Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Poulter and Rose Re-United for World Cup

Firm friends Ian Poulter and Justin Rose are hoping that the strength of that friendship can inspire them to victory in the Omega Mission Hills World Cup at Mission Hills Golf Club in China from November 22-25. Poulter and Rose served their golfing apprenticeships together as room-mates on the European Challenge Tour over eight years ago and have subsequently driven each other to the pinnacle of the game with 13 professional victories between them. Now safely ensconced inside the top 50 on the Official World Golf Ranking, Poulter and Rose have achieved world class consistency in 2007 and are hoping their impeccable standards will help them emulate Paul Casey and Luke Donald’s 2004 victory to bring the Omega Mission Hills World Cup back to England. “It’s a great opportunity to play with Justin and it would certainly be nice to win the World Cup,” said Poulter. “Justin has come close and the England side has been strong for a number of years. It will be an exciting week and to pair up with Justin in what could, hopefully, be a pairing next September at The Ryder Cup as well. We will have a bit of fun out on the course at Mission Hills. “We have been friends since the Challenge Tour. I bumped into him when I was first reserve at the French Open and he was on the putting green. We got chatting and then started rooming together on the Challenge Tour. We have been very good mates for eight years now. We are neighbours in Lake Nona and play quite a few practice rounds together when we are over there together. It’s going to be brilliant at Mission Hills and more than anything it will be great fun.” Rose said: “I’m really looking forward to the World Cup. Ian and I go way back and to have the chance to represent my country with one of my good friends is going to be exciting. The friendship that we have will hopefully create the right atmosphere for us to play good golf – that’s what we are hoping for anyway.”

Golf at Grass Roots Level

The Golf Roots programme, a dynamic new initiative run by the Golf Foundation to bring golf to inner city children, joined forces with The European Tour at Wentworth Club today during the semi-finals of the HSBC World Match Play Championship. Two groups of youngsters, representing Golf Roots projects in Hackney and Birmingham, spent the day at Wentworth Club receiving an unprecedented ‘access all areas’ tour behind the scenes at one of the most popular events on The European Tour International Schedule. In order to highlight the dedicated work of the Golf Foundation, and the fund-raising campaign for Golf Roots, The European Tour and Wentworth Club, together with the generous support of title sponsor HSBC, acted as hosts to leading BBC personality and broadcaster, Jonathan Joseph, aka DJ Spoony, a passionate supporter of the project which now runs in seven cities in England and Wales. Over the last two years, The European Tour has been one of a number of supporters of the Spoony Golf Classic, a charity golf day organised by Spoony to specifically raise funds for the programme. To date, the programme has benefitted from over £130,000 of funds raised, but there is a constant need for more resources to match the demand from inner city centres. Spoony kindly agreed to personally host and welcome the group and give them a unique experience of what golf can offer at the highest level. Many of golf’s leading names, who were present at Wentworth Club, also extended a warm welcome to these enthusiastic youngsters, including the BBC TV commentary team of Peter Alliss, Ken Brown, Paul Eales, Maureen Madill, Andrew Cotter and Hazel Irvine. One of the highlights of the day was a photo-call in which the youngsters met winning Ryder Cup Captain, Sam Torrance OBE – and posed for photographs with the famous trophy itself Mike Round, Chief Executive of the Golf Foundation, said: “There is no question that the biggest period of growth for the Golf Foundation has been over the last ten years. Our successful school and community initiatives now reach 500,000 children per year and generate familiarity with the sport to the extent that many become committed golfers or new junior members. “However, in order to maintain the momentum, we need golfers and golf clubs to get behind our ‘Commit to Junior Golf’ fund-raising campaign which requests a donation of just £2 per annum. With additional funding, we will be able to satisfy the ever-growing demand for support.” Fredrik Lindgren, Marketing Executive of The European Tour, said: “The success of The European Tour is directly connected to the growing interest in golf. With the Golf Foundation’s tireless work in not only introducing golf to youngsters, but also helping these youngsters grow on a personal level, we have the perfect partner in the UK. “The Golf Roots programme is a brilliant way of introducing golf and its core values to youngsters of all ages and backgrounds who would not ordinarily choose to take up the game.”

