Tag Archives: flagship

Mark Allen queries Ronnie O"Sullivan"s late withdrawal from International Championship

Allen queries O'Sullivan's late withdrawal from International Championship

|

UPDATED:

15:22 GMT, 27 October 2012

Mark Allen has asked the first questions of Ronnie O'Sullivan's withdrawal from World Snooker's new flagship tournament in China.

The International Championship in Chengdu offers world ranking points on a par with the UK Championship and a first prize of 125,000.

O'Sullivan withdrew on medical grounds, prompting World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association chairman Jason Ferguson to say it would mean 'huge disappointment' for the Chinese supporters.

Northern Irishman Allen, among the likely title contenders after overcoming a passport blunder to travel out, wrote on Facebook: 'So ronnie pulls out of china again!! Thoughts'

Outspoken: Mark Allen

Outspoken: Mark Allen

The 26-year-old added in a later post: 'Don't understand why he enters though. If he doesn't wanna play don't enter. It affects draws, rankings, sponsors, seedings and all.'

O'Sullivan's condition was not disclosed – but he was able to play an exhibition match against Jimmy White in Liverpool on Thursday. Last year he suffered badly with glandular fever and pulled out of the Haikou World Open in China and the PTC finals in Ireland.

The Chigwell man has expressed a dislike for the heavy schedule and travel demands on players in the game, with the ranking system in its present guise placing an emphasis on the importance of players turning out each week.

Despite winning the German Masters and World Championship this year, by taking a four-month break from competition following his Crucible triumph O'Sullivan has drifted out of the world's top 16. His ranking – currently 17th – will continue to slide for not travelling to China.

While the 36-year-old recovers at home, Allen will be looking to claim his second major ranking title, having won his first also in China at the Haikou Open earlier this year.

Missing out: Ronnie O'Sullivan pulled out of the International Championship

Missing out: Ronnie O'Sullivan pulled out of the International Championship

That came after Allen, on arrival in Haikou, launched a fierce attack on the tournament and local people which saw him reprimanded by World Snooker.

He almost missed the trip this time, having taken his wrong passport initially, leaving behind his visa.

But Allen is a player full of confidence and form, having recently won a minor tournament in Belgium by defeating world number one Mark Selby in the final.

'That win has been a long time coming,' Allen said.

'I was really struggling earlier in this season, but I've spent a lot of time with my coach Terry Griffiths up at South West Snooker Academy.

'He's helped me get my mind right. And I've practised hard leading into this event. I had a good attitude throughout.

'I'm really pleased to be playing well again. We've got some very big tournaments coming up, the International in China next week and the UK Championship is not far away.'

In the title hunt: Allen has a chance of victory in China

In the title hunt: Allen has a chance of victory in China

A dark horse for the eight-day Chengdu tournament is Stuart Bingham, who enjoyed 6-0 wins over both Selby and Neil Robertson in the Premier League in Guildford on Thursday, firing in four century breaks.

He and fiancee Michelle are due to marry next year, and Bingham's 16,000 one-night winnings will cover the cost.

'We're getting married in Cyprus in May so that pays for everything,' Bingham said.

'In practice everyone can play like that but to do it on the main stage was unbelievable.

'I've beaten the world No 1 and former world champion – well I hammered them.'

Absent from China along with O'Sullivan will be Stephen Lee. The world number seven has been suspended pending the outcome of an investigation by the WPBSA into betting matters.

The action in Chengdu sees former world champions Shaun Murphy, Robertson and Ken Doherty all start their campaigns.

Scrap FA Cup replays for Premier League winter break, says Richard Scudamore

Premier League call for FA Cup replays to be scrapped to pave way for winter break

|

UPDATED:

08:51 GMT, 15 October 2012

FA Cup replays could be scrapped if a two-week winter break is to be incorporated, according to Barclays Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore.

England manager Roy Hodgson has followed previous national team bosses in calling for a mid-season break, with the aim of ensuring players do not go into major tournaments having played for 10 months solid.

Scudamore believes there is a will among the sport's main governing bodies to make it happen, but feels the FA may have to look to their own flagship cup competition for the solution.

Give us a break! A mid-season hiatus has been mooted for years

Give us a break! A mid-season hiatus has been mooted for years

'Unless someone is prepared to give something up, it is pretty hard,' he told the Daily Telegraph.

