Tag Archives: bookies

Jose Maria Olazabal in Ryder Cup captain"s buggy at Spanish Open

Olazabal has best drive at Spanish Open with signed Ryder Cup captain's buggy

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

15:01 GMT, 17 April 2013

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UPDATED:

16:55 GMT, 17 April 2013

Jose Maria Olazabal has a cool set of wheels at the Spanish Open with the former Ryder Cup captain cruising around in his skipper's buggy.

Olazabal masterminded Europe's win over the United States at Medinah last year and all 12 of his players signed the front of his cart.

Sergio Garcia and Francesco Molinari are the only two of Olazabal's troops teeing it up in Valencia this week – the former the bookies' favourite and the latter the defending champion.

Home hopes: Jose Maria Olazabal (right) and Sergio Garcia at Parador de El Saler for the Spanish Open

Home hopes: Jose Maria Olazabal (right) and Sergio Garcia at Parador de El Saler for the Spanish Open

Garcia, who finished in a tie for eighth at The Masters on Sunday, was all smiles as he hitched a lift with Olazabal during Wednesday's practice at Parador de El Saler.

Meanwhile, Miguel Angel Jimenez will put his recovery from a broken leg to the test on his return to action in Valencia.

Jimenez, who surpassed Des Smyth as the oldest winner on the European Tour when he lifted the Hong Kong Open aged 48 years and 318 days last November, suffered the injury a month later while skiing near his home in Malaga.

'My leg is improving daily,' the 49-year-old told reporters. 'I work out every morning in the gym and I'm actually a little ahead of schedule on my rehab. I am not one hundred per cent fit, but I want to test myself and see how I feel.

Good to be back: Miguel Angel Jimenez is making his return to action after recovering from a broken leg

Good to be back: Miguel Angel Jimenez is making his return to action after recovering from a broken leg

'I can't wait to be back on Tour with my friends and I'd hate to miss the chance of playing at El Saler.'

Jimenez made his tour debut in the Spanish Open 30 years ago and will be making his 599th career appearance this week.

'Javier Arana's wonderful design blends beautifully with its natural surroundings, both in the pine trees area and in the dunes area. For me it's the best course in Spain and I love all the holes,' Jimenez added.

'It's a beautiful layout with a strong finish; the 17th is a good par three towards the dunes and the 18th is spectacular. Once you play at El Saler you get hooked. It's such an enjoyable course that you keep wanting to come back.

'I have many fond memories of El Saler. We used to play many tournaments in the 80's and I won an Under-25 event in 1986. We also played two or three Campeonatos de Levante, and later on a few European Tour events. The last I played was the 2003 Seve Trophy.'

Different ball game: Garcia and his dad Victor watch former tennis ace Juan Carlos Ferrero during the pro-am

Different ball game: Garcia and his dad Victor watch former tennis ace Juan Carlos Ferrero during the pro-am

MASTERS 2013 BETTING GUIDE: Rory McIlroy and Matt Kuchar among our top tips for Augusta glory

MASTERS BETTING GUIDE: McIlroy and Kuchar among our top tips for Augusta glory

and the likeable 34-year-old, with his length off the tee and touch on the greens, can go close again.

Already a winner this year at the Accenture Match Play, Kuchar is 40-1 with Bwin.

Ian Poulter

Lee
Westwood, Ian Poulter and Justin Rose led the English charge with
top-10 finishes last year and a case can be made for all three this time round.

Westwood has settled well since moving to America and Justin Rose is up to No 3 in the world but our money is on Poulter.

Don't
expect the fist pumps and bulging eyes from Medinah but if he can play
like he did at the Ryder Cup he can better last year's seventh place.

Get on him at 40-1 (widely available) and take advantage of Coral offering 11-2 on him being top Englishman.

Augusta
National is often a graveyard for rookies – Fuzzy Zoeller was the last
man to win here on his first visit and that was way back in 1979.

Eighteen
debutants tee it up this Thursday and bookies have Nicolas Colsaerts at
the head of the betting for this market. We won't be arguing.

