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Ronnie O"Sullivan says snooker return could be car crash TV

It could be car crash television, but I'll still be worth watching! Returning O'Sullivan says appearance at Crucible will be like a reality TV show

By
Matt Mcgeehan, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

17:30 GMT, 15 April 2013

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UPDATED:

18:48 GMT, 15 April 2013

Snooker's biggest star Ronnie O'Sullivan joked that his return for the Betfair World Championship at the Crucible will be like watching Big Brother.

The 37-year-old has taken most of this season off, but is returning for the spring showpiece in Sheffield.

And he said: 'It's like my own reality TV show. It could be car crash, it could be good. You just don't know.

'I’ve never been one for doing Big Brother but this is about as close as it gets to it. It’s definitely exciting for me and everyone looking in.

Making his return: Ronnie O'Sullivan poses during the media launch for the World Championship at The Groucho Club in London on Monday

Making his return: Ronnie O'Sullivan poses during the media launch for the World Championship at The Groucho Club in London on Monday

'If I'm cueing all right and feeling all right, then I should be a match for anyone, but who knows'

The snooker world waits with bated breath to see what kind of form O'Sullivan will be in at the Crucible.

He insists that his desire for success, focus, to lose weight and reconnect with friends encouraged him to return to defend his title.

The 37-year-old Chigwell cueman
confirmed in February that he would defend the title he won 12 months
ago, despite not competing in a tournament since.

'There's a part of me that wants
instant success,' the four-time champion said. 'That would be nice, but
for me it's just about having fun. I felt it was time to have some sort
of focus in my life.

'Running was a massive part of my
life and I found I got that lazy having nothing to do, I had too much
time to even go and run in the end. I started putting weight on.

'I realised that snooker gave me an
opportunity to meet some good people, to travel and that's kind of what I
missed, missing the routine.'

Ready for the big one: World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn and Ronnie O'Sullivan attend the media launch for the World Championship

Ready for the big one: World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn and Ronnie O'Sullivan attend the media launch for the World Championship

O'Sullivan has lost a stone since
deciding to come back by returning to a routine and plans to run during
the 17-day World Championship, which begins on Saturday with his
first-round match against Marcus Campbell.

O'Sullivan believes he has plenty to
offer the game, adding: 'If you look at it statistically I've done
pretty well, but from my own perspective I feel like I've still
underachieved. I'd like to win another world title in my forties. I've
not set myself the goal to win this year's world title because that
would be a bit of a silly goal.

'I'd like to be a world champion when
I'm 40. It gives me a bit of leeway. It's the long game I'm looking at,
rather than just the short-term. This is just the start.'

Winning on his comeback would be an
overwhelming experience, O'Sullivan admitted. 'It would be a fairytale
dream, but last year was my greatest performance,' he said.

'I'd had a good season and it was
expected by pretty much everyone that I was going to win the tournament
before it started. To me that is the ultimate achievement, because
anything other than a win would've been seen as a failure in most
people's eyes.

'This year it's a different ball
game. I've come here with no matches under my belt. It'll just be nice
to be out there playing. I don't have anything to prove to the general
public.'

Champion: O'Sullivan celebrates last year's win in Sheffield

Champion: O'Sullivan celebrates last year's win in Sheffield

O'Sullivan is something of an enigma
and has worked with Dr Steve Peters, the sports psychiatrist who worked
with British Cycling and whom he now regards as a friend. O'Sullivan is
instinctive in his game and his life and his recent practice sessions
with Peter Ebdon were 'by coincidence' in Sheffield.

'Peter was the only decent player for
me to play. I had no choice,' O'Sullivan said. 'That's not being
horrible because I love Peter. And I can handle him better now since
I've been working with Steve Peters. I wish I'd been working with him 20
years ago.'

O'Sullivan was speaking at the Groucho Club in London's Soho alongside world No 1 Mark Selby, who is favourite for the title.

Selby, described as an 'invoicing
operation' by World Snooker chief Barry Hearn, has won the UK
Championship and Masters tournaments this year and is aiming to become
the fourth player – after Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry and Mark Williams –
to win the 'triple crown' in the same season.

The 29-year-old from Leicester said:
'It's a tough tournament to win. There's a lot of great players in it.
It's great to have Ronnie back playing as well, so it's going to be
tough.

'He's one of the most natural players
to ever play our game. If any one player can do it (win after a year
out), Ronnie's the person.'

