Press Pass Masters Debate Next on the List

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 11, 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
Do you like watching the Masters Tournament under firm and fast conditions with even par being a great score? Or do you like it when the conditions allow for lower scores with more birdies and eagles?
Brian Hewitt Brian Hewitt - Columnist,
As much as I enjoyed this Masters playing more like an Open Championship this time around, I, like many others, pine for the roars from Amen Corner. If the Masters wants to set a target winning score, I'd prefer 10 to 15 under. The winner, Zach Johnson, didn't go for any of the par-5s all week long. Something doesn't seem right about that. The 'signature' golf shot in the history of the Masters is Gene Sarazen's '2' on a par-5.
Kraig Kann Kraig Kann - Anchor, GOLF CHANNEL:
I liked watching Sunday at the Masters under the scoring conditions. I didnt much enjoy the first two rounds. Saturday was just tough ' forget that day. The weather combined with the course set-up dictated everything. Dont forget ... Augusta can determine the score just like the USGA can and we saw a Sunday with the fun and drama were always used to.
Mark Rolfing Mark Rolfing - Analyst, GOLF CHANNEL:
I like it better when conditions lead to lower scores; its the way I always remember the Masters. Tradition is a great part of the Masters and the combination of having lengthened the course and the difficulty of the conditions this year took away many scoring opportunities. The players had to play defensively.
Mercer Baggs Mercer Baggs - Senior Producer,
I'd much rather watch the Masters when players are allowed to be a little more aggressive, as they were on Sunday. I don't see anything wrong with 8 under to 12 under being the winning score. Certainly, the weather played a factor this past week, but much more so, the competition committee determined Augusta National's difficulty. Any coincidence Fred Ridley, former USGA president, is the new chairman of that particular committee?
Hot Topic
With Zach Johnsons Masters victory, who will be the next first-time major winner?
Interesting, by the way, that nobody that I saw came up with the headline: 'Masters And Johnson.' ... Anyway, I'm thinking the next first-time major winner will be Padraig Harrington and it may happen as early as Oakmont in June where, by the way, the conditions promise to be nasty. Sergio seems to be heading in the wrong direction. Monty is done when it comes to winning a major.
Look out for Luke Donald or Paul Casey. Those guys are good enough that their time will come ' perhaps before Sergio's. Appleby learned a ton and I wouldnt count him out. My guess is the Europeans get the distinction of the next first-timer.
I believe it will be one of three players: Henrik Stenson, now the sixth ranked player in the world; Paul Casey, who if not for a bad opening round at Augusta could have won the Masters; and Vaughn Taylor, who simply is one of the best putters in the game.
I hope it's Padraig Harrington, simply because I'm a fan. But I'm not putting my money on a European in a major. I can't see Adam Scott winning a major right now. I'm not going with a first-timer in the U.S. Open, but how about Trevor Immelman in the Open Championship at Carnoustie.
Hot Topic
Tiger Woods hasn't played the Verizon Heritage since 1999. Should players, like on the LPGA, be required to play in every PGA TOUR event at least once during a certain period of time?
I don't like special treatment, but Woods has earned it. He should not be required to play anywhere he doesn't want to play. Period. I am, however, on another subject, getting a lot of e-mails from viewers who are growing increasingly weary of Tiger's profanity on the golf course.
Yes. The Yankees have to play the Devil Rays, right? Id love to see Tiger at Hilton Head more often.
I think that requirement would be ideal, but I dont see it happening. I dont think the PGA TOUR policy board would ever approve that system. As an alternative, if the PGA TOUR considered each PGA TOUR event and once every four years gave every tournament bonus FedExCup points that could be a step in the right direction. In any case, I dont think it would affect a player like Tiger Woods, whose schedule is pretty much set each year.
No. I think it would certainly be nice to see, and certainly would be beneficial to the TOUR, but players shouldn't be obligated to play anywhere. I don't think this is something that we will ever see happen. Tiger wants to play where Tiger wants to play. And the TOUR wants to keep Tiger happy.
Hot Topic
The LPGA returns to action this week at the Ginn Open. With her major victory, is Morgan Pressel now Americas best female player under the age of 25?
Morgan Pressel may have vaulted past everybody and earned the right to be called the best female player, of any age, in the U.S. She was the first American to win the Kraft Nabisco since Dottie Pepper in 1999. On the other hand, the tournament kind of won her because she finished so much earlier than all the other contenders. I still believe that when all is said and done, Michelle Wie will have the best record of all the American women. But her ship is in dry dock right now and nobody seems to know when it's going to sail again.
No. Not ready for that yet. I still give the nod to Creamer or Wie. But Pressel is for real.
I dont think so. I believe it's Paula Creamer, but with her victory Morgan has definitely closed the gap.
I'm definitely giving the nod to Pressel over Wie right now. Wie may have the greater potential, but potential means bupkis right now. Creamer may still be atop this list on a weekly basis, but I see Pressel as being the kind of player who out-performs her American peers in the majors. She may not win that many regular tournaments, but I think she will claim up to five majors throughout her career, given her tenacity when even par is a great number.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Verizon Heritage
  • Full Coverage - Ginn Open
  • Full Coverage - Masters Tournament
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    Recovering Thomas thinks Match Play could help cause

    By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 10:07 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – It’s been a tough couple of days for Justin Thomas, and he hasn’t played an event in three weeks.

