Press Pass Debating Tiger Annika

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2007, 5:00 pm
Press PassEach week, Golf Channel experts and analysts will offer their thoughts and opinions on hot topics in the world of golf. This week, the Press Pass debates Tiger Woods' win streak, Annika Sorenstam's chances at a record, potential Hall of Fame inductees, and the worst playing conditions.
Hot Topic
How long can Tiger Woods continue his winning streak and when do you think it come to an end?
Brian Hewitt Brian Hewitt - Senior Writer,
What? Do I look like Nostradamus? I will not predict he will break it and I will not predict he wont. But what I will do is hope for a Masters playoff between Phil and Tiger with Tiger looking to break Byron Nelsons consecutive win streak with a victory. Think a few people would be watching that baby?
Rich Lerner Rich Lerner - Reporter, Golf Channel:
Eleven is possible, with the toughest hurdle being Riviera, where he's never won (He has played the Nissan Open nine times as a professional and twice as an amateur without winning).
Kraig Kann Kraig Kann - Host, Golf Channel:
As long as he stays hot. I actually think he cares more about this than we might think. Kapalua was no lock, but contention in the Buick Invitational has been as close to a guarentee as you could get. I say he wins this week, but the next few opportunities will be tough. Match-Play and Nissan haven't been so special. So good luck to Tiger... he'll need some.
Mercer Baggs Mercer Baggs - Senior Producer,
Having won three of the last four Buick Invitational events, he's got a good chance at reaching eight straight PGA TOUR wins. But I don't see him winning the following event, the Nissan Open.
Hot Topic
Annika Sorenstam has dispelled rumors of her retirement. Will she break Kathy Whitworths record of 88 LPGA Tour wins (she currently has 69)?
I think it all depends on how soon she starts having a family. That may be sooner than we think. If and when it happens, it will all depend on how children affect her outlook on golf. That being said, if the Whitworth record is something Sorenstam wants, its something she will get.
Annika would need four wins a year for five years and that seems within reach so, yes, she'll break the record.
Annika's run at Kathy Whitworth requires 20 wins. Four a year for five years? Sure. But if Annika says she wants a family ( I know she's dispelling retirement rumors) then she might not make it. This is a tough question because it's all about what she decides to do with her life. Bottom line... if she wants the record, she'll get it. If not, she'll leave us knowing it was hers if she wanted it.
I think a lot of that will depend on this year. Annika was quoted in a Swedish newspaper as saying that she didn't work as hard in 2006 as she had in previous seasons -- and she only won three times (her lowest total since '99). It's getting tougher and tougher to win on the LPGA Tour. If she can rekindle a competitive fire this season, she can put a serious dent in her 19-victory deficit to Whitworth. If she's lost that drive, however, she may never catch her.
Hot Topic
Of the current players on the Hall of Fame ballot, who would you vote in and why?
I not only would, but already have voted for Lanny Wadkins, Curtis Strange, Hubert Green and Craig Wood. I could have voted for as many as six. These were the four I chose this time around. Wadkins (21 wins and one major) was fearless. Strange (17 wins and two majors) was tough as nails in his prime. Green (19 Tour wins and two majors) is still underrated. And Wood (21 wins and two majors) has been, sadly, forgotten.
Curtis Strange for back-to-back U.S. Opens, Lanny Wadkins and Hubert Green because others with comparable numbers like Tom Kite and Ben Crenshaw are in, and perhaps even Tony Lema, because his numbers, had he not died tragically in a plane crash, project to being worthy of consideration. Further, Lee Trevino told me Lema was as good as he'd seen and should be in the Hall.
Asking me to vote on Henry Picard or Denny Shute isn't something I feel confident about. Just as asking me to vote on Warren Spahn in baseball or Deacon Jones in football. Sure they have great numbers, but when it comes to players I never saw play, I bow out. Among the names that strike me, I'd lean on Curtis Strange. The back-to-back U.S. Opens is amazing - and he was dominant during that time. His career win totals are very strong in an era of many greats. Didn't Ben Crenshaw find his way in with two majors? I'd give Curtis a nod. And Hubert Green deserves some serious consideration, in my book.
Of the guys on the list who played primarily in the '80s and '90s (the Era which I'm most familiar), I would cast my vote for only one: Curtis Strange, who won 17 times on TOUR including back-to-back U.S. Open titles. Guys like Fred Couples and Davis Love III are still one major away from serious consideration.
Hot Topic
The final round of the Bob Hope was played in intense winds. What is the toughest condition under which to play: intense wind; steady rain; freezing cold; oppressive heat?
Intense wind. It affects putting more than most people realize. And nothing will break a players swing down more quickly than a swirling wind that makes it so much harder to commit to every shot. No swing. No confidence. Steady rain is the second worst. Caddies need to be octopi.
High winds make putting brutally difficult and considering they blew Tiger to an 81 in the '02 British at Muirfield, the ferocious winds would seem to be hardest with which to deal.
To me, heat's not that bad. Heck, me and my college buddies head to the desert each August and play 36 or 45 a day in 110-degree weather, and I'd play 36 a day in the summer in Orlando if my children were in school. Freezing cold doesn't affect me ... because I won't go out of my house to test it! Steady rain, I've played in ... and I think players are able to handle it better than brutal wind. One shot that goes 30 yards off line in a stiff wind and your confidence tags along for the ride. To me, the wind is the toughest. Not just ball striking but putting. If you don't take my word for it, take Lucas Glover's.
For tour players, it's probably the intense wind. For me, it's the freezing cold. I'm just as poor a player under perfect conditions as I am in the wind and rain. And having grown up in the South, heat is no problem. But I can't stand the cold. And anything below 60 is cold to me.
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    Snedeker leads by one heading into final round

