Press Pass Rule 88 Validating No 1

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 6, 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 agree with the LPGAs 88 Rule that states if any non-member shoots 88 or higher, she is banned from playing on tour the remainder of the year?
Brian Hewitt Brian Hewitt - Columnist,
Seems like the penalty doesn't fit the crime, doesn't it? Too harsh. I am also a little perplexed at why they plucked the number '88' out of the ether. Why not 90? Why not 100? Finally, as we saw, there's an easy way around the rule. If you are close to shooting 88 or worse, just withdraw before the end of your round.
Steve Sands Steve Sands - Reporter, GOLF CHANNEL:
Yes. It's the highest level of women's golf and the LPGA Tour should protect itself from non-members who don't have the ability to compete against those who do.
Steve Duemig Steve Duemig - Panelist, Grey Goose 19th Hole:
I most certainly do. A professional tour is supposed to be for the best of the best. There must have been a reason for this rule to be implemented in the first place, based on the past. The USGA has a similar rule, when trying to qualify for the Open, based on number of strokes over the course rating, and future applications.
Mark Rolfing Mark Rolfing - Analyst, GOLF CHANNEL:
No. I dont think that a finite number such as 88 makes sense. Obviously golf courses vary in terms of difficulty so the standard should be relative to difficulty. The USGA uses a formula relative to the course rating. Its a better system.
Mercer Baggs Mercer Baggs - Senior Producer,
I like the rule. I have no idea why it's 88, but if you can't break 88, especially in decent weather conditions, then you have no business playing on tour -- any tour. That being said, I am in no way offended by special players like MacKinzie Kline getting the occasional sponsor's exemption.
Hot Topic
This week is the McDonald's LPGA Championship. Does Lorena Ochoa have to win a major to validate her position as the No. 1 player in the world?
Lorena Ochoa deserves her ranking at No. 1. She is the best player on the LPGA right now, week in and week out and the stats prove it (she dominates so many categories). But before we begin to think of her as a dominant player in the Sorenstam mold she is going to have to start winning multiple majors and she's going to have to figure out how to be a more consistent closer.
Yes. Greatness in golf is measured by major championship titles. Plenty of players have won majors who were not great. But to be considered great in golf, I think you have to win at least one major.
Golf is probably different than team sports in that aspect. Many great players in sports have left competition without having won a Super Bowl, Stanley Cup, etc. I don't think having to win a major to validate a ranking is neccessary. A ranking is based on the player's perfomance over a certain period of time. If a person can grab hold of the No. 1 ranking without having won a major during that time, then blame the system. Getting to No. 1 validates that player by getting there. However, if you are judging a career, that is a whole different matter.
No. It is clear to me that Lorena is the No. 1 player in the world and certainly winning a major would validate that position even more. I think it is likely that Ochoa will win a major this year, but even if she doesnt I still think she will finish the season as No. 1.
Lorena is the best player in the game today ... but she's not dominant. At least not compared to Annika before her. Unfortuantely, Annika set the standard for greatness on the LPGA. In order for Lorena to be seen as dominant -- which is what we like to think of No. 1 players being -- she has to win majors. Not one, but multiple. Given her talent, I'd be suprised if she didn't get at least one this year.
Hot Topic
Woods and Mickelson are among those who have gotten an early look at Oakmont. Do you think this U.S. Open site will play tougher than Winged Foot?
Clearly, Oakmont is a tougher golf course than Winged Foot. How tough it plays will depend on how tough the USGA's Mike Davis sets it up. Davis is a reasonable man. He wants the golf course to play fair. But 'fair' is a subjective concept. I think if it's hot, windy and dry at Oakmont, 10 over par could be the winning score.
Depends on the weather. If it's hard and fast the winning score will be over par. If Oakmont is softened by rain the winning score will be under par.
I do, because of the severity of the greens at Oakmont and the length they have added. When players are having to hit woods to certain par-3s, it minimizes their accuracy chances, thus coming up with many more difficult situations.
I believe that Oakmont will play even tougher than Winged Foot. Any rain at all this week will thicken up the rough. I also think that Oakmont has the most difficult sets of green complexes in championship golf.
I never really bought into all of the complaining players do before a major, all the whining about how hard the course is going to be and how no one will finish under par. Until last year's U.S. Open. For once, they were right and no one finished better than 5 over. I think this year's winning number will be a little lower, but if it's hot and dry, then over par could still win.
Hot Topic
Tell the readers: whats the ONE thing youre most looking forward to this week?
I'm looking forward to the biggest story in golf happening. This week that story would be Michelle Wie winning the McDonald's LPGA. I'm not saying that would be the 'best' story, just the 'biggest.' Nor am I predicting a Wie triumph. The 'best' story would be Lorena Ochoa winning her first major. And, by way, it would be pretty cool if Annika Sorenstam won at Bulle Rock, too.
I'm looking forward to a great week in Memphis. It's the best field that tournament's had in years. The new date before the U.S. Open certainly helped. The good people in Memphis and the fine people who run the event deserve to show the world's best players that their tournament should be a regular stop for them each year.
If her poor wittle wist is OK this week, I want to see if Michelle Wah, errr, Wie, can finish a tournament, without making any excuses. What's the weather forecast? Hope it's not too hot for her.
I am most looking forward to seeing what Michelle Wie decides regarding the LPGA Championship. If she plays, the scrutiny and pressure to turn things around from last week will be very intense.
I want to see Ochoa carry a lead into the back nine Sunday at the McDonald's LPGA. She has had trouble, including last week, in closing tournaments. I want to see if she has it in her to close a major championship.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - McDonald's LPGA Championship
  • Full Coverage - Stanford St. Jude Championship
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    Rose: 'Never' has Rory putted as well as Bay Hill

