Press Pass Europeans vs Internationals

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 28, 2007, 5:00 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. You can also give your take on our questions. Just click on the link and e-mail your responses to all four questions to us. We'll publish select answers each Friday in our Press Pass: Readers' Forum.
Hot Topic
European and International players dominated at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. Who would win between the European Ryder Cup and International Presidents Cup teams (taking the current top players) on neutral ground?
Brian Hewitt Brian Hewitt - Columnist,
The Internationals would win just using the Aussies and South Africans. Throw into the mix Vijay, Weir, Cabrera and a few others and you've got enough for two strong squads. By the way, if you had a two-person alternate shot event with the top male and female from each country teaming up, would anybody beat the Swedish entry of Annika Sorenstam and Henrik Stenson?
Kraig Kann Kraig Kann - Host, Golf Channel:
It would definitely be a better match right now than any match involving the United States. Id go with the International team featuring Els, Singh, Goosen, Immelman, Ogilvy, Scott, Allenby, Baddeley, Pampling and others who are pretty strong to say the least. But Europe is stacked, too; and given their two recent trouncings of the American team at the Ryder Cup, how can I pick against their chemistry.
Mercer Baggs Mercer Baggs - Senior Producer,
The Europeans. Just like they have been for so long against the Americans, the Euros would enter this contest as the underdogs on paper. And just as they have done to the Americans for so long, they would beat the Internationals handily. As it is in the Ryder Cup, the Europeans would have the 'team' advantage over the Internationals. That unity would overcome any talent disadvantage they might have.
Hot Topic
Geoff Ogilvy could not defend his title at the Accenture. What is the toughest professional tournament in which to defend?
I think the toughest one to defend is probably the Open Championship because of the changing venues and conditions every year. Plus, for Americans, it's a long trip. There are just more variable involved in the Open Championship than any big tournament in the world.
I would definitely say its the Accenture Match Play Championship. Better yet how about the HSBC World Match Play Championship at Wentworth in England, which brings in a heavy dose of 36-hole matches. It's so tough to be on for an entire week ' two years in a row! If the tournament was still around, I might argue The International with its modified stableford scoring system. Nobody ever successfully defended his title.
The Open Championship -- by a hair over the Match Play -- because of the change in venue each year, combined with the uncertainty of the elements. It's obivously difficult to win 12 straight match at the WGC-Accenture, but I think, given all of the variables, it's a little more difficult to win two straight at The Open.
Hot Topic
The PGA TOUR is headed to Florida. What was the highlight of the West Coast Swing?'
The highlight of the West Coast Swing was the return of Phil Mickelson to the winner's circle at Pebble Beach, followed closely by the re-emergence of Charles Howell III. Also getting votes: Riviera. And, if I was allowed by the judges, I'd cast a ballot or three for the performance of GOLF CHANNEL on the PGA TOUR
To me, its a toss up between Tigers win (at the Buick Invitational) and Charles Howells consistency. Howells win (at the Nissan) is really sweet. As I told him afterward, Nobody could have handled the recent five-year struggles to get back to winning, and nobody will move forward better because of it. Surprise of the West Coast Swing is Jeff Quinney. He can play.
The Streak. Even though Tiger played in only two events on the West Coast Swing, talk of his PGA TOUR winning streak dominated conversation the entire two months. It added an element of excitement and -- as he has done throughout his career -- Tiger once again attracted many non-golf fans to the game.
Hot Topic
The Johnnie Walker Classic is on tap this week on the European Tour. What is your post-round beverage of choice?
My post round beverage of choice is an ice cold Corona Lite with two limes chased with a New Zealand sauvignon blanc (preferably Old Renwick) followed by dinner and complemented by a designated driver and the promise of more golf the next day.
Beer ... simple. Light of any kind or a Guiness to change it up.
The last time I played, I hit six fairways -- four of them on adjacent holes. I also managed to lose a match to my younger brother something like 7 and 1, which I didn't think was even possible. Unfortunately, I had to drive home (that was another bad drive as a bird committed suicide on my windshield) after the round. Sure would have been nice to have a Jim Beam and coke instead -- double.
Click here to e-mail us your take on all of the above four questions. We'll publish select reader responses on Friday.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship
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    Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

    Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

    Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

    In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

    Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

    “I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

    Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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    Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

    In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.

    Made Cut

    Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

    Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

    “If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    September can’t get here quick enough.

    Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

    There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

    In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.

    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

    “I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “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.”

    The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

    Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

    Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

    The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

    The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

    “My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.

    Missed Cut

    Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

    After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

    It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

    Tweet of the week:

    It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

    The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.”