The Masters - A Quick Six

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 4, 2006, 4:00 pm

With Masters Week in full swing we asked The Golf Channel's Mark Lye and Brian Hewitt and's George White and Mercer Baggs to answer a few questions about the 70th edition of The Masters.

1) Will Tiger repeat as Masters champion?
Mark Lye
No. I dont like where his game is right now. He probably has the best shot of anybody to win. But Ill definitely take the field over him.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods will be gunning for his fifth green jacket this week at Augusta national.
George White
My prediction- Tiger will repeat as champion. Of course, there is only about a 1 in 10 chance ' ever! But yeah, I think he has a better chance than anyone.
Brian Hewitt
The added length will only make Tiger better at Augusta National.
Mercer Baggs
No. Most everyone seems ready to give Tiger his fifth green jacket ' thus putting him one back of Jacks record, but his game is a bit too erratic at the moment. Ill take the field.
2) If Tiger does win, can he claim the Grand Slam in 2006?
Mark Lye
No. Ill think hell hit a roadblock at Winged Foot ' not his style of golf course.
George White
I dont think Tiger ' or anyone ' will ever win the Grand Slam in one year. But if anyone has ever had a chance to do it, Tiger is it. The chances are ' oh, maybe one in 100.
Brian Hewitt
Yes, he can. The toughest of the four will be U.S. Open at Winged Foot.
Mercer Baggs
No. Woods may well bookend major titles this season, winning the Masters and the PGA at Medinah, site of his 1999 PGA triumph, but Winged Foots rough will grab him at the U.S. Open and Royal Liverpools unfamiliarity will likely lead to a surprise British Open champion.
3) Which player has the best chance of taking away the green jacket from Tiger?
Mark Lye
Vijay, Goosen. I like the way they are trending right now. Vijay is playing better and better and Retiefs putting is getting very good.
George White
Davis Love III
Brian Hewitt
Phil Mickelson because of his record at The Masters.
Mercer Baggs
I would love to say Ernie Els, because no one would love to win this event more than he, but Im going with Retief Goosen. Goosen has a good track record at this event. He also has the length, accuracy and mentality to survive Augustas latest test.
4) Who is your dark horse contender at Augusta this year?
Mark Lye
Angel Cabrera. Hes plenty long and has a good record here.
George White
Geoff Ogilvy
Brian Hewitt
Geoff Ogilvy hits it long, can putt and is loaded with confidence.
Mercer Baggs
Rod Pampling. Ryan Moore was my original selection, but a hand injury forced him out. Pampling should have plenty of confidence with his Bay Hill victory and he tied for fifth in his Masters debut last year.
5) Are Augustas constant changes good for the tournament?
Mark Lye
No, I dont like the changes at all. I think that theyve ruined a couple of holes ' No. 7, No. 1. The fourth hole is now 250; I think 220-230 is plenty long.
George White
No, they are not. Every year, fewer and fewer people have a realistic chance to win ' maybe 8 to 10 this year? This on top of a field that already is only 100 or so, and about one-fourth of those are people whose winning days are either long behind them or long in the future.
Brian Hewitt
Changes are good but they haven't always made the RIGHT changes.
Mercer Baggs
No. At some point youve got to allow Augusta National to be Augusta National. Let the greens be the courses primary defense, allow creativity to be an asset and let birdies on the back nine win. Making the event play like a U.S. Open takes away significantly from the aura of this tournament.
6) Should Jack Nicklaus play this event one more time?
Mark Lye
Yes, let everyone know that its his last time.
George White
Jack shouldnt play this event again. However, he has every bit as much right as do about 30-40 of the guys who will tee it up.
Brian Hewitt
I'm not sure I want to see Jack Nicklaus playing a course where, if the wind's playing the wrong way, he can't get home on certain Par 4s.
Mercer Baggs
No. He left on his own terms, which is good enough for me. And no one wants to watch the games greatest champion get swallowed whole by a juiced-up version of the course he conquered six times.
Related Links:
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    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

    While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

    He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

    "A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

    Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

    "If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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    Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

    When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

    Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

    "I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

    "It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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    DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

    World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

    Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

    "It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

    Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

    Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

    "I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

    Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

    "If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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    LPGA lists April date for new LA event

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

    The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

    When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

    The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

    The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.