The Amer­i­can Dream is a re­al­ity... just not on the sports field or ath­let­ics track

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

AS thou­sands of okes watched that walk­ing crime against fashion Lee West­wood romp away with the Sun City Ned­bank Chal­lenge last week­end there was far more sig­nif­i­cant stuff hap­pen­ing at Thou­sand Oaks in Cal­i­for­nia.

There, the doughty Ul­ster­man Graeme McDow­ell nailed two con­sec­u­tive 20ft putts into the cof­fin of Tiger Woods’ ca­reer. Com­fort­ably sup­planted by West­wood as world num­ber one, Tiger squan­dered a four- shot lead at the event he hosts, to end 2010 with­out a win – af­ter McDow­ell, spec­tac­u­larly, trumped him in a play-off.

That must have hurt and will leave the fallen idol dis­con­tented dur­ing the lay-off, in­stead of feel­ing con­fi­dent that the pieces shat­tered in that col­li­sion with the world’s most fa­mous fire hy­drant were back to­gether again.

Tiger’s year sym­bol­ises Amer­i­can sports at the moment.

The Land of The Free is se­ri­ously short on ath­letic achieve­ment in 2010.

The once dom­i­nant bully boys and girls of the games’ fields have with­ered on the vine of glob­al­i­sa­tion.

In golf, aside from Woods’ demise, the Yanks lost the Ry­der Cup (again) and a Korean, Jiyai Shin, tops the women’s rank­ings with only one Amer­i­can in the top 10.

The ten­nis pic­ture is even bleaker.

Andy Rod­dick’s the best they can of­fer at No 8 with only Mardy Fish and Sam Quer­rey (af­fec­tion­ately known as “Who?”) join­ing him in the top 50.

The women’s rank­ings are led by a Pole, a Rus­sian and a Bel­gian be­fore you get the Wil­liams’ sis­ter act at 4 and 5, then you slide all the way down to 61 be­fore you find an­other Amer­i­can.

The ath­let­ics track is no bet­ter – the Ja­maicans rule the sprints, the Africans win any­thing longer.

Even in base­ball the US strug­gles as Ja­pan hold the World Clas­sic crown and the Kore­ans have the Olympic ti­tle.

Canada de­nied them the ice hockey gold at the Win­ter Olympics and the IOC kicked them in the teeth by award­ing the 2014 sum­mer games to Rio over Pres­i­dent Obama’s home­town, Chicago.

FIFA then put the boot in com­pletely by pre­fer­ring Qatar for the 2022 world cup.

On the up­side, the Amer­i­cans did re­gain the men’s world bas­ket­ball cham­pi­onship this year, end­ing a 16-year drought in one of their sig­na­ture sports, and they do re­main tops in the pool, with Ryan Lochte win­ning pretty much ev­ery­thing that Michael Phelps doesn’t.

Phelps had a quiet year by his stan­dards, gath­er­ing more at­ten­tion for his re­ported re­la­tion­ship with one Brit­tny Gastineau who al­legedly is a “re­al­ity TV star”.

She ad­mits she finds the elon­gated swim­mer “cute” but sort of de­nies dat­ing him, breath­lessly con­fess­ing; “I don’t have time be­cause I’m work­ing so hard on my new jew­ellery line”.

But the Phelps phe­nom­e­non can­not last for­ever and some are proph­esy­ing that his man­tle will pass not to a coun­try­man but rather to our own Chad le Clos.

One of the stars of the gen­er­ally un­stel­lar Delhi Com­mon­wealth Games, the 18-yearold Dur­ban Westville High stu­dent re­ally is one for the okes to watch in 2011 and be­yond.

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