Monday, March 1, 2010

Michelle: A belle with golf balls

By Jugjet Singh

THE Malaysian Prime Minister and his deputy loves it, and so does a stunning 20-year-old six-footer, a sex-maniac, portly businessmen and people from all walks of life who drive their own cars, but have a driver when they are on the greens.
For those who are in love with golf, it is life, and somehow, the passion to hit a small ball into 18 holes makes them go gaga, and they would dream abut the next game right after signing in their score cards.
They are no nut cases, as the industry is worth billions, what with 200 golf course in a small country like Malaysia, which dwarfs the number of hockey and football stadiums.
Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Anthony Kang, Gerrry Norquist, Lee Westwood; are just a small number of top golfers who have played and won in Malaysia.
The Malaysian Open has never failed to attract a stream of stars, and many winners have then gone on to become house-hold names like Lee Westwood and Vijay Singh.
And with Sime Darby, golf is being raised to an even higher plateau in a country that has yet to produce a Malaysian Open champion, and is still struggling to beat Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia at the Sea Games level.
Sime Darby has renovated the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Course from a drab and tired looking venue to an exciting marvel which will be tested to the limit beginning Thursday when it hosts the Malaysian Open.
And after that the KLGCC’s resilience will be tested by the best 50 Ladies PGA members, which includes Michelle Wie.
She is only 20-years-old, six feet one inch tall, and has started to make an impact in the LPGA.
Wie made her rushed presence felt at the Sime Darby Convention centre in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, where she flew in from Singapore after finishing joint-15th with a four-under 284 (72-73-69-70).
After a little rest, she was whizzed to the Convention Centre to confirm her attendance in the inaugural LPGA leg of Malaysia in October.
When a journalist asked her how she felt being in Malaysia for the first time, the Hawaiian-born said she only saw the route from her hotel to the press conference venue, but she loved the way buildings intermingled with pockets of greenery.
A frenzy of photographers were waiting for the long-legged beauty to swing, and she actually teed-off from a specially built platform outside the Sime Darby Convention centre.
She carried the ball just a few feet away from the photographers lenses, over a busy road, and about 260 yards into the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club greens.
She them exclaimed: “Oh my, I felt like I was going to hit one of you! (the photographers). But there was never a doubt, among the crowd, that Wie was going to misfire.
She then obliged autograph hunters, and left a lasting impression when she was whizzed to the airport for a long flight back home.
And at her official website, her introduction said: “She decide she wanted to become a pro-golfer after watching Tiger Woods play. Wie has pictures of Tiger all over her bedroom and also hopes to go to Stanford University, just like Tiger...

World Cup Day 1 in pictures

Photos (c) FIH / Stanislas Brochier

India and England impress

INDIA pleased the crowd with an impressive win over arch-rivals Pakistan (4-1), England surprised Australia (3-2) and Spain struggled to take the best over South Africa (4-2).
The build-up to the FIH flagship event was marred by the security concerns and by controversies surrounding the accreditations and ticketing.
Additional police checks and technical problems delayed the delivery of accreditations to Technical Officials and to the throng of journalists eager to cover the event, while the Delhi Police and the Sport Authority of India, owner of the Stadium, abruptly decided that one of the stands would be closed, leaving hundreds of ticket holders stranded...
Although the organizers are still desperately working to try and finalize the venue, the start of competition on the pitch is a welcomed shift of focus and the opening day matches immediately reminded the hockey fans that the players should be the one in the spotlight.

Game 1 – South Africa v. Spain: 4-2 (half-time: 2-2)

The Hero Honda FIH World Cup 2010 opened with an encounter between two teams with wildly different experiences of this top competition: Spain is one of five teams that have been present at all 11 previous World Cup tournaments, finishing 2nd in 1971 and 1998, while South Africa only had three modest participations with a best performance of 10th in 1994.