Mighty Mitchell Back for New Year

Sports Network will kick off the New Year with a bang when Kevin Mitchell challenges British Super Featherweight Champion Carl Johanneson at Bethnal Green's York Hall on January 12. One of British boxing's hottest talents, Mighty Mitchell is determined to add a Lonsdale belt to his Commonwealth crown - and says he will be too quick and too powerful for the champion.And Mitchell's claim has come despite Johanneson winning the Lonsdale belt outright on Friday night in Doncaster when he rode out a storm to halt Michael Gomez in six brutal rounds." I watched the fight on television, and Johanneson is exciting to watch, I'll give him that," said 22-year-old Mitchell, who boasts a 24-0 (17) record." But he'll be too slow for me. I'll box him at range and sooner or later I'll catch him with one of my left hooks and knock him out. He won't see my combinations coming." His hands aren't that fast while mine are like lightning. I work with quick guys in sparring, and although Johanneson has got a good punch, you can't hit what you can't see."Mitchell will enjoy home advantage for the fight, and says it has been his lifetime's ambition to win the coveted British title at the home of boxing." Everyone is talking about the fight already, and it's still 12 weeks away," said Mitchell. " York Hall is going to be absolutely rammed, and the atmosphere will be electric." I'm going to have to sacrifice my Christmas because of the Johanneson fight, but it will be worth it when I lift the British title." When I was growing up and boxing for West Ham in the amateurs, I always dreamed about following in the footsteps of some of my heroes and fighting for a British title at York Hall." I've already topped the bill there, but fighting for a Lonsdale belt will be something else. " And let's face it, if I can't beat the current British champion, then I might as well pack it in. I want to win world titles at three different weights, so this fight is definitely a stepping stone to greater things."Promoter Frank Warren added: "Fight fans have got an early Christmas present with Amir Khan fighting Graham Earl, and a late one with Mitchell tackling Johanneson." This a big test for Kevin, and his chance to make a big statement. He is one of the most talented fighters in the country, and he'll need all that talent to beat Johanneson, but I'm confident he will come through and then go on and establish himself as a world champion."Johanneson, 29, boasts a 27-3 (19) record and has built a reputation for being one of the biggest punchers in Britain. He has also challenged for the European title.

Khan's Birthday Bonanza

Amir Khan has got the 21st birthday present he wanted: a showdown with Graham Earl. Unbeaten Khan makes the second defence of his Commonwealth Lightweight title on his milestone birthday against the Luton scrapper at the Bolton Arena on Saturday 8th December live on ITV1. The Bolton hotshot, ranked number six by the WBO, disposed of English Champion Scott Lawton in the fourth round earlier this month with a punch-perfect display to set up his dream date against 'The Duke'. Earl's last fight was a real toe-to-toe war against Michael Katsidis in February for the WBO World Lightweight crown which is a hot favourite for the Fight of the Year award. Khan said, "A fight between us has been brewing for a while now and it's time to get business settled. This is a coming of age fight for me and I'm delighted that it's Earl in the opposite corner that I'm facing," "He's very experienced and has been around a long time. When he made his pro-debut in 1997 I was still just a 10-year-old kid!" "Earl's a former British, Commonwealth and European champion and has challenged for the world title so he will be an excellent test for me." "I've seen plenty of his fights against the likes of Katsidis, Steve Murray and Bobby Vanzie and I know what to expect from him - plenty of heart and power" "I'm in this sport to become a world champion and a great and there is no way that Earl is going to stop me achieving this." Earl, 29, does not see himself as a stepping-stone for Khan and has promised to be the first to defeat the young star. "I'm not an opponent for anybody and certainly not a building block for his record. Khan is a talented kid but he hasn't operated on my level and he will find out the hard way on his birthday that he has got a present that he never wanted," Retaliated Earl. "He's been like a constant thorn in my side, opening his mouth about fighting me and dismissing me and now it is time for him to put-up or shut-up," "Is he prepared for a war like the one I had against Katsidis? Because that is what I am going to give him. He got floored by a non-puncher like Willie Limond so how is he going to cope with someone like me who hits hard?" "I'm even more happy that the fight will be in his backyard because I will expose him in front of his home fans," "It might be his birthday but it will be my early Christmas present." Promoter Frank Warren said, "This is yet another step up for Amir in his career and against Graham he faces a world ranked opponent with a wealth of experience who will test him like never before. Amir looked sensational against Lawton and he will need that sort of form and more to deal with Graham."

