Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Kaymer is Player of the Year

Martin Kaymer has been named by his fellow professionals as The European Tour Players’ Player of the Year for 2010, a year in which he won four times to be crowned European Number One. The 26 year old German won The European Tour Race to Dubai with record earnings following victories in the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the US PGA Championship – his first Major title – the KLM Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Those victories were the catalyst behind Kaymer being honoured at The European Tour’s Players’ Awards Dinner last night. During the star-studded event at the Sofitel Hotel at Heathrow, Kaymer was presented with a solid silver salver, which is given annually to the outstanding player as selected by the Tour Membership. Padraig Harrington was the first recipient in 2009, in recognition of his two Major Championship wins the previous year, and Lee Westwood won the approval of his peers last year following a spectacular 2009 season, which culminated in him winning the inaugural Race to Dubai. In addition to his individual feats, Kaymer played his part in Europe’s Ryder Cup victory at The Celtic Manor Resort in October, contributing two and a half points from four as Colin Montgomerie’s men edged a thrilling battle with the United States. The Challenge Tour graduate rose to a career-high third in the Official World Golf Ranking in 2010, and went on to reach World Number One in February this year, a position he subsequently relinquished to Westwood. Kaymer was named the joint European Tour Golfer of the Year for 2010, an award shared with Graeme McDowell, who finished second in The Race to Dubai, won his first Major at the US Open Championship and claimed the winning point in The Ryder Cup by defeating Hunter Mahan in the final day singles. Kaymer said: “2010 was a very special year. What I have achieved was unbelievable. And I have to thank Padraig Harrington for it. When he won the Major (The Open Championship) in 2007 and then two in 2008 he gave Europeans the belief that we could win Majors as well. It wasn’t just the Americans like Tiger Woods. “Then Graeme (McDowell) won the US Open as well. All these things gave me the motivation to work harder. All the putts Padraig holed inspired me to practise harder and it showed at the US PGA Championship, and when I made that putt on the 72nd hole it paid off. I have Padraig Harrington to thank for that inspiration. “Now I have to continue and keep working hard. After my Major win I was fortunate to keep winning, which was important for me. The expectations are high and people think you have to win every week. “But that is important for me as I want to not just win one Major but keep winning Majors and working hard, so I can look back when I am 45 or 50 and I can say I worked as hard as I could to be the best I could be. That is what I learned when I grew up, what my parents told me – the most important thing in life is to work hard. The outcome doesn’t matter as long as you try as hard as you can.”The salver, handmade by the craftsmen at the London workshop of Thomas Lyte Ltd, features a flower pattern decorating the award, denoting the national flowers of each of the countries who have a player competing on The European Tour. The centre section features the unmistakeable profile and swing of the late Severiano Ballesteros – the inspiration behind the award - accompanied by an emotive comment by John Jacobs, the founding father of The European Tour. Jacobs pays tribute to Seve’s influence on The European Tour with the phrase: “Seve’s supreme talent, flair and passion for golf inspired millions around the world.” The trophy also carries the names of all European Tour Members who have won Major Championship since the formation of the Tour in 1972.

Haye tips Groves to be a Star

WBA world heavyweight champion David 'The Hayemaker' Haye has tipped stable-mate George Groves to emulate his own ring exploits and claim a world title in 2012, following 'The Saint's stunning British and Commonwealth title victory on Saturday night (May 21). The 23-year-old Groves smartly outboxed Olympic gold medallist James DeGale in front of 15,000 fans at London's O2 Arena, and interested observer Haye believes the double domestic champion is only just getting started. “George proved a lot of people wrong on Saturday night, but his performance was no surprise to me or his trainer Adam Booth,” said Haye. “We've always believed George has the style, intelligence and ability to get the better of James, and that's what played out at the weekend. George boxed beautifully at times and was giving DeGale problems he had yet to encounter as a professional or amateur.” The 30-year-old Haye added: “George never made any crazy claims or boasts before the fight, and always remained quietly confident and humble. As a result, people warmed to him and got behind him on the night. It was an incredible feeling to walk with George towards the ring at the O2 Arena and hear the cheers of over 15,000 fans. The whole atmosphere felt like a world title fight between two experienced champions.“It's easy to forget that George is a British and Commonwealth champion with only 13 pro bouts to his name. If Saturday night was a sign of things to come, George can look forward to many more packed out nights in big arenas. That fight alone has made him an overnight star.”Despite inevitable calls for a rematch, DeGale's plans were this morning scuppered by British Boxing Board of Control Secretary Robert Smith, who told Gareth A. Davies of the Daily Telegraph, “An immediate re-match is out of the question. The Board will not be ordering a re-match. There was nothing controversial or contentious about it. No one broke any rules. Why would the Board order a re-match?” Though he has no doubt his training partner would once again defeat DeGale in any return, Haye would like to now see Groves spread his wings and escape the bitter ten-year rivalry that helped build Saturday's battle into a pay-per-view event.“George has the world at his feet right now, and has that perfect combination of ability, likeability and titles,” said Haye. “DeGale might claim the first of those three things, but he's lacking the other two. “We all saw and heard how those 15,000 fans inside the O2 Arena reacted when George was announced the deserved winner. It reminded me of some of the big Ricky Hatton boxing nights at the M.E.N Arena. Also, twenty-four hours after his win, George's Twitter account (@StGeorgeGroves) had increased by over 10,000 followers. That just goes to show how the British public have taken a shine to him. “I truly believe that now George has established himself as the best super-middleweight on the domestic scene he can go on and become one of the most popular and successful British fighters of the next era.”

