Press Pass Els Celebs and Playoffs

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 7, 2007, 5:00 pm
Press PassEach week, Golf Channel experts and analysts will offer their thoughts and opinions on hot topics in the world of golf with the Press Pass. You can also give your take on our questions. Just click on the link and e-mail your responses to us. We'll publish select answers each Friday.
 
Hot Topic
Ernie Els has a three-year plan to be No. 1 in the world. Can he get there ' or get close?
 
Kraig Kann Kraig Kann - Host, Golf Channel:
Youre assuming I understand the World Ranking points system. He can get close. But for him to get there it appears that Woods would have to decide to revamp his swing again, change coaches and change his shirt color on Sunday. Not to say Ernies not capable, but he needs a lot of help in addition to completely ramping up his dedication to the game and then playing the best golf of his life. By the way, he also needs to double his total of majors during that time, which means three over the next three years at minimum. Bottom line, I dont think he gets there but if he gets close it will give us a lot to talk about.
 
Brian Hewitt Brian Hewitt - Senior Writer, GolfChannel.com:
Els can get there, which is not to say I think he will. I admire his pluck in efforting the top spot. It's just that he is living, as the Irish say, 'in a time of inconvenience' because of Woods' presence and the giant, long shadow Woods casts over all his contemporaries.
 
Mercer Baggs Mercer Baggs - Senior Producer, GolfChannel.com:
He might get to second in the world again, but being No. 2 doesn't mean he'll be anywhere close to No. 1. Unless Tiger decides to be a stay-at-home dad or decides to play left-handed just for giggles, then I don't see anyone coming close in the foreseeable future.
 
Hot Topic
Swedens Henrik Stenson won this past week in Dubai. Who is the best European player at the moment and who has the best chance of winning a major this season?
 
Kann:
This is a flavor of the month question. That said, to me, its Paul Casey. Stensons not far behind. He was 14th in the world ranks coming into Dubai and his win will do him a world of good. But theres something about Casey. I think Paul has a few majors in him and I think he has a great chance to get one before the likes of Stenson, Donald, Harrington and even Garcia.
 
Hewitt:
I still think Paul Casey is the top Euro at the moment but Stenson isn't far behind. The oddest part about this is that means Sergio Garcia is, at best, the third best player in Europe. And with Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington in the mix, Sergio might be No. 5 in this category.
 
Baggs:
I think Paul Casey is the man at the moment in Europe. But while Casey may win the Order of Merit, I think Padraig Harrington has the best chance to win a major. Also, keep an eye out for Sergio this season in the majors. If he stays under the radar and keeps the pressure off, he may actually be able to contend on the back nine on Sunday.
 
Hot Topic
Celebrities and pros will once again tee it up together this week in Pebble Beach. What one pro and two celebrities, of all time, would comprise your ultimate foursome?
 
Kann:
Arnold Palmer in his prime would be a treat. As for the celebrities, thats a tough one. Ill take David Letterman and Chris Rock and hope the laughs never stop - or take the pro off all together and give me Demi Moore, Sandra Bullock and Elisabeth Shue.
 
Hewitt:
My ultimate Pebble Beach Pro-Am foursome would be Tiger Woods, Cheryl Ladd and Michael Jordan. And if Kann, who somehow has the notion that Sandra Bullock would ever play golf with him, approves, Bullock can be my caddie.
 
Baggs:
Gotta go with Tiger as the pro. Don't know how entertaining he would be, but I'd love to play alongside the best ever to play the game. As for the celebrities, I'll take Charles Barkley (who I said a few weeks ago I'd like to see as a tournament host) for one. He's quite funny and quite awful. He also has a gambling problem, so I'd like to play against him - with Tiger as my financial backer. My other celebrity could be anyone NOT named Ray Ramano or Kevin James.
 
Hot Topic
The USGA announced that the U.S. Womens Open will now go to a three-hole cumulative playoff. Should the mens Open be changed as well from an 18-hole Monday playoff?
 
Kann:
Yes. No question about it. The most disappointing thing about going to the U.S. Open is the thought of an anti-climactic finish. Fans dont want to leave without a winner. The media doesnt want to leave without a winner or stay to wait for a winner. And a 3- or 4-hole playoff continues the drama. A Monday 18-hole playoff has little drama. Trust me, everyone there on Sunday dreads the thought of a Monday playoff.
 
Hewitt:
Not yet. But if the three-hole playoff works well after several tries at the U.S. Women's Open, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the USGA adopt the same procedure for the men. People love to bash the USGA as being hidebound. But it's an organization that's a lot more progressive than the golf world understands.
 
Baggs:
Without question. Having a Monday playoff is a total hassel for all involved -- the players, the tournament staff, the vounteers, the media, even the fans. A tournament, barring inclement weather or darkness, should come to a conclusion on Sunday. And due to the significance of a major championship, a playoff should be a 3- or 4-hole cumulative session instead of sudden death.
 
Click here to e-mail us your take on the above questions. We'll publish select reader responses on Friday.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

    Getty Images

    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

    Getty Images

    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.