Golf Capital – Danish delight in Melbourne, Woods returns

@hamishneal

A collection of my golf thoughts reviewing the World Cup of Golf and looking ahead to three stroke-play events this weekend on three continents.

 

Opening drive:

 

Denmark secured a maiden World Cup of Golf triumph as Thorbjorn Olesen, 26, combined with veteran Soren Kjeldsen for a solid four-stroke victory at Kingston Heath in Melbourne. Olesen, who won the first leg of the European Tour’s season-ending series in Turkey earlier this month, finished on the Sunday with some crisp putting as the Danes prevailed over the USA, China and France with that trio finishing at 16 under. Behind them was Sweden who shot the best of the day on Sunday with a 10 under round seeing them finish at 15 under.

 

Pre-tournament favourites Australia (Adam Scott and Marc Leishman) opened with a 74 and whilst they improved with the four-ball format firing 68 and 65, respectively, on Friday and Sunday they were too far back by Friday evening despite their second round improvement.

 

Australian and China have hosted the event since 2007 but the tournament doesn’t run every year and indeed before last weekend the event hadn’t been held since 2013. There is no set details (venue or date) for the next edition of the tournament so that is all the more disappointing for the rare team’s event which rated well on Sunday with 134,000 viewers (especially considering the event clashed with the test cricket) A tournament which has seen top players like Jason Day, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson and Tiger Woods win in since 2000 deserves better planning.

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Player performance notes:

 

Players I’m interested in to see how they go with notes that interest me and/or are related to capital investment if that’s your thing. Nathan Holman is the defending champion for the final major event in Australia this summer having won the Australian PGA at Royal Pines last year. The $1.5 million event, which is co-sanctioned with the European Tour, returns to the same Gold Coast venue this year.

 

10 to 20: Cameron Smith. One of the playoff contenders from the Australian Open a fortnight ago Smith has had extra time to perfect his game not playing last weekend at Kingston Heath and isn’t facing up to Jordan Spieth here.

 

20-50: John Senden. The 45 year-old was two shots off the winner Peter Senior in the Australian Masters last year and is experienced on the big stage having finished T4 in the USA PGA in 2007 and won two years ago on the US PGA Tour.

 

50-100: Nathan Holman. Victorian Holman did prevail in a playoff against Harold Varner III and Dylan Frittelli last year but has withdrawn from two of his last four events he’s started in plus by-passing the Australian Open after his maiden season in Europe. Hopefully the back injuries have settled down now.

 

50-100: Richard Green. World number 323 Green was T6 here last year on a tricky course when the winner only got to par for the four rounds and has an early tee time in round one so has the chance to set the pace.

 

100-200 Ben Eccles. The Victorian didn’t end up with a European Tour card following his recent qualifying campaign but if he can improve on his recent T7 at the Fijian International, an event dominated by American Brandt Snedeker, he could add to his NSW Open from last year.

 

100-200: Jordan Zunic. A player I looked at for Royal Sydney. Zunic, 24, was T9 last year here in the Gold Coast but finished down the field T44 in the Australian Open.

 

Greens in regulation

Going from one team-based event to three tournaments across the top two men’s tours means we are spoilt for choice this weekend with tournaments in the Bahamas, South Africa, and (as discussed above) on the Gold Coast. The defending champion in the Hero World Challenge is Bubba Waston but the focus is on Tiger Woods who returns after a 15-month absence from competitive golf. Should Woods complete the elite 18-player event he will rise to 750 or so in the rankings (he is currently 898) and a victory would have him around 123. Since his time off plenty has been written about Woods, this is possibly the most insightful (it is long), and some doubt does linger about his form given he is playing in an limited event which is linked to his charitable foundation. Would he feature is it was a regular tour event in say Georgia?

 

At Leopard Creek CC in South Africa Charl Schwartzel is the defending champion, and he’s won it four times since 2005. Interestingly three Frenchmen trailed the local Schwartzel last year so it won’t just be about the home-grown players at this event which, like the Australian PGA Championship, is co-sanctioned with the European Tour and South Africa’s Sunshine Tour.

 

Tap in

The World Cup of Golf gave food for thought for those looking at future team events but what it did confirm was the format is a friendly one for spectators and allows for dramatic changes in the leaderboard, even though the Danes won handsomely, so the authorities should give consideration for using it as their Olympic format. There will be issues around capacity with 28-teams taking a long time to get through their rounds at some stages, especially on Sunday in Melbourne. This could be overcome by using multiple courses for the first two round and then having a cut if you expanded the field. How you added extra teams which caters for countries with lower ranking players is a challenge but not insurmountable. The Olympic tournaments were high quality but, and maybe it’s recency bias, a team format would add to the mix and I’ve change my tune with how it should look for 2020 in Tokyo and beyond.

