Press Pass Meltdowns and You Choose the Menu

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 4, 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. You can also give your take on our questions. Just click on the link and e-mail your responses to all four questions to us. We'll publish select answers each Friday in our Press Pass: Readers' Forum.
Hot Topic
What is your favorite Masters moment?
Brian Hewitt Brian Hewitt - Columnist,
Has to be Nicklaus in 1986. Jackie Jr. on the bag. Lundquist's 'Yes, SIR!' on 17. Just watching Jack's face change on the back nine. On the 10th tee he looked liked a 46-year-old man. By the time he got to 16 his face was the visage of a 30-year-old.
Kraig Kann Kraig Kann - Anchor, GOLF CHANNEL:
Aside from the Saturday night posting of media members whove won the lottery to play Augusta National on Monday? OK, thats easy. Its actually not a moment ... it's the anticipation of Sundays final round that comes after Round 3 ends. Waiting for that 3:00 p.m. last tee time on Sunday is tough. And I always try to make my way to the tee to watch the leaders go off.
Mark Rolfing Mark Rolfing - Analyst, GOLF CHANNEL:
Ben Crenshaw let all his emotions flow after holing the final putt to win the 1995 Masters. Bens long-time mentor, Harvey Penick, had passed away a week earlier. Ben later said that he knew Harvey was with him all the way. At the 1999 Ryder Cup, captain Crenshaw told the world he believed in fate. I think he said that because he had a big encounter with fate at the 1995 Masters.
Mercer Baggs Mercer Baggs - Senior Producer,
The one thing about working a major is that you don't get to enjoy it as a viewer. Instead of soaking in Tiger's '97 triumph, I was running highlights tapes back and forth between editing machines. One thing that sticks out is the 2002 Masters. A host of top-10 players were chasing Tiger in his repeat bid, and prior to the final round there was a huge buzz. Never more have I wanted to play sick and watch from home. Alas, it was best I didn't as Sunday was a total buzz kill.
Hot Topic
Aside from Greg Norman in 1996, what is your most memorable Masters meltdown/gaffe?
Scott Hoch's missed putt against Faldo in the '89 playoff. Faldo won three Maters to be sure, but a lot of people forget that he had a lot of help from the last man standing against him in each case. Floyd rinsed his second in the 1990 playoff on 11 and Norman flew too close to the sun in 1996.
Scott Hoch. And if you think about it, Nick Faldo has been given some help along the way to some green jackets. Norman sure comes to mind doesnt he?
At the 1985 Masters, Curtis Strange, after an opening round of 80, came all the way back to enjoy a three-stroke lead with six holes to play on Sunday. But the meltdown began when he hit it into the water on No. 13. He continued the bogey streak on No. 15 and No. 18 to finish tied for second with Seve Ballesteros and Raymond Floyd ' two strokes behind the winner, Bernhard Langer.
Roberto De Vicenzo signing for the wrong score in 1968. He should have been in a playoff with Bob Goalby, but instead he will forever be remembered for saying, 'What a stupid I am.' At least he already had a major under his belt (1967 British), though; players like Hoch and Ed Sneed weren't as fortunate.
Hot Topic
What is your favorite hole at Augusta National?
The third hole, a short par-4, is my favorite for several reasons: Nobody knows much about it; the green complex is so demanding that an approach from 85 yards is just as difficult as an approach from 185 yards, because of the precision necessary. The landing area, if you want to get the ball close, is tiny. And it really doesn't matter where you put the pin. In addition, you stand back right of the green and see all of No. 3, plus the tee shots and putts on the adjacent par-3 fourth.
This is tough. I love 13 because of the risk-reward and the beauty of the backdrop behind the hole itself. No. 16 is terrific because of the realization that a hole-in-one can be made if you put it in the right place and get the right roll. But my favorite is actually the hole I teed off on when I was lucky enough to play in 1995. I had to tee off on 10 (which made Amen Corner come up too quick), which is a fun tee shot to hit and watch carry down the hill. Tough, tough second shot which doesnt get talked about enough for its beauty. Im sure Mike Weir likes it, too.
My favorite hole at Augusta is the third and final hole of amen corner ... No. 13. To me it is not only the most aesthetically pleasing hole at Augusta National, but it is also one of the most exciting. A relatively short par-5, No. 13 requires a combination of strategy and shot making which always produces drama on Sunday afternoon at the Masters.
I love the par-3 16th. It reminds me of Woods' and Love's chip-ins; Duval blowing it over the green in '01; Jack's 40-foot birdie in '75; Norman sealing his fate in the water in 1996. The hole always seems to play a dramatic role in the final outcome. And there is always the potential for a Sunday hole-in-one.
Hot Topic
What would you serve for the Champions Dinner?
Baby Spinach greens salad with walnuts and light vinaigrette. Entree: Yankee pot roast, twice-baked potatoes au gratin and creamed spinach. Dessert: Fresh strawberries and Hagen-Dazs vanilla. Beverages: extra-chilled Old Renwick sauvignon blanc from New Zealand or Corona Light with a lime. (Yeah, right. Like 'Light' beer is really going to help me after all those calories.)
Chicago-style pizza and a few cold ones. Add in a few Chicago dogs, too; though, Id be pretty confident the deep dish pizza would be a sell-out.
My Champions dinner: sashimi, cold lobster salad, lamb chops, roasted fingerling potatoes and broccoli.
I'm a simple man: steak, baked potato. Nothing too fancy, just really juicy and rare. Perhaps sushi, too. And since it's on Tuesday night and not Wednesday: bourbon. Lots of bourbon.
Click here to e-mail us your take on all of the above four questions. We'll publish select reader responses on Friday.
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    Berger more than ready to rebound at Travelers