    By Associated PressAugust 19, 2018, 3:26 pm

    GREENSBORO, N.C. – Brandt Snedeker took a one-stroke lead into the final round of the weather-delayed Wyndham Championship after finishing the third round Sunday with a 2-under 68.

    Snedeker was at 16-under 194 through three rounds of the final PGA Tour event of the regular season. Brian Gay and David Hearn were at 15 under, with Gay shooting a 62 and Hearn a 64.

    Thirty players were on the course Saturday when play was suspended because of severe weather. After a delay of 3 hours, 23 minutes, organizers chose to hold things up until Sunday morning.

    Snedeker, who shot an opening-round 59 to become just the 10th tour player to break 60, is chasing his first victory since 2016 and his second career win at this tournament.

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    Olesen edges past Poulter in Ryder Cup standings

    By Will GrayAugust 19, 2018, 3:10 pm

    With only two weeks left in the qualification window, Thorbjorn Olesen is now in position to make his Ryder Cup debut.

    Olesen finished alone in fourth place at the Nordea Masters, two shots out of a playoff between Thomas Aiken and eventual winner Paul Waring. Olesen carded four straight sub-70 rounds in Sweden, including a final-round 67 that featured three birdies over his final seven holes.

    It's a tight race for the fourth and final Ryder Cup spot via the World Points list, and Olesen's showing this week will allow him to move past Paul Casey and Ian Poulter, both of whom didn't play this week, into the No. 4 slot. Olesen is now also less than 40,000 Euros behind Tommy Fleetwood to qualify via the European Points list.

    The top four players from both lists on Sept. 2 will qualify for next month's matches, with captain Thomas Bjorn rounding out the roster with four selections on Sept. 4. Poulter and Casey will both have a chance to move back in front next week at The Northern Trust, while the final qualifying week will include the PGA Tour event at TPC Boston and Olesen headlining the field in his homeland at the Made in Denmark.

    Even if Olesen fails to qualify automatically for Paris, the 28-year-old continues to bolster his credentials for a possible pick from his countryman, Bjorn. Olesen won the Italian Open in June, finished second at the BMW International Open three weeks later and has now compiled four top-12 finishes over his last five worldwide starts including a T-3 result at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational earlier this month.

    In addition to the players who fail to qualify from the Olesen-Poulter-Casey trio, other candidates for Bjorn's quartet of picks will likely include major champions Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson.

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    Thompson bounces back from rule violation

    By Randall MellAugust 19, 2018, 2:22 am

    If Lexi Thompson’s trouble in the sixth fairway brought back any painful memories Saturday at the Indy Women in Tech Championship, she shook them off in a hurry.

    If the approach of another rules official amid a spirited run of brilliant play rattled her, she didn’t show it.

    Thompson posted an 8-under-par 64 in the third round despite another awkward rules infraction.

    Her round was impressively bogey free but not mistake free, and so her work will be a little harder Sunday chasing Lizette Salas.

    After incurring a one-shot penalty for violating a local rule in effect for preferred lies, Thompson will start the final round five shots back instead of four.

    She knows she’s fortunate she isn’t six back.

    If a rules official hadn’t witnessed Thompson in the middle of committing the infraction, she could have been assessed an additional penalty shot for playing from the wrong spot.

    Thompson got the penalty after stepping on the 10th tee and blowing her drive right, into the sixth fairway. She got it after picking up her ball over there and lifting, cleaning and placing it. She got it because she wasn’t allowed to do that in any other fairway except for the fairway of the hole she was playing.

    The preferred-lie rule was distributed to players earlier in the week.

    The story here isn’t really the penalty.

    Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship

    It’s Thompson’s reaction to it, because she opened this week in such heartfelt fashion. After skipping the Ricoh Women’s British Open to take a month-long “mental break,” Thompson revealed this week that she has been struggling emotionally in the wake of last year’s highs and lows. She opened up about how trying to “hide” her pain and show strength through it all finally became too much to bear. She needed a break. She also candidly shared how the challenges of being a prodigy who has poured herself into the game have led her to seek therapists’ help in building a life about more than golf.

    That’s a lot for a 23-year-old to unload publicly.

