Tag Archives: swing

Tim Bresnan back to bowling in a fortnight after elbow operation

Bresnan to get back in the swing of things in a fortnight after undergoing elbow operation

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

19:53 GMT, 3 April 2013

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UPDATED:

19:54 GMT, 3 April 2013

On the comeback trail: Tim Bresnan

On the comeback trail: Tim Bresnan

England bowler Tim Bresnan will return to action in a fortnight following an operation on his right elbow.

The 28-year-old, who was named in a 30-man England squad for the summer season, underwent an operation in February and missed the tour of New Zealand.

The Yorkshireman is set to play in the three-day friendly against Lancashire at Headingley, which starts a week on Tuesday.

Bresnan said: ‘It would be wise to go into a friendly first up. I’m hoping to be fully fit and take a full part in that game and all the other games after that.’

Aston Villa v West Ham live

PREMIER LEAGUE LIVE: Aston Villa v West Ham – as it happens from Villa Park

for their last triumph on the road.

Villa will be desperate for three points in their bid to escape the clutches of the bottom three but they will also be keen to avoid a repeat of their clash with the east London side from earlier in the season when Sam Allardyce's side recorded a 1-0 win at Upton Park to start the 2012/13 campaign.

Send me your thoughts on the action at [email protected] or contact me on Twitter @Ripinho.

Half-time: Aston Villa 0-0 West Ham

45+2min: Carroll has lacked service so far, despite West Ham winning a number of free-kicks, and his frustration in the first 45 minutes is summed up by one wild left foot swing from 25 yards that flies well off target.

45+1min: There will be four minutes added on.

44min: The first booking of the afternoon goes to West Ham's Emmanuel Pogatetz after the defender chops down Charles N'Zogbia to bring an immediate half to an Aston Villa counter attack.

42min: After a spell of West Ham pressure, Villa are once more looking the more likely to score. But as we approach half-time, all the goalmouth action has taken place inside the first 120 seconds.

39min: I thought it would be West Ham who would be closer to scoring from set-pieces but Villa nearly score from one of their own. A corner to the near post finds Ron Vlaar, whose half-volley on to the greasy surface bounces a yard over the bar.

37min: Terrific defending from Clark. West Ham do well to find Demel in space on the right, and his low cross is destined for an unmarked Joe Cole in the centre before the Villa defender gets a vital touch on the slide to intercept and allow Guzan to gather.

35min: The last five minutes have seen West Ham come back into this game, but despite winning a couple of free-kicks, the Villa defence has coped comfortably with Guzan keen to come off his line to punch clear any aerial bombardment.

32min: Another sign of the threat Carroll possesses as the striker wins a header inside the Villa box from a cross. The striker is off balance though and his effort loops comfortably into Guzan's arms.

30min: A rare charge forward from West Ham, and it comes form a neat passing exchange on the ground too as Matty Taylor releases Mohamed Diame down the left wing into the penalty box.

From there though it very quickly falls apart as the midfielder blasts a low cross into the near post side netting. Huge waste.

27min: Villa are starting to gain more control in this game but every time they get near the West Ham box there are a wall of bodies denying them a shot on goal. The Hammers are struggling to get out of their own half.

24min: With O'Brien's day done, Guy Demel has come on for the Hammers.

23min: This is turning into a war of attrition. Joey O'Brien has limped off the pitch for West Ham while Tomkins takes an accidental boot to the face from Delph after making a superb sliding tackle on the touchline. The West Ham medical team are making sure he still has all of his teeth after that one.

20min: The game has stopped momentarily as Baker receives more attention as blood starts to seep out of his Vaseline covered head following that earlier clash with Carroll.

Meanwhile the home fans as usual applaud in unison in the 19th minute to observe club captain, Stiliyan Petrov's battle against illness.

18min: Good footwork from Fabian Delph sees him dodge a couple of challenges in the West Ham half before he wins a free-kick 35 yards out. The ball is swung towards the back post but Benteke heads the difficult chance wide.

16min: It's been a nervous affair so far. West Ham remain content with a more direct playing style while Villa for all their effort just lack quality trying to pierce the West Ham backline.

13min: From InfostradaLive:

West Ham United have scored three opening goals in their away PL matches this season, together with Wigan, Norwich and Fulham least of all clubs. Villa have scored the opener in four of their home matches this PL season, only QPR (2) have less.

Miss of the season Andreas Weimann reacts after missing a golden opportunity to open the scoring for Villa

Miss of the season Andreas Weimann reacts after missing a golden opportunity to open the scoring for Villa

10min: James Tomkins produces a neat sliding tackle to deny Weimann a chance to cross from inside the box and Villa win their first corner.

It's cleared but shortly after winning a second corner, Nathan Baker and Carroll clash heads trying to head the ball and play has stopped for a minute or two while they receive treatment. Both look like they will be okay to continue once they stop seeing stars.

8min: Villa are showing the more attacking purpose so far but apart from that horror miss from Weimann ( I wonder what Darren Bent made of that on the sub's bench) we haven't seen any more chances.