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:54 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Daniel Berger hopes that this year he gets to be on the other end of a viral moment at the Travelers Championship.

    Berger was a hard-luck runner-up last year at TPC River Highlands, a spectator as Jordan Spieth holed a bunker shot to defeat him in a playoff. It was the second straight year that the 25-year-old came up just short outside Hartford, as he carried a three-shot lead into the 2016 event before fading to a tie for fifth.

    While he wasn’t lacking any motivation after last year’s close call, Berger got another dose last week at the U.S. Open when he joined Tony Finau as a surprise participant in the final group Sunday, only to shoot a 73 and drift to a T-6 finish.

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    “It was one of the best experiences of my professional golf career so far. I feel like I’m going to be in such a better place next time I’m in that position, having felt those emotions and kind of gone through it,” Berger said. “There was a lot of reflection after that because I felt like I played good enough to get it done Sunday. I didn’t make as many putts as I wanted to, but I hit a lot of really good putts. And that’s really all you can do.”

    Berger missed the cut earlier this month to end his quest for three straight titles in Memphis, but his otherwise consistent season has now included six top-20 finishes since January. After working his way into contention last week and still with a score to settle at TPC River Highlands, he’s eager to get back to work against another star-studded field.

    “I think all these experiences you just learn from,” Berger said. “I think last week, having learned from that, I think that’s even going to make me a little better this week. So I’m excited to get going.”

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    Rory tired of the near-misses, determined to close

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:46 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Rory McIlroy has returned to the Travelers Championship with an eye on bumping up his winning percentage.

    McIlroy stormed from the back of the pack to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, but that remains his lone worldwide win since the 2016 Tour Championship. It speaks to McIlroy’s considerable ability and lofty expectations that, even with a number of other high finishes this season, he is left unsatisfied.

    “I feel like I’ve had five realistic chances to win this year, and I’ve been able to close out one of them. That’s a bit disappointing, I guess,” McIlroy said. “But at least I’ve given myself five chances to win golf tournaments, which is much more than I did last year.”

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    The most memorable of McIlroy’s near-misses is likely the Masters, when he played alongside Patrick Reed in Sunday’s final group but struggled en route to a T-5 finish. But more frustrating in the Ulsterman’s eyes were his runner-up at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, when he led by two shots with eight holes to go, and a second-place showing behind Francesco Molinari at the BMW PGA Championship in May.

    “There’s been some good golf in there,” he said. “I feel like I let Dubai and Wentworth get away a little bit.”

