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Japan's golf superstar, football's online prison, and the rest of the week's best sportswriting

Stick the kettle on…

A TV screen in Tokyo shows Japanese golfer Hideki Matsuyama celebrating his Masters win.
A TV screen in Tokyo shows Japanese golfer Hideki Matsuyama celebrating his Masters win.
Image: Koji Sasahara

1. It is a Tour cliché to say that Hideki is a rock star — in Japan. Tiger has seen that up close, when he has played with him there. On Sunday, Adam Scott said that playing with Hideki in Japan reminded him of the electric two rounds Scott played with Tiger and Phil at the 2008 U.S. Open, when Tiger, Phil and Scott were ranked Nos. 1, 2 and 3 in the world. It is a joke in Hideki’s camp that he putts for 20, so large is his traveling entourage. It’s understood, among some veteran golf hands, that Hideki understands more English than he lets on. He tries, as best he can, to insulate himself, to get himself in a bubble. It’s more work than we could know, being the emblem of golf in a golf-mad country. There have been others before him, but none like him.

Hideki was asked at his press conference if he feels like a rock star when he’s in Japan. “I don’t know,” he said. Asked about the Summer Games in Tokyo, he said, “If I am on the team, and maybe it looks like I will be, I’ll do my best to represent my country.” Does that sound like someone who thinks of himself as a rock star? He’s a world-class golfer at the top of his game. No world-class golfer at the top of his game can be a rock star. It requires too much work. Too much alone time.

Michael Bamberger profiles The Masters champion for Golf.com.

2. “I built a gym at the bottom of our garden, it has bikes, squatting racks, the whole lot. I worked hard to keep myself right. The gym, Crossfit, I’d run three miles three times a week.

michael-coleman-632005 Mickey Coleman in action for Tyrone in 2005. Source: INPHO

“I was in the best shape of the past six or seven years, to the extent that I was even considering going back to play ball with Rockland GAA this year in the New York Championship. You know yourself, maybe 20 minutes on the edge of the square or something.

“I guess I can say goodbye to that now,” he smiles ruefully.

He doesn’t need the paramedics that saw him flatline three times in the ambulance, nor the nurse that attended to him and administered CPR for six minutes, nor the doctors who cared for him in the specialist labs, to tell him how lucky he is.

Coleman knows that better than anyone.

Tyrone’s Mickey Coleman recounts surviving the ‘widow-maker’ with RTÉ’s Damian Lawlor.

3. In the hours before the first pitch of the American League wild-card game on October 3, 2018, Billy Beane and Brian Cashman palled around behind the hitting turtle on the field at Yankee Stadium, where the two teams they’d built would do battle. Cashman, the New York Yankees’ general manager, had dressed down in khakis and a checked, cream-colored jacket. Beane, befitting his superficially fancier title as the Oakland Athletics’ executive vice president of baseball operations, wore a suit and skinny tie. Amid the bustle of batting practice, the big man with the small budget and the small man with the big budget remained rooted in foul territory, where they talked and laughed alone.

oakland-athletics-at-detroit-tigers Oakland Athletics GM Billy Beane. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

“Our conversations now are as much personal as they are professional,” Beane says today. “We’ve definitely had some heart-to-hearts.” At the time, neither he nor Cashman appeared pained by the prospect of facing off in a single game that would tell them little about their teams’ talent, but would still send one of their painstakingly constructed squads home. Instead, they fantasized about forgetting the game altogether. Cashman half-seriously suggested that the two go out to dinner and agree not to check the score until a prearranged time, when the contest would be close to concluded. They didn’t end up doing it, Beane says, then hastens to add, “Though I would have.”

The Ringer’s Brian Lindbergh explores how baseball GMS Billy Beane and Brian Cashman became friends, won games, and influenced people.

4. Little did Kevin Knight know that the CPR training he had as a teenager at Leicester City would save his father’s life 12 years later.

But that’s exactly what transpired on a dramatic day last month.

And it’s why the Cabinteely star – a brother of Republic of Ireland midfielder Jason Knight – wants to see League of Ireland players and staff trained up.

jack-walsh-and-kevin-knight Cork City's Jack Walsh (L) challenges Kevin Knight of Cabinteely. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Paul Knight – an electrician – was carrying out some work at Stradbrook on St Patrick’s Day.

But he was feeling unwell and decided to call it a day, returning home early to Cherrywood, near Loughlinstown in south county Dublin.

“He looked like death when he walked in,” Kevin told Mirror Sport. “But it was warm out and he was in all his work gear, so I just thought he was hot.

“He wanted to go upstairs for a nap, but it was Paddy’s Day and the sun was out so I thought ‘that’s weird’, but I left him at it.

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“Five minutes later, he called out to me. I went upstairs and he was hunched over the bed, half dressed making these horrible, horrible sounds as he tried to breathe.”

Cabinteely star Kevin Knight, brother of Republic of Ireland international Jason Knight, tells Paul O’Hehir how he saved his father’s life.

5. Halfway through the decade, Victor Anichebe signalled the end of innocence with the most famous of all football tweets: “Can you tweet something like…Unbelievable support yesterday and great effort by the lads! Hard result to take! But we go again!”

Since that day, we are no longer surprised when Joe Hart wakes up the morning after Spurs’ Europa League exit to admit it was his social team that had mistakenly celebrated a 3-0 win.

It means Dani Ceballos will get no credit for the rousing words on his channels that undoubtedly drove Arsenal to victory in Prague: “Like Sir Winston Churchill once said: ‘Blood, toil, tears and sweat.”

These are profiles, not people, to us now. And must be virtually unusable to the people behind them, clogged as they are with torrents of abuse.

Even the most social of all footballers, Paul Pogba, is turning back to TV. His ‘Pogmentary’ deal with Amazon Prime promises never-seen-before footage from his youth. Turns out even the man with 44 million followers had been keeping his best stuff back for a medium you can trust.

In the Irish Examiner, Larry Ryan writes that if TV is football’s stage, social media is becoming its prison.

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