Press Pass Els Celebs and Playoffs

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 7, 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 with the Press Pass. You can also give your take on our questions. Just click on the link and e-mail your responses to us. We'll publish select answers each Friday.
 
Hot Topic
Ernie Els has a three-year plan to be No. 1 in the world. Can he get there ' or get close?
 
Kraig Kann Kraig Kann - Host, Golf Channel:
Youre assuming I understand the World Ranking points system. He can get close. But for him to get there it appears that Woods would have to decide to revamp his swing again, change coaches and change his shirt color on Sunday. Not to say Ernies not capable, but he needs a lot of help in addition to completely ramping up his dedication to the game and then playing the best golf of his life. By the way, he also needs to double his total of majors during that time, which means three over the next three years at minimum. Bottom line, I dont think he gets there but if he gets close it will give us a lot to talk about.
 
Brian Hewitt Brian Hewitt - Senior Writer, GolfChannel.com:
Els can get there, which is not to say I think he will. I admire his pluck in efforting the top spot. It's just that he is living, as the Irish say, 'in a time of inconvenience' because of Woods' presence and the giant, long shadow Woods casts over all his contemporaries.
 
Mercer Baggs Mercer Baggs - Senior Producer, GolfChannel.com:
He might get to second in the world again, but being No. 2 doesn't mean he'll be anywhere close to No. 1. Unless Tiger decides to be a stay-at-home dad or decides to play left-handed just for giggles, then I don't see anyone coming close in the foreseeable future.
 
Hot Topic
Swedens Henrik Stenson won this past week in Dubai. Who is the best European player at the moment and who has the best chance of winning a major this season?
 
Kann:
This is a flavor of the month question. That said, to me, its Paul Casey. Stensons not far behind. He was 14th in the world ranks coming into Dubai and his win will do him a world of good. But theres something about Casey. I think Paul has a few majors in him and I think he has a great chance to get one before the likes of Stenson, Donald, Harrington and even Garcia.
 
Hewitt:
I still think Paul Casey is the top Euro at the moment but Stenson isn't far behind. The oddest part about this is that means Sergio Garcia is, at best, the third best player in Europe. And with Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington in the mix, Sergio might be No. 5 in this category.
 
Baggs:
I think Paul Casey is the man at the moment in Europe. But while Casey may win the Order of Merit, I think Padraig Harrington has the best chance to win a major. Also, keep an eye out for Sergio this season in the majors. If he stays under the radar and keeps the pressure off, he may actually be able to contend on the back nine on Sunday.
 
Hot Topic
Celebrities and pros will once again tee it up together this week in Pebble Beach. What one pro and two celebrities, of all time, would comprise your ultimate foursome?
 
Kann:
Arnold Palmer in his prime would be a treat. As for the celebrities, thats a tough one. Ill take David Letterman and Chris Rock and hope the laughs never stop - or take the pro off all together and give me Demi Moore, Sandra Bullock and Elisabeth Shue.
 
Hewitt:
My ultimate Pebble Beach Pro-Am foursome would be Tiger Woods, Cheryl Ladd and Michael Jordan. And if Kann, who somehow has the notion that Sandra Bullock would ever play golf with him, approves, Bullock can be my caddie.
 
Baggs:
Gotta go with Tiger as the pro. Don't know how entertaining he would be, but I'd love to play alongside the best ever to play the game. As for the celebrities, I'll take Charles Barkley (who I said a few weeks ago I'd like to see as a tournament host) for one. He's quite funny and quite awful. He also has a gambling problem, so I'd like to play against him - with Tiger as my financial backer. My other celebrity could be anyone NOT named Ray Ramano or Kevin James.
 
Hot Topic
The USGA announced that the U.S. Womens Open will now go to a three-hole cumulative playoff. Should the mens Open be changed as well from an 18-hole Monday playoff?
 
Kann:
Yes. No question about it. The most disappointing thing about going to the U.S. Open is the thought of an anti-climactic finish. Fans dont want to leave without a winner. The media doesnt want to leave without a winner or stay to wait for a winner. And a 3- or 4-hole playoff continues the drama. A Monday 18-hole playoff has little drama. Trust me, everyone there on Sunday dreads the thought of a Monday playoff.
 
Hewitt:
Not yet. But if the three-hole playoff works well after several tries at the U.S. Women's Open, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the USGA adopt the same procedure for the men. People love to bash the USGA as being hidebound. But it's an organization that's a lot more progressive than the golf world understands.
 
Baggs:
Without question. Having a Monday playoff is a total hassel for all involved -- the players, the tournament staff, the vounteers, the media, even the fans. A tournament, barring inclement weather or darkness, should come to a conclusion on Sunday. And due to the significance of a major championship, a playoff should be a 3- or 4-hole cumulative session instead of sudden death.
 
Click here to e-mail us your take on the above questions. We'll publish select reader responses on Friday.
 
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    By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
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    Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

    By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

    Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

    Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

    Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

    Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

    12/1: Dustin Johnson

    16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

    20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

    25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

    30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

    40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

    50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

    60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

    80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

    100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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    Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

    By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

    If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

    Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

    Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.


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    There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

    There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

    Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

    John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

    Getty Images

    Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

    By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

    Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

    Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.


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    “I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

    Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

    “I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

    But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

    “I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”