The
Belgian bomber has been like a kid in a sweetshop since driving down
Magnolia Lane for the first time and while a Green Jacket might be too
much to ask, expect his to still be wearing that big grin on Sunday
night. He's 5-1 to be top rookie.

* All prices correct at time of publication – subject to change

Cambridge maths expert devises Grand National formula and is backing Seabass

And this year's Grand National winner is… Cambridge maths whizz reveals winning formula ahead of Aintree race

By
Andy James

PUBLISHED:

10:48 GMT, 2 April 2013

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UPDATED:

13:17 GMT, 2 April 2013

A University of Cambridge maths whizz is backing Seabass in Saturday’s Grand National – after creating a formula that predicts the winning horse.

William Hartston, 65, forensically examined the names and ages of all victorious nags from the event’s 174 year history.

And he discovered winners are most likely to have names that are just one word, and begin with S, R, M, or C.

Racing ahead: Seabass, with Katie Walsh on board, is methematician William Hartson's pick for the National

Racing ahead: Seabass, with Katie Walsh on board, is methematician William Hartson's pick for the National

THE FORMULA IN FULL

Number of letters in the horse’s name
8, 10 = 4 points
7 = 3 points
6, 11 = 2 points
9, 12 = 1 point

First letter of horse’s name
R = 4 points
A, S, M = 3 points
C, T = 2 points
G, B, W = 1 point

Number of words in horse’s name
1 = 4 points
2 = 3 points
3 = 2 points
4 = 1 point

Age of horse
9 = 4 points
10 = 3 points
8, 11 = 2 points
12 = 1 point

The 9 highest-scoring horses based on the William Hartston scoring system
1. Seabass 13/16 (consistently high in all categories)
2. Tatenen 13/16
3. Teaforthree 12/16
4. Rare Bob 12/16
5. Mr Moonshine 12/16
6. Romanesco 11/16
7. Sunnyhillboy 11/16
8. Quel Esprit 11/16
9. Any Currency 11/16

Furthermore, the names usually consist of eight or ten letters – closely followed by seven or 11 – and the horses are typically nine or ten years old.

Mr Hartston used these results to develop a scoring system, which allowed him to rate the 40 horses that will line-up at Aintree Racecourse on Saturday.

He will now back the bookies’ 9/1 second favourite Seabass after it scored an impressive 13 points out of a maximum 16 on his scale.

The Ted Walsh-trained Irish racehorse begins with S, is a one-word name, aged ten years, and has seven letters.

It was followed by Tatenen and Teaforthree in the study commissioned by bookies William Hill.

Mr Hartston – author of several books, including The Book of Numbers – graduated from the University of Cambridge with an MA or Master of Maths.

The mathematician examined four criteria – number of letters in the horse’s name, first letter of name, number of words in the name, and age.

He then awarded each horse a maximum of four points for each of these criteria, depending on how closely they fit the historic results.

For example, a horse whose name is eight or ten letters long – the most successful in the history of the race – are awarded four points.

But a horse with nine or twelve letters – historically less successfully – are awarded just one point.

Mr Hartston said: 'Seabass is the only horse with consistently high scores across all four criteria. It begins with S, is a one-word name, aged ten years and has seven letters, which is only slightly short of the preferred eight.

'Tatenen scored an impressive 13/16 while Teaforthree scored 12/16 and

shouldn’t be ruled out – but their scoring pattern is less consistent.'

Ready and waiting: 14/1 shot Teaforthree, in training last week, also features highly on Hartson's list

Ready and waiting: 14/1 shot Teaforthree, in training last week, also features highly on Hartson's list

Gus Poyet in contention for Reading job

Poyet in contention for Reading job as they eye new boss for Premier League survival bid

By
Sam Cunningham

PUBLISHED:

19:24 GMT, 12 March 2013

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UPDATED:

20:32 GMT, 12 March 2013

Gus Poyet has emerged as a contender for the vacant manager job at Reading following Brian McDermott's sacking.

The Brighton boss is chasing a Championship play-off spot and Reading would only be keen on a move for the Uruguayan if they could agree a financial deal to bring him to the club swiftly, as they look for someone to keep them in the Premier League.

