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Ryder Cup 2012: Ian Poulter shows bulldog spirit: But Europe face huge task to defeat USA

Pumped-up Poulter shows bulldog spirit… but Europe face huge task to defeat USA

By
Malcolm Folley

PUBLISHED:

00:20 GMT, 30 September 2012

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UPDATED:

00:39 GMT, 30 September 2012

Ian Poulter, a fist-pumping, snarling, bulldog of a golfer, offered the European team outside hope of defending the Ryder Cup here.

Poulter holed a 12-foot putt on the 18th green to defeat Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson with his fifth consecutive birdie. On the side of the green, the European team celebrated as one while Rory McIlroy embraced his playing partner.

It was a one-man show of defiance from Poulter. ‘It’s going to be bloody hard tomorrow, but we’ve got to take it to them,’ he said.

Fist of fury: Ian Poulter celebrates after keeping his nerve to win a point for Europe in the final match

Fist of fury: Ian Poulter celebrates
after keeping his nerve to win a point for Europe in the final match

Poulter and McIlroy’s victory came
minutes after Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia had defeated Tiger Woods and
Steve Stricker by one hole as Europe at least reminded the Americans
they remain in a fight. As a result of the late European heroics, the
Americans will begin the final day 10-6 ahead.

‘Poulter was awesome,’ said McIlroy. ‘When he gets that look in his eye he can do anything.’

At last the American crowd was made
to feel nervous; at last this Ryder Cup had become a contest rather than
a ceremonial procession for those representing Uncle Sam. Finally, the
tension was palpable.

Grim viewing: Jose Maria Olazabal cannot bear to watch

Grim viewing: Jose Maria Olazabal cannot bear to watch

Jose Maria Olazabal has been a
low-profile captain, at times appearing invisible. Yet, behind closed
doors after a ragged, unprofitable first day for the stars of the
European game, he voiced his displeasure in a speech of controlled
anger.

‘We got the hair dryer treatment,’
said Graeme McDowell. And McIlroy, a fervent Manchester United fan,
added: ‘It was a roasting, real Sir Alex Ferguson stuff.’

Olazabal failed to generate the
response he had hoped for until the end of a momentous day. Yet Davis
Love III’s men need just 4 more points to reclaim the trophy.

Olazabal’s captaincy of the European
team is unlikely to be regaled in tales of wonder. For when the story of
the 39th Ryder Cup is retold, we will think of Americans Keegan
Bradley, Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson, Zach Johnson and the ageless Phil
Mickelson burying the reputations of the finest golfers from the other
side of the Atlantic beneath the first fall of leaves at the Medinah
Country Club.

We will struggle to understand how
Olazabal had been unable to galvanise such renowned players as McIlroy,
Donald, Lee Westwood, McDowell, Garcia and Justin Rose into offering
greater resistance.

‘It’s a crisis now,’ said Colin
Montgomerie, who proved a shrewd captain of Europe at Celtic Manor two
years ago. ‘Our players haven’t performed to their ability and that’s
why the gap has widened all the time.’

Defining moment: Dustin Johnson (centre) celebrates sinking a birdie putt to win the 17th hole

Defining moment: Dustin Johnson (centre) celebrates sinking a birdie putt to win the 17th hole

In Wales, Monty had been a general
buzzing around the course from match to match, like Seve Ballesteros had
done so memorably at Valderrama in 1997.

Once Olazabal had worked in magical
tandem with his late friend in the Ryder Cup, yet his desire to emulate
Ballesteros’s triumph as captain was fading faster than the sun setting
over Chicago.

‘The difference has been mainly
around the greens,’ said Olazabal. ‘Our boys are not making the putts.
And, it’s true, some of them haven’t performed to their expectations.’

Fighting against the tide: Sergio Garcia (right) congratulates Luke Donald after winning the eighth hole

Fighting against the tide: Sergio Garcia (right) congratulates Luke Donald after winning the eighth hole

Only an exceptional performance from
every man in the European team in the 12 single matches can deny the
Americans from reclaiming Sam Ryder’s old trophy. That seems unlikely.
On what we know, all that is to be determined is the scale of the
American victory.