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Schwartzel honoured in April

Charl Schwartzel has been named The 2011 Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Month for April following his outstanding triumph in the Masters Tournament at Augusta National, Georgia. Schwartzel, who receives an engraved alms dish and a jeroboam of Moët & Chandon champagne, completed a unique “Grand Slam” of Major Championships for European Tour Members following the 2010 treble by Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell (US Open), South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen (The Open Championship) and Germany’s Martin Kaymer (US PGA Championship). Furthermore Schwartzel’s success – the third by a South African in the Masters Tournament following Gary Player and Trevor Immelman – was achieved during a phenomenal month for European Tour Members. England’s Lee Westwood regained and maintained his World Number One status with back-to-back wins in the Indonesian Masters and Ballantine’s Championship; Italy’s Matteo Manassero captured his second European Tour title by winning the Maybank Malaysian Open two days before his 18th birthday; and Nicolas Colsaerts became only the second Belgium winner on The European Tour with his breakthrough win in the Volvo China Open. Schwartzel, who dedicated his Masters victory to his father, George, because “I owe him so much,” recalled: “I caddied for my Dad two days a week and played golf with him every Friday. That’s how it started. He taught me my golf swing. He taught me from the word go the right grip, stance, rhythm, posture and balance. It was a fantastic week; a fantastic month.” The judging panel, which comprised members of the Association of Golf Writers as well as commentators from radio and television, acknowledged Schwartzel’s four-birdie finish for a closing best of the day 66 and a winning 14-under par total of 274 and also praised Luke Donald’s tied fourth place finish at the Masters followed by his runners-up finish in The Heritage tournament on the PGA Tour where he was a finger-touch away from going to Number One in the Official World Golf Ranking. Schwartzel is the fourth monthly winner of 2011 – the 26-year-old from Johannesburg joining Martin Kaymer (January), Luke Donald (February) and Scotland’s Paul Lawrie (March). All the monthly winners will be considered for The 2011 Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Year Award which was won jointly by Kaymer and McDowell in 2010.

DeGale and Groves Blast from the Past

James DeGale and George Groves returned to their former amateur gym today ahead of their big May 21 clash at The O2, London. The pair will meet in a mouth-watering British and Commonwealth super-middleweight title showdown, live on Sky Box Office.But on Thursday morning they took a stroll down memory lane when they held a press conference at Dale Youth ABC. It was at the west London gym that the pair initially became friends - before falling out spectactularly. Groves famously beat DeGale as an amateur. But his big rival went on to lift the gold medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in China. Now in just two weeks time the public will finally find out who really is the best. "It all came flooding back when I walked through the doors again," said DeGale. "All the blood, sweat and tears that it took for me to win that Olympic medal. "It also reminded me of just why I don't like George Groves. "He was jealous of me as an amateur and he has been jealous of me ever since I turned professional. "He thought he was going to the golden boy of British boxing, but he had to watch me get the glory instead. "I used to play with him sparring here, and I'll play with him when we meet on May 21." But Groves hit back by saying: "James knows that I can beat him, and that makes me a very dangerous opponent. "He's a good fighter but I'm winning the mental war ahead of this fight. "I've got the pyschological edge over him. I can see he's worried. I spent so much time around him as an amateur that I can read him like a book. "And he is in for a very painful chapter of his life at the O2."

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Froch forges links with Matchroom

