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 - 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 - 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 - 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 - 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.
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?
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.)
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.
No. There is a great deal more to what makes a Hall of Fame athlete than simply points that are accumulated during a career.
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.
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?
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.
No. Tighten fairways, place bunkers strategically on the course and have difficult pin placements. Length is only one facet of the game.
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.
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.
The PGA TOUR is in New Orleans this week. What's the best U.S. golf destination for both great courses and great fun?
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.
Las Vegas, the Phoenix/Scottsdale area, and the Palm Springs area. Great golf. Great nightlife. And not necessarily in that order!
Let me see ... I think I will say HAWAII!!!
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.