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Jimenez breaks leg skiing, will be out of action for three to five months

MALAGA, Spain — Spanish golfer Miguel Angel Jimenez has broken his right shinbone and will be sidelined for three to five months.

Jimenez said in a statement Sunday that he had surgery on his leg after injuring it while skiing Saturday.

The 48-year-old, who became the oldest winner in European Tour history when he won in Hong Kong last month, was skiing in the Sierra Nevada mountain region of southern Spain when he fell. He was taken to the mountain medical center for an X-ray before being transferred to a hospital near his home in Malaga, where he was operated on that evening.

“I was going down a hill and lost control briefly and when I fell it was very sore,” Jimenez said. “I knew immediately I had broken something.

“I was playing very well at the end of the season, so it is obviously not a good time for me to get injured,” he added. “When I took up skiing, I knew the risks that I was taking, but I love it so much I could not stop.”

Jimenez was a vice captain on Europe’s Ryder Cup-winning team in September. In November, the 48-year-old Jimenez became the oldest European Tour winner by capturing his third Hong Kong Open title. He has 19 career European Tour titles.

Excerpt from:  

Jimenez breaks leg skiing, will be out of action for three to five months

Top 10 moments in golf from 2012 range from Kaymer to Stanley to Rose

LONDON — There was one very big star at the top of the tree in 2012: Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy.

While Tiger Woods posted his first PGA Tour wins (three of them) since 2009, his return to the victory podium was merely a side-story.

Instead, after a period of transition that saw Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald flirt with top spot in the rankings, 23-year-old McIlroy marked himself down as Woods’ natural successor and the next genuine world No. 1 by winning the money lists on both sides of the Atlantic and capturing his second major by a whopping eight shots.

That victory in the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island was one of four wins in the United States, while he iced the cake on his amazing year by winning the European Tour’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

McIlroy had already wrapped up the Race to Dubai before the event started (prompting the European Tour to produce a more competitive closing schedule in 2013). But, wanting to go out on a high, he thrillingly birdied the final five holes to overtake Justin Rose and confirm his status as a genuine superstar.

To prove he could do no wrong, McIlroy also won his Ryder Cup singles clash against Keegan Bradley after arriving at the course just minutes before his tee time. Had he missed it by five minutes, he’d have forfeited the point and Europe would have lost; as it happened, his singles win played a key part in one of the most astonishing comebacks in Ryder Cup history.

Trailing 10-4 with two matches to play in Saturday’s afternoon four-balls at Medinah Country Club near Chicago, Jose Maria Olazabal’s men had been dragged back into the contest by an astonishing display from Ian Poulter.

Already renowned for being one of the event’s most inspired performers, the Poulter Ryder Cup legend grew to epic proportions as he holed birdie putts at each of the final five holes to give he and McIlroy (Rory a passenger on this occasion) an incredible last-hole win over Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner.

Buoyed by Poulter’s superhuman performance and a collective will to do it for the late Seve Ballesteros, Europe top-loaded its Sunday singles line-up, won the first five matches and completed an almost impossible turnaround as Kaymer holed a nerves-of-steel putt on 18 that retained the trophy.

Moments later, the jubilation became euphoric disbelief as Woods conceded a putt to Francesco Molinari, meaning Europe had actually won the contest outright 14.5-13.5.

At least there was some serious consolation for some of the beaten U.S. team. Bubba Watson produced a mind-blowing hooked wedge from the trees to beat South African Louis Oosthuizen in a playoff at the Masters, while Webb Simpson came with a late burst to edge out Graeme McDowell and win the U.S. Open at Olympic Club in San Francisco. Brandt Snedeker, meanwhile, landed the $10 million jackpot for winning the FedExCup.

The 141st British Open at Lytham was a classic case of triumph and despair. The latter befell Australian Adam Scott, who blew a four-shot lead with four to play, while the glory belonged to Ernie Els, who holed a key putt on 18 that turned out to be the one that gave him a second Open title and fourth major in total.

Simpson and Els won using belly putters, and the season ended with the R&A and USGA proposing a ban on anchoring the putter to any part of the body. The rule is set to come into play in 2016.

MOMENTS OF THE YEAR

1. Martin Kaymer’s putt to retain the Ryder Cup: Had he missed, Tiger Woods would surely have taken more care in the final match — by either holing his putt and definitely not conceding Francesco Molinari’s — and the final outcome would have been flipped. As it was, the German showed nerves of steel to hole out and retain the trophy for Europe.

2. Poulter’s five closing birdies in Saturday’s Ryder Cup four-balls: One went in, then two, then three. The eyeballs were popping wildly. Surely Poulter couldn’t keep this going, could he? He could. A fourth birdie putt dropped at the par-3 17th and, ridiculously defying the odds, he sank the match clincher on 18. It proved the catalyst for the Europeans’ amazing Sunday fightback.

3. The first-tee Ryder Cup crowds shouting through Bubba Watson and Ian Poulter’s drives: Golfers can get tetchy if someone rustles a candy wrapper during their swing, so it was startling to hear the din as Bubba launched his drive. He had asked the crowd to go wild as he said the eerie quietness would make him more nervous. Typically, Poulter responded in kind and whipped up the fans to cheer through his tee shot, too.

4. Rory’s five closing birdies to win the DP World Tour Championship: Having watched playing partner Poulter do it in the Ryder Cup, Rory thought he’d have a go, too. And what a time to do so. Justin Rose’s flying finish looked set to be decisive in the European Tour’s finale, but Rory found an extra gear to sprint past him with birdies at each of the final five holes and crown a magnificent season.

