Tag Archives: lawrenson

Rory McIlroy admits he was wrong to storm off at Honda Classic

It was the wrong thing to do, admits McIlroy after storming off at Honda Classic

By
Derek Lawrenson

PUBLISHED:

00:48 GMT, 5 March 2013

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UPDATED:

01:16 GMT, 5 March 2013

Rory McIlroy had barely made it back to his new home ten miles away on Jupiter Island on that fateful Friday last week when he knew he had done the wrong thing.

As Jack Nicklaus so wisely opined, if only he had thought for five minutes, he wouldn't have done it.

In an interview with American magazine Sports Illustrated last night, McIlroy held up his hand and admitted it was a terrible mistake to walk off the course after eight completed holes of his second round at the Honda Classic.

Backtracking: Rory McIlroy is now saying he was wrong to walk off

Backtracking: Rory McIlroy is now saying he was wrong to walk off

Whatever has been said in the aftermath
during the storm that has become McIl-gate, 'I have probably said to
myself,' he commented.

'It was the wrong thing to do,' added
McIlroy, and with those seven words he did what he's always done on the
few occasions he has made mistakes, and taken full responsibility for
his actions.

World No 1: But the defending champion insisted he wasn't in the right frame of mind to play on

World No 1: But the defending champion insisted he wasn't in the right frame of mind to play on

'It was a reactive decision. What I
should have done is take my drop, chip it on, try to make a five and
play my hardest on the back nine, even if I shot 85,' he said.

'What I
did was not good for the tournament, and not good for the kids and fans
who were watching me.' Mcilroy said at the time he was 'not in a good
place mentally,' and then a statement was issued on his behalf an hour
later blaming a sore wisdom tooth.

Concerning: There had been no signs that McIlroy was about to withdraw

Concerning: There had been no signs that McIlroy was about to withdraw

The latter is an ongoing problem –
his Belfast dentist Mark Conroy has faxed a letter to the PGA Tour
describing the problem – but McIlroy admitted it can be treated with
painkillers and did not constitute the sort of injury that would be a
mitigating reason for walking in.

This, after all, is the man who played
on with a badly strained tendon in his wrist after damaging it while
playing from off a tree root at the 2011 USPGA Championship.

McIlroy will learn from this, like he
always does. He will learn that it is always best to come clean, and not
seek to pull the wool over people's eyes. Here's betting he never walks
off a course again.

Miserable: The Northern Irishman did not appear to be enjoying himself

Miserable: The Northern Irishman did not appear to be enjoying himself

McIlroy breaks four-day Twitter silence

For every complex problem, there is a simple solution. #FTB

Now it's time to work on those damn
swing issues that are far more infuriating than a bad tooth.

McIlroy admitted to suffering teething problems since his switch from Mike. 'The driver and the ball took some time to get used to, but I had weeks at Nike before the start of the year, and I feel comfortable with all the equipment,' he said. 'The problem is, I’m bringing the club too upright on the backswing then dropping it in too much on the downswing.'

The next
time he will be seen in public is tomorrow at Doral and the WGC-Cadillac
Championship.

Caught in the act McIlroy had been pictured eating a sandwich, despite later claiming a tooth ache

Caught in the act McIlroy had been pictured eating a sandwich, despite later claiming a tooth ache

Regret: He has since withdrawn that as an excuse

Regret: He has since withdrawn that as an excuse

Vijay Singh caught in doping controversy after "admitting using banned deer antler spray"

Golf legend Vijay Singh caught in doping controversy after 'admitting using banned deer antler spray'

By
Derek Lawrenson

PUBLISHED:

09:09 GMT, 30 January 2013

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UPDATED:

11:09 GMT, 30 January 2013

Three-time major champion Vijay Singh is under investigation by the United States Tour after being linked to a banned substance.

Sports Illustrated claims that the
formidable Fijian, who has won more tournaments in his forties than any
golfer in history, has been using a deer antler spray containing IGF-1,
which the American magazine describes as a ‘natural anabolic hormone
that stimulates muscle growth.’

Deer-antler spray is banned by the major pro sports, including the PGA Tour and the NFL.

Vijay Singh

Under investigation: Vijay Singh has been linked with controversial supplements

The US Tour has repeatedly warned players against using sprays made by a company called SWATS – Sports with Alternatives to Steroids.

In 2011, former Open Champion Mark Calcavecchia was told to stop promoting the product.

According to Sports Illustrated, Singh paid $9,000 for the deer antler spray, an oscillating 'beam ray' lightbulb, stickers bearing holograms of a pyramid and power additives in November. He is quoted as saying that he uses the spray ‘every couple of hours….every day.’

Singh. a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, said he sleeps with the 'beam ray' on and has put stickers, which SWATS term chips, on his ankles, waist and shoulders.

Vijay uses the SWATS products to boost muscle growth

Different strokes: Vijay uses the SWATS products to boost muscle growth

‘I’m looking forward to some change in my body, Singh told the magazine. ‘It’s really hard to feel the difference if you’ve only been doing it for a couple of months.’ US Tour vice-president Ty Votaw admitted the tour are looking into the report.

Singh, who is scheduled to play in the Phoenix Open starting on Thursday, has been battling a number of injuries over the past few years. He turns 50 next month and is looking forward to a lucrative career on the Senior Tour. Like every player, he is subjected to the tour’s random drug-testing programme. Results are not announced unless a player tests positive.

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, who will be taking part in the Super Bowl in New Orleans on Sunday, was also mentioned in the report. He denied any use of the spray when asked about it on Tuesday.

The PGA Tour has said it will look into a report linking Vijay Singh with the use of a deer antler spray previously found to have contained a banned growth hormone.

The Fijian will still play in this week's Waste Management Open in Phoenix, but Tour vice-president Ty Votaw has said they will investigate the claims made in an article which appeared in Sports Illustrated.

