Press Pass The Ultimate Match-Play Showdown

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 21, 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
Aside from Jack Nicklaus vs. Tiger Woods in their primes, what would be your ultimate match-play showdown of all time?
 
Brian Hewitt Brian Hewitt - Columnist, GolfChannel.com:
Let's start with Bobby Jones against Walter Hagen. Hogan vs. Nelson wouldn't be bad either. More recently: Give me Phil vs. Tiger.
 
Kraig Kann Kraig Kann - Host, Golf Channel:
Mickelson vs Palmer. And not Ryan Palmer. Two stars from different eras with that go-for-it style. Amidst a slew of birdies -- and maybe 'others' -- they might try to one-up each other in an autograph contest.
 
Mercer Baggs Mercer Baggs - Senior Producer, GolfChannel.com:
Since this is purely fictitional, I'd love to see Tiger Woods 2000 vs. Tiger Woods 2007. Tiger, as well as coach Hank Haney, say that he is the best he's ever been. I've never seen anyone, at any time, more dominant than Tiger was in 2000.
 
Hot Topic
Phil Mickelson had another eventful finish last Sunday. What is your most memorable Mickelson moment?
 
Hewitt:
Has to be Phil hitting that full swing flop shot over Dave Pelz' head with Pelz standing approximately 15 feet away. On the course, it would be Phil's winning putt on the 72nd hole to win his first Masters.
 
Kann:
His win at the TPC Scottsdale in a playoff with Justin Leonard in '96. I was there covering it for the GOLF CHANNEL, following the raucous playoff, which coincided with the Cowboys-Steelers Super Bowl. Fans were a bit over the top for Phil, who won. That win in front of a huge hometown crowd was big for his career.
 
Baggs:
His response to losing the 2006 U.S. Open. Watching him handle that situation was very impressive. He was the only runner-up to attend the trophy ceremony and then, after acknowledging the crowd and applauding their support, he answered each and every painful question posed to him by us media types. It was one of his best moments at a terribly difficult time.
 
Hot Topic
Mark OMeara and Nick Price have already debuted on the Champions Tour this year, while Bernhard Langer, Seve Ballesteros, Jeff Sluman and John Cook are all eligible to join in 06. Who among them will have the best career as a senior?
 
Hewitt:
Langer is the best of a very strong bunch. Personally, I'll be rooting for Sevie to recapture some of the old magic. But that's a long longshot.
 
Kann:
Sluman edges Langer in this one. Jeff has his one major and hasn't gotten enough credit for being a very, very good player. Look out; he'll prove it as soon as his birthday rolls around.
 
Baggs:
Langer is probably at the head of this class, but I hope Price plays well. You won't find a classier player than Price and he has been miserable over the last few years on the PGA TOUR. Hopefully, his game will be rejuvenated with his enthusiasm and he'll not only win a few tournaments each year, but a couple of majors along the way.
 
Hot Topic
Paula Creamer wears pink on Sunday. Tiger Woods wears red. What color should Mickelson adorn during the final round?
 
Hewitt:
This is kind of a silly question. So here's kind of a silly answer: Phil can wear whatever color he wants as long as he doesn't step on my blue suede shoes.
 
Kann:
Black from head to toe. Goodness knows he's seen enough dark days. Good intimidation wardrobe ... plus, fashion guru Marty Hackel says its slimming.
 
Baggs:
Animal print. Perhaps something with tiger stripes.
 
Click here to e-mail us your take on all of the above four questions. We'll publish select reader responses on Friday.
 
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    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

    While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

    He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

    "A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

    Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

    "If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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    Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

    When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

    Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

    "I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

    "It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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    DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

    World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

    Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

    "It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

    Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

    Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

    "I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

    Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

    "If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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    LPGA lists April date for new LA event

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

    The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

    When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

    The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

    The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.