after that first Major victory at Carnoustie. So rare had European victories become it was more likely to have been his moment in the sun; the highlight of a dogged determined golfer’s career. But then he has always been famed as one of the hardest workers in Golf and where others may have relaxed, Padraig used it as the spur to get better and used the confidence the win gave him to produce nerveless finishes down the final stretch.

The simple fact is, there is only one man out there you would have more faith in to bag a major these days, and that’s ol TW himself. And it’s not like there are not some encouraging reasons to think it may be on around Augusta.

Harrington has been regularly chalking up impressive putting stats on his Masters visits, if my memory serves me right, he was top of the putters on his first outing there. If he can back that putting game up with his improved long hitting then it could be Paddy looking to emulate TW’s patented Tiger slam soon.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Jose Maria Olazabal decides he has not had enough of will-he-won't-he speculation. He's gonna take the piss a while longer...

Everyone thought Miguel was getting the pie in the face, but Colin played the ol' switcheroo and got Jose good and proper. Comic Genius.

After all the furious media speculation over whether he was to become the next Ryder Cup captain or not, Jose Maria Olazabal has clearly developed a taste for being the centre of Ryder Cup speculation.

Just last week we heard how he had been confirmed as the first vice captain by Captain Colin, in a flurry of gushing praise.

"Olly" as his mucker Colin likes to refer to him was to bo one of possibly many to be stnading at Monty's side, but on thing was sure, Jose was first chosen and unless he was playing then he was a lock for VC.
"One of them will be Olly unless he is playing. His first request to me is try and compete as a player, but if that does not happen, we have a pact that he will come and help me as the No1 vice-captain."

This statement, clearly stating a confirmed position for Jose must have really got the wind up his skirt cause he's rushed out today to pour cold water on these claims.

"I've not said that. It was news to me. I'm not sure. I've done it before and there are not many decisions to make. There's not much to do."

A decidedly undecisive statement from an undecided man from the sounds of it. Vice Captain is a bit of a boring bag it seems, so not only has he made Colin look a bit of a loose tongued wally already, he's gone and put everyone else off doing it as well. Nice one Jose, that's playing for the team right there.

What did Colin have to say after that then?

"I would love him to be playing on the team because the passion he brings is second to none, but if not he will be there in an administrative role, which will be vice-captain. I have had that conversation."

Jesus Col, what are you doing, no-one wants to be promised an administrative role, sex it up a bit, tell him you want his passion in the locker room, no damn it you Need his passion, you can't do it without his passion. Then when he rocks up in 2010, give him a pen and tell him to take down your thoughts and give him a slap for mucking you about.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Tiger for hire, will play for money

Tiger has been apprehensive about going back to Australia ever since he saw the film Return to Oz, the $3million dollars will be spent on protection from those monkey things with wheels

Here we are in these times of global recession, where the humble taxpayers have seen the bills to bail out failing banks foisted upon them, while bosses of said banks, the men who made the mistakes, unashamedly attempt to hold on to their million pound pensions, grubbily grabbing with their well manicured little fingers. People are losing jobs at record rates, few can afford to travel. Fewer still can command seven figure sums to pop on a plane for a weekends golf. Only one man can in fact. It's hard to know what the people of Victoria state will make of the news that Tiger Woods is going to be paid 3 million dollars, half of which will be their money, just to play in Novembers Australian Masters.

It's been over ten years since he's made the trip down under. The last event he played there was the 98 Presidents Cup so he didn't really have much choice to go to that one, it's hardly likely that he was going to pop back any time soon without a bit of an incentive. But still, it's a little bit of a kick in the teeth, not just to the Victorian residents but to everyone who's struggling on at the minute to see such a huge handout going to a man who clearly has no need of it.

But then, if there's one thing that Tiger Woods does well, apart from the game of golf, it's attract money. Dollars are sucked towards where Woods is at like flies will flock round shite. The estimated boost to the local economy is $19 million dollars, how much of that will trickle back to the taxpayer is difficult to say, but it will make a tournament that would pretty much have been an afterthought to the season will become a big event.

Stuart Appleby sees the worth of the deal but wonders what the lads having a few tinnies round barbie will make of it.

