The God's Given Lionel Messi - messilegend

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Messi Steers Barcelona to Second Title For This Season

Barcelona defeats Shakhtar to win UEFA Super Cup

MONACO (AP) - Barcelona substitute Pedro Rodriguez scored the only goal deep into extra time to lead the European Cup holder 1-0 over UEFA Cup winner Shakhtar Donetsk in the European Super Cup on Friday.

Rodriguez pounced onto a pass from Lionel Messi with five minutes of extra time remaining and prodded the ball into the bottom corner to finally break the Ukrainian team's stubborn resistance at Stade Louis II.

Barcelona last won the Super Cup in 1997 and also in 1992, but lost in 2006 to UEFA Cup winner Sevilla.

Coach Pep Guardiola guided Barca to the treble last season, adding the La Liga and Copa del Rey domestic double to victory in the Champions League.

He already has two trophies this season after completing a 5-1 win in the two-leg Spanish Super Cup against Athletic Bilbao last Sunday.

"We've managed to bring two Super Cups home so we're pretty happy. It's a great evening. We haven't lost the essence of the side," Guardiola said through a translator.

Shakhtar coach Mircea Lucescu said it was "extremely difficult" to play a team like Barcelona.

"Barcelona is a great team. I know how they play and organize things. I'm happy because we played a good game," Lucescu said.

Messi, Barca's star in the Champions League final win over Manchester United, settled the result with a typical piece of skill, rolling the ball from his right foot to his left and playing a reverse pass into Rodriguez's path as he ran round the back of a defender.

Tempers flared at the end of regulation time when Messi went on a mazy run into the area and complained angrily that he had been impeded just as he was about to shoot.

Shakhtar didn't threaten Barcelona's goal until extra time when substitute Julius Aghahowa ran through and forced goalkeeper Victor Valdes into a low save in the 97th minute. Barcelona replacement Bojan Krkic's angled shot was saved by goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov a minute later as the game finally came to life.

Rodriguez, another product of Barca's flourishing youth team, saw his angled shot cleared off the line by right back Darijo Srna early in the second period of extra time.

Barca started the match brightly, with Thierry Henry's turn and shot from 20 yards (meters) just over.

But chances were few for Barcelona in the first half against Shakhtar's defense, which denied Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic space.

A neat move between Messi and Ibrahimovic in the 32nd released the Sweden striker down the left but his return pass to Messi was intercepted. A minute later, Messi squeezed a shot in from the left that Pyatov saved.

Shakhtar showed good movement off the ball but Lucescu's team failed to take a shot at goal until the 84th.

Ibrahimovic and Yaya Toure, Barcelona's most physical players, gradually started to make their presence felt in the second half. But the understanding between Ibrahimovic - who joined Barca from Inter Milan while Samuel Eto'o went the opposite way - and his new teammates was patchy.

In the 54th, Ibrahimovic stood flapping his arms in frustration after Dani Alves failed to spot him down the left.

Henry, isolated for much of the match, also showed signs of frustration, and totally missed the ball with an attempted bicycle kick after 71 minutes.

Guardiola switched Messi to a deep-lying role midway through the second half, allowing him to burst forward into space and run at the tiring Shakhtar defenders with his electric pace.

That nearly paid off with 15 minutes remaining when Pyatov saved shots from Messi and Henry in quick succession.

Henry then missed from close range in the 86th when he lunged at the back post to meet Carles Puyol's flick on.

Barcelona Wins Spanish Super Cup 2009

Barcelona should have scored a dozen goals in this game!!! Just watch how many missed chances for Barca that ended with only 3 goals. Messi scored two goals while Bojan made it 3-0 after collecting a ball from a poor backpass by Bilbao defender. With the result, Barca beats Athletic Bilbao 5-1 on aggregate to lift their 8th Spanish Super Cup!!! Going to buy Barca jersey soon, looking for Messi 10!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Champions League Best Player of 2009 - Lionel Messi

MONACO (AP) - Barcelona's Lionel Messi was chosen the best player of the 2008-09 Champions League on Thursday.

The Argentina forward was voted the UEFA club player of the year by coaches of the 15 other teams who reached the knockout rounds of the tournament.

"It is an enormous joy to be able to receive such an important award as this," Messi said. "And it's also a pleasure to be able to thank all the people who voted for me and who decided I should get this award."

Messi scored nine times in Barcelona's march to the title, including a 70th-minute header in the final to seal a 2-0 win against Manchester United.

At the draw ceremony for this season's competition, Messi was voted best forward and teammate Xavi Hernandez was chosen best midfielder.