Froch Ready to Rumble

Carl Froch is moving nearer to the main prize: a fight against the winner of Mikkel Kessler-Joe Calzaghe.‘The Cobra’ defends his British Title for the fourth time against former world champion Robin Reid in his home city of Nottingham on a Hennessy Sports show in association with GoldenPalace.net on November 9. Sky Sports will televise live.Ticket sales for the event at the Nottingham Arena are already impressive and Froch, who is unbeaten in 21 fights with 17 KOs, is looking forward to fighting the winner of Calzaghe-Kessler as early as possible next year.He is in a great position with the WBC to be potentially made mandatory challenger for the winner of Calzaghe-Kessler after he destroyed highly-rated Russian Sergey Tatevosyan in two rounds in his last fight in March. It was Froch’s fifith successive KO win.Colombian Alejandro Berrio makes the first defence of the IBF world title against Canadian Lucian Bute in Montreal on Friday.But Froch, a former world amateur star, believes the division’s top three elite fighters are in action next month when he takes on Reid a week after Calzaghe-Kessler in Cardiff on November 3.“The three best super-middleweights in the world are in action within a week of each other in Britain and I should face the winner of Calzaghe-Kessler early next year,” said Froch.“I would stop either of Berrio or Bute, but it’s the WBC title and either Calzaghe or Kessler who I am going for.“I stopped Henry Porras in eight rounds two years ago, someone who had knocked out Berrio. In my last fight I utterly destroyed Sergey Tatevosyan, who Lucian Bute had to go to points with two months earlier.“So the stats say it all. Lucian Bute is not a massive puncher and has not been hit by someone like me yet.“Tatevosyan told me after our fight I’m better and stronger than Lucian Bute and I wouldn’t be too worried about fighting him or Berrio.“Kessler and Calzaghe would be tough fights for me and Lucian Bute or Berrio are not in the same league. I would fancy I would knock either of Berrio or Bute out.“I would fancy my chances strongly against either of Calzaghe or Kessler too, and am looking forward to that fight being made next year. Beating Reid will be a stepping stone to a major world title fight and he will be another impressive name on my record.”

Wales Friendly Pairing for World Cup

Bradley Dredge and Stephen Dodd head to the Omega Mission Hills World Cup in China as ‘friends reunited’ hoping to repeat their success of two years ago. The close friendship shared by the Welsh pair carried them to World Cup glory in Portugal in 2005 and both believe that camaraderie can lift them once again over the Olazábal course at Mission Golf Club, China, from November 22-25. Dodd will always have fond memories of China having won his first European Tour title in Shanghai in the Volvo China Open at the start of the 2005 season, while Dredge is relishing a return to Mission Hills Golf Club, China, having previously visited the stunning golf complex for the Goodwill Trophy in 2006. “I am looking forward to going over there again,” said Dredge. “I played in the Goodwill Trophy at Mission Hills last year and while it was on a different course, it is an incredible complex. Stephen has won in China and loves China so we are both really looking forward to playing again. “The win in Portugal was huge for us and for golf in Wales. We enjoy the format, are good friends and enjoy playing together, which is important. Hopefully, we can put a good week together and contend.” The history attached to the Omega Mission Hills World Cup is a further incentive for Dodd. He said: “It’s a big, historical event that you want to play in, and want to represent your country in. Of course, it’s one you want to win as well. Luckily, we’ve done that once and we hope to do it again. “Bradley and I won two years ago in Portugal, and we’re great friends, which makes a big difference. We know each other’s game pretty well and we always enjoy each other’s company. There’s a bit more pressure when you’re playing with a partner, because you don’t want to let them down, so I’ll be trying my best to play well for Bradley, myself and Wales. “It’s on a new course that I’m looking forward to visiting. And my first Tour win came in China, so it is a country that holds good memories for me.”