5min: Otherwise it's a bright start from Villa who have controlled possession, but they do concede a free-kick in the centre-circle and you know what comes next.

West Ham pump a long high ball into the box for Andy Carroll, who wins a flick on and pounces on a loose ball to loop a shot just over Brad Guzan's crossbar.

2min: Miss of the season, there I said it! It's a horrible moment all round as Christian Benteke's low shot towards the near post from 20 yards is ludicrously fumbled by West Ham keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen, only for Andreas Weimann to somehow place the rebound wide of the post with an open goal staring him in the face.

1min: From OptaJoe:

1 – West Ham have taken one point from the last 21 available on the road, scoring just five in their last nine PL away games. Travels.

Kick-off: Villa get us going.

Greetings: West Ham manager Sam Allardyce (left) and his opposite Aston Villa number, Paul Lambert shake hands before kick-off

Greetings: West Ham manager Sam Allardyce (left) and his opposite Aston Villa number, Paul Lambert shake hands before kick-off

13.27: Out come the players and speaking of claret and blue there are many empty seats inside Villa Park.

13.24: The players are in the tunnel with Aston Villa standing in claret and blue opposite West Ham…who are also in claret and blue.

The Hammers are in their more blue based away kit but this could hurt my eyes.

13.19: From InfostradaLive:

West Ham have failed to win in their last five PL visits to Villa Park, failing to score on four occasions. Their only victory in the last 14 visits was in January 2006 (2-1) when Bobby Zamora and Marlon Harewood (penalty) scored. Lee Hendrie netted for Villa.

13.14: We know about Villa's troubles this term but what happened the last time they went down Sadly the team of 1987 share many similarities with Paul Lambert's strugglers from this season as I found out here.

13.09: Gabriel Agbonlahor is ruled out through illness by the way. Still though it says much about Paul Lambert's faith in Darren Bent that he picks a forward who cost 23.4m less in his starting XI over him. At least Villa have some sort of firepower on the bench though.

Team news

Team news

13.06: Full line-ups from Villa Park:

Aston Villa v West Ham
Aston Villa: Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Baker, Weimann, Westwood, Delph, Bowery, N'Zogbia, Benteke. Subs: Given, Bent, Holman, Sylla, Dawkins, Bannan, Bennett.

West Ham: Jaaskelainen, O'Brien, Reid, Tomkins, Pogatetz, Noble, Diame, Nolan, Taylor, Joe Cole, Carroll. Subs: Spiegel, Jarvis, Carlton Cole, Vaz Te, Demel, Chamakh, O'Neil.

Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)

13.03: Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert hands a first Barclays Premier League start to striker Jordan Bowery, a 600,000 summer signing from Chesterfield, against West Ham at Villa Park.

Midfielder Fabian Delph, who has recovered from an ankle injury, and left-back Nathan Baker are recalled as Villa looked to end a run of eight league games without a win.

On-loan Wolfsburg defender Emanuel Pogatetz is given a first start by Hammers boss Sam Allardyce, with Joe Cole also brought back into the starting line-up.

Main threat: West Ham will rely on their on-loan striker Andy Carroll in attack

Main threat: West Ham will rely on their on-loan striker Andy Carroll in attack

13.00: From OptaJoe:

2 – Aston Villa have scored just two goals in their last seven Premier League matches at Villa Park. Shy.

12.57: If there is one avenue we can see West Ham scoring from today, it is through set-pieces. Judging by Aston Villa's poor record at defending them it seems a West Ham corner + Andy Carroll's headers = goals.

Villa captain Ron Vlaar claims though that he and his teammates are aware of their set-piece struggles and targeting to put things right.

12.54: Sadly of course the big talking point this morning is not about the football but about Paul Gascoigne who has been rushed into intensive care in the USA.

The former England international is said to be out of immediate danger but let's continue to hope Gazza can make a full recovery.

12.51: The Villa Park pitch looks very tidy this afternoon but the less said about the weather, the better. It's wet, cold and overcast in the West Midlands but I guess we shouldn't be too surprised – it is February folks.

12.48: Speaking of Manchester United they will attempt to go a dozen points clear at the top of the table when they take on Everton at 4pm. You can follow live coverage of that match from around 3.30pm with myself straight after the action here at Villa Park.

12.45: Yesterday's results have given Villa a big incentive to take three points today as it would see them climb out of the bottom three into 17th.

West Ham may reside in mid-table but on 30 points they are not quite out of the relegation fight. A win today though and they would be 12 points clear of the bottom three. If a gap like that would be good enough for Manchester United, then I think Sam Allardyce's team would be content too.

Jaaskelainen, O'Brien, Tomkins, Reid, Pogatetz, Noble, Diame, Nolan, J.Cole, Taylor, Carroll.

12.35: Aston Villa starting XI:

Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Baker, Westwood, Delph, N’Zogbia, Bowery, Weimann, Benteke.