Hawk-Eye miss out on goal-line contract with FIFA after GoalControl seal deal

Germany 2 England 1 in goal-line technology saga as Hawk-Eye miss out on FIFA contract (but they could win Premier League deal)

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Net gains: John Terry makes a controversial clearance in England's 1-0 win over Ukraine at Euro 2012

How will it work
Each goal has seven high-speed cameras which track the position of the ball in three dimensions to millimetre precision every two milliseconds.

Within a second of the ball completely crossing the line, the referee is alerted by a vibration and a flashing light on his watch. All camera footage is stored and can be replayed at any time.

How much will it cost
It costs around 170,000 per stadium to install and 2,800 per match to operate

What does it mean for fans
Besides no more missed goals, an instant replay can project a 3D view of the ball’s movement on a virtual pitch to TV viewers at home or to supporters in the stand via the big screen.

PS…

But despite all that technology, referees still retain the authority to make the final decision.

It will cost around 170,000 per stadium to instal and a further 2,800 per match to operate.

GoalControl uses 14 high-speed
cameras to track the 3D position of the ball and promises to alert
referees within a second of the ball completely crossing the line via a
vibration or flashing light on a watch.

FIFA said the German company was
chosen owing to its ‘ability to adapt to local conditions’ in
Brazil. The bids were also ‘judged on cost and project management
factors such as staffing and time schedules for installation’.

The contract, however, is subject to
independent ‘installation tests’ at each of the six stadiums due to be
used for the Confederations Cup – three of which have still not been
completed.

Match officials will also carry out
their own tests before each game, just as they did during the FIFA Club
World Cup in Japan last year.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has urged using goal-line technology in Brazil after Frank Lampard had a clear goal disallowed against Germany at the 2010 World Cup.

Ball-tracking: FIFA hope this system will be a success

Ball-tracking: FIFA hope this system will be a success

Putting it on the line: Hawk-Eye goal-line technology is trialled at Southampton's St Mary's Stadium last year

Putting it on the line: Hawk-Eye goal-line technology is trialled at Southampton's St Mary's Stadium last year

Inconclusive: Chelsea were awarded a dubious goal in the 2012 FA Cup semi-final when the ball was adjudge to have crossed the line

Inconclusive: Chelsea were awarded a dubious goal in the 2012 FA Cup semi-final when the ball was adjudge to have crossed the line

HAWK-EYE REACTION

'Sport teaches us many lessons, including accepting defeat graciously and having confidence in your ability to bounce back strongly. Hawk-Eye wishes FIFA and the appointed GLT supplier every success at The FIFA Confederations Cup 2013.'

Statement released by Hawk-Eye

A FIFA statement said: 'While all
four companies had previously met the stringent technical requirements
of the FIFA quality programme, the final decision was based on criteria
relating more specifically to the tournaments in Brazil, including the
company's ability to adapt to local conditions and the compatibility of
each goal-line technology system in relation to FIFA match operations.

'The respective bids were also judged
on cost and project management factors such as staffing and time
schedules for installation.

'The use of GoalControl-4D in Brazil
is subject to a final installation test at each stadium where the system
will be installed.'

Goal-line: GoalControl-4D's magnetic field system

Goal-line: GoalControl-4D's magnetic field system

In black and white: Geoff Hurst scores England's controversial third goal in the 1966 World Cup final against Germany

In black and white: Geoff Hurst scores England's controversial third goal in the 1966 World Cup final

VIDEO GoalControl in action

Arsenal and Tottenham lead chase for Villa striker Benteke

Arsenal and Tottenham set to fight it out this summer Villa striker Benteke

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

10:36 GMT, 16 February 2013

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UPDATED:

10:52 GMT, 16 February 2013

Tottenham and Arsenal are set to go head-to-head in the race to sign Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke.

The Belgium international has been a success story since arriving from Genk for 8million last summer, scoring 15 goals.

And the 22-year-old is certain to be in demand, with Chelsea and Manchester City also reportedly interested.

On form: Christian Benteke has been an instant success story at Aston Villa

On form: Christian Benteke has been an instant success story at Aston Villa

Benteke’s agent Kismet Eris said: 'It is normal that if you go to a club and do well, other clubs will show an interest.

'Christian has shown he can play in England.

'So why not take the step up to the next level

'Right now his focus is on helping Aston Villa stay in the Premier League.'

