Tag Archives: round

Manchester United 22,000 mile pre-season tour backlash

Man United's 22,000 mile tour backlash sees winter break campaign take a hit

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UPDATED:

21:31 GMT, 7 July 2012

Manchester United's money-spinning pre-season world tour, which takes the club on an astonishing 22,000-mile trek before a competitive ball is kicked, could sound the death-knell for the campaign for a winter break.

The argument for the break – which the FA and a number of leading Premier League clubs favour – is that a two-week rest in January will help players stay fresh for the end-of-season run-in and summer international tournaments.

But Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore is fiercely against the idea because of the loss of TV revenue, and he has support among midranking top-flight clubs.

Jaunts: Manchester United will leave Old Trafford and travel round the world

Jaunts: Manchester United will leave Old Trafford and travel round the world

Opponents also say that a break would benefit the big clubs like United, whose pre-season travels can contribute to some players becoming jaded in midseason. United's tour will see Sir Alex Ferguson's men play six friendlies on three different continents.

A leading source said: 'The majority of clubs don't want it to happen. Nobody is convinced having a couple of weeks off will help the England team. The fixtures would have to be played later on in any case.

'It's a way of allowing the big clubs to spend more time abroad to earn money and promote their branding.'

Support: Sir Alex Ferguson has backed winter break plans

Support: Sir Alex Ferguson has backed winter break plans

United's pre-season tour, sponsored by delivery company DHL under the banner 'Tour 2012 delivered to the world', will see them play in South Africa, China, Norway, Germany and Sweden before the Premier League season kicks off on August 18.

England's other Champions League teams will also be on long-haul tours this summer, with champions Manchester City facing Arsenal in Beijing, and Chelsea touring America coast-to-coast.

Ferguson has backed the idea of a January break. He said: 'It would freshen up everyone mentally. It is not just to give players a rest, it is to get rid of all the little injuries they carry.'

MASTERS 2012: Augusta tee room: Luke Donald farce

Augusta tee room: Let's get the fax straight and prevent a repeat of Donald farce

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UPDATED:

21:04 GMT, 6 April 2012

It is perhaps just as well Augusta National does not do embarrassment, otherwise a deep shade of red would be visible on the faces of all those clad in jackets of green.

Honestly, we get used to farces in this game. We have seen men disqualified for not doing much more than looking the wrong way. Now, right up there with the most nonsensical of them, was the ludicrous affair Luke Donald found himself embroiled in after shooting a first-round score of 75.

I have to confess I did not realise people still used fax machines. Did you I thought they had gone the way of the typewriter.

Farce: Luke Donald came close to being disqualified on Thursday

Farce: Luke Donald came close to being disqualified on Thursday

Now we know that fax machines are used at Augusta to transmit the details from the recorder’s hut to the scoring system and a smudge on Donald’s fifth hole meant a three was entered instead of the five he actually scored and for which he signed.

For more than an hour, a 73 was entered into the scoring system for the world No 1 and so the threat of a disqualification hung over his head because everyone had seen him three-putt the fifth. Slowly, and with growing incredulity, we learned the truth of what had happened — the ‘admin error’ as Augusta referred to it and the ridiculousness of it all. The sort of thing that a person of even average intelligence should have been able to sort out in five minutes.

Instead we had this long period of uncertainty while deadlines passed and some idiots started spouting conspiracy theories, even questioning Donald’s integrity at one point when he was utterly blameless. He must have been seething inside at having to hang around all that time.

As if the score he had really shot was not disappointment enough. Just to put the tin lid on this dismal state of affairs, how did we learn Donald had been cleared Yes, you’ve guessed it. His wife tweeted the news.

Come on, Augusta. You can surely do better than this.

Hurry up, Gentlemen

Yes, we know Augusta National is inordinately long and extremely difficult. But an average pace of play for the field of more than five hours All these
people who sit on fancy committees and debate how to make the game more popular always overlook the single most unattractive thing of all: it takes too damn long.

