Sunday 30 September 2012

Olazabal Recognises Love Gesture

José María Olazábal, Europe’s Captain, has acknowledged the generous gesture of American counterpart Davis Love III which allowed The European Team to wear navy blue in honour of Seve Ballesteros for the final day of the The 2012 Ryder Cup match with the United States at Medinah Country Club.

Ballesteros, who captained Europe to victory at Valderrama in his native Spain in 1997, famously wore navy blue on the final day for many of his 91 worldwide wins including three Open Championships after capturing his first European Tour title in the 1976 Dutch Open wearing a shirt of that colour.

Olazábal said: “Davis was extremely understanding because he had it in mind for the United States to wear blue on the last day but when we explained the reason for wanting to wear navy blue he immediately accepted our reasoning. It was a terrific gesture on Davis’s part and one all of Team Europe appreciated.”

Olazábal specifically selected a “Seve Blue” outfit with navy blue cashmere sweater, navy blue trousers and matching designer belt complimented by a pure white cotton polo shirt.

Ballesteros completed his “happiest” victory in similar ensemble when at St Andrews in 1984 he won the second of his Open Championship triumphs after pulling on, when the wind strengthened on the 15th tee, a navy blue sweater chosen to go with his white shirt and navy trousers.

Ballesteros played in eight Ryder Cups, won 22 ½ points from 37 matches including 11 wins and two halves from 15 matches in partnership with Olazábal.

He passed away on May 7, 2011, following a courageous battle against cancer and following an outstanding career which included 50 European Tour wins, three Open Championships and two Masters Tournament victories.

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Europe Win Ryder Cup

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Jose Maria Olazabal paid tribute to Seve Ballesteros after guiding Europe to a 14½-13½ victory over the United States in the Ryder Cup at Medinah.

The European team captain formed the most successful Ryder Cup partnership in history with his fellow Spaniard Ballesteros, who died in May 2011.

"Our team played in the spirit of Seve without ever giving up," said Olazabal.

"You believed and you delivered and I'm proud that you have kept Europe's hand on this Ryder Cup."

Olazabal and Ballesteros won 12 points from 15 matches as a pair and the victorious captain added: "Seve will always be present with this team and he was a big factor for this event.

"The boys understood that believing was the most important thing and they did. To the 12 men of Europe, what you did out there was outstanding.

"All men die but not all men live and you made me feel alive again this week."

The Europeans wore navy blue jumpers and white shirts with a silhouette of Ballesteros on the sleeve, the colours most associated with five-time major winner, in tribute to the man who breathed new life into the Ryder Cup after the Great Britain & Ireland team was expanded to include European players in 1979.

Ballesteros played in the biennial contest eight times and captained the side to victory in 1997 on home soil.

Europe won a record eight-and-a-half points out of the 12 available in Sunday's singles matches and Sergio Garcia, who beat Jim Furyk by one hole, was also quick to remember his Spanish compatriot, who died after a long battle with a brain tumour.

"I have no doubt in my mind that he was with me all day because there's no chance I would have won my match if he wasn't there," said Garcia.

"It was amazing and it feels so good to be able to win it for him and for our captain, Jose; it's been amazing."

Justin Rose, who came from one down on the 16th to birdie the last two holes and beat Phil Mickelson on the 18th, added: "In the moment you've got to do what you've got to do, but as soon as I holed that putt [on the 18th], as soon as I came off the green, my first thought has been to Seve.

"I had a glance down and looked at my left sleeve and that's the kind of stuff he would have done.

"He's been an inspiration for this team all week long."

Ian Poulter beat Webb Simpson two up to complete four wins out of four at Medinah and take his Ryder Cup tally to 12 victories in 15 matches.

"This was a team performance and the team have done an unbelievable job," said Poulter, one of Olazabal's two wildcards. "There was a buzz in the team room last night that didn't feel like we had a four-point deficit.

"For some reason, everyone was calm. Everyone was cracking jokes. We just felt we had that tiny little chance and the boys have proved it today and made history. It has been unbelievable.

"My captain picked me to come and play and I owe it to him, and Seve, to be here today. It's pretty special."

