The Hot List

That winning feeling

Getting up for work on Monday morning is never a pleasant experience, but it’s even worse when you’ve stayed up late the night before. This time around though I had no qualms about making the sacrifice, knowing full well the horrors I’d face as my alarm went off to signify the dawn of another week in the office were worth it, just so I could witness the thrilling climax of the year’s final Major in golf. So, Martin Kaymer, you might have been responsible for me being in need of an extra cup of coffee to see me through another manic Monday, but I won’t hold it against you. In fact, you get the privilege of topping this week’s Hot List.Hot – Martin Kaymer: Already a five-time winner on the European Tour by the age of 25, it was clear to all golf fans for some time now that Germany’s Martin Kaymer was something special. His playoff victory over Bubba Watson in the USPGA at Whistling Straits on Sunday merely confirmed that he now truly belongs in the upper echelons of the game. His clutch putt for par on 18 to stay at 11 under, and make the playoff, showed what many suspected all along; namely that Kaymer had the metal fortitude to go with his sweet ball striking ability. That Watson could be charged with playing a dumb approach shot to the green on the 3rd playoff hole is beyond dispute, but Kaymer made sure of victory by playing the percentages and holing out for a bogey five and the opportunity to hoist the Wannamaker Trophy aloft. Assured of a spot on this years Ryder Cup team Kaymer will be one to watch at Celtic Manor, anyone who wasn’t aware of the talent this rising star possesses before Sunday will be sure to take note of him from now on.

On track for Flushing Meadows

Andy Murray: Despite holding a winning record of 6-5 over Roger Federer before the two met in the finals of the Rogers Cup in Toronto on Sunday, Andy Murray had yet to beat the Swiss maestro in a match where the title was on the line. Indeed, Murray had been on the receiving end of a couple of heavy beatings in the two Grand Slam deciders they’d played out in New York and Melbourne, so perhaps the Scotsman had decided enough was enough by the time the players lined up under the cloudy Canadian skies. In a week where Murray took out the in-form David Nalbandian, and the World Number 1 Rafa Nadal, on his way to the finals, he proceeded to serve like a God against Federer to secure a 7-7, 7-5 victory. Murray appears re-energised after overcoming a mid-season slump, a parting of the ways with his former coach Miles Maclagan has removed the shackles from his game by all accounts. With a big US Open fortnight at Flushing Meadows fast approaching, Murray has to be in with a great chance of winning the Grand Slam title that thus far has eluded him.

A winning combination

Rip VanWinkle/Johnny Murtagh: I must have spent a good week trying to get a clear picture in my head of how I thought this afternoon’s Juddmonte International at York was going to pan out. In the end I gave up, resisting the temptation to have a bet, having formed no clear path in my mind that might have led me to the potential winner. Nevertheless, when it comes to the big Group 1 races in which I don’t hold a stake I invariably hope the Ballydoyle challengers carry the day, and so it proved on the Knavesmire, as Rip Van Winkle responded brilliantly to the urgings of his jockey Johnny Murtagh to claim a 3rd career success at the highest level. The son of Galileo saw the 10 furlong trip out best to pip Twice Over on the line, and pay back the faith that those who kept him in training at four had shown in him. Murtagh should also claim a large share of the credit for a ride that saw him at his very best, urging and cajoling a colt that responded in kind to win out in the end. Teamwork in its purest form.

Smudger tries in vain to contain his man

The Premier League: Be it the fairytale start made by Blackpool, the statement of intent laid down by a rampant Chelsea, the resilience shown by Aston Villa in shaking off the loss of a manager and strolling to victory, or the smooth return of Man United to competitive action, those who follow the Premier League must be well pleased the new season is up and running and that we’ve another 37 rounds of fixtures to look forward to. Just as we all tell ourselves when May arrives that we could do with a break from the highs and lows that come with the territory of following our favourite teams, so it is that when action resumes the following August we wonder how we’ve survived without it for so long. It’s great to have it back.

The look on his face says it all

Not – Dustin Johnson: It really is hard to get away from that epic USPGA, and as good as Martin Kaymer’s win was, chances are that this year’s event will long be remembered primarily for Dustin Johnson’s error in grounding his club in a bunker before playing his second on 18. After incurring a two-stroke penalty following the violation, Johnson fell back to nine under and missed a spot in the playoff. To be fair to the guy he fronted up to the media in the aftermath and handled himself like a pro, handled himself like he should I guess. But I shudder to think how he’d have reacted if he’d made the putt for par on 18 that would have given him a one shot win before he incurred the penalty. Johnson is too good a golfer not to rebound from this, he’s a Major winner in the making no doubt, but next time he needs to make sure he’s aware of all the rules on the particular course he’s playing, so that nothing like this ever happens him again.

Major selection errors tonight

Harry Redknapp: Spurs may have come away from tonight’s clash against Young Boys Berne with a fighting chance of making it through to the group stages of the Champions League following a 3-2 defeat, but Harry Redknapp should be counting his lucky stars that his team still live to fight another day. The Tottenham boss was well and truly found out on the European stage, fielding a front six from the off that contained only one player in Wilson Palacios with any shred of defensive quality. Lining up away from home in a Champions League tie, even if it is against a Swiss side lacking any kind of star names, showed Redknapp to be in contempt of his opponents and tactically clueless on the European stage. Where did his sudden love for Gio Dos Santos and Roman Pavlyuchenko come from all of a sudden! Chances are Spurs will win the tie at White Hart Lane, and the English media will fall over themselves to hail ‘Arry’s ‘achievement.’ But after tonight I can’t for a second believe that Spurs will make any impression in the Champions League itself, were they to be so lucky to make it that far.


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