Tag Archives: sports

Greenbrier Classic 2013 Preview

By Michael McGill ( @MickSportsNews )

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The great John Denver used to sing ‘country roads take me home to the place I belong, West Virginia’.

And with that we head to White Sulphur Springs in West Virginia for the fourth edition of The Greenbrier Classic being played at The Old White TPC.

The Greenbrier Classic has replaced the Buick Open and had its inaugural event in 2010. It was won by Aussie Stuart Appleby on -22 with Jeff Overton finishing second at -21 and Brendon de Jonge in third place at -17. The course was rated second easiest from the 14 Par 70’s played on the tour.

In 2011 it was lengthened from 7031 to 7272 yards with 16 holes undergoing changes while all 18 greens were reseeded with bentgrass. Scott Stallings won his first PGA tour event after finishing on -10 and winning a play off against Bob Estes and Bill Haas.

Last year saw Ted Potter Jnr win his first PGA Tour event. He defeated Troy Kelly on the third playoff hole after finishing on -16 together.

The course is a Par 70 with 72 sand bunkers and 10 water hazards. The Purse this year is US$6.3M with the winner taking home $1,134,000.

Looking at the results from the last three years the course suits a player who plays well tee to green and is a good putter as the greens are undulating and can be difficult to read. It is always difficult to go off three years of stats when a tournament is still in its infancy. Players in good current form are always a safe way to go as well.

The Top 5 in betting are:- 14/1 Phil Mickelson, 16/1 Bubba Watson, 16/1 Webb Simpson, 22/1 Bill Haas and 28/1 Graham DeLaet.

Joining these guys in the field are nine winners from this season including Russell Henley, Scott Brown, Billy Horschel and Boo Weekley.

Not to mention International players like Andres Romero, Brian Davis, Ryo Ishikawa, Rory Sabbatini and Peter Hanson.

The two players to follow this week are-

Webb Simpson 16/1

As most people who follow my previews know, I am not a big fan of tipping the favourite. In fact I usually go out of my way to leave them alone.

This week will be an exception as Webb is ready to produce the goods and put in a great performance.

The World No.19 player been playing some great golf this season. Twelve made cuts from sixteen starts. From those twelve made cuts he has produced nine Top 25 finishes. Four of those went on to be Top 10’s. That’s a pretty good conversion rate in anyone’s book.

Those four Top 10’s were at the Northern Trust (t6th), WGC Accenture Match Play (t5th), RBC Heritage (P2nd) and Travelers Championship (t5th).

He goes into this week on the back of his t5th at the Travelers Championship were he hit 70% of greens in regulation, 71% driving accuracy, 100% sand saves and was ranked 37th in ball striking. If he takes those stats into this week he can expect to see himself up there challenging over the weekend.

Simpson has played in all three additions of the Greenbrier. In 2010 he missed the cut, however in 2011 he was t9th and t7th last year. From his eight rounds in 2011 and 2012, six of those were under par.

His 2013 stats have him ranked 30th in greens in regulation, 15th in birdie average, 16th in scoring average and 3rd in greens in regulation from other than the fairway.

In this field 16/1 is a great each way price. We know he has the mental strength and course management to play well this week. Webb showed that at last years US Open.  This is his week.

Gary Woodland 55/1

When you think big hitters, you think of Gary Woodland. However I have chosen him this week for another reason.

Have a look at his form in June. Not many players can boast his results. T16th Memorial Tournament, T18th St Jude Classic, W/D Travelers Championship and T16th AT&T National. That’s three Top 20 finishes from four starts.

Gary withdrew from the Travelers Championship due to a sore back he sustained during a plane ride. To prove he was over the injury he backed up in the AT&T National and played great golf finishing T16th.

I like a golfer who is in form as it shows they have confidence and as we all know, a confident golfer can do things that an out of form golfer can’t do!

This will be Gary’s 4th start in the Greenbrier. His results have been MC, 4th, MC. Lets hope he remembers the positive vibes from 2011 this week.

Good Luck and Good Punting.



The Socceroos are off to the World Cup Finals

By Brad Eveleigh ( @Brad_Eveleigh )

Screen shot 2013-06-19 at 8.52.29 PMThe Australian Socceroos qualified for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil last night by defeating Iraq 1-0 in Sydney.

The Green and Gold made it hard for themselves leading up to the final round of Group B with disappointing results, which meant only a win would see them progress in the tournament.