Image via abc.net.au
 

 

A-League 1,000: The Full Edition

@hamishneal

1,000-ish words, thoughts and musings on round eight of the A-League which starts on Thursday night in Gosford and concludes on Sunday evening in the Victorian capital.

 gloryadelaidenovember2016tenterfieldstar

Central Coast Mariners v Perth Glory, Thursday – Central Coast Stadium

Perth’s margin of victory was somewhat inflated last weekend with their final goal coming as Adelaide pushed for an equaliser. The Central Coast were dominant at times in Newcastle so there are reasons for believing this game might not been a walkover. However the Mariners have Liam Rose suspended following his two yellow cards in the F3 Derby and are still looking for that elusive clean sheet under Paul Okon. Nebosja Marinkovic and Chris Harold roamed well down the channels to provide good ball into Andy Keogh and Diego Castro in the middle so it would seem the Mariners’ best hope might be to pack the midfield.

 

Big game for: Harry Ascroft. With Rose suspended Ascroft, who was elevated to the match-day squad last weekend, could feature here.

 

The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: The Mariners don’t feature much on free-to-air television at all this season – in fact only twice. That would be fine if kick-off times were sensible for home games but how does a family with young children get people to a Thursday night game kicking off near 8pm. FYI: CCM feature on SBS TV for the first time this year in round 23.

 

Western Sydney Wanderers v Brisbane Roar, Friday – Spotless Stadium

Staying in Sydney this week the Wanderers will have some recent confidence after nabbing a late draw against Melbourne’s light blues. The fact Brisbane have only scored seven goals (despite sitting third) will be a statistic that has not gone unnoticed by Wanderers boss Tony Popovic whose side themselves have only managed eight goals in this campaign. With Jamie Maclaren likely to play more minutes in this game after he was used off the pine on his return from Bangkok John Aloisi can go back to his preferred starting line-up in a game that could pitch Brisbane up to second spot on the ladder.

 

Big game for: Reminiscing. Two years ago the Wanderers fans were celebrating an Asian Champions League triumph and if it wasn’t for the club’s twitter account reminding us of this feat one could be forgiven for remembering the tournament still exists such is the strong jingoism that exists in some sections of the media once A-League teams exit the tournament. Hardly a good thing for a nation still struggling to confirm their identity in the boardrooms of other Asian Football Confederation nations. South Korean side Jeonbuk Hyundai have a 2-1 lead after the first leg of this year’s final.

 

The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Seeing the maroon kit again. As much as establishing identity is important (and as much as I despise the merry-go-round of new kits each season in football) I’ll express an unpopular opinion that I like the Roar’s ‘State of Origin-inspired’ kit. Maybe the club could use it in the away games against New South Wales teams as a common theme from now on?

 

Melbourne Victory v Newcastle Jets, Saturday – AAMI Park

Kevin Muscat’s side has had plenty of time to game plan for this fixture after their game in Wellington was delayed to a later date following the North Canterbury earthquakes. The Victory were comprehensive in their triumph over the Wanderers in round six and with an additional time to focus on training with his new teammates  German recruit Max Beister should have benefitted further from this and it might be a struggle for Newcastle. Despite rallying to get a point on Sunday Mark Jones’ side face more injury worries with Aleksandr Kokko fracturing his jaw in the draw against the Mariners and
Melbourne have scored 14 goals in six games. Jones will need to ensure his side shut down Melbourne’s crosses and turn Kosta Barbarouses away from goal where possible on Saturday evening.

 

Big game for: Leigh Broxham. After we had subtle dig at his free kicks/headers recently it should be noted Broxham was excellent deployed at left back in round six and the versatile player proved his worth. He will be hoping for a start and a chance to cause havoc on the flanks.

 

The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Bubble wrap.  Someone order some and send it to Jets HQ. In all seriousness their injuries, now up to six players out for a month or more, is starting to mean they will struggle until early 2017.

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Sydney FC v Adelaide United, Saturday – Allianz Stadium

First plays last in a disparity not many would have predicted two months ago. Even allowing for their turnover of players Adelaide’s meagre two draws and seven goals for the season is hugely disappointing. Jordan O’Doherty’s send-off was the first of two ‘second-booking’ red cards over the weekend which, despite the challenges, does show some inexperience coach Guillermo Amor will want to ensure Doherty tempers his game when required again.

