Press Pass Gambling Games

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 10, 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
The PGA TOUR heads to Las Vegas this week. What is your favorite gambling game on the course?
 
Brian Hewitt Brian Hewitt - Columnist, GOLFCHANNEL.com:
Six-point Scotch game: Two points for low ball. Two points for low total. One point for proximity (closest to the pin in regulation). And one point for natural birdie. If you win all six points on a hole you score an 'umbrella,' which means you get double (12) points. Value of a point is pre-determined. Only the team behind may press. And a press, once accepted, stays 'on' for the rest of the match.
 
Steve Sands Steve Sands - Reporter, GOLF CHANNEL:
Wolf. I like have the ability to team up with someone or go by yourself if you feel confident.
 

 
Mercer Baggs Mercer Baggs - Senior Producer, GOLFCHANNEL.com:
I don't play golf ... for money ... against people. Actually gambling games are more fun to play when there is a discrepancy between talent. I hate the handicap system and the whole idea of accepting strokes; I'd rather play as teams and come up with some fun way to enjoy the day. The two-man team scramble format is always a good one to play.
 
Hot Topic
The 2007 major season officially came to a close with the Senior Players Championship. What was your favorite major, on any tour, this past year?
 
Hewitt:
Tough question. So many train wrecks at the Kraft Nabisco. So much grinding at Oakmont. So much back-nine Sunday grit from Zach Johnson at Augusta. So many storylines at Southern Hills -- from Tiger and Woody especially. But I'm gonna go with Carnoustie. Sergio Garcia, one day, is going to have to learn to let a major win him, rather than the other way around. And how about the best moment in golf all year: Padraig Harrington, the eventual winner, double-bogeying the 72nd hole and still smiling like only an Irish father can when his small boy, Patrick, came bounding across the green to be picked up and hugged.
 
Sands:
The Open Championship at Carnoustie. The finishing hole is my favorite of any course is the world. The tournament was exciting each day. The finish was awesome. Didn't like it. Loved it!
 
Baggs:
The first one that comes to mind is Harrington's win at the Open. And if that's the first thing you think of, then that's the best there is. I've long been a Harrington fan and it was nice to see him finally win a major. I must confess it was also quite pleasing to see Zach Johnson, a fellow Christian, win the Masters.
 
Hot Topic
After watching Jesper Parnevik in Texas, which is tougher: winning for the first time ever on TOUR or winning for the first time in a long time?
 
Hewitt:
Depends on how long it is between wins. Robert Gamez had to wait 15 years and six months between his first win (1990 at Bay Hill) and his second (2005 San Antonio). Still, I think winning the first is toughest.
 
Sands:
Winning for the first time. I've asked the question dozens of times: when it's been a while do you still remember the winning feeling coming down the stretch? Almost every player has answered the same way: You never forget that winning feeling when you've had it before. No matter how long it's been it's still in you.
 
Baggs:
Winning after a lengthy drought. Even though you know that you are capable of winning there has to be an incredible amount of doubt and scar tissue built up in your head. All of these guys/girls have the physical tools to win on tour. More often than not, it's how well the hold up mentally down the stretch that determines whether or not they get the trophy.
 
Hot Topic
Whats the ONE thing you are most looking forward to this week?
 
Hewitt:
I want to see if Michelle Wie, now a freshman at Stanford, can take her school's sporting mojo (the Cardinal, a 40-point underdog, upset No. 2 USC in football Saturday) and break 80 at the Samsung World Championship in Palm Desert this week.
 
Sands:
I'm looking forward to a good tournament in Vegas. For some reason, I've always loved watching this tourney on TV. Whether it's the low scoring, the beautiful desert mountains surrounding the area or seeing the Las Vegas strip in the distance, it's just always been a cool event to watch.
 
Baggs:
The HSBC World Match Play. I love match play golf and I've played the Wentworth course. It's always fun to see on TV a course you've played in person. They don't have the field that they've had in the past, but they've got enough talent to keep it interesting -- especially since it's being aired in the morning East Coast time.
 
Related Links:
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  • Photo by Enrique Berardi/LAAC

    Top-ranked amateur Niemann one back at LAAC in Chile

    By Nick MentaJanuary 21, 2018, 8:44 pm

    Argentina’s Jaime Lopez Rivarola leads the Latin America Amateur Championship at 5 under par following a round of 3-under 68 Saturday in Chile.

    The former Georgia Bulldog is now 36 holes from what would be a return trip to Augusta National but his first Masters.

    "The truth is that I crossed off on my bucket list playing Augusta [National], because I happened to play there," Rivarola said. "I've played every year with my university. But playing in the Masters is a completely different thing. I have been to the Masters, and I've watched the players play during the practice rounds. But [competing would be] a completely different thing."