'As we have just been made aware of the report we have not had a chance to review it in depth, but we will be looking into it,' Votaw told USA Today Sports.

Rory McIlroy sued by Oakley over $200m Nike deal

Sponsor turns on McIlroy: Rory sued by Oakley as he nears $200m Nike deal

By
Derek Lawrenson

PUBLISHED:

00:47 GMT, 9 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

15:49 GMT, 9 January 2013

Rory McIlroy is facing legal action from sponsor Oakley just as he is set to be unveiled on Monday as the new $200million face of Nike.

The American sunglasses manufacturer confirmed last night they have launched legal action to retain sponsorship of the coveted Northern Irishman.

On a day when another McIlroy sponsor, Jumeirah Hotels & Sports, disappeared into the sunset thanking him for his services, Oakley issued a statement that barely concealed their annoyance at what they perceive as Nike’s illegal move.

Sued: McIlroy is set to become the new face of Nike

Sued: McIlroy is set to become the new face of Nike

‘Oakley’s contract with Rory has a
right of first refusal that permits us to retain Rory as an Oakley
endorser by matching any offer he receives covering our products,’ said
the statement.

‘These types of provisions are common in the industry. Oakley values Rory and will do all it can to retain him.’

Whether that will amount to very much remains to be seen but Nike are confident they have their man.

Here comes the girl: McIlroy has been dating tennis player Caroline Wozniacki

Here comes the girl: McIlroy has been dating tennis player Caroline Wozniacki

McIlroy has had plenty of relaxation time over the winter

Basking in the sun: McIlroy has had plenty of relaxation time over the winter

McIlroy bathes whilst watching Wozniacki training

Australia sun: McIlroy bathes whilst watching Wozniacki training

Although the invitation does not name
McIlroy, selected media organisations have been invited to a hotel in
Abu Dhabi on Monday for a ‘major announcement’ featuring Nike and ‘a
special guest’.

Oakley’s contract with McIlroy ended
on 31 December. According to the lawsuit filed in California, when they
tried to use their ‘right of first refusal’ to match the Nike offer,
McIlroy and his agent Conor Ridge ignored the counter-offer, thereby
breaching the Oakley-McIlroy contract.

The Nike deal is thought to be for 10
years and worth $200m.

Meanwhile, Padraig Harrington says he has
‘massive sympathy’ for McIlroy over whether to represent Great Britain or
Ireland at the 2016 Olympics. Dubliner Harrington said: ‘No sportsman
should have to make that decision.’

McIlroy and Tiger Woods are golf's two star attractions

Double trouble: McIlroy and Tiger Woods are golf's two star attractions

2013 golden ticket: The main sporting events of the year

The 2013 golden ticket: Which sporting event are you looking forward to most next year

PUBLISHED:

15:36 GMT, 31 December 2012

|

UPDATED:

21:33 GMT, 31 December 2012

The year 2012 will arguably go down as the greatest 12 months in British sporting history, but the drama does not end there as we roll into 2013. We asked our team of writers which main event they are looking forward to the most over the next 12 months, and here's what they told us…

**Scroll down for a full calendar of all the big sporting events in 2013

Year to remember: The London 2012 Olympic Games lit up a fantastic 12 months for British sport

Year to remember: The London 2012 Olympic Games lit up a fantastic 12 months for British sport

The Masters

April 11 to April 14

Derek Lawrenson

From the wider sporting world, it is hard to beat the magic of the first day of an Ashes Test series, with all its promise of a summer of cricketing splendour.

In golf, even after attending every one since 1985, the lure of the Masters remains. Will Rory claim his first green jacket Will Tiger finally rediscover the scent of the Golden Bear Will an Englishman end the major drought As ever, the event offers a myriad of exciting possibilities.

Three's the charm: Rory McIlroy will be looking to add the Masters to his Major haul in April

Three's the charm: Rory McIlroy will be looking to add the Masters to his Major haul in April

Carl Froch v Mikkel Kessler

May/June – no official date yet confirmed

Martin Domin

In what could be a year of rematches for the Cobra, this unification showdown promises to be the highlight. While victory over undisputed super-middleweight king Andre Ward would be the best of his career, Froch’s meeting with his Danish rival is already a Fight of the Year candidate.

Kessler won a unanimous decision when they two clashed in the Super Six tournament in 2010 and recently won the WBA title from Brian Magee, while Froch holds the IBF belt after his stunning demolition of Canadian Lucian Bute. With a 4million pot to be shared by the protagonists, expect fireworks from the first bell… and a tight victory for Nottingham’s finest.

The Cobra: Carl Froch is set to take on Mikkel Kessler at the beginning of the summer

The Cobra: Carl Froch is set to take on Mikkel Kessler at the beginning of the summer

British and Irish Lions tour of Australia

June 1 to July 6

Chris Foy

No need to look beyond my own sport here, as any Lions tour is a wonderful, unique event, generating even greater public interest and debate than a World Cup.

This year’s edition sees a return to Australia, where the Lions last visited in 2001, culminating in an agonising 2-1 Test series defeat. This time, if injuries don’t brutally undermine his plans, head coach Warren Gatland should have a staggering array of British and Irish rugby talent at his disposal.

There is a very real prospect of a first series success since 1997 and with the fabled ‘red army’ expected to number 40,000 for the crusade Down Under, it will be an enthralling, colourful sporting highlight of the year.

Drought: The Lions were last victorious in a series back in 1997 against South Africa

Drought: The Lions were last victorious in a series back in 1997 against South Africa

Chris Cutmore

Nothing else in sport can match the intensity, brutality and white-knuckle tension of British and Irish Lions tours. Four years ago in South Africa they were heroic in defeat. But, as Jim Telfer famously once said, to win for the Lions is the ultimate. Australia await in June – can Warren Gatland inspire a first series victory since 1997 This is your Everest, boys.

