Tag Archives: country

Louis Oosthuizen hits 500-yard tee-shot at Ballantine"s Championship

Happy Gilmore! Oosthuizen hits 500-yard tee-shot but can only manage par as the ball takes a long stroll down country path

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

11:24 GMT, 26 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

15:02 GMT, 26 April 2013

DM.has('shareLink', 'shareLinks',
'id': '2315184',
'title': 'Happy Gilmore! Oosthuizen hits 500-yard tee-shot but can only manage par',
'url': 'http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/golf/article-2315184/Louis-Oosthuizen-hits-500-yard-tee-shot-Ballantines-Championship.html',
'eTwitterStatus': 'Louis%20Oosthuizen%20hits%20500-yard%20tee-shot%20at%20Ballantine's%20Championship%20http:[email protected]'
);

Louis Oosthuizen already averages more than 300 yards per drive on the European Tour this season, but not usually in the manner he did in the Ballantine's Championship today.

Oosthuizen's tee-shot on the 583-yard first hole at Blackstone Golf Club was pushed right of the fairway and bounced onto a winding cart path running down the side of the hole.

Scroll down for video

Big hitter: Oosthuizen regularly hits over 300 yards on the European TourEuropean

Big hitter: Oosthuizen regularly hits over 300 yards on the European Tour

It then rolled downhill for more than a minute and a half, picking up speed after almost coming to a halt at one point and trundling past two bemused spectators before coming to a halt against a kerb – around 500 yards from the tee.

From there the world number seven took a free drop and pitched back onto the fairway, eventually recording a par five on his way to a round of 71 and four-under-par halfway total of 140.

It is still not known whether Oosthuizen's drive ended up further than the previous longest hit in tournament history – courtesy of 64-year-old Mike Austin, who hit 515 yards on a 450-yard par 4 in Las Vegas.

Stroll: The South African's drive rolled for a minute and a half down a path, and he ended up making par

Stroll: The South African's drive rolled for a minute and a half down a path, and he ended up making par

That way! Oosthuizen stands with his caddie Wynand Stander on the tenth hole in South Korea

That way! Oosthuizen stands with his caddie Wynand Stander on the tenth hole in South Korea

Paula Radcliffe may never compete again

Radcliffe: Foot injury that ruled me out of London 2012 may stop me from competing ever again

with a foot injury and she has not run since.

End of the road Radcliffe has been out injured for eight months

End of the road Radcliffe has been out injured for eight months

Finish line: Radcliffe may not compete again

Finish line: Radcliffe may not compete again

The Brit was hoping to compete in a 10km race this month but she has ruled out that possibility as she continues to suffer complications from her injury.

'Targets have gone out of the window,' Radcliffe told BBC Sport.

'I'm very much in that limbo where I know and accept that realistically it may not be possible.

'But at the same time I have a little window of hope and I would rather be able to finish my career in a race, rather than a race I can't actually get to the start line of.'

Radcliffe has world marathon champion in 2005 and has won two world cross-country titles.

Michel Platini: A summer World Cup in Qatar is not possible… it has to be staged during the winter

Platini: A summer World Cup in Qatar is
not possible… it HAS to be staged during
the winter

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

19:03 GMT, 20 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

19:04 GMT, 20 March 2013

UEFA president Michel Platini has once again stressed his belief that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar must be held during the winter.

Platini echoed comments made by Britain's FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce yesterday that the searing heat in the Asian country will make playing football unbearable.

'In the summer, at 50 degrees, you can not possibly play football in Qatar,' Platini said in an interview with Germany's leading sports magazine Kicker.

Unconvinced: Michel Platini believes the 2022 World Cup cannot be played during the summer

Unconvinced: Michel Platini believes the 2022 World Cup cannot be played during the summer

This is not the first time the former France midfielder has stated his opposition to holding the Qatar tournament in the summer and he is supportive of a winter break for domestic championships.

Platini also responded to FIFA president Sepp Blatter's comments that the decision to stage Euro 2020 across the continent would rip the 'heart and soul' out of the tournament.

European football's governing body announced in December that it had taken the unprecedented step of hosting the event in several cities throughout Europe.

And Platini defended the decision, saying: 'The name European fits better than ever, as the Euros will be held for the first time in Europe.'

'Heart and soul': FIFA chief Sepp Blatter doesn't agree with Platini's plans for the Euros

'Heart and soul': FIFA chief Sepp Blatter doesn't agree with Platini's plans for the Euros

Sepp Blatter blasts UEFA on Euro 2020 that will lack "heart and soul"

Euro 2020 will lack heart and soul… we may as well not call it the Euros! Blatter blasts Platini over plan to host finals in 13 different countries

By
Graeme Yorke

PUBLISHED:

11:41 GMT, 14 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

13:52 GMT, 14 March 2013

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has denounced Michel Platini’s plans to stage the 2020 European Championship across the entire continent and called on UEFA to change the name of the tournament.

Euro 2020 will be held in 13 cities across the continent with the semi-finals and final being played in the same stadium, UEFA announced in January.