"It will be great for the game and bring out a lot of people who haven't seen him before, in person, not on a video game .There's a lot of people hurting in Australia, and they might look negatively that one guy is paid $3m just to turn up. The common man won't understand the business model because the government is paying for it. They might not see the money he brings in."

That's the thing, who will see the money at the end of the day - the advertising companies, the tv companies, the lads in the corporate tents. But then it'll be worth it for the Aussies who've never seen the great man in the flesh before - they're in for a treat.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Mickelson stays moist enough to win - comes through his dry patch with his first WGC

Mickelson requested the cup be filled with Gatorade and a straw provided, organisers said he had to have this photo taken first...

As Henrik Stenson was flapping around having an impromptu paddle in the muck to stay cool, like a swedish Hippo, Big Phil was embroiled in the heat of battle. A cooling dip of his toes might have served him well however as he needed trip to hospital on Saturday night after his third round left him feeling the effects of heat exhaustion. It can take it's toll on the best of them it seems. But Big Phil has never been one to let the fact he's been sweating too much stop him, he ploughed on regardless come Sunday, suitably remoistened and ready to go again.

A touch of heatstroke doesn't quite cover the obstacles that Mickelson had to over come to gain victory. Not only was he treated for heat exhaustion and dehydration the night before the final round, he didn't eat a real meal since Thursday and didn't get out of bed until 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, just over an hour before his final-round tee time. Poor Phil actually earned his money this week.

It makes it all the more impressive for a man who spent most of Tiger's hiatus unable to close any ground on the number one spot and seeing instead himself slide backwards in the rankings, to come out firing so hot now Tigers back.

It was a spirited performance from Mickelson, not usually famed as a man of endurance or someone who will play through the pain to grab the glory, more often we question how much he really wants it as he lopes around the course like Goofy the dog, but you got to admire this win. Especially with Nick Watney playing some very dangerous golf out there on his tail. Inability to take in what was going on elsewhere may have accounted for his coolness under pressure this time around.
"I haven't eaten much in three days, so I really wasn't able to appreciated what others were doing but Nick played some great shots and I was very relieved to come out on top"

We've all though he could do with eating a bit less for a while now, who would have guessed how true that would be.

Henrik Stenson has no faith in washing powder and tells the world in the only way he knows how...

Some people just seem to get over excited with the onset of Spring; the first sign of sun and they're out in their shorts and sandals. Some take it farther than others. Few stand about playing Golf in their kecks alone.

Stride forth Henrik, brave Swede to show them how it's done. Showing scant regard to the fact that for a professional athlete he has quite a chubby set of "moobs", Stenson whipped off his gear quick smart, like a toddler who enjoys the freedom that nudity can bring, or a German, they love a bit of public nudity (It's a little known untrue fact that Bernard Langer was made sign a contract requiring him to wear clothing at all times during his Ryder Cup Captaincy).

What follows is a gratuitous and at times downright filthy pictorial account of the event.

A picture of concentration, there's only one thing going through Henrik's head is "Why the f*** am I standing here in my undies". He was glad of one thing, no one was noticing what a bad hair day he was having.
"I immediately regret this decision!"
There were gasps of shock as a member of the gallery cried "He's got it out". Eventually the ladies looked out from behind their hands to see he meant the golf ball, not his Swedish meatballs. Upon this realisation the prevailing mood was one of relief, tinged with disappointment.

It was at this point that it dawned on Henrik that maybe he wouldn't have got his clothes that dirty after all and maybe he'd just succeeded in making a tit of himself. He also realised that he had to get a new clothing contract in which he didn't have to return his jumpers without a speck of dirt on them.

Henrik wasn't completely without modesty, he maintained just a modicum of dignity thanks to his Bjorn Borg tightie whities. They covered up the Tatoo on his left cheek of Bjorn Borg locked in passionate embrace with that blonde piece from ABBA... I think he was called Bjorn too...

And don't worry, Henrik kept his Fanny covered at all times... Sunneson had tried for the best part of a decade to get Nick Faldo to get his kit off, only took her a couple of years with Henrik. She's learning.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

At 37, he's getting the Yang of it...

