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Phil Mickelson hits a shot Sunday en route to his victory at the HSBC Champions. (Andrew Redington/Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Phil Mickelson hits a shot Sunday en route to his victory at the HSBC Champions. (Andrew Redington/Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

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Falling from grace

The Los Angeles Kings will naturally be hoping to avoid witnessing a repeat of Saturday's incident in Detroit tomorrow night in Toronto, because while a man in the Joe Louis Arena rafters during a win over last year's Stanley Cup finalists can be written off as a stunt, a driven-to-despair Leafs fan taking to the Air Canada Centre catwalks can only mean one thing …

Hammers hardened by local investors

Give West Ham United credit. It may lack the illustrious histories of Liverpool and Manchester United, but at least it's learned from their mistakes. So rather than selling its soul for a slice of the American pie in the sky like the pair of 18-time English champions, the Hammers instead turned to a pair of local men who know a thing or two about pleasing red-blooded males. Porn magnate David Sullivan and partner David Gold, proprietor of a British lingerie firm, were brought in to save the club from possible bankruptcy last week, and now need only a winning team, starting tomorrow at Portsmouth, to put a smile back on the faces of the Upton Park faithful.

A pointless exercise

For a sport driven by hype, we're hard pressed to work out why the NFL would interrupt its two-week buildup to the Super Bowl with the annual sham of a football game known as the Pro Bowl next Sunday. True to form for the most pointless of all-star games, no one worth his salt actually wants to take part in the glorified scrimmage, with 11 players having begged off with "injuries" already. Of course, that number is set to increase with the exclusion of anyone taking part in the one game in Miami people actually want to play in the following week.

Phil-ling the void

With the world No. 1 otherwise indisposed, heir apparent Phil Mickelson will get his first chance to make inroads into Tiger Woods's lead at the top of the rankings when he makes his season debut at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Thursday. No stranger to taking a leave of absence himself - for the slightly more chaste purpose of caring for his cancer-stricken wife and mother - the three-time major winner finished his 2009 season at a canter, winning both the Tour Championship and the WGC-HSBC Champions, and, according to former world No. 1 Ernie Els, "is probably the man to beat now."

Follow on Twitter: @paulattfield

 

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