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The Sunday Stroll: 17 Apr, 2011

April 17, 2011

Greetings folks. Hope you’ve all had a belting week. Here’s what’s been going on in the world of sport over the last seven days…

First up is golf and last weekend’s thrilling finale to the US Masters from Augusta. At one stage their were nine players within two shots of the lead, although sadly Rory McIlroy threw away his four-shot lead, carding 80 in his final round (quote Rory: ‘Well that wasn’t the plan’). South African Charl Schwartzel claimed the crown and donned the famous green jacket by impressively birdying the final four holes to win by two shots. He had started his final round with two memorable chip-ins for birdie and eagle on the first and the third. Sometimes fate is just on your side. And sometimes it isn’t, eh Rory. Fear not, his time will come. For now though, here’s Charlie S on the way to ‘winning’ at Augusta…

And here’s the CBS Final Round Wrapup Show…

And whilst we’re Stateside, here are the Top Ten Bloopers [their title, not ours] from the 2010-11 NBA season…

F1 now, and last weekend’s Malaysian GP which was won by Seb Vettel, with Jenson Button claiming a smart second place and Nick Heidfeld impressing in his Renault to claim third. Heidfeld, who is standing in for the injured Robert Kubica, revealed on Tuesday that he has been racing with Kubica’s logo and flag on his helmet whilst the Pole undergoes his recovery; a nice touch indeed. So, two races, two pole positions and two victories for a German driver. Sound familiar? No wonder Seb Vettel has earned the nickname ‘Baby-Schumi’.

Meanwhile the FIA came under attack from fans after handing out retrospective 20-second penalties to Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton (meaning Hamilton dropped from seventh to eighth). ’Nando was punished for driving into the back of Lewis [see above], whilst Lewis got his ‘for making more than one change of direction as he tried to defend his position’ [see below]. Alonso’s punishment seemed harsh to the point of pettiness (the damaged wing and enforced pit stop appeared punishment enough), whilst Hamilton’s penalty led to accusations of inconsistency as there were ‘comparisons between what Hamilton did in Sepang and the tactics Felipe Massa adopted in Australia, as well as (Sebastian) Vettel’s defensive manouevres going into the first corner.’ As Martin Brundle states, ‘there needs to be consistency in any decision-making,’ especially as the FIA frustrated fans in 2008 after they controversially meddled with results on numerous occasions (such as in Spa) that season, so here’s hoping this is a one off and the same doesn’t happen throughout 2011…

Perhaps moment of the race came from Russian driver Vitaly Petrov, who kept his foot down after running off-track only to hit a bump and send himself flying across the track with his steering wheel broken off in his hands. After the Flying Finn, now we have the Rudderless Russian (kudos to Martin Brundle for that one)…

And finally from F1, just prior to the Oz GP a few weeks back, Jenson Button took an F1 car around the iconic and challenging Bathurst circuit, and some onboard footage has emerged. Hope you enjoy…

Earlier on this week – and with this week’s London Marathon looming large on the horizon – the beeb offered an intriguing article on marathon running and how eventually it will be run in a sub-2 hour time. Ethiopian world record holder Haile Gebrselassie agrees, as does women’s world record holder Paula Radcliffe. In a nutshell, average speed for the 26.2 mile duration only needs to improve from 12.7mph (current WR) to 13.1mph. Simple really. An intriguing evolution of our capacity to run we think, even if Haile reckons it might take 20-25 years to achieve. In the mean time, here’s footage of another famous (almost literal) milestone being passed, Roger Bannister becoming the first man to run a mile in under four minutes…

Over in cricket, Shane Watson plundered 185 off 96 balls for Australia (including a world record 15 sixes) as he dismantled the Bangladeshi bowling attack on Monday. Chasing 229, Watson saw Oz home with 24 overs to spare, breaking records for most sixes in an ODI innings (15), most runs in boundaries in an ODI innings (150; 15 sixes, 15 fours), and highest percentage contribution to a team total (79.7%). Not a bad effort really. Here are the best bits…

Meanwhile, after numerous accusations that Hawk-Eye was wrong or that it had been illegally doctored for an LBW referral against Sachin Tendulkar in the Cricket World Cup final a few weeks ago, Hawk-Eye have issued an enthralling in-depth response refuting such allegations and demonstrating that the projection of the ball missing the leg stump was in fact correct. If you have the time, well worth a browse (PDF links via here and here).

In the land of soccerdom, Champions League action midweek saw Barcelona, Real Madrid, Shalke and Man United progress to the semi-finals, with English clubs Spurs and Chelsea sent packing. No real shocks there, which was unsurprising given Barça, Madrid and Shalke bagged 14 first-leg goals between them. And what also probably didn’t come as too much of a surprise either, given his track record, was the goal-conceding blunder from Tottenham’s Heurelho Gomes…

And he has filled his teammates and Tottenham fans with confidence with this comment on his latest gaffe: ‘This was not my first mistake and I know it will not be the last one in my career.’ Commendable honesty perhaps…

Everyone has seen his Premier League howlers, and it turns out he had a penchant for howlers at previous club PSV too…

And whilst we are on the Continent, here’s a novel German approach to defending. Brings a whole new meaning to the notion of being defensively mobile…

Meanwhile, Becks has gone viral…

In the bike racing world it has been announced that the dubiously-named Circuit of the Americas (Austin, Texas) have signed a 10-year contract to host MotoGP races from 2013. Texas also begins hosting F1 from next season. The oft-criticised Hermann Tilke has designed this intriguing looking elevation-change-influenced track, incorporating elements of Silverstone (the Maggotts-Becketts-Chapel sequence), Suzuka, Hockenheim (the arena bends) and Istanbul’s challenging Turn 8. On first glance it appears a challenging circuit with overtaking opportunities… could be a good one for both bikes and cars. And the fans too, obviously…

And here’s a winter classic crossover from the MotoGP and F1 racing worlds from a couple of years back, with Ferrari driver Felipe Massa going head-to-head with Ducati riders Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden in a go-karting ice race… intriguing soundtrack too.

Back in golf quickly and a new (definitely unwanted) record was set the other day by American Kevin Na, who carded a 16 on the ninth at the Texas Open – ‘the highest score on a par four since PGA Tour records for scorecards began in 1983.’ Just to compound his misery, he was wearing a mic for the Golf Channel, and footage of his unwanted record can be seen below…

And if any of you thought the Oxford-Cambridge boat race was a lot of fuss about nothing, then perhaps this might impress you a tad more…

And finally, for those of you that love a laugh at the world of football, then here’s your moment. How to beat three opponents and still look like a mug.  Priceless…

As ever folks, thanks for reading. All the best, SB

Ps: Man City ended Uniteds treble dreams yesterday, with a Yaya Toure goal (and a Paul Scholes red card) helping them to a 1-0 triumph in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley. Bolton play Stoke in the other semi-final later today…

And PPS: A second belated update of the day. Lewis Hamilton won an enthralling Chinese Grand Prix ahead of Seb Vettel and Mark Webber (who started 18th). Cracking race, countless overtakes, varying tyre strategies. Just what F1 needs and the fans want…

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