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Maccarinelli Ready for War

WBO World Cruiserweight champion Enzo Maccarinelli is preparing for war after being paired with power-punching monster Ezra Sellers for his next title defence. The 27-year-old Swansea fighter will meet highly-experienced KO specialist Sellers on November 3 at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff in a fight to be televised live and exclusively on Setanta Sports. It will be chief support to Joe Calzaghe's WBO/WBA/WBC Super-Middleweight world title match up with Mikkel Kessler. Maccarinelli is currently 27-1 with 20 victories early, and has already made two defences of his WBO crown. Sellers will be best remembered by British boxing fans for having Carl Thompson on the floor four times en route to a stunning fourth round KO in a cruiserweight world title victory. And he also put defensive genius Johnny Nelson on the deck in a challenge for the WBO crown in Denmark. Southpaw Sellers, from Washington DC, USA, has finished 25 of his 28 victims inside the distance. "Wayne Braithwaite, my last opponent, was a dynamite puncher and it looks like I've got another big hitter in Sellers," said Maccarinelli. "I've seen some of his knockouts and it makes for frightening viewing, but I'm confident I will win the fight and cement my position as the number one cruiserweight in the world. "Although Sellers punches like a kicking horse, I think I punch harder, and that will give me the edge. "Over the next 12 months I want to unify the cruiserweight division, and I'm not going to let Sellers shatter my dream. "It's more than likely I'll have to go into the trenches like I did against Braithwaite, and I can guarantee all my fans I'll soak up his best and come roaring back twice as hard. "With Calzaghe-Kessler on the top of the bill, it's going to be an amazing night for Welsh boxing." Speaking from America, Sellers said: "Enzo's a great fighter but I'm not sure how good his chin is. "We'll find out when I start landing my bombs on it, and he ain't going to be able to take my power. "I regularly knock out heavyweights in sparring, so beating up Maccarinelli won't take me too long."

Calzaghe's Decade of Dominance

It was Joe Calzaghe's Decade of Dominance (11 October) as he celebrated the 10th anniversary of his famous victory over British great Chris Eubank to win the WBO World Super-Middleweight title. The undefeated Welshman has made 20 successful defences of his belt in that time and also added the IBF crown to his illustrious record. He will certainly go down as one of the all-time greats to come out of this country. Now 35 and boasting a perfect 43-0 record, Calzaghe will aim to again unify the 168lb division on November 3 when he tackles WBC and WBA champion Mikkel Kessler at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff televised live and exclusive on Setanta Sports. When Calzaghe beat Eubank, Britain's two big world champions at the time were Naseem Hamed and Lennox Lewis, both have long since retired, but Calzaghe is still there at the top. Speaking from his training camp for the fight, Calzaghe said he was incredibly proud of his achievement. "If someone had told me 10 years ago that I would still be champion today, I wouldn't have believed them," said Calzaghe. "I didn't plan on being the longest reigning world champion, it just happened. When you see the names of who was world champion back then like Lennox and Naz then you realise just how long it has been. I've also outlasted the Spice Girls although they have just made a return which is what I don't plan to do when I retire from boxing," "It's been hard work holding on to my title though and I don't plan on giving it up yet. Kessler is probably the best fighter I have ever faced, but like all the others, he'll be going home empty handed," "The time has flown by, I was a good looking, fresh faced kid at 25 but I've weathered quite well in ten years as I don't take too many punches to my face and I've never had my nose broken," "I've still got plenty of ambition though and once I beat Kessler I want to step up to the light-heavyweight division and conquer there but I don't want to reign for another ten years, hopefully I will be retired!" "The Kessler fight is the biggest of my career and I want to stay focused on him for now, the celebrations can wait until after I have beaten Kessler." Calzaghe's incredible 10-year reign has seen him beat former world champions Robin Reid, Richie Woodhall, Charles Brewer and Byron Mitchell, as well as the stunning victory over IBF holder Jeff Lacy. He has also been recognised as the best super-middleweight in the world by boxing bible The Ring magazine, and awarded the MBE for his services to the sport. By way of comparison, when Calzaghe captured the belt, Tony Blair had been in power just a few months having won the 1997 General Election, Dolly the Sheep had become the first animal to be successfully cloned, the first Harry Potter novel had just been published and iPods and DVDs were not around. Elton John's Candle in the Wind was the number one single, while The Verve's Urban Hymns topped the album charts and supergroups Oasis and the Spice Girls were at the peak of their power. Channel Five was launched in 1997, while on the night Calzaghe beat Eubank, England's footballers drew with Italy in Rome in a World Cup qualifier to ensure progress to the 1998 World Cup. Paul Gascoigne ran the midfield that night, while Tony Adams led the defence. England's cricketers, captained by Mike Atherton, had suffered another Ashes reverse in the summer, while in boxing, Britain's two big world champions were Naseem Hamed and Lennox Lewis who have long since retired. Lewis had yet to have his career-defining fights against Evander Holyfield, while Hamed was preparing for his American debut with a December clash with Kevin Kelley in New York. In the world of movies, Titanic dominated the Oscars in 1997, while the Full Monty helped revive British cinema as it played to sell-out audiences up and down the country. Calzaghe's promoter Frank Warren said, "To be world champion for ten years in any sport is a phenomenal achievement. How many sportsman, not only in Britain but the world, can say that they beat the best in their sport and remain undefeated champion for ten years? "Joe is one of the nice guys of the sport and it has been a real privilege to promote him. This is not only a celebration for Joe but for his father Enzo who deserves a lot of the credit for all the hard work he has put into training Joe and turning him into the world class fighter that he is. Along with Enzo, I believe that we make a great team and that I have added to his great success story along the way." He added, "Joe has had so many great defences but without a doubt the Lacy fight is the greatest performance that I have seen from a British boxer in a fight that he went into as the so called underdog and he totally dominated the fight from start to finish. "There is still plenty more to come from Joe and he is in a massive fight against Kessler next month which will be the toughest of his career."