5. Bubba Watson’s hooked wedge from around trees in the Masters playoff: Watson looked to be in all sorts of trouble after going way right off the tee at 10, the second playoff hole, but he produced a shot for the ages to curl his wedge 90 degrees around the corner to set up a two-putt winning par.

6. Louis Oosthuizen’s albatross at Augusta in the final round: Although Sunday would ultimately prove a huge disappointment for the South African as he lost to Bubba’s playoff wonder-shot, he did produce a thunderclap moment of his own. Tied for the lead at -7, his second to the par-5 second smacked down on the green and tracked straight into the hole for an astonishing albatross. The noise was off the scale.

7. Justin’s Rose birdie putt vs. Phil Mickelson in the Ryder Cup: For most of Ryder Cup Sunday there was a feeling that Europe’s brave comeback would fall just short. But when Rose sank his monster 35-footer for birdie at 17, the mood changed suddenly, and dramatically, to “wow, we can do this.”

8. Tiger Woods’ chip-in at the Memorial: One behind with three to play. Woods had left himself in thick greenside rough at 16. But with every chance of chipping into the water beyond the flag, Woods, with a full swing, floated a perfect lob wedge onto the treacherously fast green and watched it topple into the hole for a birdie that paved the way for victory.

9. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps’ 153-foot putt in the Dunhill Links Championship: Terry Wogan’s 99-foot putt at 2014 Ryder Cup venue Gleneagles was previously regarded as the longest televised putt, but Phelps, playing alongside Paul Casey, smashed it with a ludicrous effort at Kingsbarns in October. The ball took 17 seconds to drop into the hole.

10. Kyle Stanley’s collapse and bounce back: The big-hitting American, seeking a first PGA Tour win, arrived at the final hole at Torrey Pines with a three-shot lead. Fifteen minutes later he was holing out for an 8 before, still in shock, losing a playoff. His response? Winning the following week’s PGA Tour event in Phoenix.

View original article: 

Top 10 moments in golf from 2012 range from Kaymer to Stanley to Rose

World sports diary November/December 2013

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2013

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 1

TENNIS

Paris Masters (to 3)

MOTOR RACING

Formula One: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marinas Circuit (to 3)

CRICKET

Western Australia v England, Perth (to 2)

HORSE RACING

Breeders Cup, Santa Anita, California (to 2)

SOCCER

FIFA Under-17 World Cup, UAE (to 8)

– – – –

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 2

RUGBY

International Matches

– – – –

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 3

ATHLETICS

New York City marathon

– – – –

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 4

TENNIS

ATP: World Tour finals, London

– – – –

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 5

HORSE RACING

Melbourne Cup

– – – –

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 6

CRICKET

Australia A v England, Hobart (to 9)

– – – –

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 7

GOLF

PGA Tour: McGladrey Classic, Sea Island, Georgia (to 10)

European Tour: Turkish Open, Antalya (to 10)

– – – –

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 8

MOTORCYCLING

MotoGP: Valencia, Ricardo Tormo-Valencia (to 10)

– – – –

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 9

RUGBY

International matches

– – – –

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 10

– – – –

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 11

– – – –

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 12

BADMINTON

BWF Li Ning China Open Super Series Premier, Shanghai (to 17)

BWF Yonex-Sunrise Hong Kong Open Super Series, Kowloon (to 24)

– – – –

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 13

CRICKET

New South Wales v England, Sydney (to 16)

– – – –

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 14

GOLF

European Tour: DP World Tour Championship, Dubai (to 17)

Singapore Open, Sentosa (to 17)

– – – –

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 15

SOCCER

2014 World Cup qualifying matches

Asian Cup qualifying matches

MOTOR RACING

Formula One: United States Grand Prix, Austin (to 17)

TENNIS

Davis Cup World Group final (to 17)

– – – –

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 16

RUGBY

International matches

– – – –

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 17

– – – –

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 18

– – – –

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 19

SOCCER

2014 World Cup qualifying matches

Asian Cup qualifying matches

– – – –

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 20

– – – –

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 21

CRICKET

Australia v England, Brisbane, first test (to 25)

GOLF

European Tour: Hong Kong Open, Fanling (to 24)

– – – –

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 22

MOTOR RACING

Formula One: Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo (to 24)

– – – –

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 23

RUGBY

Rugby League World Cup semi finals, Wembley

– – – –

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 24

HORSE RACING

Japan Cup, Tokyo

CANADIAN FOOTBALL

Grey Cup, Saskatchewan

– – – –

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 25

– – – –

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 26

– – – –

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 27

– – – –

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 28

GOLF

World Cup, Shenzen (to 1)

– – – –

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 29

CRICKET

Australia Chairman’s XI v England, Canberra (to 30)

– – – –

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 30

RUGBY

Rugby League World Cup final, Old Trafford

– – – –

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 1

SOCCER

World Cup Finals Draw, Brazil (to 4)

Japan League final day

Korean League final day, South Korea

– – – –

MONDAY, DECEMBER 2

– – – –

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 3

– – – –

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 4

– – – –

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 5

CRICKET

Australia v England, Adelaide, second test (to 9)

– – – –

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 6

– – – –

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 7

– – – –

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 8

– – – –

MONDAY, DECEMBER 9

– – – –

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 10

– – – –

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 11

GAMES

Southeast Asian Games, Myanmar (to 21)

SOCCER

Club World Cup, Morocco (to 21)

– – – –

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 12

– – – –

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 13

CRICKET

Australia v England, Perth, third test (to 17)

– – – –

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 14

– – – –

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 15

– – – –

MONDAY, DECEMBER 16

– – – –

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 17

– – – –

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 18

– – – –

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 19

– – – –

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 20

– – – –

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 21

– – – –

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 22

– – – –

MONDAY, DECEMBER 23

– – – –

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 24

– – – –

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 25

– – – –

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 26

CRICKET

Australia v England, Melbourne, fourth test (to 30)

– – – –

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 27

– – – –

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 28

– – – –

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 29

– – – –

MONDAY, DECEMBER 30

– – – –

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 31

Excerpt from:  

World sports diary November/December 2013

The 2012 sporting year in quotes

(Reuters) – Sporting quotes from 2012:

OLYMPICS

“These were happy and glorious Games,” – IOC president Jacques Rogge at the closing ceremony.

