Author Archives: Massimo

Henrik Stenson on the top of the world

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Jumeirah Golf Estate, Dubai.
After 72 exciting holes the 2013 Race to Dubai has come to an end.

Our congratulations and admiration go to Henrik Stenson, who achieves the supremacy in the European Tour with 263 strokes (-25 for the tournament: 68-64-67-64).

Great players’ efforts like Luke Donald’s, Lee Westwood’s, Justin Rose’s, Rory McIlroy’s and Ian Poulter’s didn’t succeed: Poulter can’t do anything else but establish himself in the 2nd place, six strokes from the Swede.
Let’s give some numbers: only two bogeys during the four days (18, first round and 10, third round), 25 birdies and one eagle on the last hole of the whole season.

This extraordinary performance is the right crowning achievement of an impressing year for Stenson, who decided to equally divide his time between European and PGA Tours (with 17 and 18 events played respectively), reaching amazing results in both Tours.
Counting only the top places:
_ Shell Houston Open: 2°;
_ Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open: 3°;
_ WGC – Bridgestone Invitational: 2°;
_ Deutsche Bank Championship: 1°;
_ TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola: 1°;

But, as the PGA Tour website emphasizes,  with today’s victory Henrik Stenson becomes the holder of another very important record: he is the first player to achieve the top of the order of merit not only in Europe, but also in the USA.
With his 9th place in the 2013 FedExCup ranking, after the 18 events played, the play-offs give Stenson the chance to snatch the 1st place from Tiger Woods, another leading figure of the PGA season with five victories.

It is not right to finish with Woods, however.
The only, true protagonist of the entire 2013 world golf season is Henrik Stenson, the new no.3 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

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Rush: Niki Lauda, James Hunt and my need for reality

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Need for something true, real and tangible. Need for history.
After a not-so-masked skepticism towards the new film of the great Ron Howard, I can affirm with certainty that it left me higly satisfied.

120 minutes flat during which the movie never goes downhill. A revered director (but still I cannot forgive him for the Angels and Demons mess), two good actors – the pair Brühl-Hemsworth – and a tragic but engaging story, perhaps characterized off and on too negatively. Let’s not forget the many twists, at least for the few people who, like me, had never heard the names of Niki Lauda and James Hunt before taking their seats.
Let’s try for a moment to think about those ’70s in which the events are set.

Formula 1 wasn’t yet – I dare say unfortunately – a pile of countless rules, power and speed limiters and disqualifications, but races almost raced to death in which the pilots risked their lives much more than nowadays, when  – I think – we don’t even get near that 20% referred to by Lauda (Daniel Brühl) more than once.
In such a context we have to set the tireless battle to the podium’s first place between the two extraordinary pilots, battle which has its consequence in Niki Lauda’s tragic accident, on August 1st, 1976 at Nürburgring, the very dangerous circuit that hosted the German Grand Prix: for more than a minute, Lauda was trapped in his single-seat’s cockpit by fire, which left him seriously disfigured and in life danger for another four days.
Someone could say that they are just a bunch of commonplaces (two enemies-friends, their struggle for supremacy), but, in my opinion, they are greatly filmed.
I don’t rule out that my extremely positive judgement comes from another important factor: a renewed need for reality, truth and history.
Among my friends I am playfully known as the typical million dollar blockbuster lover, along the lines of as-long-as-it-has-plenty-of-special-effects. As Transformers, to clarify.
But, for one night, I’ve just got the kick out of re-experiencing the wonderful sensation of not wasting two hours of my life only for diversion, but also – and above all – to enrich my knowledge of a period of history that otherwise would have remained in the dark for me, not being an enthusiastic F1 fan.

Names, dates, encounters, photos, even tragedies: everything’s true. Maybe slightly fictionalized, dramatized or heightened, but everything’s true anyway.

By Anefo / Croes, R.C. / neg. stroken, 1945-1989,, item number 928-0061 [CC-BY-SA-3.0-nl (], via Wikimedia Commons
Niki Lauda (second – Ferrari), James Hunt (winner – Hesketh) and Clay Regazzoni (third – Ferrari)
on the podium of the 1975 Dutch Grand Prix.
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Seve Trophy by Golf+: in 2013 Italian golfers Manassero and Molinari bring the trophy back on the continent

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On the Parisian golf course of Saint-Nom-La-Bretèche yesterday afternoon ended the 8th edition of the tournament established in 2000, that takes its name from the great Severiano Ballesteros, an icon of this sport in the ’80s and ’90s, died prematurely in May 2011.