Manchester United's Edwin van der Sar was picked as best goalkeeper and John Terry of Chelsea as best defender.

Messi succeeded Cristiano Ronaldo, the world player of the year, in winning the UEFA award, and became the second Argentine winner after Fernando Redondo in Real Madrid's Champions League-winning season of 2000. Soccer Channel

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Messi-ah Continues His Great Form

Messi is back to business. What a great start for this season! Messi sealed the victory for Barcelona against Athletic Bilbao by scoring two goals and went on to lift the Spanish Supercup. This is without doubt the first of many trophies to reach Nou Camp, Barcelona this year.


Messi leads Barcelona to Spanish Supercup win

Lionel Messi scored two second half goals Sunday as Barcelona beat Athletic Bilbao 3-0 to lift the Spanish Supercup.

Substitute Bojan Krkic also scored as the Catalans secured their eighth Supercup 5-1 on aggregate to take the first of six trophies it is competing for following a historic treble-winning campaign last season.

Messi ran onto Zlatan Ibrahimovic's pass in the 50th minute, moved around a defender and then chipped goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz for his first goal before scoring a penalty in the 68th.

Krkic rounded out the scoreline just a minute after replacing Ibrahimovic, who made his competitive debut after arriving from Inter Milan. The teenage striker seized on an Athletic turnover in the 72nd to walk the ball into goal.

Barcelona dominated possession just as it did at the San Mames, with Messi and Ibrahimovic beginning to strike up an understanding that coach Pep Guardiola is hoping will lead the Catalans to further glory this season.

The Catalan club is also playing Shakhtar Donetsk for the European Supercup on Friday and will try for the Club World Cup in December.

Goalkeeper Iraizoz kept the Basques in it through the first half with a number of key saves beginning in the 25th minute when Messi let fly with a quick strike from the right side.

Yaya Toure dribbled free along the goal line to find Seydou Keita with a centre in the 33rd only for the Mali midfielder to trip over with only Iraizoz to beat.

Soon after denying Gerard Pique, Iraizoz stopped and acrobatic volley from Ibrahimovic after Messi had found the Sweden striker alone in front of goal.

Messi later stepped up to score a penalty after Ustaritz Aldekoaotalora was adjudged to have brought down Daniel Alves inside the box.

Pablo Orbaiz's long-range free kick was Athletic's sole chance as it came to the Camp Nou stadium trying to overturn a 2-1 deficit from the first leg.

Friday, August 21, 2009

"I Am Legend" - Usain Bolt

What a BOLT Performance! Usain Bolt sets the NEW World Record for 200m!

Another burst from Bolt nets another world record

BERLIN: Teeth clenched, Usain Bolt grimaced as he churned toward the finish line, hoping to coax a fraction more out of his lanky frame.

The big, yellow numbers flashing another world record time, told the Jamaican sprinter he had gotten what he wanted out of the 200 meters Thursday at the world championships.

Beyond the mark of 19.19 seconds, though, was something else - the fact that he is altering his sport.

For the second straight race - five, if his record-breaking runs at the Beijing Olympics are counted - Bolt's biggest competitor was the clock.

He bettered his old world record by a whopping .11 seconds, the same margin he shaved off the 100 four days earlier, when he finished in 9.58.

"I'm on my way to being a legend," Bolt said, without a trace of arrogance. No debate there.

He is erasing chunks of time from records that normally take years to break. He is beating the so-called competition by body lengths - this time, Alonso Edward of Panama was 0.62 seconds behind - in a sport often decided by photo finishes.

"He's a gift to this earth," said American sprinter Shawn Crawford, who finished fourth.

"He's a blessing to the track game. ... I'm just waiting for the lights to flash 'game over,' 'cause I felt like I was in a video game."

Bolt can't be caught, even when he gives away tips. Just before the start of the race, Bolt told good friend Wallace Spearmon to stay close to him on the curve and follow him home.

The American tried.

"Even if I run the best turn of my life, I'm still going to be behind," said Spearmon, who finished with the bronze.

"I knew what was in store for the race. I expected it to be at least that fast."

When he saw his record time, Bolt pointed at the display, then stuck out his tongue in his best Michael Jordan impersonation.

"Even us in the field, we think there is going to be something phenomenal from him," Crawford said.

Bolt feeds off the energy from the crowd. The louder they get, the more playful he becomes.

He showed up at the start wearing a T-shirt with a new take on President John F. Kennedy's famous Cold War quote "Ich bin ein Berliner."