A source close to Poyet said he would be keen on a move closer to London but added he is happy at Brighton and would only consider taking the job if he was part of a long-term project.

Contender: Gus Poyet is keen on the Reading job

Contender: Gus Poyet is keen on the Reading job

McDermott has left the country with a friend to reflect on the last couple of days after he was left devastated by the decision to sack him.

Paolo Di Canio was installed as an early bookies favourite and is known to want the post and the chance to manage a Premier League club. Roberto Di Matteo is also a candidate, but sources close to the former Chelsea manager say he is not interested.

And Nigel Adkins, who is not currently in charge at a club after he was sacked by Southampton, is under consideration.

Roberto Di Matte

Paolo Di Canio

An Italian's job Roberto Di Matteo is understood not to be keen on the job but Paolo Di Canio is

Reading announced yesterday that owner Anton Zingarevich said it was the 'hardest decision of his life' to sack McDermott but that 'he and Brian remain on good terms after meeting in person on Monday.'

Zingarevich and Eamonn Dolan, head of the club's academy who has been brought in as caretaker manager, met with first team players and staff at their Hogwood Park training ground yesterday.

End of the road: Brian McDermott was sacked by Reading on Monday

End of the road: Brian McDermott was sacked by Reading on Monday

Dolan also held a series of meetings throughout the day ahead of their Premier League match against Manchester United on Saturday, where he is expected to take charge. First team coaches Nigel Gibbs and Yannis Anastasiou have also both left the club.

Following the game against United there is a two-week gap before their next fixture away to Arsenal, and Reading are yet to formally approach any potential candidates.

Brian McDermott sacked by Reading – players informed by text message – Roberto Di Matteo emerges as favourite

Reading callously sack McDermott…and send the players a group text message to let them know with Di Matteo emerging as the firm favourite to replace him

By
Sami Mokbel and Sam Cunningham

PUBLISHED:

22:47 GMT, 11 March 2013

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UPDATED:

23:57 GMT, 11 March 2013

Reading's shocked players learned boss Brian McDermott had been sacked yesterday when they all received a round-robin text message from the club.

A core group of senior players were said to be baffled and angered by the treatment of the manager who led them into the Premier League just 10 months ago, as last night former Swindon manager Paolo Di Canio emerged as an early contender to replace McDermott.

Former Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo has emerged as the leading candidate for the vacant position with large stakes placed on the Italian returning to English football at the Madejski Stadium.

*Scroll down to watch highlights of McDermott's final match in charge

Sacked: McDermott guided Reading to the npower Championship title last season

Sacked: McDermott guided Reading to the npower Championship title last season

The bottom six of the Premier League

The bottom six of the Premier League

Striker Jason Roberts said: ‘He’s a
football man and a good man and I just think at this moment in time we
take stock of what he has achieved and place on record our thanks.’

McDermott, 51, had been at the club
for nearly 13 years, first as Under 19 and reserve manager, then chief
scout before taking charge of the first team, and sent texts to friends
saying he was ‘devastated’ by the decision.

The Royals’ billionaire owner,
Russian Anton Zingarevich, took the decision after Saturday’s 2-1 home
defeat by Aston Villa, which left the club off the foot of the table on
goal difference.

Leading contender: Former Swindon manager Paolo Di Canio was spotted at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday and is the bookies favourite for the job

Leading contender: Former Swindon manager Paolo Di Canio was spotted at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday and is the bookies favourite for the job

Ruthless: Zingarevich (left) showed no quarter in sacking McDermott

Ruthless: Zingarevich (left) showed no quarter in sacking McDermott

The sacking was confirmed by a club
statement put out just minutes after the players all received the text —
which also ordered them not to speak to the media and said any comments
on Twitter should be pre-approved by club officials.

That didn’t stop Roberts talking,
while Noel Hunt tweeted: ‘Want to say thanks to Brian for everything he
did for me especially. He’s been a great manager, man and friend to me
and will be missed!’