Inside the European team there is an
air of despondency that is too late to be dispersed. Each putt that
failed to go in — and Nicolas Colsaearts was a victim of some cruel
near-misses — brought closer the reality of defeat.

Donald tried to make sense of the
manner in which Bradley has placed the Ryder Cup under his spell.
Bradley, 26, from Woodstock, has made sweet music in harmony with Phil
Mickelson to the unbridled joy of the home crowd.

‘Keegan’s been like a rock star this week,’ said Donald.

US yay: Keegan Bradley shows his delight as the Americans stamp their authority on the morning foursomes, to the delight of the home crowd

US yay: Keegan Bradley shows his delight as the Americans stamp their
authority on the morning foursomes, to the delight of the home crowd

Bradley and Mickelson won their third
point by defeating Donald and Westwood 7&6 in the morning
foursomes. It was perhaps as much humiliation as a man can experience
with his clothes on and equalled the worst-ever Ryder Cup beating, when
Nick Faldo and David Gilford were flattened by Paul Azinger and Mark
O’Meara at Kiawah Island 21 years ago. If that 1991 Ryder Cup became
known as the War on the Shore, there is a distinct possibility this
might become the Mismatch at Medinah.

By lunchtime, the United States had
stretched their lead to 8-4, having won the foursomes 3-1. Everywhere
you looked American golfers were pumping fists as a pall of glumness
descended over the Europeans.

It was unimaginable to suppose
Westwood, a man with a record of distinction in seven previous Ryder
Cups, could play so disappointingly. Yet too many European players have
been far from their best.

It would be inexcusable if credit was
not paid to the Americans, so expertly managed by Love. When the
moment arises, Olazabal will accept defeat with dignity and a warm
handshake but his swansong in the Ryder Cup was not supposed to end like
this.

London 2012 Olympics: Torch is lit in Olympia

Games edge closer as Olympic Flame is lit in Greece to begin journey to London

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UPDATED:

10:13 GMT, 10 May 2012

The final countdown to the London 2012 Games have begun in earnest as the world watched the Olympic Flame being lit in ancient Olympia.

The traditional ceremony took place under baking sun and tight security in front of the ruins of the Temple of Hera in Greece, birthplace of the Ancient Games.

Dressed in robes, actress Ino Menegaki, played the key role of the high priestess who lights the flame from the rays of the sun.

Journey begins: The Olympic flame is lit at the site of ancient Olympia

Journey begins: The Olympic flame is lit at the site of ancient Olympia

The torch will set off on a seven-day journey across Greece before it leaves heads to these shores on on May 18.

With the ceremonial occasion under way, the Olympic Anthem was played and the Olympic Flag was hoisted. God Save The Queen was also played as the Union Flag was raised and an extract of the poem The Light Of Olympia was recited.

Games chief Sebastian Coe said the torch relay will inspire a generation and lift the spirits of people in Britain and the world,

'We promise to protect the Flame, to cherish its traditions and to stage an uplifting torch relay of which we can all be proud and which can inspire a generation,' Coe said in his brief speech in front of the International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge.

'As torchbearers lift the Olympic flame
in the days and months ahead, it is our hope that they will also lift
the spirits and hopes of people across Britain and across world,' said
the former Olympic champion.

Final countdown: The lighting of the flame is one of the final official tasks to be carried out before the Games begin

Final countdown: The lighting of the flame is one of the final official tasks to be carried out before the Games begin

Final countdown: The lighting of the flame is one of the final official tasks to be carried out before the Games begin

First torchbearer Spyros Gianniotis, a Liverpool-born Greek swimmer who won the gold medal in the 10km open water event at the 2011 world championships, will set off after paying tribute to Pierre de Coubertin – founder of the modern Games – whose heart is buried near the ancient site.

