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Monday, April 22, 2013

The last day of the EPL season last year was the most memorable in decades for many as Manchester City seemingly had the title won, then lost, then won again in the most improbable of ways, to which many have already turned into folklore. Among those disbelievers were the 75,000 plus at Old Trafford that day whom listed on radio or watched on tablets as City came back in stoppage time to salvage victory from the beyond the jaws of defeat, more like the digestive track, as Manchester United were in the midst of song celebrating another championship. They had several months to dwell on what they could have done do be deciding their own fate this year and made sure they were not in the same position again in the 2013 campaign. Perhaps the shock hadn’t worn off as they took the pitch on August 20th of last year when they lost to Everton 1-0 to start the season, but after that wakeup call, they went on two consecutive runs, the first winning 8 of their next 9 games and then proceeded to go on a 9 out of 10 game run which included a Manchester Derby win over the afore mentioned rivals in blue (at Etihad Stadium) , for a total of 17-2 and the Premiere League title was a forgone conclusion. It was about the most dominating start to finish win since the Arsenal “Invincibles” season of 03-04’, as Man U. rose to the top of the table for the 2nd time after the 15th match of the season and never looked back. The 16-point cushion an ostentatious display of dominance of a year that only has been missing a sweep of The Derby, as City answered back and took the match at Old Trafford 3-2, and lack of any tournament hardware to solidify its place in history. However I’m sure Sir Alex would have taken this result if given the option at the start of the season, but then I think he’s been posing that question to himself every day for almost a year now.

Monday, April 15, 2013

From Down Under to Top of the World

Never having an Australian put on the Green Jacket at Augusta since Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts started, “a tradition unlike any other”, the Land from Down Under finally took advantage of arguably its best opportunity ever and there had been a few. Of course, “The Shark” the great Greg Norman, in 1996 blew a six-shot lead in the final round to lose by five strokes to Nick Faldo. Jim Ferrier won the PGA Championship in 1947, the first Aussie to ever win a major but three years later at Augusta in 1950 he blew a three-shot lead over Jimmy Demaret with just six holes to play and finished as the runner-up, two strokes back. 22 years later in 1972, Bruce Crampton struggled with a second round (75), which doomed him to finish tied for second with two others as Jack Nicklaus denied an Aussie victory by three strokes. But on Sunday, Australia had three horses in the race! Jason Day, Marc Leishman and Adam Scott all entered the pressure packed final round in contention. Scott and Day figured to have the best shot, after finishing what else but….second in the 2011 tournament, while starting the final 18 holes on Sunday respectively in third and fourth place. While both Day and Leishman were good, solid and cool under fire, it takes great to capture the Green Jacket at the end of 72 holes and that’s what Scott turned out to be! This of course is the same Adam Scott who just nine months ago, blew the Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, by making bogey on his last four holes to lose by one shot to Ernie Els. So not only had the Masters eluded him but any major victory as well, entering the final round. However the Queensland native used the lesson of buckling under the pressure of the British Open to his advantage on the most crucial holes at Augusta National on Sunday. Tied for the lead as he walked onto the 18th green, Scott drained 20-footer for a one shot advantage over Angel Cabrera. From the emotion that escaped his cool persona at that moment, he like millions of others thought Scott had final exorcised not only his but all of his home countries demons with one smooth stroke. But in only true Masters fashion, that exuberance lasted just a few minutes as Cabrera landed the approach shot of the tournament onto the green in the final group. His tap in birdie tied Scott at -9 under, robbing Australia of its moment and Scott of his accomplishment. After the two both pared the first playoff hole also on 18, came possible birdie putts on the 10th. While Cabrera just missed a 15-footer, Scott sent an entire nation into celebration, toasting their Foster’s as his 12-foot winner was pure! After almost 80 years of tradition, Butler Cabin’s guest of honor the man slipping on the legendary Green Jacket, hailed from Australia. With the near misses of so many from the Land Down Under, Sunday’s championship finish performed by Scott was a perfect fit.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Agusta Sets the Stage Like Only it can

The weather may have overcast and cloudy but that was the only disappointing thing about the opening round. The players we know on a first name basis like Tiger, Lefty, Sergio, Freddie, and Rory are all in the mix, and although there was scoring the course still carried the day as the clubhouse leaders sit at -6. I suppose we could have used a marquis threesome to start the tournament with such as Rory, Tiger, and Couples but if the first round was any indication, it looks like they all will be there slugging it out over the weekend and that would be great for the sport that has been on the backswing of the ratings curve since Tiger has been trying to find his. But now it seems like all the moons are aligned for a Granddaddy to grab the headlines again, for much better reasons than bringing their admittance police in-line with the 21st century. So from here there are several directions that the tourney can travel and keep the audience glued to set throughout the weekend. Just making the cut for 14-year old Tianlang Guan would be one the biggest Augusta stories in a decade, conversely how about 53 year-young Freddie Couples turning back the clock and being on the first page of the leaderboard? Of course, the billing that would be big enough for MSG would be if Tiger and Rory could find themselves at 1 and 2 going into Sunday but so would Tiger and Lefty, or any of the big names to finally answer the question if TW is back for good? Mix in a sprinkle of upsets like first timer David Lynn and the British invasion of Westwood, Rose, and Donald and we got ourselves a dance with attending. The stories are writing themselves, now we just need the supporting cast to set the stage for the weekend box office. View the Current Masters Leaderboard here:

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