This time, the slogan said, "Ich bin ein Berlino," a reference to the bear mascot of the championships.

The audience ate it up, along with Bolt's hand gestures and other assorted antics.

Then it was time to go to work in his yam-colored Pumas.

He jetted out of the blocks, turned the corner and it was over.

No one was going to catch him once he reached the straightaway.

"I was surprised with myself that I did so well," Bolt said.

After that, came his favorite part - the celebration. He involved just about everyone as he made his way around the track, stopping to sign autographs for kids, mugging for pictures and posing with Berlino, who joined Bolt in the sprinter's signature bow-and-arrow stance.

Midway around the track, Bolt took of his shoes and carried them.

"I was so tight, I couldn't even really jog. I was just tired," said Bolt, who celebrates his 23rd birthday Friday.

So how low can Bolt go? Even he has no clue.

"I keep saying anything's possible as long as you put your mind to it," he said.

Former sprint star Michael Johnson, whose record of 19.32 stood for 12 years before Bolt broke it last year, believes the 19-second barrier might be next.

"He could," Johnson said.

"He's very tall and has an extremely long stride. He's not the only person in the world that's 6-foot-5 (1.96 meters), he's just the only one that's 6-5 and that fast."

Before the race, Johnson said he didn't think Bolt would break the mark.

Not today. Not with his top rival, Tyson Gay, on the sideline with a groin injury. But he also threw in a qualifier.

"Anytime Usain Bolt steps on the track, a world record is possible," Johnson said. For a warmup act, Bolt comically threw a roundhouse punch at Spearmon and hammed it up for the camera.

For the performance, he blistered the field. For the finale, he broke another world record.

Not bad theater.

"Insane Bolt," Spearmon said. "That's what we call him."

Bolt overheard that remark.

"Yo, Spearmon," Bolt yelled from across the room.

"Don't call me insane, man. I heard you called me insane. What's up with that?"

As a way to describe how Bolt is tearing up the track, there may be no better word. - AP


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Messi Leads Barcelona Teammates For UEFA Award

Barca players dominate uefa award nominations

LONDON: Six players who helped Barcelona beat Manchester United 2-0 in May’s Champions League final were included in the list of nominees for UEFA’s Club Footballer of the Year awards to be presented in Monte Carlo next week.

Goalkeeper Victor Valdes, defender Gerard Pique, midfielders Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta and forwards Lionel Messi and Samuel Eto’o, now with Inter Milan, were on the list released by UEFA on Monday.

The six other players come from either Manchester United, Chelsea or Liverpool.

The three United players are goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, defender Nemanja Vidic and forward Cristiano Ronaldo, who has since joined Real Madrid for a world record transfer fee of £80mil.

Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech and defender John Terry and Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard were also nominated.

The players were proposed by the coaches of the 16 teams that reached the Champions League knock-out phase, with votes cast for a winner in each position as well as the overall UEFA Club Footballer of the Year.

The announcement will be made during the Champions League group stage draw on Aug 27. — Reuters

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tiger Sla-YIN by YANG

South Korean YE Yang won his first career major with a superb performance to beat Tiger Woods fair and square. Even though Tiger lost, its not all bad news. Yang totally deserved the victory which will be remembered by many Asians especially the Koreans. Clearly, Tiger's lacklustre putting throughout the final round denied him from winning his 15th major. An eagle on the short par 4, 14th hole seems to be the "signal/indication" of victory for Yang, although Tiger managed to birdie the hole and stayed one stroke behind. If only Tiger managed to birdie the first and second hole, both with good opportunity at less than 10 foots, the game would certainly be different. Credits to be honoured to Yang for ending a remarkable final round with 2-under and an overall score of 8-under par to win the PGA Championship by three strokes. Chuka Haeyo!!!


Yang stuns Tiger at PGA Championship

CHASKA, Minn. - South Korea's Y.E. Yang toppled Tiger Woods and became the first Asian-born man to win a major with a stunning performance Sunday in the PGA Championship, memorable as much for his clutch shots as the player he beat.

In a year of spoilers at the majors, Yang's was the most surprising of all.

Woods was 14-0 when he went into the final round of a major atop the leaderboard. He had not lost any tournament around the world in nine years when leading by two shots.

None of that mattered to Yang, a 37-year-old Korean who hit the shots everyone expected from Woods. Leading by one on the final hole, Yang slayed golf's giant with a hybrid 3-iron that cleared the bunker and settled 12 feet from the cup.

Yang made the birdie putt and shouted with joy as he pumped his fist. That gave him a 2-under 70, and a three-shot victory when Woods missed yet another short par putt and shot 75.

