Press Pass Completing the Slam Testing for Drugs

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 28, 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. 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
Annika Sorenstam has said that she wants to win the seasonal Grand Slam. Do you see her or any other current LPGA Tour player ' including Michelle Wie ' ever being able to accomplish that feat?
Brian Hewitt Brian Hewitt - Columnist,
Michelle Wie needs to win a golf tournament, any golf tournament, before she begins thinking about a calendar Grand Slam. I honestly think Lorena Ochoa may have a better chance to win the Grand Slam this year even though I realize she hasn't yet won her first major. Annika's probably got a two- or three-year window for the seasonal Grand Slam.
Kraig Kann Kraig Kann - Anchor, GOLF CHANNEL:
In a short answer to Annika ' no. I think she could, but I dont think she will. Her odds were better a few years ago when the likes of Creamer, Ochoa and other young guns werent around. Could Wie do it? Yes. And I think shell give it a good run before her career is done.
Mark Rolfing Mark Rolfing - Analyst, GOLF CHANNEL:
It is unlikely that anyone would be able to win the seasonal Grand Slam, but if someone were going to accomplish this I think it would be Lorena Ochoa.
Mercer Baggs Mercer Baggs - Senior Producer,
If Wie reaches her potential -- and keeps her primary focus on women's golf -- I think she could dominate like Annika did in the early part of this decade. That would be the only way I could ever see any current female sweep the majors in the near future. I think the tour is too deep right now and there just isn't one player who is far and away better than everyone else.
Hot Topic
The Mission Hills course, which hosts this weeks Kraft Nabisco, ends with the par-5 18th. Do you like par-5 finishing holes in tournaments?
I have no problem with par-5 finishers, especially if they are shortish with a lot of risk-reward. The 13th at Augusta would be a fabulous finishing hole. Also, I don't mind a par-3 final hole. Imagine someone making an ace on the 72nd hole to win a major.
Not really. A par-5 finish gives such an advantage to the longer hitter. It forces his or her counterpart to be precise with a wedge to make birdie that way and hope against a potential eagle. Actually, to make things more even, Ill take a par-3 finish. Imagine Bay Hills 17th as a finishing hole. Now that provides fair drama.
I like any type of finishing hole where there can be more than a one stroke swing, regardless of whether it is a par 4 or 5. For example the 18th at Bay Hill or the 18th at TPC Sawgrass (par 4s) both can produce 2 or 3 shot swings as can the 18th at Pebble Beach which is a par 5.
I like a par-5 finish, on two conditions: 1) it is reachable for at least an above average hitter. 2) there is some kind of risk-reward. To make a par-5 finishing hole 650 yards is pointless, but if it gives at least half of the field a chance to go for it in two then it creates excitement. Also, if you're going to give players a chance to make eagle, you must also put in play bogey or worse. Make it accessible, but make it penal if the player makes a mistake. Just don't make it a par-3, like at East Lake.
Hot Topic
Should the PGA TOUR follow the LPGAs lead and implement a drug-testing policy?
I do not think it's important for the PGA TOUR to have a list of banned substances. Much more important to monitor balls and implements (not necessarily restrict, but monitor) in our sport than to police a problem that doesn't exist.
No. Im so tired of drugs being a part of any conversation in sport. Golf is supposed to be pure. If Skip Kendall starts averaging 310 off the tee, then well revisit it.
Performance enhancing drugs have no place on either the LPGA or the PGA Tour however just as in the rules of golf where the players police themselves I think theyre capable of policing themselves regarding performance enhancing drugs. Therefore, I say no to drug testing but yes to a list of banned substances.
Certainly. It's easy to say that there is no problem and thus there is no need to test for a problem that doesn't exist. How do we know that there isn't a problem? Steroids and HGH might not be prevalent in golf, but I can see how they would be beneficial to a player. Look at how many pitchers have been caught using illegal drugs in baseball. They, like golfers, don't want to be overly muscular, but they do want to increase strength and recovery time in relation to fatigue and injury. Most likely, there is no problem. But we can't be 100 percent certain unless a testing policy is in place.
Hot Topic
With the Masters on the horizon: If you were a player, would you be in favor of competing the week before a major championship or taking the week off?
Depends what kind of a player I was. This year I'd go to Houston because they have great barbecue on the range. Last year I might have skipped BellSouth. Never was a huge fan of Sugarloaf.
Id take the week off and practice or see my teacher. I wouldnt want the risk of a poor weekend or a missed cut factoring into my mind going into a major. Id stay home, enjoy the family and dominate on PlayStation to up my confidence.
Thats an interesting question. I am at the Shell Houston Open, the week prior to The Masters and theyve set up the course to replicate Augusta National short rough, very fast greens and closely mown areas on the banks surrounding water hazards. For most of the players I think it would be helpful to compete. For top players who have more obligations, particularly with the media, it probably makes more sense to take the week off.
If I was playing well and was confident, I would take the week off and rest and practice at home. If I was playing poorly, I would compete, because I would want to work out my kinks in competition. This probably sounds like the exact opposite of what I should be doing, but I tend to figure out my problems more so during competition than I do on the range (things always look and feel good on the range; I need to know what works when it counts).
Click here to e-mail us your take on all of the above four questions. We'll publish select reader responses on Friday.
Related Links:
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    Match-by-match: WGC-Dell Technologies, Sweet 16

    By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 24, 2018, 5:40 pm

    Here is how things played out in the Round of 16 on Saturday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. The week began with 64 players taking on Austin Country Club,but the field is dwindling. Click here for Day 3 match results:

    Match 97: Bubba Watson (35) def. Brian Harman (18), 2 and 1. Watson was 1 down going to the eighth hole, but he won four of the next five holes to turn around this battle of lefties. A 12-foot putt for eagle at the 12th dropped, giving him a 3 up lead coming home. It was Watson’s second eagle of the day. He looks as if he’s still riding the confidence from that Genesis Open victory last month. Watson will advance to play Kiradech Aphibarnrat in the quarterfinals.

