Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Sportswrap’s Hollywood ending

Join Owen Wyatt and myself for our look back at the week in sport. Our focus is on Diego Maradona and the 2010 World Cup qualifying situation in South America, with a quick detour to Celtic Manor to consider next year’s Ryder Cup golf.

Should golf be back on the Olympic schedule?

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Friday’s announcement in Copenhagen that golf would be added to the Olympic schedule from the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro sparked joyous reaction from players past and present, along with a few dissenting voices.

World number one Tiger Woods declared it “a perfect fit” while fellow great Jack Nicklaus voiced his pride over golf’s united front on “a great day” for the sport.

Golf, rugby back in Olympics, Tiger set for Rio?

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OLYMPICS/2016Get ready for a Tiger assault on Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

The International Olympic Committee voted on Friday to accept golf — and rugby — back on to the Olympic programme, starting in Rio in seven years’ time.

Golf last featured at an Olympics in 1924. Ninety-two years on, the sight a lot of people will want to see is Tiger Woods attempting to crown his glorious careeer with an Olympic gold medal.

Has golf found the right end-of-season format at last?

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tigerAfter two successive years of tweaking the points structure for the lucrative FedExCup playoff events, the PGA Tour’s blockbuster finale appears to be close to finding the ideal recipe.

When the season-long series was first launched in 2007, the points system was too rigid, leaving players with far too much ground to make up on the leaders going into the final stretch.

Has Yang diminished Tiger’s aura?

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Yang celebrates his victory after sinking a putt on the 18th hole as Woods looks away in ChaskaSouth Korean Yang Yong-eun turned the golfing world on its head with his astonishing three-shot victory over Tiger Woods at the PGA Championship, sparking immediate speculation about the world number one’s apparently diminished aura of invincibility.

For the first time in his illustrious career, Woods lost a major after holding the lead going into the final round, having previously won a perfect 14 times out of 14.

Tiger still the inspiration despite Yang’s major success

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Yang Yong-eun’s shock win at the PGA Championship ended an embarrassing drought in major championships for the male of the species in staunchly patriarchal South Korea, where men are men and the women — well, the women play golf.

Since Pak Se-ri’s trailblazing triumphs at the US Women’s Open and LPGA Championship in 1998, South Korean women piled up nine more major titles. Before Yang’s victory on Sunday, Korean men had never come close, KJ Choi giving false hope at the 2004 Masters before finishing third.

Does golf really deserve a place in the Olympics?

roggePierre de Coubertin must be turning in his grave at the news that golf, surely the globe’s ultimate consumerist, exclusive sport, is set to be played at the 2016 Olympics.

The Frenchman revived the ancient Olympic Games at the end of the 19th century to embrace the spirit of sportsmanship and amateur ideals of a bygone era.

Why do golf fans cheer tap-ins? And when is a fine not a fine?

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tigerA few thoughts from two weeks following the PGA Tour:

Just wondering why people clap like mad every time a golfer taps in a two-inch putt?  Are these the same people who break out in applause when a plane lands? Aren’t both these things suppose to happen?
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Best thing I heard on the golf course this week: “Instead of reading the greens you have to read the currents out there,” joked former U.S. Masters champion Mike Weir at the rain-hit Canadian Open.

Second best I heard on the golf course this week: “Let’s go watch someone who wants to play.” — A disgruntled spectator to a friend at the Buick Open after watching Rocco Mediate miss twice from three-feet at the par four 12th at Warwick.
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You have to love a tournament like the Buick Open where the trophy looks like a hood ornament.
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Best joke I heard: England midfielder David Beckham was fined $1,000 by Major League Soccer for confronting unhappy fans following his return to the LA Galaxy during AC Milan. That works out to 1/250,000th of Beckham’s reported five-year $250 million deal that brought him to the United States to spread the soccer gospel.

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.

from Raw Japan:

Ai, Ai, Ai!

The Japanese fairway is littered with golf stars who joined the U.S. or European game highly touted, but who found themselves decidedly unexceptional amid a wealth of international talent.

Indeed, "Japan's next Tiger Woods" -- a phrase tossed about more in hope than in fact ( by myself included) --  is a misnomer, as it really hasn't seen its first Tiger, on the global tour at least. 

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