Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Manassero man of the Moment

Matteo Manassero became the youngest BMW PGA Championship winner in history at the age of 20 after a thrilling play-off victory at Wentworth Club. The Italian finished level with 2010 winner Simon Khan and Scotland’s Marc Warren on ten under par after 72 holes, but after Warren exited at the first play-off hole having driven into trees down the right, the two remaining players looked inseparable. It was the fourth additional trip down the 18th that eventually split Manassero and Khan – the latter finding water with his second while Manassero fired a brilliant approach to 20 feet and two-putted for birdie. “It's been an amazing week,” said the 2009 Amateur Champion. “I've always felt something really special about this place and this tournament. Everything has come together this week, and I managed to play well and stay in contention after a tough day on Friday, and pull it off in this play-off. “To be honest, I was less tense (in the play-off) than walking the last few holes, because you know you've done what you could for 72 holes. The rest is just about trying to hit good, regular shots, just try to make it as easy as possible and see what the other guys do. I managed to hit four good tee shots, and on a hole like 18 it's probably the most important.“I'm really excited. Besides this victory, you get all of these achievements that are amazing, but right now, I'm just thinking of winning the BMW PGA Championship.” Lee Westwood looked to be marching towards the title, but the Englishman dropped four shots in four holes on the back nine to slip away, but there was better fortune for veteran Spaniard Miguel Angel Jiménez, who finished birdie-eagle in his 600th European Tour event to take a share of fourth spot.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Miguel makes 600th Appearance

With a single swish of one of golf’s most recognisable swings – not to mention that unmistakable ponytail – on the first tee of Wentworth Club’s iconic West Course, Miguel Angel Jiménez joined an elite group of golfers at the BMW PGA Championship today as he officially made his 600th appearance on The European Tour. The Spaniard, one of golf’s most enduring characters, becomes the sixth player in history to reach 600 appearances, joining Sam Torrance (706), Barry Lane (682), Roger Chapman (619), Eamonn Darcy (610) and Malcolm McKenzie (605) in that rarefied group. In recognition of his remarkable achievement, Jiménez, the first player from Continental Europe to reach the 600 milestone, was presented with a unique tantalus decanter containing a 600 year old whisky by European Tour Chief Executive George O’Grady and Tournament Committee Chairman Thomas Björn at the Players’ Awards dinner on Tuesday night. “It’s been an amazing journey,” said Jiménez. “The game has given me an amazing life and so amazing experiences and I have enjoyed almost every minute of it. I have had some special victories and experiences and it is difficult to pick out one highlight. “This year is my 25th year in a row on The European Tour and I have seen so much change, and so many players. I think I have survived four generations on the Tour. When I started I was playing with Seve, with Lyle and Woosnam and all those players. “Then came Olazábal, Faldo and Monty and their generation. Then you had Clarke and Westwood guys like that. And now when I go on Tour, they are kids. Rory and all of the these young boys are children!” Born in Malaga on January 5, 1964, Jiménez turned professional in 1982 and made his first appearance on The European Tour at the 1983 Spanish Open at Las Brisas as he began a career that, so far, has included 19 European Tour victories and four Ryder Cup appearances (winning twice in 2004 and 2010), in the process amassing an incredible €19,980,346 in official prize money. He was also a Ryder Cup Vice-Captain on two occasions, helping his great friend Seve Ballesteros steer Europe to an emotional victory on Spanish soil at Valderrama in 1997 before playing a vital role behind the scenes once again in Medinah last year, where he helped his other lifelong friend, José María Olazábal, invoke the spirit of Seve and inspire that miraculous Ryder Cup comeback on American soil. Jiménez became a full Member of The European Tour by winning his card at the 1988 Qualifying School, making this year his 25th consecutive season on Tour. Over that quarter of a century, he has produced some unforgettable moments, most notably at Wentworth in 2008 when he captured The European Tour’s Flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship, after a thrilling play-off with England’s Oliver Wilson. Most of Jiménez’s career highlights have come in the second half of his professional life. He followed up his maiden win at the 1992 PIAGET Open with six more victories (including the 1999 Volvo Masters) in the decade spanning 1993–2003. Since turning 40 in January 2004, Jiménez has turned a great career into a tremendous one, becoming the oldest winner in European Tour history, aged 48 years and 318 days, when he claimed his third UBS Hong Kong Open title in 2012. He holds The European Tour record for most wins by a player aged 40 and over, with 12 victories. Those formidable facts and figures only really tell half the story of Señor Jiménez, though. The word legend is often overused these days, but when it comes to Miguel, it really is the most appropriate description of his status on The European Tour. Well-known for his love of fine wine, cigars and fast cars, he is simply one of the most popular characters to grace the fairways of professional golf in the modern era, possessing that amazing ability to make people who cross his path walk away with a smile after bumping into him on a range or clubhouse anywhere on the planet. Be you a fellow-competitor, a member of the public, a sponsor, official or media representative, what you see is what you get: a man whose passion and love for living life to the full is as insatiable as it is infectious. The good news for The European Tour, and the game of golf as a whole, is that Miguel will be with us all for a few more years to come.  “As long as I can still compete and give myself a chance to win against the new kids then I will keep playing and keep trying to win tournaments,” said Jiménez.  “I am 50 next year but I do not think it is time for me to play with the Seniors yet. I still feel like I can win on the Tour, and as long as I can stay healthy and away from injuries then I will be here for a few more years.”