But Blatter isn’t impressed with the plans and believes one host country is the best way to deliver
the event.

Wrong: FIFA president Sepp Blatter has criticised Michel Platini's plans to use more than one country for the 2020 European Championship

Wrong: FIFA president Sepp Blatter has criticised Michel Platini's plans to use more than one country for the 2020 European Championship

Euro 2020 details so far

12 cities will host three group stage matches and one knockout round

One stadium will host the semi-finals and final

There will only be one venue per country

In the frame to host the final are Wembley, the Olympic Stadium in Istanbul and the Allianz Arena

He told Kicker magazine: ‘A tournament should be played in one country. That is how you create identity and euphoria.

‘They have fragmented the 2020 tournament. So it is not a European Championship any more. It has to have a different name.’

‘I do not know what name. Such a Euro lacks heart and soul.’

UEFA said that 12 cities would be
awarded a package of three group games plus one knockout-stage game,
either from the round-of-16 or quarter-finals.

A
special 13th package would be awarded, consisting of the two
semi-finals and final with UEFA eager to split the costs for the bigger
tournament and celebrate its 60th anniversary across Europe.

The Swiss sports administrator also said
he planned to end his stint at the top of the world soccer’s governing
body in 2015 if FIFA was strong and stable.

Coming home: Wembley is one of the favourites to host the final after the FA said they would bid

Coming home: Wembley is one of the favourites to host the final after the FA said they would bid

First class: The Allianz Arena in Munich hosted the Champions League final last season

First class: The Allianz Arena in Munich hosted the Champions League final last season

Close contest: The Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul is also thought to be in with a chance

Close contest: The Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul is also thought to be in with a chance

Blatter, who took over the FIFA presidency in 1998, added: ‘I want to push through the FIFA reforms at our congress in Mauritius in May, then we go to Brazil for the World Cup in 2014 and after that everything is open.

‘When it is secured that FIFA will
continue to be led like that, that it will remain global and the pyramid
will not collapse then I will gladly hand over the sceptre to a new
president.'

UEFA chief Michel Platini is seen as a possible successor to Blatter.

‘I do not know if he wants to,’ said Blatter. ‘He has an idea about the future of FIFA which he has to explain to the continents at some point. But he has not decided yet.’

On the rocks: Blatter and Michel Platini have usually had an amicable relationship

On the rocks: Blatter and Michel Platini have usually had an amicable relationship

January transfer window is open for business: Who will your club buy?

Open for business! As football's manic month begins, Sportsmail looks at the possible movers and shakers in January

|

UPDATED:

08:46 GMT, 1 January 2013

While the January sales may have started on Boxing Day on high streets up and down the country, football clubs have had to wait patiently until the first of the month to begin their spending spree.

But finally the 31-day transfer window is officially open for business and clubs all over the country look set to ‘splash the cash’, ‘open their chequebooks’ and ‘break open their war chests’ (as well as other outdated methods of payment) in a bid to challenge for the Premier League, grab a European spot or avoid relegation.

The names most likely to attract the most interest are Arsenal’s hat-trick hero from the weekend, Theo Walcott who is out of contract in the summer, just like Chelsea’s match-winner from Sunday’s game against Everton, Frank Lampard.

Scroll down for our comprehensive club-by-club guide to the window

Will he stay or will he go Theo Walcott could leave Arsenal this month

Will he stay or will he go Theo Walcott could leave Arsenal this month

Franks for the memories: Chelsea are prepared to let Lampard leave at the end of his contract and he could leave this month

Franks for the memories: Chelsea are prepared to let Lampard leave at the end of his contract and he could leave this month

Liverpool have long been admirers of Walcott while a move abroad looks to be the most likely option for Lampard, unless of course he fancies helping his uncle Harry (Redknapp) out down the road at QPR.

One transfer that should be concluded early on, is Daniel Sturridge’s move from Chelsea to Liverpool after Rafa Benitez revealed the striker had a medical on Merseyside last weekend.

Where will he go Demba Ba can leave Newcastle for 7m this month

Where will he go Demba Ba can leave Newcastle for 7m this month

Demba Ba’s imminent departure from
Newcastle looked to be one of the most straight forward moves of the
window when it was revealed that his advisors were in talks with Chelsea
on Sunday. Those talks broke down, however, and now it seems those people charged with helping him look
like making the Senegal striker’s move anything but straight forward.

The Football League has been the breeding ground for many Premier League stars in the past, and clubs could look to boost their squads with another star of the future.

Wilfred Zaha

Will Hughes

Young stars: Palace winger Wilfried Zaha and Derby midfielder Will Hughes could be on the move

Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha and
Derby’s England Under 21 midfielder Will Hughes could be two names looking to
make the step up. Manchester United are among Zaha's admirers while Fulham and Tottenham are just two of the clubs keen on Hughes.

Clubs will also look overseas to try
and snap up a bargain, and two of the biggest names in European football
could be heading to the Premier League, with Inter Milan midfielder
Wesley Sneijder and Barcelona striker David Villa both available for
moves.

