Archive for September 2010
Luke Donald: Neat player with a concise game that throws back to an era of persimmon woods and toothy coves in tweed plus fours. Sparkling Ryder Cup record and recent form elevates him to gun status.
Ross Fisher: Has an interview technique that could earn him long-term riches as a replacement for Ritalin. That’s all I have to say.
Peter Hanson: Hanson will be hoping that he won’t only be remembered in Ryder Cup lore as the man who pushed Paul Casey out of the team. We’d all be sitting more comfortably on our shooting sticks if he’d won the USPGA to qualify, and not the Czech Open. But beware the unheralded European. Remember David Gilford? No? He was amazing.
Padraig Harrington: Inclusion seems to have caused the most consternation of all the wild cards. Which is odd given that he only missed automatic qualification by a grand. And has won more majors than the rest of the team put together.
Martin Kaymer: His triumph at the recent USPGA Championship was so clinically and stereotypically German in its execution that he may as well as have stroked in the final putt with a bratwurst.
Miguel Angel Jimenez: One of the more exuberant members of team, he might be forgiven for feeling a little jaded given the amount of golf he played to qualify for the side as well as juggling a stint on the current series of the X Factor. If you haven’t seen Jimenez strut his eccentric moustachioed stuff, here he is:
Graeme McDowell: Gnomic presence whose eyebrows may never revert back to their original position after his surprise win at Pebble Beach. Like most golfers, looks wierd without a cap.
Rory McIlroy: Pull a tiger’s tail hard enough and it will inevitably turn round and chomp your head clean off. Don’t be surprised to see Woods picking little bits of Ulster perm from his teeth at some point this weekend.
Edoardo and Francesco Molinari: The Molinaris are the latest in a rich tradition of celebrated Italian brothers: mortal enemies of Steve Redgrave, the Abbagnales, electro-plumbers Mario and Luigi, miniature mobsters the Ant Hill Mob, and not forgetting the footballing Nevilli brothers, Garibaldi and Pippo.
Ian Poulter: Incorrigible twitterer who despite the headmasterly demands of his captain, will probably be providing tweets from tee to green to team room to the clubhouse toilet. Dresses like a twunt.
Lee Westwood: The Europeans will be praying that Westwood’s calf is sufficiently recovered in order to take the unique strain of walking around after a small ball for three days. Given his newly unsubstantial frame, there are high hopes that the Westwood pins are up to the job.
Stewart Cink: Wantonly destroyed the greatest story in sport by selfishly pinching the Claret Jug from Old Tom Watson last year. He then compounded this sickening crime by filling the venerable trophy with barbeque sauce. Which apart from anything else would have probably made his sauce taste funny, a bit like old spoons do.
Rickie Fowler: Owner of probably the most lustrous topcoat in golf. Could be mistaken for a Skittle-splashed Afghan hound. His wardrobe is so deranged he’ll be the only player on the American team looking more conservative than he usually does.
Jim Furyk: Won the Fed Ex Cup on Sunday using a putter bought for $39. My calculator informs me that Furyk could now buy 25,641 more putters with his winnings from the tournament. Which would be a bit excessive.
Dustin Johnson: Carving out a niche as a lovable loser, like a southern-fried Henman. Deserves kudos for inadvertently re-merchandising the window of a souvenir shop by the 18th at St.Andrews with an errant tee shot. Flak helmets are being issued at the entrance gates to Celtic Manor.
Zach Johnson: Have you ever been hustled on the golf course by a arthritic old duffer who bores you into submission by half-bunting the ball down the middle of the fairway and holing a surprising amount of putts? Extrapolate that forward to the Ryder Cup, and you’ve got Zach Johnson.
Matt Kuchar: Swings the club with the hunched grace of a sciatic penguin. Apple-cheeked smiler that is possibly underestimated because he seems so nice – like a balder Luke Donald.
Hunter Mahan: Once compared the Ryder Cup to slavery. We shouldn’t judge. Perhaps he heard the Tiger Woods had packed his pink fluffy manacles and got confused.
Phil Mickelson: Should be a behemoth of the Ryder Cup, but isn’t. That could be because the event is always held in the autumn by which time Big Phil has eaten enough Cheetos to lose his early season buffness and probably his edge. If you think I’m joking, then I’ll chuck this stat at you: 80% of all Mickelson’s career victories have come in the first half of the year.
Jeff Overton: What can you say about Jeff Overton that hasn’t been said already? Pretty much anything actually. There’s almost always one anonymous American competing, a player that is almost instantly forgotten after the event. Like Brett Wetterich. Or Wayne Levi. Or Jim Gallagher Jr. Okay, so I remember. But I’m wierd.
Steve Stricker: Once fired his wife as his caddy before the divorce lawyers were rung for. The same thing happened with my mum and dad. Except she was just doing a bit of filing at his office, which isn’t really the same thing.
Bubba Watson: Like Dustin Johnson, but less creative in how he loses major championships. Being edged out by a cold-blooded German in a play-off isn’t nearly as entertaining as mistaking a bunker for some builder’s rubble.