"I tried to master the art of controlling my emotions throughout the small wins I had in my career," Yang said through his agent, Michael Yim. "I think it turned out quite well today."

Yang finished at 8-under 280 and won $1.35 million, along with a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour and the majors. That was important for a guy who had to go back to PGA Tour qualifying last December. The last player to go from Q-school to PGA champion was John Daly in 1991.

One more bonus: His victory put him on the International team for the Presidents Cup in October in San Francisco.

His victory is massive for Asia, the fastest-growing market in golf. Perhaps even more significant is the way he stood up to Woods, the world's No. 1 player whose heritage is half-Asian through his Thai-born mother.

His victory came four days after golf was recommended to become part of the Olympics in 2016.

For Woods, it was the second time he has finished runner-up in the PGA Championship at Hazeltine, both times to a surprise winner. Seven years ago, he birdied the last four holes and came up one short of Rich Beem.

This time, Woods made one mistake after another over the last four holes, mostly with his putter.

"I did everything I needed to do, except for getting the ball in the hole," Woods said. "Just didn't make the putts when I needed to make them."

Yang was No. 110 in the world, his only victory on the PGA Tour coming in March at the Honda Classic, on a course across the street from headquarters of the PGA of America. He was best known for holding off Woods at the HSBC Champions in China three years ago.

This stage was far bigger. Yang was even better.

He took the lead for the first time all week by chipping in for eagle from about 20 yards short of the 14th green. And when it looked as though nerves were getting the best of him on a three-putt bogey at the 17th, he delivered his two most important shots.

Yang still had enough strength left to hoist his golf bag over his head, and later the 44-pound Wanamaker Trophy. After a long and tearful embrace with his wife, Young Ju Park, he walked across a bridge saluting thousands of fans who couldn't believe what they saw.

What a finale to this year in the majors.

Kenny Perry was poised to become the oldest Masters champion at 48 until Angel Cabrera beat him in a playoff. Phil Mickelson, reeling from his wife being diagnosed with breast cancer, was on the verge of finally winning the U.S. Open until Lucas Glover outplayed him over the final few holes. And just last month, 59-year-old Tom Watson was an 8-foot par putt away from winning the British Open, then lost in a playoff to Stewart Cink.

Woods losing a two-shot lead in the final round of a major? That was unthinkable - until a breezy afternoon at Hazeltine.

"I played well enough the entire week to win the championship," Woods said. "You have to make putts. I didn't do that. Today was a day that didn't happen."

Before Yang, Asian-born players had come close in the majors - Lu Liang-huan of Taiwan finishing one shot behind Lee Trevino at the 1971 British Open, and T.C. Chen's famous two-chip gaffe that cost him a chance at the 1985 U.S. Open, where he was runner-up to Andy North.

This could be a big breakthrough for Asian players, especially with a World Golf Championship starting this year in China.

As for the PGA Championship, what remains is whether it will be remembered more for Yang's victory or Woods losing a 54-hole lead for the first time in a major.



S. Korea celebrates 'Average Joe's' major win

SEOUL: Fans in golf-crazy South Korea set their alarms for 4am Monday to watch the PGA Championship on television, then celebrated with whoops as Y.E. Yang finished off his historic victory over Tiger Woods.

Yang became the first Asian-born man to win a major tournament, capping a stunning rise for an “average Joe” who didn’t pick up a golf club until he was 19 and went into the tournament ranked 110th in the world.

Kim Soo-mi woke up before dawn to watch the final round on TV, and then scurried over to her local sports club when it opened at 6am to watch the final minutes along with jubilant fellow golfers.

“Seeing Yang ranked 110th in the world win against Tiger Woods, the best player in the world, I felt so proud to be a Korean today,” Kim said at the club in the Seoul suburb of Bundang.

Even South Korea’s president, Lee Myung-bak, was up before sunrise to watch the tournament live. He later phoned Yang to offer his congratulations.

“I woke up at dawn today to watch the broadcast, and you played in a calm manner,” Lee told Yang, according to Lee’s office. “First of all, you enhanced our people’s morale by winning the major title for the first time as an Asian.”

Lee also praised Yang for persevering despite personal difficulties, calling his win a “come-from-behind victory” that was all the more valuable because of his life story, Lee’s office said.

Back home in Jeju, Yang’s family stayed up all night, their eyes glued to the TV. “I am so happy and proud of him. What else can I feel?” his brother, Yang Yong-hyuk, said by telephone. “Since he has finally reached the peak, I hope that he will work even harder to become better and defend his position.”