“I did everything I wanted to. I finished my career the way I wanted to,” – American swimmer Michael Phelps after retiring with 18 gold medals.

“I hope that this medal inspires the kids at home to put down guns and knives and pick up a pair of trainers instead,” – Erick Barrondo, winner of Guatemala’s first-ever Olympic medal with silver in the men’s 20-kilometre race walk.

“I’m now a legend. I’m also the greatest athlete to live,” – Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt after retaining his 100 and 200 meter titles.

“Bolt was good but Rudisha was magnificent – it was the performance of the Games, not just track and field,” – London 2012 head Sebastian Coe about Kenyan David Rudisha‘s world record win in the 800 meters.

– – –

SOCCER

“I am more worried about being a good person than being the best football player in the world. When all this is over, what are you left with?” – Barcelona and Argentina forward Lionel Messi.

“We’re talking about a great generation of footballers. This is a great era for Spanish football,” – Spain coach Vicente del Bosque after his team won the European championship.

– – –

TENNIS

“I’m sure he’s smiling from up there that someone has finally managed to do it from Britain. I just hope I can see another British player in my lifetime win a Grand Slam,” – Andy Murray after becoming the first British man since Fred Perry in 1936 to win the U.S. Open.

“I really think a champion is defined not by their wins but by how they can recover when they fall. I have fallen several times. Each time I just get up and I dust myself off and I pray and I’m able to do better,” – Serena Williams after coming back from a life-threatening illness to win the Wimbledon, Olympic and U.S. Open titles.

– – –

GOLF

“I never got this far in my dreams,” – Bubba Watson after winning the Masters in a dramatic playoff with Louis Oosthuizen.

“He’s got all the talent in the world to do what he’s doing. And this is the way that Rory can play,” – Tiger Woods about Rory McIlroy after the Northern Irishman won the PGA Championship by eight shots.

– – –

AMERICAN FOOTBALL

“This isn’t about bragging rights. This is a lot bigger. This is about a team, an organization being named world champions,” – New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning after winning his second Super Bowl, one more than his older brother Peyton.

“It is our responsibility to protect player safety and the integrity of our game and this kind of conduct will not be tolerated,” – NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after announcing a range of penalties following revelations of the New Orleans Saints cash-for-hits scheme.

– – –

BASKETBALL

“It’s about damn time,” – Miami Heat forward LeBron James after winning his first NBA title.

“We’re all so proud of LeBron. When you get to know LeBron, you don’t understand why he was such a lightning rod for the criticism,” – Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.

– – –

CYCLING

“It sounds cheesy, but your whole life is for this and the reason I got into cycling as a kid was today,” – Bradley Wiggins after becoming the first Briton to win the Tour de France.

“There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say, ‘Enough is enough.’ For me, that time is now,” – Lance Armstrong, announcing he would not contest the doping charges against him and his former team.

“The evidence shows beyond any doubt that the US Postal Service Pro Cycling Team ran the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen,” – statement from U.S. Anti-Doping Agency chief executive Travis Tygart.

– – –

MOTOR RACING

“People were not even mentioning us when they were talking about the championship, but I think the most important thing was that we always kept believing,” – Sebastian Vettel after winning his third successive Formula One world title at age 25.

“If the sword breaks, attack with the hands. If they cut off your hands, push the enemy with your shoulders, even with your teeth,” – Championship runner-up Fernando Alonso about his battles with Vettel.

– – –

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

“It’s amazing what a group of guys who play like a team can accomplish. I’m numb that we have won two World Series in the last three years,” – San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy after the Giants swept the Detroit Tigers 4-0 to win the Fall Classic.

“I’m a little bit flabbergasted to be honest with you. I never would have thought that we would have swept the New York Yankees (to reach the World Series) and I never would have thought that the Giants would have swept us but it happened,” – Detroit manager Jim Leyland.

– – –

ICE HOCKEY

“This is something everyone’s dreamed of for their whole lives and this city’s dreamed of for 45 years,” – Los Angeles captain Dustin Brown after the Kings won the Stanley Cup for the first time.

“We are not prepared to open another season until we have a new collective bargaining agreement,” – NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman signaling the start of another player lockout.

– – –

CRICKET

“Where else in the world do you get the opportunity to basically kill someone with two bouncers an over? Or try, legally,” – South African fast bowler Dale Steyn.

“Cricket is not like a government job where retirement age is fixed at 60. A cricketer can retire at 30 or 60; it’s up to the player,” – India’s evergreen batsman Virender Sehwag.

– – –

RUGBY

“It’s for other people to judge whether we are the greatest team or not – or if we are a great team,” – New Zealand coach Steve Hansen after another dominant season by the All Blacks.

“Today, we witnessed the arrival of a new generation of Welsh rugby heroes – a group of players who have equaled the success of those great Welsh teams of the past,” – Wales First Minister Carwyn Jones after Wales won the Grand Slam and the Six Nations.