    Last year may have been the best and the worst of Thompson’s career. She said dealing with that controversial four-shot penalty that cost her the ANA Inspiration title, watching her mother battle cancer and losing a grandmother were cumulatively more difficult to deal with than she ever let on. There was also that short missed putt at year’s end that could have vaulted her to Rolex world No. 1 for the first time and led to her winning the Rolex Player of the Year title. She still won twice, won the Vare Trophy for low scoring average and was the Golf Writers Association of America Player of the Year.

    That’s a lot of peaks and valleys for a young soul.

    That’s the kind of year that can make you feel like an old soul in a hurry.

    So seeing a rules official approach her on Saturday, you wondered about Thompson gathering herself so quickly. You wondered what she was thinking stepping up and ripping her next shot 215 majestic yards, about her hitting the green and saving par. You wondered about how she  bounced back to birdie 13 and 14 and finish bogey free.

    With this week’s soul bearing, you wondered a lot about what rebounding like that meant to her.

    We’re left to wonder from afar, though, because she wasn’t asked any of those questions by local reporters afterward. The transcript showed three brief answers to three short questions, none about the penalty or the challenge she met.

    Of course, there were other questions to be asked, because local rules have been an issue this year. Did she read the local notes with the preferred lies explanation? She got hit with another local rules issue in Thailand this year, when she hit her ball near an advertising sign and moved the sign, not realizing a local rule made the sign a temporary immovable obstruction.

    Of course, there were other good stories in Indy, too, with Sung Hyun Park poised to overtake Ariya Jutanugarn and return to Rolex world No. 1, with Salas holding off Park so brilliantly down the stretch Saturday.

    Thompson, though, is the highest ranked American in the world. She’s the face of American women’s golf now. A face more tender, resolute and vulnerable than we have ever seen it.

    Folks along the ropes watching her on the back nine in Indy Saturday got to see that better than any of us.

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    Salas capitalizes on Park gaffe to take Indy lead

    By Associated PressAugust 19, 2018, 2:07 am

    INDIANAPOLIS – Lizette Salas waited patiently for Sung Hyun Park to make a rare mistake Saturday.

    When the South Korean mishit her approach shot into the water on the par-4 16th, Salas capitalized quickly.

    She rolled in her birdie putt then watched Park make double bogey – a three-shot swing that gave Salas the lead and the momentum heading into the final round of the Indy Women in Tech Championship. Salas closed out her 8-under 64 with a birdie on No. 18 to reach 21 under – two shots ahead of Park and Amy Yang.

    “I have been striking the ball really well, and I just had to stay patient,” Salas said. “And yeah, putts dropped for sure. I just really felt comfortable.”

    If she keeps it up one more day, Salas could be celebrating her first tour win since the 2014 Kingsmill Championship and her second overall. With five of the next six players on the leader board ranked in the world’s top 30, Salas knows it won’t be easy.

    The changing weather conditions weather might not help, either. If the forecast for mostly sunny conditions Sunday holds, the soft greens that have kept scores at near record-lows through the first three rounds could suddenly become quicker and less forgiving.

    But the 29-year-old Californian seems to have the perfect touch for this course, which weaves around and inside the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

    She shot three sub-par rounds and finished tied for fifth last year here. This year, she has three more sub-par rounds including a course record-tying 62 on Thursday and has been atop the leader board each of the first three days.

    “I have been so confident the whole year,” Salas said. “I have a different mentality, I’m a different player. So I’m just going to go out and play as if I’m behind.”

    Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship

    Salas’ toughest challenge still could from Park, who spent most of Saturday flirting with a 54-hole scoring record.

    She birdied the last four holes on the front side and made back-to-back birdies on Nos. 13 and 14 to reach 21 under with a chance to become the sixth LPGA player to ever finish three rounds at 23 under.

    The miscue at No. 16 changed everything.

    She never really recovered after dropping two shots, settling for par on the final two holes for a 66 after shooting 68 and 63 the first two days. Yang finished with a 65 after going 68 and 64.

    “I was a little weary with right-to-left wind,” Park said. “I think a little bit of weariness got to me, but overall, it’s OK.”

    Defending champion Lexi Thompson was five shots back after completing the final nine of the second round in 2 under 34 and shooting 64 in the afternoon.

    She made up ground despite being assessed a one-stroke penalty after hitting her tee shot on No. 10 into the sixth fairway and lifting the ball without authority. Rules officials had implemented the preferred lies rule because more than an inch of rain had doused the course.

    Thompson still made her par on the hole though it temporarily broke her momentum after making six birdies on the front nine in her first appearance since taking a monthlong break to recover from physical and mental exhaustion.

    “Twenty-seven holes, I definitely had a few tired swings toward the end,” said Thompson, who finished each of the first two rounds with 68s. “But overall, a lot of positives. I hit it great. I made some really good putts.”

    Three players – Nasa Hataoka of Japan, Jin Young Ko of South Korea and Mina Harigae – were tied at 15 under. Ko started the third round with a share of the lead but had three bogeys in a round of 70.

    Now, all Salas has to do is cash in one more time.

    “I’ve been knocking on the door quite a bit in the last four years, haven’t been able to get it done,” Salas said. “I’ve got good players behind me, I’ve just got to play my game.”