U.S. Open 2015@ Chambers Bay: Jordan Spieth Wins


June 22, 2015

NY Times Golf

U.S. Open 2015@ Chambers Bay: At 21, Jordan Spieth Achieves the Stuff of Legends

UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. — Chambers Bay Golf Course had already served as the backdrop for one big event in the life of the 21-year-old Jordan Spieth. A month after Spieth won his first pro event as a PGA Tour rookie, he was a witness at a wedding on the grounds between his caddie, Michael Greller, and the former Ellie Morris.

Spieth, whose birthday is in July, opened with a bogey but closed with two birdies on his last three holes for a one-under 69 and a 72-hole total of five under. Playing in the group behind Spieth, Dustin Johnson three-putted from 12 feet for a par on 18 to finish with a 70. He was tied for second with Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion from South Africa, who played the final nine holes in a record-equaling six-under 29 for a 67.

Jordan's ArmourAdam Scott, the 2013 Masters champion, who resumed working last week with Steve Williams, the caddie who helped him to his only major title, posted the low round of the day, a 64, to vault into a share of fourth at three under.

It was surreal for Scott to be chasing Spieth, who as a child ran down Scott for his autograph at the Byron Nelson tournament. He displayed the signature on his bedroom bulletin board in his family’s home in Dallas. Spieth recently moved to his own home, but Scott’s autograph is still hanging in what is now a guest room in his parents’ home.

“He certainly is making me feel my age a little bit if someone’s got my autograph on the wall and he’s playing out here,” Scott said, adding: “I think he’s handled himself incredibly well. I hope he keeps doing the same.”

On a day when his putts were not all falling and his tee shots took some strange bounces, Spieth showed a patience and maturity that belied his youth. His mettle was tested in the stretch when he carded a double-bogey 6 at the par-3 17th to fall into a tie with Oosthuizen. Spieth rebounded with two perfect shots at No. 18, playing as a par 5, to set up the birdie that sealed the win. Cameron McCormick, who has worked with Spieth for nearly a decade, said Spieth’s ability to perform in the clutch could be traced to his “bulletproof self-image.” He added, “No matter what happened previously, he can will the outcome to his desire.”

Rising from the site of an old sand and rock quarry in 2007, the Chambers Bay course is even younger than Spieth, and unlike the champion it spawned, it did not get high marks from the players. Billy Horschel closed with a 67, then opened fire on the United States Golf Association for organizing a national championship on a course with greens that he said did not always reward well-struck putts.

“I’ve hit a lot of really good putts that have bounced all over the world,” said Horsteel, who finished at four over

He added, “I think a lot of players, and I’m one of them, have lost some respect for the U.S.G.A. and this championship this year for the greens.”

Horschel, 28, the reigning FedEx Cup champion, also expressed pity for the thousands of fans who flocked to the course, including a man overheard reverently telling a friend near the practice green that he had waited 53 years for this week. Horschel noted that it was impossible to get close to the action on several holes. The best vantage point this year to watch the tournament unfold was perhaps one’s Barcalounger.

“The viewing is awful,” Horschel said, adding, “When you’re not able to get up close and watch championship-caliber players play a golf course, it’s disappointing.”

Even from afar, it was easy to tell Sunday that the Australian Jason Day’s struggles with his equilibrium were ongoing. His gait was deliberate. And whenever he bent down, Day looked like he had a dictionary balanced on his head, so straight was his posture and so fixed were his eyes on a spot in the distance.

Day came into the week with seven top-10 showings in 18 major appearances. His closest call came at the 2013 Masters when he led by two strokes with three holes to play but bogeyed the 16th and 17th and finished third. Day said he got ahead of himself at the end, and started to imagine winning instead of rooting his thoughts in the present.

From the moment his head started spinning Friday and he collapsed in a heap on the ninth green, Day’s focus shifted from winning the tournament to staying upright. He was not fixated, as he usually is, on controlling his breathing. The swing thoughts he normally wrestled with were pushed to the recesses of his mind as he concentrated solely on making solid contact. In an odd way, the act of trying to maintain his physical balance helped Day strike a mind-body balance that enable him to swing freely on the final, frantic holes.

Could Day one-up the Australia women’s soccer team, which earlier in the day had upset Brazil in the knockout round of the World Cup? He won fans with his effort but a double-bogey 6 at No. 13 derailed his championship hopes as he posted a 74 to finish at even par.

