Who were the big winner and the big loser after Week 1 of the PGA TOUR Playoffs?
Brian Hewitt - Columnist, GOLFCHANNEL.com:
Big winners: Steve Stricker for obvious reasons. How about GOLF CHANNEL as a winner? We now get Tiger, Phil and Vijay, in the same group, on our air, Friday and Saturday at Deutsche Bank. Biggest loser (bit of a harsh word here): Jason Dufner missed a 6-footer on the 72nd hole that would have advanced him to Deutsche Bank. Rory Sabbatini, too. Three bogeys on the back nine cost him the No. 1 spot after Week 1.
Mercer Baggs - Senior Producer, GOLFCHANNEL.com:
Even though he didn't play, Tiger Woods was a winner, if only because those closest to him at the start of the week didn't pass him. But, overall, I think the big winner -- aside from Stricker -- was K.J. Choi. Of the three players currently ahead of Tiger in the points standing, I think he has the best chance to win the $10 million. The biggest loser? Pick one: Singh, Furyk, Mickelson. All had a chance to put pressure on Tiger and all still trail him.
Ian Hutchinson - Contrib. Writer, GOLFCHANNEL.com:
The big winner is obvious. Steve Stricker's emotion after his win at The Barclays added a nice touch to a new part of the schedule that has been slammed big time. The loser in Week 1 didn't even play. It's tough to call Tiger a loser, but he added fuel to all the criticism of The Playoffs and did damage to his own public relations. Gee, I hope he doesn't go '9-and-8' on me for saying that.
Mark Rolfing - Analyst, GOLF CHANNEL:
I think the big winner without a doubt was Steve Stricker. He has come back so far and just to win a tournament of this magnitude, even forgetting that it's in The Playoffs, was huge. The biggest loser? I would say without Tiger it was FedEx. The TV rating was a 2.1; certainly most people expected more.
Will Annika Sorenstams engagement detract further from her professional life or enhance it?
It will eventually enhance it. I believe the more peace she finds in her personal life (and this may mean children) it will eventually enhance her professional life down the road. Being a parent sure hasn't slowed down Tiger Woods.
At this point you'd like to think that it couldn't hurt it. While injuries have hampered her progress this year, I still think motivation -- or lack thereof -- is the reason she has not yet won in 2007. I don't think she's as solely dedicated to golf as she once was. Getting married might seem like more of a distraction, but being content privately can only help her at this stage of her career.
She did pretty good when she was in her first marriage, but she's at a point in her career where the only way she can go is up. That may or may not be fair to say. The past couple of seasons, she has just been another LPGA Tour player, but definitely not Annika. Disappointing results become more obvious. The speculation could surround her back problems or her marriage, but the bottom line is where her head and heart is with some pretty prestigious career records not far away. I suspected even before her injuries and engagement that she was distracted.
I dont really think it will have any impact. Like Tiger Woods, her friend, Annika has been very good at separating her on-the-course life from her off-the-course life.
Has the U.S. Amateur lost its luster? If so, why?
No. I love watching the U.S. Amateur. It's a little like watching the Little League World Series in the sense that we don't know that much about the participants and they are playing for the sheer love of the game. Would liked to have seen Johnny Miller on the broadcasts.
Yes. I think a lot has to do with the lack of success that the most recent winners have had on the PGA TOUR. The last 10 Amateur winners (not including the recent Colt Knost) have combined for two TOUR wins. And only one, 2004 champ Ryan Moore, has been a consistent TOUR player since winning the U.S. Am. It's easy to blame three-time Am winner Tiger Woods for increasing expectations, but even in the 10 years before Tiger won his first title, there were the likes of Scott Verplank, Billy Mayfair, Phil Mickelson and Justin Leonard who won the Am and then went on to have great professional success. If this current crop can win more professionally, it will help boost the Amateur.
My head says yes, but my heart says no. It seems to be a common malady in golf with all of the emphasis on the professional tours and players like Michelle Wie giving amateur events a pass in order to turn pro way too young. National championships seem to be 'tweeners,' or less of a story on the national level, but a big story regionally if a local guy does well. It's sad to say with all the big names who have been national champions in the past, including Tiger. Still, prestige is not measured by press alone and the U.S. Amateur is still an impressive entry on a player's resume.
I dont think its lost its luster but its in danger simply because of its date. Sundays final round was on the air opposite not one but two other live events, the PGA TOUR and the LPGA. Too much of this air-time competition screams mediocrity to the viewers.
What is the ONE thing you are most looking forward to this week?
Tiger, Phil and Vijay. All day. In the same group. Friday and Saturday. Would love to see them paired again on the weekend as well.
Tiger's attitude. Padraig Harrington put it best by comparing the FedExCup to THE PLAYERS, saying: if you win it, it's important; if you don't, it's not. If Tiger has a nonchalant attitude, it could affect the public perception of these Playoffs for years to come.
Unfortunately, seeing if Lorena Ochoa can make like Annika and win four straight will have to wait for another day. I will be curious to see if Ernie Els takes the same heat that Tiger did for blowing off the second stage of the FedExCup playoffs. Fans need to be heard in golf and if players keep ditching these events, they will just become just another tournament on the schedule for most people. Please don't hand me the stuff about players being independent contractors either.
How will the Deutsche Bank Championship differ in the publics perception from Barclays? I think this week could be a turning point from a perception standpoint for the FedExCup.