Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Memorial offers pointers to Pebble Beach contenders


Tiger makes eagle on way to Memorial triumph

This week’s Memorial tournament, an elite PGA Tour event in its own right hosted by golfing great Jack Nicklaus, is sure to offer several pointers toward the likely contenders at this month’s U.S. Open.

Many of the game’s leading players are making their final appearances on the circuit before switching focus to the second major of the year, which takes place at majestic Pebble Beach from June 17-20.

Two of the big guns — world number one Tiger Woods and second-ranked Phil Mickelson – have more than a few question marks hovering over their form at the moment. Woods, whose private life spectacularly unravelled at the end of last year, is returning to the tour after three weeks on the sidelines to defend his title at the Memorial.

 The 14-times major winner has not competed since he was forced to withdraw from the final round of last month’s Players Championship in Florida because of neck pain. An inflamed joint made it difficult for Woods to execute his swing and his driving accuracy, never his strongest suit, was woeful in his last outing at the TPC Sawgrass.

Presidents Cup offers great golf, but not much of a competition


rtxpjomIf the “group hug” that is the Presidents Cup ever hopes to be taken seriously as an important sporting competition it needs to develop a sharper edge.

The Presidents Cup lost more than a little bit of respect as a legitimate athletic event on Saturday when smiling International captain Greg Norman raced on to the green to embrace not one of his own men but American Steve Stricker, who had just drained a 26-foot birdie putt to put a stake through his team’s heart (click here for our report).