    He’ll have a chance to rectify that trend this week at TPC River Highlands, where he finished T-17 last year in his tournament debut and liked the course and the tournament enough to keep it on his schedule. It comes on the heels of a missed cut at the U.S. Open, when he was 10 over through 11 holes and never got on track. McIlroy views that result as more of an aberration during a season in which he has had plenty of chances to contend on the weekend.

    “I didn’t necessarily play that badly last week. I feel like if I play similarly this week, I might have a good chance to win,” McIlroy said. “I think when you play in conditions like that, it magnifies parts of your game that maybe don’t stack up quite as good as the rest of your game, and it magnified a couple of things for me that I worked on over the weekend.”

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    Sunday run at Shinnecock gave Reed even more confidence

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:08 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – While many big names are just coming around to the notion that the Travelers Championship is worth adding to the schedule, Patrick Reed has been making TPC River Highlands one of his favorite haunts for years.

    Reed will make his seventh straight appearance outside Hartford, where he tied for fifth last year and was T-11 the year before that. He is eager to get back to the grind after a stressful week at the U.S. Open, both because of his past success here and because it will offer him a chance to build on a near-miss at Shinnecock Hills.

    Reed started the final round three shots off the lead, but he quickly stormed toward the top of the leaderboard and became one of Brooks Koepka’s chief threats after birdies on five of his first seven holes. Reed couldn’t maintain the momentum in the middle of the round, carding three subsequent bogeys, and ultimately tied for fourth.

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    It was a bittersweet result, but Reed is focusing on the positives after taking a couple days to reflect.

    “If you would have told me that I had a chance to win coming down Sunday, I would have been pleased,” Reed said. “I felt like I just made too many careless mistakes towards the end, and because of that, you’re not going to win at any major making careless mistakes, especially on Sunday.”

    Reed broke through for his first major title at the Masters, and he has now finished fourth or better in three straight majors dating back to a runner-up at the PGA last summer. With another chance to add to that record next month in Scotland, he hopes to carry the energy from last week’s close call into this week’s event on a course where he feels right at home.

    “It just gives me confidence, more than anything,” Reed said. “Of course I would have loved to have closed it out and win, but it was a great week all in all, and there’s a lot of stuff I can take from it moving forward. That’s how I’m looking at it.”

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    Koepka back to work, looking to add to trophy collection

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 8:53 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Days after ensuring the U.S. Open trophy remained in his possession for another year, Brooks Koepka went back to work.

    Koepka flew home to Florida after successfully defending his title at Shinnecock Hills, celebrating the victory Monday night with Dustin Johnson, Paulina Gretzky, swing coach Claude Harmon III and a handful of close friends. But he didn’t fully unwind because of a decision to honor his commitment to the Travelers Championship, becoming the first player to tee it up the week after a U.S. Open win since Justin Rose in 2013.

    Koepka withdrew from the Travelers pro-am, but he flew north to Connecticut on Wednesday and arrived to TPC River Highlands around 3 p.m., quickly heading to the driving range to get in a light practice session.

    “It still hasn’t sunk in, to be honest with you,” Koepka said. “I’m still focused on this week. It was just like, ‘All right, if I can get through this week, then I’m going to be hanging with my buddies next week.’ I know then maybe it’ll sink in, and I’ll get to reflect on it a little bit more.”

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Koepka’s plans next week with friends in Boston meant this week’s event outside Hartford made logistical sense. But he was also motivated to play this week because, plainly, he hasn’t had that many playing opportunities this year after missing nearly four months with a wrist injury.

    “I’ve had so many months at home being on the couch. I don’t need to spend any more time on the couch,” Koepka said. “As far as skipping, it never crossed my mind.”

    Koepka’s legacy was undoubtedly bolstered by his win at Shinnecock, as he became the first player in nearly 30 years to successfully defend a U.S. Open title. But he has only one other PGA Tour win to his credit, that being the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open, and his goal for the rest of the season is to make 2018 his first year with multiple trophies on the mantle.

    “If you’re out here for more than probably 15 events, it gives you a little better chance to win a couple times. Being on the sidelines isn’t fun,” Koepka said. “Keep doing what we’re doing and just try to win multiple times every year. I feel like I have the talent. I just never did it for whatever reason. Always felt like we ran into a buzzsaw. So just keep plugging away.”