    By Ryan LavnerMarch 19, 2018, 1:20 am

    ORLANDO, Fla. – Justin Rose didn’t need to ponder the question for very long.

    The last time Rory McIlroy putted that well was, well …?

    “Never,” Rose said with a chuckle. “Ryder Cup? He always makes it look easy when he’s playing well.”

    And the Englishman did well just to try and keep pace.

    After playing his first six holes in 4 over par, Rose battled not just to make the cut but to contend. He closed with consecutive rounds of 67, finishing in solo third, four shots back of McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

    Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

    Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

    Rose said this weekend was the best he’s struck the ball all year. He just didn’t do enough to overtake McIlroy, who finished the week ranked first in strokes gained-putting and closed with a bogey-free 64.

    “Rory just played incredible golf, and it’s great to see world-class players do that,” Rose said. “It’s not great to see him make putts because he was making them against me, but when he is, he’s incredibly hard to beat. So it was fun to watch him play.”

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    Rory almost channels Tiger with 72nd-hole celebration

    By Ryan LavnerMarch 19, 2018, 1:11 am

    ORLANDO, Fla. – Rory McIlroy’s final putt at the Arnold Palmer Invitational felt awfully familiar.

    He rolled in the 25-footer for birdie and wildly pumped his fist, immediately calling to mind Woods’ heroics on Bay Hill’s 18th green.

    Three times Woods holed a putt on the final green to win this event by a stroke.

    Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

    Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

    McIlroy was just happy to provide a little extra cushion as the final group played the finishing hole.

    “I’ve seen Tiger do that enough times to know what it does,” McIlroy said. “So I just wanted to try and emulate that. I didn’t quite give it the hat toss – I was thinking about doing that. But to be able to create my own little bit of history on the 18th green here is pretty special.”

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    A performance fit for a King

    By Ryan LavnerMarch 19, 2018, 1:08 am

    ORLANDO, Fla. – Five hundred and 40 days had passed since Rory McIlroy last won, and since golf lost one of its most iconic players.

    So much has transpired in McIlroy’s life since then – marriage, injury, adversity – but even now he vividly recalls the awkward end to the 2016 Tour Championship. He had just captured the FedExCup and $11 million bonus, but afterward, in the scrum, he was asked instead to reflect on the passing earlier that day of Arnold Palmer, at age 87.

    “Obviously I had a great win and it was a great day for me, but in the big scheme of things, that didn’t matter,” he said. “The game of golf had lost an icon, a legend, an inspiration to so many of us. I probably wasn’t as ecstatic as maybe I would have been if Arnie hadn’t passed away.”

    But there was McIlroy on Sunday at Bay Hill, at Arnie’s Florida home, summoning the kind of charge that would have made the King proud. With five birdies in his last six holes, he broke away from a stacked leaderboard to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational for his first victory on Tour in 18 months, since that bittersweet evening at East Lake.

    “Kind of ironic,” he said Sunday.

    But the connection between McIlroy and Palmer runs deeper than that.

    Palmer and McIlroy’s wife, Erica, shared a birthday – Sept. 10.

    Palmer wrote letters to McIlroy after each of his many victories.

    Palmer had lobbied for years to get McIlroy to play this event, even threatening him. “If he doesn’t come and play Bay Hill,” Palmer said in 2012, “he might have a broken arm and he won’t have to worry about where he’s going to play next.”

    McIlroy kept all of his limbs intact but didn’t add the event until 2015, when Palmer’s health was beginning to deteriorate. That week he sat for a two-hour dinner with Palmer in the Bay Hill clubhouse, and the memories still bring a smile to his face.

    “I was mesmerized,” McIlroy said.

    And entertained, of course.

    Palmer ordered fish for dinner. “And I remember him asking the server, ‘Can I get some A.1. Sauce?’” McIlroy said.