12.30: Apart from Manchester United (and we will get to them in a minute) one of the big winners from yesterday were Aston Villa, who saw the majority of their rivals battling relegation fail to pick up any points.

That's not quite job done for Paul Lambert's side this weekend though. Sitting one place off the bottom of the table they need to start winning points of their own. Today they host West Ham – a side suspect on their travels this term. Team news coming up.

Sunday's opener: Aston Villa will hope to ease relegation fears when they host West Ham at Villa Park

Sunday's opener: Aston Villa will hope to ease relegation fears when they host West Ham at Villa Park

Bradley Wiggins in McDonald"s after winning Sports Personality of the Year

Ace racer to rockstar! Wiggins swaps gold medals for golden arches as SPOTY winner ends night of partying in McDonald's

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UPDATED:

09:11 GMT, 18 December 2012

Asked how he would celebrate being voted the nation’s Sports Personality of the Year, Bradley Wiggins winked.

‘I will go home and have a cup of tea,’ he said before breaking into a smile. ‘It’s a free bar so it would be rude not to give it a hiding.’ That sounds more like it.

Seven hours later a bleary-eyed Wiggins was photographed in a McDonald’s; his blue velvet double-breasted suit from a Soho tailor looking more than a tad dishevelled.

I'll have a Wig Mac! Bradley Wiggins was getting a late-night snack in McDonald's at 5am after winning SPOTY

I'll have a Wig Mac! Bradley Wiggins was getting a late-night snack in McDonald's at 5am after winning SPOTY

The party never stops: Bradley clearly didn't want his night to end as he left Mahiki and headed to the fast-food restaurant

The party never stops: Bradley clearly didn't want his night to end as he left Mahiki and headed to the fast-food restaurant

Wiggins reportedly ordered the establishment's signature Big Mac after a long night of celebration.

He had already treated the guests at
the BBC’s after-show party to a rendition of The Jam’s That’s
Entertainment and Wonderwall by Oasis and then carried on celebrating
with his wife, Cath, at a central London nightclub. Not bad for Great
Britain’s first winner of the Tour de France, surely one of the fittest
athletes on the planet.

But then Wiggins, as Lord Coe put it on Sunday night, has ‘that rock star quality’.

He
manages to be the last man standing after five hours of cycling on
brutal terrain or a long drinking session in the pub; looking equally at
home in his racing Lycra or with a bottle of wine in one hand and a
cigarette in the other.

King of swing: Bradley Wiggins celebrated in his own special style after winning SPOTY

King of swing: Bradley Wiggins celebrated in his own special style after winning SPOTY

King of swing: Bradley Wiggins celebrated in his own special style after winning SPOTY

King of swing: Bradley Wiggins celebrated in his own special style after winning SPOTY

‘He just cuts it,’ said Coe. ‘Bradley is where it is at the moment. I think it is an unbelievable year that he has had but he is just edgy, isn’t he Sporting characters have got to capture the public imagination and he does that.’

Wiggins might have a penchant for Paul Weller but he was certainly not buying into the suggestion he has reached rock-star status by wearing the yellow jersey and winning seven Olympic medals, four of them gold.

Winner of Sports Personality of the Year 2012, Bradley Wiggins

Bradley Wiggins during the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards 2012 at ExCeL London

Pub talk: Bradley Wiggins kisses the iconic trophy last night (left) and (right) thanks his nan in his speech

Over to you, Sue: Sue Barker (left) chats to Bradley Wiggins during the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards 2012 at ExCeL London last night

Over to you, Sue: Sue Barker (left) chats to Bradley Wiggins during the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards 2012 at ExCeL London last night

the Farmers Arms in Heskin

The Farmers Arms in Heskin will be the first pub that the Tour de France winner takes his award to

‘I won the Tour de France,’ said
Wiggins. ‘Without this award I would still be me. I am just very
grateful to everyone who has helped me. There’s only the knighthood to
come, isn’t there, really’

Few knights of the realm, though, would give their Sports Personality of the Year award to their nan for safekeeping.

Even fewer would then take it on a
tour of the pubs near their home in Lancashire: the Farmers Arms in
Heskin and the Original Farmers Arms in Eccleston. Their hosts told
Sportsmail yesterday they would be delighted to look after the famous
trophy.

‘It would be
absolutely great,’ said Ann Rothwell, landlady of the Farmers Arms. ‘He
lives in between the two pubs and he does pop in here now and again, but
he’s an athlete, isn’t he He doesn’t frequent the pub that often.’

When he does, you imagine Wiggins might indulge in more than one glass of his favourite tipple: vodka and tonic.

Dave Brailsford, performance director
of British Cycling, recognised Wiggins’s talent as soon as he saw his
body shape and the ‘fluid’ way he pedals, but there was something else
that showed ‘this young lad was special’.

Support: Barry Newton, landlord of the Original Farmers Arms, said that Wiggo had a lot of support in the pub

Support: Barry Newton, landlord of the Original Farmers Arms, said that Wiggo had a lot of support in the pub

‘Once he decides he wants to do something — like all the greats — he really does make it,’ said Brailsford.

