Thursday, 27 September 2012

Clark Wants Team Effort

Former Ryder Cup golfer, Howard Clark, has called on every man to do his duty for Europe, when they take on the Americans in their own back garden this weekend.
Having played in the competition between 1977 and 1995, the Englishman knows what the event is all about; he has highlighted that some of the lesser names will have to come to the fore at the Medinah Country Club.

There has been plenty of talk about the likes of Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, and Graeme McDowell on Betfair, who of course will have a major impact on the result come Sunday.

However, Clark is more interested in how the supporting cast play their roles on the big occasion.

He told Sky Sports Radio: "I think the lower end of players (in the European team) need to play a little bit higher than they are at the moment.

"Somebody like Martin Kaymer, Paul Lawrie,  Peter Hanson,  Francesco Molinari,  Nicolas Colsaerts,  they're all going to have to pull their weight this week.

"I think it's that lower order, if you can call it that, that are going to have to stand up and be counted.”

Clark has also said he thinks captain, Jose Maria Olazabal, will have a big part to play and believes that the Spaniard will be a big boost for the European team.

The skipper’s presence alone will be priceless for the visitors, who will have to be at the top of their game if they are to retain the title they won at Celtic Manor two years ago.

Looking for more info on Ryder Cup golf? Direct your browser to the Betfair website.  

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Scott finishes promising season with disappointment

Australian golfer Adam Scott is right to feel disappointed after another poor finish to a lucrative tournament put to bed a frustrating season.

Scott, who finished 19th and three over par at the PGA Tour Championship on Sunday, has endured misfortune throughout the season that has earned him the tagline ‘nearly man’.

The 32-year-old admitted inconsistencies have let him down, especially his inability to see off tournaments, with punters having no idea how to bet when he takes to the course as they have no idea how he will play.

“My year was just average overall,” Scott told the latest sport news reports. “I didn’t get the most out of my game as good as it was and that seems to be the story from the last few years.

“I had three good rounds and one average one every week and never really strung four good ones together.”

Once more Scott rued a chance that slipped away after failing to up his game in the third round at Atlanta with eight holes to play. Although six shots behind the Australian showed all the confidence required to take a lead into day four yet hit two bogeys to ruin his weekend.

The same thing happened in even more dramatic fashion earlier this year when Scott capitulated at the Open, letting a four-shot lead slip to the merciless Ernie Els. He has made five top-10 finishes this year yet is without a tour title and the PGA Tour Championship summed up his season.

Ahead of Scott is a long break before the tour begins in earnest next January and he must put this season’s unfortunate results behind him. He has the proven ability to reach the latter stages of golf’s major tournaments yet a lack of composure still haunts his final rounds.

Kallis is finally starting to love T20

South African legend, Jacques Kallis has revealed how - despite his early misgivings - he has grown to love T20 cricket and is hopeful of a first World T20 victory for his side in Sri Lanka.

Having made his test debut for the Proteas in 1995, Kallis arrived on the international cricket scene long before the dawn of international T20 cricket and, as a cricket purist, he freely admits that he took time to warm to the shortest format of the game. Despite his early scepticism, Kallis is now a key part of the South Africa T20 squad and he has grown to love the twenty over format.

"I always knew that I was going to enjoy it," Kallis said. "I think it's a great format, it's exciting and it's brought new challenges as the game progresses."

At 36, Kallis has enjoyed a huge amount of success with the South African test team but, having represented the Proteas in four 50 over world cups and two world T20 tournaments, he has still to secure any major silverware in ODI or T20 cricket. They are one of the favourites in the Betfair T20 cricket betting markets and Kallis hopes to live up to that billing  in Sri Lanka.

"Obviously the cherry on top would be the 50-over one,” he added. “but we've worked hard to get well prepared for this Twenty20 World Cup and I have no doubt that if we play the cricket anywhere near the way we know we can, and have, there's no reason why we can't win this tournament. Winning it could also be very special."

Kallis is South Africa’s all time leading run scorer in 50 over cricket and, despite occasional criticism for his slower batting style, he still averages over 40 in T20 internationals and has been well backed in cricket betting tips to top the run-scoring charts.

South Africa’s previous best performance in the World T20 came in 2009 when they reached the semi-finals. Whilst they will be unfancied to go on and win the tournament this time round, South Africa will certainly be hard to beat if Kallis performs.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Wallabies must improve

Having tasted victory and defeat in equal measure in their opening four Rugby Union Championship matches, Australia head into their final two matches needing a minor miracle if they are to overhaul New Zealand at the top of the table.

