Press Pass Readers Forum

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 24, 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. In Press Pass: Readers' Forum, it's time for you the readers to step to the tee box. You can submit your answers to our weekly questions each Wednesday in our Press Pass.
 
Hot Topic
This week is normally the spot for THE PLAYERS Championship. Do you like having the fifth major between the Masters and the U.S. Open or as a lead-in to the seasons first major?
 
17th at the TPC at Sawgrass
Aerial look of the 17th green at the TPC at Sawgrass. (WireImage)
'PLAYERS Championship Move? I'm 100% in favor of the move!' -- George Kelley
 
'Good move to put it in May, and I'm betting the players will agree. They are all in full swing (no pun intended) by then.' -- Blair McCurdy, Milford, Ohio
 
'Moving the PLAYERS Championship date is positive - it should not have to compete for press time against The Masters.' -- Garvin Bailey
 
'I think it's a great move - providing a smooth transition from The Masters to the U.S. Open. Hopefully the weather will be a bit more cooperative in mid-May than it's been during March.' -- James Evans
 
Hot Topic
Should the PGA TOUR do more to make the WGC events contested on a more global level?
 
'I'll not hear a moments whining from any player about greuling schedules or tiresome road trips or being away from their families so long; they know what kind of lifestyle they're signing up for when they turn pro. Either that or take the word 'world' out of the title.' -- Jeremy C. Nagel, Lansing, Mich.
 
'It would be great to see more of the old classic courses in the British Isles. However, I don't believe the travel issues should even be considered during these days and times when private jets and expedited travel service for these players is the norm!' -- Jim Reagor, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
 
'WGC events should be truly worldwide. The events should be a showcase for other fine courses from around the world. I love the variety of shots on links vs. typical TOUR courses for example. For me, anything that causes the players to play adaptive/creative shots, and showcase their skills, is fun to watch.' -- lon keith klein
 
'In a perfect world, of course some of the WGC events should be played all over the world. There are great courses to be showcased in many different spots! But, the fact is most of the top players already live and play in the U.S. and it makes sense to keep the events here.' -- Not So Perfect World
 

Hot Topic
Who are the best and worst dressed golfers, on any tour, today?
 
Ian Poulter
The one-of-a-kind style that is Ian Poulter. (Wire Images)
'Mr. Hewitt's grandmother was right, as grandmothers often are - in fashion, taste is everything. Tiger Woods, Indian golfer Jeev Milkha Singh and even Sergio Garcia (when he's not looking like a cross between a banana and a canary)...they look good in almost everything they put on. Natalie Gulbis? Well, we've seen that body pretty much in its entirety, so we know it's...admirable. Of course she's going to look great in little skirts.' -- Patricia Hannigan
 
'As far as fashion goes, I think Americans are way behind the trend, and Europeans dress a lot better. Just because style is different or unique, they aren't bad dressers. Such as Ian Poulter,who has fantastic fashion sense, and his use of color is very outstanding.' -- kelvin
 
'Did you guys forget Jose Maria Olazabal? He dresses very nicely, and in my opinion, no ones 'be-hind' fits a pair of pants as nicely as his does!' -- Lisa Nowlin
 
'(I) wonder if anybody will ever match Payne Stewart in the best dressed category?' -- Millend G.
 
Hot Topic
Vijay Singh won this past week by using a belly putter. Should belly and/or long putters be made illegal?
 
'Its not the long putters that are changing the game, its the hot ball and the high tech drivers. Everyone can also use long putters, but most choose not too because there is no advantageits a preference.' -- George Churchfield
 
'There is a maximum length for drivers. I believe that the maximum length should apply to ALL clubs including putters. If for no other reason than 2 club lengths with some of the broomstick putters can almost get you from the trees to the fairway.' -- Chris Pendleton, San Luis Obispo, Calif.
 
'I don't think the belly putter or long putter should be illegal on TOUR, however, it always looks like a gimmick of some sort when I see those guys using them. As wackidoodle as 'the claw' looks, I understand it and players still look like they're putting; but, those pivoting belly putters are a tad unorthadox.' -- Jane Massey
 
'Most proponents of the bracing method (used with belly putters) would argue the technique allows them to help eliminate the small muscles. But who says the skill in mastering and controlling these muscles (nerves) is less important than any other element of the game?' -- Thomas A. Nagle
 
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    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.