Rory McIlroy, the world No. 1 who won the 2011 tournament, began the day eight strokes back. He started fast, with three birdies on his front nine, and tried to chase down the leaders but hit the wall on No. 15. McIlroy, 26, played the last four holes in four over for the week, including two over Sunday, to post a 66 and finish at par for the championship.

“When I look back at this tournament that’s where I’ll rue some missed opportunities,” McIlroy said.

With the tee boxes on multiple holes changing from day to day, drastically altering the players’ lines, an ability to adapt was a requisite for success this week. Spieth’s choice of attire Sunday was a testament to his flexibility.

When he became a brand ambassador for Under Armour shortly after turning pro in 2012, Spieth was finicky about his wardrobe. He sent back bright-colored pants, making clear he preferred blues and grays. And he delivered another stipulation — no white pants.

So what was Spieth wearing when he sealed his first major victory at the Masters in April and again on Sunday when he tried to keep his calendar year Grand Slam hopes alive? White pants.

Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 champion who closed with a 67, finished a few hours before Spieth. Assessing Chambers Bay, Ogilvy said: “You have to move the ball both ways and you have to use your brain, which is a rare thing in modern golf and something we’re not very good at, I don’t think. It’s going to be a class act of a player who wins, and really that’s all you want.”

A version of this article appears in print on June 22, 2015, on page D1 of the New York edition with the headline: 21-Year-Old Achieves the Stuff of Legends. 

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/22/sports/golf/jordan-spieth-wins-the-us-open-as-dustin-johnson-misses-putt.html

Asian Football Confederation: Business As Usual, Despite Extensive Corruption


June 18, 2015

Asian Football Confederation: Business As Usual, Despite Extensive Corruption

By James M. Dorsey

http://mideastsoccer.blogspot.sg/2015/06/departure-of-afc-general-secretary.html

dato_alexTransparency appears nowhere on the radar of Asian soccer governors as global soccer reels from the worst crisis in the sport’s history. That was evident in a terse statement issued by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announcing the resignation of its suspended general secretary, Dato Alex Soosay.

The statement made no mention of Mr. Soosay’s suspension, an investigation into the general secretary’s apparent attempt to tamper or hide documents related to an audit that uncovered suspected extensive corruption but has since been buried, or the fact that the AFC was forced to relieve Mr. Soosay of his duties after this blog revealed his attempts to obstruct the audit.

It also did not explain whether it would take action against the group’s Finance Director, Bryan Kuan Wee Hoong, who rejected Mr. Soosay’s alleged attempt but in the three years since did not deem it necessary to report the incident.

Amid judicial investigations in the United States and Switzerland that have already led to indictments of 14 officials of world soccer body and regional football associations in the Americas as well as sport marketing companies and that could expand to the affairs of the Asian soccer body, the AFC limited itself to saying that it “thank(s) Dato’ Alex Soosay for his commitment to Asian football during his extensive 20-year-long career at the AFC and wishes him all the best for his future career.”

The AFC’s effort to project Mr. Soosay’s departure as a run-of-the-mill resignation rather than the tip of an iceberg of mismanagement and potentially dubious dealings follows its earlier attempt to steer attention away from the audit by falsely announcing at the time of Mr. Soosay’s suspension that it was related to a FIFA investigation rather than to the audit conducted by PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC).

Similarly, at a time that the judicial investigations have focused attention on the relationships between soccer executives and sport marketing companies, the AFC has yet to disclose the status of the investigation it announced into Mr. Soosay’s affairs, let alone how it intends to act on the wider ramification of the secretary general’s departure that involve recommendations of the audit that it has sought to bury for the past three years. Burial of that audit is all the more conspicuous since the eruption of the FIFA scandal.

Bin Mohamad and Blatter

The audit documented multiple questionable payments by disgraced former AFC president and FIFA Vice President Mohammed Bin Hammam. Mr. Bin Hammam is believed to be one of the unidentified co-conspirators in the US indictments. He is also central to the Swiss investigation of FIFA’s awarding of the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar.

The audit also raised serious questions about the AFC’s $1 billion marketing rights agreement with Singapore-based World Sport Group (WSG) and warned that the contract potentially could expose the AFC to charges of tax evasion, bribery, money laundering, and sanctions busting.