Lee Clayton

My golden ticket would be The British
and Irish Lions tour, as a punter. I’ve always wanted to take my dad,
who is a massive rugby fan. The atmosphere and the social side of the
trip would be magnificent, as well as the sporting excellence.

The boss: Warren Gatland takes the 2013 touring party to Australia in June

The boss: Warren Gatland takes the 2013 touring party to Australia in June

The Champions League Final, back at Wembley, should be another wonderful sporting occasion, as should Carl Froch defending his world title at the 02 Arena in London (see Jeff Powell’s latest boxing column). Froch is a warrior fighter. And I might have more chance of making that than getting Down Under… this time. But the saving starts here for the next tour.

I am lucky enough to be going to the first day of the Oval Test against Australia on August 21. So here’s to dry weather and lots of English dominance.

Who said it was all quiet in London post-Olympics in 2013

Happy memories: England clinched the 2009 Ashes series at the Oval

Happy memories: England clinched the 2009 Ashes series at the Oval

Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Jeff Powell

Hopefully, prayerfully and if it actually happens almost unbelievably… Floyd Mayweather versus Manny Pacquiao.

Never mind that the PacMan was knocked out by mini-Terminator Juan Manuel Marquez, this is still the No 1 pound-for-pounder which all boxing and much of the outside world wants to see. And with both men edging into decline – Mayweather’s legs were less spry against Miguel Cotto and it is not inconceivable he too could hit the deck soon – if the $200 million mega-bucks fight doesn’t happen this year it probably never will.

Will they, won't they The boxing world is still waiting for Mayweather (pictured) to take on Pacquiao

Will they, won't they The boxing world is still waiting for Mayweather (pictured) to take on Pacquiao

Wimbledon

June 24 to July 7

Mike Dickson

Normally, in the event of England hosting Australia in the Ashes, the golden ticket would be for the Lord’s Test match, or any other for that matter. But between June and January 2014 England will play their old foe at least 26 times in all forms of cricket, including ten Tests, which somewhat devalues the currency.

Therefore in a non-international football tournament summer the golden ticket has to be the men’s singles final at Wimbledon, preferably between Andy Murray and a fully fit and restored Rafael Nadal.

Old rivals: Murray and Nadal (right) have played out some epic matches in the past

Old rivals: Murray and Nadal (right) have played out some epic matches in the past

Laurie Whitwell

Sunday, July 7. The day when a British man reigns triumphant at Wimbledon to end a 77-year wait for a singles champion.

That singular man is Andy Murray, who has coped with prolonged national expectation and four Grand Slam final defeats to emerge this country's finest tennis player since Fred Perry. He did the improbable by winning the US Open to banish one enduring statistic of Perry's and on Centre Court on men's finals day 2013 he will get rid of another.

A ticket to see Murray ascend the heights set by Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal would be 24 carat.

Historic moment: Murray sinks to the ground as he beats Novak Djokovic in the US Open final

Historic moment: Murray sinks to the ground as he beats Novak Djokovic in the US Open final

Sam Cunningham

Andy Murray did two things last year that suggest he is finally capable of ending a 77-year wait for a male British Wimbledon champion – he won a Grand Slam and won a major competition on Centre Court.

There wasn't much in 2012 that Britain didn't achieve in sport, but having a winner at Wimbledon was one of them. Every time the nerves kick in Murray can look at the Olympic gold medal in his locker to remind him of beating Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, who beat Murray in last year's Wimbledon final, in front of a packed crowd at SW19.

If he goes all the way it will produce another two weeks of sport that will capture the nation's attention and would be likely to bump him up two places to win Sports Personality of the Year. I can't wait to watch it.

Sealed with a kiss: Murray will be hoping to add another Grand Slam to his trophy cabinet at Wimbledon

Sealed with a kiss: Murray will be hoping to add another Grand Slam to his trophy cabinet at Wimbledon

The Ashes in England

July 10 to August 25

Neil Moxley

I'm most looking forward to beating Australia. It helps if it is a mainstream sport. Therefore, victories in the Ashes and for the British Lions would be my idea of sporting heaven.

To be honest, any sporting victory over Australia is to be celebrated. Tiddlywinks, running for the bus, sheep-shearing. All of it would bring a smile to my face. Why am I like this I'm no xenophobe. But I just know how much they hate losing and how hard they try whenever they face any team from these shores, especially England.

And, having grown up in a cricketing era where we were routinely humiliated by the likes of Steve Waugh, (my cricketing hero) Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath, we haven't yet inflicted the sort of pain upon them to nullify that inflicted upon us by the thrashings of the late 80s and 90s.

Arch rivals: England and Australia have some titanic clashed lined up this year

Arch rivals: England and Australia have some titanic clashes lined up this year

World Athletics Championships in Moscow

August 10 to 18

Laura Williamson

There is no excuse for a post-Olympics lull in track and field with the World Championships just eight months away and it promises to be an exciting competition from a British perspective.

Jessica Ennis wants her world heptathlon title back after silver in 2011, Mo Farah will eye another long-distance double and Greg Rutherford is out to prove his Olympic long jump gold was not a one-off. Then, of course, there’s Usain Bolt, who has already targeted breaking his own world records in 2013…

Main event: Usain Bolt will be looking to add World Championship gold to his Olympic crown

Main event: Usain Bolt will be looking to add World Championship gold to his Olympic crown

Other key dates in 2013:

FA Cup final, Wembley, May 11

Champions League final, Wembley, May 25

Tour de France, June 29 – July 21

The Open, Muirfield, July 18 – 21

Rugby League World Cup, October 26 – November 30

The Ashes in Australia

November 21 to January 7, 2014

Ian Ladyman

My plane ticket for the Adelaide Ashes Test in November is already booked so I am growing steadily excited about that. The last one in 2010 was remarkable and anything approaching that would be more than acceptable for me.

