27 décembre 2016 ~ 0 Commentaire

Magical Cabrera in control at Quail Hollow Globe

For a man who has spent half his life living and playing in foreign countries, Juergen Klinsmann seems the perfect fit as the United States head coach. Personifying the mantra that you should practise what you preach, Klinsmann’s globe-trotting exploits have made him the ideal man to lead an American team drawn from all corners of the world. A lethal striker who scored 47 goals in 108 international appearances, Klinsmann’s playing credentials are beyond dispute. He was part of the West Germany team that won the World Cup in 1990, and Euro ’96 as a unified nation, and used his sublime talents to travel the world, playing for clubs in England, Italy, France and his birthland. He made an enormous impact in England where he was named Footballer of the Year in his one full season at Tottenham Hotspur in 1994-95, later returning to the club on loan and almost single-handedly saving them from relegation in 1998. He won honors with Inter Milan and Bayern Munich and also played with VfB Stuttgart, Monaco and Sampdoria. When his playing days were over, he settled in California where he married an American and began a family, but the lure of returning to the game proved irresistible. In 2004, he took over as head coach of the German national team, guiding them to the semi-finals of the 2006 World Cup, and also briefly served as head coach of Bayern Munich in 2008. In 2011, Klinsmann accepted the job as U.S. national coach in what is perhaps his biggest challenge yet, and laid down plans to scour the globe for the best American players. « That’s definitely something that we need to dig into, » Klinsmann told a news conference when he first accepted the role. « Where to find more talent, where to maybe find somebody kicking the ball around in the street and develop them. « Down the road, I hope to find a Lionel Messi in the United States. That would be awesome. » Klinsmann has not found a player yet to rival the Argentine superstar but has been able to successfully mould a team from players scattered all over the world, with roots to his native Germany, Norway, Iceland, Haiti and, of course, Mexico. Although the Americans are long shots to win the World Cup as Klinsmann tries to implement his own ideas and philosophies, including more intensive training and a focus on diet, the team has already enjoyed a lot of success under his guidance. They won last year’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, replacing Mexico as the region’s top-ranked team, and easily qualified for the World Cup. « I look at things always from a positive side. We have a young team, a team that is growing, » he said. « We’ve built a lot over the past two years. We’ve had the most successful year in our history in 2013, so we’ve built the confidence and the belief that we can deal with those challenges. » (Editing by John O’Brien and Mike Collett). Adam Scott has been a perennial contender in major championships over the past three years but, for reasons which he finds difficult to explain, he has mainly struggled at the U.S. Open. One of the best ball-strikers in the game and blessed with a swing envied by many of his peers, Scott has all the credentials to shine in the year’s second major which traditionally puts a premium on ‘percentage’ golf. Yet, the 33-year-old has failed to make much of an impact at the U.S. Open, missing the cut six times in 12 starts with a best finish of joint 15th at the Olympic Club outside San Francisco in 2012. « Certainly I haven’t had the best record at the U.S. Open, and it’s hard to put a finger on a lot of it, » Scott told reporters on Wednesday. « I’ve talked to you all about 10 years of playing pretty average, by my own expectations in majors, and tried to improve that the last few years. I’ve done a good job, but maybe not quite as good at the U.S. Open. « However, I felt, at Olympic, I played very well the last 60 holes or so, after a really bad start on Thursday. And the confidence grew last year. » Scott’s recent record in the other three majors has been impressive with seven top-10s in 13 starts, including his breakthrough victory at the 2013 Masters where he became the first Australian to claim the prized green jacket. « Maybe it’s coincidence that I haven’t had my best stuff at a U.S. Open, » he said. « But I certainly feel like where my game’s at now, and the past few years, I should be able to compete here (at Pinehurst). « I’m trying to build a game that can play anywhere. So this would be a good week for me to kind of turn the corner and get in contention. I think this course sets up well to me. » UNIQUE GREENS Pinehurst’s fabled No. 2 Course, with its unique turtle-back greens which so often repel approach shots that might stay on the putting surfaces at many other courses, places a premium on a stellar short game. Scott won his 11th PGA Tour title at the Crowne Plaza Invitational last month and was delighted to do so on a classic layout that does not favour long hitters. « Winning at Colonial was a big feather in my cap, » said Scott, who will be competing in his first major as world number one. « It’s a much smaller golf course than we normally play on Tour and to scale back and be precise off the tee with some irons and precise into the greens with wedges … people say great wedge players win there. « I’d like to put my name in that category, as well. That’s been a lot of hard work on my shorter clubs over the last couple of years to get there. I’m trying to build a game that can compete at any event. » One factor in Scott’s favour this week is that Pinehurst, with its sandy waste areas off the fairways and heavily contoured greens, reminds him of the famed Sand Belt golf courses in his native Australia. « Absolutely, » he smiled. « Certain bits of it, the edges of the fairway are a little bare, and that’s fine, because the fairways are very generous. The proportions are all right. « And then the waste areas and some of the green surrounds are similar to Sand Belt golf. But it also reminds us of a lot of other parts of the world, as well, I think. » Scott will tee off in Thursday’s opening round in the company of fellow Masters champions Bubba Watson and Charl Schwartzel. (Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Julian Linden). Twice major champion Angel Cabrera conjured up some of his old magic to seize the first round lead with a six-under-par 66 in the first round of the $6.9 million Wells Fargo Championship on Thursday. The long-hitting veteran from Argentina reeled off four successive birdies around the turn to end the day one stroke in front of Americans Phil Mickelson and Martin Flores. German Martin Kaymer, Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy and Englishman Justin Rose are among a group of nine players a further two shots back on an impressive leaderboard. Cabrera, 44, has made few headlines since losing a playoff to Adam Scott at last year’s Masters but he is still capable of matching it with the game’s best on any given day. « I played very well on the greens and saved myself on the holes that I didn’t play so well, » Cabrera, whose only two PGA Tour victories came at the highest level with the 2007 U.S. Open and the 2009 Masters, told reporters. He had two birdies and one bogey in the first five holes at Quail Hollow before kickstarting his move up the leaderboard with a five-foot birdie putt at the par-five seventh. Cabrera then recorded four consecutive birdies from the ninth, three of them from close range, along with a monster 42-foot putt from the fringe at the 11th. SUCCESSIVE EAGLES Kaymer, who had consecutive eagles in his round, was unable to remember even having previously notched the rare feat. « I don’t think I’ve ever done that before, » said Kaymer, who sank a 15-footer at the seventh hole and then holed out from 65 yards from the rough at the par-four eighth. He considered his two eagles, which were bookended with bogeys, just reward for an otherwise frustrating day on the greens. « I missed a lot of short putts today, » he said. « I stayed in the tournament but overall it would have been nice to get a couple more shots here and there. » Kaymer was ranked number one in the world barely three years ago, but has since slipped to 63rd. He has not been playing badly, missing only two cuts worldwide since this event last year, but has not often contended for victory. McIlroy, returning after a two-week post-Masters break, looked sharp apart from a couple of wayward drives. « I gave myself chances for birdies and putted a little better than I have in the last few weeks, so that’s a positive, » said the 2010 champion, who birdied three of the four par-fives. « I played the par fives well, which I wanted to do (because) at Augusta I didn’t. » This week’s event has attracted a high-quality field, although not quite as strong as it did in its first few years at Quail Hollow. The course received rave reviews when the event was first held in 2003, but the greens were in poor condition last year which perhaps scared off a few players from returning. The greens were subsequently dug up and replanted and early reports by the players suggest they are in better condition this year. (Editing says Klinsmann by Mark Lamport-Stokes and Frank Pingue).

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