If anything, the AFC’s approach suggests that it believes that despite the global soccer governance crisis it can conduct business as usual with impunity. Its approach appears to justify widespread belief that FIFA and its regional confederations are incapable of putting their own house in order and that change can only be achieved if driven by external judicial and other forces.

AFC President Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa’s only known action related to the audit beyond ensuring that there would be no follow-up was the suspension and ultimate departure of Mr. Soosay.

The AFC has been similarly evasive in commenting on the crisis in global soccer governance that erupted last month on the eve of a FIFA congress with the early morning arrests of officials in Zurich, the raiding of the headquarters of FIFA in Zurich and of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) in Miami, and ultimately the resignation of FIFA president Sepp Blatter. The AFC has also yet to reveal what consequences it is drawing from the crisis in terms of reforms that would ensure good governance.

“The Asian Football Confederation confirms its position as previously outlined, namely that the AFC takes note of the FIFA President’s intention to step down at an extraordinary congress scheduled to be called later this year or early 2016, which will be the subject of the upcoming FIFA Executive Committee meeting on 20 July. AFC fully respects the decision of the FIFA president to step down and is sure that it was taken after deep and careful consideration,” was the sum all of what the AFC said.

James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies as Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, co-director of the Institute of Fan Culture of the University of Würzburg and the author of the blog, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer, and a forthcoming book with the same title.

Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club Membership Transfer Fee: A Rip Off


April 17, 2015

Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club Membership Transfer Fee: A Rip Off

KlgccA few of my friends have been trying to sell their KLGCC membership since they wish to relocate overseas for reasons that have to do with the politics of our country. To their horror, they have to come to know that the club membership transfer is now RM70,000 and will be able to do so only if they are prepared to absorb this fee or share it with a prospective buyer. It would appear that in KLGCC, you can get in but cannot get out easily.

One member received this response from private agency and I quote:

There are quite a few buyers but their offer price is around RM200k to RM230k inclusive of transfer fee (TF). Unfortunately the buyers are not willing to fork out the high transfer fee RM70k which the club increased last year from RM25k.

Last year (before TF increase) there were transactions at about RM195k to RM200k incl TF, ie. sellers received RM170k to RM175k. With the increase of TF since August last year, there have been no transactions…because while buyers are willing to share part of the TF they are not willing to absorb completely the TF price increase.

Although KLGCC declares the “market price” of the membership at RM350k, we have not seen any buyers willing to pay this amount yet. If they buy at RM350k, they would need to sell at RM420k(RM350k + TF) just to break even. Perhaps they don’t expect the price to continue to increase in the near future. This is the current situation.

I am told that this  increase in transfer fee was initiated and approved by Sime Darby Berhad, the multinational company which has a big say in the management of this so-called prestigious club  ostensibly with the support of the membership body. This is a substantial increase from RM 25,000 previously. No reason is given for this change. Even rm25,000 is already a huge sum. I wonder how much work is involved by the Club, and which hot shot legal firm is being used,  to formalise the ownership transfer. How complicated can this transaction  to warrant such a cost. So isn’t any wonder that the transfer market is dead?

One would have thought that Sime Darby would understand that the objective should be to facilitate membership change and allow those who have invested in the club membership over many years to exit and realise a reasonable return on their investment. Obviously, this is not the case. It is just nothing but a ripoff.

Will  the Sime Darby  management, the Club President and the Club Captain, Dato Mustafa Ali, look into this matter and the benefits of being a member of this Club. For example, members and non-members are charged the same rates of use of banqueting facilities for events like weddings, parties and other social functions. Surely, there are other ways for Sime Darby to make money.–Din Merican

Golf: Jordan Spieth wins the US Masters at Augusta


April 13, 2015

Golf: Jordan Spieth wins the US Masters at Augusta

Defending champion Watson of the U.S. puts the traditional green jacket on compatriot Spieth after Spieth won the Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Course in Augustahttp://www.nzherald.co.nz/sport/news/article.cfm?c_id=4&objectid=11431741

Jordan Spieth got more than redemption and a green jacket Sunday. He took his place among the best in the game with a Masters victory for the ages.

One year after he lost a bid to become the youngest player to win the Masters, the 21-year-old Texan turned in one of the most dominant wins ever at Augusta National. He never let anyone get closer to him than three shots after his record start. He never gave anyone much hope on Sunday.

Spieth closed with a 2-under 70, missing a 5-foot par putt on the final hole that would have set yet another record. Instead, he tied Tiger Woods at 18-under 270.

