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
  • Getty Images

    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

    Getty Images

    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

    Getty Images

    Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

    What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

    Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    “I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

    McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

    He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

    Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

    “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

    Getty Images

    Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

    Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

    Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

    Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

    Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

    Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.