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Record European comebacks & a Masters curse

Steven Lynch April 15, 2013
Rory McIlroy took part in this year's par-three alongside Caroline Wozniacki © Getty Images
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Has anyone ever won the par-three competition at The Masters and the main event in the same year? asked John Wilkins

The Par 3 Contest at The Masters is a nine-hole pipe-opener to the tournament proper, played the day before the first round starts. Usually around two dozen players take part, by special invitation. The course was laid out at Augusta in 1958, and the first par-three contest took place in 1960: Sam Snead won, as he was to do again in 1974, when he was 61. No one has yet won it and The Masters in the same year: the nearest approach was by Tom Watson, who won The Masters in 1981 and the par-three the following year. Vijay Singh is the only golfer to win the par-three contest before winning the Masters itself (in 1994 and 2000), although Ben Crenshaw won the par-three in 1987, between his Masters victories of 1984 and 1995.

My team, QPR, once won a UEFA Cup match 6-2, only to lose the second leg 4-0 and go out on away goals. What's the best comeback in European club football, after losing the first leg? asked Robert Day

Partizan are one of four teams to win a tie in one of the senior European club competitions after being four goals down following the first leg. The first was the Portuguese club Leixoes, who lost the first leg of their 1961-62 Cup-Winners' Cup preliminary-round tie 6-2 to La Chaux-de-Fonds (Switzerland), but won the second leg 5-0. The following season Dunfermline Athletic lost the first leg of their Fairs (later UEFA) Cup second-round tie to the holders Valencia 4-0, but won the home leg 6-2. The away-goals rule was not in place then, and there was a play-off - Valencia won, and went on to retain the cup. Partizan's comeback was in 1984-85: one oddity of that tie was that QPR's 6-2 win took place at Highbury, as they were not allowed to play European matches on the plastic pitch installed at the time at Loftus Road; they were 2-1 down at one point, and also had a player (Warren Neill) sent off!

The following season Real Madrid lost 5-1 in the UEFA Cup to Borussia Moenchengladbach, only to win the second leg 4-0. Those four recoveries are remarkable enough, but I'm indebted to the megabyte football memory of Cris Freddi for coming up with possibly the best European comeback of all. In the quarter-final of the Cup-Winners' Cup in 1985-86, Dynamo Dresden of East Germany beat their West German opponents Bayer Uerdingen 2-0 in the first leg, and were 3-1 up at half-time in the second leg - 5-1 ahead on aggregate. In the 58th minute Uerdingen pulled one back - then scored five more goals in the last half-hour, to win 7-3 on the night and 7-5 on aggregate.

Auroras Encore won the Grand National at odds of 66/1. Have any horses won it at longer odds? asked Nick O'Connell

Actually it was only four years ago that a horse won the Aintree Grand National at longer odds than Auroras Encore - in 2009 Mon Mome, ridden by Liam Treadwell, came home 12 lengths in front at a starting price of 100/1. But he was the first 100/1 winner since Foinavon in 1967, in the race where most of the field fell at the 23rd fence, and before that Caughoo (1947) was the previous 100/1 shot to win. Gregalach (1929) and Tipperary Tim (1928) were the other 100/1 winners. The last horse to win the National at odds of 66/1 was Ayala, exactly 50 years previously in 1963.

Has anyone ever won the par-three competition at The Masters and the main event in the same year? asked John Wilkins

The Par 3 Contest at The Masters is a nine-hole pipe-opener to the tournament proper, played the day before the first round starts. Usually around two dozen players take part, by special invitation. The course was laid out at Augusta in 1958, and the first par-three contest took place in 1960: Sam Snead won, as he was to do again in 1974, when he was 61. No one has yet won it and The Masters in the same year: the nearest approach was by Tom Watson, who won The Masters in 1981 and the par-three the following year. Vijay Singh is the only golfer to win the par-three contest before winning the Masters itself (in 1994 and 2000), although Ben Crenshaw won the par-three in 1987, between his Masters victories of 1984 and 1995.

Has any boxer won gold, silver and bronze medals at the Olympics? asked Geoff Matthews

The only boxer to win a full set of Olympic medals completed his collection in 2012. The Italian policeman Roberto Cammarelle, the defending super-heavyweight champion from Beijing in 2008, lost a close final to Britain's Anthony Joshua in London. In Athens in 2004, Cammarelle took a bronze medal in the same weight category (he lost his semi-final to the eventual champion Alexander Povetkin). Cammarelle, who's now 32, turned professional after his defeat by Joshua. There are six other boxers who won three medals: Laszlo Papp (Hungary), Teofilo Stevenson and Felix Savon (both Cuba) all won three straight golds, while the Russians Boris Lagutin and Oleg Saitov, and Zou Shiming of China, all won two golds and a bronze. Zou Shiming retained his light-flyweight title in London, after a bronze in 2004.

Sergey Bubka won six gold medals in the pole vault at the World Championships. Has anyone won more in one event? asked Colin Johnstone

No one else has won the same individual event at the World Championships six times - Germany's Lars Riedel is next with five in the discus, between 1991 and 2001 (he also won a bronze in 1999). The only athletes with more World Championship golds in total than Bubka are Carl Lewis, Michael Johnson and Allyson Felix, who all have eight - but in more than one event. Taking other medals into account Lewis and Felix have ten in total, but the overall leader here is Merlene Ottey, who won 14 World Championship medals in all - three gold, four silver and seven bronze.

Has any tennis player won all four Grand Slam doubles titles in the same year? asked Simon North

Pride of place here goes to the great Australian Margaret Court (formerly Margaret Smith), who won all four mixed doubles titles in both 1963 (with Ken Fletcher) and 1965 (with Fletcher, Roy Emerson and Fred Stolle) to go with her singles Grand Slam in 1970. The others to have achieved Grand Slams in doubles events are Ken McGregor and Frank Sedgman (1951), Maria Bueno (partnered by Darlene Hard and Christine Truman in 1960), Owen Davidson (with Lesley Turner and Billie-Jean King in 1967), Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver (1984), and Martina Hingis (with Mirjana Lucic and Jana Novotna in 1998). Apart from Court, the following players all won singles Grand Slams: Don Budge (1938), Maureen Connolly (1953), Rod Laver (1962 and 1969) and Steffi Graf (1998).

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