Press Pass Gulbis Win a 10 Ladies at Augusta

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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
On a scale of 1-10, how important was Natalie Gulbis' win to the LPGA Tour?
 
Brian Hewitt Brian Hewitt - Columnist, GOLFCHANNEL.com:
Two or three years ago I would have told you a Gulbis win was a 10 in importance to the LPGA. Now I think the victory in France was bigger for Gulbis than it was for her tour. And thats just a reflection of the influx of young talent and the myriad of story lines in womens golf right now. Womens golf has never been healthier.
 
Steve Sands Steve Sands - Reporter, GOLF CHANNEL:
It's pretty close to a 10. Amazing that she's not a 10, huh? Seriously, it's big for the LPGA Tour. If it was a major it would be much bigger, but for the tour's 'Cover Girl' to finally validate all of her hard work with a victory is not only a feather in her cap but in the LPGA's as well.
 
Mercer Baggs Mercer Baggs - Senior Producer, GOLFCHANNEL.com:
I'd give it an 8. This gives the LPGA even more reason to promote their tour through one of the most visible, attractive and likable players they have. I think a 10 would be having Michelle Wie win and commit herself to playing the tour full time. Love her or loathe her, no one at the moment drives more traffic the LPGA's way than does Wie.
 
Mark Rolfing Mark Rolfing - Analyst, GOLF CHANNEL:
I would say 9 (almost a 10) . The excitement level for Natalie winning was bigger than Tom Watson at the Senior British Open and maybe even Furyk winning in Canada.
 
Hot Topic
With the ladies playing St. Andrews this week for the Womens British Open, do you think Augusta National will ever host a womens event?
 
Hewitt:
I believe theres a 50-50 chance that the women might play at Augusta National one day. Well just have to see how progressive Masters chairman Billy Payne really is. I think it would be a terrific thing. And if they ever revive the old PGA TOUR pro partnering with an LPGA pro event, Augusta National would be a cool sight and site. It wouldnt have to be for official money or a full field to get the full attention of the sports world.
 
Sands:
No, I do not think Augusta National will host a women's event in anyone's lifetime who can read this. Augusta, perhaps more than any other club, understands how special it is to have it's doors open to the world once a year. And I believe the membership there will keep it that way.
 
Baggs:
The chances of it happening, on a scale of 1-10: 0; though, if it did, it would register as a 10 on the LPGA's scale. One tournament a year is plenty for Augusta's Old Guard.
 
Rolfing:
No.
 
Due to the PGA TOUR schedule, Tiger Woods is playing the week before a major for the first time in five years. Will playing this week affect his chances of winning the PGA Championship?
 
Hewitt:
I think it will help his game but not his personal life. That is to say, Woods will miss his newborn daughter, Sam Alexis, at some point during the two weeks away from home. Woods knows better than anybody else how to deal with everything that goes along with being Tiger Woods. Meanwhile on the golf side, I think Tiger will be especially hungry to prevent 2007 from being a majorless year. This is his last chance.
 
Sands:
No it will not. Based on his performance at the AT&T National and the Open Championship maybe Tiger needs the confidence of feeling good about his game in competition before going to Southern Hills. And what better place than Firestone to get the chip back on his shoulder? He loves Firestone. It always looks and feels like a major championship venue so it might be just what he needs.
 
Baggs:
I think it can only help. Given his record at Firestone (five wins in eight tries), it's likely he'll play well this week, which should add to his confidence level heading to Southern Hills. And given the fact that he's only played two tournaments since the U.S. Open, he probably needs a good tune-up.
 
Rolfing:
I dont think so. I expect Tiger will slip home to see Elin and Sam for a day. Southern Hills doesnt really fit his eye but he is still the favorite.
 
What is the ONE thing you are most looking forward to this week?
 
Hewitt:
Easy question. The women playing their British Open on the Old Course at St. Andrews. Theyve never competed for a major there before. It will be an historic occasion no matter who wins.
 
Sands:
I'm looking forward to seeing the world's best golfers playing against each other for the second time in three weeks, at a great course. Firestone is awesome. The field is awesome. And the people in Akron and Northeast Ohio always support the event. Should be fun!
 
Baggs:
I want to see if Annika can win at St. Andrews. Tiger and Jack have won the Open there. It would only be fitting to see the best female player of all time do the same. And this may be her one and only chance to do so.
 
Rolfing:
1) How will the women deal with the Old Course at St. Andrews ? 1a) How will Hawaiis Tadd Fujikawa deal with his professional debut ?
 
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