Famous night: Shane Long scores for Reading against Liverpool at Anfield in 2010

Famous night: Shane Long scores for Reading against Liverpool at Anfield in 2010

Taking the applause: Shane Long salutes the Reading fans after the win

Taking the applause: Shane Long salutes the Reading fans after the win

Di Canio was installed as the
bookies’ favourite for the job after he was spotted at the Madejski
watching Saturday’s game (above) but Di Matteo could be offered the job tomorrow.

Former Russia boss Dick Advocaat,
currently in charge of PSV in Holland, is also believed to be on the
wishlist as Zingarevich aims to name a replacement before Saturday’s
trip to Manchester United.

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Football betting guide for Jan 1-2 2013

THE BETTING SLIP: Top tips and ones to watch in our gambling guide for the New Year fixtures

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UPDATED:

16:26 GMT, 31 December 2012

The Premier League produced 41 goals over two thrilling days at the weekend and if QPR had managed to make it 42 we would have finished 2012 on a high.

But they didn't. So, we didn't.

Goals Galore, as the 'both teams to score' bet is known with some bookies, was well named for punters who follow the English top flight.

Ruinous: Adel Taarabt and his team-mates failed to score

Ruinous: Adel Taarabt and his team-mates failed to score

But from over here, the Hoops drawing a
blank against Liverpool was hard to watch after Norwich, Manchester
City, Arsenal, Newcastle, Tottenham, Sunderland,

Everton and Chelsea had all scored and the Reds broke the deadlock early doors at Loftus Road.

A goal for Harry Redknapp's side would
have completed a five-timer at around 14/1 and provided a tidy wee sum
for the first assault of 2013.

The attack is still on though, and who better to lead it than the Gunners.

Arsenal have hardly put a foot wrong
since their Capital One Cup calamity against Bradford and put seven past
Newcastle on Saturday evening.

Theo Walcott helped himself to a
treble and his former club Southampton (who shared six goals with Stoke)
will not be looking forward to his return to the south coast.

Homecoming: Theo Walcott (left) is in fine fettle and Saints need to watch out

Homecoming: Theo Walcott (left) is in fine fettle and Saints need to watch out

Saints have lost all six matches against top-seven opponents and were crushed 6-1 at the Emirates earlier in the season.

The 8/11 (Ladbrokes) on an away win should be snapped up.

West Brom (21/20) also jump off the page against a Fulham side with just one win in their last 12 Premier League fixtures.

Baggies manager Steve Clarke was
fairly satisfied with the performance if not the result as his team lost
2-0 against table-topping Manchester United at Old Trafford and the
same effort again should be enough to see off the Cottagers.

Add in Crystal Palace (10/11) at home
to Wolves and Leicester (8/15) against Huddersfield and a tenner on the
four returns just over 100.

Not too bad: Although West Brom lost to United, they should beat Fulham

Not too bad: Although West Brom lost to United, they should beat Fulham

Goals galore… again

'Both teams to score' is THE popular bet in shops and online and I'm not letting QPR put me off.

Four to give you a run for your money on Tuesday and Wednesday are Swansea v Aston Villa (the Welshmen will win this but Paul Lambert's youngsters can't go another game without finding the net), West Ham v Norwich, Newcastle v Everton and St Mirren v Kilmarnock.

All four correct pays just under 8/1 with Coral.

Three is the magic number

Theo Walcott took the match ball home with him after his hat-trick downed the Magpies on Saturday and he is 33/1 (widely available) to do the same to his old employers at St Mary's.

Walcott is 11/2 with bet365 for the opener and 11/8 with most firms to score at any time.

John Smith"s call time on Grand National sponsorship

John Smith's call time on Grand National sponsorship

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UPDATED:

22:02 GMT, 24 November 2012

Aintree is seeking a new sponsor for the Grand National after the shock decision of John Smith's to pull their backing after next year's race in April.

Those in charge at Aintree have had to deal with negative publicity following the deaths of two horses in each of the last two Nationals.