Yang, whose Korean name is Yang Yong-eun, calls himself an “average Joe,” the son of a farmer on the tropical southern island of Jeju - a traditional honeymoon spot for Koreans that in recent years has become a popular golfing destination.

Yang says he aspired to be a bodybuilder and once dreamed of owning his own gym. But a knee injury in his teens forced him to reconsider his athletic career. At 19, he took a job collecting golf balls at a local driving range.

After work, the self-taught Yang stayed on after hours to practice, said Kim Young-chan, executive director of the driving range at the Ora Country Club. He recalled Yang as a late bloomer but a hard worker.

“After the guests left the driving range, he practised late into the night,” Kim said in a telephone interview, calling his diligence a “testament to how hard he worked” to learn the game.

Yang was awarded the Rookie of the Year award after making his Korea Professional Golfers’ Association debut in 1997. It took him nearly six years to win his first title in South Korea. Then, in 2006, he took on Tiger Woods at the HSBC Championship in Shanghai, China - and won.

Suh Gee-young, a doctor who woke up early to watch the tournament and take a few practice swings before work, called Yang an inspiration to other Asian-born players seeking to make it big in the majors. Golf is huge in South Korea, which in recent years has produced a number of top female players. But the top ranks had until now evaded Asia’s men.

“I think Yang’s victory will give young Asian players a confidence that they can beat the odds in any situation,” Suh said.

Golf instructor Kim Won-jun, 43, praised Yang as a calm, collected player.

“I personally know Yang and what distinguishes him from other players is his emotional stability,” Kim said. “He is in total control during his game so when he has the chance, he’s able to immediately seize it.”

Around Kim, dozens of early risers were taking swings at the Kolon Sporex club’s indoor driving range as others gathered around a nearby large-screen TV to watch replays of Yang’s win in Chaska, Minn.

Lee Jong-hoon, 33, said chatter about Yang’s victory filled the halls of the Seoul hospital where he is a physician.

“I’m a fan of Yang because he overcame many obstacles to become a golfer,” Lee said. “I think what makes his victory especially meaningful is not only the fact that he’s Asian but also the fact that he was a true underdog.” - AP

Sunday, August 16, 2009

15th major for Tiger Woods?

Tiger Woods is set to win his 15th major championship tomorrow after a defensive play today with one-under par and an overall 8-under par going into the final round. His game is definitely below my expectation where the chasing packs managed to outperform him with three to five under pars. Nevertheless, Tiger is still leading with two shots over defending champion P.Harrington and South Korean YE Yang. With the expected huge crowds of over 40,000 to follow right behind Tiger, it would be a major psychological test for YE Yang. P.Harrington would be the best player, imo, to challenge Tiger for the championship. More so after he is not paired with Tiger for the last 18 holes (u know what i meant). Being the defending champion, I think he should be paired with Tiger instead of Yang who settled with the best score of five-under 67 in the third round. All in all, my bet is still on Tiger to capture his 5th US PGA Championship title at Hazeltine to make it his 15th career major titles! As Robert Lusetich says it best, "He is, unequivocally, the greatest front-runner in sports."


Woods has lead to himself at PGA Championship

CHASKA, Minn. (AP) - Tiger Woods was one round away from winning another major but he squandered a four-shot lead and drew more company than he wanted at the U.S. PGA Championship on Saturday.

Woods played so-so on another windy afternoon at Hazeltine National until his lead was gone. Only at the end of the day did he find some solace. One birdie on the back nine was enough for a 1-under 71. It gave him a two-shot lead over three-time major champion Padraig Harrington and Y.E. Yang.

Woods has never lost a major when leading going into the final round.

Only once in his career has he lost any tournament when leading by two shots or more.

"I played conservatively today," Woods said. "I didn't give myself a lot of looks. I was lag putting a lot. The only putt I really missed was on the three-putt. Other than that, it was a good, solid day.

"Given the conditions and my position in the tournament, I didn't mind it."

He was at 8-under 208, finishing just as the rain arrived.

Harrington surged into a share of the lead with four birdies over an eight-hole span in the middle of the round, catching Woods with a 7-foot birdie putt on the short par-4 14th. Right when it appeared they would be paired in the final round for the second straight week, Harrington made his only bogey of the round by going over the 18th green and failing to save par.

He wound up with a 69, and much greater hopes of defending his U.S. PGA title than he had starting the day.