(Compiled by Julian Linden, edited by Josh Reich)

Taken from:  

The 2012 sporting year in quotes

Olympics sparkle at height of magical British summer

LONDON (Reuters) – London defied Britain‘s wettest summer for 100 years, potential transport and security chaos and a depressed economy to stage a marvelous 2012 Olympics during a magical year for British sport.

Over the past century Britons have become resigned to watching the rest of the world beat them at games they had either invented or codified at the height of the island nation’s imperial splendor.

This year, to their fans’ surprise and delight, British teams and athletes surpassed themselves across a range of sports, including third place in the Olympic medals’ table behind the world’s two great economic powers the United States and China.

Englishman Bradley Wiggins, who looks like a throwback to the English beat groups of the swinging sixties with his mop of hair and straggling sideburns, became the first Briton to win the Tour de France prior to taking a fourth Olympic gold medal.

After finishing runner-up in four grand slam finals during a vintage era for men’s tennis, Scotland’s Andy Murray finally made the breakthrough as the first British male in 76 years to win one of the big four titles with victory over Novak Djokovic in the U.S. Open.

And Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy, winner of four PGA titles including the PGA championship by a record eight strokes, was awarded the annual Jack Nicklaus award for player-of-the-year. At the age of 23 he was the youngest recipient since Tiger Woods in 1997.

At the heart of the year’s sporting action, London staged the summer Olympics for the third time to unanimous acclaim throughout the world.

Under the assured stewardship of organizing committee chairman Seb Coe, as adroit in the convoluted realm of sports politics as he had been on the track while winning two Olympic 1,500 meters titles, the London organization was impeccable.

Transport, one of the biggest worries in a cramped and crowded city, worked smoothly with enthusiastic and knowledgeable crowds flocking to venues sprinkled among some of London‘s more celebrated landmarks.

Rain fell nearly every day during the early part of a gloomy summer before an overdue burst of hot sunshine in the week leading up to the Games in late July. Thereafter the weather reverted to a more familiar English blend of the good, the bad and the indifferent without causing any serious disruptions.

Even the admission by a private security firm a fortnight before the 16-day festival that it could not supply enough guards proved an unexpected bonus.

Thousands of soldiers, sailors and airmen stepped into the breach and their disciplined professionalism and unfailing good humor further boosted the feel good factor.

The day after a quirky but compelling opening ceremony fusing historical and cultural glories with quintessentially British eccentricity, Michael Phelps took to the pool.

Winner of a record eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Games, Phelps faltered initially, finishing fourth in the 400 meters individual medley behind fellow-American Ryan Lochte.

By the end of the opening week, the American through sheer willpower was back to his best, finishing his competitive career with 18 gold medals from four Games. They included four golds in London and 22 medals overall to make him the most-decorated athlete in Olympic history ahead of former Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina, who collected 18.

FINEST HOUR

While Phelps was gracing an Olympic pool for the last time on the middle Saturday of the Games, the nearby Olympic stadium erupted during Britain‘s finest Olympic hour.

Reflecting the face of modern multi-cultural Britain, Somali immigrant Mo Farah won the 10,000 meters and the daughter of a Jamaican father and English mother Jessica Ennis finished first in the heptathlon. Greg Rutherford, the great-grandson of an England soccer international, won the long jump.

Usain Bolt, who had made a mockery of the world 100 and 200 meters records in Beijing, shrugged off doubts about his form, fitness and the threat of training partner Yohan Blake, who had beaten him twice at the Jamaican trials, to become the first man to retain both Olympic titles.

Jamaica swept the 200 medals and Bolt finished a triumphant week for his tiny Caribbean nation by anchoring the 4×100 relay team to a world record and establish beyond any doubt that he is the greatest sprinter to step on to a track.

Kenya’s David Rudisha provided the most spectacular individual performance on the track, spread-eagling the field to break his own world 800 meters record without the benefit of pacemakers.

Chelsea kicked off the British sporting summer with an unexpected triumph in the Champions League final, defeating Bayern Munich on penalties at the Allianz Arena to win the European club title for the first time.

After the west London club had eliminated favorites Barcelona in the semi-finals with a scrupulously disciplined defensive display, Didier Drogba leveled the scores in the 88th minute of the final with a header before converting the final spot kick in the penalty shootout.

ARMSTRONG SCANDAL

Wiggins, who had survived the worst life could throw at him, triumphed in the most brutal and demanding of the European road cycling classics.

Abandoned at the age of two by his alcoholic Australian father, himself a professional cyclist who was found dead of head injuries on a street in 2008, Wiggins fought his way out of a council estate with gritty determination and drive.

His victory in the Tour, possibly the greatest individual British sporting achievement of the year and followed by a fourth Olympic gold, was accompanied by unwelcome if not unexpected baggage.

Given the sport in general and the Tour in particular are notoriously drug-tainted, Wiggins was forced to endure a barrage of questions about doping during and after the race.

“If I doped I would potentially stand to lose everything,” he responded. “My reputation, my livelihood, my marriage, my family, my house… my Olympic titles, my world titles.”

The questions, to Wiggins and his rivals, will not go away soon.

Later in the year, American Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency published a report accusing him of being involved in the “most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen”. Armstrong continued to deny ever taking drugs but elected not to contest the charges, which the sporting authorities took as an effective admission of guilt.

Murray’s breakthrough came after he avenged his Wimbledon final defeat to Roger Federer to beat the Swiss master in the Olympic final.

Serena Williams collected gold in the singles and doubles during a winning streak when she added the Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles to her trophy cabinet.

POULTER LEADS FIGHTBACK

McIlroy also played a full part in the year’s most remarkable comeback. After confusion over a tee time, he needed a police escort in his haste to reach the Medinah course on the final day of the biennial Ryder Cup between Europe and the United States when the hosts needed only 4-1/2 points from 12 singles matches to win.