South Africa v. Spain 4:2 (2:2)
RSA 16mn Julian HYKES (FG) 1:0
ESP 19mn Roc OLIVA (FG) 1:1
ESP 20mn Miquel DELAS (FG) 1:2
RSA 30mn Ian HALEY (PC) 2:2
ESP 45mn Rodrigo GARZA (FG) 2:3
ESP 61mn Pau QUEMADA (PC) 2:4

Game 2 – Australia v. England: 2-3 (half-time: 1-2)

The second game of opening day was a classic hockey opposition between Australia and England. The two countries have already met 8 times in previous World Cup, with Australia winning 7 of the 8 encounters, most famously in 1986 when Australia won the World Cup title by beating England 2-1 in the final. Having won 51 of 72 World Cup matches, Australia boast a winning percentage of 71%, higher than any other team. They finished runner-up in the last two editions (2002 and 2006) and have the strong desire to go one step higher this time around.

Australia v. England 2:3 (1:2)
AUS 23mn Jamie DWYER (PS) 1:0
ENG 24mn Ashley JACKSON (PC) 1:1
ENG 33mn James TINDALL (PC) 1:2
ENG 45mn James TINDALL (FG) 1:3
AUS 64mn Jamie DWYER (PC) 2:3

Game 3 – Pakistan v. India: 1-4 (half-time: 0-2)

The first day of the Hero Honda FIH World Cup 2010 ended with the much anticipated match between Pakistan and host India, always a treat for hockey lovers. This match was the fifth World Cup encounter between the two countries, the most famous being the 1975 Final when India beat Pakistan (2-1). Ironically for these two hockey giants, the last time they met in a World Cup was 24 years ago for the 11th-12th classification match in 1986 (Pakistan won 3-2).
The opening day clash had the two countries buzzing for days, and legendary Indian player Dhanraj Pillai summed up the mood in his daily column in the Hindustan Times: “Good luck to Team India from one billion Indians”!

Pakistan v. India 1:4 (0:2)
IND 27mn Shivendra SINGH (PC) 0:1
IND 35+mn Sandeep SINGH (PC) 0:2
IND 37mn Prabhjot SINGH (FG) 0:3
IND 56mn Sandeep SINGH (PC) 0:4
PAK 59mn Sohail ABBAS (PC) 1:4

Match Facts (Pakistan vs. India):
> India won 4-1 to record their biggest win over Pakistan in World Cup competition.
> This marked India’s first World Cup win over Pakistan in 35 year, since beating them 2-1 in the 1975 final.
> The last time India scored 4 goals in a World Cup match was in 2002, when they beat Cuba 4-0 and Poland 4-1.

> Sohail Abbas (PAK) scored once to equal Floris Jan Bovelander (NED) on 17 World Cup goals. Only three players have scored more World Cup goals: Paul Litjens (NED, 26), Ties Kruize (NED, 21) and Wolfgang Strödter (GER, 18).
> Sandeep Singh scored twice on his World Cup debut for India. He joins James Tindall (ENG) and Jamie Dwyer (AUS) at the top of the goal scorer table after matchday 1.

It aint over til Oltmans sings..

MALAYSIAN Hockey Federation (MHF) president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah said yesterday that he can’t comment on the Roelant Oltmans saga, as nothing is con firmed until he signs an agreement.
Former Netherlands coach Oltmans has been courted by the MHF since the Asia Cup in Kuantan last year, where he flew down for a meeting with the top-brass.
However, a day after National Sports Council (NSC) di rector general Datuk Zolkples Embong said the coach is almost in the bag, Larensche Mixed Hockey Club (LMHC) threw a damper with a posting in their website
The posting read: “The board of LMHC would like to clarify the situation with our technical director and coach Roelant Oltmans.
“Despite media reports, Oltmans will remain attached with Laren for the next two seasons.”
Oltmans has a two-year contract with Laren, but the MHF had offered him a lucrative package, with Euro 10,000 (RM50,000) as his monthly pay if he jumps over.
“I can’t comment on Oltmans, as nothing is confirmed until we sign the agreement,” said Tengku Abdullah.
When asked if the MHF will still look for a foreign coach if the Oltmans deal is not sealed: “Yes, we will keep hunting for a foreign coach,” said Tengku Abdullah.
Oltmans has experience in coaching the Dutch national side as well as Pakistan and is currently with clubside Laren.
Besides, Oltmans has a part-time position at the Dutch National Olympic Council.
Right now, local coaches Stephen van Huizen and Tai Beng Hai are coaching the national team, with the Asia Champions Trophy in April as their first assignment.
The most important tournament this year is the Asian Games, which offers the champion a direct ticket to the 2013 London Olympics.