Press Pass Tiger or Top-10

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 14, 2007, 5:00 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
This weeks Nissan Open features eight of the top 10 players in the world, but no Tiger Woods. Would you rather have this scenario at your event or Tiger Woods and none of the other top 10 players in the world?
Brian Hewitt Brian Hewitt - Senior Writer,
If I was a tournament director and/or a title sponsor, Id rather have Tiger Woods. Thats a no-brainer. Can you say ratings? Can you say buzz? Can you say generated revenues? In general, Id rather have eight of the top 10 and no Tiger.
Kraig Kann Kraig Kann - Host, Golf Channel:
Id rather have eight of the top 10 on the World Golf Ranking and not Woods. I love Tiger, but its about strength of field and depth. The PGA TOUR would be even more healthy if they could get that eight-of-10 scenario more often.
Mercer Baggs Mercer Baggs - Senior Producer,
It's tough to go against strength of field, but I've got to take Tiger at my tournament over everyone else. He brings in the crowd and the media and, ultimately, the dollars. Also, even with eight of the top 10 players in the world in attendance, only a couple will likely contend on Sunday. You know Tiger will factor into the final outcome.
Hot Topic
The initial match-ups are out for the WGC-Accenture Match Play. Which is the most intriguing first-round match?
To me, the most intriguing first round match is Shaun Micheel vs. Jim Furyk. Micheel, remember, beat Tiger Woods (and Luke Donald) while getting all the way to the finals of the HSBC Match Play last year in England. Furyk got a bad draw. Also keep an eye on two first-round matches that pit Euro Ryder Cupper against Euro Ryder Cupper. Darren Clarke faces Sergio Garcia and Padraig Harrington plays Lee Westwood.
Easy answer: Tiger's first-round match. Given that he took this past week off and hasn't always been a lock to get past Day 1, all eyes on Tiger. Mickelson now becomes a match of extreme interest, too.
Darren Clarke vs. Sergio Garcia. Hopefully, no one will withdraw and this match will be able to take place, pitting the two Ryder Cup stars against one another. Another intriguing match-up is Paul Casey vs. Mike Weir. It will be interesting to see if Casey, who won the HSBC World Match Play Championship last year at Wentworth, can continue his great match-play form in the U.S.
Hot Topic
The LPGA Tour season begins this week. Who will emerge as Player of the Year?
The early line favorite (Laura Davies said if she was allowed shed bet on her) is Karrie Webb. Others think Lorena Ochoa will repeat. I think Ochoa and Webb will both win majors this year, but Annika Sorenstam will capture her ninth Rolex Player of the Year.
Annika Sorenstam. Much to prove after seeing Lorena Ochoa win the honor last year. All the talk of her leaving the game to concentrate on family and children will quickly go away when she wins her first tournament this year. To me, all the pressure is on Ochoa. Better odds of Karrie Webb winning in 2007 than Ochoa. I think Annika will play with a passion this year and win at least four events -- two of them being majors.
A year ago, I wouldn't have believed that I would have ever said this again, but I think Karrie Webb will be Player of the Year. Annika seems to have too much on her mind outside of golf; Lorena will have a lot of pressure on her trying to repeat the honor; and I don't really see anyone else being able to win at least four or five times, including a major -- except Webb. She's already off to a great start this year with back-to-back wins in Australia.
Hot Topic
Harding Park will host the 2009 Presidents Cup. Which course, not in the current PGA TOUR rotation, would you most like to see host a big-time event?
Id like to see Augusta National host an LPGA event. But that wasnt the question. My answer to the question is LA North. But that aint happenin in our lifetime, because the membership wants no part of the PGA TOUR. Would also like to see the big boys go 72 holes at Pine Valley.
Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis would be great. They hosted a PGA Championship; they lost out on the World Golf Championship event when the tragedy of 9/11 happened. The plan is for them to be a part of the BMW Championship rotation along with Cog Hill Golf & Country Club, but Id like to see them get the regular slot because St. Louis would support a TOUR event as well as most cities. If not St. Louis, how about Sahalee Country Club in Redmond, Wash. The former PGA Championship site was a real beauty. And if youve never played Milwaukee Country Club ' youre missing a treat!
I'd love to see an event contested on one of these Golf Digest top-rated courses that no one really knows anything about: Pine Valley; Seminole; Shadow Creek in Las Vegas. I'd also like to see Bandon Dunes or Pacific Dunes host an event. Or maybe they would just let me play one of these courses. I would settle for that.
Click here to e-mail us your take on all of the above four questions. We'll publish select reader responses on Friday.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Nissan Open
  • Full Coverage - SBS Open at Turtle Bay
  • Getty Images

    Woods on firing shot into crowd: 'I kept moving them back'

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 3:14 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It added up to another even-par round, but Tiger Woods had an eventful Friday at The Open.

    His adventure started on the second hole, when he wiped a drive into the right rough. Standing awkwardly on the side of a mound, he prepared for a quick hook but instead fired one into the crowd that was hovering near the rope line.