'We are not inclined to reduce the number of clubs in the Premier League – if you were running a theatre and had 380 nights that you wanted to sell, why would you throw 60 or 70 of those nights away

'As for the FA, they don't want to give up replays in the FA Cup, so we all sit down and we all look at each other.

'Nobody has asked the Football League to give up the League Cup, but why would we We are huge supporters of it and we wouldn't have the temerity to alter the FA Cup either.

'That will be up to the FA, but unless the FA decide they have different priorities, where the England team is more important than something else they own, then that might be for them to look at.'

Cupset: Replays could be scrapped to facilitate the winter break

Cupset: Replays could be scrapped to facilitate the winter break

London 2012 Olympics: McDonald"s will not be at Wimbledon – Charles Sale

Charles Sale: Wimbledon still a burger-free zone after winning war with McDonald's

|

UPDATED:

22:41 GMT, 27 July 2012

The All England Club look to be the one sports body able to get their way against London 2012 branding Olympic venues exactly as they want.

Wimbledon made strong requests that fast food giants and top-tier Olympic sponsors McDonald’s did not have a presence — which their contract entitles them to have — within the grounds of the club, which has extensive catering facilities.

And LOCOG are said by Wimbledon sources to have backed down after heated discussions.

Fancy a bite The flagship Olympic Park McDonald's restaurant

Fancy a bite The flagship Olympic Park McDonald's restaurant

More from Charles Sale…

Charles Sale: Trouble in Coventry as Ricoh Arena staff lock up equipment in Olympics row
27/07/12

Charles Sale: Olympic torch fans craved a Brucie bonus… but they got me!
26/07/12

Charles Sale: Nice seat LOCOG, shame about the restricted view…
25/07/12

Charles Sale: Silverstone jaunt is not the ticket
24/07/12

Charles Sale: Canadian chosen as controversial Olympic Stadium voice
23/07/12

Charles Sale: Has Ernie another steal on his mind
22/07/12

Charles Sale: Southgate's cold feet over top job at the FA
20/07/12

Charles Sale: Caddies blast R&A over guest pass issue
19/07/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

London 2012 director of sport Debbie Jevans is on the All England Club board and said when the question of Big Macs at Wimbledon was raised: ‘It may well be you could get a McDonald’s at Wimbledon. That is not outrageous. This is not all they sell, and I’m sure there’s many a tennis player who enjoys a burger.’

A LOCOG spokeswoman said McDonald’s had chosen not to have a food outlet or prominent promotional branding at Wimbledon.

Bach a crowd-pleaser

Germany's 59-year-old IOC member Thomas Bach, the favourite to succeed Jacques Rogge as president of the IOC next year, looks to have the common touch which the remote Rogge has rarely shown during his 12 years at the helm.

Olympic fencing gold medallist Bach, who carried the flame down Charing Cross Road in the torch relay on Thursday, happily mixed with all the other torch-bearers on the bus — including the Daily Mail representative — in an engaging manner you wouldn’t have expected of Rogge.

Bach’s likely rival for the top post, Nawal El Moutawakel, newly appointed vice-president, was also on the bus but less keen to socialise.

Meet and greet: Thomas Bach is in the running to be IOC president

Meet and greet: Thomas Bach is in the running to be IOC president

VIP Hayatou

African football chief Issa Hayatou was investigated by the IOC for taking bribes from FIFA’s now defunct marketing agency ISL — a controversy that led to him being replaced as chairman of FIFA’s Olympic football organising committee. Yet there he was at the opening ceremony in the second row of the prime VIP section.

Animal farm

There were plenty of animals enjoying Danny Boyle’s Green and Pleasant Land prologue in the opening ceremony, including horses, cows, chickens, geese, goats and a flock of 70 sheep. And Games organisers LOCOG were insisting their animal welfare was of such a high standard that local officers had commended them on their care of the farmyard collection.

This followed claims from volunteers that a few sheep had taken a turn for the worse after munching the removable grass at the rehearsals.

Furry friends: The animals used in the ceremony were well looked after

Furry friends: The animals used in the ceremony were well looked after

Ticketmaster blasted

Ticketmaster, whose software originally failed to cope with the numbers wanting to buy Olympic tickets, have been blamed for the long queues at St James’ Park that caused some fans to miss the start of the Mexico v South Korea football game on Thursday night.