Thrill of the chase: Neptune Collonges (right) jumps The Chair on the way to winning the Grand National

Thrill of the chase: Neptune Collonges (right) jumps The Chair on the way to winning the Grand National

Last summer the course's managing
director, Julian Thick, departed unexpectedly and at least one more
senior figure is set to leave.

Now Aintree has lost the backing of
the brewing giant John Smith's, who have invested heavily in the
three-day National meeting over nine years, with the prize money almost
doubling to just under 1million since 2005.

John Baker, new regional director for
Jockey Club Northern Racecourses, said: 'We are finalising new
sponsorship to ensure the event remains one of the crown jewels in the
sporting calendar.'

One of the leading bookmakers could
step in, since betting during the build-up to the National reaches an
annual peak on the day of the race.

But bookies are unlikely to provide the significant depth of funding delivered by John Smith's and, before them, Martell.

Lord Daresbury rode winners over the famous Aintree fences as an amateur.

Yesterday, as chairman of the
racecourse, he said: 'This news comes at a bad time but I am confident
the race will attract plenty of interest from potential sponsors.'

Pep Guardiola has pick of jobs, not just Chelsea

As football's most wanted manager, Guardiola will have pick of the top jobs

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UPDATED:

15:42 GMT, 22 November 2012

Had you delved into the heart of the Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport on the day Chelsea were beaten in Turin you would have found a cartoon.

The features were exaggerated but the image was familiar, a smartly-suited and shaven-headed man with stubble, dwarfed by the skyscrapers of New York, studying a signpost.

London, Milan, Munich and Manchester were the options available. Across European football, everyone is asking the same question: Where now for Pep Guardiola, the world’s most wanted coach

Where next, Pep Guardiola could have the pick of jobs when he returns to football

Where next, Pep Guardiola could have the pick of jobs when he returns to football

Roman Abramovich likes to think it is Stamford Bridge whereupon he will be expected to recreate the success he enjoyed in Barcelona, turning Chelsea into the world’s finest and most popular team.

What can go wrong The first thing for Abramovich is that Guardiola could swerve him for one of the other offers.

AC Milan and Bayern Munich are serious about their interest and Manchester City have recently appointed Txiki Begiristain as their director of football.

It was Begiristain, when in a similar role at Barcelona, who lured Guardiola back to the club in his first coaching role, in charge of the reserve team. City were favourites among the British bookies until yesterday’s shift.

Then there is Manchester United, the quiet option out of respect for Sir Alex Ferguson’s longevity, but if there is one person who might smooth the sensitivities of all sides of the Fergie exit, it is probably Guardiola.

Repeat performance Guardliola could find it difficult to replicate his success at Barcelona

Repeat performance Guardliola could find it difficult to replicate his success at Barcelona

There is even a suggestion in some quarters he would be prepared to work in tandem with Ferguson as he learns more about the club.

And here is the second point. Guardiola’s incredible success at Barcelona is rooted in his emotional bond with his boyhood club and his understanding of their culture.

His reign started with a team meeting which would pass into legend at the start of a pre-season tour in Scotland, when the new boss summoned the players and mapped out his philosophy.

This was the spiritual birth of Pep’s Barca, the greatest team-talk ever heard to inspire the greatest team ever seen.

Players told of his communication skills – he is inclusive, a teacher rather than a dictator – and his discipline – strict but reasonable – and his attention to detail – he cut down-time spent in hotels in an effort to keep his players relaxed and free from stress.

Guardiola demanded standards were raised and his values struck a chord. He focused at first on creating an environment of mutual trust.

Only one: Lionel Messi was central to Barcelona's success under Guardiola

Only one: Lionel Messi was central to Barcelona's success under Guardiola

He proved a natural leader, as he was as a player, but all this was founded upon his deep love for Barcelona. Whether it can be transplanted at will is questionable. As an intelligent man, he will realise this.

His tactics too were soaked in heritage. Possession is nine tenths of the law where Guardiola is concerned, as it was with Johan Cruyff, architect of Barcelona’s original 'Dream Team'.

If you have the ball, keep it. If you don’t have the ball, go and get it, fast. He promotes simplicity, which is why he trusted Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta, when his predecessor doubted them.

