Press Pass Feeling the Pressure Having Fun

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 18, 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
Who was under more pressure in the final round last week: Lorena Ochoa, who was vying for the No. 1 spot in the world rankings, or Laura Davies, who was looking for her first tour win in six years and was trying to inch closer to the Hall of Fame?
 
Brian Hewitt Brian Hewitt - Columnist, GOLFCHANNEL.com:
This is a good question. I think Davies, mainly because she is in her 40s now and she may be running out of opportunities to qualify on points for the Hall of Fame. Ochoa, on the other hand, will become No. 1 soon enough, especially now that Annika is sidelined with injuries.
 
Steve Sands Steve Sands - Reporter, GOLF CHANNEL:
Laura Davies. Because Lorena is so young, she'll have time to reach the No. 1 spot in the world rankings, especially with Annika Sorenstam being injured. Laura plays a lot in Europe, therefore, her chances of winning on the LPGA Tour don't come often.
 
Mark Rolfing Mark Rolfing - Analyst, GOLF CHANNEL:
Without a doubt it was Lorena Ochoa who was under pressure. Not to take anything away from Laura Davies, who needs to cap what has been a great career, but this could have been a passing of the torch from Sorenstam to Ochoa. Clearly, the pressure had an impact (along with the difficult conditions) on Lorena as she played her final six holes in 6 over par.
 
Mercer Baggs Mercer Baggs - Senior Producer, GOLFCHANNEL.com:
Davies, by far. She hadn't won -- still hasn't -- on tour since 2001 and has spent the last six years trying to accumulate those final two points to gain entry into the LPGA Tour Hall of Fame. Lorena knows that she will get that No. 1 ranking and will have plenty of opportunities to do so. Laura, closing in on age 44, knows that chances to win are rare; and she has plenty of doubt as to if she will ever get those final two points.
 
Hot Topic
Davies remains two points shy of automatic entry into the LPGA Tour and World Golf halls of fame. Do you like a points system to determine Hall of Fame eligibility?
 
Hewitt:
I do like a points system because it takes subjectivity out of the equation. Hubert Green, not popular in many circles, almost certainly would be in the Hall of Fame on the men's side if there was a points system in place. Popularity should have nothing to do with it. (Note: Green was elected into the World Golf Hall of Fame Wednesday through the Veteran's category.)
 
Sands:
No. If a player is dominant over a period of time, clearly one of the best of her generation, but doesn't reach the necessary point total, she should still be able to be considered for the Hall of Fame. Jim Brown and Barry Sanders both retired well before their talents diminished and potential yard totals were reached, but are still in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
 
Rolfing:
No. There is a great deal more to what makes a Hall of Fame athlete than simply points that are accumulated during a career.
 
Baggs:
Not at all. I think that those around the game -- historians, writers, dignitaries -- should be able to implement judgement and reason in determining who gets into the Hall of Fame. Davies is a good example. She has won 20 LPGA events, 47 more times around the world, four major championships, and single-handedly kept the Ladies European Tour alive by playing there when she could have won more events and made more money in the U.S. If she never hits another shot, she should be in the Hall of Fame.
 
Hot Topic
This past week's event on the Nationwide Tour was played on a course listed at 7,781 yards. Is length the best way for a course to combat technology?
 
Hewitt:
Not necessarily. Look at Westchester on the PGA TOUR. I think if the landing areas are created smartly and the green complexes are difficult, a golf course doesn't have to be 7,000 yards to give even the TOUR pros fits. Look at Merion. Anything under 7,000, though, should be a par 70, not 72. Some day don't be surprised if you see a par 69 on TOUR.
 
Sands:
No. Tighten fairways, place bunkers strategically on the course and have difficult pin placements. Length is only one facet of the game.
 
Rolfing:
No. If length is the best way to combat technology then many of the worlds greatest courses will forever be obsolete. Course set up can have an even greater impact, particularly if a course plays firm and fast, with narrow fairways, and penalizing rough. I think Merion (not long) will be a terrific U.S. Open venue in the future.
 