He will then pass it to 19-year-old Alexander Loukos, a Briton of Greek origin.

'We will involve young people from all backgrounds, cultures and faith groups in the torch relay, reflecting London's immense diversity and creativity as a global destination and voice for young people,' said Coe.

'This is the second time the people of the UK have gathered here to celebrate igniting of the flame,' he said.

Inspirational: Lord Coe set out his hopes for the coming Games as the Olympic and Union flags were raised

Inspirational: Lord Coe set out his hopes for the coming Games as the Olympic and Union flags were raised

Inspirational: Lord Coe set out his hopes for the coming Games as the Olympic and Union flags were raised

'In 1948, shortly after the Second World War, my predecessor stood where I am today and made the first tentative steps in turning the world from war to sport.'

'We find ourselves in challenging times again and turn to sport once more to connect the world in a global celebration of achievement and inspiration.'

London is the only city to have lit the torch twice in Olympia.

The 70-day torch relay will travel 12,800 km around Britain, taking in 1,018 villages and the 1,085-metre summit of Snowdon, before culminating with the lighting of the Olympic cauldron in the Olympic Stadium on the opening day of the Games on July 27.

On the run: British boxer Alexander Loukos runs with the Olympic flame

On the run: British boxer Alexander Loukos runs with the Olympic flame

On the run: British boxer Alexander Loukos runs with the Olympic flame

The relay will also take in landmarks around Britain with the flame travelling by canal boat, cable car, tram, steam train, hot air balloon and even motorcycle sidecar on the Isle of Man TT course.

More than 95 percent of the population will be within an hour of the route.

Cop that: There was a large police presence during the event

Cop that: There was a large police presence during the event

John Terry exclusive: He"ll play for England if selected

EXCLUSIVE: Terry won't turn his back on England despite losing the captaincy for a second time

John Terry has told Fabio Capello he will be available for the European Championship in the summer.

The last hope of the Football Association, that Terry would choose to absent himself from the event, ending all controversy around his inclusion, evaporated at the weekend when Terry informed Capello that it was his intention to play for England this season, if selected.

The pair did not meet face to face at Chelsea’s match against Manchester United on Sunday but have spoken since the FA board made their decision to strip Terry of the England captaincy pending his trial for a racially aggravated public order offence.

Stripped: Chelsea's John Terry has lost the England captaincy for a second time

Stripped: Chelsea's John Terry has lost the England captaincy for a second time

Terry told Capello he would be
available, if fit, curtailing speculation that he would quit England in
protest at his demotion. Short-term, the diagnosis on his knee injury is
not encouraging, with fears he may be out for three to four weeks,
removing him from England’s friendly match against Holland at Wembley on
February 29.

It is the summer that concerns
Capello, however, and in particular what he sees as an absence of
leaders in England’s dressing room.

From his words on Italian television
on Sunday, it is plain that whoever wears the armband for England has a
ceremonial role. Capello sees Terry as his captain, and will continue
leaning on him in private.

There is precedent in the way Sir
Clive Woodward treated Lawrence Dallaglio after he lost the England
rugby captaincy following a tabloid scandal.

Martin Johnson was England’s captain,
an inspirational figure, who lifted the 2003 Rugby World Cup. In
Woodward’s eyes, however, the captaincy did not change. He continued to
regard Dallaglio as the team leader. Johnson, he said, came alive on
match days. Through the week, strategy, development, tactics, were all
discussed with Dallaglio.

Nobody suggests Capello consults
Terry on how England play. He is regarded, however, as the strongest
voice among the playing staff and is admired by Capello for his
forthrightness.

Ready for action: John Terry, who was stripped of the England captaincy, says he will still represent his country if called upon

Ready for action: John Terry, who was stripped of the England captaincy, says he will still represent his country if called upon

The idea that Terry’s successor is
undermined by Capello’s insistence that he will still treat Terry as his
captain is ludicrous. Quite obviously, whatever the FA board decree,
Capello is entitled to interact with every available player as he sees
fit. If they wanted Terry out of Capello’s orbit, they should have
ordered him dropped. They did not.