With England and Australia meeting in back-to-back series this year, the cricket authorities should be wary of overkill but we will see how that pans out.

There is also a Rugby League World Cup to look forward to this year – with the final at Old Trafford – while the conclusion to the Barclays Premier League will not be dull.

The Ashes home and away

Barmy army: England's travelling support are sure to be in full voice in Australia

Barmy army: England's travelling support are sure to be in full voice in Australia

January to June

July - December

The Ian Wooldridge award: Vote for your sporting hero

The Ian Wooldridge award: Vote for your sporting hero

|

UPDATED:

22:46 GMT, 20 December 2012

The Ian Wooldridge award

Established in honour of the late Sportsmail legend Ian Wooldridge, who died almost six years ago, the annual award is voted for by you, our readers.

It celebrates the combination of sporting genius and Corinthian spirit so beloved of 'Woolers'.

You can send your nomination by email and to help you in your selection, our writers offer their choices and the reasons behind them . . .

JONATHAN McEVOY

LORD COE

I suggest Ian would raise a glass to Sebastian Coe, even if age means that the great athlete is no longer quite 'every mother's son, every girl's dreamboat, every schoolboy's idol, every spinster's sigh, every reactionary's recollection of how young men used to be'.

Coe was one of Ian's favourite figures in sport, as you may have gathered. This summer Coe might also have succeeded in rekindling Ian's lost love for an Olympic movement that had become tarnished by the dual stimulants of cash and drugs. Ian would certainly have approved of the manner in which Coe presented the grand old city of London to the world.

Poster girl: Jessica Ennis wins heptathlon gold

Poster girl: Jessica Ennis wins heptathlon gold

DEREK LAWRENSON

Ian Poulter

Nominate your hero

Send an email to:

[email protected]

Poults at the Ryder Cup is the most compelling example imaginable of sport at the highest level boiled down to its purest essence. Here is a man who earns millions every year yet the most passionate you will ever see him is when he is playing for nothing for Europe.

Nothing was more miraculous at Medinah this year than the manner in which he breathed life into Europe to complete their astonishing comeback, and it was all underwritten with that certain sense of style that has earned him his worldwide following.

Not only would Woolers have enjoyed writing about Poulter, he would have enjoyed getting to know him as well.

PAUL NEWMAN

JESSICA ENNIS

Where to begin in this of all sporting years Ian would have loved 2012 and all the rich array of sporting goodies it provided, but I think he would have had a particular soft spot for Jessica Ennis. She carried the pressure of being the poster girl of the London Games with class and dignity and won her gold medal with that perfect blend of sporting genius and a big smile.

Mary Peters was a big favourite of Woolers and I think he would have seen echoes of her in Ennis. My vote goes to Jess.

Katherine Grainger: Personifies the cheery discipline of GB oarspeople that Ian would admire

Katherine Grainger: Personifies the cheery discipline of GB oarspeople

MIKE DICKSON

KATHERINE GRAINGER

Roll of honour

2008…………. Chrissie Wellington
2009…………. Rebecca Adlington
2010……………………. Jessica Ennis
2011……………………. Amy Williams
2012………………. Jonny Wilkinson

I have a feeling Ian would have liked Katherine Grainger, her equally delightful partner in the double sculls Anna Watkins, and would have revelled in the former winning gold this summer after three consecutive silver medals.

Her ready smile would appeal, as would the fact that she has a hinterland beyond her sport, studying for the PhD in homicide that helps make it easy for her to discuss matters way beyond the realm of rowing. She personifies the cheery discipline of GB oarspeople that Ian would admire.

Grainger can count herself extremely unlucky to only finish 11th in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, but winning this award would be some fitting consolation.

LAURA WILLIAMSON

DAVID WEIR

Not even Usain Bolt had his own theme music played inside the Olympic Stadium last summer, but 'The Weirwolf' did.

Weir covered more than nine miles in six races over 36 laps of the track to win Paralympic gold in the T54 800 metres, 1500m and 5,000m and then topped it all with a fourth gold in the marathon to become the greatest wheelchair racer of all time.

The scale of his sporting achievements in 2012 were incredible, yet even more impressive was the way Weir transformed people's perceptions of Paralympic sport.

The man who fell out of love with wheelchair racing, after seeing the Paralympics sidelined and maligned in Atlanta in 1996, returned, triumphant, 16 years later to put it firmly on the map. And this very British champion did it all powered by 'nothing more than beetroot juice'.

Beet that: David Weir in the 800m

Beet that: David Weir in the 800m

MARCUS TOWNEND

SIR HENRY CECIL

You do not need to be a racing fan to realise Frankel was a horse in a million nor to appreciate the massive contribution to his success of Sir Henry Cecil. The criteria for this award demands the description of genius in a nominee – that is not in doubt with the Newmarket trainer.

Science delivers fresh aids to his profession each passing season, but it is Cecil's all-seeing eye, allied to his innate feel for a horse, which helped him mould Frankel's raw strength into the turbo-charged racing machine which achieved a perfect 14-race career record. This was done while undergoing draining chemotherapy that ravaged Cecil's body and reduced his voice to a barely audible whisper. He had to miss the Sussex Stakes win at Glorious Goodwood in August but, with incredible courage, was back at Frankel's side amid never-to-be- forgotten scenes for the colt's final two wins.

ALAN FRASER

ALASTAIR COOK

Ian loved his cricket and he loved his genuine English cricketing heroes. He would have loved the full flourishing of Alastair Cook as a prolific run scorer and a winning captain.