Baggs:
One word: rough. Let distance be an advantage for players, but penalize them if they are erratic. If longer players can hit it in the fairway and only need a wedge to reach the pin, so be it -- just make them use a wedge as well to hack out if they hit their tee shot too far left or right. Accuracy should count just as much as distance.
 
Hot Topic
The PGA TOUR is in New Orleans this week. What's the best U.S. golf destination for both great courses and great fun?
 
Hewitt:
New Orleans is very high on my list. As is Fort Worth. So is San Francisco (when they play at Harding Park). Chicago is tough to beat as well. The common denominator for me is terrific golf and terrific food.
 
Sands:
Las Vegas, the Phoenix/Scottsdale area, and the Palm Springs area. Great golf. Great nightlife. And not necessarily in that order!
 
Rolfing:
Let me see ... I think I will say HAWAII!!!
 
Baggs:
A buddy of mine has a house in Pinehurst. There's not a whole bunch of nightlife there, but there is plenty of great golf. And if you go with the right crowd, you can find plenty of ways to entertain yourselves.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Zurich Classic of New Orleans
  • Full Coverage - Ginn Open
  • Getty Images

    Davies wins by 10 on 'best ball-striking round'

    By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 1:53 am

    WHEATON, Ill. - Laura Davies immediately recognized the significance of having her name inscribed on the first U.S. Senior Women's Open trophy.

    It might be a long time before anyone secures the title as emphatically as Davies did.

    Davies went virtually unchallenged in Sunday's final round of the inaugural USGA championship for women 50 and older, claiming the title by 10 strokes over Juli Inkster.

    ''It's great seeing this (trophy) paraded down for the very first time and I get my name on it first, you know?'' Davies said. ''This championship will be played for many years and there will only be one first winner - obviously a proud moment for me to win that.''

    The 54-year-old Davies shot a 5-under 68 to finish at 16-under 276 at Chicago Golf Club.

    It was the English player's 85th career win, and she felt the pressure even though her lead was rarely in danger.

    ''I haven't won for eight years - my last win was India, 2010,'' Davies said. ''So that's the pressure you're playing under, when you're trying to do something for yourself, prove to yourself you can still win.

    ''So this ranks highly up there. And obviously it's a USGA event. It's hard comparing tournaments, but this is very high on my list of achievements.''

    A 7-under 66 Saturday provided Davies with a five-shot lead over Inkster and what she said would be a sleepless night worrying about the pressure.


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


    The World Golf Hall of Famer widened her advantage early Sunday when she birdied the par-5 second hole and Inkster made bogey. Davies said a par she salvaged at the 10th was another turning point.

    ''It wasn't the greatest hole I ever played, but I think that, to me, was when I really started to think I might have one hand on the trophy and just had to get the other one in there.''

    Inkster shot an even-par 73. England's Trish Johnson also shot 73 to finish third, 12 shots back.

    ''I mean, she was absolutely spectacular this week,'' Johnson said about Davies. ''I've played against her for 35 years. Yesterday was the best I have ever seen her play in her entire career.

    ''She just said walking down 18 it was best ball-striking round she ever had. Considering she's won 85 tournaments, that's quite some feat.''

    Danielle Ammaccapane was fourth and Yuko Saito finished fifth. Martha Leach was the top amateur, tying for 10th at 6-over 298.

    Davies plans to play in the Women's British Open next month, and called this win a confidence-booster as she continues to compete against the younger generation. She finished tied for second at the LPGA's Bank of Hope Founders Cup earlier this year.

    ''You build up a little bit of momentum, and a golf course is a golf course,'' Davies said. ''Sometimes the field strength is a little bit different, but in your own mind if you've done something like this, 16 under for four rounds around a proper championship course, it can't do anything but fill you full of confidence.''

    Getty Images

    Romo rallies to win American Century Championship

    By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 12:42 am

    SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Nev. - Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo rallied from four points back to win his first American Century Championship at Lake Tahoe on Sunday.

    Romo, who retired after the 2016 NFL season and is now an NFL analyst, had 27 points on the day to beat three-time defending champion Mark Mulder and San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski, the the leader after the first two rounds.

