Wednesday, 7 November 2012

No reason to ban long putters, says Scott

Adam Scott shot down a putter rule change suggestion by Tiger Woods on Tuesday and told golf's governing bodies to focus on more pressing issues as the Australian leapt to the defence of controversial long putters.
Once seen as a desperate attempt by struggling golfers to change their fortunes on the greens, long putters - like the broom handle or belly putter that Scott uses - have seen a dramatic rise in popularity in professional golf.
American Webb Simpson used one to win the U.S. Open this year to follow compatriot Keegan Bradley's success in becoming the first major winner to employ a long putter at last year's U.S. PGA Championship.

South African Ernie Els made it a trio of long putter major champions with victory at this year's British Open with The United States Golf Association (USGA) and the Royal and Ancient (R&A), the game's two governing bodies, since discussing the status of 'anchored putters' with a ban being considered.
World number six Scott, speaking before this week's $6 million Singapore Open, said he had spoken to European Tour Chief Executive George O'Grady about the issue last week, adding that a ban on the long putter he has used since 2011 would be unfair.
"It is very hard to find a good reason to do that (ban it) at this stage so my conversation was to find out where things sit because it is very hard to get information," Scott told reporters on Tuesday.
"My opinion would be I don't think it is in the best interests of the game to ban the long putter I think there are some more important issues that probably should have time spent on them than putting."
Critics say that the belly putter, in particular, offers an unfair advantage to those using the traditional short putter as players can anchor the club in their stomach which involves less body movement and ultimately fewer errors.
Fourteen-times major winner Woods has voiced long-standing opposition against the use of the long putters, which tend to measure between 38 and 46 inches, and has spoken to R & A chief executive Peter Dawson about amending the rules.
The American believes putter length should be capped and be equal or less than the shortest club in the golfer's bag. Scott was not a fan of that idea.
"His voice carries some weight on the issue, a lot of players have been quite outspoken about it and certainly when Tiger Woods speaks about it generates a lot of interest," the 32-year-old said of arguably the world's greatest golfer.
"But I'm not necessarily sure his views on what the putter should be are correct at all, I don't think the putter should be the shortest club in the bag, that has never been a rule in golf so I don't know why it should be now."
U.S. Ryder Cup player Bradley said at last week's HSBC Champions event in China that he would be prepared to take legal action should the putter he has used for 16 years be banned.
Swede Carl Petterson was another adamant a ban was not the solution.
Scott doesnot want to see lawyers come into it, insisting the two governing bodies should focus more on capping other golf club design which has led to players hitting the ball extreme distances and courses being extended.
"We certainly don't need that sort of carry-on going on in the game of golf. I think it is all unwarranted, all of it, and there are more important things to worry about," Scott said of possible legal action.
"I think that it is fairly well acknowledged that length generally is probably the biggest issue in the game and it doesn't just mean how far pros hit it.
"Some of our courses, great courses are too short these days. If we are talking about equipment side of things the length issue is probably the most important because tees are moved back. Greens are not changed because people are putting with a long putter."

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Arsenal win incredible cup tie

Theo Walcott scored a scintillating hat-trick as Arsenal produced one of the great comebacks to take their place in the last eight of the League Cup.
Jason Roberts, a Laurent Koscielny own goal, Mikele Leigertwood and Noel Hunt put Reading 4-0 up after 35 minutes.
Walcott found the net before the break and in injury time, while Olivier Giroud and Koscielny also struck.
Marouane Chamakh scored in extra-time before Pavel Pogrebnyak levelled, but Walcott and Chamakh had the final word.
It was an extraordinary cup tie, the archetypal game of two halves. Reading were magnificent for 44 and a half minutes before Walcott scored his first goal to give the Gunners hope.

During the first half, Arsenal looked set to be on the end of a Sunday League scoreline with what resembled a Sunday League performance.
And yet somehow Arsene Wenger's side produced a scarcely believable comeback to recover from three goals down for the first time in their history and take their place in the quarter-finals for the 10th successive season.

They created for themselves an utter disaster and somehow rose to find hope, and with it, power, purpose and direction.
When they were trailing 4-0 Saturday's Premier League trip to Old Trafford, the scene of last season's 8-2 humbling at the hands of Manchester United, looked a daunting prospect but now this result has the hallmarks of a turning point.
That it was left to Chamakh, starting his first Arsenal match since January, to score two crucial goals made it all the more incredible.