Woolers might privately have preferred a bit more dash from Cook along the lines of a Denis Compton. But he would certainly have been impressed by Cook's steadfast refusal to have anything to do with the modern cult of celebrity. Five centuries in his first five matches as captain; the youngest to reach 7,000 runs in Test cricket; the most Test centuries, 23, by an Englishman. Yet, stats would not have been the clincher for Woolers. He would have looked at Cook, seen an unassuming, modest, dignified man with intelligence and steely resolve and thought: he will do for me.

Run machine: England captain Alastair Cook

Run machine: England captain Alastair Cook

JEFF POWELL

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL

The Ryder Cup captain's humble deference to his late friend and fellow Spaniard Severiano Ballesteros as the legendary inspiration for Europe's great comeback victory over the US at Medinah was very much in keeping with Ian's style.

Giving the award to Ollie would also expand the tribute to the memory of Seve, one of Woolers' all-time sporting heroes.

To vote email [email protected]

Match of the Day is an old boys" club – Laura Williamson

Wake up Gary, or Match of the Day's old boys' club may close for good

|

UPDATED:

23:00 GMT, 9 December 2012

The BBC website features a page called ‘How to watch Match of the Day’. Increasingly, however, the answer is quite simple.

Record it and fast-forward past the ‘analysis’ between games or risk water intoxication (or a nasty hangover) by putting the kettle on or topping up your wine glass every time the Three Wise Men come on to your screen in their smart-casual, open-necked shirts.

On Saturday night, for example, Alan Hansen delivered the following gems during the 15 minutes we were not watching match action or plugs for Sports Personality of the Year.

Old boys club: (from left-right) Alan Shearer, Gary Lineker, Alan Hansen, Mark Lawrenson

Old boys club: (from left-right) Alan Shearer, Gary Lineker, Alan Hansen, Mark Lawrenson

More from Laura Williamson…

Laura Williamson: Booth and Co aim to end golf's old school traditions
02/12/12

Laura Williamson: I won't be fighting in Rio but you could as taekwondo seeks new stars
25/11/12

Laura Williamson: Dangerous message that strong isn't sexy for women
18/11/12

Laura Williamson: As Sportsmail enters the ring with an Olympic star, Jonas shows being a warrior woman is worth fighting for
11/11/12

Laura Williamson: Kids have no chance when vile chants are treated like nursery rhymes
06/11/12

Laura Williamson: Wit is the only way to counter football's vile chants
04/11/12

Laura Williamson: After Twenty20 World Cup we must now start taking women's cricket seriously
07/10/12

Laura Williamson: Don't use women's sport just to plug a gap, please Auntie…
23/09/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Sunderland ‘have got to stop leaking bad goals early’, three defeats in a row for West Brom is ‘enough’ and, my personal favourite, QPR ‘have got to get victories’. Funny that, as they are bottom of the table having just set a record for the longest winless Premier League start.

Hansen, though, delivers these insightful nuggets with the explicit authority of a father talking down to his eight-year-old son. ‘How are babies made, dad’ ‘They just are.’ End of conversation.

On the rare occasions host Gary Lineker deigns to probe his pal a little further, Hansen frowns and squirms in his seat, visibly affronted. There was a similar, almost embarrassed, reaction from Lineker after reporter Damian Johnson asked Martin O’Neill about self-doubt after Sunderland had slipped into the bottom three.

Ah, those pesky journalists asking former footballers questions. How dare they

Match of the Day too often seems like the comfy old boys’ club we should be honoured to visit for 80 minutes every Saturday night. Relaxed and matey is fine, but it is not conducive to forthright opinions or illuminating punditry.

Dan Walker, who will present next week’s show in Lineker’s absence, may help here. The programme has also tried, to its credit, to shake things up by including current players such as Vincent Kompany and Phil Neville in recent weeks.

It is a very difficult ask, however, for an active footballer to be anything other than diplomatic — particularly when three ex-pros are fawning over your every word.

The programme misses Lee Dixon, while Mark Lawrenson is infinitely better on the radio. Alan Shearer was perfectly fine on Saturday, although he got himself in a twist trying to explain how Chelsea are playing more to Fernando Torres’s strengths.

Effort: Vincent Kompany (right) appeared on the show - but there was only so much he could say

Effort: Vincent Kompany (right) appeared on the show – but there was only so much he could say

Missed: Lee Dixon (right) added something to the show when he was there

Missed: Lee Dixon (right) added something to the show when he was there

But at least Shearer had a go; at least he was enthusiastic and animated. Hansen was also right to highlight Jack Wilshere’s display for Arsenal against West Brom but he simply talked us through what happened and not how or why.

What did Arsene Wenger’s side do differently to their 2-0 defeat by Swansea City And what about Santi Cazorla’s blatant dive to win Arsenal’s first penalty

Little evolution: Lineker (centre) with Hansen and Lawrenson in 2001 and below in 2006

Little evolution: Lineker (centre) with Hansen and Lawrenson in 2001 and below in 2006

Familiar faces: Lawrenson, Lineker and Hansen

Familiar faces: Lawrenson, Lineker and Hansen

Oh, they all had a good laugh about that one, while singularly failing to discuss or expand on one of the main talking points. Are foreign players more culpable than home-grown ones How do we stamp it out Alan, did you ever dive to win a penalty

This is the main problem with the modern Match of the Day. There were highlights of six matches delivered from the shiny new set in Salford on Saturday, not one definitive game.

But then Match of the Day is not definitive any more. That happens on a Monday night on Sky with Gary Neville and his interactive white board. MotD is now occupying a beige middle ground of irrelevancy.

Is it a light entertainment show or a sports programme

It needs to make up its mind before a much-loved television institution is fast-forwarded out of existence.

