April 12th, 2013
05:34 PM ET

Golf struggles to shed all-male image

Condoleezza Rice  id one of two female members at Augusta. (Getty Images).
Condoleezza Rice id one of two female members at Augusta. (Getty Images).

The decision late last year by Augusta National to break with tradition and allow its first ever female members has been widely applauded with the general consensus being " about time too!"

Current world No.1 Tiger Woods described the news as "fantastic" while three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson said Condoleezza Rice is one of his favourite people to spend time with.

"Lefty" even played an Augusta practice round with the former U-S Secretary of State who impressed all watching by reportedly sinking a huge 40 foot putt on the very last hole!

Rice - along with South Carolina financier Darla Moore - remain the only female members at the private Augusta National Golf Club - as far as we're aware - and ahead of this year's Masters, club chairman Billy Payne described their joining as a joyous occasion adding "it's just awesome". He added he feels his club is a "beacon in the world of golf".

There's certainly no question that after years of intense focus on the club and its all-male policies –the admittance of two women is very much a step in the right direction but is it enough and will it indeed trigger other iconic venues to see the light of the Augusta beacon and follow suit?

This year's British Open championship venue Muirfield in Scotland for example still doesn't allow women members.

At a packed media press conference on Wednesday I asked Chairman Payne if he felt other clubs should now follow Augusta's lead. He responded that any such move would have to be their own decision while Mickelson declared he doesn't get involved in the "politics" of the game.

Here at Augusta fans out on the course are known as patrons. In truth, while the majority do fully agree it's high time to move on and adapt to the times, I did find a couple of female voices united in their belief that membership issues are down to each individual club.

That said, it's certainly not going to change the growing pressure of that majority to change. In addition to Muirfield - the world governing body of the game outside the USA - The Royal and Ancient Golf Club at Saint Andrews - is also male only.

Since its beginning in 1754, it's simply never had a female member! After almost 260 years - and following the recent example of Augusta - is the time now right for us to even dare to dream of change?

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Filed under:  Golf
November 29th, 2012
03:35 PM ET

Did the Beckham project succeed in the U.S.?

Other stars such as Thierry Henry followed Beckham to America. (Getty Images)
Other stars such as Thierry Henry followed Beckham to America. (Getty Images)

So did the "Beckham experiment" work?

In my book it was always going to be unfair to charge him with the near impossible burden of becoming America's soccer saviour.

It was simply never going to happen in a land where the beautiful game is routinely forced to play second fiddle to its more established alternatives - and I'm sure deep down Beckham himself knew this.

Realistically- his inner goal when he signed for the Galaxy would have been to make an impact and there's no question he's certainly achieved that.

Strikers Thierry Henry and Robbie Keane were both likely influenced by Beckham's move to the U.S. Other stars will follow too, with Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard already being linked with a high-profile move to LA. FULL POST

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Filed under:  Football
October 2nd, 2012
11:53 AM ET

Did the U.S. throw away the Ryder Cup?

Davis Love watched his team throw away a four-point lead heading into the final day.
Davis Love watched his team throw away a four-point lead heading into the final day.

As a Brit who followed this year’s Ryder Cup every step of the way – I take immense pride in the European team’s come-from-behind victory. It was a fantastic achievement, but did Jose Maria’s Olazabal’s men win it or did the U.S. blow it?

The Americans were without question the better, hungrier team over the first two days and there will be many who will feel Davis Love III’s players deserved to win back the prestigious trophy.

Events during Sunday’s dramatic final round certainly conspired against them. They simply didn’t get the rub of the green when it mattered most. FULL POST

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Filed under:  Golf
September 25th, 2012
04:26 PM ET

McIlroy to hunt down Woods at Medinah?

Rory McIlroy (left) and Tiger Woods were paired together at last weekend's Tour Championship.
Rory McIlroy (left) and Tiger Woods were paired together at last weekend's Tour Championship.

While both Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy fell by the wayside during Sunday's final round at the Tour Championship - on current form there's no doubt which player carries more momentum into the Ryder Cup, and Tiger Woods knows it.

Prior to the Tour Championship, former world No. 1 Woods jokingly called current incumbent McIlroy "the great intimidator".

But during that pre-tournament press conference at East Lake, it appeared Woods was simply not comfortable with even talking about the game's top-ranked player. FULL POST

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Filed under:  Golf
August 3rd, 2012
08:51 PM ET

Behind the scenes with Graf and Agassi

Tennis stars Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf married in 2001 and have two children. (Getty Images)
Tennis stars Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf married in 2001 and have two children. (Getty Images)

Roger Federer, Alex Ferguson, Mike Tyson, David Beckham and even Tiger Woods!

