Press Pass Annika Michelle Tiger and Phil

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 30, 2007, 4:00 pm
Press PassEach week, GOLF CHANNEL experts and analysts offer their thoughts and opinions on hot topics in the world of golf with the Press Pass.
 
Hot Topic
In regards to this weeks Memorial Tournament, do you like Jack Nicklaus use of gap-toothed rakes to create furrows in bunkers?
 
Brian Hewitt Brian Hewitt - Columnist, GOLFCHANNEL.com:
I wasn't wild about the fact that he sprung the rakes on the players last year with very little advance notice. This year he has modified the severity of the rakes and I think that's fine. I agree with him that the conditioning of the sand at Muirfield Village had gotten so fine that to be in a greenside bunker was better than being in greenside rough.
 
Steve Sands Steve Sands - Reporter, GOLF CHANNEL:
I think Jack is trying to make things more difficult to keep the scoring down at his tournament. Other courses and tournaments do certain things to try to achieve the same result so I don't have a problem with what they're doing in Dublin.
 
Steve Duemig Steve Duemig - Panelist, Grey Goose 19th Hole:
Jack's reasoning is that being in a bunker is supposed to cost you half a stroke. If I was playing, probably not. But I'm not playing so - You go, Jack.
 
Mark Rolfing Mark Rolfing - Analyst, GOLF CHANNEL:
I think it is an interesting idea. I dont think the grooves should be overly severe, but anything to make the sand other than a perfect surface to play a shot out of would make the area more of a hazard. To me there should be some disadvantage to being in a bunker. After all a bunker is a hazard.
 
Mercer Baggs Mercer Baggs - Senior Producer, GOLFCHANNEL.com:
I don't have a problem with it. But that being said, even Tiger Woods only gets up-and-down from a greenside bunker less than 64 percent of the time. Bunkers are pretty penal to begin with -- still, I don't mind making them a little more difficult for the best players in the world.
 
Hot Topic
Annika Sorenstam returns to action this week in her own Ginn Tribute Hosted by Annika. Will a healthy Sorenstam regain the No. 1 spot in the world this year?
 
Hewitt:
I think a 'healthy' Annika will regain the No. 1 spot this year. The question (and we will learn a lot more by the end of this coming week) is how healthy will Annika be and how soon. Her doctor has told me she has been careful to be conservative in her treatment of neck and back injuries since learning of them last month. Annika is competitive and there might be a temptation to come back too soon. But all signs point to her being smarter than to give in to the temptation. In her mind, I believe, Annika is shooting for a healthy defense of her U.S. Women's Open title at Pine Needles late next month.
 
Sands:
If Annika is healthy there's no question she'll regain the No. 1 spot in the world this season.
 
Duemig:
I don't think so. Being off that long and not practicing for some of that time during rehab will definitely affect her. Besides, Ochoa is playing very well.
 
Rolfing:
I think the answer is no, but dont ever count Annika out. She has three disadvantages when it comes to her rivalry with Lorena Ochoa. No. 1, the age difference; No. 2, Annikas potential for lingering injury; No. 3, Annikas focus on other things in life besides competitive golf.
 
Baggs:
I think it's Lorena's for the rest of the year. She's easily capable of winning a few more times and could (should) land a major title. Right now in their careers, I think a healthy Lorena Ochoa is better than a healthy Annika Sorenstam.
 
Hot Topic
Michelle Wie is also making her return this week. She will be playing the PGA TOURs John Deere Classic in July. Good move or bad move?
 
Hewitt:
You must understand that Michelle Wie at the John Deere is, in a sense, kind of a one-off. She has become extremely popular in the Quad Cities region where that tournament is played. And tournament director Clair Peterson has told me all their feedback has been positive about Wie returning there. Wie is a big draw at the John Deere and she has made charitable contributions to worthy causes there. What I don't think you'll see any time soon are any other tournament directors on the PGA TOUR looking to get Wie in their fields. She needs to score better in PGA TOUR events to get consistent invites there.
 
Sands:
I do not think it's a good idea for Michelle Wie to play in a PGA TOUR event. She's a professional golfer. Professionals play to win. She cannot win the John Deere Classic. Learning how to win on the professional level is difficult. Trying to make a cut Friday afternoon is not the same as trying to win a tournament Sunday afternoon.
 
Duemig:
LOL!! Cut me a break. At what point does this become comical? Oh yeah, it already is.
 
Rolfing:
I still think its a good move for Michelle and dont be surprised if she does better this year at the John Deere Classic. I really think this extended layoff she has had from the game will turn out to be good for her. Most importantly just look at what Michelles presence has done for the John Deere Classic, the Quad-Cities community and all the local charities.
 
Baggs:
I feel like Michelle has gotten about all she can right now out of playing against men. I think she should focus on competing against her own gender, get better as a player, get her confidence back, and then take another stab at it in the future.
 
Hot Topic
In your opinion, whats the ONE thing to watch for this week?
 
Hewitt:
Sergio Garcia has a new putter (YES C-Groove) that he started using at THE PLAYERS. It certainly worked for him there (second-place finish). If he ever regains the kind of confidence in his putting he had in his late teens, he will be an immediate force again and a player to be watched closely at next month's U.S. Open.
 
Sands:
I'm curious to see how Tiger Woods plays at Muirfield Village after being away two weeks since his disappointing week at THE PLAYERS.
 
Duemig:
The thing I will be looking for the most is the way Tiger's putter is reacting at the Memorial. (The Muirfield greens have) Open-type speed. It may paint the picture as to his true chances at Oakmont.
 
Rolfing:
To me, the most interesting thing will be to see which tour gets bigger play in the media, the PGA TOUR or the LPGA. You have two premier events on the same weekend.
 
Baggs:
I'm very curious to see how Annika plays this week. Two of the next three tournaments are major championships, one of which Annika will be defending (U.S. Women's Open). This week, for once, isn't about winning for Annika -- it's about finding her feel, and feeling well.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Memorial Tournament
  • Full Coverage - Ginn Tribute Hosted by Annika
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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

    Getty Images

    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

    Getty Images

    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

    Getty Images

    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.