Heading to England Wesley Sneijder could be on his way out of Inter Milan

Heading to England Wesley Sneijder could be on his way out of Inter Milan

London calling: David Villa is attracting interest from Chelsea and Arsenal

London calling: David Villa is attracting interest from Chelsea and Arsenal

Spurs and Liverpool are believed to be keen on Sneijder while London duo Arsenal and Chelsea are keeping tabs on Villa, who could be in line to link up with Spain strike partner Fernando Torres at Stamford Bridge.

Money will be spent and players will
come and go, but anyone hoping for a repeat of the January window of two
years ago will be left disappointed.

Fernando Torres

Andy Carroll

Be warned: Not all January moves go to plan, as Fernando Torres and Andy Carroll found out in 2011

In January 2011, a record 225m was
spent with moves that included Torres swapping Liverpool for
Chelsea at a cost of 50m, Aston Villa signing Darren Bent for 18m,
Edin Dzeko making a 27m switch to Manchester City and, perhaps most
remarkably, Liverpool replacing Torres with Andy Carroll for 35m.

There are bound to be some surprises
in 2013 winter window, but it is unlikely there will be any as big and
as costly as Carroll.

DON'T LEAVE IT ALL TO THE LAST DAY AND JIM WHITE'S WITTERING

White off queue: Sky Sports News presenter Jim White (left) offers his transfer deadline day 'insight' with Natalie Sawyer, Dave Bassett and Iain Dowie

White off queue: Sky Sports News presenter Jim White (left) offers his transfer deadline day 'insight' with Natalie Sawyer, Dave Bassett and Iain Dowie

WILL YOUR CLUB BE BUYING OR SELLING

We assess the potential arrivals and departures at each of the 20 clubs in the top flight.

ARSENAL

Manager Arsene Wenger is looking to strengthen across the board to breathe fresh life into Arsenal's push for a top four finish. A striker tops Wenger's shopping list, with David Villa a possible target.

POTENTIAL DEPARTURES

Marouane Chamakh, Andrey Arshavin, Andre Santos, Johan Djourou, Sebastien Squillaci.

ASTON VILLA

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert spent 23million during the summer, placed his trust in youth and fielded the youngest ever Premier League side this season with an average age of less than 24. Manchester City's 20-year-old striker John Guidetti is a possible loan target while Dnipro's 2million-rated midfielder Derek Boateng is also on Lambert's radar.

POTENTIAL DEPARTURES

Darren Bent, Charles N'Zogbia.

Darren Bent

CHELSEA

Interim manager Rafael Benitez has all but confirmed Chelsea are trying to sign a new striker but it remains to be seen whether they will spend big on the likes of Radamel Falcao or look for a cut-price alternative, such as Demba Ba, David Villa or Alvaro Negredo. A new midfielder could also arrive.

POTENTIAL DEPARTURES

Daniel Sturridge, Florent Malouda, Yossi Benayoun.

EVERTON

Financial constraints mean David Moyes does not expect to be busy in the window but he would ideally like to add some more firepower if he can and has been looking at Paris St Germain striker Kevin Gameiro.

POTENTIAL DEPARTURES

John Heitinga.

FULHAM

The departures of Mousa Dembele and Clint Dempsey late in the summer window have left Fulham light, meaning a central midfielder and centre-back are vital additions.

POTENTIAL DEPARTURES

Pajtim Kasami, Brede Hangeland, David Stockdale, Csaba Somogyi and Mickael Tavares.

LIVERPOOL

Manager Brendan Rodgers has admitted he does not have much to spend in January and a deal for Chelsea forward Daniel Sturridge, which is virtually done, will take up the vast chunk of his budget. Blackpool winger Tom Ince is the other signing the club are hopeful of wrapping up early on while Rodgers continues to be linked with Birmingham's Jack Butland despite saying he would not be signing a goalkeeper in January.

POTENTIAL DEPARTURES

Joe Cole, Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson, Sebastian Coates.

Joe Cole

MANCHESTER CITY

Roberto Mancini has repeatedly played down speculation he could dip into the market but it will not go away and there is a feeling fresh blood could add impetus to City's title challenge, although some high earners might have to be moved on first.

POTENTIAL DEPARTURES

Mario Balotelli, Edin Dzeko, Kolo Toure, Joleon Lescott.

MANCHESTER UNITED

Sir Alex Ferguson says he is happy with his squad and January is not a time when he does a lot of business. But don't discount a new signing, even if the actual player does not arrive until the summer.

POTENTIAL DEPARTURES

Angelo Henriquez, Federico Macheda.

NEWCASTLE

Alan Pardew knows he needs at least one, if not two or three additions to a squad ravaged by injuries during the opening half of the campaign with Marseille striker Loic Remy, Lille full-back Mathieu Debuchy and FC Twente defender Douglas among his major targets, although much will depend on whether or not Demba Ba remains on the books at the end of January.