Instead, the Americans conceded 8-1/2 points to the Europeans who won 14-1/2 to 13-1/2. McIlroy prevailed over the previously undefeated Keegan Bradley and German Martin Kaymer sank a five-foot putt on the 18th green to secure the 14 points Europe needed to retain the trophy.

Englishman Ian Poulter, who like the late Seve Ballesteros and Colin Montgomerie before him reserves his best for the Ryder Cup, turned around Europe’s fortunes by earning one of two points in the fourballs on Saturday. Poulter, possessor of one of the more startling wardrobes in a sport not noted for sartorial restraint, was one of eight players to win on Sunday to finish with a 4-0 record overall.

Although another Briton, Jenson Button, won the final Grand Prix of the season in Sao Paulo nobody could deny Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, who at the age of 25 became Formula One’s youngest triple world champion.

The German was last on the opening lap of the Brazilian Grand Prix but fought back in a damaged car to finish sixth.

One arena where a British national team performed much as it always does at major tournaments was in the national game of soccer.

For once, under a new coach Roy Hodgson, expectations were not exaggeratedly high for England before the European championships jointly hosted by Ukraine and Poland and losing on penalties to Italy in the quarter-finals was greeted with a resigned shrug rather than outraged indignation.

Spain, the country who took 44 years to win a major tournament, became the first to win three in a row, retaining the European title after triumphing in the 2010 World Cup.

They destroyed Italy 4-0 in the final and their endlessly inventive midfielder Andres Iniesta was named player of the tournament.

Iniesta’s Barcelona team mate Lionel Messi was carried off in a stretcher with what appeared to be a serious knee injury after colliding with Benfica goalkeeper in a Champions League group match on December 5.

Four days later the Argentine scored both goals in a 2-1 La Liga win over Real Betis to overhaul German Gerd Mueller’s previous record of 85 goals in a calendar year set in 1972. Both goals were set up by Iniesta.

Pele’s record of 75 scored in 1958 was already well behind him and, at the age of 25, Messi is in exalted company.

“Leo is supernatural. He doesn’t have limits,” marveled Barcelona defender Gerard Pique.

Britain’s golden year lingered into December, with yet further cause for celebration through sports developed in Victorian public schools whose passion for organized games inspired Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympics.

England, 12/1 outsiders before the match, thrashed world rugby union champions New Zealand 38-21 at Twickenham to bring an abrupt halt to increasingly fevered speculation that the current All Blacks team are the best side ever to play the game.

Then the England cricket side, humiliated in the first test of a four-match series in India, bounced back with captain Alastair Cook leading by example to win the next two by convincing margins.

The last test was drawn and England sealed the series 2-1, their first test series victory in India since 1985 and India’s first home series defeat in eight years.

(Editing by Alison Wildey)

Source:  

Olympics sparkle at height of magical British summer

YEARENDER-The 2012 sporting year in quotes

Dec 28 (Reuters) – Sporting quotes from 2012:

OLYMPICS

“These were happy and glorious Games,” – IOC president Jacques Rogge at the closing ceremony.

“I did everything I wanted to. I finished my career the way I wanted to,” – American swimmer Michael Phelps after retiring with 18 gold medals.

“I hope that this medal inspires the kids at home to put down guns and knives and pick up a pair of trainers instead,” – Erick Barrondo, winner of Guatemala’s first-ever Olympic medal with silver in the men’s 20-kilometre race walk.

“I’m now a legend. I’m also the greatest athlete to live,” – Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt after retaining his 100 and 200 metre titles.

“Bolt was good but Rudisha was magnificent – it was the performance of the Games, not just track and field,” – London 2012 head Sebastian Coe about Kenyan David Rudisha‘s world record win in the 800 metres.

– – –

SOCCER

“I am more worried about being a good person than being the best football player in the world. When all this is over, what are you left with?” – Barcelona and Argentina forward Lionel Messi.

“We’re talking about a great generation of footballers. This is a great era for Spanish football,” – Spain coach Vicente del Bosque after his team won the European championship.

– – –

TENNIS

“I’m sure he’s smiling from up there that someone has finally managed to do it from Britain. I just hope I can see another British player in my lifetime win a Grand Slam,” – Andy Murray after becoming the first British man since Fred Perry in 1936 to win the U.S. Open.

“I really think a champion is defined not by their wins but by how they can recover when they fall. I have fallen several times. Each time I just get up and I dust myself off and I pray and I’m able to do better,” – Serena Williams after coming back from a life-threatening illness to win the Wimbledon, Olympic and U.S. Open titles.

– – –

GOLF

“I never got this far in my dreams,” – Bubba Watson after winning the Masters in a dramatic playoff with Louis Oosthuizen.

“He’s got all the talent in the world to do what he’s doing. And this is the way that Rory can play,” – Tiger Woods about Rory McIlroy after the Northern Irishman won the PGA Championship by eight shots.

– – –

AMERICAN FOOTBALL

“This isn’t about bragging rights. This is a lot bigger. This is about a team, an organization being named world champions,” – New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning after winning his second Super Bowl, one more than his older brother Peyton.

“It is our responsibility to protect player safety and the integrity of our game and this kind of conduct will not be tolerated,” – NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after announcing a range of penalties following revelations of the New Orleans Saints cash-for-hits scheme.

– – –

BASKETBALL

“It’s about damn time,” – Miami Heat forward LeBron James after winning his first NBA title.

“We’re all so proud of LeBron. When you get to know LeBron, you don’t understand why he was such a lightning rod for the criticism,” – Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.

