Press Pass Biggest Chokes in Sports

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 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
If Phil Mickelson has a one-shot lead playing the 18th Sunday at Carnoustie, will he win the Open Championship?
Brian Hewitt Brian Hewitt - Columnist,
The short answer is: yes. But if the wind is blowing 50 miles an hour and the 18th is playing to a stroke average of, say, 4.9 that day, he will not make par. If he bogeys, and he's in a playoff; and if Tiger is one of the players in the playoff; and if Tiger had a share of the 54-hole lead, Phil will not win.
Steve Sands Steve Sands - Reporter, GOLF CHANNEL:
Yes, Phil will win the Open if he has a one-shot lead Sunday on 18. He has won three major championships and knows how to close in big situations. He didn't last week at Loch Lomond. He didn't earlier in the season at the Nissan Open. But I think he'll get the job done at Carnoustie if the scenario arises.
Mercer Baggs Mercer Baggs - Senior Producer,
For his sake, I hope so. If given the opportunity, I think Phil will get it done this time around. But I don't say (or write) that with 100-percent confidence.
Mark Rolfing Mark Rolfing - Analyst, GOLF CHANNEL:
That is a really hard question. If the outcome is only in his hand the answer is: yes he will win.
Hot Topic
What, if any collapse in all of sports is comparable to Jean Van de Veldes in the 1999 Open Championship?
The 1964 Philadelphia Phillies led the National League (there weren't divisions then) by six-and-a-half games over Cincinnati with 12 to play. St. Louis beat out both of them. The New York Giants led the National League by 12-and-a-half games as late as Aug. 13 in 1951 and lost out to the Giants. In golf, Norman's forced march to defeat against Faldo in the 1996 Masters was pretty painful to watch.
The Yankees blowing a 3-0 series lead to the Red Sox a few years ago comes to mind. John McEnroe losing a 2-0 lead to Ivan Lendl at the French Open final in the '80s. The Pacers' crazy comeback at MSG in the playoffs in the mid '90s when the Knicks had a huge lead with under a minute to go before Reggie Miller led Indiana back. But none compare to '99 at Carnoustie. That was the biggest collapse I can remember in any sporting event of that magnitude.
The first thing that came to my mind was Jana Novotna in the 1993 Wimbledon finals. She was one point away from taking a 5-1 lead in the deciding set against Steffi Graf, but thoroughly choked to a 4-6 loss. Afterwards, she wept in the arms of the Duchess of Kent. Two years later in the third round of the French Open, she was up 5-0, 40-0 in the third set against a teenager and lost 6-8. That may be the biggest collapse I've ever witnessed, even though it wasn't as dramatic as her Wimbledon finals' loss.
Greg Norman at the Masters in 1996. It took longer but was probably more painful.
What is your favorite Open Championship moment?
Willie Park winning the first one in 1860. Lincoln was still in the White House and not yet on the five-dollar bill. You could look it up.
If it's truly 'a moment,' then the finish in '99 at Carnoustie has to be it, unfortunately. There are certainly more positive memories but none are more famous, nor infamous, than that one. It was Must See TV.
Nothing beats what transpired in 1999. Aside from that moment, I would say Tiger Woods breaking down after his victory just last year in the arms of his caddie and family.
1995 Costantino Rocca at the 72nd hole at St. Andrews. He chili-dipped a shot in front of the 18th green and then holed an 85-foot putt down, through and over the Valley of Sin to tie John Daly.
What is the ONE thing you are most looking forward to at the Open Championship?
Bad weather. The Open Championship, to me, isn't the Open Championship unless the flags are stiff as boards and the flagsticks are almost doubled over.
The Open has always been my favorite tournament to watch on television because it just looks different than every other week. At least one day I hope it blows 40 mph, is cold and has rain going sideways. Makes lying in bed in your boxers watching while under the covers awfully comfortable.
Waking up early to watch golf. The best thing about the Open Championship -- when you're not in attendance -- is being able to wake up early and watch LIVE coverage. And fortunately for me, I get paid to watch it while I'm at work.
I hope the course is not set up the way it was in 1999. I want the man who plays the best golf to win.
Related Links:
  • GOLF CHANNEL Airtimes
  • Full Coverage - 136th Open Championship
  • Full Coverage - U.S. Bank Championship
  • Getty Images

    Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

    Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.

    Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.

    “While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.

    It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.

    “What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”

    The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.

    “I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”

    Getty Images

    Videos and images from Tiger's Tuesday at Torrey

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 7:45 pm

    Tiger Woods played a nine-hole practice round Tuesday at Torrey Pines South, site of this week's Farmers Insurance Open. Woods is making his first PGA Tour start since missing the cut in this event last year. Here's a look at some images and videos of Tiger, via social media:

    Getty Images

    Power Rankings: 2018 Farmers Insurance Open

    By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:59 pm

    The PGA Tour remains in California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open. A field of 156 players will tackle the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines, with weekend play exclusively on the South Course.

    Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to to submit your picks for this week's event.

    Jon Rahm won this event last year by three shots over Charles Howell III and C.T. Pan. Here are 10 names to watch in La Jolla:

    1. Jon Rahm: No need to overthink it at the top. Rahm enters as a defending champ for the first time, fresh off a playoff win at the CareerBuilder Challenge that itself was preceded by a runner-up showing at Kapalua. Rahm is perhaps the hottest player in the field, and with a chance to become world No. 1 should be set for another big week.

    2. Jason Day: The Aussie has missed the cut here the last two years, and he hasn't played competitively since November. But he ended a disappointing 2017 on a slight uptick, and his Torrey Pines record includes three straight top-10s from 2013-15 that ended with his victory three years ago.

    3. Justin Rose: Rose ended last year on a tear, with three victories over his final six starts including two in a row in Turkey and China. The former U.S. Open winner has the patience to deal with a brutal layout like the South Course, as evidenced by his fourth-place showing at this event a year ago.

    4. Rickie Fowler: This tournament has become somewhat feast-or-famine for Fowler, who is making his ninth straight start at Torrey Pines. The first four in that run all netted top-20 finishes, including two top-10s, while the last four have led to three missed cuts and a T-61. After a win in the Bahamas and T-4 at Kapalua, it's likely his mini-slump comes to an end.

    5. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker has become somewhat of a course specialist at Torrey Pines in recent years, with six top-10 finishes over the last eight years including wins in both 2012 and 2016. While he missed much of the second half of 2017 recovering from injury and missed the cut last week, Snedeker is always a threat to contend at this particular event.

    6. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama struggled to find his footing after a near-miss at the PGA Championship, but he appears to be returning to form. The Japanese phenom finished T-4 at Kapalua and has put up solid results in two of his four prior trips to San Diego, including a T-16 finish in his 2014 tournament debut. Matsuyama deserves a look at any event that puts a strong emphasis on ball-striking.

    7. Tony Finau: Finau has the length to handle the difficult demands of the South Course, and his results have gotten progressively better each time around: T-24 in 2015, T-18 in 2016 and T-4 last year. Finau is coming off the best season of his career, one that included a trip to the Tour Championship, and he put together four solid rounds at the Sony Open earlier this month.

    8. Charles Howell III: Howell is no stranger to West Coast golf, and his record at this event since 2013 includes three top-10 finishes highlighted by last year's runner-up showing. Howell chased a T-32 finish in Hawaii with a T-20 finish last week in Palm Springs, his fourth top-20 finish this season.

    9. Marc Leishman: Leishman was twice a runner-up at this event, first in 2010 and again in 2014, and he finished T-20 last year. The Aussie is coming off a season that included two wins, and he has amassed five top-10s in his last eight worldwide starts dating back to the Dell Technologies Championship in September.

    10. Gary Woodland: Woodland played in the final group at this event in 2014 before tying for 10th, and he was one shot off the lead entering the final round in 2016 before Mother Nature blew the entire field sideways. Still, the veteran has three top-20s in his last four trips to San Diego and finished T-7 two weeks ago in Honolulu.

    Getty Images

    Davis on distance: Not 'necessarily good for the game'

    By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:28 pm

    It's a new year, but USGA executive Mike Davis hasn't changed his views on the growing debate over distance.

    Speaking with Matt Adams on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Davis didn't mince words regarding his perception that increased distance has had a negative impact on the game of golf, and he reiterated that it's a topic that the USGA and R&A plan to jointly address.

    "The issue is complex. It's important, and it's one that we need to, and we will, face straight on," Davis said. "I think on the topic of distance, we've been steadfast to say that we do not think increased distance is necessarily good for the game."

    Davis' comments echoed his thoughts in November, when he stated that the impact of increased distance has been "horrible" for the game. Those comments drew a strong rebuke from Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who claimed there was "no evidence" to support Davis' argument.

    That argument, again reiterated Tuesday, centers on the rising costs associated with both acquiring and maintaining increased footprints for courses. Davis claimed that 1 in 4 courses in the U.S. is currently "not making money," and noted that while U.S. Open venues were 6,800-6,900 yards at the start of his USGA tenure, the norm is now closer to 7,400-7,500 yards.

    "You ask yourself, 'What has this done for the game? How has that made the game better?'" Davis said. "I think if we look at it, and as we look to the future, we're asking ourselves, saying, 'We want the game of golf to be fun.' We want it to continue to be challenging and really let your skills dictate what scores you should shoot versus necessarily the equipment.

    "But at the same time, we know there are pressures on golf courses. We know those pressures are going to become more acute."