Press Pass US Womens Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 27, 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
Do you like the 3-hole cumulative playoff system at this years U.S. Womens Open or the traditional 18-hole playoff like at the mens U.S. Open?
Brian Hewitt Brian Hewitt - Columnist,
Give me the one that ends on Sunday. Monday, unfortunately, becomes too much of an anti-climax. By the way, coming soon to a U.S. Open near you, a Sunday playoff format just like the women now have. It's inevitable.
Steve Sands Steve Sands - Reporter, GOLF CHANNEL:
The traditional 18-hole playoff. I like the fact that all of the major championship playoff formats are different. I'd rather see the USGA stick to it's traditional format.
Steve Duemig Steve Duemig - Panelist, Grey Goose 19th Hole:
I must still be Old School because I continue to like the 18-hole playoff. One bad swing in a shortened playoff dooms you! At least one can recover somewhat in 18 holes.
Mark Rolfing Mark Rolfing - Analyst, GOLF CHANNEL:
I like the three-hole system. It makes it difficult for the players, fans and everybody else involved with staging a tournament to have a Monday finish.
Mercer Baggs Mercer Baggs - Senior Producer,
Definitely the three-hole system. I'd much rather see a tournament, particularly a major championship, end on Sunday -- especially if I'm covering the event.
Hot Topic
Who is your pick and why to win this week's U.S. Women's Open at Pine Needles?
I think Lorena Ochoa will carry her momentum from Wegmans to Pine Needles. I also think her main competition will come from Karrie Webb, who won there in 2001. The best story? Annika winning. She won at Pine Needles in this event in 1996.
Lorena Ochoa. She is too good not to break through with her first major championship victory and is coming in hot off her playoff win Sunday. She's the best woman in the world right now and I'll think she'll hold off Karrie Webb to win at Pine Needles.
Morgan Pressel is my selection for this week's Open. She returns to the place where she first qualified and played as a 12-year-old. Her game seems to be suited best for the tougher courses.
Lorena Ochoa. I think this is the week she breaks through for a major. Pine Needles tests every aspect of a player's game and I think, right now, Lorenas overall game is at the highest level. But dont count out Brittany Lincicome.
Karrie Webb. Webb won the last time the Women's Open was contested at Pine Needles in 2001. Even though she hasn't won on tour this season, she did manage to finish runner-up at the McDonald's LPGA. She should have plenty of confidence this week. I think she beats Morgan Pressel in a three-hole playoff.
Hot Topic
Everyone is wondering how fatherhood will affect Tiger. So, how many majors will Tiger win before Sam Alexis turns 1 year old?
I am going to predict 'only' two, mainly because I don't think Carnoustie and Southern Hills set up particularly well for his game. Augusta National and Torrey Pines South are right in his wheelhouse.
None, which means he'll probably win three. I think we're in one of those runs where Tiger is close; he's been runner-up two consecutive majors, but someone else wins. No reason, really. Just a hunch.
I am not wondering that at all. Is Tiger the first tour player or star to ever have a kid? Didn't think so. But since you are asking, he will win three.
At least one major, maybe two. He didnt play particularly well at Southern Hills (site of this year's PGA Championship) in the U.S. Open in 2001, but he will certainly be the favorite at Augusta next year and to me an overwhelming favorite at Torrey Pines for the U.S. Open.
Tiger has a habit of reeling off wins when something significant happens in his personal life, like getting married or the death of his father. I think, however, that he will only net one major before his daughter turns 1 and that will come at the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines,
What's the ONE thing you are most looking forward to this week in the world of golf?
The Women's Open. So many stories to follow: Ochoa, Sorenstam, Wie just to name a few.
Can Lorena Ochoa handle Sunday pressure at a major? She has all the talent in the world but has yet to win her first big one. It's time for Lorena to prove her No. 1 ranking in the world.
How that Wie kid performs.
Can Michelle Wie turn it around at the U.S. Womens Open!
Annika's comeback has been pointing to this title defense. I am very curious to see how she performs in her biggest event of the year.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - U.S. Women's Open
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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.”