Press Pass Gulbis Win a 10 Ladies at Augusta

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 1, 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
On a scale of 1-10, how important was Natalie Gulbis' win to the LPGA Tour?
 
Brian Hewitt Brian Hewitt - Columnist, GOLFCHANNEL.com:
Two or three years ago I would have told you a Gulbis win was a 10 in importance to the LPGA. Now I think the victory in France was bigger for Gulbis than it was for her tour. And thats just a reflection of the influx of young talent and the myriad of story lines in womens golf right now. Womens golf has never been healthier.
 
Steve Sands Steve Sands - Reporter, GOLF CHANNEL:
It's pretty close to a 10. Amazing that she's not a 10, huh? Seriously, it's big for the LPGA Tour. If it was a major it would be much bigger, but for the tour's 'Cover Girl' to finally validate all of her hard work with a victory is not only a feather in her cap but in the LPGA's as well.
 
Mercer Baggs Mercer Baggs - Senior Producer, GOLFCHANNEL.com:
I'd give it an 8. This gives the LPGA even more reason to promote their tour through one of the most visible, attractive and likable players they have. I think a 10 would be having Michelle Wie win and commit herself to playing the tour full time. Love her or loathe her, no one at the moment drives more traffic the LPGA's way than does Wie.
 
Mark Rolfing Mark Rolfing - Analyst, GOLF CHANNEL:
I would say 9 (almost a 10) . The excitement level for Natalie winning was bigger than Tom Watson at the Senior British Open and maybe even Furyk winning in Canada.
 
Hot Topic
With the ladies playing St. Andrews this week for the Womens British Open, do you think Augusta National will ever host a womens event?
 
Hewitt:
I believe theres a 50-50 chance that the women might play at Augusta National one day. Well just have to see how progressive Masters chairman Billy Payne really is. I think it would be a terrific thing. And if they ever revive the old PGA TOUR pro partnering with an LPGA pro event, Augusta National would be a cool sight and site. It wouldnt have to be for official money or a full field to get the full attention of the sports world.
 
Sands:
No, I do not think Augusta National will host a women's event in anyone's lifetime who can read this. Augusta, perhaps more than any other club, understands how special it is to have it's doors open to the world once a year. And I believe the membership there will keep it that way.
 
Baggs:
The chances of it happening, on a scale of 1-10: 0; though, if it did, it would register as a 10 on the LPGA's scale. One tournament a year is plenty for Augusta's Old Guard.
 
Rolfing:
No.
 
Due to the PGA TOUR schedule, Tiger Woods is playing the week before a major for the first time in five years. Will playing this week affect his chances of winning the PGA Championship?
 
Hewitt:
I think it will help his game but not his personal life. That is to say, Woods will miss his newborn daughter, Sam Alexis, at some point during the two weeks away from home. Woods knows better than anybody else how to deal with everything that goes along with being Tiger Woods. Meanwhile on the golf side, I think Tiger will be especially hungry to prevent 2007 from being a majorless year. This is his last chance.
 
Sands:
No it will not. Based on his performance at the AT&T National and the Open Championship maybe Tiger needs the confidence of feeling good about his game in competition before going to Southern Hills. And what better place than Firestone to get the chip back on his shoulder? He loves Firestone. It always looks and feels like a major championship venue so it might be just what he needs.
 
Baggs:
I think it can only help. Given his record at Firestone (five wins in eight tries), it's likely he'll play well this week, which should add to his confidence level heading to Southern Hills. And given the fact that he's only played two tournaments since the U.S. Open, he probably needs a good tune-up.
 
Rolfing:
I dont think so. I expect Tiger will slip home to see Elin and Sam for a day. Southern Hills doesnt really fit his eye but he is still the favorite.
 
What is the ONE thing you are most looking forward to this week?
 
Hewitt:
Easy question. The women playing their British Open on the Old Course at St. Andrews. Theyve never competed for a major there before. It will be an historic occasion no matter who wins.
 
