Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Best view of the Tiger? Join the People’s Liberation Army

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PLA soldiers watch Tiger Woods of the U.S. as he plays on the green of the fourth hole during the final round of the 2009 HSBC Champions golf tournament in Shanghai

The huge galleries following the final round match-up between Tiger Woods (“Laohu” to the locals) and Phil Mickelson at the WGC-HSBC Champions last Sunday made life uncomfortable for player and spectator alike on a humid day in Shanghai.

China’s wealthiest had paid up to 3,500 yuan ($513) for their tickets but the best view, on the fourth green at least, went to the soldiers in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) barracks on the other side of the canal which runs alongside the hole.

As of 2007, a private in the PLA earned just 1,800 yuan ($264) a year but these guys got a close up of one of the key moments of the day, when Woods plunged his drive into the water and started a downturn in fortunes that ended his attempt to win a first title at the Sheshan International Golf Club.

Mickelson, who missed a putt of less than two feet to bogey the hole, subsequently recovered his nerve and went on to win the tournament for a second time, despite a late charge from Ernie Els.

Robredo makes friends in Shanghai

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Tommy Robredo gestures to fans after losing a point in ShanghaiReuters photographer Aly Song caught Tommy Robredo making this gesture to the crowd during a third round defeat to compatriot Rafa Nadal at the Shanghai Masters on Thursday.

The Spaniard was upset at the noise the crowd, who overwhelmingly backed Nadal, were making during the match.

Taiwan revels in baseball revenge

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A photo caption by Taiwan’s Central News Agency on Tuesday says it all: ”Taiwan gets revenge.”

The agency elaborates in its story about a baseball game on Monday between Taiwan’s Chinese Taipei team and China.

from Changing China:

China’s infertile ground for (some) Western sports

Soccer is in a tight spot in China -- literally. Huge crowds roar for Manchester United but the national team is a laughing stock at 108th in FIFA world rankings. Poor coaching, lack of grassroots development, even corruption and violence are variously cited as reasons for the sport's demise. But the real reason may be more basic: the fact of physical space, or the lack thereof, in China.

If geography is a determinant of economic development, then it is fair to extrapolate that urban geography underpins the development of sports. And here's the rub for soccer, not to mention American football and baseball. With few parks, small concrete schoolyards and a dearth of quiet streets, urban China offers little of the space needed for the sprawling play that defines those sports. Soccer has deep roots in China, but playing space has been squeezed as cities sprawl and swallow land in big gulps.

Breaking news: Yao Ming to have surgery, will miss whole of 2009-10 season

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yaomingHouston Rockets’ Chinese center Yao Ming is to undergo surgery on his foot injury and has been ruled out for the whole of next season.

Yao will have surgery next week to repair the broken bone in his left foot and the Rockets said on their official site that he would have to sit out the 2009-10 season.

World Games proves a tough sell for Taiwan

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world-gamesAfter the globe giggled at Athens in 2004 for letting swathes of Olympics seats go empty, organisers of the far more obscure 2009 World Games in equally obscure Taiwan are doing whatever it takes to pack the venues for such unlikely events as billiards and beach handball. Tug-of-war, anyone?

Whatever it takes, in this case, includes selling seats to China. World Games host city Mayor Chen Chu travelled there on Thursday for a four-day visit, intending to sell the 90 percent of events tickets that are unclaimed so far before the curtain goes up on July 16.

English shuttlers falter in bid to overtake China

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Lin Dan

Badminton England chief executive Adrian Christy made what looked like a highly optimistic prediction last month when he said he thought Britain could eventually overtake China as the dominant power in badminton.

“There will be no compromise. China are the competition but we can be bigger,” said Christy, who is in charge of developing talent for the 2012 London Olympics and beyond.

World Games bring spotlight to southern Taiwan

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2008 was undoubtedly China’s year in the limelight, thanks to the Beijing Olympics. But this year, China’s longtime political and diplomatic rival Taiwan gets the World Games

And it’s not Taiwan’s frenetic, fashionable capital Taipei which will be hosting the event. Instead, the island’s second largest city and one of the world’s busiest ports, Kaohsiung, will be home to the 16-26 July extravaganza.

A high altitude idea from China

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Bolivia’s 6-1 thrashing of Argentina in a World Cup qualifier provided a flash of inspiration for one Chinese sports columnist.

The Bolivians, ranked 56th in the world, would probably not argue that playing the match at 3,600 metres above sea level had helped them in their humiliation of the Argentines, world number six in FIFA’s rankings and one of the most attractive sides around.

Ice cold in Heilongjiang

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Last week I went up to Harbin to check out the Winter University Games, which the city is hoping will act as a springboard to a bid for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

It was pretty chilly at the wonderfully kitsch Ice and Snow Festival, highlights of which you can see above, but up in the mountains the Alpine skiiers were taping up their faces to protect themselves from a wind chill factor of minus 30 degrees Celcius. 

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