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Thursday, 13 November 2008

The Best Sporting Event No One Follows

One of the best and most undercovered events of the year is taking place this weekend. The European Tour Qualifying School Final is taking place in Girona in Spain. It won't get much coverage - I'm pretty sure it's not on TV, while the website of the European Tour itself isn't giving the Tournament much prominence.

Yet this is golf, and indeed sport, at it's purest. Men, and their caddies, playing for a living, for a livelihood. I'd love to talk about the stories but they're difficult to find out! I'd love to advocate that you follow it but, again, that's not the easiest thing to. The drama is easy to imagine though. One putt, one hooked shot, one lucky bounce could be the difference between getting a Card and not. Sure, it's for money rather than winning, but it's an event where dreams can come true...or not.

Yet I shall say this - good luck to the Irish who are competing in Girona this week. The Almost Daily Sports Blog wishes long, straight and true shots onto Michael McGeady, Simon Thornton, Michael Hoey and Johnathon Caldwell.

And for the rest of you, check out the account of the USPGA Final Qualifying School Tournament in John Feinstein's A Good Walk Spoiled. A compelling read, and a great book.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Fantastic F1 Finale In Store

Lewis v. Felipe.

McLaren v. Ferrari.

Tomorrow's Brazilian Grand Prix promises to be special. World Title deciders often fail to deliver but tomorrow's could be special. Today's Qualifying has thrown up a grid that should give us an interesting struggle for Hamilton, and the weather (80% chance of rain according to weather.com) will also give us another wild card to deal with.

I've been lucky this year to have attended two Grand Prix. Thanks to the fine people at Bridgestone for that one! I won't pretend that gives me an insight into the Championship battle, but I did on both occasions get to see Lewis up close. He is an affable guy, one who represents the sport well. In Barcelona he was good enough to show up and lend his support to the GP2 Series, while in Monza I personally witnessed him laugh at Italian fans who heckled him as he entered the paddock.

I'll still be pulling for Massa though. I've a bet on him.

Either way, most importantly and in all seriousness, my one true wish is for a good race, a tight battle and for a lack of controversy, something which has been all too prevident this season.

* * *

Also, as a quick aside, tomorrow's race will be the last covered by ITV in the UK for the foreseeable future. From 2009, the contract returns to what many call the sport's spiritual home at the BBC. I, for one, was delighted when I heard the news but tomorrow will nonetheless be an era for fans of the sport. ITV are unlikely to have a grand farewell like the BBC did in 1996 (though I did like the montage before today's Qualifying session) but when tomorrow's race ends, I know I will not be the only Formula 1 fan from this part of the world thanking Mark, Ted, Martin, Steve and even James for their work over the past 12 seasons.