Monday, October 08, 2007

Calzaghe learns from Taylor

The longest reigning world champion in boxing, Joe Calzaghe, has promised not to take Mikkel Kessler lightly after watching Jermain Taylor's shock loss on Saturday night. WBO/WBC middleweight champ Taylor, who had been mentioned as a future opponent for Calzaghe, was stopped in the seventh round by heavy-hitter Kelly Pavlik and now the unbeaten Welshman has promised he will not be complacent when tackles the undefeated Dane on November 3rd at the Millennium Stadium. The record-breaking undefeated WBO World Super-Middleweight champion faces the biggest fight of his 44-fight career against Kessler, the WBC/WBA title-holder, exclusively live on Setanta Sports. Calzaghe, the Ring Magazine Champion, said, "It was a shock to see Taylor beat but this is the reality of boxing - anyone can get beat. I've been world champion for ten years which is a long time in a hard sport like boxing." "I have always said that the secret to my longevity is because I look at every fight as if I am the challenger. When you have been at the top for a number of years complacency can set in but the fear of getting my ass kicked drives me to get out of bed and hit the mountain runs and then face the blood, sweat and tears in the gym." "Maybe Taylor took his eye of the ball and was looking at future fights down the line and dismissed Pavlik's threat. It's hard to keep your mind focused when big names and big purses are being talked about when you are training for a routine title defence because these are the fights that you could lose. I just put the talk aside and concentrate on the fight that is in front of me." He added, "Kessler is a serious threat to my reign and I am training my heart out for this fight. I would be a fool to under-estimate and under-prepare for him. In my mind I'm not the world champion for this fight - I'm the challenger." "Kessler, like Jeff Lacy, has got something that I want, his two title belts, and I'm going out there to tear them from him." Calzaghe is not bothered about making the history books with his achievements even though his 21st title defence inches him closes to the record 25 defences set by the great Joe Louis. "I never view my career in terms of breaking records, if I break them then that's great and I'll read the history books when I've retired. I don't see it as only five more fights until I break Joe Louis' record. What it's about for me is securing the big fights, winning them and banking the money." Calzaghe v Kessler is the headline attraction on a superb card that also features the dynamite-punching WBO World Cruiserweight Champion Enzo Maccarinelli, Barrie Jones, Nathan Cleverley, Kerry Hope, Jamie Cox, Tony Bellew and Harry Miles.

Mathews Eyes Up Khan

WBU World Featherweight champion Derry Mathews has thrown down a challenge to rival Amir Khan following his win over Scott Lawton at the weekend.The undefeated Scouser, who defends his belt against Matthew Marsh at the York Hall on Saturday night live and exclusive on Setanta Sports, says he wants to bulk up and taken on golden boy Khan in a battle of Britain." Amir fights at a couple of weights higher than I do, but I'd love to hold world titles at different weights," said Mathews. " All the great fighters in history like Sugar Ray Leonard, Oscar De La Hoya and Marco Antonio Barrera have gone up through the divisions and I want to be known as a great so I've got no problem's in going up to take Khan on. " I'm 5ft 9in which is pretty tall for a featherweight and have got a big frame to fill out, so I don't think it's unrealistic to talk about going up to lightweight. " Khan's a great fighter, but if I were to beat him it would make my name.I think there's a lot of boxers in the country, whatever their weight, who want to fight Khan, and I'm one of them." I would hit him the hardest he's ever been hit, so I'm confident I can put a dent or two in him and end his unbeaten record. And like Khan I was a top amateur as well."Mathews defeated Steve Foster Jnr to win the WBU crown last year, before successfully defending it against current British champ John Simpson in March.Those two wins, coupled with some impressive performances early in his career, landed 24-year-old Mathews the prestigious Boxing Writers' Young Boxer of the Year award. And he is aiming to build on the success against Marsh, and get himself in line to headline the new Liverpool Echo Arena in his home city against some of the other top domestic names. " I've always wanted to top the bill in Liverpool, and I've got so many fans I could probably sell out the new Arena a couple of times over!" said Mathews, 18-0 (9)." There's a great scene in Liverpool at the moment, with guys like Paul Smith, Tony Bellew and Joe McNally coming through. " It's always been a great fight city and there is a lot of interest in our careers. Imagine how many people would come and see me box Amir Khan."Among Mathews' celebrity fans are footballers Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Wayne Rooney - and they may be ringside on Saturday night. " They are aiming to get to York Hall after England's game against Estonia," said Mathews. " Stevie and Jamie were at my last fight against Simpson, and I know Wayne's a big boxing fan as well." Mathews-Simpson is part of an action-packed York Hall card which will be screened live on Setanta Sports.