At the club's annual general meeting last week, Wenger had made it clear the League Cup was fifth on his list of priorities and during the first half his players appeared to have taken those words a little too literally.
Arsenal made 11 changes but that did not excuse the naivety with which Carl Jenkinson, Johan Djourou, Koscielny and Ignasi Miquel defended before half-time.
The Reading onslaught began in the 11th minute when Hunt, midway inside the Arsenal half, swept the ball wide to Hal Robson-Kanu on the left flank and his delightful low cross was thumped into the net by Roberts, who left Koscielny, his marker, all too easily.
Six minutes later, Reading were two up as Chris Gunter's low cross deflected off Koscielny's leg and beyond Arsenal goalkeeper Damian Martinez at the near post.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Kevin Pietersen to play in England warm-up match against India 'A'

Pietersen has not played a competitive fixture for England since August when he was suspended for exchanging text messages with members of the South Africa team.
But, after settling his differences with the England and Wales Cricket Board, Pietersen returns in time to help his country tackle India in a four-Test series, starting in Ahmedabad on November 15.
"Kevin will play tomorrow and bat at four," England team director Andy Flower confirmed after the tourists arrived in Mumbai.
The Surrey batsman, who missed out on participating in the ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka, was added to the original 16-man touring squad after lengthy conciliatory meetings with the ECB.
He didn't fly in with the rest of the party having been in action for the Delhi Daredevils in the Twenty20 Champions League in South Africa.
Flower refused to be drawn on Pietersen's contract situation, with the 32-year-old having signed a new deal that only lasts for four months.
"I haven't thought much about the extension of his contract," he said. "We are focusing on playing well in India.
"I don't envisage a problem. I think we can work very well together in the future and we've already started that process."

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Juan Carlos Ferrero ended his singles career with a 7-5 6-3 defeat to Nicolas Almagro in Valencia

The 32-year-old former world No 1, who won the French Open in 2003, announced last month he would retire after playing his home event.
However there was to be no fairytale ending as he failed to cope with the speed and power of sixth seed Almagro.
Almagro appeared to be suffering from a right shoulder problem late in the second set but shrugged off the injury and sealed victory on his first match point when the unseeded Ferrero netted a return.
"It's been a long time since I enjoyed myself so much on a tennis court," said a tearful Ferrero who will join up with David Ferrer in the doubles on Wednesday.
"I simply want to thank everyone for all their support, not just this year but throughout all the years I have played here.
"It's always been a very special tournament for me and this year even more so."

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Premier League - Premier League holiday preview

Invincible at home this year, Premier League leaders Manchester City face consecutive away games over Christmas with manager Roberto Mancini wary of offering up unexpected gifts at West Bromwich Albion and Sunderland. 