"The narrower the gap, the better," Harrington said. "If I have to take four shots and I've taken two the first day, I suppose we're halfway there. Obviously, to get a win, you've got to beat him by three tomorrow. That's a tall order. But as I said, everybody in the situation who is behind is going to think, 'Well, we have nothing to lose.' You've got to have that attitude."

Woods will play in the final group with Yang, who matched the best round of the tournament with a 67. Yang won his first U.S. PGA Tour event this year at the Honda Classic, although the 37-year-old from South Korea was better known for taking down Woods at the HSBC Champions in China three years ago.

They weren't playing in the same group in 2006, however. And this will be Yang's first time contending in a major.

"It will be my first time playing with him, so I'll try not to go over par," he said with a smile. "But I've been looking forward to it. I've thought about playing with Tiger recently. Surprised it came true so fast."

Woods' four-shot lead was his largest in a major after 36 holes since he led by five at St. Andrews in 2005. Just like that British Open, his margin was cut to two shots going into the final round.

Suddenly, there are other challengers to try to stop Woods from winning his 15th career major, and first of the year.

Henrik Stenson, who captured The Players Championship in May, had a 68 and was in the group at 4-under 212 along with U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover (71).

Ernie Els pulled within one shot of the lead until he finished with three straight bogeys, leaving him with a 70 and five shots behind. He was disgusted with the end of his round, although the Big Easy spoke for so many others about the outlook on Sunday.

"You could really feel that there's a real championship going on around you," Els said. "It's not a runaway deal. Looked like a runaway thing at the end of yesterday. But it looks like the guys are really set to give Tiger a go, and the crowd could sense that."

Woods, however, has a major advantage.

He has never lost in America when leading by more than one shot, and the only time anyone beat him from that position was Ed Fiori at the 1996 Quad City Classic, when Woods was a 20-year-old playing his third event as a pro.

Lee Westwood came from two shots behind to beat Woods in the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open in Germany in 2000.

Woods appeared to be on his way when he stuffed a short iron into 4 feet for birdie on the second hole. Then came a three-putt bogey on the par-3 fourth, and he aimed away from trouble, not willing to give away shots.

"I thought it was going to be playing a little bit more difficult today, but it wasn't," Woods said. "I just felt that with my lead, I erred on the side of caution most of the time. If I did have a good look at it, I took aim right at it. Otherwise, I was just dumping the ball on the green and two-putting."

The lead shrank quickly.

Glover pulled within two shots until he was slowed by a poor bunker shot on No. 10.

Harrington made his second straight birdie with a 20-foot putt on the par-3 eighth, rolled in a 6-foot birdie on the 11th and made a few solid par saves along the way to stay close to Woods. He caught him at the 14th, then tried to get to the clubhouse without any damage. He almost made it, but caught a flyer out of the rough and over the 18th green.

Woods wasted opportunities, and appeared to really blow a good chance when he drove just through the par-4 14th. His chip came out hot and through the green, against the collar. Unable to hit a proper chip or a putt, he used the blade of his sand wedge to roll the ball some 15 feet to the cup. It came out perfectly, and Woods showed fierce emotion when it fell for birdie. (his Strong fist pump is like a hint that he is going to win this tournament!)

Over his last hour, however, he couldn't wait to get off the course. Still, he wound up with the lead, and Woods wasn't about to trade that position with anyone.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Tiger Is Well-Positioned To Win His First Major of De Year

Can anyone catch Tiger if he's playing this well?

CHASKA, Minn. - At 1:14 on a steamy Thursday afternoon in the suburbs of the Twin Cities, Tiger Woods took the lead by himself at the 91th PGA Championship.

If this were a horse race, it might be an idea to put the binoculars down because there's never been a better front-runner.

"Kinda ominous," said Rich Beem, who watched Woods shoot an impressive five-under 67 at Hazeltine National.

"He's got a pretty good track record from the front."

Only once when Woods has started a major this well — at the British Open 11 years ago, when he was only 22 and still figuring out the vagaries of links golf — has he not gone on to lift the trophy.

In 2000, at both the U.S. Open and PGA, he began with six-under 66s and went on to win, while at the 2000 and '06 British Opens, he fired 67s and won those, too.

Woods isn't just in the driver's seat to have his name etched onto the Wanamaker Trophy for the record-tying fifth time, joining Jack Nicklaus and Walter Hagen. A win this week would reaffirm that he is back and at least as good as ever.

It wasn't just his score that separated Woods from the madding crowd Thursday.

This was a performance missing the smoke and mirrors of some of his low rounds this year.

It was a continuation of his last seven rounds — at the Buick Open and Bridgestone Invitational — where the ball striking has been steadily improving and the putting deadly.