POTENTIAL DEPARTURES

Demba Ba, Xisco, Nile Ranger.

NORWICH

Norwich could look to add another striker to their squad as they have managed only 20 goals so far in the league. A move for a goalkeeper is a possibility with England international John Ruddy sidelined following a groin operation.

POTENTIAL DEPARTURES

Elliott Ward, Marc Tierney, Simon Lappin, Steve Morison.

QPR

Where do we start QPR's miserable season is due in no small part to their completely unbalanced squad. Nicolas Anelka is being targeted to fill the large void in attack, while central defence is another area requiring improvements.

POTENTIAL DEPARTURES

Jose Bosingwa, Esteban Granero, Hogan Ephraim, Rob Hulse, Jay Bothroyd.

Jose Bosingwa

READING

The realisation at Reading that they failed to strengthen sufficiently during the summer may have come too late. Manager Brian McDermott is looking for two to three players with top-flight experience. Expect Andrey Arshavin to be one of them.

POTENTIAL DEPARTURES

None.

SOUTHAMPTON

Saints' defence may have improved recently but a centre-back is still a high priority. A new goalkeeper could be a wily addition, while more attacking options would not go amiss with survival in mind.

POTENTIAL DEPARTURES

Danny Fox, Tadanari Lee, Danny Butterfield, Steve de Ridder, Sam Hoskins, Ryan Dickson and Jonathan Forte.

STOKE

Boss Tony Pulis has made it clear he has no intention of letting any of his key players – such as skipper Ryan Shawcross or goalkeeper Asmir Begovic – leave in January, while indicating he will be looking to “bring one or two in”.

POTENTIAL DEPARTURES

Wilson Palacios, Cameron Jerome, Rory Delap.

SUNDERLAND

Martin O'Neill has made no secret of his desire to strengthen further in January. Striking a permanent deal for on-loan Tottenham full-back Danny Rose could be a focus, and he has also been linked with a move for Genoa defender Andreas Granqvist, while extra physicality in central midfield is something he feels he needs to add.

POTENTIAL DEPARTURES

Titus Bramble, Matthew Kilgallon, Fraizer Campbell, Ji Dong-won.

SWANSEA

Swansea manager Michael Laudrup is keen to bring in a striker to allow top scorer Michu to return to his favoured attacking midfielder role. Celta Vigo's Iago Aspas and Sporting Braga's Ederzito Lopes are thought to be at the top of the Dane's wishlist.

POTENTIAL DEPARTURES

Danny Graham, Luke Moore, Mark Gower, Leroy Lita, Jazz Richards, Alan Tate.

Danny Graham

TOTTENHAM

Manager Andre Villas-Boas says he will not be active in the transfer market, but he only has two recognised strikers and could therefore make a move for Shakhtar Donetsk forward Willian, Athletic Bilbao's Fernando Llorente or Loic Remy of Marseille.

POTENTIAL DEPARTURES

Carlo Cudicini, Heurelho Gomes, David Bentley, Jermaine Jenas, Danny Rose, Tom Huddlestone.

WEST BROM

Baggies boss Steve Clarke has constantly made it clear he is happy with the squad at his disposal for the remainder of the season after climbing into the top six of the Barclays Premier League and any additions are likely to be only loanees.

POTENTIAL DEPARTURES

Chris Wood.

WEST HAM

Manager Sam Allardyce has already been linked with big-name players such as David Beckham and Nicolas Anelka but knows the club's wage structure could scupper such deals. A loan move for an attacking player could go ahead following Yossi Benayoun's return to parent club Chelsea.

POTENTIAL DEPARTURES

None.

WIGAN

The January transfer window is a welcome arrival for Wigan boss Roberto Martinez, who has been contending with an injury crisis. Midfielder Roger Espinoza's transfer from Sporting Kansas City has already been completed while a loan deal for Manchester United striker Angelo Henriquez is almost a done deal. The Latics have also been linked with former Chelsea striker Salomon Kalou, now at Lille, and Manchester City midfielder Abdisalam Ibrahim.

POTENTIAL DEPARTURES

Franco Di Santo.

Exeter 12 Bath 12: Chiefs denied by late penalty try

Exeter 12 Bath 12: Chiefs denied victory over west country rivals after late penalty try

|

UPDATED:

18:17 GMT, 29 December 2012

The conversation of a penalty try three minutes from time denied Exeter their first Premiership victory over west country rivals Bath in front of a sell-out crowd of 10,744 at Sandy Park.

Both sides went into the game on the back of defeats with Exeter seeing their run of seven victories halted by a 18-16 defeat at Gloucester while Bath were hammered 22-0 at home to Saracens.

Tom Hayes returned to the second row to lead the Chiefs while Phil Dollman came in at outside centre so James Hanks and Ian Whitten dropped to the bench where they were joined by the return of England international Tom Johnson.