 

Big game for: Tarek Elrich. If Adelaide is to break their win-less run the former Socceroo will need to continue his sharp runs on attack, and have more of them. His work which eventuated in Adelaide’s only goal in Perth last weekend was well done.

 

The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: It was Perth’s Andrew Ord a few weeks ago and this time it’s the turn of Adelaide’s assistants Jacobo Ramallo and Pau Marti to be in the sideline spotlight after Amor was sanctioned for his actions in the defeat to Perth.

 

Melbourne Sheep Cow Whale Ships v Wellington Phoenix, Sunday – AAMI Park

This game represent the first of three fixtures in seven days the home side will play at the venue which will be headlined by next Wednesday’s FFA Cup final against Sydney FC so this match (cliché alert) represents the ‘trap game’ of the week. With Wellington having won their last two games and John van’t Schip’s team throwing away a win in Sydney but playing well at home this could be the match of the round.

 

Big game for: Rotation. If van’t Schip wanted to give his Danish gloveman Thomas Sorensen a full run this might be the game. If something further happened to Dean Bouzanis in the fixture have Sorensen come in for a final after no complete first team games for a while wouldn’t be ideal.

 

The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: A fresh and focused Wellington team. With the postponement of their game last weekend the Phoenix All Whites’ brigade got a rest after travelling back from Kone in New Caledonia and their fringe players, instead of sitting on the bench, got the benefit of playing a full game in the New Zealand domestic competition.

 

The betting bit – One serious one not

For not the first time this campaign we were done in by a late goal. So with no thanks to Neil Kilkenny here we go for this weekend. Melbourne Victory ($1.47) to see off an injury-ravaged Jets into a comedy set of arrows from the away fans pointing at the goal on Saturday night in Sydney.

 

Record: 1/7

Profit: -$49 (ten units per investment)

Images via abc.net.au and redlandcitybulletin.com

 

 

 

Golf Capital – Spieth wins in Sydney again as young English duo win season climaxes.

@hamishneal

A collection of my golf thoughts reviewing the culmination of two tour plus the local feature and a look ahead to this weekend’s team event in Melbourne, Australia.

 

Opening drive:

 

Two season-ending events and Australia’s pinnacle tournament highlighted a great array of golf on the weekend which saw playoffs in both Sydney and Georgia, USA. Two-time major winner Jordan Spieth saw off rising Australia star Cameron Smith and world number 903 Ashley Hall to secure his second Stonehaven Cup on the same weekend English duo Charley Hull and Matt Fitzpatrick won their respective season-ending events on the LPGA and European Tour. Mackenzie Hughes won a five-way playoff to notch up his maiden PGA Tour trophy.

 

At Royal Sydney in Rose Bay Spieth came from two shots off the lead prior to the final round to join Smith and Hall in extra holes. I say holes but Spieth needed only one with a putt just under three metres after a fine approach on the 18th set up the putt for the win. The American joins Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player as overseas players who are among the multiple winners of the tournament. Former US Open champion Geoff Ogilvy will be disappointed he squandered his third-round lead ultimately signing for a one over round of 73. Playoff protagonists Hall and Smith plus fellow Australia Aaron Baddeley (who finished T4) all gained a spot in the British Open next year.

In Dubai England’s Fitzpatrick chipped away at a one-shot deficit coming into the final round to see off a field (including major winners Henrik Stenson and Rory McIlroy) and claimed the DP Tour World Championship. Fitzpatrick, 22, nudged home from Tyrell Hatton as Stenson secured the European Tour crown for the season after finishing T9

 

In Florida England’s Hull won her first LPGA title, and only her second professional crown, in the most convincing win of the weekend when she triumphed by two strokes over South Korea’s So Yeon Ryu in the CME Group Tour Championship. Hull, 20, came into the event ranked 29th in the world and has fired some quality rounds this season but rarely combined them for the win – this weekend was the exception with a bogey-free final two rounds which included 12 birdies. Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn won the LPGA season crown after completing the tournament in a tie for fourth.

 

Monday morning, or very early Tuesday morning depending on your time-zone, saw Hughes won the RSM Classic in Georgia after the 25 year-old from Ontario and three other players returned to conclude the tournament having finished the regulation 72 holes tied at 17 under at Sea Island. Camilo Villegas, Henrik Norlander, Blayne Barber, Billy Horschel and Hughes featured in the first five-player playoff since German Alex Cejka prevailed in March last year in Puerto Rico. Horschel was eliminated on Sunday before the four remaining players squared things up on the second hole prior to the event getting suspended due to the fading light. When play resumed on Monday Canadian Hughes wasted no time chipping in from off the green on the par three 17th, after he was wasteful off the tee, as Barber, Norlander and Villegas missed with their close putts and all made bogey on the par three. A great result after he scrapped into the top tier a few months ago. Hughes was the first tour rookie to lead an event from start to finish in over 20 years.