– – –

CYCLING

“It sounds cheesy, but your whole life is for this and the reason I got into cycling as a kid was today,” – Bradley Wiggins after becoming the first Briton to win the Tour de France.

“There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say, ‘Enough is enough.’ For me, that time is now,” – Lance Armstrong, announcing he would not contest the doping charges against him and his former team.

“The evidence shows beyond any doubt that the US Postal Service Pro Cycling Team ran the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen,” – statement from U.S. Anti-Doping Agency chief executive Travis Tygart.

– – –

MOTOR RACING

“People were not even mentioning us when they were talking about the championship, but I think the most important thing was that we always kept believing,” – Sebastian Vettel after winning his third successive Formula One world title at age 25.

“If the sword breaks, attack with the hands. If they cut off your hands, push the enemy with your shoulders, even with your teeth,” – Championship runner-up Fernando Alonso about his battles with Vettel.

– – –

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

“It’s amazing what a group of guys who play like a team can accomplish. I’m numb that we have won two World Series in the last three years,” – San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy after the Giants swept the Detroit Tigers 4-0 to win the Fall Classic.

“I’m a little bit flabbergasted to be honest with you. I never would have thought that we would have swept the New York Yankees (to reach the World Series) and I never would have thought that the Giants would have swept us but it happened,” – Detroit manager Jim Leyland.

– – –

ICE HOCKEY

“This is something everyone’s dreamed of for their whole lives and this city’s dreamed of for 45 years,” – Los Angeles captain Dustin Brown after the Kings won the Stanley Cup for the first time.

“We are not prepared to open another season until we have a new collective bargaining agreement,” – NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman signaling the start of another player lockout.

– – –

CRICKET

“Where else in the world do you get the opportunity to basically kill someone with two bouncers an over? Or try, legally,” – South African fast bowler Dale Steyn.

“Cricket is not like a government job where retirement age is fixed at 60. A cricketer can retire at 30 or 60; it’s up to the player,” – India’s evergreen batsman Virender Sehwag.

– – –

RUGBY

“It’s for other people to judge whether we are the greatest team or not – or if we are a great team,” – New Zealand coach Steve Hansen after another dominant season by the All Blacks.

“Today, we witnessed the arrival of a new generation of Welsh rugby heroes – a group of players who have equalled the success of those great Welsh teams of the past,” – Wales First Minister Carwyn Jones after Wales won the Grand Slam and the Six Nations. (Compiled by Julian Linden, edited by Josh Reich)

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YEARENDER-The 2012 sporting year in quotes

YEARENDER-Olympics sparkle at height of magical British summer

LONDON, Dec 28 (Reuters) – London defied Britain‘s wettest summer for 100 years, potential transport and security chaos and a depressed economy to stage a marvellous 2012 Olympics during a magical year for British sport.

Over the past century Britons have become resigned to watching the rest of the world beat them at games they had either invented or codified at the height of the island nation’s imperial splendour.

This year, to their fans’ surprise and delight, British teams and athletes surpassed themselves across a range of sports, including third place in the Olympic medals’ table behind the world’s two great economic powers the United States and China.

Englishman Bradley Wiggins, who looks like a throwback to the English beat groups of the swinging sixties with his mop of hair and straggling sideburns, became the first Briton to win the Tour de France prior to taking a fourth Olympic gold medal.

After finishing runner-up in four grand slam finals during a vintage era for men’s tennis, Scotland’s Andy Murray finally made the breakthrough as the first British male in 76 years to win one of the big four titles with victory over Novak Djokovic in the U.S. Open.

And Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy, winner of four PGA titles including the PGA championship by a record eight strokes, was awarded the annual Jack Nicklaus award for player-of-the-year. At the age of 23 he was the youngest recipient since Tiger Woods in 1997.

At the heart of the year’s sporting action, London staged the summer Olympics for the third time to unanimous acclaim throughout the world.

Under the assured stewardship of organising committee chairman Seb Coe, as adroit in the convoluted realm of sports politics as he had been on the track while winning two Olympic 1,500 metres titles, the London organisation was impeccable.

Transport, one of the biggest worries in a cramped and crowded city, worked smoothly with enthusiastic and knowledgeable crowds flocking to venues sprinkled among some of London‘s more celebrated landmarks.

Rain fell nearly every day during the early part of a gloomy summer before an overdue burst of hot sunshine in the week leading up to the Games in late July. Thereafter the weather reverted to a more familiar English blend of the good, the bad and the indifferent without causing any serious disruptions.

Even the admission by a private security firm a fortnight before the 16-day festival that it could not supply enough guards proved an unexpected bonus.

Thousands of soldiers, sailors and airmen stepped into the breach and their disciplined professionalism and unfailing good humour further boosted the feel good factor.

The day after a quirky but compelling opening ceremony fusing historical and cultural glories with quintessentially British eccentricity, Michael Phelps took to the pool.

Winner of a record eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Games, Phelps faltered initially, finishing fourth in the 400 metres individual medley behind fellow-American Ryan Lochte.

By the end of the opening week, the American through sheer willpower was back to his best, finishing his competitive career with 18 gold medals from four Games. They included four golds in London and 22 medals overall to make him the most-decorated athlete in Olympic history ahead of former Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina, who collected 18.

FINEST HOUR

While Phelps was gracing an Olympic pool for the last time on the middle Saturday of the Games, the nearby Olympic stadium erupted during Britain‘s finest Olympic hour.

Reflecting the face of modern multi-cultural Britain, Somali immigrant Mo Farah won the 10,000 metres and the daughter of a Jamaican father and English mother Jessica Ennis finished first in the heptathlon. Greg Rutherford, the great-grandson of an England soccer international, won the long jump.