Blast from the past: Lineker took over hosting duties of the show in 1999

Blast from the past: Lineker took over hosting duties of the show in 1999

What they said

Harry Redknapp teed up his first meeting with QPR chairman Tony Fernandes by announcing: ‘I’ve said it a million times that they’re nice people. I’m not saying that because I need the job. If I thought they were tossers I would say so.’

I wonder if January transfer targets will be on the agenda

Not tossers: Harry Redknapp defended his new bosses

Not tossers: Harry Redknapp defended his new bosses

…And this is what I've been doing this week

In Athens with Arsenal on Monday, Arsene Wenger was noticeably disdainful of any suggestion his club are experiencing a crisis. The admirable belief in his principles is nothing new, but the scornful tone felt different and unnecessary from a manager who has achieved as much as Wenger.

Arsenal are not a club in meltdown — they are still fighting in all competitions, after all — but they are certainly not one in ‘fantastic shape’, whatever the Frenchman may say.

Balance: Arsenal are not falling to pieces, but nor are they in fantastic shape

Balance: Arsenal are not falling to pieces, but nor are they in fantastic shape

Meeting new UK Athletics coaches Rana Reider and Terrence Mahon at Loughborough University, both of whom are American. We Brits have a tendency to self-deprecate, but the way the pair talked up our funding system, personnel and facilities suggested we are doing something right. It also means, of course, there are no excuses for athletes who fail to deliver.

Impressed by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s easy, eloquent manner at the Sports Journalists’ Association British Sports Awards on Thursday. The Arsenal midfielder picked up the Best International Newcomer award and quipped: ‘Thank you, it’s nice to win something.’

Golfers Overpaid? Most earnings aren"t on a par with Justin Rose"s – Derek Lawrenson

Overpaid Most earnings aren't on a par with Rose's fortune

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 15 October 2012

Are professional golfers wildly overpaid As we enter the silly season of lavish appearance fees and guaranteed prize money, a period that has seen Justin Rose make 2million already, it would be easy to succumb to the idea.

But judging any profession by the lucky few who make it to the summit is always a skewed notion.

For a better perspective, look at the man currently holding down 115th place in the Race to Dubai. In other words, the final spot to ensure playing privileges for next year.

Sealed with a kiss: Justin Rose won a small fortune in Turkey last week

Sealed with a kiss: Justin Rose won a small fortune in Turkey last week

Jamie Elson was a direct contemporary of some of the high rollers in the UK game. He played in the same winning Walker Cup team as Graeme McDowell and Luke Donald and turned pro with the same dreams. Five years later, he was selling coffee machines and distributing leaflets in supermarkets.

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Now he is back on the ladder, plying his trade on the second best tour in world golf. Over the past three years he has made around 430,000, which sounds great until you strip out 100,000 for hotels, caddie fees and the like.

Still, excellent money in the real world, of course, and certainly a better rate than selling coffee machines. But not wildly overpaid.

So that’s what you earn if you are the 115th best player in Europe.

Below Elson are all the wannabes on the Challenge Tour who are good enough to routinely shoot scores in the 60s and yet struggle to pay the mortgage. And below them are thousands more playing for their own money each week in small-scale pro events knowing they need to finish in the top six or so to make any dosh at all.

Yes, make it into the world’s top 50 and you can have a holiday home in an exotic location and your pick of the best luxury motors.

Make it into the top 10 and you are earning absolute fortunes.

But there are a lot of really good pro golfers out there who are not overpaid, never mind wildly so.

Christian facing the cut

Is our favourite former knife salesman about to suffer the cruellest cut of all This time last year we were bringing to your attention the heartwarming story of Englishman Gary Christian, who once did that job — among others — to make ends meet and who had battled on to make it to the most glamorous circuit in world golf for the first time at the age of 40.

So, how has he fared in his rookie year on the US Tour Well, there have certainly been plenty of highlights, as anyone following his entertaining Twitter account can testify.

There has been a top-10 finish and he played so well in the first two rounds of the opening FedEx Cup event he got to partner Tiger Woods.

But, the bottom line is that a missed halfway cut last week has left Christian in 127th place in the money list, with two events remaining — and only the top 125 keep their cards for next year.

What is known, in sporting parlance, as squeaky-bum time.

Cambo back in the swing of things

I must admit, there have been times over the past nine years when I’ve bumped into Michael Campbell in clubhouses, hotel elevators and the like, and really not known what to say.

Befitting his status as one of the game’s gentlemen, he’d always warmly say hello. But, after the opening pleasantries, how do you have a conversation with a man who went from beating Tiger Woods to win the 2005 US Open to falling so far he was outside the world’s top 1,300 There are only so many polite variations on ‘Why bother carrying on’ aren’t there

Mr Nice Guy: Michael Campbell had a welcome return to form at Vilamoura

Mr Nice Guy: Michael Campbell had a welcome return to form at Vilamoura

Well, at the age of 43, the man known far and wide as Cambo has come up with his own response, and what a gratifying one it is, too. At the Portugal Masters on Sunday, the Kiwi confirmed the small recovery steps he has been taking by finishing third for his first podium placing for four long years. Moreover, he put together four scores in the 60s for the first time since 2003.

This morning, he must feel almost as elated as he did on that unforgettable day seven years ago, when parliament back home in New Zealand suspended business so they could watch one of their own win America’s national title.

Quote of the week

‘For years I was known as the fella who won the Irish Open as an amateur. Now I have won this prestigious title, I don’t quite know what to say.’

Congratulations to Shane Lowry, winner of the Portugal Masters on Sunday. Let’s hope this victory, the first on tour by a player from the Republic of Ireland since the 25-year-old’s own success at Baltray three years ago, heralds the start of a revival for golfers from the southern branch.