The Wallabies opened their Four Nations campaign with defeat to the All Blacks in Sydney, and both the playing and coaching staff came in for a lot of criticism in the wake of the 19-27 reverse.

But things went from bad to worse in Auckland in week two, as their rampant hosts made it two wins from two with an emphatic 22-0 victory.

The All Blacks only crossed for one try, but enjoyed the lion’s share of territory and possession throughout the game, and restricted their opponents to speculative attacking moves while in defence.

Already two wins behind the tournament favourites, and with doubt being cast over Robbie Deans’ ability to coach the side, Australia headed into their clash with South Africa desperate for a win and an improved performance.

Fortunately for Deans, he got both, though the Springboks’ resistance was little to write home about, and it is with little doubt that many reckon New Zealand would have comfortably beaten both sides in action in Perth that day.

But the Wallabies bandwagon was up and running but, though victory over Argentina soon followed, Deans’ men were far from convincing against a side making their debut at the tournament.

The win was enough to lift Australia in to second, though, with trips to South Africa and South America still to come, it will take further improvement from the tournament’s under-achievers if they are to salvage any sort of pride from this latest international campaign.

The trip to Rosario on the final day could prove particularly tough, as the Pumas will undoubtedly see the clash as their best opportunity to record a first win in this elite international rugby tournament.

Anything less than a complete performance from the Aussies could see the side slip to an embarrassing Championship rugby defeat.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Volatile Johnson handed second Hawks chance

The Atlanta Hawks, who will be attempting to reach the play-offs for a sixth successive season in 2012-13, have re-signed the restricted free agent Ivan Johnson.

The 28-year-old forward, a favourite among NBA stream seekers, averaged 6.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 16.7 minutes in 56 games from the bench for the Hawks in 2011-12 and had an impressive 0.513 field goal percentage.

He was named the Rookie of the Month for April in the Eastern Conference after being a surprise addition to Atlanta’s roster at the beginning of last season when he impressed during training camp.

Johnson’s career was been plagued by anger-management issues though. After playing college basketball for Cisco Junior College in Texas and Los Angeles Southwest Junior College, he was transferred to the University of Oregon, where his coach refused to extend his scholarship.

He began his professional career in the NBA D-League where he played for the Anaheim Arsenal and Rio Grande Valley Vipers before trying his luck in South Korea where he signed for the Changwon LG Sakers and then Jeonju KCC Egis in the Korean Basketball League.

However, he was “banned forever” from the KBL for directing a middle-finger gesture at a referee.

The Hawks signed Johnson in December 2011 and he made his name as a productive rotation player when Al Horford and Jason Collins suffered injuries.

However, his temper continues to get the better of him at times and he was sent home from a game in Orlando in April by coach Larry Drew and fined after arguing with team-mates on the bench.

He responded by scoring a career-high 21 points against the Toronto Raptors in his next appearance for the Hawks.

Johnson was also fined by the NBA for gesturing towards fans when leaving the court following Atlanta’s final play-off loss to Boston last season. It was a move that attracted a lot of criticism from supporters who tune in to watch NBA online.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

USC Stumbling

The USC Trojans appeared a week ago to have issues in a sloppy win over Syracuse in the Meadowlands. Coach Lane Kiffin seemed to write off the stuttering in the 42-29 victory as a product of West-to-East travel, a sparsely attended NFL stadium and an hour long weather delay. All of that sounded well and good and it certainly sounded plausible enough.

Live NCAAF fans now wonder if Kiffin is feeling as comfortable now - he dodged that bullet but was shot down on Saturday against Stanford as the cracks really started to show in the Trojans and they couldn’t mask some fairly major issues that could plague them in the future. USC especially on the offensive line had a nightmare and real problems protecting quarterback Matt Barkley - hence the un-Barkley-like numbers you're not used to seeing a 48.8 completion percentage, no touchdowns, two interceptions and a slew of sacks.

That wasn’t the only problem though as on the other side of the ball, the USC defence looked a real mess just as it was a year ago, even if some pundits choose to presume that returning starters automatically means returning success. The Trojans are not out of the national or Pac-12 championship pictures, but the road just got incredibly steep.

