Top Html/Javascript

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Number One still isn’t good enough for Tiger Woods

We’ve seen these results from Bay Hill before. As a matter of fact, eight times to be exact. That’s the number of Arnold Palmer Invitational Tournaments Tiger Woods has won. However Monday’s result could prove to be the biggest yet. Not because of the accomplishment itself but what the victory stands for. With his 77th PGA Tour win, Tiger not only recaptured golf’s #1 player status in the world, a title missing from his resume for the past 124 PGA Tour weeks but also sets himself up with a rhythm and confidence we haven’t seen since his last major victory in the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. The significance of this of course is the upcoming Masters where Woods will be the heavy favorite for his 15th Major Championship, which would truly mark a full recovery, at least in the golf sense from the marriage scandal that sent both Tiger’s game and personal life into a free for all. Augusta National hasn’t seen Woods slide on the Green Jacket since 2005. Not that there haven’t been close calls in the meantime but the thrill has been gone for some time now. After the 2005 win, Woods has finished third, and then tied for second in back to back years. In 2009 the best he could do was sixth, followed up by fourth place finishes in 2010 and 2011. Last year, after a solid 72 on Thursday he faltered shooting 75, on the way to proving he wasn’t close to coming full circle finishing a distant 40th overall. The last seven years of frustration at Augusta should be coming to a close though. The last time Woods won consecutive events entering the Masters was 2001 when he won at Bay Hill and The Players before capturing his second Green Jacket. Despite Tiger’s rise back to the game’s top spot coming all the way back from a low of 58th in the world in November of 2011, the true test of his comeback doesn’t really start until April 11th on the first tee of the Masters. Not everyone seems to understand this however. Tiger’s biggest sponsor Nike on Tuesday came out with a new ad campaign stating, “Winning takes care of everything”….Tiger Woods, World #1. Even new girlfriend Lindsay Vonn tweeted after Monday’s final round about her new man once again taking over golf’s thrown. The only numbers that really matter are major championships 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19. Those five numbers would make Tiger the true number one most likely forever. Woods has been stalled behind the great Jack Nicklaus for almost five years and 17 majors without gaining ground, instead only losing time. For most of Tiger’s journey of self-redemption since that Thanksgiving Night when the world discovered along with ex-wife Elin that Woods was only a great golfer and not person, husband and father at the time, most believed his best golf was behind him. We’ve watched him apologize on national television, fall flat on the course, have surgeries and undergo a new golf swing. All of these factors contributed to the biggest fall of any top athlete maybe in the history of modern era sports. But just when most of the experts believed the weight of Tiger’s indiscretions lay too heavy on his mind to the point of ruining his ability to win major tourneys, Woods is on the verge of proving almost everyone wrong. He’s now won three tournaments this season in five entries. His admission to his relationship with Vonn seems to be proof he’s gotten past his personal demons that seem to haunt him over ruining his marriage and the embarrassment it caused himself and his family. His health is once again not a factor on the course and the public overall has seemed to forgiven him. Getting back to being the world’s top player is nice but the only true redemption for Tiger the golfer not the person will be a win in a few weeks at Augusta. That would show he’s come full circle and once again be on track to become the greatest golfer that ever lived.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Barcelona Pulls off a Stunner but Surprises No One

No side had ever come back from being down 0-2 on aggregate to advance to the quarter finals of the Champions League so the prospects didn’t look good for Barcelona despite their storied history. To make the odds even more steep they were lining up against AC Milan, a side with some pretty good pedigree as well. Well, someone forgot to mention the odds to the Spaniards and the 95 thousand in attendance as not only did Barcelona make up the deficit in the first half, but they shut down ACM defensively and put up a 4-0 shutout to move on with a what would seem like a comfortable +2 aggregate that those who might have just tuned in to catch the final eight would have expected as going into the tournament Barcelona was one of the favorites as the World’s best player Lionel Messi has been playing at the top of his game when teamed up with David Villa present the most formidable duo in football. The rub is that they haven’t been healthy, or had their best side on the pitch long enough to display that continuity that on paper looks to be unmatched. On Tuesday it all came together and was on full display as the speed and accuracy of the passing and execution on the chances they did create made the football world finally see them exercise their full potential, and those Barce faithful say “we told you so”. They are a side that no one wants to see in the round of 8, but there are plenty of quality sides left as the tournament certainly lives up to its name. Real, PSG, and Juventus you might have expected but Dortmund look usually strong and Malaga could be a side of destiny. Bayern and Galatasaray are a bit of a surprise to round out the quarterfinals, so plenty of obstacles still in the way, but any fan of the game who likes to see good football got an exhibition of what it could be like when it all comes together.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Is Tiger Lurking to Take Over World Number 1?