Champions Tee Up for World Cup

Players from 28 nations, who have shared in numerous triumphs around the world over the past season, will tee up at the 2007 Omega Mission Hills World Cup at Mission Hills Golf Club, China, from November 22-25. A top quality field has now been confirmed for the event following the completion of the two qualifying competitions in Asia and Latin America last weekend, which saw ten countries join the 18 exempt nations already announced. Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee and Prayad Marksaeng led the way with victory in the Asian Qualifier – the Fortis International Challenge – in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with The Netherlands, New Zealand, Korea and the Philippines also emerging successfully from the qualifying examination. Meanwhile Puerto Rico won the Omega Mission Hills World Cup Aruba Qualifier in the Dutch Caribbean to secure their place in the field along with Ireland, Colombia, Italy and Paraguay. Major Champions and a host of global winners will tee up at Mission Hills, with Germany defending the title they won in Barbados last December. This year, they will be represented by emerging star Martin Kaymer and established winner, Alex Cejka. Two-time US Open Champion Retief Goosen of South Africa, José Maria Olazábal of Spain who designed the course at Mission Hills for the 2007 World Cup, and Mike Weir of Canada – both Masters winners - will be partnered by Trevor Immelman, Miguel Angel Jiménez and Wes Heffernan respectively. Goosen and Immelman have both tasted World Cup success in the past. The former was part of South Africa’s victorious team in Japan in 2001 while the latter savoured success at Kiawah Island four years ago. Goosen and Zhang Lian-wei of host country China are both making a sentimental return to Mission Hills, 12 years after representing their respective countries in the 1995 World Cup. South Africa and China finished eighth and 27th respectively that year and will be determined to secure a higher placing this time around. The host nation, China, will be represented at the Omega Mission Hills World Cup by the older generation in Zhang – the first Chinese golfer to win on The European Tour – and the younger generation in Liang Wen-chong, the most recent player from China to win on The European Tour earlier this season in Singapore.

Confirmed field:
Argentina: Andres Romero and Ricardo Gonzalez
Australia: Nick O’Hern and Nathan Green
Austria: Markus Brier and Claude Grenier
Canada: Mike Weir and Wes Heffernan
China: Liang Wen-chong and Zhang Lian-wei
Colombia: Gustavo Mendoza and Jorge Benedetti
Denmark: Anders Hansen and Søren Hansen
England: Justin Rose and Ian Poulter
France: Raphaël Jacquelin and Gregory Havret
Finland: Mikko Ilonen and Pasi Purhonen
Germany: Martin Kaymer and Alex Cejka
India: Jyoti Randhawa and Gaurev Ghei
Ireland: Michael Hoey and Gareth Maybin
Italy: Edoardo Molinari and Francesco Molinari
Japan: Hideto Tanihara and Tetsuji Hiratsuka
Korea: Lee Seung-ho and Lee Sung
New Zealand: Richard Lee and Stephen Scahill
Paraguay: Carlos Franco and Fabrizio Zanotti
Philippines: Tony Lascuna and Gerald Rosales
Puerto Rico: Wilfredo Morales and Miguel Suárez
Scotland: Colin Montgomerie and Marc Warren
South Africa: Retief Goosen and Trevor Immelman
Spain: José Maria Olazábal and Miguel Angel Jiménez
Sweden: Robert Karlsson and Peter Hanson
Thailand: Thongchai Jaidee and Prayad Marksaeng
The Netherlands: Robert-Jan Derksen and Maarten Lafeber
United States: Arron Oberholser and Sean O’Hair
Wales: Stephen Dodd and Bradley Dredge

