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Ryder Cup Team Profiles: Europe

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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.

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Written by harrisharrison

September 30, 2010 at 8:14 pm

LouisWatch

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The Open Championship has developed a recent habit of throwing forward unheralded winners. Normally it is a faceless American who arrives late from the pack and steals off with the Claret Jug when no-one is looking.

But Louis Oosthuizen has led since Friday. And he has a four-shot lead. And his nearest challenger is English and therefore genetically programmed to fade away in the final round. I assumed that he’d blow it yesterday and we’d forget he was even playing until he slunk apologetically up the 18th fairway. Let’s see if he can carry on the good work today:

1st: Louis turns up in bright white trousers. This is a good start. Those are champion’s trousers alright. Paul Casey’s trousers appear to be the vaguest shade of off-white. He misses a little one for a birdie. Time to get a new washing machine. Lead 4 shots.

2nd: Casey drops one. Louis pars. His unshaven look is making him look a bit like Jimmy Anderson, which maybe explains why his birdie putt swings late away from the hole. Lead 5 shots.

3rd: No-one is scoring any birdies. Including Louis. He doesn’t need to. Still waiting for the collapse. Might go for a snooze. Lead 5 shots.

4th: This is becoming a procession. Hit it in the bunker, Louis. Hit it in a gorse bush. Hit it in the sea. Hit a small child. Make it interesting. Please. Lead 5 shots.

5th: Just once it would be funny if Louis Oosthuizen looked fretfully after his ball having teed off as opposed to fetching up his tee peg confidently. The man is a machine. A gap-toothed driving machine. But wait. He’s hit his second into something that looks like heather. Oh no, it’s just normal rough. If it was heather it might have been interesting. That’s the level of desperation we’re working at here. Lead 5 shots.

6th: Louis pars again. He’s a solid as a Robert Rock. At least Casey picks up his first birdie. Lead 4 shots.

7th: Ken Brown clutches at straws as Louis wallops another down the middle of the fairway. Bit close to the green? That’s right, Kenny. A bit close. Louis finds the centre of putting surface and another facile par. Lead 4 shots.

8th: At last, Oosthuizen smothers one off the tee at the short hole, and finally leaves himself a missable one for par. Which he duly misses! I just spat out my beans on toast. Lead 3 shots.

9th: Oosthuizen drains an eagle putt at the short-par four. Poirot is looking good over on ITV. Watching Poirot with bean juice down my shirt…..Lead 4 shots.

10th: Louis has picked up an annoying trait of letting go of his club as if he’s snap-hooked it into Dundee, when it’s actually sailing down the fairway. Just to tease us. It’s another par. Lead 4 shots.

11th: Oosthuizen looking shaky on the par-3 again. Pity it’s the last one. This is nothing personal against Louis. I’m just a bit underwhelmed. He still strokes in the par putt. Lead 4 shots.

12th: Casey hooks one into the gorse. The game is up. And Ken Brown knows it. Apparently Rory McIlroy is having a charge having hit two birdies. He’s nine shots back. Casey racks up a 7, triple-booger. Oosthuizen birdies. You have say to fair play, but I feel a bit empty inside. Lead 8 shots.

13th: Hazel Irvine forlornly attempting to ramp up the interest by proposing some records for Louis to break. Another parzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Lead 8 shots.

14th: Mark James claims hole-in-one as Oosthuizen knocks his drive into a sprinkler head in the middle of the fairway. It’s the most interesting thing thats happened in a while. The race for second is tightening up. It’s all about the runners-up spot. No-one cares who wins. Lead 8 shots.

15th: Dustin Johnson hits it into some souvenir shops at the side of the 18th. You don’t see that very often. Well done Dustin. There are boogers everywhere: Kaymer, Westwood and Casey. Lead 9 shots.

16th: Peter Oosterhuis pars. Lead 8 shots.

17th: Ooh the Road Hole. You can rack up a score here. Would have to be quite a big score. My mum hit a 27 at a single hole once, including 13 in the same bunker. Louis only manages a disappointing bogey. Poor effort. Lead 7 shots.

18th: Sam Torrance still commentating as if the result is in doubt. Get with the programme, Sam. Louis Oosthuizen has won. Nice work.

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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