Without him this season, Barca seem to operate with a fraction less control but just as potently, thanks in a large part to the Argentine striker recognised as the world’s best footballer.

Guardiola oversaw a new training ground and promoted young talent from the La Masia talent factory, and readily moved those on who did not fully commit to the project, most notably Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

All of this produced the perfect stage for Lionel Messi to prosper in a position which became known as the 'False Nine'. Curiously, Roberto Di Matteo deployed Eden Hazard in this same role against Juventus.

Vacation station: Guardiola is currently in New York as he ponders his next move

Vacation station: Guardiola is currently in New York as he ponders his next move

It was the first (and last) time Di Matteo tried it and, whatever the reasoning, it only strengthened the suspicion that this team is being designed with Guardiola in mind, either with or without his recruitment advice.

But there is only one Messi and prising him from the Nou Camp is impossible.

So, if Guardiola opts to satisfy his inquisitive mind and his thirst for new experiences with a job at the Bridge, he will have to prove he can create a new team without Messi. Can he export success like Jose Mourinho does It is another of the key questions to sit alongside others such as: Why would anyone who does not need the money want to work for Abramovich

Having worked at Barcelona he is no stranger to expectation but the Russian once courted Carlo Ancelotti with the same enthusiasm he now devotes to Guardiola, setting up clandestine dates in France and Switzerland. Then, he fired him after two years, 12 months after the Italian secured Chelsea’s first league and FA Cup double.

Di Matteo became the first to clinch the Champions League, the trophy Abramovich wanted more than anything else. He is now out of work.

It is all about Guardiola not Rafa Benitez. But Guardiola, unlike Abramovich, has options to chew on as he savours his sabbatical in the Big Apple.

In fact, he has all the options in the world and the pick of the most illustrious football clubs on earth.

Twenty20 Finals day: David Lloyd"s guide

Bumble's guide to Twenty20 Finals day: Yorkshire v Sussex, Somerset v Hampshire

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UPDATED:

21:55 GMT, 23 August 2012

It's that time again! It is the first Twenty20 finals day in Wales on Saturday – Yorkshire play Sussex at 11am, then Somerset take on Hampshire at 2.30pm with the winners going head-to-head in the final at 6.45. Cardiff is always rocking on weekends… I can’t wait!

Yorkshire v Sussex

I’ve been very impressed with Yorkshire this season and it’s their first appearance at finals day, but Sussex will start as the bookies’ favourites.

YORKSHIRE

Skipper: Yorkshire's Andrew Gale

Skipper: Yorkshire's Andrew Gale

Captain: Andrew Gale and Azeem Rafiq have shared the leadership duties this season but Gale will be in charge for the big day — a steady influence. Hits the ball hard, too. I must say coach Jason Gillespie has been an absolute wow. The players love him.

Big-hitter: Gary Ballance, a chunky lad who can hit the ball a mile.

Go-to guy: Moin Ashraf. He has 14 wickets in this year’s T20 and one of the best parody Twitter accounts in the business! Apparently he can bowl 125mph! His slower ball is 95!

Top fielder: The best fielding side I’ve seen this year. They don’t have a weak link. Did you see that piece of fielding by Joe Root in their quarter-final Parried the ball back over the ropes before a catch was completed.

The x-factor: Jonny Bairstow has been cleared to play and that’s the final piece of the jigsaw. He could win it for them on his own.

SUSSEX

Captain: Mike Yardy remains as T20 captain and his calm hand will be on the tiller.

Big-hitter: Scott Styris was magnificent in the quarter-finals, hitting a blistering 100 in 37 balls against Gloucestershire. They’ve plenty of other talent with the bat too, including Chris Nash — one of the few blokes who’s good on the microphone during matches, too.

Take that: Scott Styris of Sussex

Take that: Scott Styris of Sussex

Go-to guy: Chris Liddle has had an excellent tournament but our old friend Yardy could be the man if the wicket is low and slow.

