Press Pass A Coachs Worth Popularity Contest

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 25, 2007, 4:00 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.
 
Hot Topic
This week is the EDS Byron Nelson Championship. What is your favorite memory of the late Byron Nelson?
 
Brian Hewitt Brian Hewitt - Columnist, GOLFCHANNEL.com:
That's easy. It was interviewing Nelson, in his late 80s at the time, while Nelson sat for a haircut with his regular barber, Shelton Givens, in downtown Fort Worth. Nelson fussed while the photographer worked on the lighting. But once we started talking he would have sat there all day long. His recall staggered the imagination. Oh, and there was the matter of him driving by himself, in his own car, from his farm to downtown Fort Worth for the interview. He parallel parked on the street, fed the meter, got out of his car and walked, with his cane, into Shelton's establishment.
 
Steve Sands Steve Sands - Reporter, GOLF CHANNEL:
I met Mr. Nelson for the first time at his event in 2002. It was amazing to watch how gentle he was and how much time he took for almost everyone. Each day I'd watch strangers walk away from shaking his hand with a smile on their face. He was always friendly.
 
Mark Rolfing Mark Rolfing - Analyst, GOLF CHANNEL:
In 1996 I was working for ABC, which covered Byrons tournament. After Phil Mickelson won that year I emceed the awards ceremony with Phil and Mr. Nelson. While we were waiting to go back on the air, Mr. Nelson looked at me and said I think you are a wonderful golf announcer. Ill never forget that.
 
Mercer Baggs Mercer Baggs - Senior Producer, GOLFCHANNEL.com:
I never had the honor to meet Mr. Nelson in a one-on-one setting, but I did attend his 2001 tournament. I remember thinking how wonderful it was that he watched everyone finish up on 18 and then shook their hands and said a few words to them as they went to sign their scorecards. It didn't matter if it was Tiger Woods or Robert Damron, he treated each player the same and thanked everyone for playing in the tournament.
 
Hot Topic
Phil Mickelson is now working full time with Butch Harmon. How much of a role do instructors play in a players success?
 
Hewitt:
Obviously, it varies from player to player. The key is communication. And that can work in different ways. Some players need a kick in the butt (and want a kick in the butt) and wind up with very good teachers who are too gentlemanly. Other players are very sensitive and don't respond to the occasional tongue-lashing. In short, some players need to be told how good they are and others need to be told how good they ought to be. It's also important for the teacher to determine what kind of stimuli--auditory or visual--the player best responds to. Then there is the familiarity thing. You don't see his name on too many lists, but Henry Reis has been with Annika Sorenstam for 20 years now. And he rarely needs to look at more than five swings to determine the trouble when Annika comes to him with a swing flaw problem. For a player to know that there is that availability is hugely important.
 
Sands:
Whenever I see a player believe in what he's working on with his instructor that confidence seems to translate to his scoring.
 
Rolfing:
I believe the instructors role has increased in this era of new technology. Forty years ago the game was played much more by feel, which is a difficult thing to teach.
 
Baggs:
Instructors are a very important part of the game, but I think many of the younger players rely too heavily on their coaches and become too mechanical in competition. I think a player should know his swing well enough to figure out what is not working on his own -- and should have a coach as an extra set of eyes to help point out any flaws and help fix them.
 
Hot Topic
Speaking of instructors, Justin Roses says that the Englishman will win more majors than Nick Faldo. Will ANY current European-born player win six or more major championships?
 
Hewitt:
Nick Bradley (Rose's coach) has forgotten more about golf than I will ever know. But winning more majors than Nick Faldo means Rose will have to capture seven before his career ends. That's a tall order for anybody. One of the most interesting things about Faldo's record is that of the nine official PGA TOUR events he won, six were major championships. That's a pretty strong percentage. Rose has the goods to win multiple majors but he's still looking for his first.
 
Sands:
No. There could be some Europeans who win multiple majors like Rose or Paul Casey. But with Tiger just 31 years of age, anyone winning six or more in the next 10-15 years is unlikely.
 
Rolfing:
No. First of all there are many more good European players to spread the majors around than during Faldos time. And secondly, Nick did not have to deal with Tiger Woods in his prime.
 
Baggs:
No chance. I'd be very surprised if any of the current crop of European-born players got even half-way to that mark. For one, there is Tiger Woods (and even Phil Mickelson). For another, winning multiple majors is about more than just talent. It takes a great deal of desire to win one major then have the drive to not settle but to want to win more and more and more. I don't think there are 10 players in the world with that drive and the ability to do it.
 
Hot Topic
Lorena Ochoa and company are in Mexico this week. Who is the most popular player in his/her country outside of the U.S.?
 