Argie-bargy: Exeter's Argentine international wing Gonzalo Camacho hands off a challenge from Bath and England prop David Wilson

Argie-bargy: Exeter's Argentine international wing Gonzalo Camacho hands off a challenge from Bath and England prop David Wilson

Full back Ollie Devoto made his first Premiership start for Bath while inside centre Matt Banahan, locks Dave Attwood and Ryan Caldwell and number eight Ben Skirving all returned to action for the visitors.

The Chiefs applied the early pressure but conceded silly penalties and when close to the posts they had the ball turned over. Then with 12 minutes on the clock fly-half Gareth Steenson, with the wind at his back, landed the opening penalty.

But the visitors hit back immediately with a try started and finished by scrum half Michael Claassens in the left corner with great support play from wing Tom Biggs and fly-half Steven Donald. Claassens was unable to convert from touchline.

Exeter wasted a try scoring opportunity when full back Luke Arscott made the break through the middle and, with scrum half Hayden Thomas on his right in space, he passed to lock Aly Muldowney who was quickly brought to ground.

Delightful dozen: Steenson (right) kicked four penalties from four attempts

Delightful dozen: Steenson (right) kicked four penalties from four attempts

The home side were able to create breaks from deep in their own half but unforced errors or penalties were again the Chiefs downfall when they ventured into the Bath 22 allowing the visitors to keep their line intact.

Then, with time already up on the clock, Bath wing Horacio Agulla was penalised for coming in at the side of the ruck and Steenson stepped-up to land his second kick of the game and nudge the Chiefs into a 6-5 half-time lead.

Steenson increased the lead minutes after the restart when Bath repeated the previous offence just before the break but this time Skirving was the culprit. The penalty from the former Ireland under-21 took him past 1,000 points since his Exeter debut in 2008.

All square: Neither side were able to claim all four points

All square: Neither side were able to claim all four points

The Chiefs were certainly an improved side in the second half at the scrum and the lineout as well as limiting their errors. Bath strayed offside when inside their own 22 and Steenson kept a clean sheet with his fourth penalty kick.

Exeter again showed that they too can defend their own line and with the game going into the final 10 minutes the Chiefs again camped out inside the Bath 22. But when they turned a Bath scrum the home side were penalised for standing up.

Bath won a penalty inside the Exeter 22 and opt to kick for the corner and then the Chiefs were penalised at the ruck. Bath repeated the move and referee David Rose awarded a penalty try. Tom Heathcote added the extras to level the score.

Vintage era for Sheri: Monster prop is blossoming after move to wine country

Vintage era for Sheri: Monster prop is blossoming after move to wine country

|

UPDATED:

19:40 GMT, 14 December 2012

There has been an unforeseen, comic complication for Andrew Sheridan since his transfer to Toulon in the summer, caused by the familiar abbreviation of his name.

'To have “Sheri” as my nickname is not ideal over here, because it means “darling”,' said Toulon's former England and Lions prop. 'OK, the spelling is different, but the pronunciation is similar, so I've had some funny looks when I've been called that since moving to France.'

Full-bloodied: the switch across the Channel to Toulon fits Sheridan

Full-bloodied: the switch across the Channel to Toulon fits Sheridan

Yet, if locals are bemused to hear the giant 33-year-old from Bromley – who has also been known as 'Big Ted' in his time – addressed in such a way, he insists they haven't come up with an alternative Gallic nickname so far.

But there is no doubt that the club's fervent fans have taken to him. Sheridan has been a colossal presence in the first half of his first season in the Top 14 league, to make himself truly a darling of the title-chasing team, the city and the region.

He certainly won't talk himself up, though. As he prepared for the second of back-to-back Heineken Cup fixtures against his former club Sale at Stade Felix Mayol tomorrow, the destructive loosehead was as understated as ever in his pronouncements. Hyperbole doesn't get a look-in. Sheridan is an engaging character but in an interview, he is far happier asking the questions than answering them.

First, he wants to know the 'inside story' about the Lions coaching announcement. Then, he veers off on a tangent to suggest, with typically dry humour, that hairstyle fashion is now catching up with his cropped, military look. He is amused at the notion of being a trend-setter.

Even when he is dragged back to more orthodox subject matter, there is a light-hearted undercurrent.

Galactico gang: Jonny Wilkinson is Sheridan's team-mate

Galactico gang: Jonny Wilkinson is Sheridan's team-mate

'I've settled in here and I'm really enjoying it,' he said. 'I'm slowly picking up the language – it's a gradual process but we have French lessons every week. I've been picking up the rugby vocab – “le maul”, “le ruck”, “le pick-and-go” – honestly, that's what they say!'

What has been striking about Sheridan's season to date (and let's hope this is not a curse) is his constant state of good health. After so many campaigns blighted by serious injury, he has been able to stay fit. It has been a welcome change.

weekend guide

'I've played in all 17 matches so far,' he said. 'I've had the odd little niggle, but I'm getting old so that is inevitable!

'It's been great to get a run of games week after week, because I spent a lot of time in the previous three years on the operating table. That led to long periods of rehab, which were frustrating, so hopefully this period of playing consistently can continue. I can't say for sure why my luck has changed, but the climate helps. It's starting to get cold now though – I've had to cover up the pool and I haven't been able to go in the sea for a while!'

