Harris Sportsthoughts

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Rubbish Ryder Cup Team Profiles: USA

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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.

Written by harrisharrison

September 29, 2010 at 8:09 pm

Craig Stadler To Win The Masters

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Predicting golf can be a dull affair. Tiger Woods is good player, he could win the Masters. Phil Mickelson is also a good player. He could also win the Masters. Padraig Harrington could also win the Masters. So might Vijay Singh. Or Sergio Garcia. Or maybe Jim Furyk. But the fact is my goldfish could make these predictions and I don’t own a goldfish.

So it is often more fun to speculate on players that probably won’t win the tournament. It’s a habit that my bookmaker has encouraged enthusiastically.

In fairness, it’s a strategy that would have paid rich dividends in the last two years: Zach Johnson and Trevor Immelman were, and remain, players from outside the elite who soundly defeated the odds and extend their wardrobes to the tune of one green jacket.

So let’s delve into the perceived second division of international golf and see if we can find ourselves another unheralded Masters champion.

We’ll probably want a good putter – Augusta’s greens are notoriously tricksome. And good Masters memories would be preferential: some experience of the course and the singular challenges it presents. Current form cannot be discounted also.

So let’s tap all that information into the dating computer and see what it spews out. Bernhard Langer? Sorry – forgot to input the age requirements.

Nick Watney? That’s more like it. Currently residing in the upper echelons of the putting stats on the PGA Tour. Finished 11th last year in his first Masters. Winner of the Buick this year and runner-up to Mickelson at the CA-Championship. Worth an each way bet possibly. Maybe. Potentially. I’m beginning to get a reputation for vague punditry on this blog. A reputation with myself anyway.

But let’s go even further into the leftfield and give myself the opportunity for a more patriotic style of pin-sticking. Rose, Westwood, Poulter, Donald and Casey (fresh from victory in Houston) have all performed well at Augusta in recent years. The remainder of the English contingent is made up by a pair of Masters rookies: Ross Fisher and Oliver Wilson, both of whom have stepped up confidently to the big league in the past year.

Particularly Wilson, who impressed with his quiet conviction while playing in Ryder Cup. He would certainly represent a random shout to take the jacket. He’s never actually won a professional tournament. Augusta would be a good place to start. He might have a soupcon of the home support. Augusta was his home for six years and studied at the college there.

So there it is. Oliver Wilson to win the Masters. Definitely.

Oliver Wilson: bidding for the jacket to match his trousers

Oliver Wilson: bidding for the jacket to match his trousers

It’s Fun Being Fergie

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So Colin Montgomerie is seeking the counsel of Sir Alex Ferguson in preparation for his leadership of the 2010 Ryder Cup team. The prospect of  Monty assuming Fergusonian management techniques in South Wales is a fascinating one. One wonders how much of Sir Alex’s advice the portly Scot will take to heart, but there are several intriguing scenarios:

1. The referees

John Paramore, you have been warned: there are no technical areas on the fairways. There is no fourth official to divert the wrath of Colin against the chief referee of the European tour and his hardy crew of officials. If Ferguson’s vituperative attitude towards the ref is replicated by Montgomerie on the golf course then we could find ourselves in an unpleasant situation. A red-faced Monty, jabbing an accusing finger into a disbelieving referee, while being forcibly restrained by a couple of stewards. All for a minor disagreement over the invocation of rule 18-6 (ball at rest moved in measuring).

And think of the final fourballs on the Saturday afternoon. Donald rolls in a four-footer at the last to halve his match with Casey against Mickelson and Kim. Handshakes all round and off to the bar. But no. In front of a baying crowd, Monty is pointing at his watch, eyeing down the referee. And we’re back off to the first tee to see if we can get Europe that point.

2. The Americans

Sir Alex is notorious for winding up his opponents with his wily mind games. Wenger, Mourinho, most recently Benitez and most hilariously little Kevin Keegan.

Monty’s opposite number Corey Pavin is a character who will not shrink away from a scrap. This a man who donned a Desert Storm army cap during ‘The War on the Shore’ Ryder Cup at Kiawah Island in 1991. What a prick.

So let’s hope that Montgomerie can get under Pavin’s skin, maybe by questioning the professionalism of some of his American team: “When you do things like that about a man like Jim Furyk, I tell you what, I would LOVE it if we beat them in September”.

In truth Monty has form in this particular regard: maybe he could teach Ferguson a thing or two. He suggested that Brad Faxon may not be at the peak of his mental game in the run up to the 1997 Ryder Cup because he was in the middle of sticky divorce proceedings. It didn’t go down too well over the pond.

3. The Europeans

So Justin Rose takes Rory McIroy out for a night in downtown Newport the week before festivities: booze, drugs, strippers, a half-arsed orgy back at the hotel suite. Cue Monty. He is furious. The curly whippersnapper is hauled out by his ear and Rose is dropped from the team, banished to an South American satellite tour. Only to resurface on Celebrity Love Island reluctantly cavorting with Abi Titmuss.

And woe betide anyone who should three-stab on the 17th green to hand the Americans a vital point. Because Monty will be aiming a size 11 Footjoy straight for your forehead. We’ll keep our eyes peeled for the telltale studmarks on Robert Karlsson’s large Swedish noggin.

4. The press

And more particularly the BBC. Ferguson’s relationship with the Beeb disintegrated into nothing following a documentary shown on the channel about his son Jason. So what can we expect if Sir Alex’s mistrust has polluted the Monty view?

A vice-captain, lets say Paul Broadhurst, is pushed forward to take all press conferencs? A broadside is aimed at Peter Alliss, the commentator dismissed as “arrogant beyond belief”? Or even a shove in Hazel Irvine’s face as she proffers a hopeful microphone?

We can but dream…

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