‘There’s something reminiscent of
David Beckham practising free-kicks, of Jonny Wilkinson (practising his
kicking) in Brad. It’s that type of obsession he has.’

The desire to achieve remains, too.
Wiggins has repeatedly stated he wants to win another Tour de France,
forcing Team Sky into a difficult decision as to whether the defending
champion, Chris Froome or both lead the team next year.

But the ‘obsession’ remains for
Wiggins, who needed a search party to track him down during a training
camp in Majorca last week, such was his eagerness to do ‘just that
little bit more’.

Suits you: Winner of Sports Personality of the Year 2012, Bradley Wiggins shows off the trophy

Suits you: Winner of Sports Personality of the Year 2012, Bradley Wiggins shows off the trophy

‘Bradley’s capacity to work hard is
unbelievable,’ said Brailsford. ‘It’s off the scale. But he’s learnt how
to manage himself and his sport and he’s become an extremely coachable
rider.

'He was up at 7.30 in the gym in
Majorca. He did five hours (on the bike) then went out on his own and
did another couple of hours.

‘Two days ago we actually sent
somebody out to look for him because it was starting to get dark and we
thought, “Where’s Brad” He had gone just that bit more.’

Perhaps we should all raise a glass to that.

Lionel Messi stretches calendar year record over Gerd Muller after taking tally to 88 goals

88 and counting… Messi can't stop scoring as Barca striker doubles up to further exceed Muller's record

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UPDATED:

23:13 GMT, 12 December 2012

Lionel Messi simply can’t stop scoring. The Barcelona talisman increased his record tally of goals scored in a calendar year to 88, after netting twice against FC Cordoba to secure a 2-0 win in the first leg of the Copa Del Rey tie.

The Argentina striker equalled and
surpassed Muller’s 1972 record of 85 goals in Sunday’s 2-1 victory over
Real Betis when he scored another brace.

But he doesn’t seem content with beating the great German hitman, as he marched on with another two goals this evening.

You again: Lionel Messi (right) scored his 87th and 88th goals of 2012 against FC Cordoba

You again: Lionel Messi (right) scored his 87th and 88th goals of 2012 against FC Cordoba

The 25-year-old was the difference once again for Barcelona, fresh from breaking the record at the weekend.

He scored his first of the match
after just 11 minutes with a routine tap in, and expertly slotted home
as the match drew to a close to kill the game off at the Estadio Nuevo
Arcangel.

The Barca No 10 should really have
bagged a hat-trick at Cordoba, but he failed to capitalise when Gerard
Pique put him through on goal with 20 minutes left to play.

Familiar sight: Messi surpassed Gerd Muller's record of 85 goals on Sunday after scoring twice against Betis

Familiar sight: Messi surpassed Gerd Muller's record of 85 goals on Sunday after scoring twice against Betis

Swing and a miss: Messi could have had a hat-trick if he converted Gerard Pique's through ball

Swing and a miss: Messi could have had a hat-trick if he converted Gerard Pique's through ball

Reaching triple figures in 2012 may be a bridge too far for Messi though. Especially with La Liga’s winter break.

The prolific forward will only play
twice more before 2013 kicks in, meaning he’ll have to average six goals
per game if he wants to reach 100 goals for the year.

Stranger things have happened…

Impossible Messi is unlikely to reach the milestone of 100 goals

Impossible Messi is unlikely to reach the milestone of 100 goals

Smashed: Gerd Muller held the record for most goals in a calendar year with 85 for Bayern Munich

Smashed: Gerd Muller held the record for most goals in a calendar year with 85 for Bayern Munich

All in all it was a great night for Messi, and everyone affiliated with Barcelona.

Especially as arch rivals Real Madrid lost their first leg of the Copa Del Rey last 16 tie away at Celta Vigo.

Despite having avoided defeat away at Celta for 10 years, Jose Mourinho's side were outplayed and lost the match 2-1.

Real rekindled realistic hopes of progression after Cristiano Ronaldo popped up late in the game to claw a goal back.

They will remain optimistic that they can progress to the next round when Celta travel to the Bernabeu in the New Year.

Hopeful: Real Madrid were beaten 2-1 in their first leg match away at Celta Vigo

Hopeful: Real Madrid were beaten 2-1 in their first leg match away at Celta Vigo

First in a long time: Real have not lost away to Celta Vigo for ten years

First in a long time: Real have not lost away to Celta Vigo for ten years

Sachin Tendulkar struggles to work out Jimmy Anderson: Nasser Hussain

Sachin just cannot work paceman out as Anderson gets the better of him again

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UPDATED:

22:56 GMT, 5 December 2012

Losing another toss like that must have been a real kick in the teeth for England, so to respond the way they did by taking seven wickets on the first day was an outstanding effort.

There really wasn’t much in the Eden Gardens pitch and it is to Alastair Cook’s credit that he has quickly learnt from his mistakes in the first Test and has used his bowlers intelligently.