World Class Field in Portugal

Major Champions, Ryder Cup players and a host of European Tour winners will gather at the Oceânico Victoria Golf Club, Vilamoura, for the inaugural Portugal Masters from October 18-21, battling for the lion’s share of a €3 million prize fund. Double US Open Champion Retief Goosen of South Africa, former Open Champion Paul Lawrie of Scotland and two time Masters Champion José Maria Olazábal of Spain, three of the game’s elite golfers having triumphed in a Major Championship, headline the impressive field ready to pit their skills against the Arnold Palmer-designed course. Goosen won the US Open Championship in both 2001 and 2004 and also topped The European Tour Order of Merit in 2001 and 2002. Lawrie secured his place in golfing history with a magnificent victory in the 1999 Open Championship at Carnoustie, overcoming a ten stroke deficit in the final round before winning in a four hole play-off, while Olazábal won the Masters Tournament at Augusta National in 1994 and 1999. Olazábal has also played in seven Ryder Cups, most recently at The K Club last September where Europe won by a record equalling nine point margin, and the Spaniard will be joined in Portugal by four of his European team-mates from that memorable match in Ireland, namely Darren Clarke, David Howell, Paul McGinley and Lee Westwood, who is in fine form having won twice on The 2007 European Tour International Schedule, at the Valle Romano Open de Andalucia in May and The Quinn Direct British Masters in September, to take his victory haul to 15 European Tour titles.
A host of other winners from the 2007 season will also be in action, including the English duo of Justin Rose, who captured the MasterCard Masters in Australia for his third European Tour title and Nick Dougherty, who triumphed over an international gathering to claim the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews last week. Other 2007 winners in action in Vilamoura include the English duo of Ross Fisher and Graeme Storm, Scotland’s Marc Warren, Frenchmen Grégory Havret and Raphaël Jacquelin and the Spanish trio of José Manuel Lara, Pablo Martin and Alvaro Quiros, all ably supported by their compatriot and 13 time European Tour winner Miguel Angel Jiménez, who will make the short journey across the border from his home in Malaga. The distinctively ponytailed Jiménez is popular with the crowds wherever he plays but he will not be the most fervently supported player in the Portugal Masters, that honour undoubtedly going to local favourite José-Filipe Lima. The 25 year old won the 2004 Aa St Omer Open but at that time was still representing France, having been born in Versailles. But with both his parents Portugese, Lima opted to change nationality at the end of the 2004 season and has not looked back, improving his Order of Merit position in both 2005 and 2006, and also representing Portugal in the 2005 World Cup alongside Antonio Sobrinho. “My mother and father are both Portugese and I love this country, that is why I made the change,” said Lima, who will aim to become only the second Portuguese winner in European Tour history after Daniel Silva who won the 1992 Jersey European Open. “It is important to play for yourself in golf, obviously, but it is also important to play for your family.” As well as the established stars, the Portugal Masters will also welcome some of the most exciting new talents on The European Tour, including the swashbuckling Argentine Andres Romero, who came within a whisker of claiming the Open Championship at Carnoustie before winning the following week in the Deutsche Bank Players’ Championship of Europe at Gut Kaden in Germany. The Portugal Masters will be the first tournament to be played at the Oceânico Victoria Golf Club, Vilamoura, since the 2005 World Cup in Portugal and the Welsh duo of Stephen Dodd and Bradley Dredge, who memorably triumphed on that occasion, will both return. A field of 126 players will compete for the €3 million prize fund with a first prize of €500,000. The Portugal Masters further enhances Portugal’s commitment to The European Tour, with the country already having hosted two other tournaments on The 2007 European Tour International Schedule, the Madeira Islands Open BPI, won by Argentina’s Daniel Vancsik, and the Estoril Open de Portugal, won by Spain’s Pablo Martin.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Westwood Hits the High Spot