Australia were lucky not to go ahead inside the first 5 minutes with pleasant passing between Tim Cahill and Robbie Kruse resulted in a close range shot from Cahill. The shot was sensationally palmed away by the diving efforts of Ahmed Ibrahim wearing the gloves for Iraq.

The game was played at a frantic pace from the get-go with structural plans nonexistent as the ball went from end to end, neither team dominating possession.

The visitors were putting up a great fight considering they stood at the bottom of the group and this looked to unsettle the Socceroos who struggled to execute their game plan.

Most of the 80,523 supporters at ANZ Stadium were suffering from nerves as the teams went to the halftime break at 0 – 0, a break that Socceroos Manager Holger Osieck would have been desperate to commence to have words with his team.

Nerves were quite evident for the Australians in the second half and the visitors were actually causing a few ‘deep breath’ moments for the home supporters with their attacking plays.

Holger Osieck had to make a big call to change the tempo and did so by taking off Brett Holman, whose performance was well below par.

Tom Rogic, who signed with Celtic FC in Scotland’s domestic league last season, replaced Holman with immediate effect. Within the first 5 minutes of taking to the pitch he posted 3 shots at goal.

As Australia were mounting pressure Osieck surprised everyone by replacing Tim Cahill, who was obviously confused and disgruntled by the decision, for Josh Kennedy. Even the home crowd made their opinions heard with boisterous bellows of “BOOO”’s around the stadium. Playmaker Robbie Kruse was also substituted for Archie Thompson in another surprise move.

Osieck’s unpopular gamble with the fate of the Socceroos future turned out to be a masterstroke as Josh Kennedy headed home the winning goal with only 7 minutes remaining on the clock.

Marco Bresciano found slight open space on the right corner of the 18-yard box and whipped in a cross to Kennedy, who was in open space of his own.

Kenedy made no mistake of the headed shot at goal with a textbook downward header into the bottom right corner and Australia lifted as one with wild celebrations.

The 1 – 0 result consolidated second spot in Group B behind Japan, who qualified for the finals the round before.

Australia are off to the World Cup Finals in Brazil!

pic: The Australian

Travelers Championship 2013 Preview

By Michael McGill ( @MickSportsNews )

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The PGA Tour this week heads to Cromwell, Connecticut for the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands.

The tournament was established in 1952 when it was won by Ted Kroll. Back then it was known as the Insurance City Open and he won US$2,400 for his efforts. This year the Purse is US$6,100,000 with the winner taking home a cool US$1,080,000. Times have certainly changed on tour.

Over the years the tournament has gone through a few name changes and has been known as the Travelers Championship since 2007. It has been played at TPC River Highlands since 1984. The course is a Par 70, 6,841 yard birdie-fest with 119 sand bunkers and 5 water hazards. It is ranked as one of the easier courses on the PGA Tour and as such you can expect to see a lot of low scores this week. The last 5 years have seen scores of -15, -20, -14, -22 and -18.

Considering that we had the US Open last week the field this week still has many big names. The top five in betting are 14/1 Hunter Mahan, 14/1 Justin Rose, 18/1 Jason Dufner, 18/1 Lee Westwood and 22/1 Bubba Watson.

All five players are backing up from the US Open so it will be interesting to see if we have any late withdrawals, particularly from the winner Justin Rose who has not had time to rest for one minute due to all the media commitments that go along with winning a Major.

Aside from these five great names we also have eight winners from this season teeing it up with the likes of Brian Gay, Kevin Streelman, Michael Thompson and Harris English. Then we have seven past winners of the Travelers Championship including Defending Champion Marc Leishman.

Other past winners are Bubba Watson (2010), Hunter Mahan (2007), JJ Henry (2006), Brad Faxon (2005).

So what does it take to win at TPC River Highlands? While last week was all about accuracy and precision, this week is time for the big hitters to shine. There is more emphasis on distance when you look at the past winners who have all ranked highly in this stat over the years.

There are only two Par 5′s on the course so look for players who have good Par 4 stats.

Good putting stats have also been a good key to the winners in the past. Most have been ranked highly in this category.

After taking this all into consideration I have come up with two players whose game should suit the course.

John Rollins 33/1

Rollins is the guy to be on this week if you want a guy who is in great current form and course form. He is this weeks ‘form guy’.

His last three tournaments have been t21st Byron Nelson Championship, t4th Crowne Plaza Invitational and 6th St Jude Classic. Pretty good results in anyones book. From 16 starts this season he has had ten Top 25 finishes. Great consistency in his game.

Then you look at his course form. Again it all points to a positive outcome. Last year he finished t4th while in 2011 he was t2nd.

