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from Left field:

McIlroy and Woods still have reasons to be positive

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GOLF-MASTERS/One of the most riveting final rounds at the Masters left Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy dealing with bitter disappointment, although they each appear to have bright prospects going forward.

Woods, without a tournament win for nearly 17 months, looked like the Tiger of old as he charged into contention over the front nine at Augusta National on Sunday, banishing any thought he might be a spent force.

He may have stalled in his title bid after the turn as his putter cooled but his inspired form from tee to green, which sparked trademark Tiger roars across the course, suggested a 15th major victory could be on the immediate horizon.

Britain's McIlroy will almost certainly take longer to come to terms with his major heartache, having suffered one of the worst final-round collapses of all time in a grand slam event.

from Left field:

Why all the fuss about being world number one?

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GOLF-RANKINGS/WESTWOODTo much fanfare, Lee Westwood has ended the 281-week reign of Tiger Woods as golf's world number one yet the fact the Briton has not won a major raises a couple of questions -- Do rankings reward consistency rather than great achievement? And how much do they really matter?

According to former world number one and six-times major winner Nick Faldo, the answer is not as much as the big tournaments.

from Left field:

Why the Ryder Cup is so special

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GOLF-RYDER/My love affair with the Ryder Cup began in 1969 when my first golfing hero, Tony Jacklin, was involved in a memorable halved match with Jack Nicklaus that saw the American great sportingly concede a three-foot putt at the last hole.

The passion grew stronger and stronger until the relationship was consumated when I covered my first Ryder Cup as a journalist at the Belfry in 1985.

from Left field:

Ryder Cup shows sportsmanship at its best

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GOLF-ENGLAND/If golf is an island of civilisation in a world of sport awash with cheating then the Ryder Cup is the coconut-laden palm tree on top.

Golf's core values are honesty, self-regulation, absolute and unquestioning observance of even the most archaic rules and its great gift to the world - etiquette.

from Left field:

Rory McIlroy: Genuine Open Contender

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Rory McIlroy can win The Open Championship at Turnberry this weekend.

The bushy-haired 20-year old from Northern Ireland is playing only his second Open, and first as a professional. But he is such a talent that he is capable of pulling off the biggest win in a major championship since the 21-year old Tiger Woods ran off with The U.S. Masters in 1997.

Rory's youth should not hamper his chances. In fact it could encourage him. Only Tiger himself -- who only a lunatic would argue is not the greatest golfer who ever lived -- has a comparable early career record.  Tiger had just turned pro when he won the 1996 Las Vegas Invitational as a 20 year-old, but McIlroy was still a teenager when he secured his first victory as a professional: the high profile Dubai Desert Classic earlier this year.

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