    The world’s second-ranked player had his wisdom teeth removed on March 7 following the WGC-Mexico Championship and has been recovering ever since.

    “I'm feeling OK. As funny as it is, as soon as I got over my wisdom teeth, I got a little strep throat,” Thomas said on Tuesday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. “I was pretty worried yesterday, to be honest, how I was going to be doing, but I feel a lot better today and just keep taking medicine and hopefully it will be good.”

    Thomas, who is listed in the Tour media guide as 5-foot-10, 145 pounds, said he lost about 6 pounds when he had his wisdom teeth removed and has struggled to put that weight back on because of his bout with strep throat.

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    As a result, his energy levels are low, which is a particular concern considering the marathon nature of the Match Play, which could include as many as seven rounds if he were to advance to Sunday’s championship match. Thomas, however, said the format could actually make things easier this week.

    “I told my dad, I only have to beat one person each day. I don't have to beat the whole field,” said Thomas, who has won just one match in two starts at the Match Play. “If it was stroke play then I may have a little harder time. But hopefully each day I'll get better and better. Who knows, maybe that will help me win a match in this golf tournament, because I've had a pretty hard time in the past.”

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    Spieth thought Mickelson blew him off as a kid

    By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 7:50 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – Phil Mickelson is widely recognized as one of the PGA Tour’s most accommodating players when it comes to the fans and signing autographs.

    Lefty will famously spend hours after rounds signing autographs, but sometimes perception can deviate from reality, as evidenced by Jordan Spieth’s encounter with Mickelson years ago when he was a junior golfer.

    “I think I was at the [AT&T] Byron Nelson with my dad and Phil Mickelson and Davis Love were on the putting green. I was yelling at them, as I now get annoyed while I'm practicing when I'm getting yelled at, and they were talking,” Spieth recalled. “When they finished, Phil was pulled off in a different direction and Davis came and signed for me. And I thought for the longest time that Phil just blew me off. And Davis was like the nicest guy. And Phil, I didn't care for as much for a little while because of that.”

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    Entering his sixth full season on Tour, Spieth now has a drastically different perspective on that day.

    “[Mickelson] could have been late for media. He could have been having a sponsor obligation. He could have been going over to sign for a kid’s area where there was a hundred of them,” Spieth said. “There's certainly been kids that probably think I've blown them off, too, which was never my intention. It would have never been Phil's intention either.”

    Spieth said he has spoken with Mickelson about the incident since joining the Tour.

    “He probably responded with a Phil-like, ‘Yeah, I knew who you were, and I didn't want to go over there and sign it,’ something like that,” Spieth laughed. “I’ve gotten to see him in person and really see how genuine he is with everybody he comes in contact with. Doesn't matter who it is. And he's a tremendous role model and I just wasn't aware back then.”

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    This week, let the games(manship) begin

    By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 7:47 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – The gentleman’s game is almost entirely devoid of anything even approaching trash talk or gamesmanship.

    What’s considered the norm in other sports is strictly taboo in golf - at least that’s the standard for 51 weeks out of the year. That anomaly, however, can be wildly entertaining.

    During Monday’s blind draw to determine this week’s 16 pods, Pat Perez was the first to suggest that this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play is the exception to the stoic rule on the PGA Tour.

    “Me and Branden [Grace] played a nine-hole match today and were chirping at each other the entire time,” Perez laughed. “Stuff like, ‘go in the trees.’ We were laughing about it, I didn’t get mad, I hit it in the trees.”

    Although Perez and Grace may have been on the extreme end of the trash-talk spectrum, it’s widely understood that unlike the steady diet of stroke-play stops in professional golf, the Match Play and the Ryder Cup are both chances to test some of the game’s boundaries.

    “There’s been a couple of different instances, both in the Ryder Cup. I can't share them with you, I'm sorry,” laughed Jordan Spieth, before adding. “I think they [the comments] were indifferent to me and helped [U.S. partner Patrick Reed].

    Often the gamesmanship is subtle, so much so an opponent probably doesn’t even realize what’s happening.

    Jason Day, for example, is a two-time winner of this event and although he was reluctant to go into details about all of his “tricks,” he did explain his mindset if he finds himself trailing in a match.