"Just how efficient he played today," said Beem, who pipped Woods to the post here seven years ago. "It wasn't anything crazy. No big tee shots way right or way left or anything like that. It was easy."

Indeed, it was a round which could have been much lower had some putts not burned the edge of the cup.

"I played really well today," said Woods, "I hit just a bunch of good shots.

"And this round could have been really low. I missed a bunch of putts out there, so it was just a very positive start."

If there was something noticeably different about Woods Thursday it was his demeanor.

Whereas at the Masters he was perpetually grumpy and at the U.S. and British Opens his disposition was very serious, on this day he was relaxed and comfortable. Perhaps it was the company — he and Padraig Harrington talked and joked throughout the entire round — or perhaps the course which, frankly, is more like a typical Tour setup. It's probably easier than Firestone, where he won last week.

"The fairways are plenty wide here, plenty of room out there," he said.

Neither were the greens treacherous, probably because of all the rain this area's had this summer.

The wind did throw a wrench in things from time to time but Woods was only really bothered on the first hole — the tenth of his round — where he missed a long iron to the right, got a good break after his ball hit a tree, then proceeded to make a difficult up-and-down seem routine.

"I felt pretty comfortable," Woods said.

Not that he was awarding himself the tournament, but Woods' answer when he was asked if he's ever played as well as he could and still lost a major was revealing.

"There are times I've put it together and I've had some pretty good margins of victory," he said. "I just feel that overall my game over the years, it's gotten better and become more consistent."

"When I'm playing well, I usually don't make that many mistakes."

He said he couldn't afford to relax but instead needed to "just keep plodding along."

"The whole idea is not to make that many mistakes. All the majors that I've won, I've made very few mistakes for the week."

The only danger he found in this round was when the Spanish bomber Alvaro Quiros reached the massive par 5 11th in two while Woods was putting out.

Quiros later apologized to Woods.

"Nothing to apologize for," Woods joked. "I mean, that's just stupid long, isn't it? To hit it that far into the wind is phenomenal."

Woods joked that he once "used to be able to move the ball, not anymore."

"I just plod my way around, shoot 67," he said.

If there is a hope for an alternate ending to this championship, it's that Harrington, who is one shot behind Woods, looks like he's in the mood to continue their battle from the Bridgestone last Sunday.

Aside from the defending champion, it's hard to see any of the other names on the leaderboard having either the game or the chutzpah to deny Woods a 15th win at his 50th major.

But Harrington's got game and, without question, he's got the pugnaciousness of a boxer.

"The great thing is if you're playing with Tiger Woods, you're doing well," said the Irishman. "If you're playing with him at the end of the week, you're always going to be in contention. If you don't want to be in that spot, you shouldn't be playing golf.

"It's an opportunity. And I definitely would look forward to being paired up with him ... it's where you want to be."

Friday, August 7, 2009


(Imagine the EPL song while you read the title)

Messi is back. More on Messi soon. Stay tuned!

Messi fires brace as Barca maul Seattle
SEATTLE: Lionel Messi scored the opening two goals as Barcelona beat the Seattle Sounders 4-0 in a pre-season friendly on Wednesday.

In a dominant performance by the reigning European champions, Barcelona required their top players for only half the game to beat the Major League Soccer club and extend their winning pre-season form.

Messi beat Seattle goalkeeper Kasey Keller in the 21st minute with a left-footed punch from outside the penalty box that the former Tottenham stopper only got a fingertip on.

Twenty minutes later, Messi gathered Xavi’s perfectly judged cross about eight yards out and in one move split Keller’s legs with his left foot shot. The scoring was completed by fringe squad members Jeffren Suarez in the 75th minute and Pedro Rodriguez in the 89th.

Messi’s pre-season form indicates he will pick up right where he left off at the end of a 2008-09 season when he scored 38 goals as Barcelona won the treble of Champions League, Spanish League and King’s Cup. — AP

Monday, August 3, 2009

Tiger Wins Again

You will never get enough of Tiger Woods. After missing the cut at the Turnberry last month, Tiger is back again at the top of his game, this time winning the Buick Open, his career 69th title, trailing just behind Jack Nicklaus-73 and Sam Snead-82. Tiger is set to compete in two consecutive tournaments going into a major, the last this year, for the virgin time in his career. Well, even though Tiger shot a poor 71 in the first round for one under par and trailing by 8 shots, you can never write him off! One round of golf doesnt decide the champion. Great job Tiger! Messi The Legend salutes you and will continue to watch you from afar.

