Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Golf Stars Flock to China

The HSBC Champions will be played at the Sheshan International Golf Club with winners from four leading golf tours and the top 50 on the Official World Rankings qualifying. The event is co-sanctioned by The European Tour, Asian Tour, the PGA Tour of Australasia, the Sunshine (Southern Africa) Tour, and the China Golf Association.

Henrik Stenson, Thomas Bjorn and Camilo Villegas are the latest players to commit to playing in the HSBC Champions in Shanghai, 9th to 12th November, 2006. They will compete against tournament winners from four of the World’s leading Tours for the ‘Champion of Champions’ title.

This year’s field will be the strongest ever seen in China with 10 of the World’s Top 20 players already confirmed including World Number 1, Tiger Woods, World Number 2, Jim Furyk, two-time US Open winner, Retief Goosen, 2006 HSBC World Match Play Champion, Paul Casey, defending Champion, David Howell and European Ryder Cup stars, Colin Montgomerie, Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington.

The international field represents players from more than 20 countries battling it out for the largest prize fund on offer in Asia of US$5 million.

Tiger Woods;

“I had a lot of fun at the HSBC Champions last year and I am delighted to be returning to the Shanghai Sheshan International Golf Club for a second time. It’s a title I really want to win – especially after chasing David so hard last year and coming so close. All the players appreciated the fantastic reception from the Chinese golf fans and the atmosphere was amazing all week.”

Jim Furyk;

“I am really looking forward to traveling to China – it will be my first time playing in an official tournament there and the strength of the field makes it an important one to win in terms of world ranking points. It will be fantastic to compete against the champions from the different Tours and I think it will be a very special week.”

Retief Goosen;

“By all accounts it was a fantastic tournament last year and I was really disappointed to miss out. I had a fantastic experience in China last year when I won the Volkswagen China Masters and I can’t wait to return to play in the HSBC Champions.”

David Howell;

“Winning the HSBC Champions last year kick-started my best season ever on Tour. To finish top in an event with so many of the world’s best players – and especially holding off Tiger’s challenge at the weekend - gave me a real boost and I am looking forward to my title defense”

Lian-Wei Zhang;

“This is a fantastic event for Asian golf with so many elite golfers traveling over to compete for the biggest prize fund in Asia. It’s a fantastic tournament venue and I really want to improve on my 12th place finish last year.”

Colin Montgomerie;

“Having played on the tour for 20 years, I really enjoyed playing in this new event last year in such an exciting city as Shanghai. It is a title I would love to win and a good finish at the HSBC Champions would also get my 2007 European Order of Merit campaign of to a fantastic start.”

David Haye Paves The Way

The 1980’s saw a golden era in world boxing when we had the likes of Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran. Fans were enthralled in the epic meetings of these fighters and even now the popularity of these legends continues. The 1990’s then saw another golden era, this time in British boxing when Lennox Lewis, Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank and Naseem Hamed all dominated the scene.

But all sports experience lull phases as well and boxing is no exception as it is currently going through such a period. In a world where the heavyweight scene is dominated by fighters from the former Soviet Union, who are unknown to the general public, and a domestic scene which is still failing to produce any superstars, who will turnout to be the saviour of British boxing?

Could it be Joe Calzaghe, Ricky Hatton or Amir Khan? Or will it be the name on most people’s lips? A man with the looks, personality, astonishing punching power and classy skills; cruiserweight sensation David “Hayemaker” Haye. Could this be the new John Conteh, Lennox Lewis and Nigel Benn all rolled into one?

On November 17 at the historic York Hall at Bethnal Green, London, you can judge for yourself as David Haye tops the bill in a WBC world title final eliminator and third defence of his European Cruiserweight title. On November 17, Haye is 36 minutes or less away from achieving his dream.

But first David needs to take care of a little bit of unfinished business.

In 1999, Haye took on the Italian, Giacobbe Fragomeni, in an amateur bout to secure his spot and represent his country at the 2000 Olympic games. David lost this fight and never got to the Olympics. Seven years on and Haye still feels aggrieved that he was the victim of a blatant robbery which cost him his place on the team. Now he has a chance to avenge this defeat when they both meet as professionals on the November 17 show.

Fragomeni comes to the York Hall with an impressive 21 win unbeaten record, aggressive crowd pleasing style and no fear of fighting in David’s hometown, knowing he already holds a victory over the classy Brit. But this time David has the chance to put the 1999 nightmare behind him and prove to the boxing public that he is the number one cruiserweight in the world and the saviour of British boxing.

On being told this fight was being made, David said “I'm looking forward to putting the record straight against Fragomeni. I've never forgotten that night I was ripped off, this time I won't leave it to the judges. Expect a knock-out win from me. It should be a really action packed, explosive fight. Expect fireworks on November 17, that’s for sure.”

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Meteoric rise of Tiger Woods

Planning ahead, Tiger Woods talked life after golf, before making his appearance at the American Express World Golf Championships, as the World number one made a successful defence of his title at the Grove in Watford.

“I won’t play golf anymore when my best ain’t good enough. When I play well, I feel like I can win. I don’t see how you can go out there and play and prepare and know that your best isn’t good enough anymore. I couldn’t deal with that, so I’d move on and I have other interests. I will have a family by then, and by then certainly my foundation will be international and we’ll be doing different things there, so my plate will definitely be full,” commented Woods.

Still only thirty, Tiger is enjoying the friendship and bonding which the game brings, and touched upon the change around in his career, when he was once a solitary figure trying to play his way around tour, although times have now changed for the young master.

“Well, it’s been nice to have guys that were the same age as me because when I played my first cups, I was the youngest by eight, nine, ten years, and I was still getting to know the tour and know the guys. Now, I’m getting guys that I’ve played college and junior golf with and amateur golf out here on tour and also making these teams now.”

Its strictly down to business when the tournament starts, and despite close ties with Ulsterman, Darren Clarke, the pairing of the two players for the first two rounds at the World Golf Championships, rekindled their contact.

“He will always be my friend, no matter what. Darren is a fantastic guy. But when it’s time to compete, it’s time to compete. He’s trying to beat me as hard as I’m trying to beat him. That’s the nature of sport. When I play with my best friends, it doesn’t really matter. I’m trying to knock them off and they’re trying to knock me off. That’s the way sports should be. But there’s etiquette involved. You’ve got play with sportsmanship.”

Woods remains a legend in the game, and remembered the respect he received from the late Byron Nelson, who was a great admirer of his swing technique.

“He always liked the way I went through the golf ball. He always thought that the swing should be initiated with the legs. And if you look at his swing, that’s what he did. His legs drove through the golf ball more so than anybody else. He kept the face going towards the target line longer than anybody else. Because of it, that’s one of the reasons why he drove it so straight.”

With the majors finished for this year, Tiger is now hoping for some time out, and had a few unfinished plans in his locker.

“I’m just looking forward to getting back to the States and seeing the sun. I just can’t wait to work on my tan !”