Press Pass From Sawgrass to Oakmont

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 16, 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
Looking back, do you think the par-3 17th at Sawrass is 'gimmicky' as Tiger Woods suggested at the beginning of last week?
Brian Hewitt Brian Hewitt - Columnist,
In the parlance of the day: It is what it is. For something to be 'gimmicky' I think part of the concept has to be new and/or surprising. The 17th at the Stadium Course is neither. I think if they ever let the green get too firm, it would be gimmicky. As it stands now, the players at THE PLAYERS all know, well in advance, what's coming. It's a dangerous hole. But it's not an ambush. Therefore, I do not think it's gimmicky.
Steve Sands Steve Sands - Reporter, GOLF CHANNEL:
It might be a little gimmicky, but it's helped make the course and championship famous. It's one of the most highly anticipated shots in all of golf.
Mercer Baggs Mercer Baggs - Senior Producer,
Maybe, but it's definitely entertaining. To make it the eighth hole on the course, as Tiger also suggested, would take away a great deal of drama from this tournament. As the 17th, it has helped make the tournament what it is today.
Hot Topic
After back-to-back huge weeks on the PGA TOUR, who is your early sleeper pick for the U.S. Open at Oakmont?
My sleeper pick is Steve Stricker. Even though Stricker didn't play well at THE PLAYERS, he has started finding fairways again off the tee and has continued to improve on 2006. As putters go, he's one of the best five or 10 on TOUR. Putting will be at an ultra-premium at Oakmont, the most intimidating set of greens in America. Sentimental sleeper is Ernie Els, who won at Oakmont in 1994.
I think people are overlooking Sergio Garcia. His runner-up finish at THE PLAYERS was a big confidence boost.
It might be hard to consider the third-ranked player in the world a 'sleeper,' but Jim Furyk isn't making a lot of headlines this year. He could have won this tournament a year ago, were it not for a bogey at the last. He's as accurate as ever off the tee; if he can improve on his putting over the next month the Pennsylvania native might be able to add a second U.S. Open title to his resume. Scott Verplank might be worth keeping an eye on as well.
Hot Topic
What was your favorite storyline from THE PLAYERS Championship?
Favorite storyline had to be Tiger Woods putting the hammer down on 'Roary' Sabbatini. Enough said.
Phil winning was big, but I was really impressed with Sean O'Hair trying to win. A large paycheck is nice, but winning is what it should be about at the highest level. He tried to win the golf tournament when he attacked the pin at 17 and it cost him around $700,000 when he went in the water.
As much as I loved the soap opera moments from THE PLAYERS, I think the way Phil played on Sunday was the highlight of the tournament. He avoided disaster on 17 and 18 and played the kind of golf that it takes to win a major (semi-major) event. This should make his pre-tournament press conference at the U.S. Open a little more pleasant.
Hot Topic
What in your view was the shot of the week at THE PLAYERS?
With apologies to the double eagles of Hunter Mahan and Peter Lonard, the shot of the week was, without question, Phil Mickelson's thread-the-needle second at the 10th on Friday. Remember, this is a hole Mickelson once five-putted. The risk-reward was such on this hole in the third round that Mickelson didn't even tell his caddie, before the shot, what he was trying to do.
Phil's second at 18 on Sunday. It almost went in the water but stayed up. If it's wet it could've cost him THE PLAYERS, but it didn't. And he won.
Nearly a decade later, I still think about Len Mattiace hitting two in the water Sunday at 17 to cost him a shot at winning THE PLAYERS. Ten years from now, I'll still be able to recall Sean O'Hair doing pretty much the same thing this past Sunday.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - THE PLAYERS Championship
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    Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

    Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

    Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

    As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

    "That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

    Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

    Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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    Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

    If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

    Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

    But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

    Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

    Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

    Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

    Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

    Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

    Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

    Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

    Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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    Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

    Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

    “It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

    “What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

    Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

    “When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.