It’s claimed a cause of the delay was Ticketmaster collecting information from customers for marketing purposes. Geoff Hodgson, LOCOG nations and regions board member, said: ‘It was absolutely appalling for those outside queuing. It was totally unacceptable. Their procedures appear to be one size fits all.’

Chaos: Many fans were unable to get into St James' Park for kick-off

Chaos: Many fans were unable to get into St James' Park for kick-off

LOCOG said they had nine ticket booths open from five hours before kick-off but numerous fans arrived too close to the start.

SatNav U-Turn

Drivers taking IOC bigwigs and national federation chiefs the short journey from the Park Lane Hilton to the Savoy had to do an emergency U-turn on Friday from their prescribed Olympic Route Network SatNav system because they got caught up in the torch relay convoy.

Boyle keeps schtum

The biggest surprise in London 2012’s successful mission to ‘Save the Surprise’ of how the cauldron would be lit at the opening ceremony was that show director Danny Boyle managed to keep quiet about it. Boyle demonstrated in his hour-long press conference that he enjoys talking about his work and never says one word when 10 will suffice.

Rory McIlroy out to arrest alarming slump in form at St Jude Classic as final US Open warm-up

McIlroy out to arrest alarming slump in form at St Jude Classic as US Open defence looms large

|

UPDATED:

12:47 GMT, 2 June 2012

In 15 years as a professional Tiger Woods has never missed back-to-back cuts. Rory McIlroy has now missed three in a row.

And if three becomes four next week then the 23-year-old really does have a problem.

After crashing out of the Memorial Tournament following a second round 79 world number two McIlroy has one more chance to build some confidence heading into his defence of the US Open title.

He is the only player in the world's top 16 entered for the St Jude Classic in Memphis, an event he decided to play in only after his early exit from the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

Bridge over troubled water: Rory McIlroy's form is far from ideal with the US Open fast approaching

Bridge over troubled water: Rory McIlroy's form is far from ideal with the US Open fast approaching

Nobody was that shocked when the run started with scores of 72 and 76 in the Players Championship at Sawgrass. McIlroy has yet to make a cut there, he has no great liking for the course and he was coming off a play-off at Quail Hollow.

But when he had rounds of 74 and 79 in the European Tour's flagship tournament to crash out by eight shots eyebrows were raised – even more so afterwards when he admitted: 'I might have taken eye off the ball a little bit'.

A trip the following day to see girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki in Paris before she began the French Open came only after he had put in some hard work in the gym and on the range.

That hard work has continued, but it is not bearing fruit yet.

'I don't feel like the scores are actually reflecting how I'm hitting the ball,' he said at Muirfield Village.

'I hit some good shots. It just seems like every time I go out there I make one or two big numbers and that sort of throws me.'

Thrown off guard: McIlroy was not on the money at the Memorial Tournament

Thrown off guard: McIlroy was not on the money at the Memorial Tournament

McIlroy battled back for an opening 71 after running up a quadruple bogey seven on his third hole of the day, then in his second round he came to grief with another seven on the long 11th and another double bogey shortly afterwards.

'I just need to keep working on it and try and string 18 good holes together, then two days, three days and ultimately four.

'I'm definitely hitting the ball better than I did last week, so I can see an improvement there, but I've still got a long way to go.'

It is generally agreed that a US Open is not the place to try to find your game, so Memphis takes on crucial importance. From there it will be straight onto the demanding Olympic Club in San Francisco.

The last time McIlroy missed three successive cuts was in August 2008 when he was 19.

He bounced back from that in his very next tournament, starting the European Masters in Switzerland with a 63 and leading by four with a round to play.

wise words: Luke Donald had some encouragement for McIlroy

wise words: Luke Donald had some encouragement for McIlroy

That week actually ended with him messing it up in a play-off, missing a putt of barely 18 inches, but the way things are at the moment he will certainly take being in a play-off again next Sunday.

Luke Donald, who took the number one spot back off McIlroy by retaining his title at Wentworth, played the opening two rounds with McIlroy in Ohio.

'He's obviously frustrated – this game does that to you,' he said. 'He's not far away. He made a couple of careless errors, but I'm sure once he posts one solid run of maybe a couple of rounds or a tournament this will be a blur and he'll forget about it quickly.'

