Wednesday, April 30, 2008

2008 NBA Playoffs: Spurs Defend Title with Know-How

The defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs defeated the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the 2008 playoff, 4 games to 1 to move on to the second round against the New Orleans Hornets.

The Spurs sent the Suns home again. The Suns have fallen to their postseason nemesis for the second straight year and the fourth time in five playoff appearances.

"We went up against a team that knows how to win. Every time we needed to close something out -- a half or a game -- they got the best of us. That's why they're the champions."

--Phoenix Suns head coach Mike D'Antoni, who was fired after the series.

"I think on paper we have more talent than they do. But I think their experience, their commitment and understanding of what they're trying to do is greater than ours. Their ability to play together and make small plays on both ends of the floor is unsurpassed."

--Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns point guard and 2-time NBA MVP.

"They beat us with the intangibles. They beat us with the little things. They beat us with the gamesmanship. They beat us with the attention to detail; the game plan, the commitment to doing all the little things to win games; that's why they're the champs. That's why year-in and year-out no matter what people say about them they find a way to be right there in the mix and vie for a championship."

--Raja Bell, Phoenix Suns guard.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Lorena Ochoa: The Importance of Vision, Discipline, and Practice

Lorena Ochoa: The Importance of Vision, Discipline, and Practice

"You know, I saw myself on the 18th green lifting the trophy and it's almost something that you already believe."
--Lorena Ochoa, from Guadalajara, Mexico and the first Mexican-born player to win on the L.P.G.A. Tour, who felt that her victory at St. Andrews in 2007 was destiny.

Lorena Ochoa won her first major and became the first woman to win a pro tournament at the Old Course at St. Andrews.Her confident feeling grew stronger after she played her first practice rounds and saw how the course was a perfect fit for her imagination. She luckily drew a morning tee time on the first day and was able to play in nearly ideal weather conditions.

Ochoa opened the tournament with a six-under-par 67, leading wire to wire to record her first Grand Slam victory in the first women's pro tournament held at the home of golf. She protected the win on the final round with a 74 that gave her a 72-hole total of five-under-par 287."There were a lot of people saying that I wasn't good enough or that I couldn't win a major or when am I going to win a major," said Ochoa, the No. 1 women's player in the world. She added, "I did it, and there's no more to say. I love St. Andrews."

As of April 2008, she has won 18 times. Taking in more than $8 million since 2006, Ochoa, a 26-year-old Mexican star, has collected corporate sponsorships, such as Mexican banks and the national airline, a German automaker, a luxury Swiss watchmaker, a large golf club manufacturer based in Arizona, the country club in Guadalajara where she learned the game and still lives.

"Everything that she's done this year (2008) has been phenomenal. Just as a person, she would give you the shirt off of her back if you needed it. Just being so nice and be able to play so well and not being cocky about it, how she presents herself."She's definitely a role model to every kid, every adult, everybody out there that likes golf. So it's really great to have her out here."

-- Brittany Lincicome, LPGA competitor."

"I enjoy very much the pressure of playing in the last group. I like to be in the pressure. It is fun, something I have worked very hard for, to give myself the opportunity to win tournaments. It's been fun."--Lorena Ochoa.

Ochoa's work ethic is rapidly is becoming legendary on the tour.

"Obviously, at practice, she's phenomenal at doing it and getting it done the right way," Lincicome said.

Discipline, structure and regimentation are the hallmarks of Ochoa's approach. All the style, flair and creativity with which she brings to playing and shotmaking on the golf course is a result of her strict adherence to a training and practice regimen.A typical week between events: travel on Monday, off on Tuesday and Wednesday, practice from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, home for lunch, then to the gym from 5 to 7 p.m.

As a result of her commitment to training and practice, Ochoa is the longest hitter on the tour so far this season, averaging 279.6 yards. Her technique has improved in other areas as well."I always want to take everybody down, I think you can do it with a smile on your face, and be nice and talking to them. You don't have to be mean or rude," said Ochoa.

Ochoa knows that you just have to practice to excel at all aspects of the game, on and off the course. That is what it means to be a peak performer.

Excerpts from the New York Times 8/6/2007 and 4/20/2008.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tiger Woods and the Art of Winning

"I love winning. I just love getting out there and mixing it up with the guys here; they're trying to beat me and I'm trying to beat them. That's fun."
--Tiger Woods, responding to a question about his drive and motivation.

In December of 2007, Tiger Woods was asked about the potential of achieving the Grand Slam of golf, He felt that the Slam was "easily within reason."
As he was preparing for the 2008 Masters in April, he was asked if he had changed his opinion, and he quickly replied with a straight face, "Nope."
That intimidating and overwhelming confidence is what has set Tiger Woods apart from every other golfer of his generation.In 1997 Woods became the youngest player, at 21 to win the Masters. He won his second Masters in 2001. That victory gave him a victory in four consecutive majors. When he won again in 2002, Woods became only the third player in tournament history to defend his title (besides Nick Faldo in 1989-90 and Jack Nicklaus in 1965-1966). Woods won his fourth green jacket in 2005.Woods then added, "I mean the reason why I said that, you have to understand why I said that, because I've done it before; I've won all four in a row. The majority of my career, this is 12th or 13th season out here, and nine of those years I've won five or more tournaments. So just got to win the right four. That's what it boils down to."
Woods won the U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship in 2000 after finishing fifth at the Masters, then followed with a Masters victory in 2001. A year later, he won the Masters and U.S. Open -- the first player since Jack Nicklaus in 1972 to do so. This streak fueled Grand Slam talk, which was ended suddenly when Woods shot 81 during the third round of the 2002 British Open.After a two-season period without a major win, Woods has won five of the past 12. Over the past nine months he has had nine victories in 11 worldwide starts going back to the British Open.
"You have to have a lot of things come together in order to win a championship and more so major championships," Woods said. "One break where you hit a tree and it goes out of play and didn't come back in or it happens to catch the right slope or catches the right gust of winds %u2026 all of these little factors that come in just one time is the difference between winning and losing. You ask the players and the caddies, they are the only ones who really understand the difference between winning and losing, how fine that is.""That's what makes this game so great is that you have to find a way."
excerpts from (April 9, 2008)

"I think that for what Tiger's done all the players should be grateful to him because of what he's doing. It's a global sport; there are more tournaments and more prize money to play for. And he's set some standards for the other players to look at. You've got to work hard, you've got to do mental training and you've got to practice. It's a full package and he does that."-
-Jeev Milkha Singh, a PGA professional golfer from India.

Sunday, April 06, 2008