Press Pass Annika Michelle Tiger and Phil

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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
In regards to this weeks Memorial Tournament, do you like Jack Nicklaus use of gap-toothed rakes to create furrows in bunkers?
 
Brian Hewitt Brian Hewitt - Columnist, GOLFCHANNEL.com:
I wasn't wild about the fact that he sprung the rakes on the players last year with very little advance notice. This year he has modified the severity of the rakes and I think that's fine. I agree with him that the conditioning of the sand at Muirfield Village had gotten so fine that to be in a greenside bunker was better than being in greenside rough.
 
Steve Sands Steve Sands - Reporter, GOLF CHANNEL:
I think Jack is trying to make things more difficult to keep the scoring down at his tournament. Other courses and tournaments do certain things to try to achieve the same result so I don't have a problem with what they're doing in Dublin.
 
Steve Duemig Steve Duemig - Panelist, Grey Goose 19th Hole:
Jack's reasoning is that being in a bunker is supposed to cost you half a stroke. If I was playing, probably not. But I'm not playing so - You go, Jack.
 
Mark Rolfing Mark Rolfing - Analyst, GOLF CHANNEL:
I think it is an interesting idea. I dont think the grooves should be overly severe, but anything to make the sand other than a perfect surface to play a shot out of would make the area more of a hazard. To me there should be some disadvantage to being in a bunker. After all a bunker is a hazard.
 
Mercer Baggs Mercer Baggs - Senior Producer, GOLFCHANNEL.com:
I don't have a problem with it. But that being said, even Tiger Woods only gets up-and-down from a greenside bunker less than 64 percent of the time. Bunkers are pretty penal to begin with -- still, I don't mind making them a little more difficult for the best players in the world.
 
Hot Topic
Annika Sorenstam returns to action this week in her own Ginn Tribute Hosted by Annika. Will a healthy Sorenstam regain the No. 1 spot in the world this year?
 
Hewitt:
I think a 'healthy' Annika will regain the No. 1 spot this year. The question (and we will learn a lot more by the end of this coming week) is how healthy will Annika be and how soon. Her doctor has told me she has been careful to be conservative in her treatment of neck and back injuries since learning of them last month. Annika is competitive and there might be a temptation to come back too soon. But all signs point to her being smarter than to give in to the temptation. In her mind, I believe, Annika is shooting for a healthy defense of her U.S. Women's Open title at Pine Needles late next month.
 
Sands:
If Annika is healthy there's no question she'll regain the No. 1 spot in the world this season.
 
Duemig:
I don't think so. Being off that long and not practicing for some of that time during rehab will definitely affect her. Besides, Ochoa is playing very well.
 
Rolfing:
I think the answer is no, but dont ever count Annika out. She has three disadvantages when it comes to her rivalry with Lorena Ochoa. No. 1, the age difference; No. 2, Annikas potential for lingering injury; No. 3, Annikas focus on other things in life besides competitive golf.
 
Baggs:
I think it's Lorena's for the rest of the year. She's easily capable of winning a few more times and could (should) land a major title. Right now in their careers, I think a healthy Lorena Ochoa is better than a healthy Annika Sorenstam.
 
Hot Topic
Michelle Wie is also making her return this week. She will be playing the PGA TOURs John Deere Classic in July. Good move or bad move?
 
Hewitt:
You must understand that Michelle Wie at the John Deere is, in a sense, kind of a one-off. She has become extremely popular in the Quad Cities region where that tournament is played. And tournament director Clair Peterson has told me all their feedback has been positive about Wie returning there. Wie is a big draw at the John Deere and she has made charitable contributions to worthy causes there. What I don't think you'll see any time soon are any other tournament directors on the PGA TOUR looking to get Wie in their fields. She needs to score better in PGA TOUR events to get consistent invites there.
 
Sands:
I do not think it's a good idea for Michelle Wie to play in a PGA TOUR event. She's a professional golfer. Professionals play to win. She cannot win the John Deere Classic. Learning how to win on the professional level is difficult. Trying to make a cut Friday afternoon is not the same as trying to win a tournament Sunday afternoon.
 
Duemig:
LOL!! Cut me a break. At what point does this become comical? Oh yeah, it already is.
 
Rolfing:
I still think its a good move for Michelle and dont be surprised if she does better this year at the John Deere Classic. I really think this extended layoff she has had from the game will turn out to be good for her. Most importantly just look at what Michelles presence has done for the John Deere Classic, the Quad-Cities community and all the local charities.
 
Baggs:
I feel like Michelle has gotten about all she can right now out of playing against men. I think she should focus on competing against her own gender, get better as a player, get her confidence back, and then take another stab at it in the future.
 
Hot Topic
In your opinion, whats the ONE thing to watch for this week?
 
Hewitt:
Sergio Garcia has a new putter (YES C-Groove) that he started using at THE PLAYERS. It certainly worked for him there (second-place finish). If he ever regains the kind of confidence in his putting he had in his late teens, he will be an immediate force again and a player to be watched closely at next month's U.S. Open.
 
Sands:
I'm curious to see how Tiger Woods plays at Muirfield Village after being away two weeks since his disappointing week at THE PLAYERS.
 
Duemig:
The thing I will be looking for the most is the way Tiger's putter is reacting at the Memorial. (The Muirfield greens have) Open-type speed. It may paint the picture as to his true chances at Oakmont.
 
Rolfing:
To me, the most interesting thing will be to see which tour gets bigger play in the media, the PGA TOUR or the LPGA. You have two premier events on the same weekend.
 
Baggs:
I'm very curious to see how Annika plays this week. Two of the next three tournaments are major championships, one of which Annika will be defending (U.S. Women's Open). This week, for once, isn't about winning for Annika -- it's about finding her feel, and feeling well.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Memorial Tournament
  • Full Coverage - Ginn Tribute Hosted by Annika