City, who lead the table at Christmas for the first time since 1929, drew 1-1 at Liverpool and lost 2-1 at Chelsea in their last two away league games - and Mancini wants a return to winning ways on the road, starting at West Brom on Boxing Day.
"We still have Chelsea, United, Tottenham and Liverpool to come to the Etihad Stadium, but we need to win away games as well, and we have only one point from our last two," Mancini, who is about to experience his third Christmas period as City manager, told the club's website.
"I have a lot of respect for West Bromwich, and I have a lot of respect for [their boss] Roy Hodgson - he is one of the best managers in Europe.
"I think it will be very hard because they play good football. They have had some problems but they have won their last two away games and seem to be in good form, it will be a hard match," added Mancini, whose side lead champions Manchester United by two points.
City have few injury worries ahead of a spell of three games in little more than a week and should have swashbuckling right-back Micah Richards available after injury.
While Mancini can boast an embarrassment of riches, United and the rest of the pursuing pack are feeling the pinch a little with injuries and suspensions testing their squads.
United have home games against Wigan Athletic and Blackburn Rovers before concluding their holiday fixtures away at Newcastle United and manager Alex Ferguson, preparing for his 26th Christmas in the Old Trafford hot seat, knows how vital the jam-packed holiday programme can be.
He was boosted by the news that Phil Jones suffered no break to his jaw in the dazzling 5-0 win at Fulham on Wednesday, although winger Ashley Young is sidelined for the clash with Wigan, a fixture from which United have never dropped a point.
Despite the statistics, however, Ferguson is a big fan of Wigan boss Roberto Martinez, whose third-from-bottom side will arrive in good heart after morale-boosting home draws with Chelsea and Liverpool.
"I watched Wigan versus Chelsea the other day and I thought Wigan were terrific," he told United's website.
"It says a lot for Roberto Martinez, he continues to play good football irrespective of what position they're in. We have a good record against Wigan but we won't take anything for granted. We need to keep our foot on the pedal."
Injury-hit Tottenham, in third place with 35 points face a trip to Norwich City on Tuesday before a New Year's Eve clash with another of the promoted sides, Swansea City.
They will be without Rafael van der Vaart and winger Aaron Lennon while striker Jermain Defoe is another struck by a hamstring curse afflicting the North London club as they mount a credible top-four challenge.
Fourth-placed Chelsea (33 points) are low on defensive options as they prepare for the December 26 derby at home to close neighbours Fulham.
Manager Andre Villas-Boas, who has worries over Branislav Ivanovic and John Obi-Mikel after they limped off in the 1-1 draw against Tottenham Hotspur on Thursday, said he would try to buy a centre-half in January.
Until then, however, the Portuguese, like his Tottenham counterpart Redknapp and even United's Ferguson, must juggle his squad and hope to keep City in his sights.
"They have the squad for sure," Redknapp said of City's strength in depth. "They are the favourites but Man United won't be far behind them. But anything can happen still, it's very close in the top four."
Fifth-placed Arsenal (32 points) will not have to travel out of the capital over the holidays, hosting Wolverhampton Wanderers on Tuesday before London derbies with Queen's Park Rangers and Fulham.
Liverpool will hope to put the controversy surrounding their support of Luis Suarez, found guilty of racial abuse, behind them with home games against bottom club Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United before their trip to City.
Manager Kenny Dalglish said he had some sympathy for Rovers, the club he took to the league title in 1995, and their beleaguered manager Steve Kean who faced vociferous criticism during his side's defeat by Bolton Wanderers this week.
"The frustration is understandable in many ways but I don't think it's helpful and it's sad really it has come to that, but that's the way it is," Dalglish said.

The state of boxing in 2012

As long as there are superfights in the US and major stadium shows in Europe, boxing's epitaph is far from written, argues Yahoo's Kevin Iole. 