Wanted man: The Belgian has attracted interest from a host of clubs

Wanted man: The Belgian has attracted interest from a host of clubs

Mario Balotelli scores again for AC Milan, his fourth goal in three league games, with a curling free-kick against Parma

Milan falls deeper in love with Mario (and so does his girlfriend) after Balotelli grabs his FOURTH goal in three games back home

-13 season for Manchester City.

The volatile Italian forward has made an instant impact on his return to Milan and he scored yet again with a 78th-minute free-kick at the San Siro in a 2-1 win over Parma.

His girlfriend Fanny Robert Neguesha, a Belgian model, was in the stands to see his curling free-kick and she caught the eye as she made heart shapes with her hands… presumably aimed at Balotelli.

You beauty: Mario Balotelli curls in a 78th-minute free-kick against Parma

You beauty: Mario Balotelli curls in a 78th-minute free-kick against Parma

Flying start! The Italian scored his fourth goal in three league games for Milan

Flying start! The Italian scored his fourth goal in three league games for Milan

Mario Balotelli

Mario Balotelli

Why always me Balotelli celebrates his goal at the San Siro

Embrace: Balotelli celebrates his goal with team-mate Riccardo Montolivo

Embrace: Balotelli celebrates his goal with team-mate Riccardo Montolivo

Since Balotelli left the Etihad in January, not a lot has gone right for Manchester City as draws against QPR and Liverpool as well as defeat at Southampton have all but ended their chances of retaining the Premier League crown they won on a dramatic final day last year.

But the controversial striker has made a flying start to his Milan career, which began with fireworks on the day of his arrival.

In the stands: Balotelli's girlfriend Fanny Robert Neguesha makes a heart shape with her hands

In the stands: Balotelli's girlfriend Fanny Robert Neguesha makes a heart shape with her hands

Guest: Balotelli's girlfriend Fanny Robert Neguesha makes a heart shape with her hands

Rafael Benitez says Fernando Torres needs better service at Chelsea

Pass to Torres! Benitez says better service can help 50m flop recapture his form

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UPDATED:

06:59 GMT, 26 November 2012

Rafael Benitez believes greater service to Fernando Torres from his team-mates will help the striker recapture his Liverpool form.

The Spanish manager proved unable to make an instant impact on his countryman in Chelsea’s goalless Barclays Premier League draw against Manchester City on Sunday, the 50million man failing to muster a single shot on target.

Forlorn: Fernando Torres endured another frustrating day against Man City

Forlorn: Fernando Torres endured another frustrating day against Man City

But the Blues’ interim manager, who made Torres one of the best players in the world during their three years at Liverpool, saw enough to be confident his fellow Spaniard was not beyond help.

'You could see he was trying very hard,' said Benitez, who answered 'Yes' when asked whether Torres could recapture his Anfield form.

He added: 'But I think the team has to help Fernando and create more chances, and he will score goals. You cannot expect a striker scoring just on his own, so we have to create more and better chances for him with the players we have.'

Indeed, the European champions only produced one shot on target at all in what was a dour game at Stamford Bridge that did nothing to endear Benitez to Blues supporters following the most savage of receptions before kick-off.

He said: 'Obviously, I’m not happy with just one shot on target, but the main thing is to create chances and go close.'

At least Benitez stopped the rot at the back, Chelsea having gone 10 games without a clean sheet before today, including Tuesday’s fateful 3-0 Champions League defeat at Juventus.

Swim up stream: Rafa Benitez is confident of winning fans and players over

Swim up stream: Rafa Benitez is confident of winning fans and players over

'The team weren't performing at their level in the last games and lost a bit of confidence from the Champions League game,' Benitez said. 'But this was a clean sheet after so many games. You have some positives.

'I'm not 100 per cent satisfied because I want to win. But there aren’t too may teams better than City in the Premier League.'

The draw left Chelsea five points behind Manchester United a third of the way through the season.

'Things change all the time,' said Benitez, who revealed Gary Cahill missed the draw with City through illness but should be fit for Wednesday’s derby with Fulham. Daniel Sturridge is unlikely to return.

Rafael Benitez: Chelsea faults obvious already (so we"ll expect win over Manchester City then, Rafa!)

Benitez: I've already spotted what's wrong with Chelsea (so we'll expect nothing less than a big win against City then, Rafa!)

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UPDATED:

16:21 GMT, 23 November 2012

Rafael Benitez claimed it took him just one training session to see where Chelsea could improve after vowing to make an instant impact at Stamford Bridge.

Benitez was given just three days to pick the European champions up from Tuesday’s fateful defeat at Juventus ahead of Sunday’s top-of-the-table Barclays Premier League clash with Manchester City.