For all the talk about the Grand Slam bid by Rory McIlroy and the return of Woods, this week was about the arrival of another star. “It’s awfully impressive,” McIlroy said after finishing fourth. “It’s nice to get your major tally up and running at an early stage in your career. It’s great to see, great for the game, and I’m sure there will be many more.”

Spieth became the first wire-to-wire winner at the Masters since Raymond Floyd in 1976, and this might have been even more special. Craig Woods in 1941 is the only other Masters champion who led by at least three shots from the opening round to the trophy presentation.

Phil Mickelson tried to make a run. So did Justin Rose. Neither got closer than three shots at any point, and it wasn’t long before Spieth was making another birdie putt to take the drama out of the back nine.

Mickelson (69) and Rose (70) tied for second. It was the 10th time Mickelson has been runner-up in a major. Woods jarred his right wrist then he struck wood under the pine straw on the ninth hole. He recovered and closed with a 73, 13 shots behind.

Spieth won for the third time on the PGA Tour and fifth time worldwide. He will rise to No. 2 in the world, still a ways to go to catch McIlroy at the top. When McIlroy won back-to-back majors last year to establish himself as the game’s best player, the quest was to find a rival.

Spieth answered that this week on perhaps the biggest stage in the sport with his record-setting week at Augusta.

Khairy Jamaluddin, Sports and Sodomy 2 Roadshow


February 23, 2015

Khairy Jamaluddin, Sports and Sodomy 2 Roadshow

by Mariam Mokhtar@www.malaysiakini.com

Khairy Jamaluddin, the UMNO Baru Youth Chief, is smarter than we credit him. The fiercely ambitious Oxford graduate is taking the initiative, showing UMNO Baru that he can lead.
Khairy Jamaluddin

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak is facing his worst nightmare. His spectre is a Malaysian in an Australian detention centre. Khairy needs to prove that he will be ‘prime minister material’ if the top post becomes vacant.

Khairy is showing signs of being bored with his day job as Youth and Sports Minister. After Malaysia’s dismal performance in the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games, Khairy’s focus should be on promoting and improving our performance in sport. He should engage more young Malaysians.

The Ambitious Shafee Abdullah

Proving that he has too much time on his hands, the Minister has instead organised a roadshow. His co-star is the lead prosecutor in the Sodomy 2 trial, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.  They are trying to convince the public that opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s guilty verdict was a just one.

There is probably an ulterior motive to the roadshow. Shafee has his sights set on being the next Attorney-General, whilst Khairy is taking pole position in the race to be the Prime Minister.

To most UMNO Baru members, Khairy shows promise and this will probably upset Najib’s cousin Hishammuddin Hussein, whom many consider to be another potential Malaysian Prime Minister.

Hishammuddin’s credentials? He spoke English better than any of the government officials who gave press conferences for MH370. His popularity received a boost after photos of him were circulated, sitting in a cramped economy-class seat en route to a meeting in Australia.

Nevertheless, Khairy has other endearing qualities. He has political pedigree by virtue of his father-in-law, former PM Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Khairy’s English is heavily accented, unlike most of his peers. He was educated in Singapore (United  World College South East Asia) and England (Oxford), and spent his childhood globe-trotting as the son of a diplomat.

KJ-Askar-Wataniah

Appearance counts – Khairy wears bespoke suits, because he knows that to look good is half the battle, especially when impressing his design-conscious supporters. Most important of all, Khairy is a “real man”. The reservist in the Territorial Army  (above) underwent commando style training, and has obtained his parachute wings. When some tudung-clad Malay girls were hugged on stage by K-Pop performers, Khairy was dismissive and tweeted, “…I hope Malaysian girls return to tall, dark and handsome men and not pale, skinny and pretty men. Those are not real men.”

To his credit, Khairy did not ask the girls to be investigated, unlike some of his party members.

Has Khairy done enough?

At UMNO Baru’s last General Assembly in November, Khairy proved his racist credentials with his outburst against non-Malays, warning them not to question Malay rights. Despite his image of a tough guy, Khairy has a sensitive side to him. The traditional practice is for the UMNO Baru Youth leader to be given a ministerial role, but in 2009, Najib snubbed him. Dejected, Khairy hinted to reporters that he might go on study leave and not stand for election in GE13. Pigs can fly!