 

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Player performance notes:

 

Players I’m interested in to see how they go with notes that interest me and/or are related to capital investment if that’s your thing. We turn our attention to Kingston Heath in Melbourne for the World Cup of Golf. The event in 2013 was won by the Australian pairing of Jason Day and Adam Scott by an astonishing 10-shots when it was held in the Victorian capital but at Royal Melbourne. The format is a mix of four-ball and foursomes (alternate shot) with the combined lowest score over the four days the winner. With 28 two-man teams we will have three picks.

 

Under 5: Australia (Adam Scott/Marc Leishman) Sometimes one shouldn’t over complicate things. Scott won this event with Jason Day three years ago and Leishman beat Jordan Spieth in a singles match in the 2015 Presidents Cup so has solid experience in team golf.

 

5-10: Japan (Hideki Matsuyama/Roy Ishikawa) Whilst team golf form is important with such a quick turnaround to this event and players coming from everywhere individual player form is key also. Matsuyama has won his home Open recently and they are one of only two teams this weekend with a top ten player and the other player ranked inside the top 100.

 

10-20: Sweden (Alex Noren/David Lingmerth) The other duo who are both ranked in the top hundred with at least one player in the top 10* and Alex Noren has won four times this year.

 

*It should be noted the USA team of Rickie Fowler (12) and Jimmy Walker (19) only just fail to meet this criteria but are a big chance.

 

Greens in regulation:

 

Quality events with exciting finishes in Australia and the USA in the men’s game could have actually been more so on the weekend with players who could feature at either/both events turning out in Japan for the Dunlop Phoenix tournament. Ryder Cupper Brooks Koepka won the event by a stroke from local Yuta Ikeda. The tournament featured four other PGA tour winners from the last year and a host of rising stars from Asia. I understand the commercial aspect but spreading thin the three playing groups in that top 50 tier seems daft. And that’s before you consider the European Tour denouement was going on at the same time. Could the event in Miyazaki be before the Australian key events or after it as players head back to the states?

 

Tap in:

 

In a fact that may amuse only me it’s perhaps ironic to note in the two US PGA Tour events to date since Donald Trump was elected president of the USA have been won by a bloke with a Mexican grandparent and a Canadian. At this rate ‘the Donald’ might fold the tour come late January when he is inaugurated. Jokes aside, the future sites of tournaments at his venues would seem assured which isn’t good for a sport attempting to promote a more inclusive environment. It’s difficult to see those involved (players and officials) rocking the boat. The only significant dissenting voice in sport was the mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, who raised concerns before the election about the impact a Trump presidency would have on the 2024 Olympic bid. But the organisers are spoilt for choice in SoCal in terms of golf courses so even if Trump doesn’t back the bid and they get over the line it’s not as if they need to use his courses. But can you imagine Trump opening an Olympic games anyway. Possibly one of his final major acts as a second-term president… Shudder.

Image via yahoo.com

A-League 1,000: The Adjustment Edition

@hamishneal

 

1,000-ish words, thoughts and musings on round seven of the A-League which starts in Sydney on Friday and finishes up with the F3/M1 Derby on Sunday.

sydneyfcteamnovember2016sportingnews

Western Sydney Wanderers v Melbourne Sheep Cow Whale Ships, Friday – Spotless Stadium

Searching for a win to get them back into the top six the Wanderers head into this match needing to fix a leaky defence which has shipped a league-worst 13 goals (the same as Perth Glory who are fifth) This is the first of four straight games in NSW with only one of those in Gosford away from home so Tony Popovic and his side are the most advantaged when it comes to the draw and will get ample training time in the coming weeks. Their combinations at the back need working on and the loss of former skipper Nikolai Topor-Stanley is evident with Artiz Borda struggling to adapt to the A-League. The visitor’s got lucky in Melbourne last weekend as the Jets should have had an early goal but got their act together to run out 2-1 winners.

 

Big game for: Ivan Franjic. It was great to see the Socceroo back after recent heart issues and he might even get the chance to shine on the counter-attack here if the Wanderers’ poor recent form continues.

 

The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Jack Clisby not hammering opponents. The former Perth defender fails to tread that fine line between aggression and attacking opponents with numerous rash challenges to date this season. He’ll be sent off at some stage in the rest of the season at this rate.