But the former Liverpool boss, controversially appointed interim Blues manager on Wednesday night, declared he had already spotted flaws that might explain Chelsea’s recent slump during his first training session at their Cobham headquarters yesterday.

Centre of attention: Rafael Benitez holds court during Chelsea training at Cobham on Friday

Centre of attention: Rafael Benitez holds court during Chelsea training at Cobham on Friday

And the 52-year-old had no qualms discussing them with his new players, whose confidence has been dented by a run of only two wins in eight matches that saw them slip from first to third in the league and to the brink of crashing out of the Champions League.

Rafa's pop at Pep

Rafa Benitez appeared to take a pop at those saying Pep Guardiola is in line to replace him at Stamford Bridge at the end of the season by suggesting his managerial record compares with that of the former Barcelona boss.

Benitez referenced his own two La Liga titles with Valencia in 2002 and 2004 and compared them with Guardiola's inability to stop Real Madrid winning the Spanish league title last season.

'All the trophies are important – some
are more important than others,' Benitez said, defending his failure to
win a championship in England.

'I won the league twice, in Spain. In Spain, Guardiola cannot win the Premier League. You cannot win everything in every country.'

Benitez said: 'We didn’t talk about
the Champions League or the next game but about little things I saw and
we could improve a bit, and things they were doing well, which Roberto
Di Matteo was doing.'

All the talk at Benitez’s unveiling yesterday was about his relationship with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich – who he met for the first time over dinner last night – and the club’s fans.

But the Spaniard must also win over a squad who appeared fully behind Di Matteo, the man who somehow managed to inspire them to Champions League and FA Cup glory in the wake of the Andre Villas-Boas regime before being unceremoniously sacked on Wednesday morning.

Benitez said: 'I’m sure they will be pleased like they were with Di Matteo who, by the way, was doing a great job.'

Chelsea started the season like champions-elect but injuries, suspensions, a lack of tactical flexibility and off-field scandals have cast doubt on the overall strength of the squad.

Benitez said: 'It’s a good squad, a good team. If I’m here, it’s because I think we can win with them.

Talking tactics: Benitez with his new No 2 Boudewijn Zenden (centre) and coach Steve Holland

Talking tactics: Benitez with his new No 2 Boudewijn Zenden (centre) and coach Steve Holland

Time to get scoring again, Fernando: Torres has a heart-to-heart with his new Chelsea boss

Time to get scoring again, Fernando: Torres has a heart-to-heart with his new Chelsea boss

'If we can improve by training hard, we will.'

Benitez revealed he would look to Chelsea’s big-name players to help him get their season back on track.

'In a top side, normally, there will be some important players, some who have more influence,' he said. 'I spoke with Petr Cech, John Terry, Frank Lampard, Fernando.'

With a contract only until the end of the season – fuelling speculation he is only keeping the manager’s seat warm for Pep Guardiola – Benitez is unlikely to have much influence on transfers in January.

Pointing the way forward: The Spaniard dishes out instructions - but John Mikel Obi seems distracted

Pointing the way forward: The Spaniard dishes out instructions – but John Mikel Obi seems distracted

Er, will that impress the new boss, Eden Chelsea playmaker Hazard (left) manhandles Benitez in training

Er, will that impress the new boss, Eden Chelsea playmaker Hazard (left) manhandles Benitez in training

The Spaniard appeared to accept he would not enjoy the same control as he did during his six years at Liverpool.

'Here, you have a technical director and the manager is a head coach who has to improve the players he has,' he said. 'I will talk to the people involved if it’s necessary to improve the (squad).'

Chelsea appear in particular need of a
striker, even if Benitez succeeds where three other Chelsea managers
have failed by helping 50million flop Fernando Torres rediscover the
form he showed under his fellow Spaniard at Liverpool.

Torres almost helped fire the Reds to the Premier League title in 2009, a trophy that ultimately eluded Benitez.

Managers who fail to win the league do not last long at Chelsea, who are four points behind City going into Sunday’s game.

Also especially important is the Champions League, a competition which Benitez may only manage in for one match, and the Club World Cup.

The timing of Di Matteo’s sacking suggested Chelsea were desperate to win a competition they waited so long just to qualify for.

Benitez, who lost the final in 2005 with Liverpool before winning with Inter Milan in 2010, said: 'I know how hard it is, and how seriously the South American teams take it, but it would be a great challenge.'