Cook made sure Jimmy Anderson was fresh enough for when the ball was reversing and still had enough energy to strike late on with the second new ball.

Not up to the pace: Sachin Tendulkar struggled against Jimmy Anderson

Not up to the pace: Sachin Tendulkar struggled against Jimmy Anderson

Anderson was excellent. Long gone are the days when we used to say that he was only the man for the job if the ball swung conventionally. Now he has great control and variations and gave us a reverse-swing masterclass.

Jimmy is all over Sachin Tendulkar at the moment and not many people have been able to say that over the years. He’s almost playing with the great man and the ball he got him with in Kolkata was an absolute beauty.

What is his secret in getting Tendulkar out eight times Well, Sachin likes to work bowlers out. He’s a thoughtful cricketer and he just seems to know what most are going to bowl at him. But with Anderson I just think he has no idea whether the ball is going to swing into him or away from him.

Getting the rewards: Anderson took the wicket of Tendulkar (file picture)

Getting the rewards: Anderson took the wicket of Tendulkar (file picture)

Tendulkar was waiting and waiting for the big inswinger yesterday but it didn’t come and Jimmy got him prodding at one he held out there.

All respect to Sachin, though. He was far from at his best again but he showed that he doesn’t just rely on his huge natural talent to score runs. He was gutsy and displayed a lot of heart and character to get to 76. I have rarely seen him so resolute in defence.

I would have liked him to get a century just to prove to everyone that sometimes even the greats have to get their heads down and work hard for their runs. He deserved one for the way he applied himself when he was so out of nick. As it is, this was very much England’s day.

Ryder Cup 2012: Europe must prove they can overcome USA home crowd

The time for trash talk is over… Europe's finest must prove they can be pitch perfect

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UPDATED:

21:37 GMT, 27 September 2012

At the end of this sporting summer, where one moment of a lifetime has followed another, is it too much to ask for a glorious encore that stands comparison

Fortunately, we might just have one with the 39th Ryder Cup, a contest that promises three days of mesmerising drama and unspeakable tension.

Keepy-uppy: Europe star and world No 1 Rory McIlroy shows off his football skills on the 17th tee

Keepy-uppy: Europe star and world No 1 Rory McIlroy shows off his football skills on the 17th tee

Keepy-uppy: Europe star and world No 1 Rory McIlroy shows off his football skills on the 17th tee

Keepy-uppy: Europe star and world No 1 Rory McIlroy shows off his football skills on the 17th tee

It's tee time!

At 7.20am in Medinah (1.20pm UK time),
a very nervous European will tee off to kick-start the 39th Ryder Cup.
So how does it feel to stand on that first tee with the eyes of the world on you It’s a jelly-legs moment, as these players recount.

Colin Montgomerie
(Oak Hill, 1995)

‘The pressure facing the first shot
is as intense as it gets. It became an achievement just to stand up. I
was just gulping air like mad. The electricity was fantastic. Nick
Faldo, my playing partner, said it was a three-wood, so I teed the ball
down, took a practice swing and, thankfully, managed to make contact,
which is all you can really ask for in those situations.’

Corey Pavin
(The Belfry, 1993)

‘I can’t even describe how nervous I
was. I put the tee in the ground and I went to put the ball on and
realised my hand was shaking so much. I decided to just drop the ball,
hoping it would stay on the tee. Thank goodness it did. I was able to
compose myself and hit a drive down the middle.’

Nick Faldo
(Lytham St Annes, 1977)

‘Peter Oosterhuis told me I’d be
first. I was a bag of nerves and decided to go off and calm down by
hitting 20 extra five and six irons. Of course, when I stepped on the
tee I saw instantly it was a four-iron shot. I missed the green.
Thereafter, it was the first time I’d ever experienced my stomach
churning for a whole round.’

The game and its supporters stand ready
to make their own, unique contribution. Nowhere else would you find
50,000 people prepared to gather at a shade after 7am to make an unholy
racket. Nowhere else are sportsmen asked to strain every sinew for the
best part of 12 hours and then come back the next day and do it all over
again, with no monetary reward but the chance of something far more
precious: points for their team.

Here we have a course set up to demonstrate just how good the best players from the United States and Europe have become. With no rough, the bombers on either team are going to have no qualms in firing off howitzers. Around the greens, the great short-game merchants are going to relish the tight lies that offer the chance to show off and chip in. The putting surfaces are so pure, the wizards with the short stick cannot wait to weave their spell.

There is a lot of nonsense spoken about setting up a course to favour one side over the other but what America’s captain Davis Love has done is create the conditions for an extravaganza of attacking play in the knowledge that this offers him his best chance of fully involving the crowd, the so-called ‘13th man’.

Boy, is it likely to be loud. At the gala dinner on Wednesday, brilliant compere Justin Timberlake (best line: ‘I’m so into golf that the first time I heard them talk about a pop superstar obsessed with wearing a white glove, I assumed they meant me.’) was extolling the virtues of Europe’s captain, Jose Maria Olazabal. Suddenly, a lone voice yelled: ‘Goin’ down, baby!’ It prompted an extended chorus of ‘USA! USA!’ that almost took the roof off.