Tiger Woods: Has already represented his country in a team event in Wales, that being the 1995 Walker Cup at Royal Porthcawl. Which he lost. Tiger was still a teenager at time, probably forced to satisfy his dark carnal urges with a trip to see Sexy Barbara in Swansea. As an aside, I once saw ex-England cricket captain Tony Lewis naked in the clubhouse at Porthcawl. True story.
I suppose it was inevitable that there would be some form of counterclaim from a man named Butt. What wasn’t expected was that it came from the same school as the “liar, liar, pants on fire” defence and the “eeny meeny miny moe” electoral system. If a defamation case can be thrown out on the grounds of being juvenile then the England lawyers can put away their notebooks now.
I can be accused of being high-handedly English in assuming that our chaps could never be involved in such skulduggery, but the fact that Ijaz Butt has sought to distance himself from the allegations by attributing them to something called the bookie’s circle suggests that his heart isn’t really in it. I’ve not heard of the bookie’s circle. Presumably it’s like magic circle except that its members wear flat caps and sheepskin coats. But like their conjuring associates, perhaps the bookies circle is not apt to disclose their secrets.
The relationship between my cat and its tail fascinates me. He can lie down curled up in a partial coma dreaming about streams of Whiskas, while his tail will thrash about as if bothered by an invisible horsefly. It’s like Henry and his appendage are two distinct entities, welded together by chance, with different hopes and aspirations from life.
For the same reason Carlo Ancelotti‘s left eyebrow holds me in similar thrall. Normally an eyebrow and its owner work in conjunction to create expressions of surprise or quizzicality or if you’re Roger Moore, imminent sex with a woman in a safari suit.
But the hairy arch that lives above Carlo’s eye is an independent spirit, a maverick among eyebrows, leaping about wilfully as his landlord chunters through the mundanities of his profession. “It was important to maintain our concentration today” Ancelotti explains as his eyebrow bounces around like a Tizer-charged child on a bouncy castle.
When Ancelotti settles down for the night his eyebrow makes his escape into the west London night, to hit the grogshops and speakeasys of Chelsea town with Enrique Iglesias‘ mole. He’s frequently asked for photos from fans, mainly from people who’ve mistaken him for Gary Neville‘s moustache. But he doesn’t mind. He’s free.
The most heartening aspect of England’s victory in Basle on Tuesday was the stoically sober celebration performed by Wayne Rooney. Less ‘if you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands’ and more ‘if you’re happy and you know it but you’re also feeling bad about cheating on your pregnant wife, just smirk and pump your fist sheepishly’. Its low-key execution was similar to those performed by players scoring against former clubs, perfected by the likes of Denis Law and Marlon Harewood. If you weren’t aware of the salacious mudslide that had landed on Rooney’s shoulders recently, then you might have surmised that he’d grown up playing for Switzerland before a big-money transfer to the English.
Craig Levein could learn a thing about understated celebrations from Rooney, having got so excited when Scotland finally polished off the giants of Liechtenstein that his glasses flew from his face. Watching hapless Scottish misadventures is usually quite enjoyable, but this was just harrowing. A man slipping on banana skin and falling on his face is funny. A man slipping on a banana skin and breaking his neck is not.
Have you ever watched an England game speeded up on Skyplus? I did last night. The shift in the international calendar caught me on the hop. I was eating falafel in a Lebanese restaurant in Marylebone as it was all kicking off up the Bakerloo line in Wembley.
You should try it. The Skyplus, not the falafel. It lends the whole proceedings a sort of slapstick Benny Hill quality, whilst also giving the vaguely nauseating effect of quickening up Gareth Barry to normal pace.
The only comparison I can dredge up is this seminal Spice Girls video. Just replace a Spice Girl for Barry and Manhattan for north-west London and you’ll get the picture.
Sending Kevin Pietersen to Surrey is a bit like sending the naughty but misunderstood boy at school down to the remedial class. The England management are probably hoping that hanging out with the cricketing equivalents of the strange children who had to wear crash helmets in the playground might serve to inflate Pietersen’s withered confidence. A place where Kevin can express himself while his friends are eating crayons. Somewhere he can tweet whatever comes into his addled head about the coaching staff and they won’t mind. They’ll just hope some of his waning stocks of stardust will dust off onto their ailing squad.
One quarter into his four-game loan period, and Surrey have been walloped and Pietersen has delivered more relative failure. It may be that Pietersen’s impact on the Surrey dressing room has been more like that of Randle McMurphy in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. A twittering iconoclast hacking off the older lags with his swaggering ways, and inciting the junior members to rebellion against tyrannical Nurse Adams and his numerous black bow-tied assistants. We can only hope that this temporary incarceration in the lower reaches of the county game doesn’t have a labotomising effect on his cricket.
If we see Chris Tremlett lobbing the Lucozade dispenser through the pavilion window then England may have reason to worry.