Atletico Madrid target Javier Hernandez in 12m deal to replace Falcao

Atletico Madrid want 12m Hernandez to replace Chelsea and Man City target Falcao

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UPDATED:

05:56 GMT, 22 October 2012

Heading for the exit: Hernandez

Heading for the exit: Hernandez

Atletico Madrid are hoping that Manchester United's Javier Hernandez can be the man to fill Radamel Falcao's boots should the striker depart as expected in January.

Falcao, 26, has become the most sought-after striker in Europe and Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City are queuing up to meet his 46m release clause in the next transfer window.

The Colombian has already expressed his
desire to leave the Spanish capital and Atletico hope to lure Mexican
Hernandez as his replacement, according to Metro.

The 24-year-old arrived in England for a
fee of around 7m in 2010 but despite making an instant impact at the
club he has fallen behind Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and summer arrival
Robin van Persie in the Old Trafford pecking order this season.

Bench-warmer: Hernandez (right) has started just one Premier League game this season

Bench-warmer: Hernandez has started just one Premier League game this season

Hernandez – who netted 20 goals in
his debut campaign at United when he started the Champions League final –
has just started just one Premier League game this season and has
netted just once in seven appearances.

Fiorentina are also interested in a
January move for the man nicknamed 'Chicarito' but they are only willing
to pay 8m and will be gazumped should Atletico be funded by the sale
of Falcao.

Hot property: Falcao celebrates scoring the winner against Sociedad on Sunday night

Hot property: Falcao celebrates scoring the winner against Sociedad on Sunday

Falcao took his tally for the season to 12 goals in just eight games with the winner against Real Sociedad on Sunday night.

The former Porto striker scored a hat-trick in the European Super Cup win over Chelsea – who are the favourites for his signature despite oil-rich PSG and Man City both expressing an interest.

Johan Cruyff praises Celtic for improvement

Cruyff hails Celtic for improvement on Euro comeback ahead of Barca double bill

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UPDATED:

22:43 GMT, 21 October 2012

Footballing legend Johan Cruyff has praised Celtic for making an instant impact on their return to the Champions League – and urged Neil Lennon's men to believe in their ability to create a shock.

Celtic, having ended a three-year absence from the Champions League by qualifying for the group stage, impressed Cruyff with their first-ever away win in the competition by beating Spartak Moscow in Russia last month.

Believe: Johan Cruyff says Celtic can pose a threat to Barca

Believe: Johan Cruyff says Celtic can pose a threat to Barca

As they prepare for their doubleheader against mighty Barca, starting with Tuesday night's daunting tie in Catalonia, Cruyff told Sportsmail: 'I know Celtic have bought wisely and they have developed some of their own players.

'That is why they are back at this level. And it was a big result in Moscow. A lot of very big clubs would struggle with that fixture away to Spartak – but they showed something by going to Russia and winning.

Dangermen: Barcelona will be a massive task

Dangermen: Barcelona will be a massive task

'It's impossible, of course, to say how they will progress from here. Normally, Barcelona has a much better team than Celtic. If everything is as it should be, then Barcelona win every time.

'But there are things a coach can do, things players can do, to make the gap less. Celtic have to work very hard and believe that they can achieve something.'

Huddersfield 1 Derby 0: Danny Ward scores winner in 47 seconds

Huddersfield 1 Derby 0: Quick-fire Ward takes just 47 seconds to net winner

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UPDATED:

17:15 GMT, 15 September 2012

Football League blog

Danny Ward scored after just 47 seconds as Huddersfield beat toothless Derby to continue their encouraging start to life in the npower Championship.

The former Bolton winger caught the Rams cold when he turned in Adam Hammill's cross and that proved to be enough to give the Terriers their second win of the season.

After a terrible start, Derby played some attractive football but they lacked a cutting edge and were unable to rescue a point which would have been no more than they deserved.

Gone in 47 seconds: Danny Ward celebrates his early winner for Huddersfield

Gone in 47 seconds: Danny Ward celebrates his early winner for Huddersfield

Match facts

Huddersfield: Smithies, Hunt, Peter Clarke, Lynch, Dixon, Hammill (Arfield 86), Ward (Novak 67), Norwood, Clayton, Southern, Vaughan (Scannell 89). Subs not used: Bennett, Woods, Gerrard, Lee.

Booked: Dixon, Hunt, Lynch.

Scorer: Ward 1.