I’ve been fortunate and truly blessed to have interviewed some of sport's biggest names one-on-one, but for years there remained a glaring hole in my professional resume.

Or rather two glaring holes: Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf. I’d have taken some time with even just one of them, but the two of them together and the chance of a first ever trip to Las Vegas? Not something I was about to pass up! FULL POST

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Filed under:  Olympics • Tennis
July 16th, 2012
03:37 PM ET

Why U.S. golf has a healthy future

Beau Hossler is one of the new generation of young American golf stars. (Getty Images)
Beau Hossler is one of the new generation of young American golf stars. (Getty Images)

I'd say American golf has much to be proud of right now, ahead of this week's British Open.

Tiger Woods may have continued his own personal major drought at last month's U.S. Open, and Phil Mickelson looked as far away as ever from winning it, but the stage was cleared for another crop of young talent from the States to shine. And how!

Webb Simpson's triumph was significant not just because at the age of 26 it was his first major, but because it was the third straight grand slam title won by an American player - and in a Ryder Cup year that's one huge boost to team captain Davis Love III. FULL POST

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Filed under:  Golf
April 5th, 2012
08:38 PM ET

When will Augusta admit female members?

Augusta National chairman Billy Payne sidestepped questions about female members in his pre-tournament press conference.
Augusta National chairman Billy Payne sidestepped questions about female members in his pre-tournament press conference.

It could have been the week the famed Augusta National made history. It could have been the week the club announced its first female member - nearly 80 years since its inception back in late 1932.

Instead, current chairman Billy Payne stuck to his guns and refused to discuss whether tournament sponsor IBM's new CEO Virginia Rometty would be considered for membership just like her four male predecessors.

It was a packed press conference at the National on Wednesday when the chairman gave his annual address to the world's media. I counted maybe five different attempts - including my own - to get Mr. Payne to elaborate further on his stance that the club simply doesn't comment on membership matters. But to no avail. FULL POST

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Filed under:  Golf
September 26th, 2011
12:57 PM ET

Look out Europe – American golf is bouncing back

Bill Haas beat fellow American Hunter Mahan in a playoff to win both the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup.
Bill Haas beat fellow American Hunter Mahan in a playoff to win both the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup.

When Northern Irishman Darren Clarke deservedly won this year's British Open, the spotlight once again fell on America's under-achieving stars.

With Tiger Woods winless in majors since June 2008 and Phil Mickelson's last grand slam title coming in April 2010, the pressure on this current generation of U.S. players was immense going into last month's PGA Championship and the PGA Tour's big-money end-of-season series in September. 

But I have to say they've risen to the challenge in highly-impressive fashion. Keegan Bradley started the ball rolling by claiming his first major title, and Bill Haas has topped it off by winning the deciding Tour Championship and the $10 million FedEx Cup jackpot on Sunday. FULL POST

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Filed under:  Golf
June 20th, 2011
02:10 AM ET

McIlroy triumph signals new golfing dynasty

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland poses with the U.S. Open trophy Sunday in Bethesda, Maryland.
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland poses with the U.S. Open trophy Sunday in Bethesda, Maryland.

"Let's go Rory! Let's go Rory!"  The chants here at the Congressional Country Club over the weekend said it all.

There was a sense the 2011 U.S. Open would prove historic after Rory McIlroy posted a blistering score on the first day, but his play over the following days was sumptuous in quality and magnetic in attraction for golf fans. A fervently patriotic American crowd were charmed, amazed and captivated by the feats of the Northern Irish youngster. FULL POST

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Filed under:  Golf
February 20th, 2011
08:27 PM ET

Is the NBA All Star-weekend basketball's Superbowl?

CNN's Patrick Snell agrees with basketball stars Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett that the NBA All-Stars weekend is the biggest event in the sport.
CNN's Patrick Snell agrees with basketball stars Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett that the NBA All-Stars weekend is the biggest event in the sport.

I've covered FIFA World Cup football finals, UEFA Champions League finals and a fair few other high-profile tournaments in my time, but I was not quite sure what to expect when I was asked to attend my first ever NBA All- Star weekend here in Southern California.

Of course, I had a reasonable idea in one respect given the location of the event - Los Angeles, Hollywood. And we all know that nobody does showbiz or razzamataz quite like the Americans. There was a celeb sighting pretty much every which way you looked and the legions of young fans following Canadian singing sensation Justin Bieber were not disappointed with his appearance on court during the All- Star Celebrity game.

FULL POST

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Filed under:  U.S. Sport
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