Press Pass Tiger Raining on the TOURs Parade

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 22, 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
Is Tiger Woods doing a disservice to the PGA TOUR by not playing in the first FedExCup event?
 
Brian Hewitt Brian Hewitt - Columnist, GOLFCHANNEL.com:
No. The TOUR would be doing a disservice to Tiger to criticize him for not playing. Tim Finchem said it best Sunday: He is disappointed Tiger won't be at Barclays but he doesn't second-guess him. Put another way: Tiger has earned the right to take a week off whenever he wants. That having been said, the people at Barclays can't be happy and it will make it more difficult going forward for the TOUR to sell the Playoffs to potential title sponsors knowing Woods might not be in their field.
 
Steve Sands Steve Sands - Reporter, GOLF CHANNEL:
I think the way the TOUR set up the new playoff system it allows players to skip events but still take place in the 'Playoffs'. It won't be a true playoff until players have to play in each event and then are eliminated each week as the number drops from 144 to 120 to 70 then 30. The regular season points total should get you in the Playoffs, then every player should start at zero and be eliminated based on that week's performance.
 
Mercer Baggs Mercer Baggs - Senior Producer, GOLFCHANNEL.com:
I don't blame Tiger for skipping, and I even understand why he didn't want to say prior to last week that he was not going to play The Barclays. I do, however, place blame on the system. The system should be as such: it should be designed to force players to compete in all four events in order to win the grand prize. The current system doesn't do that. I'd bet on a change for next year.
 
Mark Rolfing Mark Rolfing - Analyst, GOLF CHANNEL:
Absolutely not. The PGA TOUR should be happy that he is playing in the final three; particularly when they need him at the Presidents Cup in Montreal one week after Atlanta.
 
Hot Topic
Who is your pick to win the inaugural FedExCup?
 
Hewitt:
I think Woods will win this thing and I will be surprised if he doesn't win at least one event given how successful he has been at TPC Boston and Cog Hill No. 4. Not just because of (this past week) but because of the last month, don't take your eyes off Brandt Snedeker, who starts at No. 9 on the point standings.
 
Sands:
Vijay Singh. He's won at three of the four venues and gets a tournament head start on Tiger. Vijay will win this week and in Atlanta.
 
Baggs:
If Jim Furyk is healthy, then he's got a great shot. He finishes inside the top 10 of every event he plays, and if he can win one of them, he'll be tough to beat. I'd be surprised if anyone won the $10 million without winning one of the events. I think it comes down to Tiger, Vijay and Furyk.
 
Rolfing:
I like Vijay Singh. With the readjustment of points he begins only 1000 points behind Woods and I expect Vijay to pass Tiger after Barclays. I think it will come down to Woods and Singh in the end.
 

With the $10 million prize money going to the winners retirement fund, how should he pay out his caddie?
 
Hewitt:
Easy one. Compensate the winning caddie with an annuity equal to 10 percent of the deferred $10 million first prize going to the player. Maybe some of that 10 percent could also go to a caddie health insurance program or retirement fund program
 

Sands:
I'd like to see the player who wins, put aside 10% of that annuity for the caddie. What a great retirement plan for guys who don't have that type of security. Regular percentage for the weekly money earned during the Playoffs then put aside a million for the caddie's own annuity from the winner.
 
Baggs:
Since the player can't officially touch the $10 million until he's at least 45, the TOUR should at least allow him to be able to designate a certain percentage to an annuity or retirement fund for his caddie. The caddie will already make a good sum of money based on his player's play over the Playoffs (prize money won at tournaments is different than the FedExCup payout), but a little bit -- doesn't have to be 10 percent -- of the big pie would be nice, too.
 
Rolfing:
He should establish a retirement account for his caddy and contribute the normal percentage for winning a tournament.
 
What is the ONE thing you are most looking forward to this week?
 
Hewitt:
It will be fun watching the bubble develop to see who advances from Westchester to Boston. But mostly I want to see if somebody passes the absent Tiger on the point standings. If so, that player will be a target for Woods when he returns.
 
Sands:
The one thing I'm looking forward to the most this week is getting the 'Woody Allen Sandwich' at the Carnegie Deli. It's a combination of corned beef and pastrami. New York City is to food what Jack Nicklaus is to golf!
 
Baggs:
I want to see if any of the top players can get out of the gates quickly with a win and put some pressure on Tiger. I'd like to see Singh or Furyk win -- just to see if it lights a fire under Tiger over the next three weeks.
 
Rolfing:
I am going to be really interested to see just how many players can still realistically win the FedExCup after the first event. My gut reaction is it will be less then 20 players.
 
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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.


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    “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.”


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    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.


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    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.”


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    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.”