USC can rectify the issues for sure, but it was a conference game. That's the difference between losses for Virginia Tech, Michigan State and Wisconsin (in Week 2) - those losses don't hurt the teams in their conference standings. This was crushing for the Trojans in a lot of ways. It's unlikely that Utah or UCLA, or Arizona or Arizona State, could play well enough to block USC from its eligibility for the conference championship game. But there are no easy games where Kiffin is concerned, not after a strange September loss in 2011 to Arizona State - and Saturday's physical domination at the hands of Stanford.

The NCAAF score, then, is that USC remain a side with problems to solve and another loss will see those problems become bigger and bigger.

Button praises Di Resta

Paul di Resta’s decision to join Jenson Button’s management company has only strengthened rumours that the Scotsman could be close to agreeing a move to McLaren should Lewis Hamilton leave for Mercedes. Di Resta’s decision to join Sports Partnership Management has been seen as taking a huge leap to making the move to McLaren.

Button and di Resta are good friends away from the track and the current McLaren driver has spoken in glowing terms about the Scotsman, but, despite F1 betting previews fanning the flames, stopped short of talking up rumours linking him with Hamilton’s seat.

“I spend a lot of time with Paul. We train a lot together; we spend a lot of time cycling in the south of France together. I think he is very, very talented and he has got his head screwed on. That is the important thing. It’s not for me to say who he should be driving for, though.”

"But with Paul I think it is great. He is like a sponge; he is always willing to learn. It is scary from my point of view, but it is exciting I think.”

Di Resta has cut his Formula One teeth at Force India, impressing hugely in a limited car and reportedly catching the eye of a number of the bigger teams. With the ongoing contract issue surrounding Hamilton at McLaren, di Resta’s name is favourite with many over who could replace the 2008 world champion if he ends his stay with the Woking team.

Sergio Perez and Heikki Kovalainen are another two names linked with McLaren, but there is still some who maintain Hamilton will eventually put an end to all the talk and sign a new contract.

Meanwhile, the football season is back, and the best odds are available at bet365 Australia. So don’t forget to check out the latest Premier League betting markets.

Coaching – Tough Job

It was the legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi who said “Some of us will do our jobs well and some will not, but we will be judged by only one thing. The result.”

Words of wisdom there from a much respected source and they are words that can be applied to every coach in the NHL. The pressure will be on for those at the head of the coaching tree very shortly as we head into a new season. 

All 30 NHL clubs, however successful they have been, will once again be under scrutiny and the man to take most of the blame should events go wrong are the bench bosses. So who has the toughest job in living up to Lombardi’s wise words and guiding his team through yet another punishing NHL schedule?

It may seem strange to select Darryl Sutter as a candidate for being under pressure especially as he led the Los Angeles Kings to a remarkable Stanley Cup triumph from a very tough playoff position. That was impressive but can he achieve an encore? 

The team has plenty of playing depth but he’ll need to motivate them to win the Holy Grail again - and there hasn't been a repeat Stanley Cup winner since the Detroit Red Wings in 1996-97 and 1997-98. For the Kings to remain on their throne, Sutter is going to have to push all the right buttons.

No matter what the sport the expectations are always high in the “Big Apple”, and although New York Rangers bench boss John Tortorella knows what it takes to guide a team to the Stanley Cup - the Tampa Bay Lightning - he will feel more pressure than ever in New York. 

As bench boss of the New York Rangers, he runs a team that lost in last year's Eastern Conference Finals but won the Rick Nash sweepstakes over the summer. Plus, with returning players such as Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik, Ryan Callahan, Ryan McDonagh and Henrik Lundqvist, this team is loaded up for another assault at the top of the NHL standings.

So can the temperamental Tortorella guide the Broadway Blueshirts to the six more wins they need to capture the franchise's first title since 1994?

Both these puppet masters have plenty of talent to control, it’s just a matter now of getting results.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Scholes Continues to Show his Brilliance

The six months that Paul Scholes spent ‘retired’ must have been the most frustrating time of his adult life.

The Manchester United man had called time on his career last summer, after a trophy laden 17 years at Old Trafford. At 36, he had won it all, and had nothing else to prove. Yet, those months spent on the sidelines clearly re-awakened his desire to stride out onto the pitch again.

When it was announced that he would be coming out of retirement last January, many saw it as an act of desperation on the part of United boss, Sir Alex Ferguson.

Yet his decision has proven inspired. True, United did not lift the title last season, but Scholes’ influence ensured that they were a lot closer to doing so than they would have been without him.