Luke Donald back at World No 1 after retaining Wentworth title

Donald back on top of the world after retaining Wentworth title

|

UPDATED:

16:58 GMT, 27 May 2012

Luke Donald turned on the style again at Wentworth to retain the BMW PGA title and grab the world number one spot back off Rory McIlroy.

Donald's sixth victory in the last 15 months makes him only the third player – Sir Nick Faldo and Colin Montgomerie are the others – to win the European Tour's flagship event two years in a row.

After being caught by Justin Rose four holes into the final round, the 34-year-old put his foot on the accelerator to go clear once more.

Back on top of the world: Luke Donald celebrates winning the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth

Back on top of the world: Luke Donald celebrates winning the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth

Luke at that: Donald has retained his Wentworth title and moved back to the top of the rankings

Luke at that: Donald has retained his Wentworth title and moved back to the top of the rankings

Once he had gone three clear with a 25-foot putt at the short 10th, Donald, the most reliable player in the game right now with the possible exception of America's man of the moment Jason Dufner, never looked like losing.

Playing with supreme confidence, he ended up taking the first prize of almost 600,000 by four strokes from Rose and former Open champion Paul Lawrie with an accomplished closing 68 and 15-under-par total of 273.

Only a top-eight finish had been required for him to move to number one for the fourth time once McIlroy had missed the cut – by a shocking eight shots – on Friday.

Picture perfect: Donald plays out of the bunker en route to winning at Wentworth

Picture perfect: Donald plays out of the bunker en route to winning at Wentworth

That meant his latest success was never going to hit the heights of drama of last year, when he dethroned Lee Westwood by beating him in a play-off.

That was the start of Donald's first reign, one which was to continue until this March, but he and McIlroy have now changed places six times since then.

On this week's evidence there is a gulf between them, but the 23-year-old Northern Irishman, who has crashed out early from his last two tournaments, now heads back to America for what he hopes is the start of a big comeback.

Donald will also be at the Memorial tournament in Ohio starting on Thursday, but it is the US Open in San Francisco on June 14-17 that his sights are now on. Play like this and a first major will finally be his.

Ernie Els launches f-word tirade at at Wentworth chiefs

Els launches foul-mouthed tirade at Wentworth chiefs over state of greens

|

UPDATED:

16:54 GMT, 26 May 2012

Ernie Els moved into contention at the European Tour's flagship event at Wentworth on Saturday but fumed afterwards about the condition of the course he re-designed.

The South African carded a two-under-par 70 on another burning hot day which took him to five under in the BMW PGA Championship – an event he has been trying to win for 20 years.

Furious: Els hit out at Wentworth chiefs after his round on Saturday

Furious: Els hit out at Wentworth chiefs after his round on Saturday

However, Els afterwards hit out at tournament organisers over the state of the greens.

'I asked them to put water on the greens, so put ******* water on the greens,' said Els.

'You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out. The guys are not happy and I'm with them. The Tour has got to play ball – it's not my job.

'The 15th green is holding, the 16th is not, the 17th is not, the 18th is not. They're all inconsistent.

In contention: Els is five-under par heading into the final day of action at Wentworth

In contention: Els is five-under par heading into the final day of action at Wentworth

'I can't keep talking about this. At some point they've got to listen. I do talk, but they don't listen.

'I can't control the wind and it seems like I can't control the greens staff either. They've seen the forecast almost a week in advance, but it's like talking to this wall behind me – I'm fed up.

Golf blog

'This is not a surprise. I've been talking since I landed on Monday – keep the moisture on the greens.

'It gets to me. I want everybody to have a fair and tough examination. Anybody who has half an idea in this game can walk to the 12th green and see. It's dead.

'Somebody is not doing their job. Why is this happening'

Tournament director David Garland said: 'We want a tough and fair set-up. The greens have been hand-watered every night after play.

'This was done last night and because we knew that east winds were forecast, sprinklers were also put on every single green to give them more water.

'Because of the conditions some fairways were also watered and tees were moved forward on the 13th, 15th, 17th and 18th.'

Golf: James Morrison fires brilliant 64 at Wentworth

Morrison fires brilliant 64 at Wentworth… and then reveals he won't go to US Open if he qualifies

|

UPDATED:

15:02 GMT, 25 May 2012

James Morrison will be turning down a place in next month's US Open if he wins the BMW PGA Championship on Sunday.