Sands:
I'm looking forward to seeing the world's best golfers playing against each other for the second time in three weeks, at a great course. Firestone is awesome. The field is awesome. And the people in Akron and Northeast Ohio always support the event. Should be fun!
 
Baggs:
I want to see if Annika can win at St. Andrews. Tiger and Jack have won the Open there. It would only be fitting to see the best female player of all time do the same. And this may be her one and only chance to do so.
 
Rolfing:
1) How will the women deal with the Old Course at St. Andrews ? 1a) How will Hawaiis Tadd Fujikawa deal with his professional debut ?
 
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    Casey in line to make Ryder Cup after Travelers T-2

    By Will GrayJune 25, 2018, 10:30 am

    Despite coughing up a four-shot lead at the Travelers Championship, England's Paul Casey moved into a qualifying position to make his return to the Ryder Cup this fall in Paris.

    Casey struggled Sunday at TPC River Highlands, shooting a 72 as Bubba Watson raced to victory with a 63. But a four-way share of second place was still good enough to lift Casey into fourth place among those not already qualified on the World Points list, with the top four Europeans from that list in August punching their tickets to Le Golf National.

    Casey has played in three Ryder Cups before, but none since 2008. After renouncing his European Tour membership a few years ago, he reinstated it for the 2018 season in order to be eligible to return to the biennial matches.

    Here's a look at the updated standings for Europe, with the top four players from each points list ultimately joining four picks from captain Thomas Bjorn:

    European Points

    1. Tyrrell Hatton

    2. Justin Rose

    3. Tommy Fleetwood

    4. Francesco Molinari

    ---

    5. Thorbjorn Olesen

    6. Matthew Fitzpatrick

    World Points

    1. Jon Rahm

    2. Rory McIlroy

    3. Alex Noren

    4. Paul Casey

    ---

    5. Matthew Fitzpatrick

    6. Ian Poulter


    On the American side of the ledger, Watson jumped two spots to fifth with his third win of the year and seemingly locked up his spot on the squad, while Bryson DeChambeau moved inside the top eight with a top-10 finish in Connecticut.

    Here's a look at the latest U.S. standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship earning automatic bids:

    1. Brooks Koepka

    2. Dustin Johnson

    3. Patrick Reed

    4. Justin Thomas

    5. Bubba Watson

    6. Jordan Spieth

    7. Rickie Fowler

    8. Bryson DeChambeau

    ---

    9. Webb Simpson

    10. Phil Mickelson

    11. Matt Kuchar

    12. Brian Harman

    Getty Images

    Watson cracks top 15 in world with Travelers win

    By Will GrayJune 25, 2018, 10:15 am

    After his third win in the last five months, Bubba Watson is back on the cusp of the upper echelon in the world rankings.

    Watson started the year ranked No. 89 in the world, but after a three-shot victory at the Travelers Championship the southpaw moved up seven spots to No. 13 in the latest rankings. It marks his best position since a missed cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February 2017.

    Watson stayed one spot behind Paul Casey, who was one of four runners-up in Connecticut and rose one position to 12th as a result. Beau Hossler's T-2 finish helped him jump 24 spots to No. 64, while J.B. Holmes went from 93rd to 75th with the same result. Stewart Cink, who grabbed a share of second with a final-round 62, went from No. 149 to No. 95 and is back inside the top 100 in the world rankings for the first time since September 2011.


    Updated Official World Golf Ranking


    Matt Wallace, who won the BMW International Open on the European Tour, went from 91st to 66th.

    There was only one change among the top 10 in the rankings, as an idle Jon Rahm moved past Jordan Spieth at No. 5 despite Spieth's T-42 finish at TPC River Highlands. At No. 6, Spieth is at his lowest point in the rankings since before last summer's victories at Travelers and The Open.

    Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Rahm. Spieth slid to No. 6, with Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

    Poised to return to competition this week at the Quicken Loans National, Tiger Woods fell three spots to No. 82 in the latest rankings.

