Press Pass Lefty Duval and US Women

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 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. This week, the Press Pass takes you to the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic and the Women's World Cup of Golf.

Hot Topic
Will Phil Mickelson win a major this year?

Brian Hewitt Brian Hewitt - Senior Writer,
If he does, it will be the Masters where his record in the last eight years is off the charts good (two wins, three thirds, a sixth, a seventh and a 10th). But if Tiger Woods gets to Augusta with his current winning streak intact, forget it. There will be no stopping him.

Kelly Tilghman Kelly Tilghman - Live Tournament Host, Golf Channel:
It's hard to say because I haven't seen him hit a shot since the Ryder Cup.. I think the Masters is his best chance, but Tiger will be a real problem for him.

Mercer Baggs Mercer Baggs - Senior Producer,
Probably not. If Tiger plays like he did last year, then he should win at least two majors. That leaves only two -- maybe just one -- for the rest of the bunch. It's not so much that I don't believe in Phil as it is that I have a great deal of faith in Tiger.

Kraig Kann Kraig Kann - Host, Golf Channel:
I would have thought his best chance was Augusta, but given Tiger's ambush on trophy ceremonies of late, at this point I have a hard time picking against Woods. A 'Tiger Slam' would come at Oakmont in the U.S. Open, which would be redemption for a missed cut last year. Phil's too good to not get one. So, YES but it won't be Augusta. I say Carnoustie at the British or Southern Hills for the PGA.

Hot Topic
David Duval, who is making his first start of the year, is using a one-time career money exemption to compete on the PGA TOUR in 2007. Will he finish in the top 125 on the money list?

Duval improved from 260th on the money list in 2005 to 172nd last year. If he stays healthy, we will see him back in the top 125 in 2007. The jury is still out on whether we will ever see him back in the top 30 again.

I think so because he showed signs of improvement last year. I still believe he has some fire in him.

I'm going to say yes. If he plays a little bit better than he did last year, he can slip in a top-10 or two -- particularly if he decides to play late in the year. If he really wants to keep his card, he'll play a few tournaments after the TOUR Championship.

Tuesday, I heard two arguments against him doing it. But I've always believed he'd come back. So, YES again. This is Duval's year to rebound from the free-fall. All he needs is four decent finishes or one really good week. Call me crazy but I'm thinking beyond the money list to a surprise return to the winner's circle. When he does it, there will be a ton of players there to celebrate.

Hot Topic
If you were holding a golf tournament, who would you want to be the celebrity host?

Tiger Woods. Second choice: Bill Gates (money). Third choice: George Lopez (funny).

I would take Will Ferrell in a heartbeat, but I prefer him in the character of 'Ron Burgundy: Anchorman.'

Charles Barkley. He loves golf, is entertaining and could produce some top-name celebrities. Also, if he has to play the role of tournament host, then maybe it will keep him off the course.

Chris Rock. A little first-tee 'stand-up' could make things interesting. Although he'd have to tone it down a bit. Can I get two? Then bring in Sandra Bullock.

Hot Topic
The Womens World Cup is this week. Who are the two best female American players (Juli Inkster and Pat Hurst are representing the U.S.)?

I think the two best U.S. women at the moment are Cristie Kerr and Inkster. The best American player at the moment is Lorena Ochoa. (Last time I checked, Mexico was still in the Americas.)

I like Juli Inkster and Cristie Kerr for obvious reasons. Both are gritty competitors. But don't sleep on Juli and Pat Hurst. They're both U.S. Amateur champions. They'll be strong in matchplay.

There should be a vast selection of players to choose from, but there are really just two who stand out: Cristie Kerr and Juli Inkster. Paula Creamer had a dismal season in 2006, and Morgan Pressel hasn't yet developed into a top-notch talent on the LPGA. Who knows about Michelle Wie. We'll have to wait and see how she fares when she plays again with the ladies.

Could be the best question of the bunch. When Michelle Wie's with her peers, she warrants strong consideration. Her LPGA major record is incredible without winning. But given her play of late, I sit her down and consider Cristie Kerr, Juli Inkster and Paula Creamer. Forget the world rankings, I'm going with Kerr and Creamer. One of them will win a major this year. Maybe both.

Related Links:

  • Full Coverage - Bob Hope Chrysler Classic
  • Full Coverage - Women's World Cup of Golf
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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.'"

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    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.