Morrison, out in front after a magical second round 64 at Wentworth, is due to become a father for the first time in two weeks.

In the swing: James Morrison tees off on the third hole on Friday

In the swing: James Morrison tees off on the third hole on Friday

The winner of the European Tour's flagship event becomes eligible for the second major of the season in San Francisco on June 14-17, but the 27-year-old said: 'I wouldn't go unfortunately – as hard as it would be to turn it down.

'I don't want to think what would happen if I went. Divorce comes to mind.'

Morrison played at Pebble Beach two years ago after winning the qualifying event at Walton Heath. That takes place again this Monday, but he has not entered.

Former Open champion Paul Lawrie is another who will not be at the Olympic Club.

He was eligible through the world's top 60, but decided not to enter because he does not think it will help his bid for a return to the Ryder Cup side after a gap of 13 years.

BBC win new Match of the Day deal for Premier League football highlights

Relief for BBC as new Premier League highlights deal is sealed

|

UPDATED:

12:10 GMT, 25 May 2012

The BBC have secured a rights extension to continue showing Premier League highlights show until the end of the 2015/16 season.

It means Match of the Day will continue showing on Saturday and Sunday nights for years to come.

Highlights will be available on iPlayer for the first time, from midnight on Monday.

New deal: Gary Lineker and Alan Hansen are the main faces on Match of the Day

New deal: Gary Lineker and Alan Hansen are the main faces on Match of the Day

Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore said: “The free-to-air highlights are extremely important to the broadcast reach of the Premier League; allowing the competition and our clubs to be seen by the maximum possible number of fans across the country.

'The BBC has done a fantastic job for fans of Premier League clubs by providing quality coverage and analysis across their programmes.

'We are very pleased to be continuing our partnership with them.'

Unforgettable: Sergio Aguero's dramatic late winner against QPR won Manchester City the title this season

Unforgettable: Sergio Aguero's dramatic late winner against QPR won Manchester City the title this season

Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker added: 'It is wonderful news that we have MotD for another three years.

'It is a flagship programme and it shows how much the BBC values sport and the importance of football.'

The BBC have lost a number of key sporting events in recent times. The Grand National will be shown on Channel Four from next year, while the BBC now only show half the grand prix season live.

Luke Donald et al deserve more home comforts than just Wentworth – World of Golf

English stars deserve more home comforts than just Wentworth

By
Derek Lawrenson

PUBLISHED:

22:00 GMT, 21 May 2012

|

UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 21 May 2012

At Wentworth this week for the BMW PGA Championship the tented village will be crammed, every decent viewing spot taken and the 'car park full' signs posted sometime around midday.

Could there be a more plaintive cry that there is not enough tournament golf in England In the 40 years since the European Tour began, the number of events in England has dwindled from seven to just this week’s solitary, albeit showpiece, occasion.

If England had only one or two decent players it would be a pity. But with two of the world's top three and seven of the world’s top 60, it adds up to a dereliction of care.

Back home: Luke Donald at Bearwood Lakes Golf Club in Berkshire on Monday

Back home: Luke Donald at Bearwood Lakes Golf Club in Berkshire on Monday

As Luke Donald says: 'With the BBC not showing events and a lot of parents unable to afford Sky, we need something to inspire the younger generation. We need more events in England, full stop.'

Golf blog

For some years now the tour have been trying to revive the English Open, without success. Now, however, there looks like there might be the first green shoots of recovery.

Few people are more passionate about this subject than IMG’s golfing head Guy Kinnings, whose company put on tournaments around the world. No-one has a better contacts book than him.

'At the moment all the marketing budgets are tied up with the London Olympics but once that has taken place I am hopeful something will happen,' said the Englishman.

Flagship event: The European Tour rocks up at Wentworth this week

Flagship event: The European Tour rocks up at Wentworth this week

'I’ve talked with Chubby (Chandler, manager of Lee Westwood) and Paul (Dunkley, who looks after Ian Poulter) and we’re all on the same page. It’s clear we’ve got this window of opportunity with all these great players around at the same time.

'Naturally, we’d all like them to go on for ever but we know how cyclical this game is, so it is important to take this chance.'

Kinnings thinks the way forward may be a limited field event, featuring the leading Englishmen.