 

Perth Glory v Adelaide United, Friday – nib Stadium

Still searching for their opening win of the campaign Adelaide head into their fixture with the confidence they won in Perth in January, albeit with a very different side. Two goals-scorers from that game (Cirio and Marcelo Carrusca) are still on the books at Adelaide but the former is out injured (see Clisby above.) Speaking on injuries, despite a big defeat Perth Glory would have been heartened to have Rostyn Griffiths back in the side and he did play a key role in the build-up to their only goal in Sydney, however that was one of the few bright sparks on a bad day for Kenny Lowe’s side who started well but petered out after ten minutes.

 

Big game for: Adam Taggart. Plagued by injuries in his time in the UK the striker is back in the Glory squad after missing recent weeks.

 

The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Dylan McGowan lashing home from set pieces for Adelaide soon. After misfiring one header early against the Roar the former Hearts defender must soon add to his three career goals for the Reds.

 

Wellington Phoenix v Melbourne Victory, Saturday – Westpac Stadium

Postponed to a date yet to be determined due to a range of factors impacting the stadium and surrounds since the Monday morning earthquakes in North Canterbury and related tremors. Full statement from the venue is here.

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Brisbane Roar v Sydney FC, Saturday – Suncorp Stadium

Brisbane beat the Sky Blues twice in three games last season and the other fixture between the two sides was a scoreless draw so Roar coach John Aloisi can go into this game with some confidence. However given Brisbane only managed a draw against Adelaide in a game they probably should have won Sydney will sense a chance to extend their impressive start to the season. Sydney’s keeper Danny Vukovic will be unimpressed after Joseph Mills’ deflected shot broke his run of clean sheets – which was up to eight games. Brandon Borello is likely to be missing for Brisbane here.

 

Big game for: Jamie Maclaren. Back from Socceroos duty Maclaren will be looking to add to the three goals he scored against Sydney FC last campaign after failing to find the net in Bangkok.

 

The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: After trumpeting a range of ‘pseudo records’ such as consecutive games unbeaten (but not counting finals games) Sydney FC have some legit records to trumpet. 17 goals in the first six games is a record to start the A-League season.

 

Newcastle Jets v Central Coast Mariners, Sunday – McDonald Jones Stadium

Both sides have one win this campaign but despite the small return are arguably better to watch than this time last year. Connor Pain made some good inroads down the left flank for the Mariners in Canberra on Saturday so Paul Okon may have taken note of that ahead of this fixture with the veteran Jason Hoffman likely to come in for some attention. On the other side Ivan Vujica might get some more room to get forward and support Wayne Brown to create attacking opportunities. Wracked with injuries, one-time NSL player at Adelaide City City Iain Fyfe has joined the Jets this week to shore up their defensive stocks in the wake of injuries to Daniel Mullen and Nigel Boogaard. (The Jets are so short of players when Boogaard went off the other night they played the last minutes with ten men having already used all their substitutes.)

 

Big game for: Liam Rose. Mariners boss Okon made some very relevant points about Australia’s international youth level prospects when appearing on Fox Sports’ Sunday Shootout program in Sunday. This included points about Rose, a youngster he now coaches, playing more meaningful games.

 

The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: An exciting gameThe Jets romped to victory in the most recent F3 Derby winning 4-2 in Gosford in the last round of the 2015-16 season after they also won during February at Central Coast Stadium.

 

The betting bit – One serious one not

The only Victorian side featuring this weekend now is $2.35 to win on Friday night and should get home even though they have only scored once in their two games outside of Melbourne this season. There will also be a comedy set of goal-keeping gloves behind the goals at Spotless Stadium to distract the visitors’ attempt on goal.

 

Record: 1/6

Profit: -$39

Images via: smh.com.au and sportingnews.com.au

 

Golf Capital – Noren wins in South Africa, Perez salutes in Mexico

@hamishneal

A collection of my golf thoughts reviewing the weekend’s action plus a look to the week ahead which includes the culmination of the European Tour’s Race to Dubai finals series and the Australian Open taking place in Sydney.

 

Opening drive:

After a poor Saturday at Sun City Swede Alex Noren rallied with a nine under final round to win the Nedbank Challenge and vault up to third in the RTD standings, behind Henrik Stenson and Danny Willett. Noren, who has now won four times since July, produced his most decisive margin of victory in 2016 as he triumphed over South Korean Wang Jeunghun by six strokes. He will go into the final event of the season in Dubai supremely confident.