That will be sweet music to the likes of Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy, of course. The noisier the better as far as they are concerned. They are accustomed to playing in front of large, excitable crowds, and never happier than when someone lays down a challenge.

Passion: Fans cheer at the start of the opening ceremony for the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club

Passion: Fans cheer at the start of the opening ceremony for the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club

Mo problem: American fans show off their patriotic moustaches on Thursday at Medinah

Mo problem: American fans show off their patriotic moustaches on Thursday at Medinah

Ryder Cup bingo!

Seven items to mark off on your card on day one…

6.01am
With the gates open, the first sighting of someone dressed head to toe in Stars and Stripes.

6.45am
The first chant of the ever-imaginative ‘USA, USA!’ Europe fans respond with football-style ditties.

7.20am
Players
arrive on the first tee, with the colour drained from their faces as
they are about to play golf’s most nerve-racking opening shot.

7.31am
The first annoying shout of ‘Get in the Hole!’ is heard on the first green.

8.30am
Initial sighting of Ian Poulter’s eyes bulging out on their stalks as he starts to get his putter going.

11.20am

Davis Love and Jose Maria Olazabal submit their afternoon pairings. Tactical geniuses or Captain Calamities

2.00pm

With the fourballs having gone off, the first reports come in of
European players being abused by the odd home supporter fresh from a
bibulous lunch.

But what about the unsung men on the
team, the honest souls who largely ply their trade in quiet corners of
the European Tour, where the galleries restrict themselves to a
smattering of applause and the odd moment of vocal encouragement

Look
back through the annals and the difference between winning and losing
often comes down to how these players rise to the challenge on Sunday.
They are usually ‘hidden’ somewhere in the middle of the order but there
is no hiding place when the fate of the Ryder Cup comes down to your
match.

Think back to how Eamonn Darcy met the challenge in 1987, Christy O’Connor Jnr in 1989, Philip Walton in 1995 and Paul McGinley in 2002. Europe’s destiny this weekend might well lie in how the unheralded continental members of this team handle the atmosphere.

Thank goodness the action is about to start, because frankly some of the players have not covered themselves in glory in the build-up. Yes, we know where Poulter and Brandt Snedeker are coming from. But do we really need to hear inflammatory rhetoric like ‘killing the opposition’ from Poulter, or ‘beating their brains in’ from Snedeker No prizes for phraseology, chaps.

Let us hope the partisanship does not
overstep the mark. Offering encouragement is the fact that Chicago is
undoubtedly one of the friendliest big cities in America. At the gala
dinner, Luke Donald got a wonderful hometown reception while the roar
that greeted McIlroy’s entrance was only a shade behind that afforded US
superstars Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

United under one flag: European fans are heavily outnumbered but can match their hosts for excitment

United under one flag: European fans are heavily outnumbered but can match their hosts for excitment

Hair-raising: Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal signs autographs for a group of fans on the 18th hole

Hair-raising: Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal signs autographs for a group of fans on the 18th hole

The basics

The winner of each match
earns a point. There is half a point each if a match is halved. There
are 28 points on offer, so 14 points wins the cup. At 14-14, the
defending team (Europe) retain the cup.

Schedule

Friday – 4 x foursomes in the morning and 4 x fourballs in the afternoon.

Saturday – 4 x foursomes in the morning and 4 x fourballs in the afternoon.

Sunday — 12 singles matches.

Format

Fourballs
Two players on either side, four balls in play. The player with the lowest score wins the hole for his team.

Foursomes
Two
players on either side but only one ball is used by each pair as
players hit alternate shots. The team with the lowest score wins the
hole.

Singles
Captains list their players from 1 to 12. They then play against their opposite numbers.

But you can guarantee the likes of
Mickelson and Bubba Watson will be doing plenty of arm-waving, intent on
whipping up the atmosphere. They will want it every bit as
uncomfortable for the Europeans as it was for the Americans at Celtic
Manor.

Shadowing the proceedings, of course, will be the spectral presence of Seve Ballesteros in this, the first Ryder Cup since his death. It is a great sadness to those of us lucky enough to have witnessed Seve and Ollie’s great moments on the course that the pair are not walking in tandem off it here. But on this, the 25th anniversary of the first time they played together in the Ryder Cup, you can be sure the memory of Seve will be instilled in Olazabal’s every thought and deed.

‘What did I learn from Seve You
always try your hardest and you never, ever give in.’ You could see
Olazabal repeating that message in his final words to his team, couldn’t
you

And so the sporting
year that none of us really want to end has reached its final, great
occasion — and it is that time of a preview when a correspondent is
required to make a prediction. This one really is so close to call.
Europe have most of the best partnerships and America have the
formidable advantage of home soil.

Only
once in the last seven Ryder Cups has the home team not won, so that is
the scale of the task facing the away side. But, in the spirit of
Seve, let’s go with the heart.

