Hold The Back Page: 12/02/2011

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The Independent Online

It's a big weekend for...

Comeback Kings of Swing

Tiger Woods, who used to be good, and Sergio Garcia, who used to be good, are on the verge of being good again.

A first round in Dubai of ups, downs and good ol'-fashioned Tiger-style swearing in front of small children summed up Woods' early travails but he flew back with a 66 yesterday. Moving day on the eve of moving day. Garcia has rediscovered his customary club wiggle too, thanks to a 10-week break before Christmas to ruminate on, forget about, repair smashed ornaments after, dropping to 80th in the world. But in Dubai the Spaniard is second and Woods is fifth – with a half-finished new swing. Could 2011 be Tiger time again, or can Garcia get back to where he was a few years ago? This weekend will tell.

We applaud you wholeheartedly

Darren Gough

We all know that fast bowlers have the reputation for not being the brightest of lads, and England's Darren Gough was no exception – Angus Fraser once told of Goughie heading to a fine Italian eaterie called "Albarone"; turned out it was All Bar One. But it seems that Gough, a lifelong Tory, is not quite as dense as his vocation and party political bias might suggest because this week he turned down David Cameron's personal request that he stand for the Barnsley Central seat vacated by expenses fiddler Eric Illsley. Labour won by a massive 11,093 majority last time out. No chance Goughie was going to toil on that flat wicket.

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I'm just not feeling myself

So it seems the Football Association is issuing a final, final warning that it is potentially reaching the point where it is going to threaten to take action against clubs whose players cry off from international duty owing to "illness" or "a knock" but who miraculously play a blinder the following Saturday. Not before time.

That said, it could be worse. Sparta Prague kept back three "ill" and "injured" players from their national teams this week only to field them in a friendly against Zenit St Petersburg – with different names on their back. The fiendish plan would have worked too, were it not for the fact that professional footballers, in general, are quite easily recognised.