 

Meanwhile in Mexico, the irony-meter was off the charts as, in the days after wall enthusiast Donald Trump was elected US President, Pat Perez (who has a Mexican grandfather) won the USA PGA Tour event at Playa Del Carmen by two strokes from fellow American Gary Woodland. The PGA Tour returns to the USA with the RSM Classic in Georgia for a split-course tournament this weekend with the Seaside and Plantation courses in use on the first two days until Seaside hosts the final two rounds on it’s own.

 

In Mexico on the LPGA Tour Spain’s Carlota Ciganda won for the second time in a month with victory in the Lorena Ochoa Invitational by two strokes. The season-ending event is held in Florida this weekend with the CME Group Tour Championship seeing any of the top nine in the rankings able to win the tournament and the tour title depending on results. Five-time winner in 2016 and world number two Ariya Jutanugarn and four-time winner this year Kiwi Lydia Ko, currently ranked number one, come in as the dominant players of the year.

 

Ahead of the Australian Open this weekend Queensland’s Adam Blyth won the NSW Open at Stonecutters Ridge with an interesting dual-caddie strategy seeing him over the line despite dropping six shots in six holes at one stage on Sunday. His partner Nicole Kelsey carried the bag for the opening two rounds before father Stephen took the role on the weekend to help Blyth secure the biggest win of his career.

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Player performance notes:

Players I’m interested in to see how they go with notes that interest me and/or are related to capital investment if that’s your thing. The Jumeirah Golf Estates host the DP World Tour Championship as the final event of the European Tour. With a limited field of 60 players we will try to hone our thoughts for this event on the venue’s Earth Course.

 

Under 20: Rory McIlroy. With desert golf form and class key McIlroy has both having finished three shots from the lead in January’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship won by American Rickie Fowler. The Northern Irishman is also bidding to not only retain his title here but to win the event for the third time.

 

Under 20: Henrik Stenson. Joint third with McIlroy behind Fowler and won the Open since that tournament in March.

 

20 to 50: Branden Grace. The South African is adept at Desert golf having won the Qatar Masters in January by two strokes.

 

20 to 50: Thomas Pieters. The Belgian was second behind Fowler in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship and he’s won in Denmark since.

 

50 to 100: George Coetzee. The best performing South African in Turkey to Open the RTD series suffered a woeful 10 over at one stage in South Africa to through away his chances, and disappoint me, but has a top seven in Qatar to his credit this year.

 

100 to 200: Andrew Johnston. The Englishman opened with a 66 and ultimately finished T4 in Qatar in January. Since then he’s contended a great deal but has only won once in Spain.

 

Greens in regulation

After skipping the NSW Open to focus on his European Tour qualifying campaign Ben Eccles is one of the interesting players returning from overseas to take part in the Australian Open at Royal Sydney in Rose Bay this week. The Geelong golfer is joined by Jordan Zunic who left Q School early to play in his home open. Cameron Smith, who finished in T42 in Mexico is back for the Australasian PGA event but aside from the Australian players there is plenty of interest in some of the overseas names.

 

Tap in

Venezuela’s Jhonattan Vegas shows up in Australia after a T10 effort in Mexico and having won in Canada in July. Whilst headliner Jordan Spieth was part of the USA team that won the Ryder Cup Vegas has won an individual stroke play event more recently than Spieth. Even recently Australian veteran Rod Pampling enters the event having won on the PGA Tour earlier this month. Spieth is the class performer in the field but he’s out of form in stroke-play events with only three top ten finishes since July. Even rising star Curtis Luck who has won a host of amateur events in the last two months is a chance of out-performing the American.

Image via yahoosports.com

A-League 1,000: The Craft Edition

@hamishneal

1,000-ish words, thoughts and musings on round six of the A-League which commences on Thursday this week and includes a game in Canberra with the Phoenix jetting into the Australian Cosmos Territory.

A-League Rd 5 - Adelaide v Central Coast

Melbourne Sheep Cow Whale Ships v Newcastle Jets, Thursday – AAMI Park

Each beaten last start third hosts seventh in this game but the gap between the two sides isn’t actually that great on the park as they have both lost twice. This is the second game in a week that the Jets face outside of New South Wales after they didn’t leave the premier state for the first month of the competition so hopefully the travel doesn’t impact them too much. John van’t Schip likely gave his team a rocket after their defeat and they will be happy to get home were they won last time out.

 

Big game for: Substitutes. Andrew Nabbout should some dynamism when he came on with 25 minutes to go against Wellington and the former Victory attacker is pushing for a starting berth.

 

The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Having star forwards is fine but the light blues’ failure to get a shot on target was a lowlight for them in Brisbane. You can make all the excuses about the opposition parking the bus but there is little excuse for such a feeble return in that stat at this level when money isn’t an object compared to the rest for the league.