Monday, May 20, 2013

Hopkins fights back the Years

Continuing to break his own records, IBF Light Heavyweight Champion Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins will become the oldest fighter in history to make his initial title defense when he faces number one rated IBF light heavyweight contender Karo Murat on Saturday, July 13 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The bout will mark Hopkins' second time fighting in Brooklyn's new arena following his stellar win over Tavoris Cloud at Barclays Center in March.  Hopkins vs. Murat, a 12-round bout for Hopkins' IBF Light Heavyweight World Championship taking place Saturday, July 13 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, is presented by Golden Boy Promotions and sponsored by Corona and AT&T. "Murat has nothing to lose and everything to gain by fighting me," said Hopkins. "He knows he is fighting a 48-year-old, but he has to understand that there aren't any other 48-year-olds like me. I keep saying 'I'm different' because it is true and I'm going to prove it once again on July 13. I don't know a lot about Murat, which makes him a dangerous competitor, but after over two decades in this sport, there isn't anything I haven't seen, so I plan on showing the world that I can face anyone at any time and be victorious." "It's like a dream come true," said Murat. "I'm so happy to have this opportunity. Bernard Hopkins has nothing else to prove and this will be the first fight in my career where I have nothing to lose. I can only win against Hopkins and I plan on retiring him. His biggest strength is his experience, but I will reveal his weaknesses at Barclays Center in front of his own fans. I will be in the best shape of my life and will snatch his belt from under his nose." "Every Bernard Hopkins fight is a historic event and an opportunity for fans to see one of the all-time greats in action," said Oscar De La Hoya, President of Golden Boy Promotions. "On July 13, he'll look to keep his remarkable streak going, but Karo Murat is a hungry challenger and he's coming to Brooklyn to win, so I expect a great fight." "We are delighted that at long last Karo Murat is getting the mandatory shot he earned a long time ago," said Kalle Sauerland, Murat's promoter from Sauerland Event. "The fact that Bernard Hopkins plays by the rules and is giving this young mandatory his opportunity speaks volumes of him. Of course Murat is the underdog, but as the saying goes every dog has its day." "Bernard Hopkins made history at Barclays Center in March and created an unforgettable atmosphere," said Brett Yormark, CEO of Barclays Center. "We are honored to host Hopkins' next title fight at Barclays Center where he can potentially break his own record. Boxing is flourishing in Brooklyn and we are proud to work with Golden Boy Promotions to continue driving the renaissance of the sport in the borough." Nothing can be said about the life and career of Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins (53-6-2, 32 KO's) that hasn't already been written or aired on television, radio or the internet already, but suffice to say that the 48-year-old from Philadelphia has rightfully earned the title of "legend" as a result his accomplishments throughout his storied career. The longest reigning middleweight champion in boxing history, Hopkins went on to reinvent himself as a light heavyweight after turning 40, winning a world title three times. With his last two title wins, he set a new record as the oldest fighter to win a major world championship in boxing history, and as his dominant 12-round unanimous decision win over previously unbeaten Tavoris Cloud in March showed, he's far from finished, a fact he plans on letting Murat know on July 13. The number one contender for the IBF light heavyweight title, 29-year-old Karo Murat (25-1-1, 15 KO's) is on the verge of making history with the chance of a lifetime. A pro since 2006, the resident of Kitzingen, Germany has won several regional titles en route to his place among the top 175-pound fighters in the world. Unbeaten for nearly three years since the lone loss of his career to WBO Light Heavyweight World Champion Nathan Cleverly in 2010, Murat's last two wins have been knockouts, putting him at the front of the line for his dream fight against a future Hall of Famer.