    He is followed on the leaderboard by the three players who competed in the playoff that decided last year’s LAAC in Panama: Joaquin Niemann (-4), Toto Gana (-4), and Alvaro Ortiz (-3).


    Click here for full-field scores from the Latin America Amateur Championship


    Chile’s Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who currently holds conditional status on the Web.com Tour and is poised to begin his career as a professional, unless of course he takes the title this week. After a disappointing 74 in Round 1, Niemann was 10 shots better in Round 2, rocketing up the leaderboard with a 7-under 64.

    “Today, I had a completely different mentality, and that's usually what happens in my case," Niemann said. "When I shoot a bad round, the following day I have extra motivation. I realize and I feel that I have to play my best golf. The key to being a good golfer is to find those thoughts and to transfer them into good golf."

    Niemann’s fellow Chilean and best friend Gana is the defending champion who missed the cut at the Masters last year and is now a freshman at Lynn University. His second-round 70 was a roller coaster, complete with six birdies, three eagles and a double.

    Mexico’s Ortiz, the brother of three-time Web.com Tour winner Carlos, was 6 under for the week before three back-nine bogeys dropped him off the pace.

    Two past champions, Matias Dominguez and Paul Chaplet, sit 5 over and 7 over, respectively.

    The winner of the Latin America Amateur Championship earns an invite to this year’s Masters. He is also exempt into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Open sectional qualifying, and Open Championship final qualifying.

    Getty Images

    McIlroy gets back on track

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 21, 2018, 3:10 pm

    There’s only one way to view Rory McIlroy’s performance at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:

    He is well ahead of schedule.

    Sure, McIlroy is probably disappointed that he couldn’t chase down Ross Fisher (and then Tommy Fleetwood) on the final day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. But against a recent backdrop of injuries and apathy, his tie for third was a resounding success. He reasserted himself, quickly, and emerged 100 percent healthy.

    “Overall, I’m happy,” he said after finishing at 18-under 270, four back of Fleetwood. “I saw some really, really positive signs. My attitude, patience and comfort level were really good all week.”

    To fully appreciate McIlroy’s auspicious 2018 debut, consider his state of disarray just four months ago. He was newly married. Nursing a rib injury. Breaking in new equipment. Testing another caddie. His only constant was change. “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place,” he said, “and that was because of where I was physically.”

    And so he hit the reset button, taking the longest sabbatical of his career, a three-and-a-half-month break that was as much psychological as physical. He healed his body and met with a dietician, packing five pounds of muscle onto his already cut frame. He dialed in his TaylorMade equipment, shoring up a putting stroke and wedge game that was shockingly poor for a player of his caliber. Perhaps most importantly, he cleared his cluttered mind, cruising around Italy with wife Erica in a 1950s Mercedes convertible.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    After an intense buildup to his season debut, McIlroy was curious about the true state of his game, about how he’d stack up when he finally put a scorecard in his hand. It didn’t take him long to find out. 

    Playing the first two rounds alongside Dustin Johnson – the undisputed world No. 1 who was fresh off a blowout victory at Kapalua – McIlroy beat him by a shot. Despite a 103-day competitive layoff, he played bogey-free for 52 holes. And he put himself in position to win, trailing by one heading into the final round. Though Fleetwood blew away the field with a back-nine 30 to defend his title, McIlroy collected his eighth top-5 in his last nine appearances in Abu Dhabi.

    “I know it’s only three months,” he said, “but things change, and I felt like maybe I needed a couple of weeks to get back into the thought process that you need to get into for competitive golf. I got into that pretty quickly this week, so that was the most pleasing thing.”

    The sense of relief afterward was palpable. McIlroy is entering his 11th full year as a pro, and deep down he likely realizes 2018 is shaping up as his most important yet.

    The former Boy Wonder is all grown up, and his main challengers now are a freakish athlete (DJ) and a trio of players under 25 (Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm) who don’t lack for motivation or confidence. The landscape has changed significantly since McIlroy’s last major victory, in August 2014, and the only way he’ll be able to return to world No. 1 is to produce a sustained period of exceptional golf, like the rest of the game’s elite. (Based on average points, McIlroy, now ranked 11th, is closer to the bottom of the rankings, No. 1928, than to Johnson.)

    But after years of near-constant turmoil, McIlroy, 28, finally seems ready to pursue that goal again. He is planning the heaviest workload of his career – as many as 30 events, including seven more starts before the Masters – and appears refreshed and reenergized, perhaps because this year, for the first time in a while, he is playing without distractions.

    Not his relationships or his health. Not his equipment or his caddie or his off-course dealings.

    Everything in his life is lined up.

    Drama tends to follow one of the sport’s most captivating characters, but for now he can just play golf – lots and lots of golf. How liberating.

    Getty Images

    Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

    Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

    Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

    There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.


    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


    Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

    The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

    Getty Images

    Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

    Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

    It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

    While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.