 

Adelaide United v Brisbane Roar, Friday – Beer Sauce Burger Stadium

The reigning champs are in a funk and host Brisbane looking for their first win of the campaign. Adelaide’s five-game winless run is the first such streak to open an A-League season from the defending champs since 2010 winners Sydney FC in 2010/2011 (Sydney finished ninth in the 11-team competition that season.) Brisbane’s only defeat this campaign came in Newcastle but otherwise the second-place side have been clinical. However they will miss Jamie Maclaren here (Socceroos duty)

 

Big game for: Marcelo Carrusca coming off the bench must have given Adelaide fans hope as they chased an equaliser after Connor Pain’s goal on Sunday but it didn’t end up changing the result.

 

The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Seeing Danny Choi somewhere in the A-League down the track. Added to Adelaide as an injury replacement fo Carrusca, Choi was no longer eligible to stay with the club upon the Argentinian’s return but sadly for the former Blacktown City winger he picked up a stress fracture and will miss three months of action as well as leaving the club.

 

Central Coast Mariners v Wellington Phoenix, Saturday – GIO Stadium

Paul Okon’s Mariners turned over the champs in Adelaide for the club’s first win since January and they should go into this game in Canberra with confidence as they face a less then half-strength Phoenix outfit. Mariner Storm Roux, who has played for the All Whites, was caught out a few times in defence by Adelaide on Sunday and Ernie Merrick may have looked at that in his game-plan for his inexperienced side. With three goals in five games for the campaign for Ro O’Donovan Okon will be hoping his team can continue to create goal-scoring chances for the Irishman.

 

Big game for: Debut goals. Adam Berry opened his A-League account for the Mariners recently and with Wellington set to feature a host of their second-stringers one of two debut goals could be on the cards.

 

The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Craft beer. The tourism and transport links are not the only aspects which has drawn the Mariners to Canberra there will also be Garage Project craft beer on sale which is usually available at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium. Craft Responsibly.

adamparkhousestuffnovember2016stuff

Melbourne Victory v Western Sydney Wanderers, Saturday – Southern Cross Station Arena

Fifth plays sixth on Saturday night with both sides having conceded 19 goals combined in the opening five weeks of the competition so each of Melbourne mentor Kevin Muscat and Wanderers boss Tony Popovic would be happy to walk away with at least a clean sheet in this game. Carl Valeri’s return for the hosts will be important but the absence of Marco Rojas is significant. Whether Kerem Bulut appears for the Wanderers will be interesting. The forward was one of their key off-season recruits and he was missing from the match-day squad in Perth last weekend.

 

Big game for: Controversial decisions. Muscat was rightly aggrieved after David Carney’s handball lead to Sydney FC’s equaliser. This week Muscat affirmed his support for the video trial the FFA is implementing down the track, but you just know something will happen this weekend.

 

The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: More focus on. Despite the fact “head injuries are serious” according to the new A-League boss Greg O’Rourke two players Michael Zullo and Andrew Redmayne collided with items (a table and the ground, respectively) but undertook no Sport Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT) test in round five. Zullo’s injury was bizzare and has gained headlines for the use of the fourth officials table at games and Redmayne’s incident was very late in his game but both deserved looking at.

 

Sydney FC v Perth Glory, Sunday – Allianz Stadium

Unstoppable at the top Sydney FC have won five on the spin and only former Mariner Mitch Austin has scored against them this season. Despite their spot on the table Sydney FC has no Socceroos squad members with Perth’s Josh Risdon in Thailand missing for the west Australian’s so both sides are relatively free of changes. Perth travelled to Sydney twice last season and picked up a win and a loss – but the defeat was a 4-0 humbling in the final round of the season as they limped into the finals.

 

Big game for: Alex Brosque’s discipline. The Sydney FC forward has found the net three times this campaign but he’s also collected three yellow cards. He’s on pace to face suspension for accumulated cards by sometime later this month which isn’t ideal for a captain, or striker.

 

The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Melbourne was somewhat successful in trying to catch Sydney on the counter-attack last Saturday night, but it was just their finishing that often let them down. I wonder what Perth learnt from seeing that game.

 

The betting bit – One serious one not

This column is turning into a disaster, much like the Perth defence, which has now conceded four second half goals at home in three games to open the season. Melbourne Victory ($2.10) to edge the Wanderers into a nice array of retro Canberra Cosmos, Canberra City et al jerseys on Saturday.