He prowled onto the national scene in 1996 and by April of 1997 Tiger Woods became a household name after his performance at the Masters. He has been the face of golf ever since, for both good and bad reasons but now it appears Woods will once again be the talk of the sport for just winning. Tiger’s Thursday to Sunday performance at Doral, culminating in a two shot, no sweat victory, gave him his second championship of the season and fifth win in a year’s time. With another trophy celebration at Bay Hill in two weeks, Woods would become the world’s number one ranked player again. Whether that happens or not remains to be seen but what is clear to most golf experts, enthusiast and commentators is that the old Tiger Woods is back, or is he? With the help of friend and fellow pro Steve Stricker, Woods posted his lowest putting total of his PGA Tour career finishing with just 100 over the 72 hole event. His 27 birdies were just one short of the most he has ever made in an event. He finished seventh in the field in greens in regulation and although just 30th in the 65 player field in driving, it hardly hurt him. However, we have seen this from the man still chasing Jack before. Last year he won at Bay Hill before the Masters and finished tied for 40th at Augusta. He won Nicklaus’ tourney last year as well and couldn’t get it done at the U.S. Open the next week, tying for 21st. Despite Tiger’s impressive work in South Florida last weekend, this summer will be five years since he’s won a major, the 2008 Open at Torrey Pines. So why would this recent success at the age of 37, be different from the other flashes of the old Tiger we’ve seen in the last couple of years? One reason would be Woods health appears to be at a grade of A plus for the moment. Last year at Doral, Tiger was forced to withdraw from the final round on the 12th hole due to a recurring Achilles tendon injury. After Sunday’s victory he stated, “It’s nice to be healthy”. “I was struggling there for a while”. His most serious injury of course being a torn ligament in his left knee which required surgery, a long layoff and caused him pain over the last couple of years appears to also be a thing of the past. The public scandal of Woods infidelity which led to the brake-up of his marriage to wife Elin seems to be another part of Tigers’ past now, as his game continues to steal the headlines instead of his private life leading the tabloids. You don’t have to play golf to know how much of the game is mental and there is no doubt the hit Woods’ image took bothered him immensely during his play since that 2009 Thanksgiving evening when the ex-wife allegedly put a golf club upside his head after finding out about his creeping. Time does appear to be healing all of the wounds that brought down the game’s greatest present day golfer. Mentally, physically and emotionally Tiger seems to have it all together at once for the first time since before his historic 2008 Open win on basically one leg. Arnold Palmer’s event in two weeks will probably tell the story if Tiger will be considered the front-running favorite for the Masters in April. Nicklaus was able to scratch out his 18th and final major win at the age of 46, which is still a long ways away for Tiger. But if Woods is going to resume serious pursuit of Jack’s record by winning his 15th major, the time is now. For the first time in a long time, the golfer not the person who made the sport cool, popular and even wealthier is on the prowl again and headed back to the place where it all started with his sights set on a fifth green jacket.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

It’s Time for “World’s Game” to Catch Up to the Rest of the World

If you can imagine the best competition in world football getting better, that’s what you have when the Champions League reaches the Round of 16, particularly on the second leg when numbers are in place and you know what each side needs to move on. From sold out attendance in the stadiums to millions watching around the world, the stage is set for the football the planet has to offer to be played. Why then do we let three guys supersede the action on the pitch with no system of checks and balances? Manchester United was up 2-1 on aggregate and leading in a match 1-0 and well on their way to round of eight when referee Cuneyt Cakir sent off Manu U. player Nani for a high foot on Alvaro Arbeloa of Real Madrid. In the two days following the match UEFA has stood by their man but quality arguments have come down on both sides of the issue. Obviously Man U. supporters can argue that Nani was not sent off for “Violent Conduct” which according to the rules is “an act when you are not challenging for the ball”, which Nani clearly was, but for “Serious Foul Play” and to be dismissed for this you must “use excessive force or brutality against an opponent when challenging for the ball when it is in play. A tackle that endangers the safety of an opponent must be sanctioned as a serious foul play”. To surmise, Nani’s play, although aggressive in nature, was not intentional and he was playing the ball. Worthy of a yellow and a caution yes, but a red? No. Conversely, the rules are left for interpretation and easily can be manipulated to serve your purpose depending on the side you support, no where in the rules are the adjectives “excessive” or “brutally” defined and because of that it’s left to the referee’s determination and therefore he is correct in his ruling. However at the end of the day with so much on the line it’s more important to get the call right than to have a delay. How can such a big decision be made via instant recall with the chaos that ensues from both sides? I hate it when pundits compare sports but I have to admit, although I hate when the American Football’s replay system slows down a game but what it has done is alleviate the number of times when the game isn’t actually won on the pitch by the players. A loss is a loss and if the correct call can’t be made with the technology we have in the 21st century then it was too close to call anyway. What I would have like to have seen is at least someone to talk to about it with for a second opinion from perhaps a different angle, but one man’s take on a play that lasted less than 2 seconds that changed the outcome of the Champions League Tournament is simply negligent in it’s nature. To throw even more fuel on the inferno RM manager Jose Mourinho was quoted as stating “I doubt with 11 against 11 we could have won the match”. Amazingly stipulating that without the aid of the call Real Madrid would be home watching the rest of the tournament. You don’t see that type of candor often and in on a stage this big, and perhaps he’s cutting his side a little short but the take away remains the same, with the time, skill, cash, and “blood/sweat/tears” from the fans that goes into the “World’s Game” we should ensure that all of the resources in the world are used to let the players decide the outcome.

Soccer Scoreboard