    Getty Images

    After Further Review: Spieth needs a break

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 25, 2018, 1:11 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On Jordan Spieth's much-needed break ...

    Jordan Spieth is heading for a break, and that’s probably a good thing.

    Spieth just wrapped a run of six events in seven weeks that featured largely underwhelming results. A third-place finish at the Masters that stemmed from a nearly-historic final round deflects attention away from the fact that Spieth has yet to enter a final round this year less than six shots off the lead.

    A return to his home state didn’t work, nor did a fight against par at Shinnecock or a title defense outside Hartford where everything went so well a year ago. His putting woes appear to have bottomed out, as Spieth finished 21st in putting at Travelers, but now the alignment issue that plagued his putting appears to have bled into other parts of his game.

    So heading into another title defense next month at Carnoustie, Spieth plans to take some time off and re-evaluate. Given how fast things turned around last summer, that might prove to be just what he needs. - Will Gray


    On the difference between this week and last week ...

    There wasn’t a single outraged tweet, not a lone voice of descent on social media following Bubba Watson’s victory at the Travelers Championship, a 17-under par masterpiece that included a closing loop of 30.

    Nobody declared that golf was broken, no one proclaimed the royal and ancient game a victim of technology and the age of uber athletes. The only response was appreciation for what Watson, a bomber in the truest form, was able to accomplish.

    At 6,840 yards, TPC River Highlands was built for fun, not speed. Without wild weather or ill-advised hole locations and greens baked to extinction, this is what the best players in the game do, and yet no one seemed outraged. Weird. - Rex Hoggard


    On the emergence of another LPGA phenom ...

    Add another young star to the favorites list heading to the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Kemper Lakes outside Chicago next week.

    Nasa Hataoka, the 19-year-old Japanese standout who needed her rookie season last year to acclimate to the LPGA, broke through for her first LPGA title Sunday at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.

    This wasn’t a surprise to LPGA followers. Hataoka won the Japan Women’s Open when she was 17, the first amateur to win a major on the Japan LPGA Tour, and she has been trending up this year.

    Her tie for 10th at the U.S. Women’s Open three weeks ago was her fourth consecutive top-10 finish. She won going away in Arkansas, beating a deep field that included the top nine in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings. She outplayed world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn and No. 3 Lexi Thompson on Sunday. - Randall Mell

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    Bubba waiting for Furyk's text about Ryder Cup

    By Will GrayJune 25, 2018, 12:39 am

    CROMWELL, Conn. – After winning his third PGA Tour title in the span of five months, Bubba Watson is now waiting by his phone.

    Watson’s victory at the Travelers Championship, his third at TPC River Highlands since 2010, accompanies recent victories at both the Genesis Open and WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play from earlier this year. It also moved the southpaw from No. 7 to No. 5 in the latest U.S. Ryder Cup standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically.

    After serving as an assistant captain at Hazeltine despite ranking No. 7 in the world at the time, Watson made it clear that he hopes to have removed any doubt about returning to the role of player when the biennial matches head to Paris this fall.


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    “It still says in my phone that (U.S. captain) Jim (Furyk) hasn’t texted me yet. So I’d really like for him to say I’m going to pick you no matter what,” Watson said. “The motivation is I’ve never won a Ryder Cup, so making the Ryder Cup team and trying to win a Ryder Cup as a player would be another tournament victory to me. It would be a major championship to me just because I’ve never done it, been a part of it.”

    Watson turns 40 in November, and while he reiterated that his playing career might not extend too far into the future as he looks to spend more time at home with son Caleb and daughter Dakota, he’s also hoping to make an Olympic return in Tokyo in 2020 after representing the U.S. in Rio two years ago.

    “Talking about the Olympics coming up, that’s motivating me,” he said. “It was the best experience of my life to watch all the other events, and then the golf tournament got in the way. I’d love to do it again. I’d love to watch all the events and then have to play golf as well.”