Todd duBoef likes to refer to himself as “a boxing evangelist,” an odd choice of words for a low-key man who prefers to shun the spotlight. He’s an impeccably dressed 44-year-old who looks as if he’s stepped out of a Wall Street boardroom. He comes from a prominent Las Vegas family and could work in virtually any business he chose. He’s not promoting boxing because he needs to do something to pay the bills.
He’s willing to stake his future, though, on the health of a business that is often shunned by the media and derided by its customers.
He is evangelising a sport that many say is dead, which one rival promoter terms “deathly ill” and which hasn’t been regarded as a top-tier sport for years.
Yet, the normally low-key Top Rank president displays a messianic zeal for the fight game and scoffs at a suggestion from fellow promoter Lou DiBella that boxing “is deathly ill and getting sicker by the day.”
From a global perspective, duBoef said, it has been a long time since the boxing business has been as robust. In Mexico, boxing does a booming business and the highest-rated network television programme in 2011 thus far is the Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez fight from November 12. That match did a 30.2 rating and attracted almost 40 million viewers on the free over-the-air network TV Azteca.
“It was the highest-rated programme of everything for the year: The Academy Awards, the World Cup, everything,” duBoef said.
Boxing has long been a star-driven sport and it is no different today. Fights involving either Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather Jr. are big business and routinely generate $100 million or more in gross revenue. Mayweather’s fight with Victor Ortiz sold 1.25 million on pay-per-view and generated $78.4 million in pay-per-view revenue alone in the States.
Pacquiao fought twice in 2011, doing just over 1.3 million buys for his May fight with Shane Mosley and registering 1.5 million sales for the bout with Marquez. The Pacquiao-Marquez bout generated $11.65 million in ticket revenue at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
But it’s not just fights involving Pacquiao and Mayweather which are doing well. Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito fought on December 3 at Madison Square Garden in New York, drawing a sellout crowd of 21,239. The fight did more than 600,000 buys on pay-per-view in the US.
Matches involving heavyweight title-holders Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko routinely fill football stadiums in Europe. Wladimir Klitschko’s bout with David Haye on July 2 in Germany drew in excess of 50,000, though that is no surprise since he’s drawn over 200,000 in his last four bouts.
“Boxing is a much healthier sport than it was 10 or 15 years ago,” duBoef said. “It has evolved to be positioned with the major brands out there. It’s positioned there. Before, it was a huge property that was huge for only one night, but it didn’t have the overall brand appeal. Now, you can see the brand appeal very, very relevant on a global basis.”
He said that while the NFL is by far the most popular sport in the US, its global reach doesn’t come anywhere close to that of boxing. DuBoef conceded that if Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning walked down a street in the US alongside Mayweather and Pacquiao that Manning would be much more recognised by the average person he came across.
But, duBoef said, take that same trio anywhere but the US and both Mayweather and Pacquiao would dwarf Manning in recognition.
“Look,” he said, firmly. “We drew 80,000 for a press conference in the Philippines [involving Pacquiao and Marquez] and 50,000 for one in Mexico City. Think about that for a second. We draw 130,000-some people for two press conferences. Doesn’t that tell you something?”
He’s not alone in his belief in the sport’s health, despite plenty of skepticism from outsiders. Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer said he’s “never been more bullish” about the sport’s future. Golden Boy staged 104 shows in 2011 and Schaefer said the appetite for it has yet to be quenched.
Kathy Duva of Main Events laughed at suggestions that boxing will die once Mayweather and Pacquiao retire. The Duva family has been involved in boxing for many decades and have been one of the sport’s leading promoters for more than 35 years.
She has heard the cries of boxing’s impending doom for much of that time.
“Change the name Manny Pacquiao to Muhammad Ali and people were saying the exact same thing 30 years ago,” she said, laughing. “I can remember we were doing shows and people would say to us, ‘Why are you staying in this business? When Ali retires, it’s done.’ Well, Ali retired, and Mike Tyson retired, and Oscar [De La Hoya] retired and, guess what? Boxing is still around.”
Boxing is not without its issues, clearly. Attendance varies wildly at events. Many tickets are given away to fights that are held in casinos in Las Vegas, which is nominally the boxing capital of the world. Fans have lost touch with the fighters and are puzzled by the dizzying array of sanctioning bodies and championship belts.
The International Boxing Federation, the World Boxing Association, the World Boxing Council and the World Boxing Organization are considered the four major bodies that award championship belts.
Given that there are 17 divisions in boxing, that means that at any time, there is the potential to have 68 men who call themselves a world champion.
It gets more bizarre than that, though. The WBC also has the “Diamond Belt” and the “Silver Belt,” and it recognises some men as interim champions and others as “champions in recess.” The WBA has several divisions in which it has multiple champions, because it refers to certain title-holders as so-called “super champions.”
A trip to a Las Vegas mall one day led to interviews with 25 fans about boxing. Of those, six said they never watched the sport and were never fans. Of the other 19, only eight identified themselves as hardcore fans and of those eight, only five could name a world champion other than Pacquiao or Mayweather.
Those fans said they had many issues with the sport, but the vast majority cited the sheer volume of champions as their top issue. They said they couldn’t keep up with who the champions are.
There’s also a palpable sense among the public that the sport is corrupt and that decisions favour the most-connected fighters.
Schaefer, who was outraged by the officiating in Amir Khan’s loss to Lamont Peterson in Washington DC on December 10, conceded it is an issue, but said commissions should use the money generated by fights to fund education of referees and judges.
“Look at the kind of money we are pouring into state coffers,” Schaefer said. “It is not an insignificant amount of money and I think that needs to be used to help the business. Right now, there are some judges in world title fights, or referees, who aren’t at the same level as a lot of others, and when you get that, you get the kind of results that make people question the sport.
“It’s the same thing as if you asked me to fly a jumbo jet from Los Angeles to New York. I’m not qualified to do that and I haven’t been trained to do it. It would be a pretty bumpy ride, I would think. The corruption that people talk about comes from the mobster days, when the mob was running boxing, but that doesn’t exist any more. But there are a lot of officials out there who aren’t qualified and that needs to be fixed.”

Friday, 23 December 2011

Swedish tennis player hit with corruption ban

Swedish tennis player Lucas Renard has been suspended for six months and fined $5,000 for a corruption offense.

Renard had breached an article of the anti-corruption program that states: "No Covered Person shall, directly or indirectly, contrive or attempt to contrive the outcome or any other aspect of any Event," the Tennis Integrity unit said in a statement.
The 19-year-old, ranked 882nd in the world, admitted the offense. Four of the six months of his ban will be suspended, providing he commits no future violation of the code.
The Tennis Integrity Unit is an initiative of the Grand Slam Committee, the International Tennis Federation, the ATP World Tour and the WTA as part of the Uniform Tennis Anti-Corruption Program.

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