Usain Bolt, who had made a mockery of the world 100 and 200 metres records in Beijing, shrugged off doubts about his form, fitness and the threat of training partner Yohan Blake, who had beaten him twice at the Jamaican trials, to become the first man to retain both Olympic titles.

Jamaica swept the 200 medals and Bolt finished a triumphant week for his tiny Caribbean nation by anchoring the 4×100 relay team to a world record and establish beyond any doubt that he is the greatest sprinter to step on to a track.

Kenya’s David Rudisha provided the most spectacular individual performance on the track, spread-eagling the field to break his own world 800 metres record without the benefit of pacemakers.

Chelsea kicked off the British sporting summer with an unexpected triumph in the Champions League final, defeating Bayern Munich on penalties at the Allianz Arena to win the European club title for the first time.

After the west London club had eliminated favourites Barcelona in the semi-finals with a scrupulously disciplined defensive display, Didier Drogba levelled the scores in the 88th minute of the final with a header before converting the final spot kick in the penalty shootout.

ARMSTRONG SCANDAL

Wiggins, who had survived the worst life could throw at him, triumphed in the most brutal and demanding of the European road cycling classics.

Abandoned at the age of two by his alcoholic Australian father, himself a professional cyclist who was found dead of head injuries on a street in 2008, Wiggins fought his way out of a council estate with gritty determination and drive.

His victory in the Tour, possibly the greatest individual British sporting achievement of the year and followed by a fourth Olympic gold, was accompanied by unwelcome if not unexpected baggage.

Given the sport in general and the Tour in particular are notoriously drug-tainted, Wiggins was forced to endure a barrage of questions about doping during and after the race.

“If I doped I would potentially stand to lose everything,” he responded. “My reputation, my livelihood, my marriage, my family, my house… my Olympic titles, my world titles.”

The questions, to Wiggins and his rivals, will not go away soon.

Later in the year, American Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency published a report accusing him of being involved in the “most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen”. Armstrong continued to deny ever taking drugs but elected not to contest the charges, which the sporting authorities took as an effective admission of guilt.

Murray’s breakthrough came after he avenged his Wimbledon final defeat to Roger Federer to beat the Swiss master in the Olympic final.

Serena Williams collected gold in the singles and doubles during a winning streak when she added the Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles to her trophy cabinet.

POULTER LEADS FIGHTBACK

McIlroy also played a full part in the year’s most remarkable comeback. After confusion over a tee time, he needed a police escort in his haste to reach the Medinah course on the final day of the biennial Ryder Cup between Europe and the United States when the hosts needed only 4-1/2 points from 12 singles matches to win.

Instead, the Americans conceded 8-1/2 points to the Europeans who won 14-1/2 to 13-1/2. McIlroy prevailed over the previously undefeated Keegan Bradley and German Martin Kaymer sank a five-foot putt on the 18th green to secure the 14 points Europe needed to retain the trophy.

Englishman Ian Poulter, who like the late Seve Ballesteros and Colin Montgomerie before him reserves his best for the Ryder Cup, turned around Europe’s fortunes by earning one of two points in the fourballs on Saturday. Poulter, possessor of one of the more startling wardrobes in a sport not noted for sartorial restraint, was one of eight players to win on Sunday to finish with a 4-0 record overall.

Although another Briton, Jenson Button, won the final Grand Prix of the season in Sao Paulo nobody could deny Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, who at the age of 25 became Formula One’s youngest triple world champion.

The German was last on the opening lap of the Brazilian Grand Prix but fought back in a damaged car to finish sixth.

One arena where a British national team performed much as it always does at major tournaments was in the national game of soccer.

For once, under a new coach Roy Hodgson, expectations were not exaggeratedly high for England before the European championships jointly hosted by Ukraine and Poland and losing on penalties to Italy in the quarter-finals was greeted with a resigned shrug rather than outraged indignation.

Spain, the country who took 44 years to win a major tournament, became the first to win three in a row, retaining the European title after triumphing in the 2010 World Cup.

They destroyed Italy 4-0 in the final and their endlessly inventive midfielder Andres Iniesta was named player of the tournament.

Iniesta’s Barcelona team mate Lionel Messi was carried off in a stretcher with what appeared to be a serious knee injury after colliding with Benfica goalkeeper in a Champions League group match on Dec. 5.

Four days later the Argentine scored both goals in a 2-1 La Liga win over Real Betis to overhaul German Gerd Mueller’s previous record of 85 goals in a calendar year set in 1972. Both goals were set up by Iniesta.

Pele’s record of 75 scored in 1958 was already well behind him and, at the age of 25, Messi is in exalted company.

“Leo is supernatural. He doesn’t have limits,” marvelled Barcelona defender Gerard Pique.

Britain’s golden year lingered into December, with yet further cause for celebration through sports developed in Victorian public schools whose passion for organised games inspired Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympics.

England, 12/1 outsiders before the match, thrashed world rugby union champions New Zealand 38-21 at Twickenham to bring an abrupt halt to increasingly fevered speculation that the current All Blacks team are the best side ever to play the game.

Then the England cricket side, humiliated in the first test of a four-match series in India, bounced back with captain Alastair Cook leading by example to win the next two by convincing margins.