Sheridan has also relished being surrounded by an array of international-class talent at Toulon. The galacticos include Jonny Wilkinson and Carl Hayman, Matt Giteau, Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe and Frederic Michalak. His preconceptions have been significantly altered in the case of one new team-mate with whom he had previously locked horns – a fearsome Springbok lock.

'Bakkies Botha is an incredibly tough rugby player and competitor, but he's also an amusing guy, it turns out,' he said. 'I must admit, I didn't expect him to be so funny – he's always coming out with little one-liners.'

Sheridan surely gives as good as he gets on that score, in his own softly spoken way. Asked how he has enjoyed the cultural benefits of being in France, the wine enthusiast – who hopes to find work in that trade when his rugby career is over – said he has already enjoyed trips to vineyards, but he mocked the suggestion that he might have tried his hand at surfing.

'There's no surfing here – it's the Med,' he said. 'The Med is dead! It's a flat sea and I'm no surfing expert, but the conditions here don't appear conducive! It's not for me anyway. I like paddling, going for walks along the beach and sitting in the sun.'

While Sheridan is at the forefront of Toulon's compelling double quest for the Top 14 title and Heineken Cup, he was an interested observer of England's autumn Tests. Having seen clips of the games against Fiji, Australia and South Africa, he watched the series finale against the All Blacks in full and was highly impressed.

'I thought it was a very complete performance by England,' he said. 'They played well in all areas, for the full 80 minutes. That was a very good win to have in their minds.

'There are bound to be tough matches in the Six Nations but whenever they are struggling, the players will be able to think back to beating the world champions, and that should lift them.'

Having been forced home from last year's World Cup by injury after the first pool match, Sheridan hasn't played for his country since.

He has not retired from Test rugby, but he does not expect to add to a tally of 42 caps, including two for the Lions. He was able to watch England beat the All Blacks without a trace of regret about the cross-Channel move that took him out of selection contention.

'I'm not an envious person and I don't get bitter,' he said. 'I'm a proud Englishman so I want England to do well. I knew the situation when I signed for Toulon. I know it is unlikely that they would pick people who are playing overseas. Even if I had stayed in England, Stuart Lancaster has looked to pick a younger side.

'My chances of playing for England again are remote. They've got a good batch of young props already performing well at that level. They would have to have quite a few injuries and find themselves really scraping the bottom of the barrel to get to me again! If I was asked, I wouldn't say no, but that is very unlikely.

'As for the Lions, I won't be involved in international rugby and there are good props all over Britain and Ireland, so that is highly unlikely, too.'

He says it all matter-of-factly. Sheridan is a realist, but in many ways, he is living the dream on the Cote d'Azur. 'I've got to go,' he said. 'It's time to open a bottle of wine!'

The new darling of Toulon has undoubtedly earned a glass or two.

Jose Maria Olazabal still loves being captain at Royal Trophy

Olazabal still loves being captain as Ryder Cup hero tees it up at Royal Trophy

|

UPDATED:

10:20 GMT, 14 December 2012

Jose Maria Olazabal is captain of Europe again this week, and it feels good.

The mention of September's Miracle of Medinah still brings a beaming smile to the face of the great Spaniard, and why not

Not many men can say they inspired arguably the most impossible sporting comeback of all time.

Head to head: Jose Maria Olazabal (right) and Asia captain Joe Ozaki were all smiles ahead of the event

Head to head: Jose Maria Olazabal (right) and Asia captain Joe Ozaki were all smiles ahead of the event

Royal Trophy

Click here for the latest from Brunei

Olazabal is once more in charge of his continent for the sixth edition of the Royal Trophy in Brunei, where he and fellow Ryder Cup heroes Nicolas Colsaerts and Francesco Molinari are taking on the might of Asia, including Japanese superstar Ryo Ishikawa, over three days of matchplay amid the tropical rainforest at the Empire Hotel and Country Club.

Olazabal has had time to reflect on Medinah since Europe's scarcely believable comeback and, speaking to Sportsmail Online in Brunei, sums up the experience as 'an extraordinary moment. Unforgettable. Unique.'

Victory in the Windy City whipped up a whirlwind of publicity for Olazabal and even led to an audience with the King of Spain.

What with getting his feel back for playing ahead of this tournament with trips to the Far East, he has only recently been able to snatch moments of peace to let it all sink in.

'It's true that for a few weeks after it was over I didn't have the chance to reflect on what happened that week. I'm really looking forward to this winter, having more time on my own with a DVD and a nice glass of wine, and just enjoying it.

Nice work if you can get it: European skipper Olazabal lines up a putt as Miguel Angel Jimenez looks on

Nice work if you can get it: European skipper Olazabal lines up a putt as Miguel Angel Jimenez looks on

'Last week I had enough time to go shooting with my father. We go for partridge, quail, duck. We had a couple of nice days. It's nice to go with the dogs, just on your own, that's the beauty of it. You feel like you're the only man in the world. That sense of peace… that's what I really look forward to.'