 

Record: 0/5

Profit: -50 (ten units per investment)

 

Images via sbsworldgame.com.au and stuff.co.nz

Golf Capital – Pampling gets the luck in Vegas as Feng wins again

@hamishneal

A collection of my golf thoughts reviewing the weekend’s action plus a look to the week ahead which includes the second leg of the Finals Series on the European Tour for the men which takes place in South Africa at Sun City.

 

Opening drive:

Australia’s Rod Pampling scrambled well late to win in Las Vegas on the US PGA Tour as Dane Thorbjorn Olesen won the opening leg of the Race to Dubai series by three strokes.

 

Pampling’s win was his first on the US tour since 2006 when he won the Bay Hill Invitational and the result was put down to some great scrambling late in the fourth round when, among others, Ryder Cupper Brooks Koepka was in the chasing pack. The 47 year-old’s two-stroke triumph gets him into the three majors held in the USA in 2017 plus a two-year exemption on tour. However all of these guarantees came with two huge doses of luck. Firstly Pampling had a confirmed PGA tour card because the last event in the second-tier Web.com tour was canned due to the weather and the Queensland-born player then got into the field as a paperwork error added 12 players to the entry list in Las Vegas meaning 144, and not the usual 132, players featured in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. Good luck comes in threes doesn’t it?

 

Denmark’s Olesen has now won in four countries on the European Tour (including a co-sanctioned event in Perth, Australia) but it seemed like he might throw away his chance in Turkey when, despite having a seven-shot advantage, pressure started to tell in three-putting the ninth on his final round. However three subsequent birdies on the back nine helped and he won by three finishing at 20 under.

 

After a win in Malaysia China’s Shanshan Feng went back-to-back winning the Japan Open by a single stroke finishing on 13 under. South Korean Inbee Park is the defending champion for the LPGA event in Mexico this weekend. However, the Olympic gold medalist, will not be playing the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Mexico City due to rehab for her thumb injury. The men’s US tour is also in Mexico with the OHL Classic at Mayakoba tournament at the El Camaleón Golf Course won last year in a playoff by Graeme McDowell.

pamplingnovember2016golfaus.jpg

Player performance notes:

Players I’m interested in to see how they go with notes that interest me and/or are related to capital investment if that’s your thing. The Nedbank Golf Challenge is the second tournament of the three-leg final series of the European Tour’s Race to Dubai to be held in Gary Player Country Club in Sun City, north-west of Pretoria.

 

Under 20: Henrik Stenson. The Open winner didn’t play in Turkey but does lead the Race to Dubai from Masters champ Danny Willett by €252,163 and he won the Open from in front.

 

20 to 50: Branden Grace. Form and class helps here and Grace is the highest-ranked local player at 15 in the world and finished T4 in the event last year.

 

20 to 50: Alexander Levy. A player we thought would go well last weekend took until the final round to really get going shooting an equal round best of six under.

 

20 to 50: Louis Oosthuizen. The 2010 Open winner is the highest-ranked South African in the final series standings and major winners have won this event 13 times.

 

20 to 50: Chris Wood. The Englishman was third in this event won last time by Marc Leishman (who is playing in Mexico this weekend) with Stenson in second. He spent time on a drip in the days before the event and still only finished ten shots from Leishman, who did blitz the field.

 

50 to 100: George Coetzee. The best performing South African in Turkey last week finished T5 and did win nearby in 2014 in the Jo’burg Open.

 

50 to 100: Haotong Li. China’s Li was just behind Olesen and shot an equal best six under for the final round so produced when it counted even without winning.

 

50 to 100 to 150: Victor Dubuisson. The Frenchman was T4 in the event last year which had a smaller field and his course experience will be invaluable.

 

 

Greens in regulation

Geelong’s Ben Eccles is the reigning titleholder as the main Australasian PGA tournament kick off this weekend with the NSW Open played at the Stonecutters Ridge Golf Course in the western Sydney suburb of Colebee. Eccles will be absent from this event though as he is one of only two Australians still aiming for qualification for the European Tour via Q-School after finishing T9 in the event in Alicante last weekend. Eccles, and Tasmanian Ryan McCarthy, will play the final event of the series in Girona, Italy this weekend.

 

Tap in

San Diego’s Petco Park, home to Major League Baseball team the San Diego Padres held a unique golf event last week with the venue re-designed to form a nine-hole golf course. Hugely popular the event, which is in it’s second year sold-out of tee times in two hours. Yes it was a promotion for the company behind it, Callaway Golf, but it also showed a way to make golf more accessible and perhaps could see other sporting venues innovate in their off-season or downtime.

Image via golfaustralia.com.au