    “I kept moving them back,” he said. “I moved them back about 40 yards. I was trying to play for the grass to wrap the shaft around there and hit it left, and I was just trying to hold the face open as much as I possibly could. It grabbed the shaft and smothered it.

    “I was very, very fortunate that I got far enough down there where I had a full wedge into the green.”

    Woods bogeyed the hole, one of four on the day, and carded four birdies in his round of 71 at Carnoustie. When he walked off the course, he was in a tie for 30th, six shots off the clubhouse lead.

    It’s the first time in five years – since the 2013 Open – that Woods has opened a major with consecutive rounds of par or better. He went on to tie for sixth that year at Muirfield.

    Getty Images

    Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

    By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 2:30 pm

    Tiger Woods shot his second consecutive 70 on Friday at Carnoustie and enters weekend play at even par for the championship, still in contention for major No. 15.

    Getty Images

    Scott and Sunesson a one-week partnership

    By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 2:13 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Adam Scott has been in between caddies for the last month and went with a bold stand-in for this week’s Open Championship, coaxing veteran looper Fanny Sunesson out of retirement to work for him at Carnoustie.

    Sunesson caddied for Nick Faldo in his prime, as the duo won four major titles together. She also worked for Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia before a back injury forced her to retire.

    But for this week’s championship, Scott convinced the Swede to return to the caddie corps. The results have been impressive, with the Australian following an opening 71 with a second-round 70 for a tie for 16th place.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “It's been going great. Fanny is, obviously, a fantastic caddie, and to be able to have that experience out there with me is certainly comforting,” Scott said. “We've gotten along really well. She's picked up on my game quickly, and I think we think about things in a very similar way.”

    Scott was also asked about a potential long-term partnership between the duo, but he didn’t sound hopeful.

    “It's just for this week,” he said. “It would be up to her, but I don't think she's making plans of a comeback. I was being a bit opportunistic in contacting her and coaxing her out of retirement, I guess. But I think she's having a good week. We'll just take it one week at the moment.”

    Getty Images

    After tense Augusta Sunday, Rory ready to be aggressive

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 1:51 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy temporarily lost his superpowers during the Masters.  

    In one of the most surprising rounds of the year, he played tentatively and carefully during the final day. Squaring off against the major-less Patrick Reed, on the brink of history, with the backing of nearly the entire crowd, it was McIlroy who shrank in the moment, who looked like the one searching for validation. He shot a joyless 74 and wound up six shots behind Reed.

    No, the final round was nowhere near as dispiriting as the finale in 2011, but McIlroy still sulked the following week. He binge-watched TV shows. Devoured a few books. Guzzled a couple of bottles of wine. His pity party lasted a few days, until his wife, Erica, finally dragged him out of the house for a walk.

    Some deeper introspection was required, and McIlroy revealed a healthier self-analysis Friday at Carnoustie. He diagnosed what went wrong at Augusta, and then again two months later at the U.S. Open, where he blew himself out of the tournament with an opening 80.

    “I was worrying too much about the result, not focusing on the process,” he said. “Sunday at Augusta was a big learning curve for me because, even if I hadn’t won that tournament, but I went down swinging and aggressive and committing to every shot, I would have walked away a lot happier.”

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    And so McIlroy has a new mantra this week at The Open.

    Let it go.

    Don’t hold back. Don’t worry about the repercussions. Don’t play scared.

    “I’m committed to making sure, even if I don’t play my best golf and don’t shoot the scores I want, I’m going to go down swinging, and I’m going to go down giving my best,” he said. “The result is the byproduct of all the little things you do to lead up to that. Sometimes I’ve forgotten that, and I just need to get back in that mindset.”

    It’s worked through two rounds, even after the cool, damp conditions led McIlroy to abandon his ultra-aggressive strategy. He offset a few mistakes with four birdies, shooting a second consecutive 69 to sit just a couple of shots off the lead.

    During a sun-splashed first round, McIlroy gleefully banged driver on almost every hole, flying or skirting the bunkers that dot these baked-out, undulating fairways. He wasn’t particularly accurate, but he also didn’t need to be, as the thin, wispy rough enabled every player to at least advance their approach shots near the green.

    Friday’s weather presented a different challenge. A steady morning rain took some of the fire out of parched fairways, but the cooler temperatures also reduced much of the bombers’ hang time. Suddenly, all of the bunkers were in play, and McIlroy needed to adjust his driver-heavy approach (he hit only six) on the fly.

    “It just wasn’t worth it,” he said.

    McIlroy hit a few “skanky” shots, in his words, but even his bigger misses – on the sixth and 17th holes – were on the proper side, allowing him to scramble for par and keep the round going.

    It’s the fifth time in his career that he’s opened a major with back-to-back rounds in the 60s. He’s gone on to win three of the previous four – the lone exception that disastrous final round (80) at Augusta in 2011.

    “I don’t want to say easy,” he said, “but it’s felt comfortable.”

    The weekend gets uncomfortable for everyone, apparently even four-time major winners who, when in form, ooze confidence and swagger.

    Once again McIlroy has that look at a major.

    The only thing left to do?

    Let it go.