And did he bring any dinner home for the family

'Yes, both of us did!' he laughs.

Here in Brunei, things are a little different to those incredible few days in Chicago: less hair-pulling, gut-wrenching and tear-shedding, more back-slapping, belly-laughing and mickey-taking.

During the opening ceremony we were even treated to a slapstick comedy sketch from Laurel and Hardy, otherwise known as Olazabal and Joe Osaki, the Asian captain.

When Osaki rubbed Olazabal's nose in the fact he had triumphed the last time the pair led their continents in this format, the Spaniard ran from his seat across the stage to deliver a few playful whacks to his friend's head.

Thankfully, no golfers were harmed in the making of this gag.

Two of his five a day: Our man Chris got a bit fruity with the fans in Brunei

Two of his five a day: Our man Chris got a bit fruity with the fans in Brunei

'Obviously it's not the same intensity as the Ryder Cup, it's a more relaxed atmosphere,' says Olazabal.

'But don't get me wrong, things are going to get serious. We're facing a serious challenge. The Asian team is strong. We're going to have to be on our toes.'

Olazabal's tears for his great friend Seve Ballesteros, who devised the Royal Trophy in 2006, regularly punctuated the Ryder Cup and gave viewers an insight into both the man's genuinely warm nature and his appreciation for life away from the golf course.

Ollie is emotional, and he doesn't care who knows it. He is no relentless golfing machine, focused purely on victory.

'You have to be hard in competition when you're on the course. But outside we cannot forget that this is a game. I've known Joe for many years, since the late 80s playing in Japan. You cannot forget that we're all human beings.

'There are other things in the world more important than what we do today here and you have to be able to separate those things. You have to have the right, friendly atmosphere off the golf course. On the golf course we shake hands on the first tee but that's it. We're going to try to beat each other.'

Glorious: The sun was shining on day one of the Royal Trophy in Brunei

Glorious: The sun was shining on day one of the Royal Trophy in Brunei

Unlike at Medinah, Olazabal will be teeing it up as well as leading his team as a player-captain.

On Friday he partnered compatriot Miguel Angel Jimenez in the foursomes against YE Yang and KT Kim.

The mere mention of Jimenez brings a smile to Olazabal's face, although he jokes that the 'old boys' might need to use a buggy or play off the forward tees to compete with the whippersnappers.

Alongside Jimenez and the Ryder Cup stars, Henrik Stenson, Edoardo Molinari, Marcel Siem and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano complete the European team.

Olazabal, a two-time Masters champion, admits he is not as sharp as he once was but now that the Ryder Cup is behind him, he has his sights firmly set on finding form on the course again.

'My game is on and off,' he says. 'I can play a bunch of great holes but all of a sudden I can hit that crooked shot that spoils everything. My goal now that the Ryder Cup is over is to concentrate on my game. I've always worked hard but (I need) to have my frame of mind on practicing and playing.'

Olazabal speaks glowingly of Tom Watson, who was confirmed as United States captain for Gleneagles in 2014.

But is he not tempted to give the captaincy another shot, on home soil The answer is a categorical no.

'The Ryder Cup is over, for sure. If Ivan Ballesteros (Seve's nephew and Royal Trophy organiser) asks me to captain again, I might do it. Most probably I would do it. For Seve, for Ivan, for the family. But the Ryder Cup – that's over.'

It may be over, but it will never be forgotten. Just ask the Princess of Sharjah – her highness herself has made the journey here to speak with Olazabal.

Like his late, great friend, Olly too is now golfing royalty.

Rugby World Cup 2015: Dan Carter assesses the teams

Now that England have beaten us, they must use home advantage in 2015

|

UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 2 December 2012

One thing is certain when the draw for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, to be held in England, is made on Monday— defending champions New Zealand are already the favourites.

Here the All Blacks fly-half Dan Carter gives his assessment of the teams most likely to challenge his country.

AUSTRALIA

They are always a dangerous side. Australia do not have the depth of some of the other top teams, but they always produce their share of very talented players.

Given they do not have quite that depth, it is going to be important they do not get too many injuries. At the moment they have a young side who are only going to get better.

Flying high: Australia will be contenders at the next World Cup

Flying high: Australia will be contenders at the next World Cup

Australia are going to learn a lot from the Lions series next year and I am sure that when the World Cup comes around they are going to be a genuine threat. Their back line are especially talented, and can break open any team in the world.

SOUTH AFRICA

I have watched them a lot lately. It has been a long season for South Africa and they are in something of a transition.

They have a new coach and lost some key players after the last World Cup and are looking towards the future as well, but you can already see some younger guys coming through. They will have learned a lot this year.

Traditionally South Africa are a very strong side physically, with immense power, and you always know that it is going to be a huge battle with them. There are very big men up front who can really take it to the opposition, and they service their backs very well.