Hewitt:
Ochoa isn't a bad choice. She has done a lot to raise the level of consciousness of golf in her country. And Seve Ballesteros will always be a sporting icon in Spain. Same with Greg Norman in Australia. Jumbo Ozaki is a cult figure in Japan. But the most popular player in his country, outside of the U.S., is, hands down, Mike Weir in Canada. The Canadians have a passion for golf that is fed by the intensity of their relatively short season. They live and die with Weir's triumphs and defeats. And, add on to that, Weir's equanimity in the face of all this national pressure. We, at GOLF CHANNEL, constantly are asked who the 'good guys' are in golf. Weir is a first ballot top-5 in that category. If he wants to be elected to public office in Canada when his playing days are through, all he has to do is run.
 
Sands:
I've covered the Canadian Open three times and was in Ireland for the WGC-CA Championship and Ryder Cup. Padraig Harrington is huge in his home country, but I have never heard a crowd as loud and warm to a home country hero as Canadians are to Mike Weir. He is a legend who after his Masters win in 2003 was almost as big as Wayne Gretzky in hockey mad Canada.
 
Rolfing:
I really believe it is Lorena Ochoa. Her popularity in Mexico is mind-boggling. Camillo Villegas in Columbia would be a pretty close second.
 
Baggs:
I've never seen anything quite like the LPGA Q-school finals two years ago, when nearly 100 credentialed Japanese media were on hand to witness Ai Miyazato medal. LPGA Q-school normally gets about 10 media members total covering the event. I was told by more than one Japanese writer that she is (at least was at the time) as popular as MLB players Hideki Matsui and Ichiro.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - EDS Byron Nelson Championship
  • Full Coverage - Corona Championship
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    Davies a fitting winner of inaugural USGA championship

    By Randall MellJuly 15, 2018, 11:26 pm

    Laura Davies confessed she did not sleep well on a five-shot lead Saturday night at the U.S. Senior Women’s Open.

    It’s all you needed to know about what this inaugural event meant to the women who were part of the history being made at Chicago Golf Club.

    The week was more than a parade of memories the game’s greats created playing in the USGA’s long-awaited showcase for women ages 50 and beyond.

    The week was more than nostalgic. 

    It was a chance to make another meaningful mark on the game.

    In the end, Davies relished seeing the mark she made in her runaway, 10-shot victory. She could see it in the familiar etchings on the trophy she hoisted.

    “I get my name on it first,” Davies said. “This championship will be played for many years, and there will only be one first winner. Obviously, quite a proud moment for me to win that.”

    Really, all 120 players in the field made their marks at Chicago Golf Club. They were all pioneers of sorts this past week.

    “It was very emotional seeing the USGA signs, because I've had such a long history, since my teens, playing in USGA championships,” said Amy Alcott, whose Hall of Fame career included the 1980 U.S. Women’s Open title. “I thought the week just came off beautifully. The USGA did a great job. It was just so classy how everything was done, this inaugural event, and how was it presented.”

    Davies was thankful for what the USGA added to the women’s game, and she wasn’t alone. Gratefulness was the theme of the week.


    Full-field scores from the U.S. Senior Women’s Open


    The men have been competing in the U.S. Senior Open since 1980, and now the women have their equal opportunity to do the same.

    “It was just great to be a part of the first,” three-time U.S. Women’s Open winner Hollis Stacy said. “The USGA did a great job of having it at such a great golf course. It's just been very memorable.”

    Trish Johnson, who is English, like Davies, finished third, 12 shots back, but she left with a heart overflowing.

    “Magnificent,” said Johnson, a three-time LPGA and 19-time LET winner. “Honestly, it's one of the best, most enjoyable weeks I've ever played in in any tournament anywhere.”

    She played in the final group with Davies and runner-up Juli Inkster.

    “Even this morning, just waiting to come out here, I thought, `God, not often do I actually think how lucky I am to do what I do,’” Johnson said.

    At 54, Davies still plays the LPGA and LET regularly. She has now won 85 titles around the world, 20 of them LPGA titles, four of them majors, 45 of them LET titles.

    With every swing this past week, she peeled back the years, turned back the clock, made fans and peers remember what she means to the women’s game.

    This wasn’t the first time Davies made her mark in a USGA event. When she won the U.S. Women’s Open in 1987, she became just the second player from Europe to win the title, the first in 20 years. She opened a new door for internationals. The following year, Sweden’s Liselotte Neumann won the title.

    “A lot of young Europeans and Asians decided that it wasn't just an American sport,” Davies said. “At that stage, it had been dominated, wholeheartedly, by all the names we all love, Lopez, Bradley, Daniel, Sheehan.”

    Davies gave the rest of the world her name to love, her path to follow.

    “It certainly made a lot of foreign girls think that they could take the Americans on,” Davies said.

    In golf, it’s long been held that you can judge the stature of an event by the names on the trophy. Davies helps gives the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open the monumental start it deserved.