So, has Khairy – the Youth and Sports Minister – done enough to upgrade sporting facilities in schools, universities and public areas? How has he promoted a more healthy and productive lifestyle in our youth?

Has his ministry successfully discovered and nurtured young, sporting talents? Current stars like world squash champion Nicol David will eventually retire, and Lee Chong Wei is embroiled in alleged abuse of drugs. These – and other ageing stars – will soon have to be replaced. They do not have the qualities of Peter Pan, like some who are still members of ‘UMNO Baru Youth’ although middle-aged.

Does Khairy possess the political will to clean up doping and corruption in sports, especially in football? We need new faces and an injection of fresh, creative ideas to promote sports. Is Khairy afraid of getting rid of the deadwood amongst sports officials?

When will he persuade his party that racism in sports is bad? Before racism crept into the sports arena, there were sporting heroes from all the communities. Competition is healthy, and racism should also be avoided when selecting sporting officials.

Najib’s future is looking bleak and his problems are not caused only by his fiscal measures, his 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the goods and services tax (GST), or the Sodomy II fallout.

Perhaps, this roadshow is to make Khairy stand out from the crowd and prove his worth. Both Najib and Khairy know that in the dog-eat-dog world of UMNO Baru, there are enemies around them and it is difficult to distinguish friend from foe. Najib is aware that his adversaries are circling him, like hyenas waiting for the kill. The stakes are high. No one can be trusted and people are watching their backs.

Is Khairy trying to justify Anwar’s conviction or is he trying to promote himself?

Anirban Lahiri wins 2015 Hero Indian Open


February 22, 2015

Anirban Lahiri wins 2015 Hero Indian Open

Anirban Lahiri wins 2015 Hero Indian Open.  (Photo - www.europeantour.com)

• His second European Tour International Schedule victory in his 41st European Tour event.

• Could move to just outside the 30 of the Official World Golf Ranking, from 39th.

• This is his second European Tour victory of the season, following the Maybank Malaysian Open.

• Becomes the second multiple winner of the 2015 season. They are: Branden Grace (Alfred Dunhill Championship and Commercial Bank Qatar Masters) and Anirban Lahiri (Maybank Malaysian Open and Hero Indian Open).

• Wins his second title in the space of three tournaments.

• Graduated from the 2014 European Tour Qualifying School. Is the first Qualifying School graduate to record multiple victories the year after graduation since Branden Grace in 2012, who won the Joburg Open and then the Volvo Golf Championship. (The South African went on to win a further twice in that season).

• Joins Gordon Brand Jnr (twice in 1982), José María Olazábal (twice in 1986), Johan Edfors (three times in 2006) and Branden Grace (four times in 2012), as Qualifying School graduates to record multiple victories the year after graduation.

• Is in his rookie season on The European Tour. Is the third Qualifying School rookie to win twice the year after graduation, following Gordon Brand Jnr (1982), José María Olazábal (1986).

• Follows Gordon Brand Jnr (1982), José María Olazábal (1986), Stephen Leaney (1998) and Sergio Garcia (1999), as rookies to record multiple victories. (Leaney was a Challenge Tour graduate and Garcia joined as an affiliate member).

• Becomes the second Indian to record multiple victories in the same European Tour season, following Jeev Milkha Singh in 2006 at the Volvo China Open (April 2006) and Volvo Masters.

OTHER FACTS

• Began the day seven shots behind S S P Chawrasia. Would become the sixth winner this season to triumph after making up a final round deficit. He won the Maybank Malaysian Open after making up five shots with 18 holes to play.

• Becomes the 11th Indian victory in European Tour history.

• The first time since 2008 that India have recorded multiple victories in the same European Tour season. In 2008, India won three times.

• Has won his first two European Tour titles on Asian soil. The first player to achieve this feat since Andrew Dodt, who won the 2010 Avantha Masters and 2015 True Thailand Classic presented by Black Mountain.

• The first Indian to win the Hero Indian Open since Chinnaswamy Muniyappa in 2009.

• Becomes just the eighth different Indian to win the Hero Indian Open since the event was first played in 1964.

• The fourth time he has won at event at the Delhi Golf Club in a play-off. The previous three were the 2011 Panasonic Open India, 2012 and 2013  SAIL –SBI Open.

• Becomes the 49th victory overall by a Qualifying School graduate the year after graduation.

• Gains his 15th win as a professional.

* Thanks to European Tour.