    “And the server said, ‘For your fish, Mr. Palmer?’ And he said, ‘No, for me!’"

    McIlroy chuckled at the exchange, then added somberly: “I was very fortunate to spend that time with him.”

    Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

    Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

    McIlroy has been telling anyone who will listen that he’s close to playing his best golf, but even he was surprised by the drastic turn of events over the past 10 days.

    During that 18-month winless drought, he endured an onslaught of questions about his wedge play, his putting, his health and his motivation. Burnt out by the intense spotlight, and needing to rehab a nagging rib injury, he shut it down for four months last fall, a mental and physical reset.

    But after an encouraging start to his 2018 campaign in the Middle East, McIlroy was a non-factor in each of his first four Tour starts. That included a missed cut last week in Tampa, where he was admittedly searching.

    “The best missed cut I’ve ever had,” he said.

    McIlroy grinded all last weekend, stumbling upon a swing thought, a feeling, like he was making a three-quarter swing. Then he met for a few hours Monday in South Florida with former PGA Tour winner and putting savant Brad Faxon. They focused on being more instinctive and reactionary over the ball.

    “He just freed me up,” McIlroy said.

    Freed up his stroke, which had gotten too rigid.

    And freed up his mind, which was bogged down with technical thoughts and self-doubt.

    “The objective is to get the ball in the hole,” he said, “and I think I lost sight of that a little bit.”

    All McIlroy did at Bay Hill was produce the best putting week of his career.  

    Starting the final round two shots back of Henrik Stenson, McIlroy made the turn in 33 and then grabbed a share of the lead on the 11th hole.

    Tiger Woods was making a run, moving within a shot of the lead, but McIlroy answered with a charge of his own, rattling off four consecutive birdies – a 16-footer on 13, a 21-footer on 14, a chip-in on 15 and a two-putt birdie after a 373-yard drive on 16 – that left Woods and everyone else in the dust.

    Then McIlroy finished it off in style, rolling in a 25-footer on the last that was eerily similar to the putt that Woods has holed so many times at his personal playground.

    “I know what the putt does,” McIlroy said, “so it was nice to make my own little bit of history.”

    Justin Rose has played plenty of meaningful golf with McIlroy over the years, but he’d never seen him roll it like he did Sunday.

    “He turned on the burners on the back nine,” he said. “He always makes it look easy when he’s playing well.”

    It’s little wonder McIlroy pulled ahead of a star-studded leaderboard, closing with a bogey-free 64 and winning by three shots at 18-under 270 – he led the field in driving distance, proximity to the hole, scrambling and strokes gained-putting.

    “It’s so nice that everything finally came together,” he said.

    Over the next two weeks, there figures to be plenty of conversation about whether McIlroy can channel that fearlessness into the major he covets most. The Masters is the only piece missing from a career Grand Slam, and now, thanks to Faxon’s tips, he’s never been in a better position.

    But after a turbulent 18 months, McIlroy needed no reminder to savor a victory that felt like a long time coming.

    There was a hug for his parents, Gerry and Rosie.

    A kiss for his wife, Erica.

    A handshake for Palmer’s grandson, Sam Saunders, and then a fitting into the champion’s alpaca cardigan.

    The only thing missing was the King himself, waiting atop the hill behind 18 with his huge smile and vice-grip handshake.

    “Hopefully he’s up there smiling,” McIlroy said, “and hopefully he’s proud of me with the way I played that back nine.”

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    McIlroy remembers Arnie dinner: He liked A-1 sauce on fish

    By Will GrayMarch 19, 2018, 1:06 am

    ORLANDO, Fla. – Fresh off a stirring victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Rory McIlroy offered a pair of culinary factoids about two of the game’s biggest names.

    McIlroy regretted not being able to shake Palmer’s hand behind the 18th green after capping a three-shot win with a Sunday 64, but with the trophy in hand he reflected back on a meal he shared with Palmer at Bay Hill back in 2015, the year before Palmer passed away.

    “I knew that he liked A-1 sauce on his fish, which was quite strange,” McIlroy said. “I remember him asking the server, ‘Can I get some A-1 sauce?’ And the server said, ‘For your fish, Mr. Palmer?’ He said, ‘No, for me.’”

    Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

    Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

    A few minutes later, McIlroy revealed that he is also a frequent diner at The Woods Jupiter, the South Florida restaurant launched by Tiger Woods. In fact, McIlroy explained that he goes to the restaurant every Wednesday with his parents – that is, when he’s not spanning the globe winning golf tournaments.

    Having surveyed the menu a few times, he considers himself a fan.

    “It’s good. He seems pretty hands-on with it,” McIlroy said. “Tuna wontons are good, the lamb lollipops are good. I recommend it.”