Top fielder: Another top fielding side but you can’t really look beyond Nash again. He’s a key man, isn’t he

The x-factor: Matt Prior has been brilliant when he has been able to play for his county, with a strike rate of something like 200 in T20. Remarkably, he doesn’t play one-day cricket for England anymore…

Prediction: I’m going for Yorkshire — to win the whole thing!

Somerset v Hampshire

SOMERSET

Top class: Somerset's Marcus Trescothick

Top class: Somerset's Marcus Trescothick

Captain: Marcus Trescothick remains one of the best batsmen in the domestic game and hasn’t scored too many runs since recovering from that serious ankle injury. This could be the day.

Big-hitter: Jos Buttler. One of the best and most inventive young players on the circuit and a certainty to go on to further England honours.

Go-to guy: The Great Alfonso! Alfonso Thomas has been an absolute magician in Twenty20 with his slower deliveries and yorkers.

Top fielder: Peter Trego is a very powerful figure in the Somerset team with a really strong arm. A pocket battleship is this lad.

The x-factor: Craig Kieswetter is another England man who, rightly, will be allowed to play and is a real crackerjack when he gets going.

HAMPSHIRE

Captain: Dimi Mascarenhas is back at the helm in the shorter game and will be a pivotal figure at the death with his bag of liquorice all-sorts bowling.

Big-hitter: Not a big hitter as such but Neil McKenzie’s calculated and methodical batting was the key in Hampshire’s quarter-final win against Notts and the South African will be just as important now.

Calculated and methodical: Hampshire's South African batsman Neil McKenzie

Calculated and methodical: Hampshire's South African batsman Neil McKenzie

Go-to guy: Danny Briggs. A young left-arm spinner who doesn’t get walloped. Rock steady and unflustered. Consistently successful in the shortest format.

Top fielder: Yet another top fielding side — that could be one of the features of finals day — but keep an eye out for James Vince.

The x-factor: Liam Dawson’s left-arm spin has accounted for Kevin Pietersen first ball twice this season — watch out for him to make an impact once again.

Prediction: Joy at last for Trescothick, but I think he might be facing heartbreak in the final again.

US PGA Championship: Alligator surprises players at Kiawah Island

Tiger v alligator at Kiawah Island – the monster course with extra bite

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UPDATED:

12:26 GMT, 9 August 2012

The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island was already set up to give the world's top players one of the toughest tests they will ever face.

Well, the tough just got tougher.

If the likes of Tiger Woods, Rory McIroy
or Luke Donald find the water at this week's US PGA Championship,
they'll have more than a penalty stroke to worry about.

A true threat: An alligator made for an interesting water hazard on The Ocean Course in Kiawah, South Carolina

A true threat: An alligator made for an interesting water hazard on The Ocean Course in Kiawah, South Carolina

You stay there: Davis Love comes close to the alligator during a practice round on Wednesday

You stay there: Davis Love comes close to the alligator during a practice round on Wednesday

An alligator was spotted lurking in the waters at this long South Carolina track and the creature was not shy about coming up for a closer look.

United States Ryder Cup captain Davis Love, who will know the first eight names on his Ryder Cup team sheet after the tournament finishes on Sunday evening, had a good old stare but opted to back off. Good decision Davis.

Competition got underway on Thursday afternoon with Woods – the bookies' favourite – and McIroy among the early starters.

World No 1 Donald starts his bid for a first major win at 6.30pm UK time.

Woods has won three times already this year but his last major triumph was in 2008.

He said: 'I've played in three major championships this year (he was only 40th at The Masters), and I didn't win any of them – that's the goal.

'Things have progressed, but not winning a major championship doesn't feel very good.'

The final major of 2012 has been overshadowed by the Olympics and Woods admitted he fancies playing a part when golf returns at the next Games in Rio.

He will be 40 by then but added: 'Since we haven't done it in a very long time, it'll be something else to be able to represent our country like that in the Olympic Games.'

Keep an eye out: The alligators and the world's top golfers will undoubtedly have some run ins this weekend

Keep an eye out: The alligators and the world's top golfers will undoubtedly have some run ins this weekend