A long time coming: Ireland's Shane Lowry won the Portugal Masters

A long time coming: Ireland's Shane Lowry won the Portugal Masters

Turkish Airlines World Golf Final a delight as eight greats battle – Derek Lawrenson

It's a Turkish delight as eight greats battle it out for big bucks

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 8 October 2012

When Chubby Chandler was approached by the Turkish Golf Federation about starting a megabucks tournament, they envisaged one featuring 100 or so of the world's best players.

'But there are plenty of events like that already,' replied Chubby. 'Why not try something different Why not a tournament with just the best eight golfers'

That idea was not new either, of course. Chandler was thinking back to the glory days of the late Mark McCormack’s World Match Play Championship at Wentworth, when the likes of Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus would gather each October for a glorious autumn festival.

Jet-setters: Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods are in Turkey for the World Golf Final

Jet-setters: Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods are in Turkey for the World Golf Final

Jet-setters: Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods are in Turkey for the World Golf Final

It is the spirit of that much-missed spectacle that he has tried to recapture with the first Turkish Airlines World Golf Final, which begins on Tuesday.

Golf blog

True, the venue has shifted thousands of miles to the East, as is increasingly the way these days, and the players might even be seen wearing shorts rather than wrapped up to the nines.

But you might have to go back to the late Sixties or early Seventies to find the last time anyone tried to get the world’s top eight players together and seven of them actually accepted the invitation.

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So it is that the event features not only Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy but Justin Rose and Lee Westwood. Rounding off the elite gang are Webb Simpson, Hunter Mahan and Charl Schwartzel, with Matt Kuchar stepping in for Luke Donald, the only man to turn down the invitation.

The organisers have got lucky, with the game still on a high after the momentous events at Medinah, and no fewer than six of the eight are playing for the first time since the Ryder Cup. There’s clearly an appetite for more head-to-head, although the format needs explaining.

The eight are separated into two groups of four, with everyone playing each other in their group over the first two days at medal matchplay (ie. the player with the best score over 18 holes wins). The leading two in each group go forward to the semi-finals on Thursday, with the final on Friday.

Naturally, these eight don’t come cheap. Even last place is worth 200,000, while the winner will receive 1million.

And yes, we will see Tiger versus Rory. Funnily enough, they’ve been ‘drawn’ in the same group and will play one another on Wednesday afternoon. Having coughed up all that dough, you didn’t think the organisers would leave that match-up to the vagaries of chance now, did you

The action begins with McIlroy v Kuchar, Westwood v Simpson, Rose v Mahan and Woods against Schwartzel.

Amazing Grace

If you want to know how hard it is to win on the European Tour, consider that a player as good as the two-time Ryder Cup man Francesco Molinari has only three titles to his name in eight years of toil.

That puts the startling feat of the gifted South African Branden Grace, in winning four times in his rookie season, into its proper light.

Links king: Branden Grace with his prize on the Swilkan Bridge at The Old Course

Links king: Branden Grace with his prize on the Swilkan Bridge at The Old Course

One of those wins came in a play-off against his two idols, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen. Another came on Sunday at the Dunhill Links played at the Home of Golf, where the 24-year-old became the first man on tour this year to lead from wire to wire.

‘The next South African major winner,’ declared the Open champion — and who would quibble with Els’s prediction

Tom is looking for a happy return

This time last year we were all getting rightly excited at the amazing sight of a young man winning a prestigious title in only his third start on tour. Now he returns to Portugal to defend his Masters crown this week as the forgotten man.

Glimpse of his best: Tom Lewis at St Andrews

Glimpse of his best: Tom Lewis at St Andrews

What on earth has happened to Tom Lewis This year, the Englishman has competed in 21 strokeplay tournaments without so much as a single top-10 finish. What a sad contrast to the fresh-faced amateur who led The Open after the first round last year.

Lewis has been talking with Justin Rose, who endured similar growing pains, and maybe he can follow his example. On Saturday at the Dunhill Links there was at least the hint of a corner being turned as the 21-year-old shot 65, his best round of this difficult season.

Now he returns to the place on the Algarve where all his memories are good ones. Let’s hope for more signs of recovery.

Quote of the week

‘I think I’ll take that bandage off now! How can all your good shots turn out bad Ugggh, this game!’

John Daly, after following up a 63 in Las Vegas last week with an 86. Painful, no doubt, but not his ‘personal best’ in Sin City. The colourful one once followed up winning $500,000 (312,000) at a tournament with losing three times that amount on the slot machines.

Ryder Cup 2012: Rory McIlroy a victim of trash talk in American press

McIlroy a victim of trash talk in American press ahead of Ryder Cup

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UPDATED:

21:45 GMT, 24 September 2012

If Jose Maria Olazabal is the sort of European Ryder Cup captain who likes to pin articles on a noticeboard to serve as motivation, he would not have been short of material upon his arrival in Chicago on Monday.

The Americans are always banging on about the British press and their perceived penchant for inflammatory headlines, but how about this one from the New York Daily News: 'Here's how Team USA can shut down Rory McIlroy and take out the Euro Trash.'

The piece certainly contained plenty of trash-talking from two ex-American captains, Paul Azinger and Curtis Strange. The former questioned Rory's stomach for a fight while the latter claimed Europe, whose team contain three of the world's top four, were little more than a one-man band.

Easy Ryder: McIlroy is the only European player 'with an aura', according to Curtis Strange

Easy Ryder: McIlroy is the only European player 'with an aura', according to Curtis Strange

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'I'm looking at Europe's team and I don't see an intimidating figure other than McIlroy,' said Strange, a losing American captain in 2002.

'Between Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and Bubba Watson, they fall out of bed and make five birdies a round. Rory, to me, is the only one on their team who looks like he has any of that aura at all.'