England’s Lee Westwood has been named The European Tour Golfer of the Month for September following a sensational month which culminated in his victory in The Quinn Direct British Masters at The Belfry. Westwood was the unanimous choice of the panel after a string of performances which saw him follow three top ten finishes with a resounding five stroke victory over the Brabazon Course at The Belfry. During that run of four tournaments, Westwood was an impressive 45 under par, with 14 of his 16 rounds played in par or better. That included his breathtaking 61 in the opening round of the Mercedes-Benz Championship at Gut Lärchenhof, Cologne, where he eventually finished joint sixth. The 34 year old was also joint sixth in the Omega European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club. At The Belfry, Westwood thrilled a gallery packed with friends and family with an imperious display, thwarting the hopes of his nearest challengers, fellow Englishmen Ian Poulter and Mark Foster, with a 30 foot birdie on the 16th and then an eagle on the 17th on his way to a final round of 65 and a 15 under par winning total of 273. It was Westwood’s second triumph of the season following his victory in the Valle Romano Open de Andalucia in May and the fifth time he has recorded multiple victories in a European Tour season. His 18th European Tour win saw him move to joint second in list of most prolific English winners on The European Tour, alongside Mark James, behind Nick Faldo with 30. Bill Elliott, Golf Correspondent of The Observer, said: “Lee’s achievements in September were quite outstanding, culminating with his victory in The Quinn Direct British Masters, secured with an absolutely stunning final round of 65 at The Belfry.” Westwood claimed the award ahead of a number of worthy candidates who performed with distinction during September. Australian Brett Rumford got the month off to a memorable start when he made a return to the winners’ circle with victory at the Omega European Masters, denying England’s Phillip Archer in a play-off. It was Rumford’s first win since the 2004 Irish Open and the first win in the Omega European Masters by an Australian since Graham Marsh in 1972. The following week, Denmark’s Søren Hansen gained his second European Tour victory at the Mercedes-Benz Championship, with Archer again second alongside Alastair Forsyth of Scotland. Hansen’s victory elevated him into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time. Archer’s display in the Seve Trophy at The Heritage Golf & Spa Resort in Ireland where, in his first experience of team golf in 17 years, he was unbeaten in his five matches, winning three and halving two ties, also drew praise as did the performance of Bradley Dredge, who was also unbeaten in becoming the top points scorer with four and a half points from five. And on the other side of the world, European Tour Member Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant created Asian Tour history by claiming a record ninth Asian Tour event after a tense play-off against fellow European Tour Members, Chinarat Phadungsil and Simon Yates at the inaugural Midea China Classic. Wiratchant triumph saw him become the most prolific winner, overtaking the eight wins by Thongchai Jaidee. Other award winners so far in 2007 have been Retief Goosen of South Africa (January), Sweden’s Henrik Stenson (February), South Africa’s Anton Haig (March), Austria’s Markus Brier (April), Padraig Harrington of Ireland (May and July), Angel Cabrera of Argentina (June) and Marc Warren of Scotland (August). At the end of the year, a panel will select The European Tour Golfer of the Year.

Mathews gets the Accolade

Derry Mathews has been given a big boost ahead of his WBU World Featherweight title defence against Matthew Marsh.The unbeaten Liverpool fighter has been nominated as the Boxing Writers' Young Boxer of the Year and will pick up the award at a glittering ceremony at the Savoy Hotel. Mathews, who won the title from Stephen Foster Jnr with a superb performance last year, makes the second defence against Marsh at the York Hall on Saturday 13th October."I nearly choked on my cornflakes when I got the call to say I had won!" Said Mathews."I'm really honoured that the respected and knowledgeable boxing writers have chosen me as their boxer of the year. When you look down the list of great British fighters who have previously won the award it makes your spine tingle. I never would have imagined that my name would appear alongside Randolph Turpin who beat the legendary Sugar Ray Robinson.He added, "I've got a tough title defence against Marsh coming up but I'm confident in my skills as are the boxing writers who nominated me and I've trained hard so I'm going in there to put on a great performance and retain my title."Matthews is the first fighter from Liverpool in nearly 20 years to win the prestigious award. The last was Paul Hodkinson who went on to win the WBC World Featherweight title. Previous winners from Merseyside are John Conteh, Keith Wallace and Alan Rudkin.Frank Warren, who has promoted fourteen past winners including Nigel Benn, Naseem Hamed, Joe Calzaghe and Ricky Hatton, said, "I am absolutely delighted for Derry and his achievements. He was a superb amateur and has excelled in the professional ranks and I'm expecting big things from him in the future. Liverpool has produced some great fighters in the past and there is some fantastic young talent coming through now with the likes of Paul Smith, Stephen Burke, Joe McNally and pro-debutant Tony Bellew and we are looking forward to promoting some big events with these guys when the new Liverpool Echo Arena opens next year."