McDowell conquers World Match Play

Graeme McDowell overcame Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee 2&1 in the final of the Volvo World Match Play Championship to become the first Irishman to put his name on the trophy alongside some the golf’s most legendary names. McDowell, who defeated Branden Grace in his morning semi-final 3&2 to book his place in the final at the stunning Thracian Cliffs Beach and Golf Resort in Bulgaria, was delighted to win for the second time in the space of just four weeks following his victory on the PGA Tour last month. Those two successes have propelled McDowell to seventh on the Official World Golf Ranking, while his €800,000 first prize took him to the very top of The European Tour’s Race to Dubai. Reading the names of the past champions of the 50 year old tournament that was first staged in 1964, McDowell said: “Els, Montgomerie, Westwood, Ballesteros, Norman, Lyle, Faldo, Player, Palmer – it's just crazy stuff really. These guys are legends of The European Tour and legends of golf so to have your name on a trophy this cool is pretty special. “I'll drink a couple cold ones tonight and enjoy this. This is a special moment in my career, no doubt about it. Wins are super special. You know, two in four weeks, that's great. I mean, I'm feeling pretty good right now.” After some seriously explosive golf in both semi-finals – both McDowell and Jaidee played superbly in their respective 3&2 wins over Grace and South African Thomas Aiken – the final was an understandably tight match, with Jaidee taking an early lead to go two up through four holes.  A birdie on the seventh saw McDowell half the Thai’s lead before the Northern Irishman made a pair of brilliant back-to-back par saves on the ninth and tenth to stay one down. With the pressure mounting on the back nine, The 33 year old brought all of his US Open and Ryder Cup winning experience to the fore, birdieing the 12th to level the match before Jaidee dropped a shot on the 14th to hand McDowell the lead for the first time in the match. “The key putts really this afternoon were with the par saves on 9 and 10; they were massive,” said McDowell, who added a second Volvo title to his CV having made his breakthrough professional victory at the 2002 Volvo Scandinavian Masters. “I sensed from Thongchai after that that he was starting to fatigue a little bit. I really sensed a bit of an opening. I just had to hit the shots and I did that well coming down the stretch. The mistake he made on 14 and then the birdie I made on 15 was really the telling stuff and I managed t close it out from there.”

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mayweather out points Guerrero

Showing no ill effects from a one-year layoff, boxing superstar Floyd "Money" Mayweather didn't skip a beat in his return to the ring, retaining his WBC Welterweight World Championship and capturing the vacant Ring Magazine Welterweight World Championshp with a dominant 12-round unanimous decision win over Six-Time and Four-Division World Championship Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. At age 36, the universally regarded No. 1 pound-for-pound boxer in the world employed his superb defensive skills and a powerful right hand to effectively dominate the 30-year-old Guerrero. In his first fight since a May 5, 2012 triumph over Miguel Cotto, Mayweather scored the unanimous decision by the score of 117-111 three times. Mayweather (44-0, 26 KO's), of Grand Rapids, Mich., landed 60 percent of his power shots to Guerrero's 28 percent and used his signature lateral movement in a 12-round master performance during which the challenger only managed to land 19 percent of his total punches thrown.  "The less you get hit in this sport, the longer you last," Mayweather said. "I needed my father (trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr.) this night and we were victorious. The less you get hit, the longer you last. Continue to box. If the knockout came, I was going to take it. "Everyone was saying that at the age of 36, I didn't have it no more. My defense wasn't sharp after the Cotto fight, but I have proved myself. Cotto is a future Hall of Famer. I've been in with some of the best. All I want to do is give the fans exciting fights." Mayweather leaned mostly on his speedy right hand throughout the fight, a weapon that the southpaw Guerrero (31-2-1, 18 KO's), of Gilroy, Calif., couldn't seem to see or react to. After the fight, Mayweather, who opened up a cut over his opponent's eye in the 8th round, claimed that he hurt his most effective weapon midway through the fight.  "He was barely slipping by the punches," Guerrero lamented. "I landed some good punches. He's a great fighter. He's slick, he's quick. He came out and did his thing. He was a little better than I thought. I thought I was going to catch him. He was on his game tonight."