The tournament presents, slightly changed, the match-play format of the Ryder Cup, with which it also shares the biennail frequency albeit in the odd years: starting on Thursday till Sunday we have witnessed ten matches of fourballs (Thursday and Friday), eight of foursomes (divided between Saturday morning and afternoon) and ten singles, in which Continental Europe led by José María Olazábal (T. Björn, G. Bourdy, N. Colsaerts, G. Fernandez-Castaño, M. Ilonen, M. A. Jiménez, J. Luiten, M. Manassero, F. Molinari, T. Olesen) clashed with insular Europe – Great Britain and Ireland – captained by Sam Torrance (P. Casey, J. Donaldson, S. Gallacher, T. Fleetwood, S. Jamieson, S. Kahn, P. Lawrie, D. Lynn, M. Warren, C. Wood).
The insular team missed some of its big names – Donald , McDowell, McIlroy, Rose, Westwood – not having played enough tournaments valid for qualification to the Seve Trophy (from the Nelson Mandela Championship to the Italian Open): their choice falls this year on the American tour.

During the first day of fourballs, Continental Europe has dominated with three matches won, one lost and one halved: what stood out in this context was the impressive performance of Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño and Nicolas Colsaerts, who beat 5&3 the pair Warren-Jamieson, as well as the negative one of Thomas Björn and Miguel Angel Jiménez, unable to effectively counteract the unstoppable Paul Lawrie and Stephen Gallacher, who with a total of five holes won (three of which in the last nine holes) were awarded the point.

This latter pair, however, was overtaken by Fernandez-Castaño and Colsaerts on Friday with an incredible 6&5. It kept getting worse for Jiménez and Björn, who had to give way under the attacks of the fittest Donaldson and Warren.

No striking result during the third day, that ended with four victories of Great Britain and Ireland, three of Continental Europe and a match halved. The two teams are in perfect equality: 9 to 9.

Sunday: last day on the course.
Simon Kahn’s injury, during the morning practice session, precluded him the possibility of playing the 10th match of the day against Francesco Molinari. At this point, the Trophy’s rules calls for Continental Europe to withdraw one of its players, so to allow the tie of the match that cannot be otherwise deleted: Thomas Björn, already in poor shape, was the volunteer. His opponent, Chris Wood, shifted then against the Italian.

9 1/ 2 to 9 1/2.
One match halved only: a very lackluster Fernandez-Castaño against an equally lackluster Donaldson.
Three wins for Torrance’s team: Fleetwood, Lawrie and an amazing Marc Warren against the young Olesen.
Five points for Continental Europe. If the match between Nicolas Colsaerts and Paul Casey, ending on the last hole, proved to be very balanced, Miguel Angel Jiménez out-matched a David Lynn, down with the flu, at par 4 of the 14th hole with a score of 5 strokes under par (6&4).
It is however Grégory Bourdy, who, playing on his home ground and beating Scott Jamieson 4&3, won the important record for this tournament as first player to win five games out of five.

Let’s get to the Italians.
The good performances and huge improvement in Francesco Molinari’s putt were not enough to bring decisive points to Continental Europe: 1 point and 1/2 out of 5 available in the first three days. Too little if compared to what we have become accustomed to over the years! But our guys haven’t abandoned us: both their singles were successfully concluded at par 3 of the 16th hole. Matteo has holed a perfect putt for his 4th birdie from a prohibitive distance against the very best putter of the tournament, the Scot Gallacher, while Francesco, thanks to a more than risky but perfectly controlled tee-shot, has given himself a wonderful opportunity to win, precisely gained.

As it happened in Medinah last year, a twist of fate wanted Francesco Molinari to have the last match against two players with almost the same name, a certain Tiger Woods and Chris Wood, and both times Chicco did not disappoint the expectations bringing back first the Ryder Cup in Europe, and now Severiano’s trophy on the continent. Once again proof of the great trust put by captain Olazábal in the fiber of the fantastic Italian athlete.

From its 1st edition in 2000, thirteen years ago, Continental Europe hasn’t been able to bring home the prestigious trophy: mission accomplished this year and thanks to the strength of our two Italians.
I wonder if someone from up there lent a hand…

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