Press Pass Tiger or Top-10

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 14, 2007, 5:00 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. You can also give your take on our questions. Just click on the link and e-mail your responses to all four questions to us. We'll publish select answers each Friday in our Press Pass: Readers' Forum.
Hot Topic
This weeks Nissan Open features eight of the top 10 players in the world, but no Tiger Woods. Would you rather have this scenario at your event or Tiger Woods and none of the other top 10 players in the world?
Brian Hewitt Brian Hewitt - Senior Writer,
If I was a tournament director and/or a title sponsor, Id rather have Tiger Woods. Thats a no-brainer. Can you say ratings? Can you say buzz? Can you say generated revenues? In general, Id rather have eight of the top 10 and no Tiger.
Kraig Kann Kraig Kann - Host, Golf Channel:
Id rather have eight of the top 10 on the World Golf Ranking and not Woods. I love Tiger, but its about strength of field and depth. The PGA TOUR would be even more healthy if they could get that eight-of-10 scenario more often.
Mercer Baggs Mercer Baggs - Senior Producer,
It's tough to go against strength of field, but I've got to take Tiger at my tournament over everyone else. He brings in the crowd and the media and, ultimately, the dollars. Also, even with eight of the top 10 players in the world in attendance, only a couple will likely contend on Sunday. You know Tiger will factor into the final outcome.
Hot Topic
The initial match-ups are out for the WGC-Accenture Match Play. Which is the most intriguing first-round match?
To me, the most intriguing first round match is Shaun Micheel vs. Jim Furyk. Micheel, remember, beat Tiger Woods (and Luke Donald) while getting all the way to the finals of the HSBC Match Play last year in England. Furyk got a bad draw. Also keep an eye on two first-round matches that pit Euro Ryder Cupper against Euro Ryder Cupper. Darren Clarke faces Sergio Garcia and Padraig Harrington plays Lee Westwood.
Easy answer: Tiger's first-round match. Given that he took this past week off and hasn't always been a lock to get past Day 1, all eyes on Tiger. Mickelson now becomes a match of extreme interest, too.
Darren Clarke vs. Sergio Garcia. Hopefully, no one will withdraw and this match will be able to take place, pitting the two Ryder Cup stars against one another. Another intriguing match-up is Paul Casey vs. Mike Weir. It will be interesting to see if Casey, who won the HSBC World Match Play Championship last year at Wentworth, can continue his great match-play form in the U.S.
Hot Topic
The LPGA Tour season begins this week. Who will emerge as Player of the Year?
The early line favorite (Laura Davies said if she was allowed shed bet on her) is Karrie Webb. Others think Lorena Ochoa will repeat. I think Ochoa and Webb will both win majors this year, but Annika Sorenstam will capture her ninth Rolex Player of the Year.
Annika Sorenstam. Much to prove after seeing Lorena Ochoa win the honor last year. All the talk of her leaving the game to concentrate on family and children will quickly go away when she wins her first tournament this year. To me, all the pressure is on Ochoa. Better odds of Karrie Webb winning in 2007 than Ochoa. I think Annika will play with a passion this year and win at least four events -- two of them being majors.
A year ago, I wouldn't have believed that I would have ever said this again, but I think Karrie Webb will be Player of the Year. Annika seems to have too much on her mind outside of golf; Lorena will have a lot of pressure on her trying to repeat the honor; and I don't really see anyone else being able to win at least four or five times, including a major -- except Webb. She's already off to a great start this year with back-to-back wins in Australia.
Hot Topic
Harding Park will host the 2009 Presidents Cup. Which course, not in the current PGA TOUR rotation, would you most like to see host a big-time event?
Id like to see Augusta National host an LPGA event. But that wasnt the question. My answer to the question is LA North. But that aint happenin in our lifetime, because the membership wants no part of the PGA TOUR. Would also like to see the big boys go 72 holes at Pine Valley.
Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis would be great. They hosted a PGA Championship; they lost out on the World Golf Championship event when the tragedy of 9/11 happened. The plan is for them to be a part of the BMW Championship rotation along with Cog Hill Golf & Country Club, but Id like to see them get the regular slot because St. Louis would support a TOUR event as well as most cities. If not St. Louis, how about Sahalee Country Club in Redmond, Wash. The former PGA Championship site was a real beauty. And if youve never played Milwaukee Country Club ' youre missing a treat!
I'd love to see an event contested on one of these Golf Digest top-rated courses that no one really knows anything about: Pine Valley; Seminole; Shadow Creek in Las Vegas. I'd also like to see Bandon Dunes or Pacific Dunes host an event. Or maybe they would just let me play one of these courses. I would settle for that.
Click here to e-mail us your take on all of the above four questions. We'll publish select reader responses on Friday.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Nissan Open
  • Full Coverage - SBS Open at Turtle Bay
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

    Getty Images

    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

    Getty Images

    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

    Getty Images

    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.