Let’s go with Europe.

Home advantage: America's (left-right) Jim Furyk, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson

Home advantage: America's (left-right) Jim Furyk, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson

FedEx Cup 2012: Rory McIlroy on course to win bonus as Tiger Woods falters

Over to you, Rory! Woods hands McIlroy initiative as battle for $10m FedEx Cup bonus nears end

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UPDATED:

22:41 GMT, 21 September 2012

He has no car and might shortly have no house but hey, it’s not all bad news.

The best known nomad in sport, Rory McIlroy, is now the favourite once more to collect the $10million FedEx Cup bonus cheque.

McIlroy has put his house on the market back home in Northern Ireland for no more sinister reason than what’s the point of owning a 2million mansion with its own practice facilities if you’re never there.

On course: Rory McIlroy could win a $10million dollar bonus over the weekend

On course: Rory McIlroy could win a $10million dollar bonus over the weekend

FEDEX CUP

Click here for the latest leaderboard

‘I’ll stay with my parents when I go
home and as I won’t get there for a while, they’ve got a good chance to
do some decorating and make it nice,’ he said, cheekily.

Friday was a good day for the 23 year
old. Not only did he move two clear of his main rival for the
$10million, Tiger Woods, who played poorly, he drew rave reviews for his
short game from the maestro in that department, Phil Mickelson.

‘Twice in the first four holes he
described a couple of my recovery shots as awesome and that’s high
praise indeed given how good he is at flop shots and out of bunkers,’
said McIlroy.

Both strokes, mind, were fully
deserving of the extravagant description. The first, at the opening hole
was a 30 yard bunker shot where he judged the pace and slope to
perfection to leave the ball tap-in distance from the hole.

Slipping away Tiger Woods has handed control back to McIlroy

Slipping away Tiger Woods has handed control back to McIlroy

In-form man: Jim Furyk shot seven under par in Atlanta

In-form man: Jim Furyk shot seven under par in Atlanta

The next one, at the fourth was even
better. From behind the green McIlroy made a full swing at a flop shot
in the manner of a Mickelson and threw the ball high in the air. It
landed like a butterfly and he rolled in the ensuing 6ft putt for a
miraculous saving par.

The other highlight of his round came
at the par five 15th where he hit the green in two and rolled in a 25ft
eagle putt. It all added up to a 68 that leaves him in joint seventh
place at the halfway stage.

‘I feel like I am exactly where I need to be going into the weekend,’ he said.

McIlroy lies four strokes behind the
leader Jim Furyk with Justin Rose a shot adrift. Both will like their
position when it comes to winning the tasty $1.44million first prize
that goes to the winner of the final FedEx event, the Tour Championship.

But neither can take the $10 million off McIlroy if he stays where he is right now.

McIlroy would have to finish worse than 13th for Furyk to have a chance, for example.

As for the main danger, Tiger Woods
went backwards in a hurry. Never mind him being intimidated by Rory.
These days he only seems to play his best golf when partnering McIlroy.

He began three shots ahead of his
young rival and now he is playing catch-up. At one point they were
exactly level on FedEx points.

Tough day: Woods hit some splendid shots but then fluffed his lines on other holes

Tough day: Woods hit some splendid shots but then fluffed his lines on other holes

If that happened on Sunday, they’d
have a sudden death play-off, with $7million on the line since second
place in the FedEx is worth $3million.

McIIroy whistled when I mentioned the
possibility. ‘I don’t know how I’d feel but I’d certainly take that
position,’ he said. ‘The bottom line is still nice, isn’t it’

There won’t be any chance of a
play-off if Woods continues to play like he did on Friday. This was
certainly a world away from the control and purpose he showed in the
opening round as he tumbled to a score fully seven shots worse than the
first day.

‘It was just a struggle from first to last,’ he conceded.

Woods’ playing partner Rose also looked as if he was in for a day of toil as he reached the turn in a mediocre 36 strokes.

But the Englishman dug in, making
four birdies on the back nine to salvage his day. None was better than
the two he made at the treacherous par three 18th, where his long iron
pitched just over the bunker at the front of the green and finished 5ft
from the hole.

The 32 year old rolled that one in to close with a 68.

‘Playing with Tiger was a great practice round for the Ryder Cup given they were mostly rooting for him,’ said Rose.

Midas touch: McIlroy has his eyes on the gigantic $10million prize

Midas touch: McIlroy has his eyes on the gigantic $10million prize

‘It was a great lesson for me to
stay in the moment and play my shots, and while it wasn’t pretty golf by
any means, I felt like I did that well.’

Furyk was a controversial wild card
pick for next week’s Ryder Cup as far as a lot of American commentators
were concerned, but this fine round of 64 must have made him feel an
awful lot better.

He gave a brilliant answer when asked
whether he felt he had proved a point. ‘I don’t really read much golf, I
have to tell you,’ he said.