Derby: Fielding, Brayford, Keogh, O'Connor, Roberts (Buxton 90), Hughes, Bryson, Hendrick, Doyle (Jacobs 64), Ward, Sammon (Robinson 78). Subs not used: Legzdins, Tyson, Gjokaj, Freeman.

Booked: Ward.

Referee: Trevor Kettle.

Attendance: 15,265.

Huddersfield have lost just once since returning to the second tier and look very much at home at this level, with Simon Grayson having blended together a well organised side.

The Derby coach was late arriving after being held up in traffic and Nigel Clough's side were caught napping after just 47 seconds when Huddersfield took the lead.

Hammill was the architect, with the on-loan winger making an instant impact on his home debut as he raced down the right unchallenged and was allowed to pick out the on-rushing Ward, who got in front of his marker and diverted the ball past Frank Fielding with a neat right-foot finish.

The Rams were guilty of some sloppy passing and continued to create problems for themselves but started to get into their stride with some slick passing and movement.

Delighted: Huddersfield manager Simon Grayson

Delighted: Huddersfield manager Simon Grayson

And it needed a great last ditch tackle from Terriers captain Peter Clarke to get team-mate Paul Dixon out of jail after the full-back's poor pass let in Jamie Ward, who laid the ball off to Connor Sammon. Clarke stepped in with a brilliantly timed tackle to deny the big striker as he was seemingly poised to equalise.

Derby continued to dominate possession
but Huddersfield looked dangerous going forward and Craig Bryson
breathed a sigh of relief when he headed a free-kick wide of his own
goal.

Rams boss Clough
clearly had a few words to say to his players at half-time as they made a
bright start to the second half, but Huddersfield almost doubled their
lead when Adam Clayton's drive was tipped around the post by Fielding.

But
the Terriers were struggling to keep hold of the ball and Conor Doyle
spurned a great chance to equalise when he fired over the crossbar at
the far post after a good run from the lively Jamie Ward.

Former
Terriers striker Theo Robinson was given a warm ovation when he
replaced Sammon with 12 minutes remaining with Derby still enjoying
plenty of possession but lacking quality in the final third.

Huddersfield sat deeper as the clocked ticked down and the Rams had a big shout for a penalty deep into stoppage time.

Referee Trevor Kettle waved play on when Jeff Hendrick went down in the area after a strong challenge in the air and the Terriers held on for all three points.

Nicolas Colsaerts in good position in Ryder Cup race at Johnnie Walker Championship

Colsaerts well placed to make Ryder Cup surge after fine start at Gleneagles

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UPDATED:

18:16 GMT, 23 August 2012

Golf blog

Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal gave an instant reaction in Scotland to Padraig Harrington scoring a 64 in America – and it should leave the Irishman in no doubt where he stands.

Harrington is fighting to be among the candidates for a wild card on Monday, but it is how he finishes the first of the FedEx Cup play-off events that appears far more important than how he starts it.

Olazabal was reminded that two weeks ago he said Harrington needed to do something extraordinary to make the side. So what now constitutes extraordinary 'At least a win,' Olazabal replied with a smile.

Good position: Nicolas Colsaerts in action during the first round of the Johnnie Walker Championship

Good position: Nicolas Colsaerts in action during the first round of the Johnnie Walker Championship

He was speaking at Gleneagles, where Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts needs a top-two finish to earn himself a cup debut and is two off the lead following an opening three-under-par 69.

Colsaerts, thought to be in with a great chance of being picked along with Ian Poulter if he fails in his bid for an automatic spot in the Johnnie Walker Championship, was delighted with his day's work.

'It was exactly the day I wanted, being in control of what I was doing,' the 29-year-old Volvo World Match Play champion said. 'I'm very pleased with how I handled myself.'

One down, three rounds to go: Belgium's Colsaerts putts on the 18th green at Gleneagles

One down, three rounds to go: Belgium's Colsaerts putts on the 18th green at Gleneagles

He also pleased watching Ryder Cup assistant captain Thomas Bjorn, who was paired with him for the first two rounds and kicked off his defence of the title with a 70.

'I can see what he's capable of,' Bjorn said. 'I don't think it comes as a surprise – I think we all know what Nicolas can do.

'He needs to keep doing what he's doing and get a good week out of it. He's in good form and you can see that his confidence is high.

'Even when he gets himself in trouble he gets out of it decent and that's the sign of somebody that has all the things at the moment going in the right direction.'

A close look: Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal is in Scotland for the conclusion to the Ryder Cup points race

A close look: Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal is in Scotland for the conclusion to the Ryder Cup points race