FRANCE

The French have really impressed me. We all know what happened at the last World Cup and once they got to the knockout stages they played fantastically well. We saw in this autumn series, with that big win over Australia, what they are capable of and that will have been great for French confidence.

In with a shout: France can blow hot and cold at major tournaments

In with a shout: France can blow hot and cold at major tournaments

Of course there is always this thing about them that you are never quite sure what you are going to get, but they are able to beat any side on their day and are another nation who always produce their share of very talented players.

When everything comes together France are very strong.

ARGENTINA

They are genuine outside contenders and have always shown what they can do at World Cups. They have had a history of catching teams by surprise, maybe because people have seen them less than other sides.

Now that they are playing Australia, New Zealand and South Africa on a regular basis they might lose some surprise, but that will be outweighed by the experience it gives them. Argentina beat Wales convincingly the other week and by the time the competition comes round you would fully expect them to be better. I’m impressed by their loose forwards, workaholics who love the rough stuff.

They scrummage well and the backs are skilful.

ENGLAND

When you are hosting the World Cup it is important to see it as wholly a positive thing and not a burden. Some people can feel the pressure because of the expectation — we know about that in New Zealand. But as an individual player you have to think that it does not get any better than this, playing at home in familiar surroundings, and that you are going to use it to your advantage and embrace the challenge.

On form: England impressed in beating New Zealand on Saturday

On form: England impressed in beating New Zealand on Saturday

If England do that then they are going to be very difficult to beat. They are still experimenting a little bit at the moment and developing a lot of players. The World Cup is three years away so they have plenty of time. I am sure they will develop more consistency in the next couple of years.

WALES

I know they have had some disappointing results, but I would not worry too much. The form they showed at the last World Cup suggested they can be real contenders. I would say the last month has been more of a hiccup that they will have learned from. You always feel this sense of pride they have when you play Wales.

Some of the younger guys like Sam Warburton have put their hands up and it is important that those guys who have already shown they can do it at the highest level now push on in their careers so others can follow. It looks to me like they have quite a few good young players who will emerge.

SCOTLAND

They have had their struggles in the last few years, but they love their rugby and are a very proud nation. I am sure they will be working hard to turn things around. The new coach will have quite a bit to work with, although they are never going to have quite the depth of England, which makes it even more important that they properly develop their best players.

IRELAND

A quality side with world-class players. I always find it a tough match playing against Ireland. They have a strong mental edge and are the kind of team who, if they get on a roll with some confidence, are a hard team to play against.

Tough: Ireland are hard to beat when they're on top form

Tough: Ireland are hard to beat when they're on top form

You have to start well against them and they are a try-scoring team, so you have to stop them getting that momentum. At the moment Ireland have got some fantastic players with a lot of experience and I guess there is going to be a job over the next few years blending the experience with younger players who are going to come through. I really enjoyed watching their recent game with Argentina.

An outsider to watch out for

If you look at the Pacific Island nations there are some great individuals now playing all around the world. These are tough teams to play against, as Samoa and Tonga have shown recently. They seem to love playing against the bigger nations and never hold back. They love the physical side of the game, so if any bigger team has a bad day against them they are likely to be in trouble.

Interview: Mike Dickson

Graeme McDowell wins World Golf Challenge in California

McDowell makes it two in three by picking up World Golf Challenge in California

|

UPDATED:

23:53 GMT, 2 December 2012

Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell finished three shots clear of Keegan Bradley to win the World Golf Challenge in California.

The European Ryder Cup star banked a cheque for one million US Dollars (624,000) as a result of finishing 17 under for the week, as well as ending a two-year wait since his last victory – which happened to be in this competition.

The 2010 US Open winner was two shots ahead of Bradley at the start of the day and ensured success with a strong back nine that earned him a four-under 68.

Here kitty: Graeme McDowell poses with his trophy after winning the World Golf Challenge

Here kitty: Graeme McDowell poses with his trophy after winning the World Golf Challenge

Fist pump: McDowell celebrates winning at the Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks

Fist pump: McDowell celebrates winning at the Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks

He was one under at the turn, having
picked up a stroke at the par-five second, but strengthened his case on
the back nine with four more birdies to balance against a solitary
bogey-six at the 13th.

Bradley started strongly, with birdies
at holes two and five but was level par for the front nine after giving
back shots on eight and nine.

He finished three under for the round as he responded to McDowell's surge but it was not enough.

Up you go: McDowell tosses his club after hitting a shot on the 18th fairway

Up you go: McDowell tosses his club after hitting a shot on the 18th fairway

The pair were well ahead of the rest
of the 18-man field, Bo Van Pelt finishing third four shots back from
Bradley and seven adrift of McDowell.

Tournament host Tiger Woods finished in a share of fourth alongside Rickie Fowler and Jim Furyk on nine under.

Zach Johnson spared England's Ian
Poulter last place with a dreadful round of seven over that included
three double bogeys and three bogeys.

Fourth: Tiger Woods shared his position with Rickie Fowler and Jim Furyk

Fourth: Tiger Woods shared his position with Rickie Fowler and Jim Furyk