‘I’ve always felt you’re going to
say something nice about me and I probably don’t need to read that. Or
you’re going to say something bad about me and I definitely don’t want
to read about that.

'What matters is that my captain Davis
Love asked all my team mates who they would pick and they also chose
me, so I’m humbled and honoured and looking forward to Medinah.’

The feeling that this is going to be
one of the great Ryder Cups was only emphasised by a leaderboard packed
with those who will also be in Chicago.

No fewer than nine competitors who will represent either Europe or the U.S are positioned in the top 12.

It promises to be some weekend, both this week and next.

Mo Farah wins at Great North CityGames

Olympic hero Farah can't wait to relax after ending season with CityGames win

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UPDATED:

12:54 GMT, 15 September 2012

Mo Farah rounded off his spectacular season by coasting to victory in the two-mile event at the Great North CityGames on the quayside in Gateshead.

The double Olympic gold medallist stalked Australian Collis Birmingham through the first section of the race, before bursting to the front over the Swing Bridge and crossing the line in a winning time of eight minutes 40.04seconds.

Another winning Mo-ment: Olympic hero Mo Farah ended his season in style

Another winning Mo-ment: Olympic hero Mo Farah ended his season in style

Another winning Mo-ment: Olympic hero Mo Farah ended his season in style

Farah told the BBC: 'It was tough. It hasn't been easy getting everything done but the Olympics is done and this was to enjoy and run for the home crowd and it was amazing.

'Now I will just have a rest and spend time with my family and look after my little girls. I can have fun and eat what I like.'

Vincent Kompany claims Mario Balotelli is unlucky

Pick a winner, Mario! Kompany brands Balotelli Manchester City's 'unluckiest' player

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UPDATED:

14:34 GMT, 13 September 2012

It’s not often someone stands up for Mario Balotelli’s eccentric actions, but the striker seems to have the backing from one of the most influential people in the Manchester City dressing room – club captain Vincent Kompany.

Balotelli has been caught up in a number of incidents during his two years at the club, including setting his house on fire by fireworks, training ground bust-ups and pranks, as well as infamously having trouble putting on a bib before a Europa League match.

Stretching it: Mario Balotelli (centre) trains with his Manchester City team-mates

Stretching it: Mario Balotelli (centre) trains with his Manchester City team-mates

But Kompany has leapt to the defence of the Italy international, who has resumed full training after being out of action since the end of August following an eye operation.

Kompany said: ‘He’s a great guy. I guess he’s the unluckiest when it comes to being in the public eye.

'Everything he does, the mistakes that he makes that other people do as well, just happen to get caught on camera all the time!’

Back in the swing of things: Balotelli (right) practices with a football along with Jack Rodwell, while Sergio Aguero (below) also continued his rehabilitation from a knee injury

Back in the swing of things: Balotelli (right) practices with a football along with Jack Rodwell, while Sergio Aguero (below) also continued his rehabilitation from a knee injury

Back in the swing of things: Balotelli (right) practices with a football along with Jack Rodwell, while Sergio Aguero (below) also continued his rehabilitation from a knee injury

The Premier League resumes this weekend following the international break and as City prepared for their visit to Stoke, Kompany also admitted to Match of the Day magazine he has learned to adapt to life in Manchester since arriving in 2008.

Kompany reveals all: The Manchester City defender spoke to Match of the Day magazine

Kompany reveals all: The Manchester City defender spoke to Match of the Day magazine

Kompany added: ‘When I first started playing I wasn’t a great defender – I was kind of a quite skilful David Luiz type of player.

‘But I had some injuries and changed the way I played.

'When I got back to full fitness I decided I was getting more out of the new style than when I was doing my fancy tricks and stuff.

‘Even though the weather can be cold, the people in Manchester have always been really warm to me.

'I don’t even feel the rain anymore. It’s been a great city for me, especially the mentality of the people. It’s like nowhere else.

Catalan Dragons 50 Bradford 26: Bulls playoff hopes end in France

Catalan Dragons 50 Bradford 26: Bulls playoff hopes end in France

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UPDATED:

16:44 GMT, 8 September 2012

Bradford`s gallant bid to make the Super League play-offs ended in France as a victory for the Catalan Dragons ensured Wakefield will finish in the top eight.

Having fought the odds all season owing to the off-the-field troubles at the club, Bradford went into today`s game knowing that because of a six-point deduction they had to win and hope Wakefield then lost at Salford.

Future in doubt: Bradford coach Mick Potter

Future in doubt: Bradford coach Mick Potter

However, with the Dragons running in 10 tries, Wakefield`s result became irrelevant, with Bradford`s plucky attempt coming to nothing.

Were it not for the deduction, issued to them after they entered administration in July, Bradford would have made the grade by some distance.

Their season is now over, though, and the focus will shift to the future of coach Mick Potter – who worked for free for two months after being made redundant – and a number of leading players.

Wakefield`s reward – barring a huge points difference swing – is a visit to Leeds next weekend, while the Catalans, fourth-placed finishers, will take on Wigan.