    ''It's a special win,'' said Romo, who had finished second three times in seven previous trips to the annual celebrity golf tournament at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. ''It feels like you're playing a tournament back home here. The day felt good for a lot of reasons.''

    Romo tapped in for par, worth one point, on the 18th hole to finish with 71 points, three ahead of Mulder, the former major league pitcher. He then caught a flight to Berlin, Wis., where he was to compete in a 36-hole U.S. Amateur qualifying tournament on Monday.

    The American Century Championship uses a modified Stableford scoring system which rewards points for eagles (six), birdies (three) and pars (one) and deducts points (two) for double bogeys or worse. Bogeys are worth zero points.

    Pavelski had a 7-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th that could have tied Romo, but it slid by. He finished with 66 points, tied for third with Ray Allen, who will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 7.


    Full-field scores from the American Century Championship


    ''It feels like nothing went in for me today,'' Pavelski said. ''But I couldn't ask for more than to have that putt to tie on the last hole.''

    Romo plays as an amateur, so his $125,000 first-place check from the $600,000 purse will go to local charities and the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, the primary charitable arm of title sponsor American Century Investments.

    Rounding out the top five were Trent Dilfer, a Super Bowl-winning quarterback with the Baltimore Ravens in 2001, and former tennis player Mardy Fish. Each had 62 points.

    Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry, who fell out of contention with a mediocre round Saturday, jumped into Lake Tahoe amidst much fanfare after losing a bet to his father, Dell. The elder Curry jumped into the lake last year, so he negotiated a 20-point handicap and won by two points.

    Other notable players in the 92-player field included John Smoltz, the MLB hall of Fame pitcher who two weeks ago competed in the U.S. Senior Open and finished 10th here with 53 points; Steph Curry, who finished tied for 11th with retired Marine and wounded war hero Andrew Bachelder (50); actor Jack Wagner (16th, 47 points); Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (tied for 18th, 44 points); actor Ray Romano (tied for 71st, minus-26 points); comedian Larry the Cable Guy (tied for 77th, minus-33 points); and former NBA great Charles Barkley, who finished alone in last with minus-93 points.

    The tournament drew 57,097 fans for the week, setting an attendance record for the fourth straight year.

    Getty Images

    Singh tops Maggert in playoff for first senior major

    By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 12:10 am

    HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. - Vijay Singh birdied the second playoff hole to beat Jeff Maggert and win the Constellation Senior Players Championship on Sunday.

    Singh knocked in a putt from about 2 feet after a nearly perfect approach on the 18th hole at Exmoor Country Club, giving an understated fist pump as the ball fell in. That gave him his first major title on the PGA Tour Champions to go with victories at the Masters and two PGA Championships.

    Singh (67) and Maggert (68) finished at 20-under 268. Brandt Jobe (66) was two strokes behind, while Jerry Kelly (64) and defending champion Scott McCarron (71) finished at 17 under.

    Maggert had chances to win in regulation and on the first playoff hole.

    He bogeyed the par-4 16th to fall into a tie with Singh at 20 under and missed potential winning birdie putts at the end of regulation and on the first playoff hole.

    His 15-footer on the 72nd hole rolled wide, forcing the playoff, and a downhill 12-footer on the same green went just past the edge.


    Full-field scores from the Constellation Energy Senior Players


    The 55-year-old Singh made some neat par saves to get into the playoff.

    His tee shot on 17 landed near the trees to the right of the fairway, and his approach on 18 wound up in a bunker. But the big Fijian blasted to within a few feet to match Maggert's par.

    McCarron - tied with Maggert and Bart Bryant for the lead through three rounds - was trying to join Arnold Palmer and Bernhard Langer as the only back-to-back winners of this major. He came back from a six-shot deficit to win at Caves Valley near Baltimore last year and got off to a good start on Sunday.

    He birdied the first two holes to reach 18 under. But bogeys on the par-4 seventh and ninth holes knocked him off the lead. His tee shot on No. 7 rolled into a hole at the base of a tree and forced him to take an unplayable lie.

    Getty Images

    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.