Matchroom Sport are delighted to announce that Carl ‘The Cobra’ Froch has signed a five-fight promotional deal. The WBC Super-Middleweight champion spoke with both Barry and Eddie Hearn earlier this month and the work starts straight away with Froch heading to the States to fight Glen Johnson on June 4 in the semi-final of the Super Six in Atlantic City. The 33 year-old Nottingham star has wowed fight fans with his stunning performances against Jean Pascal, Jermaine Taylor, Andre Dirrell and Arthur Abraham, and now he plans to become a household name after years of frustration in the shadows.“I’m so excited to be working with Matchroom,” said Froch. “When you are fighting at your peak it’s about raising your profile and securing TV time and that's where I am. When you sit down with Barry and Eddie, you can tell they have the power and the resources to maximise your potential so I'm really excited about the rest of my career. “The thing that stood out was their straight-talking approach and obviously their great reputation not just in boxing but in sport. They have Darren Barker on board who is a good friend of mine and Rob McCracken told me to sit down and listen to Eddie – I listen to Rob and that made the decision simple. Eddie brings big things to the table and is able to promote me in a way that will get me the exposure that I deserve and crave – I've fulfilled my end of the bargain, I leave everything in the ring when I fight. “I still have a dream to fight at the City Ground, home of Nottingham Forest – I was promised that year with Mikkel Kessler but it ended up happening in Denmark. If I'd gone into the meeting with Eddie and Barry then I believe that fight would've happened at the City Ground and it would've been a momentous occasion for myself, for the club, the city and for British boxing. But now we'll look forward and say, why can't it happen? When the Super Six is over and with Matchroom behind me, I know the dream can become a reality. I'm not fighting now for the riches - I'm World Champion, I've lost the title then won it back, I'm doing OK financially and there's a couple of big fights out there for me and it could happen at the City Ground. Joe Calzaghe keeps being mentioned and who knows, something tells me he could come out of retirement, stranger things have happened, and what a fight that would be.” “It is an absolute honour to be representing Carl,” said Matchroom Sport’s managing director Eddie Hearn. “When you look at what he has achieved in this sport, he already has to go down as one of the greatest fighters Britain has ever produced and it's time he starting getting the exposure he deserves. You only have to watch his fights back to see just how exciting he is and if we are going to continue to grow this sport in this country, then the public need to see icons like Carl entertain. We are going to raise his profile through the roof in the UK and after the Super Six he will come home to the welcome he so deserves.” The deal sees Froch complete the Super Six series – fighting Johnson and then a possible final later this year against either Andre Ward or Arthur Abraham – and then three more fights, although Froch would not rule out extending his career, saying he is “in the shape of his life”. “If I was trying to be realistic now I'd say five more fights,” said Froch. “I've got this fight with Glen Johnson then the Super Six final providing I do the business against Johnson – then after that, maybe three more, but then again, maybe five more, let's see how we go. There's no reason why it can't be seven actually, get the Super Six out of the way then have five proper big fights, World Championship fights here in Britain.” Froch completes a hat-trick of formidable recent signings for Matchroom, with recently crowned European Middleweight Champion Darren Barker and Britain’s hottest young talent, Sheffield Welterweight Kell Brook. That trio was added to recent World title challenger Paul McCloskey and forthcoming European title challenger Gavin Rees, and the latest recruit has his sights set on a massive show involving the hot new stable. “A pay-per-view event at the City Ground with me topping the bill is not just a pipedream now I’m with Matchroom – and an undercard headed by my stable-mates Darren Barker and Kell Brook who would be fighting for big titles is a real possibility,” said Froch. Eddie Hearn added: “Darren, Kell, Paul and Gavin are on the verge of World title shots so who could rule out a super show in the near future? We have had tremendous interest from a number of fighters looking to join the Matchroom and I'm delighted with the team we have put together. We won't rest until we get them what they deserve.”

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Westwood back on Top

World Number One Lee Westwood has his eyes firmly focused on his ‘fifth Major’ at the BMW PGA Championship. The 38 year old Englishman will be among the star attractions at Wentworth Club from May 26-29, along with World Number Two Martin Kaymer and Number Three Luke Donald. For Westwood, the BMW PGA Championship represents the biggest prize in the game outside golf’s four grand slam events, and he would like nothing more than to take home The European Tour’s flagship title, an honour that has eluded him thus far in his glittering career of more than 30 international tournament victories, including the last two weeks in Indonesia and Korea. “The BMW PGA Championship is the biggest title that I play for outside of the Majors. It’s bigger than the World Golf Championships because of what the tournament represents for us as The European Tour,” said Westwood, who followed up his victory in the Indonesian Open by capturing the Ballantine’s Championship for his 21st European Tour success. “It’s the Tour’s showcase event and obviously I’d love to win – it is always a great event to play in and it would be nice to win a BMW tournament for the first time and it is certainly a high priority for me in any season.” Kaymer, meanwhile, is hoping to add a second BMW title to his burgeoning CV, having secured his second European Tour victory at the 2008 BMW International Open before going on to secure a further seven European Tour titles, including his first Major at last year’s US PGA Championship. The German, who dethroned Westwood from his Number One position in February, only to lose out himself to the same player nine days ago, said: “It is definitely one of my goals to win the BMW PGA Championship. “To win another BMW tournament would be fantastic and especially at Wentworth. I always like to play there. It is a very important tournament so it’s always a privilege to come here. It would be fantastic to raise the trophy.” Donald, meanwhile, is enjoying one of the most successful periods of his career having won the WGC – Accenture Match Play in February and putting together an exceptional run of form that has taken him to within touching distance of Westwood’s World Number One crown. The Englishman almost won the BMW PGA Championship last year but had to settle for a tie for second place after almost holing his pitching wedge approach to the West Course’s 18th hole for an eagle that would have taken eventual winner Simon Khan into a sudden-death play-off. “It would be very nice to go one better at the BMW PGA Championship this year,” said Donald. “I ran Simon pretty close last year and have always loved coming home to play at Wentworth. It’s a very special week for me because I get to see so many friends and family back home, so to win The European Tour’s biggest event back in England would be very special.”