Capello is not devaluing the role of
captain, because every player knows who Capello regards as England’s
captain. He has made that clear: three times now.

The FA did not make a statement on
Capello yesterday, but I understand his defiance was not unexpected. The
FA’s original announcement on Terry is believed to have contained a
comment from Capello making plain his disapproval. It was removed,
apparently, because Capello preferred to make his own statement.

There are other senior executives
around Team England who share the manager’s view, including managing
director Adrian Bevington.
In the circumstances, then, Capello’s comments at the weekend were hardly a surprise.

Part of the problem here, the schism between the FA board and Capello, is the absence of his lieutenant Franco Baldini.

Flashpoint: Terry is to appear in court in July to answer a charge relating to the alleged racist abuse of Anton Ferdinand during a Premier League match

Flashpoint: Terry is to appear in court in July to answer a charge relating to the alleged racist abuse of Anton Ferdinand during a Premier League match

Now general manager of Roma in Serie
A, and working for England only on a part-time basis around matches and
tournaments, Baldini was the conduit between the manager and the FA in
the first three years of Capello’s reign. His job was to solve
administrative problems, leaving Capello to concentrate on football.

What the FA have on their hands now is a headstrong, opinionated manager without Baldini’s diplomatic counsel.

If the Terry crisis had erupted while
Baldini was based in England, he would have explained to key members of
the FA executive Capello’s feelings on the subject, his view of Terry
as a natural leader and his belief that he would be compromised, having
earlier told Terry there could be no change in his position until after
the trial.

Equally, he would have relayed to
Capello the FA’s awkward position, the depth of feeling around race
issues in English football and any potential for distraction or threat
to dressing-room harmony.
Instead, Capello was presented with a decision as a fait accompli and reacted in anger.

Rules made on the hoof are rarely without complications.

Hitting out: Fabio Capello told Italian TV that he didn't agree with the FA's decision to take the captaincy away from Terry

Hitting out: Fabio Capello told Italian TV that he didn't agree with the FA's decision to take the captaincy away from Terry

Hitting out: Fabio Capello told Italian TV that he didn't agree with the FA's decision to take the captaincy away from Terry

Lee Bowyer and Jonathan Woodgate were
not selected for England pending court appearances, Steven Gerrard was.
John Terry was, but then lost the captaincy. Maybe the FA will lose
their manager, too, if the FA board intend flexing their muscles on
other selection issues between now and July.

The problem the FA have over Capello
is one of pretence. The board would like to give the impression that
their first duty is to uphold standards in the English game when in
truth all they care about is winning games.

That is why England have an Italian
manager, paid 6million a year. The FA did not care if Capello knew
English football or had a feel for what is important in our game. It did
not care if he understood the English sporting culture, or its ethical
duty.

If the FA prioritised any of this they would have appointed a manager steeped in English football; an Englishman.

Other examples: Jonathan Woodgate was not selected for England while he was on trial. Steven Gerrard (below) was during his own court appearance

Other examples: Jonathan Woodgate was not selected for England while he was on trial. Steven Gerrard (below) was during his own court appearance

Other examples: Jonathan Woodgate was not selected for England while he was on trial. Steven Gerrard (below) was during his own court appearance

Other examples: Jonathan Woodgate was not selected for England while he was on trial. Steven Gerrard (below) was during his own court appearance

Instead they threw 6m a year at the
problem and appointed Capello. Now they want to tell him the rules have
changed, it is no longer about that bottom line, and they are exercising
their contractual right to dictate the make-up of his team based on
wider ethical considerations.

And do not presume it ends here. A
lot can happen between now and the end of the season. A missed drugs
test, an ill-advised tweet, a YouTube clip, it is all in the mix now.

The catalyst for the maelstrom around
Terry was a lip-read half-sentence, a social media outcry and a single
complaint from a member of the public.