The last test was drawn and England sealed the series 2-1, their first test series victory in India since 1985 and India’s first home series defeat in eight years. (Editing by Alison Wildey)

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YEARENDER-Olympics sparkle at height of magical British summer

ADVISORY-Reuters yearenders to move from 0200 GMT

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The FBI is still searching for one of two convicted bank robbers who escaped last week from a high-rise jail in downtown Chicago by lowering themselves on a makeshift rope nearly 20 stories to the street. Kenneth Conley, 38, and his cellmate, Joseph Jose Banks, 37, escaped from the Metropolitan Correctional Center early on the morning of December 18. The pair apparently broke a window in the cell they shared, squeezed through the opening and lowered themselves to the street. They then hailed a cab to make their getaway. …

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ADVISORY-Reuters yearenders to move from 0200 GMT

Notebook: McDowell eager for long break to recharge his ‘buzziness’

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Before winning his final event of the year at Tiger Woods’ World Challenge, Graeme McDowell talked all week about how badly he was in need of a 10-week break.

He feels he made a mistake by playing the first FedExCup playoff event, and that he was out of gas even in the high-charged atmosphere of the Ryder Cup. And that concerned him. He says he played so much this year that he lost an estimated 10 percent of what he calls his ”buzziness.”

”I love the sport. I love to play,” he said. ”But too much a good thing … you start going through the motions. I don’t want to be like that. I want to get my excitement level up for the game.”

McDowell wants to cut back on his schedule, aiming for about 26 tournaments a year on two tours. But where to cut back is going to difficult, for there are too many good tournaments, especially at the end of the year.

”The end of the year has become a joke,” he said. ”It’s almost too much golf.”

Being among the top 50 in the world and having Europe as his home tour (meaning he doesn’t need releases from the PGA Tour), McDowell said he gets to cherry-pick the tournaments he plays. But there are so many important events to him that he can’t get to some places he would like to play.

That includes the Memorial at Muirfield Village.

”I’m dying to go there,” McDowell said. ”But I looked at the schedule and, nope, I can’t go.”

To play Muirfield Village would mean four straight weeks in three countries, and no doubt would cost him plenty of ”buzziness.”

BIGGEST TROPHY: The iGATE CEO Cup thinks so much of its new tournament — executives of Global 2000 companies in North America on Jan. 12-13 on the Stadium Course at the TPC Sawgrass — that it wanted a trophy to mark the occasion.

So it commissioned the largest gold sports trophy in the world, even bigger than the FIFA World Cup trophy.

Designed by India-based sculptor Amit Pabuwal, the iGATE CEO Cup trophy will be 21 inches tall, weigh 18 pounds of gold and be adorned with diamonds and rubies. The World Cup trophy is more than 14 inches tall and weighs 11 pounds.

”The iGATE CEO Cup is a premier event and we should have a trophy that a CEO will be proud to life,” iGATE Chief Executive Phaneesh Murthy said.

Gary Player is the co-host of the $100,000 event, with the CEOs donating all the prize money to their chosen charities.

DIVOTS: Tom Lehman was voted Champions Tour player of the year, even though Roger Chapman won two majors this year — the Senior PGA Championship and the U.S. Senior Open, the two most prestigious events in senior golf. … The fledgling OneAsia Tour is holding one of its two Q-Schools in the United States. The tour cites ”unprecedented demand” for staging two Q-Schools, one of them at Industry Hills east of Los Angeles on Jan. 29, the other a week later in Malaysia. OneAsia Chairman Sang Y. Chun said more Asia-Pacific players were based in California, and the additional Q-School would create more awareness of the tour in the U.S. … Kia Motors America has signed a multiyear contract extension with the LPGA Tour to sponsor the Kia Classic, which will move next year from La Costa to Aviara Golf Club. It will be played March 21-24.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Robert Karlsson started the year at No. 24 in the world. He ended it by going to Q-School to earn back his PGA Tour card.

FINAL WORD: ”It’s a game of mistakes, it’s a game of misses. And if you dwell on all those misses and mistakes, you’re not going anywhere.” — Steve Stricker.

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Notebook: McDowell eager for long break to recharge his ‘buzziness’

Choi excels on course and off it as well, as she masters English language

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Na Yeon Choi won her first major at the U.S. Women’s Open, and she closed the season by winning the LPGA Titleholders.

But her most remarkable performance came when the season was over.

Players for whom English is their second (or third) language can get by in an interview with print reporters. They tend be a lot more uncomfortable when cameras are involved. Choi showed how much progress she has made the day after winning the Titleholders. She went into the studio for a live segment on Golf Channel’s ”Morning Drive.”

The LPGA staff helped her prepare for questions that might be asked, and when it didn’t go according to script, Choi still handled it beautifully.

That wasn’t an accident.

As hard as Choi has worked on her game, she might have worked even harder on her English. Last year, she hired a personal tutor — Greg Morrison, a Canadian based in South Korea — and brought him with her on the road. She had a one-hour lesson every day, and practiced her English with him in casual conversation.

Se Ri Pak would have been proud. The pioneer for South Koreans on the LPGA Tour, Pak preached years ago about the importance of learning English. Along with fitting in, Pak said it would make them feel more comfortable in public and ultimately improve their golf.

”First year when I was here, I couldn’t speak English well and then very hard to tell my feelings to people, even media or fans or even swing coach,” Choi said. ”When I learned English and when I tell my feelings to people, I feel way more comfortable than before. I think that made it good golfer, too. And on the golf course, I can relax and I can talk with the other players.”

Morrison couldn’t travel with her this year, though they still practiced through Skype. She had another one-hour lesson during the Titleholders and planned to meet with him again while she was home during the offseason.

”We talk about not only golf, we talk about anything,” Choi said. ”Like, I said I’m going to look for a new house and he tried to help me with which house is better for me. He’s more like, not just English tutor, he’s more like manager or assistant to me.”

Do they ever talk baseball?

”Not really,” she said. ”I think he’s a hockey fan.”

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Choi excels on course and off it as well, as she masters English language

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