Long haul: The average round at Augusta takes over five hours

Long haul: The average round at Augusta takes over five hours

Second's best

You know the saying about the Masters not really beginning until the back nine on Sunday It is not how Augusta National sees it. In a brief to American television commentators, they are requested to refer to the fabled inward half as ‘the second nine’.

First's worst

The hardest hole on the course Historically speaking, it is the par-four 10th but that has changed in recent years. Nick Faldo’s belief that the first is now the toughest was born out by the statistics from day one, where almost a third of the field made bogey and half a dozen, including Rory McIlroy made worse.

A lav story

Nothing that happens at the Masters escapes the fine team of scribes working for the Augusta Chronicle. To illustrate what I mean, consider that the rebuilding of a brick toilet damaged by Tuesday night’s storm was afforded a story all its own in Friday’s edition. ‘Restroom Recovers Fast,’ was the memorable headline.

Main man: Lee Westwood played it just right on the opening day

Main man: Lee Westwood played it just right on the opening day

Green kings

Non-golfers must have been mystified by Lee Westwood’s reference to
Augusta as a ‘second-shot golf course’, so let’s explain what he meant.

The straightest driver on day one, Scott Stallings, barely made the top 10. The longest hitter, Sean O’Hair, didn’t finish in the top 40. The best putter, Phil Mickelson, shot 74. But the man who hit the most greens in regulation — the one who hit the best second shots, in other words — sat proudly on top of the leaderboard.

Its ka-putt

How difficult is it to judge the greens Think about it this way. During the course of his momentous last year, the game’s best putter Luke Donald went more than 430 holes without a single three-putt. In the first round of the 76th Masters, he had two in a row. All told, the field averaged almost one three-putt each.

Padraig's bling

They like a piece of crystal at Augusta with players receiving a pair of goblets for every eagle they make while the par-three winner gets a crystal bowl. Even before the weekend, therefore, Ireland’s Padraig Harrington had added to his trophy cabinet by nabbing both.

John Higgins hopes to overcome nerves after booking last-eight Masters date

Higgins hopes to overcome nerves after booking last-eight Masters date

World Champion John Higgins is hopeful he can conquer his nerves at this year's Masters after getting his campaign off to a winning start over Matthew Stevens.

Despite having won the tournament twice before, the Scot has never consistently excelled in the first televised competition of the year, and his 6-4 first-round defeat by Graeme Dott a year ago was not out of keeping with his overall record at the invitational event.

Eye on the ball: Higgins came through his first-round match against Stevens

Eye on the ball: Higgins came through his first-round match against Stevens

But Higgins did not struggle on Tuesday, easing to the win at Alexandra Palace – a venue more associated with darts but now hosting the Masters which has left its traditional home of Wembley after 32 years.

And, after seeing off the 2000 champion in front of a 1,500 crowd, Higgins admitted to feeling much more at home at 'Ally Pally'.

End of the road: Stevens was beaten by Higgins

End of the road: Stevens was beaten by Higgins

'I was a little bit nervous, it's the first competitive snooker I've played since the UK Championships last month,' he told BBC Sport.

'I always felt overawed at Wembley. It was such a massive area. I won it twice, but I've lost about seven or eight first-round games.

'Here, you're not as close as the Crucible, but it is an enclosed area and it gets a big thumbs up from me.'

The 36-year-old's highest break of 90 came in the opening frame, only for Stevens to level despite breaking down on 45 after getting a kick. Higgins won two scrappy frames to send him into the interval with a 3-1 lead, only for Stevens to win the fifth, posting a 65 after Higgins had rattled the jaws of the middle pocket with a routine pink.

Two moderate breaks of 44 and 30 helped Higgins take the next and, with a two-frame cushion behind him he eased to the win, taking the last two frames, with a 69 in the penultimate one his second most notable contribution of the match.