    Getty Images

    Suwannapura beats Lincicome in playoff for first win

    By Associated PressJuly 15, 2018, 10:49 pm

    SYLVANIA, Ohio - Thidapa Suwannapura won her first LPGA event on Sunday, closing with a 6-under 65 and birdieing the first playoff hole to defeat Brittany Lincicome at the Marathon Classic.

    The 25-year-old Thai player is the sixth first-time winner on tour this year. Her previous best finish in 120 starts was seventh at the 2014 Kingsmill Championship.

    Suwannapura picked up three strokes over her final two holes, making eagle on the par-5 17th and closing with a birdie on the par-5 18th at Highland Meadows to finish at 14-under 270.

    In the playoff, Suwannapura converted a short birdie putt after Lincicome hit her second shot into a water hazard and scrambled for par.

    Lincicome shot 67. She had a chance to win in regulation, but her birdie putt from about 10 feet did a nearly 360-degree turn around the edge of the cup and stayed out. Next up for the big-hitting Lincicome: a start against the men at the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship.

    Third-round leader Brooke Henderson led by two shots after six holes, but struggled the rest of the way. Back-to-back bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes dropped her out of the lead. The 20-year-old Canadian finished with a 2-under 69, one shot out of the playoff.

    Getty Images

    Kim cruises to first win, final Open invite at Deere

    By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 9:38 pm

    Following the best week of his professional career, Michael Kim is both a winner on the PGA Tour and the 156th and final player to earn a tee time next week at The Open.

    Kim entered the final round of the John Deere Classic with a five-shot lead, and the former Cal standout removed any lingering doubt about the tournament's outcome with birdies on each of his first three holes. He cruised from there, shooting a bogey-free 66 to finish the week at 27 under and win by eight shots over Francesco Molinari, Joel Dahmen, Sam Ryder and Bronson Burgoon.

    It equals the tournament scoring record and ties for the largest margin of victory on Tour this season, matching Dustin Johnson's eight-shot romp at Kapalua in January and Molinari's margin two weeks ago at the Quicken Loans National.

    "Just super thankful," Kim said. "It's been a tough first half of the year. But to be able to finish it out in style like this means a lot."

    Kim, 25, received the Haskins Award as the nation's top collegiate player back in 2013, but his ascent to the professional ranks has been slow. He had only one top-10 finish in 83 starts on Tour entering the week, tying for third at the Safeway Open in October 2016, and had missed the cut each of the last three weeks.

    But the pieces all came together at TPC Deere Run, where Kim opened with 63 and held a three-shot lead after 36 holes. His advantage was trimmed to a single shot during a rain-delayed third round, but Kim returned to the course late Saturday and closed with four straight birdies on Nos. 15-18 to build a five-shot cushion and inch closer to his maiden victory.

    As the top finisher among the top five not otherwise exempt, Kim earned the final spot at Carnoustie as part of the Open Qualifying Series. It will be his first major championship appearance since earning low amateur honors with a T-17 finish at the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion, and he is also now exempt for the PGA Championship and next year's Masters.

    The last player to earn the final Open spot at the Deere and make the cut the following week was Brian Harman, who captured his first career win at TPC Deere Run in 2014 and went on to tie for 26th at Royal Liverpool.

    Getty Images

    Poulter offers explanation in dispute with marshal

    By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:47 pm

    Ian Poulter took to Twitter to offer an explanation after the Englishman was accused of verbally abusing a volunteer during the third round of the Scottish Open.

    Poulter hooked his drive on the opening hole at Gullane Golf Club into a bush, where Quintin Jardine was working as a marshal. Poulter went on to find the ball, wedge out and make bogey, but the details of the moments leading up to his second shot differ depending on who you ask.

    Jardine wrote a letter to the tournament director that he also turned into a colorfully-titled blog post, accusing Poulter of berating him for not going into the bush "feet first" in search of the ball since Poulter would have received a free drop had his ball been stepped on by an official.


    Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open


    "I stood and waited for the player. It turned out to be Mr. Poulter, who arrived in a shower of expletives and asked me where his ball was," Jardine wrote. "I told him and said that I had not ventured into the bush for fear of standing on it. I wasn't expecting thanks, but I wasn't expecting aggression, either."

    Jardine added that Poulter stayed to exchange heated words with the volunteer even after wedging his ball back into the fairway. After shooting a final-round 69 to finish in a tie for 30th, Poulter tweeted his side of the story to his more than 2.3 million followers:

    Poulter, 42, won earlier this year on the PGA Tour at the Houston Open and is exempt into The Open at Carnoustie, where he will make his 17th Open appearance. His record includes a runner-up at Royal Birkdale in 2008 and a T-3 finish at Muirfield in 2013.