USA 13½-14½ Europe

Singles matches:
Watson lost to Donald 2&1
Simpson lost to Poulter 2 up
Bradley lost to McIlroy 2&1
Mickelson lost to Rose 1 up
Snedeker lost to Lawrie 5&3
D Johnson beat Colsaerts 3&2
Z Johnson beat McDowell 2&1
Furyk lost to Garcia 1 up
Dufner beat Hanson 2 up
Kuchar lost to Westwood 3&2
Stricker lost to Kaymer 1 up
Woods halved with Molinari

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Frankel Works Out at Newmarket

Frankel warmed up for the expected final race of his career with a workout before racing at Newmarket on Saturday.

Sir Henry Cecil's four-year-old, officially the best racehorse in the world, is due to end his glittering career in the Champion Stakes at Ascot on 20 October.

Winner of all his 13 races, Frankel was paraded in the paddock and then galloped over nine furlongs.

Cecil said: "He had a nice blow - that was exactly what we wanted."

And jockey Tom Queally said: "He felt fine. That's exactly what we were looking for as there's still a bit [of time] to go."

“It was kind of Newmarket to allow us to come and Frankel has enjoyed himself”Teddy GrimthorpePrince Khalid Abdullah's racing manager

Connections decided to recreate race conditions by parading him in the paddock, while Queally was wearing owner Prince Khalid Abdullah's silks.

He was accompanied in the gallop an hour before the start of the Cambridgeshire Day card by stable companions Specific Gravity and his half-brother Bullet Train.

Frankel's popularity has reached such heights there were barely any vantage points left in the paddock before the exercise.

And as he went past the winning post at the end of the gallop, the big crowd gave him a generous round of applause.

The horse is expected to be retired after the Ascot race and go to stud for a breeding career.

When asked if Ascot would be his final start, Cecil said: "I would think so, but the prince will make that decision."

Abdullah's racing manager Teddy Grimthorpe said: "It's amazing how many people came to see him.

"He's done something today to keep him up to speed and he's achieved it with the minimum of fuss.

"It was kind of Newmarket to allow us to come and Frankel has enjoyed himself."

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Pedrosa Wins Gran Premio de Aragon

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Dani Pedrosa returned from his Misano non-finish to take victory in Sunday’s Gran Premio Iveco de Aragón, overhauling title rival Jorge Lorenzo before winning by 6.4 seconds. The Repsol Honda Team rider, who had started second at MotorLand Aragón, now trails his Yamaha Factory Racing opponent by 33 points.

The result marks Pedrosa’s fourth win of 2012 and 19th of his MotoGP™ career, one day after celebrating his 27th birthday. 

"It was good overall, especially after all of the problems at the last race," he commented. "This weekend I had a crash and broke one bike, so it wasn’t easy for the mechanics, but I was calm and well-focussed. I started well and was able to stay with him and keep the pace." 

Pedrosa stole the lead from Lorenzo at Turn 12 on the sixth lap, then extended the margin which became only greater when the latter suffered a large slide at the first corner. 

"I tried to maintain my rhythm and put some good laps in, so I was able to open up a good gap and the bike was working quite well," Pedrosa continued. "The bike was working well overall and especially in the corners. Thanks to all of the mechanics, my fans and my family – this victory is for them."

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All Blacks Collect Rugby Championship

New Zealand ran in seven tries to defeat Argentina 54-15 and win the inaugural Rugby Championship.

Martin Landajo's try put the Pumas into an early lead but Cory Jane ran in a hat-trick of tries for the All Blacks.

Winger Julian Savea added a brace of tries while Aaron Smith and Ma'a Nonu also scored as the visitors wrapped up the title with a game to spare.

New Zealand play their final match next weekend against South Africa, who beat Australia 31-8 earlier on Saturday.

The victory means the All Blacks have now extended their winning streak since last year's World Cup to 15 matches.

"We've got the tag of being world champions and we needed to play like them," said Richie McCaw.

"To secure the Rugby Championship was obviously the big goal and it's nice to be able to do that, but to put out that performance is something the guys are pretty happy about."

Argentina scored the first try in an exciting, open match when scrum-half Landajo picked up Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino's pass to dart between two players and touch down.

But Aaron Smith and Jane soon hit back with a try for New Zealand, with Dan Carter converting to pull the world champions ahead.

When Gonzalo Camacho dropped the ball, Savea pounced, kicking it ahead before touching down. He added a second soon aftewards to give New Zealand a 32-8 lead at half-time.

There was better luck for Camacho after the break as he scurried over Argentina's second try but New Zealand asserted their dominance, with tries from Jane and Nonu sealing the win.

"It was one our best performances of the season," said All Blacks coach Steve Hansen. "The manner we did it was very satisfying.

"To be able to attack like that, you have to have a platform and the forwards played very well."