His legs may move a little slower these days, but his range of passing, vision, technique and execution is still world class. He is still able to dictate the play and still possesses a fearsome shot and eye for goal.

Against Wigan, last Saturday, in what was his 700th appearance, he once again demonstrated a master class of midfield play, even capping his performance with the opening goal.

It was only from five yards rather than his usual 25, but it still required great awareness and anticipation to be in the right place at the right time.

The ability to play on as a footballer is as much in the head as it is the legs. Once a player has mentally retired, it is difficult for the body to disagree. 

Scholes’ self-imposed retirement appears to have reawakened a burning desire to keep playing. And while the body will eventually win that battle, he will continue to be a great asset to United and one all young players should watch and learn from.

United will take on Galatasaray in Group H of the Champions League, this evening. Fans of the Red Devils will take heart from the knowledge that the Turkish side have never won a game on English soil. 

Fancy a flutter on the footy? Check out the Premier League betting website on Betfair:

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Rating the Rookies

One of the key factors in deciding the outcome of Ryder Cups is how the debutants fare. Will they settle well in the pressurised environment and relish the match play format, or wilt in front of the raucous crowds and huge television audience?

The two-year gap in tournaments means being a Ryder Cup rookie does not denote general inexperience. Indeed, the four American first-timers have plenty of elite level golf success behind them. 26-year-old Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson, 27, are Major winners and ranked 12th and 5th respectively. 

Winning a Major reveals a calmness under pressure and this pair have backed up their success in big ones with consistency on tour. Simpson claimed the 2011 Deutsche Bank Championship, whilst Bradley tasted tour success in the 2012 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. They have proven themselves at the top level.

The same can be said of Jason Dufner. The 35-year-old has three top-five finishes from his last eight Majors and he showed his consistency with seventh place at the recent Bridgestone event. His two tour titles came earlier this season. 

Bradley, Simpson, and Dufner earned their places in the Davis Love III-led team through the points table, leaving Brandt Snedeker as the only rookie amongst the four captain's picks.

The 31-year-old from Nashville has enjoyed a rapid rise this year, winning the Farmers Insurance Open via a play-off - something captains take note of - and carding stunning opening rounds of 66 and 64 at the Open, where he finished joint third. Ranked 18th, Snedeker is as safe a wildcard choice as possible.

Europe's Nicolas Colsaerts is the lowest ranked player in the event, sitting 36th in the list. The 29-year-old Belgian impressed with a share of seventh at the Open, but his triumph in the World Match Play in May was instrumental in Jose Maria Olazabal's wildcard selection. There is every reason to think he will thrive in team match play golf.

Follow the link for more on Europe’s chances at the upcoming Ryder Cup:

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Jayawardene targets home comforts

Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene feels familiar conditions and a passionate home crowd could hand his team the edge in the World Twenty20.

The tournament heads to Sri Lanka in 2012, with the hosts chasing their first T20 success and the sports betting puts them as one of the favourites. Sri Lanka reached the final in England in 2009 but fell to a Shahid Afridi-inspired Pakistan.

The eight-wicket loss at Lord's was one of a series of heartbreaking defeats in high-profile tournaments, with Sri Lanka having lost a 50-over World Cup  semi-final in 2007 and the final in 2011.

Sri Lanka open this year's T20 competition against Zimbabwe on September 18 and Jayawardene was quoted in the latest sport news reports stressing that he is confident his side will flourish on home soil.

"Obviously we have a slight advantage in little bit of the conditions as well as the crowd being behind us. We'll definitely enjoy some fanatic fans behind us," he said.

Jayawardene has been boosted by the return of prolific batsman Kumar Sangakkara and seam bowler Nuwan Kulasekara from injury.

"Kumar is getting along well. I think he's been batting day and night getting extra net sessions (as) he has lost a few in the past few weeks. Kumar is like that," Jayawardene said.

"Nuwan has been bowling 80 to 90 per cent in the last week or so. Next week we'll push him a bit more with the fielding and all that. He should be OK with his groin injury."

Sri Lanka included two uncapped players in their 15-man squad, with 18-year-old off-spinner Akila Dhananjaya a surprise selection.

"He is a work in progress. We were also surprised the way he bowled in SLPL (Sri Lanka Premier League)," Jayawardene said.

"He showed a lot of maturity for a guy who has not played any first-class cricket, just played school cricket. I am sure he can handle himself in this league."