    “Always walk forward in front of the person that you're playing against, just so you're letting them know that you're pushing forward and you're also letting them know that you're still hanging around,” Day explained. “People feed off body language. If I'm looking across and the guy's got his shoulders slumped and his head is down, you can tell he's getting frustrated, that's when you push a little bit harder.”

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Tee times

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

    Some moments are not so innocent, as evidenced by a story from Paul Casey from a match during his junior days growing up in England.

    “I remember a player’s ball was very close to my line, as his coin was very close to my line and we were still both about 10 feet away and he kind of looked at me,” Casey recalled. “I assumed he looked at me to confirm whether his marker was in my line and it needed to be moved. I said, ‘That's OK there.’ So he picked [his coin] up. And then of course he lost his ability to understand English all of a sudden.”

    While the exploits this week won’t be nearly as egregious, there have been a handful of heated encounters at the Match Play. In 2015 when this event was played at Harding Park in San Francisco, Keegan Bradley and Miguel Angel Jimenez went nose to nose when the Spaniard attempted to intervene in a ruling that Bradley was taking and the incident even spilled over into the locker room after the match.

    But if those types of encounters are rare, there’s no shortage of mind games that will take place over the next few days at Austin Country Club.

    “It's part of it. It should be fun,” Spieth said. “There should be some gamesmanship. That's the way it is in every other sport, we just never play one-on-one or team versus team like other sports do. That's why at times it might seem way out of the ordinary. If every tournament were match play, I don't think that would be unusual.”

    It also helps heat things up if opponents have some history together. On Tuesday, Rory McIlroy was asked if he’s run across any gamesmanship at the Match Play. While the Northern Irishman didn’t think there would be much trash talking going on this week, he did add with a wry smile, “Patrick Reed isn’t in my bracket.”

    McIlroy and Reed went head-to-head in an epic singles duel at the 2016 Ryder Cup, which the American won 1 up. The duo traded plenty of clutch shots during the match, with Reed wagging his finger at McIlroy following a particularly lengthy birdie putt and McIlroy spurring the crowd with roars of, “I can’t hear you.”

    It was an example of how chippy things can get at the Match Play that when McIlroy was asked if he had any advice for Spieth, who drew Reed in his pod this week, his answer had a bit of a sharp edge.

    “Don't ask for any drops,” laughed McIlroy, a not-so-subtle reference to Reed’s comment last week at Bay Hill after being denied free relief by a rules official, “I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth, guys,” Reed said on Sunday.

    Put another way, this is not your grandfather’s game. This is the Match Play where trash talking and gamesmanship are not only acceptable, but can also be extremely entertaining.

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    Romo set to make PGA Tour debut at Punta Cana

    By Will GrayMarch 20, 2018, 6:43 pm

    While much of the attention in golf this week will be focused on the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Tony Romo may send a few eyeballs toward the Caribbean.

    The former quarterback and current CBS NFL analyst will make his PGA Tour debut this week, playing on a sponsor invite at the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic. The exemption was announced last month when Romo played as an amateur at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and he's apparently been hard at work ever since.

    "I'll be treating it very serious," Romo told reporters Tuesday. "My wife will tell you she hasn't seen me much over the last month. But if you know me at all, I think you know if I care about something I'm going to commit to it 100 percent. So like I said. you'll get the best I've got this week."

    Romo retired from the NFL last year and plays to a plus-0.3 handicap. In addition to his participation in the Pebble Beach event, he has tried to qualify for the U.S. Open multiple times and last month played a North Texas PGA mini-tour event as an amateur.

    According to Romo, one of the key differences between pro football and golf is the fact that his former position is entirely about reactive decisions, while in golf "you're trying to commit wholeheartedly before you ever pull the club out of your bag."

    "I'm not worried about getting hit before I hit the ball," Romo said. "It's at my own tempo, my own speed, in this sport. Sometimes that's difficult, and sometimes that's easier depending on the situation."

    Romo admitted that he would have preferred to have a couple extra weeks to prepare, but recently has made great strides in his wedge game which "was not up to any Tour standard." The first-tee jitters can't be avoided, but Romo hopes to settle in after battling nerves for the first three or four holes Thursday.

    Romo hopes to derive an added comfort factor from his golf in the Dallas area, where he frequently plays with a group of Tour pros. While Steph Curry traded texts with a few pros before his tournament debut last summer on the Tour, Romo expects his phone to remain silent until he puts a score on the board.

    "I think they're waiting to either tell me 'Congrats' or 'I knew it, terrible,'" Romo said. "Something along those lines. They're probably going to wait to see which way the wind's blowing before they send them."

    Romo will tee off at 8:10 a.m. ET Thursday alongside Dru Love and Denny McCarthy.