In Pretoria, South Africa scored two quick-fire tries through full-back Zane Kirchner and Bryan Habana to take a 11-point lead over Australiainto the break.

The breakthrough at the Loftus Versfeld, where Australia have not won now in six visits, came in the 22nd minute as full-back Kirchner finished off a long-period of possession in the opposition 22m.

Similar dominance from the host's forward pack saw Habana storm home from close-range soon after.

Australia were struggling to gain any foothold in the game and things got worse when Adam Ashley-Cooper was knocked unconscious in a collision with Kirchner.

Mike Harris scored in the right corner midway through the first half after clever work from Australia's new No. 10 Kurtley Beale, but his score was merely a consolation as Habana soon added a second.

The Wallabies fell further behind at the start of the second half as the Springboks standout flanker Francois Louw pirouetted over the line following a driving maul.

Australia finished the game with 14 players when hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau was forced off with a shoulder problem after they had made all their substitutions.

Habana then ruthlessly took advantage of his team's numerical advantage to claim his third try by bursting clear on the right wing.

Victory for South Africa lifted them into second place on 12 points behind champions New Zealand.

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Captain Lets Luke Lead Europe

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Luke Donald will take on Bubba Watson in the first of 12 singles matches that will ultimately decide the Ryder Cup.

USA captain Davis Love III opted to put big-hitting Watson out first, followed by close friend and Ryder Cup partner Webb Simpson, who will go head-to-head with Ian Poulter.

Keegan Bradley and Rory McIlroy make up a fascinating third pairing as both captains chose to load the top of their teams with quality in a bid to establish early momentum.

Francesco Molinari has been given the task of anchoring the European side by captain Jose Maria Olazabal, and that means he'll face a rematch with Tiger Woods, who beat him comfortably at Celtic Manor two years ago.

Woods' position is perhaps testament to the fact that he's played the back-nine better than any of his compatriots despite struggling this week, whereas Olazabal has clearly attempted to keep his weaker putters at the back of his pack.

Full draw:

Bubba Watson v Luke Donald
Webb Simpson v Ian Poulter 
Keegan Bradley v Rory McIlroy 
Phil Mickelson v Justin Rose
Brandt Snedeker v Paul Lawrie 
Dustin Johnson v Nicolas Colsaerts 
Zach Johnson v Graeme McDowell
Jim Furyk v Sergio Garcia 
Jason Dufner v Peter Hanson 
Matt Kuchar v Lee Westwood 
Steve Stricker v Martin Kaymer 
Tiger Woods v Francesco Molinari 

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Luke and Sergio Deny Tiger

Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia held off a back-nine fightback from Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker to provide a rare moment of joy for Europe in Saturday's fourballs at the Ryder Cup.

Woods was clearly at odds with his game as the European pair coasted into a four-hole lead by the turn, but the lead was reduced to one at the 13th before Donald birdied 15 and matched Woods' birdie at 17.

Stricker had a great chance to salvage a half on the final green, but his birdie attempt from seven feet lipped out as Donald and Garcia celebrated their first win of the week, while the American pair remained without a point.

Woods and Stricker, benched for the morning foursomes after two defeats on Friday, were up against it early on when Garcia's delightful approach at the first was conceded for a winning birdie.

Stricker's tee shot at the second found water and Woods was unable to save his par, and Garcia drained an unlikely birdie putt from the fringe at the fourth to go three up.

Stricker pulled one back at the next as he rolled in a 10-footer for eagle after a sublime second from over 200 yards, but Donald then found his form with his irons and birdied the eighth and ninth to double the lead.

Woods had endured a torrid front-nine, but he picked himself up to win his first hole with a two-putt birdie at 10, and Stricker got a winning birdie putt to drop from 10 feet at the 12th.

Woods then hit the shot of the match, a towering long-iron to three feet at the 245-yard 13th, and the subsequent putt reduced the arrears to a single hole.

But Donald followed a delicate pitch at 15 with a six-footer for birdie, only for Tiger - a different animal since the turn, to respond with a third straight birdie at the 16th.

Woods applied further pressure when he knocked his tee shot to five feet at 17, but Donald was up to the task as he smote a stunning mid-iron to within three feet.

Both found the centre of the cup and moved to the 18th, where Stricker's approach set up a makeable chance while Garcia went 20 feet beyond the pin.

Garcia and Woods were wide with their putts, and Stricker's did not catch enough of the lip to drop.

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