The guy about to high five Ying's armpit would immediately regret his decision...

A late starter in the game of Golf, not taking to the game until aged 19, he's starting to find his groove it seems; Y.E. Yang snatched a precious victory yesterday to become only the second Korean winner on the PGA Tour after KJ Choi. I don't know what the Y.E. stands for and cannot seem to find out, but Yin would be appropriate as the Korean found the perfect balance to his game to take his first step into the winners enclosure on the Tour. He was understandably elated and celebrated accordingly, high fiving everyone he could - just as you'd expect for a man whos been toiling in the qualifying school and was ranked 460th in the world coming into the tournament.

Man of the moment, sorry, everybodys-favourite-young-scamp of the moment Rory McIlroy was in decent position in his first American Strokeplay event but a bit of a duff finish took the gloss off things for him. Bogey, bogey finish took him back to 2 under and a tie for 13th. Still, it's another very encouraging performance for him - few Europeans make such a large impression in America on their first visit, including ones who spent their University career in the states. McIlroy is doing his learning on the job and seems more than up to it.

It was a pity to see Darren Clarke fade away in the final round too, a fine 68 on Saturday having set him up nicely for the final round. A four over par 74 saw a good opportunity to accumulate ranking points go a begging. Hopefully the big man will take a bit of inspiration from Rory and get himself going properly soon.

Poor old John Rollins - the only man with four rounds in the 60's and he's not the winner. I'd say he's no longer a fan of Korean imports.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Rory and Tiger grab headlines but not trophies as Geoff seems to have this Matchplay lark licked

Geoff could not hide his elation that having just painted the front room in primrose yellow, the trophy came in Cornflower blue and would sit nicely on the mantel...

The gamble did not pay off. I was hoping for a big fat I told you so post here, where I could revel in my prediction that Tiger would come back like a train, sweeping all before him in a blaze of glory. One victory over B Jones might have been special enough back in the day, but it wasn't Bobby Jones he was playing - it was his namesake Brendan, not a scalp large enough to sate a public lusting for a bit of Tiger to soothe their recession pains. Tim Clark is a decent opponent to go out to though, make no mistake about it. I had expected him to be one of the South African contingent to really kick on and put the likes of Ernie and the Goose in the shade but he's not quite lived up to early promise. He's still a hell of a ball striker though - even a Tiger not coming back from a lay-off may have found it quite a tussle.

Still it wasn't the big comeback we were all looking for if we're all honest was it. It'll come though, it'll come...

And hell who needs old Tiger, when there's a new one on the scene. Screw you Woods, the world wants Rory! At least that appeared to be the take home message after this tournament. The world seemed to go a wee bit gaga for my young countryman, old hacks and wizened commentators sounding positively moist about this young prospect. To reach the quarters of the biggest annual Matchplay tournament in Golf in your first start in America, as a nineteen year old, yup, that is something they should be taking notice of I guess. McIlroy has been on the sticky receiving end of the most gushing of reviews this week; speculation of what is to come in his career is reaching hyperbolic levels. The Big Easy himself came over all "Kind Uncle Ernie" as he tipped Rory to be the next world number one.

You can see why everyones so excited though. With his admittedly goofy looking tousled locks, his lazy lope on the one hand and his frankly awe-inspiring shot making, the magnificently clean way he strikes every shot on the other, it seems like a boy is out there doing a man's work. And world No.16 already, that's a pace that few have matched in recent times. And he just looks like he's ready to build on it.

But neither of these lads won the bloody thing did they? No, cause only one man seems to turn up at this tournament these days, and that's Geoff Ogilvy. The Australian is now world No.4 due to the win, and he may just be the most unheralded fellow to occupy that spot ever. No one ever touts Geoff Ogilvy for a title. No one ever says "I tell you what, I like the look of Geoff Ogilvy this week". But no one has to expect it, he just has to go out and do it. He knows how to rack up the matches and left this week with a frankly astonishing 89% win rate for the accenture. Thats better than Tiger and he's won it three times. Good on you Geoff, but somehow I think the future, much like this weeks golf coverage, shall not be dominated by you, but by the ongoing sagas of Tiger and Rory.