John’s stats this season see him ranking well in all the right areas. 36th in driving distance, 10th in greens in regulation, 32nd in birdie average, 25th in scoring average, 23rd in par 4 birdie or better average and 14th in ball striking.

Expect to see Rollins up high on the leaderboard heading into the weekend!

Charlie Hoffman 50/1

It has been a consistent season so far for Charlie. 14 starts for only 3 missed cuts and four top 10′s. Those Top 10′s came in the Humana Challenge, Valero Texas Open, RBC Heritage and Byron Nelson Championship.

His last four outings have seen him playing on the weekend in all those events. 37th Players Championship, 8th Byron Nelson Championship, 18th Crowne Plaza Invitational and 63rd The Memorial Tournament.

When it comes to the Travelers Championship Hoffman has good memories after finishing t2nd last year. He will no doubt be aiming to go one better this week.

Like Rollins, Hoffman has the stats to se him go a long way this week. 44th in driving distance, 60th in greens in regulation, 26th in strokes gained putting, 11th in birdie average, 37th in sand saves and 21st in par 4 birdie or better average.

At 50/1 Charlie is at juicy each way odds. It would not surprise to see him lifting the trophy this weekend.

Last Week

Justin Rose saluted for us in the US Open at 25/1 to keep up the great run we are currently having with winners. Lets hope we get a few more as the season continues.

Nadal Wins Number 8 At Roland Garros

By Brad Eveleigh ( @Brad_Eveleigh )

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Rafael Nadal has won his record eighth French Open title defeating his fellow Spanish companion David Ferrer in straight-sets 6-3 6-2 6-3.

It was a well-welcomed victory for Nadal who only returned to the ATP world circuit in February having been out of action for 8 months with a knee injury

Today’s triumph was Nadal’s 12th career Grand Slam title, which was nothing short of easy with light rain threatening and a court invader in the second set.

Fourth seed Ferrer momentarily held the lead in the first set by breaking serve early but Nadal stepped up and claimed two breaks himself and the advantage.

Nadal had total control of the second set. He was serving for the set at 5-1 when a shirtless protester invaded the famous clay court wielding a red flare and wearing a white mask.

Security quickly apprehended the protester, who got within meters of Nadal. A sight no sports fan wants to see, and brought back memories of when Monica Seles was stabbed in the back by an invader during a Quarter-Final match in Hamburg.

Nadal didn’t seem to be bothered all that much by the disruption and closed out the set 6-2.

He then appeared to be in a rush to get on with the third set breaking serve right away but his, what looked to be, impatience cost him some unforced errors and was broken back.

He regained composure to break back at 5-3 and went on to finish the game in 2 hours and 16 minutes.

After the match an emotional Rafael said: “It’s one of the most special ones,”

“In the last year I have had some low moments but without my family I would not have done this. Without my physio I could not have done this. I never realised something like this could happen for me.”

First time finalist Ferrer said: “I enjoyed the two weeks here. I congratulate Rafa, he’s the best,”

“I will try my best to have another chance to play in a final and win a grand slam.”

Rafa now becomes the first man to win the same Grand Slam title eight times ahead of Pete Sampras and Roger Federer who hold seven Wimbledon titles.

Image: The Guardian

Serena Wins French Open

By Brad Eveleigh ( @Brad_Eveleigh )

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Serena Williams has won her second French Open title defeating the defending Champion Maria Sharapova 6-4 6-4 at Roland Garros.

It’s been 11 since her last win on the famous clay courts and this victory is Grand Slam number 16 in total.

Sharapova got out to a great start taking a 2-0 lead early in the first set with some precise serving but Williams found her rhythm and fought back with vicious shots down both sides of the court to take a 3-2 lead.

The Russian responded leveling the set at 4-4 but Williams took control again and won the set 6-4 in just 51 minutes.

Sharapova spent most of the second set trying to save break points and was in trouble down 4-2.

Williams served out the set with a barrage of Aces for the straight-sets victory.

The 31-year-old said post match that, “It was very difficult today.”

“After 11 years [since last win] and now I have 16 [grand slam titles],”

The American was the strong favourite heading into the final having won 13 times and losing just twice against Sharapova.

Williams only dropped one set heading into the matchup taking her winning streak to 31, which is a career best for her.

Serena is now just two Grand Slam victories short of Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert who are tied for fourth on the all-time winners board.

Sharapova was gracious in defeat saying, “I played a great tournament, but ran into a really tough opponent today.”

“She has been playing so well this year and the whole of last year as well.”