"He shot a 71 in the first round and said it was probably the worst putting performance of his career, leading to him skipping his post-round practice session because he was so mad."

Tiger out-grinds the rest of the Buick field

GRAND BLANC, Mich. - Michael Letzig, for a brief moment Sunday, allowed himself to dream of upsetting Tiger Woods in the fnal pairing and win the 52nd and final Buick Open at Warwick Hills.

The old swing demons were back as Woods was spraying his tee shots to the right and, for good measure, missing his irons to the right, too.

Letzig last played with Woods in the final round at the Memorial, where the world No. 1 was at his stratospheric best en route to a tournament-winning 65. This, however, wasn't the same player. Letzig thought he smelled vulnerability.

"I thought, 'Maybe,'" said the 29-year-old from Kansas City. "You could tell he wasn't on his game early and I kinda thought if I could get it going he would be beatable."

Yet after eight holes, Woods with smoke, mirrors and guts was 2 under par for the day while Letzig, who drove it beautifully only to miss birdie putt after birdie putt, made just one mistake — albeit a costly one, a double bogey — and found himself at 2 over par for the day. Far from being in a position to win, he was five shots adrift of Woods' lead.

"He just doesn't make mistakes," said Letzig, "When he does make mistakes he recovers and then makes the birdies on the easy holes that you're supposed to."

"He's just laughing at all of us. He's so good."

Of all his attributes, the one which really separates Tiger Woods from the madding crowd of touring professionals isn't necessarily the ability to launch stupendous shots or make dramatic putts.

It's that he's the ultimate grinder.

No one can make lemonade out of lemons like him. He won for the 69th time on the PGA Tour despite having to yell "Fore right!" for the final 27 holes.

"You see guys turn 65s into 69s but you hardly ever see someone turn a 69 into a 65," Woods' caddie, Steve Williams, told me before the round about his man's third round. It was that third round which gave Woods the lead going into Sunday; that and a silly bogey by Letzig on the last hole Saturday afternoon.

And has anyone ever been more money with the third-round lead?

The only time he failed to convert one was in his rookie year, 1996, at the Quad City Classic. Since then, Woods is a perfect 36-0 in holding the trophy aloft after stepping on the first tee Sunday afternoon with the lead.

Even Letzig knew the score.

"I wasn't really here to win the tournament today," he said, "It was just kind of a battle with myself out there. You try and match him, it ain't gonna happen."

For all the chattering about Woods not being the player he was, consider that he now has four victories in a season — for the 11th time in 14 professional seasons, he's won at least four times — where no other player has more than two. And he's now won 21 of his last 39 starts dating back to the 2006 British Open.

And while some of those triumphs were sown by celestial shot-making and putting, be sure that most of them were won by the grinder within Woods.

And don't think he doesn't know it.

"If you look at most events you play, you don't ever hit the ball great for four straight days," he said after Sunday's victory, "You're always going to have one off day, and even some of my best (tournaments) that I've gone 25 under par I had one off day."

"But off day score-wise can still be a pretty good score. You still kind of don't feel quite right about your game, and you ask, 'How am I going to make the score?' and I did that (Saturday). I wasn't hitting the ball very good on my back nine but somehow I made a score. And today, as I say, I hit some bad shots and somehow made a score, and that's what you have to do."

The other ingredient to the Woods Grind is, as he says, to "miss the ball in correct spots and give yourself the best angles."

"I really understand that," he said.

The only time he diverted from the blueprint was on the par-5 13th, where he tried to slice a 5-wood around a tree on the right of the fairway despite a left-to-right wind and water on the right of the green. His squirter of a shot landed in the middle of the lake, prompting Woods to put his hat over his face and have a few stern words with himself, in private.

"I was a little angry," he said.

But another of his attributes is the ability to turn his emotions off. He composed himself, took a drop, then hit a delicious pitch from 60 yards to inside 3 feet and saved par.

He was never really threatened and strolled home to win by three strokes.

But the greater question now becomes whether Woods will be able to carry this victory forward. It came, after all, on the easiest course on Tour and against one of the weaker fields. Woods and Jim Furyk were the only players in the top 25 of the world rankings here to mark the last time Michigan is likely to see professional golf for some time.

Woods flies home to Florida for a couple of days before going to Ohio's Firestone — a course on which he's won six times in nine starts — and then on to Minnesota and the PGA for one last shot at a major.

"I'm starting to feel better than I did the last time I played," Woods said in comparing this week with his missed cut at Turnberry.

"I can use this as maybe a little bit of momentum going into the next two weeks."

In many ways, two weeks which will define his comeback year.