    Match 98: Kiradech Aphibarnrat (28) def. Charles Howell III (59), 1 up. Aphibarnrat won in a late comeback, winning the final two holes. He holed a 9-foot putt for birdie at the 17th to square the match and won with an 8-foot birdie at the last. He had not led all day, not until that last birdie putt dropped. The 28-year-old Thai improved to 4-0 on this world stage after sweeping his group in the round-robin play. A four-time European Tour winner, Aphibarnrat is looking for his first PGA Tour victory. He will meet Bubba Watson in the quarterfinals.

    Match 99: Kyle Stanley (45) def. Sergio Garcia (7), 3 and 1. Stanley birdied the eighth, ninth and 10th holes to go 3 up, and then he held off Garcia’s run at him, eliminating the world No. 10 with birdies at the 16th and 17th holes. With the victory, Stanley has a chance at a nice Texas two-step, a chance to eliminate the two highest ranked players left in the field, the only players left among the top 10 in the world ranking. But, there’s hard work to do in the quarterfinals, where Stanley will meet world No. 2 Justin Thomas.

    Match 100: Justin Thomas (2) def. Si Woo Kim (50), 6 and 5. Thomas remains on fire in this format, steamrolling Kim a day after completing a round-robin sweep of his group by blowing away Francesco Molinari, 7 and 5. The Kim match felt like it was over shortly after it started, with Thomas making the turn 5 up. Thomas will advance to play Kyle Stanley in the quarterfinals.

    Match 101: Cameron Smith (46) def. Tyrell Hatton (12), 2 and 1. Smith found himself behind early, falling 2 down after Hatton opened with back-to-back birdies, but Smith quickly rallied to win one of the best matches of the day. He birdied four of the next five holes to go 1 up. Hatton lost despite making seven birdies on the round. He lost despite making birdies at the 15th, 16th and 17th holes to the red-hot Smith, who made eight birdies. Smith will meet Alex Noren in the quarterfinals.

    Match 102: Alex Noren (13) def. Patrick Reed (19), 5 and 3. In this Fire vs. Ice match, Ice won, with Noren making easy work of Reed. Really, though, Reed never got a flame going, and Noren wasn’t going to help him the way Jordan Spieth did a day before. Reed was 2-over on his card before finally making his first and only birdie of the day at the 13th. Somewhere, European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn must have been smiling, watching Noren easily take down the formidable American match-play dynamo. Noren will meet Cameron Smith in the quarterfinals.

    Match 103: Ian Poulter (58) def. Louis Oosthuizen (25), 2 and 1. Poulter’s match-play mojo is going strong again, with the Englishman summoning the intensity that has made him so formidable in the Ryder Cup over the years. He was on fire Saturday, making eight birdies over the first 15 holes, if you count the concession he received hitting a wedge to 18 inches at the 13th hole. Poulter put a special putter in the bag this week, using the same flat stick that helped him lead the Euros to their historic comeback victory against the Americans at Medinah in 2012. Though Oosthuizen made four birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, he still couldn’t make it close. Poulter will meet Kevin Kisner in the quarterfinals.

    Match 104: Kevin Kisner (32) def. Matt Kuchar (16), 1 up. Kuchar applied all kinds of pressure on Kisner on the back nine, but he couldn’t get Kisner to fold in the best match of the day. Kuchar was 2 down with four to go but managed to pull all square going to the last. After missing a 15-footer for birdie at the 18th, Kuchar watched Kisner sink a 12-footer for his birdie to win. Kisner will meet Ian Poulter in the quarterfinals.

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    JT advances to quarters, closing in on No. 1 ranking

    By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 5:40 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – Justin Thomas continued his impressive run at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and finds himself another step closer to overtaking Dustin Johnson in the World Golf Ranking.

    Thomas rolled past Si Woo Kim, 6 and 5, in the first knockout stage and will face Kyle Stanley in the Elite Eight. He must advance to Sunday’s championship match to overtake Johnson as the new world No. 1.

    “It wasn't anything crazy or special. Just played solid golf tee to green. And it was forcing him to make a lot of putts,” said Thomas, who has played 61 holes this week, won 24, lost six and hasn’t trailed in four matches.

    Stanley, who needed a playoff victory over Paul Casey on Friday to advance to the weekend, defeated Sergio Garcia, 3 and 1.

    Bubba Watson also continued his solid play, rallying from an early deficit to beat Brian Harman, 2 and 1. He will play Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who defeated Charles Howell III, closing with back-to-back birdies for a 1-up victory.

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

    But as impressive as Thomas has been, Sweden’s Alex Noren has quietly continued to impress, going undefeated in pool play and closing out Patrick Reed on the 15th hole for a 5-and-3 victory.

    “He's such a tough competitor,” said Noren, who will face Australian Cameron Smith in the quarterfinals. “I managed to hole a few birdie putts. When we both had good chances, he just missed and I managed to make those.”

    Former Match Play champion Ian Poulter also advanced with a 2-and-1 victory over Louis Oosthuizen. He will play Kevin Kisner, who converted a 10-foot putt at the 18th hole to defeat Matt Kuchar, 1 up.

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    Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

    By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

    Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

    She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

    Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

    After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

    “The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

    Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

    It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

    “I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

    Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

    Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

    “The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

    Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

    It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

    “I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”

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    Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

    By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

    CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

    The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.

    ''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''

    She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

    ''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''

    Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.

    ''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.

    Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.

    Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

    Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.

    Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.

    Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.

    ''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''

    She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.

    ''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''

    Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.