This is not to demean the severity of
the charge, or of the alleged offence, but is just a reminder that it
does not take grand larceny to create a firestorm these days.

Do not rule out another spin around
the moral maze between now and England’s first match in Donetsk;
although, for all sorts of reasons, the next one may well be Capello’s
last.

The Saturday debate: Who should wear the armband next for England?

The Saturday debate: Who should wear the armband next for England

NEIL ASHTON

Ideally the England captain would be an ambassador for his country, a principled and courageous character capable of handling himself with dignity and class.

In the absence of any obvious alternative candidates to lead the national team, England would be best served handing the armband to the player with the highest number of caps – Ashley Cole.

This approach is popular in Italy and although it is far from ideal, it will provide a solution for an increasingly difficult task for England managers.

Most capped: Ashley Cole is an interesting choice

Most capped: Ashley Cole is an interesting choice

DOMINIC KING

The dignified, sensible way Steven Gerrard lead England during the 2010 World Cup lives in the memory and that alone should mean he is an automatic choice to take the armband.

Pressure: Joe Hart

Pressure: Joe Hart

Aside from that, he has played at four major tournaments meaning he has experience to go with his extravagant talent.

Fabio Capello erred when not making Gerrard England's permanent captain in 2010.

LAURA WILLIAMSON

Joe Hart. I'm not sure about having a goalkeeper as a captain but it's not as if the skipper has to make any strategic or tactical decisions during the game.

Given, then, that the England captaincy is largely a ceremonial role, we must award it to a player guaranteed, barring injury, to start every game and one who has shown himself dependable in the national shirt and off the field.

MARTIN KEOWN (former England captain)

Steven Gerrard. He is the one player that raises his club as a captain. He's a leader and has carried his Liverpool side again and again.

He can do that for England if he is given the armband properly.

Fabio Capello should believe in him and trust him and watch him thrive. Also, he is – along with Wayne Rooney – our best player. He is outstanding. I really like him as a person too.

Captain marvel: Steven Gerrard the consensus

Captain marvel: Steven Gerrard the consensus

MATT BARLOW

This is Joe Hart's job in the long term but Man City's talented (and ultraconfident) goalkeeper should be protected from the captaincy for now.

Keeping goal for England in your first major tournament is enough pressure for a 24-year-old, no matter how fearless.

Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard cannot be certain of their places on the plane, let alone in the team, Wayne Rooney is banned from the first two games and Ashley Cole will probably say no.

A strong case can be made for Gareth Barry and Scott Parker but Steven Gerrard deserves the honour of leading England again.

Old head: Scott Parker

Old head: Scott Parker

JOHN EDWARDS

Steven Gerrard, if fit. If not, don't look beyond Scott Parker, who would surely fill Gerrard's role in midfield in the same manner.

Long term, should the need arise, would Wayne Rooney be such an outlandish choice No role model, perhaps, and image has to be a consideration, but don't we want a captain with real clout

We all know Rooney has plenty of that, and we could even end up talking about it for the right reasons.

CHRIS WHEELER

Wayne Rooney. With neither Rio Ferdinand or Steven Gerrard guaranteed a place in Fabio Capello's side, Rooney (right) seems the obvious choice.

The responsibility of captaining his country should stop those flashes of temper.

ANDY TOWNSEND Former Republic of Ireland captain

I would give it to Steven Gerrard. I know he's had injury problems and isn't back to his best yet but he is highly respected by his fellow players and by all neutral fans in the country.

For him, it is about remaining fit. He's a big influence when he's firing and he's the obvious pick with regards to experience and stature. It's a bit early for Joe Hart.

MICHAEL WALKER

Who cares This is the most overblown topic in football. Not once – never – have I heard any real people discussing this.

It is a media, commercial and bureaucrats' debate. Who's the captain of Germany Of Wales Of Scotland

Can Sir Trevor Brooking name the captains of France, Ukraine and Sweden – England's European Championship opponents in the summer

Thought not. But Brooking knows who captains West Ham.

Because English fans talk about their clubs.