Those thoughts would certainly be worth showing to the likes of English duo Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood, wouldn't they Amazing to think that Europe have eight players with winning Ryder Cup records and America, with all that aura, have none.

Azinger, the only winning American captain this century, was equally provocative. 'Rory has that youthful enthusiasm, he's going to be the most fun guy in the locker room,' he said.

'But he can slump his shoulders. 'And I just think if you can get him to slump his shoulders, if he loses two matches that first day, that whole dynamic in the European team room changes.'

My, the home team are up for this one, aren't they Just one more reason not to move far from a television set this weekend.

An apology

Thanks to all the readers who reminded me yesterday that Paul McGinley also made three appearances in the Ryder Cup and was never on a losing side. I had claimed Luke Donald was the only one. As for another keen Sportsmail reader – Paul himself – due apologies.

Money, money, money

No wonder all these top British players are competing in America rather than Europe these days. At the FedEx Cup jamboree in Atlanta on Sunday, Lee Westwood finished last at the Tour Championship and still went home with $625,000.

Hats off: Westwood had a bad week but still took home $625,000

Hats off: Westwood had a bad week but still took home $625,000

Luke Donald never really featured in the FedEx play-off race and yet added another $1million to his pile. Justin Rose made a cool $1.66m. Rory McIlroy Another $3.2m. What we have said before is worth repeating: what a lucky age this is if you're a world-class golfer.

Snedeker cashes in but stays grounded

With a wife about to give birth, a father who recently had liver transplant surgery and the son of his coach battling for his life after a horrific car crash two weeks ago, perhaps it wasn't surprising that golf's latest $11.44million man Brandt Snedeker had no trouble keeping his feet on the ground in Atlanta on Sunday.

Give some golfers that sort of loot and they wouldn't be able to get on the phone to a luxury car salesman or a fancy real-estate merchant quick enough.

In the money: Snedeker pocketed a cool $10m on Sunday

In the money: Snedeker pocketed a cool $10m on Sunday

After his victory in the Tour Championship (with a first prize of $1.44m) won him the FedEx Cup (a bonus cheque of $10m) Snedeker intimated that some of his first calls will be to various charities near his home in Nashville.

'I never thought about having this sort of crazy money before,' said the 31-year-old. 'Now that I have, I need to figure out how to take care of my family and help other people. I really think we can make a difference and help a lot of people out in Nashville and the surrounding areas.'

It is hard not to take to a sportsman who, when asked whether he fancies a new car, replies: 'I have a five-year-old car that has 20,000 miles on it, so it is practically new. Why on earth would I need another'

Snedeker's double was not the one Europe wanted on Sunday. Not with Rory McIlroy in pole position in the FedEx and Justin Rose in the mix at the Tour Championship. Both settled for the respective runner's-up spots. But this was certainly a victory for decency, and restraint in the face of all that excess.

Quote of the week

'I don't read articles about myself. I figure you're all saying nice things about me, and I don't need to read that. Or maybe you're saying really horrible things about me, and I definitely don't need to read that.'

Who would ever say anything nasty about gentleman Jim Furyk Well, maybe the American press if the controversial Ryder Cup wildcard has a stinker this week.

Ryder Cup: Who's hot

Favorite one-club players: Sportsmail"s verdict

The Saturday debate: Who are the greatest one-club players

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UPDATED:

22:18 GMT, 14 September 2012

With Paul Scholes about to clock up 700 games for Manchester United, Sportsmail asked a selection of its writers for their favourite one-club player.

Derek Lawrenson

Golf Correspondent

STEVEN GERRARD (Liverpool, 1998- )

Gerrard has played all his career for one club during an era where money rules and nearly all the best players gravitate to the few clubs with the wherewithal to win the Premier League. Given all his gifts and all the offers to move, his is a singular act of loyalty.

Leader: Steven Gerrard has been at Liverpool his whole carrer

Leader: Steven Gerrard has been at Liverpool his whole carrer

Laura Williamson

Football Writer

JOHN McDERMOTT (Grimsby Town, 1987-2007)

'Macca' spent 21 seasons at right back, playing 754 games. Through the highs of two Wembley wins in 1998 and the lows of tumbling down the divisions he seemed like the one constant: nippy, keen to get forward and dependable. I just enjoyed watching him.

Ian Ladyman

Northern Football Correspondent

CARLES PUYOL (Barcelona, 1999- )

If your daughter brought him home for tea your instinct might be to throw him out. Puyol looks like trouble. If he played for your team, though, you would fall in love with him. Versatile, ruthless and loyal, the 34-year-old defender has played more than 500 times for Barca over the last 13 years.

Barca boy: Carles Puyol has been at Barcelona through their recent glory period

Barca boy: Carles Puyol has been at Barcelona through their recent glory period

RALPH ELLIS

Football Writer

TONY ADAMS (Arsenal, 1983-2002)

The big, imposing centre half was at the heart of football’s meanest defence under George Graham, when ‘1-0 to the Arsenal’ was a Highbury anthem. He later blossomed into a footballing centre half under Arsene Wenger’s influence.

Chris Wheeler

Football Writer

MATT LE TISSIER (Southampton, 1986-2002)

Mercurial forward Le Tissier stayed loyal for 16 barren years when he could have picked up trophies, more money and more caps by moving. Chelsea and Tottenham both tried to sign him but ‘Le God’, as Southampton’s fans call him, kept faith with the Saints.

True Saint: Matt Le Tissier stayed loyal to Southampton

True Saint: Matt Le Tissier stayed loyal to Southampton

Colin Young

Football Writer

FRANCO BARESI (AC Milan, 1977-97)

Quite simply, Baresi was one of the greatest defenders ever. He glided round the pitch, made the brutal work of a defender look like art and was one of the coolest footballers ever. He played in some very good Milan and Italy teams and won the lot.