'We did something similar in China last year and attracted a lot of flak,' he said. 'But look at what happened. It was won by Rory McIlroy, the publicity was huge, and now it’s a full-field European Tour event.

Paul's call: Casey says he and other English players want more home events

Paul's call: Casey says he and other English players want more home events

'Why not something like that in England'

The players certainly sound on board. 'I wish someone would just tell me what we need to do to get another event in England,' said Paul Casey.

'I don’t know who is to blame for the fact there’s only one event but we’ve got to stop talking about it and do something about it.

'Do we all need to add our names to a letter and send it to potential sponsors, saying we’ll turn up I'd happily sign tomorrow and I know Luke, Poults, Westy and the rest feel the same.

'Let’s face it — if it doesn’t happen given the current crop of players we’ve got, we’re screwed.'

Slow burned

We have a new man to salute and his name is Doug Brecht, a referee on the women's US Tour.

Believe it or not, he actually applied the rule book and slapped a penalty on Morgan Pressel for slow play in the Sybase Match Play Championship, which meant an automatic loss of hole.

Get a move on: Morgan Pressel was punished for slow play on the LPGA Tour

Get a move on: Morgan Pressel was punished for slow play on the LPGA Tour

They could have done with Brecht in Spain at the Volvo World Match Play Championship, where Robert Karlsson and Rafael Cabrera-Bello took four hours 32 minutes to complete a match. Who won Frankly, when it’s that slow, who cares

High praise for Gibson's new low

As a scratch golfer at a course in Oklahoma measuring more than 6,800 yards, Ryan Munson had every reason to feel satisfied with his round of 69.

More from Derek Lawrenson…

World of Golf: Such a shame that glory for Matt seems a bit flat
14/05/12

Derek Lawrenson: Rickie's in tune with Golf Boys
07/05/12

World of Golf: Americans in form, so it won't be an easy Ryder
30/04/12

Derek Lawrenson: Former Open champion Curtis finds his salvation with a victory to savour
23/04/12

Derek Lawrenson: Euro stars strike it rich as 130m Tour goes global
16/04/12

Derek Lawrenson: The pride and passion of 'Blubber' Watson
09/04/12

Derek Lawrenson's Masters countdown: Jack's doing his bit for Luke and Rory
02/04/12

Derek Lawrenson: Woods is back, but the UK's finest can defy his bid to be Master
26/03/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

So how come he walked off feeling like a high handicapper Step forward 26-year-old Australian pro Rhein Gibson, who plies his trade in the sport’s little leagues.

Starting with a par, Gibson assembled six birdies and two eagles at River Oaks to turn in 26 strokes. Five more birdies coming home left him with an eight-footer at the last for a 55 (no, that’s not a misprint).

'Never for a second did it look like missing,' said Munson, who could scarcely believe what he had witnessed. 'You can score round here but there's out of bounds galore, water, trees … it’s anything but a pushover. This was crazy good.'

It was also a record low score on a full-sized course. Former US Tour pro Homero Blancas once shot 55 but on a course measuring 5,200 yards.

American Rickie Fowler, who’d just equalled Tiger Woods’s course record 62 at Isleworth in Florida, was suitably impressed.

'Makes my 62 look like nothing!' he tweeted.

Quote of the week

‘You couldn’t dream it any better than what’s happened to me over the past month.’

Let's see. The first win of his career in New Orleans, followed by getting married, followed by another win in Texas on Sunday to become the first player to win two strokeplay tournaments on the US Tour this year. Yep, rising American Jason Dufner called it right — it is the stuff of dreams.

No Duf-fer: Jason Dufner on his way to winning the Byron Nelson Championship

No Duf-fer: Jason Dufner on his way to winning the Byron Nelson Championship

Sawgrass title for Matt Kuchar

Joy for home favourite Kuchar as Donald falls short on final day at Sawgrass

|

UPDATED:

00:16 GMT, 14 May 2012

American Matt Kuchar battled his own nerves and the valiant efforts of the likes of Rickie Fowler and Scotland’s Martin Laird to claim the US Tour’s flagship event, the Players Championship on Sunday.

A member of the last US Ryder Cup team, this win, the biggest of the 33 year old’s career, all but confirmed he will be playing in this year’s match as well in Chicago in September.

Whether Laird will be playing for Europe is more debatable but this joint runner-up showing after a final round 67 will certainly catapult him up the qualifying points table and into the thinking of captain Jose Maria Olazabal.

