Press Pass Gulbis Win a 10 Ladies at Augusta

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 1, 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
On a scale of 1-10, how important was Natalie Gulbis' win to the LPGA Tour?
 
Brian Hewitt Brian Hewitt - Columnist, GOLFCHANNEL.com:
Two or three years ago I would have told you a Gulbis win was a 10 in importance to the LPGA. Now I think the victory in France was bigger for Gulbis than it was for her tour. And thats just a reflection of the influx of young talent and the myriad of story lines in womens golf right now. Womens golf has never been healthier.
 
Steve Sands Steve Sands - Reporter, GOLF CHANNEL:
It's pretty close to a 10. Amazing that she's not a 10, huh? Seriously, it's big for the LPGA Tour. If it was a major it would be much bigger, but for the tour's 'Cover Girl' to finally validate all of her hard work with a victory is not only a feather in her cap but in the LPGA's as well.
 
Mercer Baggs Mercer Baggs - Senior Producer, GOLFCHANNEL.com:
I'd give it an 8. This gives the LPGA even more reason to promote their tour through one of the most visible, attractive and likable players they have. I think a 10 would be having Michelle Wie win and commit herself to playing the tour full time. Love her or loathe her, no one at the moment drives more traffic the LPGA's way than does Wie.
 
Mark Rolfing Mark Rolfing - Analyst, GOLF CHANNEL:
I would say 9 (almost a 10) . The excitement level for Natalie winning was bigger than Tom Watson at the Senior British Open and maybe even Furyk winning in Canada.
 
Hot Topic
With the ladies playing St. Andrews this week for the Womens British Open, do you think Augusta National will ever host a womens event?
 
Hewitt:
I believe theres a 50-50 chance that the women might play at Augusta National one day. Well just have to see how progressive Masters chairman Billy Payne really is. I think it would be a terrific thing. And if they ever revive the old PGA TOUR pro partnering with an LPGA pro event, Augusta National would be a cool sight and site. It wouldnt have to be for official money or a full field to get the full attention of the sports world.
 
Sands:
No, I do not think Augusta National will host a women's event in anyone's lifetime who can read this. Augusta, perhaps more than any other club, understands how special it is to have it's doors open to the world once a year. And I believe the membership there will keep it that way.
 
Baggs:
The chances of it happening, on a scale of 1-10: 0; though, if it did, it would register as a 10 on the LPGA's scale. One tournament a year is plenty for Augusta's Old Guard.
 
Rolfing:
No.
 
Due to the PGA TOUR schedule, Tiger Woods is playing the week before a major for the first time in five years. Will playing this week affect his chances of winning the PGA Championship?
 
Hewitt:
I think it will help his game but not his personal life. That is to say, Woods will miss his newborn daughter, Sam Alexis, at some point during the two weeks away from home. Woods knows better than anybody else how to deal with everything that goes along with being Tiger Woods. Meanwhile on the golf side, I think Tiger will be especially hungry to prevent 2007 from being a majorless year. This is his last chance.
 
Sands:
No it will not. Based on his performance at the AT&T National and the Open Championship maybe Tiger needs the confidence of feeling good about his game in competition before going to Southern Hills. And what better place than Firestone to get the chip back on his shoulder? He loves Firestone. It always looks and feels like a major championship venue so it might be just what he needs.
 
Baggs:
I think it can only help. Given his record at Firestone (five wins in eight tries), it's likely he'll play well this week, which should add to his confidence level heading to Southern Hills. And given the fact that he's only played two tournaments since the U.S. Open, he probably needs a good tune-up.
 
Rolfing:
I dont think so. I expect Tiger will slip home to see Elin and Sam for a day. Southern Hills doesnt really fit his eye but he is still the favorite.
 
What is the ONE thing you are most looking forward to this week?
 
Hewitt:
Easy question. The women playing their British Open on the Old Course at St. Andrews. Theyve never competed for a major there before. It will be an historic occasion no matter who wins.
 
Sands:
I'm looking forward to seeing the world's best golfers playing against each other for the second time in three weeks, at a great course. Firestone is awesome. The field is awesome. And the people in Akron and Northeast Ohio always support the event. Should be fun!
 
Baggs:
I want to see if Annika can win at St. Andrews. Tiger and Jack have won the Open there. It would only be fitting to see the best female player of all time do the same. And this may be her one and only chance to do so.
 
Rolfing:
1) How will the women deal with the Old Course at St. Andrews ? 1a) How will Hawaiis Tadd Fujikawa deal with his professional debut ?
 
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    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

    While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

    He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

    "A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

    Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

    "If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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    Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

    When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

    Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

    "I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


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    The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

    "It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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    DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

    World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

    Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

    "It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

    Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

    Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

    "I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... 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."

    Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

    "If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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    LPGA lists April date for new LA event

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

    The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

    When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

    The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

    The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.