Just champion: Matt Kuchar emerged victorious in a tough field at Sawgrass

Just champion: Matt Kuchar emerged victorious in a tough field at Sawgrass

Just champion: Matt Kuchar emerged victorious in a tough field at Sawgrass

Laird finished on the same 11 under par mark as former Masters champion Zach Johnson, former Open Champion Ben Curtis, and Fowler, the new darling of American golf who had two birdies in his last three holes.

Fowler had the chance of an even better finish following a marvellous long iron to just 6ft at the last. But the ensuing birdie putt and a chance to pile the pressure on Kuchar lipped out and his frustration was plain.

'It was a lot of fun over the closing stretch but I’m obviously a bit upset to let that golden chance slip at the end,’ said the 23 year old, who was bidding to win for the second week in a row.

Fowler’s miss certainly looked costly when Kuchar three-putted for a bogey at the 17th. He would have been only one stroke ahead going to the nerve-wracking finishing hole.

On form: Rickie Fowler continued his impressive run of results

On form: Rickie Fowler continued his impressive run of results

As it was, a two shot lead allowed him to play it like a long par five and he duly made a four to win by two shots.

'It feels just magical to win this event,' said Kuchar.

Laird made his move with three birdies in a row on the back nine. At that point he was six under par for his round, the joint leader, and with all the momentum.

But a bogey at the 14th took some of the wind out of his sails and there was another at the difficult 18th that cost him a six-figure sum in this 6.5million event.

Still, there were plenty of positives for the 29-year-old to take from the week.

'It was one of the best rounds I have played under the circumstances and I feel like it has set me up for the summer,' he said.

And so another week, another winner on the US Tour. Believe it or not, 21 strokeplay events this year have yielded 21 different winners, with 17 of them being American. The only player to win twice was Hunter Mahan, who won the Houston Open and the Accenture Match Play Championship.

It was a nearly sort of day for the British contingent, with Englishman Luke Donald coming desperately close to reclaiming the world No 1 spot back from Rory McIlroy.

Donald was so groggy owing to a sinus problem last Thursday he felt like he had just stepped off a boat. What a contrast to his buoyant mood on Sunday, following a final round 66.

The Englishman began the day in joint 27th place with seemingly no chance of wrestling back top spot. Needing to finish solo fourth for that to happen and instigate a switch at the top for the fourth week in a row, he came home in 30 strokes to lie tied third at the conclusion of his round. He had to settle for sixth.

Life's a beach: Luke Donald fought hard to reclaim world No 1 spot

Life's a beach: Luke Donald fought hard to reclaim world No 1 spot

'I would certainly have taken that at two over par after 16 holes on Thursday,' said Donald.

His caddie, John McLaren, was hopeful something good would happen when he met his man on the practice ground beforehand.

'For the first time all week I feel human again,' Donald told him.

His back nine was other-worldly, and perhaps left some regrets regarding his misfortune at waking up feeling so poorly on the first day.

Is there anything he can do going forward

'There is an option of getting surgery but my sinuses have been a lot better this year,' he said. 'Two or three years ago I was having problems four or five times a year. Now it’s coming up once or twice and not quite as intense.'

Do we need to talk about Kevin There was certainly no escaping the subject of controversial American Kevin Na following his 68 on Saturday to take the lead into the final round.

Pulling the trigger: Kevin Na

Pulling the trigger: Kevin Na

He suffers from a mental problem characterised as struggling to pull the trigger. Which is ironic, given that most spectators would happily have had him shot.

Into one of the great golf seasons of recent memory a little darkness had to fall, it seemed, as Na tried on numerous occasions to stand up and hit the ball, only to continually back off, unable to draw the club back and complete a swing.

'Pull the trigger!' he screamed to himself at one point, thereby echoing the thoughts of the 45,000 spectators crammed on to the stadium course.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be too hard on him. After all, he doesn’t walk around in a bubble of blithe indifference. On Saturday he apologised on several occasions to his playing partner Johnson, who was plainly fed up by the end.

As Na acknowledged: 'As ugly and as painful as it is, believe me it is really tough for me. And I’m trying.'

He certainly tried on Sunday but it must be horrendous having to deal with the pressure of a final day while coping with such a nervous condition. He closed with a 76 to finish tied seventh.