Press Pass Winners and Losers from Week 1

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 28, 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
Who were the big winner and the big loser after Week 1 of the PGA TOUR Playoffs?
Brian Hewitt Brian Hewitt - Columnist,
Big winners: Steve Stricker for obvious reasons. How about GOLF CHANNEL as a winner? We now get Tiger, Phil and Vijay, in the same group, on our air, Friday and Saturday at Deutsche Bank. Biggest loser (bit of a harsh word here): Jason Dufner missed a 6-footer on the 72nd hole that would have advanced him to Deutsche Bank. Rory Sabbatini, too. Three bogeys on the back nine cost him the No. 1 spot after Week 1.
Mercer Baggs Mercer Baggs - Senior Producer,
Even though he didn't play, Tiger Woods was a winner, if only because those closest to him at the start of the week didn't pass him. But, overall, I think the big winner -- aside from Stricker -- was K.J. Choi. Of the three players currently ahead of Tiger in the points standing, I think he has the best chance to win the $10 million. The biggest loser? Pick one: Singh, Furyk, Mickelson. All had a chance to put pressure on Tiger and all still trail him.
Ian Hutchinson Ian Hutchinson - Contrib. Writer,
The big winner is obvious. Steve Stricker's emotion after his win at The Barclays added a nice touch to a new part of the schedule that has been slammed big time. The loser in Week 1 didn't even play. It's tough to call Tiger a loser, but he added fuel to all the criticism of The Playoffs and did damage to his own public relations. Gee, I hope he doesn't go '9-and-8' on me for saying that.
Mark Rolfing Mark Rolfing - Analyst, GOLF CHANNEL:
I think the big winner without a doubt was Steve Stricker. He has come back so far and just to win a tournament of this magnitude, even forgetting that it's in The Playoffs, was huge. The biggest loser? I would say without Tiger it was FedEx. The TV rating was a 2.1; certainly most people expected more.
Hot Topic
Will Annika Sorenstams engagement detract further from her professional life or enhance it?
It will eventually enhance it. I believe the more peace she finds in her personal life (and this may mean children) it will eventually enhance her professional life down the road. Being a parent sure hasn't slowed down Tiger Woods.
At this point you'd like to think that it couldn't hurt it. While injuries have hampered her progress this year, I still think motivation -- or lack thereof -- is the reason she has not yet won in 2007. I don't think she's as solely dedicated to golf as she once was. Getting married might seem like more of a distraction, but being content privately can only help her at this stage of her career.
She did pretty good when she was in her first marriage, but she's at a point in her career where the only way she can go is up. That may or may not be fair to say. The past couple of seasons, she has just been another LPGA Tour player, but definitely not Annika. Disappointing results become more obvious. The speculation could surround her back problems or her marriage, but the bottom line is where her head and heart is with some pretty prestigious career records not far away. I suspected even before her injuries and engagement that she was distracted.
I dont really think it will have any impact. Like Tiger Woods, her friend, Annika has been very good at separating her on-the-course life from her off-the-course life.
Hot Topic
Has the U.S. Amateur lost its luster? If so, why?
No. I love watching the U.S. Amateur. It's a little like watching the Little League World Series in the sense that we don't know that much about the participants and they are playing for the sheer love of the game. Would liked to have seen Johnny Miller on the broadcasts.
Yes. I think a lot has to do with the lack of success that the most recent winners have had on the PGA TOUR. The last 10 Amateur winners (not including the recent Colt Knost) have combined for two TOUR wins. And only one, 2004 champ Ryan Moore, has been a consistent TOUR player since winning the U.S. Am. It's easy to blame three-time Am winner Tiger Woods for increasing expectations, but even in the 10 years before Tiger won his first title, there were the likes of Scott Verplank, Billy Mayfair, Phil Mickelson and Justin Leonard who won the Am and then went on to have great professional success. If this current crop can win more professionally, it will help boost the Amateur.
My head says yes, but my heart says no. It seems to be a common malady in golf with all of the emphasis on the professional tours and players like Michelle Wie giving amateur events a pass in order to turn pro way too young. National championships seem to be 'tweeners,' or less of a story on the national level, but a big story regionally if a local guy does well. It's sad to say with all the big names who have been national champions in the past, including Tiger. Still, prestige is not measured by press alone and the U.S. Amateur is still an impressive entry on a player's resume.
I dont think its lost its luster but its in danger simply because of its date. Sundays final round was on the air opposite not one but two other live events, the PGA TOUR and the LPGA. Too much of this air-time competition screams mediocrity to the viewers.
Hot Topic
What is the ONE thing you are most looking forward to this week?
Tiger, Phil and Vijay. All day. In the same group. Friday and Saturday. Would love to see them paired again on the weekend as well.
Tiger's attitude. Padraig Harrington put it best by comparing the FedExCup to THE PLAYERS, saying: if you win it, it's important; if you don't, it's not. If Tiger has a nonchalant attitude, it could affect the public perception of these Playoffs for years to come.
Unfortunately, seeing if Lorena Ochoa can make like Annika and win four straight will have to wait for another day. I will be curious to see if Ernie Els takes the same heat that Tiger did for blowing off the second stage of the FedExCup playoffs. Fans need to be heard in golf and if players keep ditching these events, they will just become just another tournament on the schedule for most people. Please don't hand me the stuff about players being independent contractors either.
How will the Deutsche Bank Championship differ in the publics perception from Barclays? I think this week could be a turning point from a perception standpoint for the FedExCup.
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    Schauffele on close call: Nothing but a positive

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 22, 2018, 8:41 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Playing in a final group at a major for the first time, Xander Schauffele awkwardly splashed out of three pot bunkers, went out in 40 and still somehow had a chance to win at Carnoustie.

    Playing the 17th hole, tied with Francesco Molinari, Schauffele flared his approach shot into the right rough and couldn’t get up and down for par. He dropped one shot behind Molinari, and then two, after the Italian birdied the final hole.

    Just like that, Schauffele was doomed to a runner-up finish at The Open.

    “A little bit of disappointment,” he said. “Obviously when you don’t win, you’re disappointed. Hats off to Francesco. I looked up on 17 and saw he got to 8 under, which is just incredible golf and an incredible finish.”

    Schauffele did well to give himself a chance. The 24-year-old was in the final group with Spieth, but both youngsters fell off the pace after rocky starts. The Tour’s reigning Rookie of the Year birdied the 14th but couldn’t convert a 15-footer on the treacherous 16th that would have given him a one-shot cushion.

    “It’s going to go in the memory bank as a positive,” he said. “I had a chance to win a major championship. I was in the final group. I had to face a little bit of adversity early in the round, and I still gave myself a chance. Anyone can look at it however they want to, but I’m going to look at is as a positive moving forward and try to learn how to handle the situations a little better next time.”  

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    They came, they saw and Molinari conquered The Open

    By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 8:28 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – From a perch above the 17th tee, next to a three-story grandstand that may well be the tallest structure on the Angus coast, the 147th Open Championship unfolded with more twists and turns than a Russian novel.

    It was all there like a competitive kaleidoscope to behold. In quick order, Rory McIlroy’s title chances slipped away with a whimper, a par at the last some 100 yards to the left of the 17th tee. Tiger Woods, seemingly refreshed and reborn by the Scottish wind, missed his own birdie chance at the 16th hole, a half-court attempt near the buzzer for a player who is 0-for-the last decade in majors.

    Moments later, Kevin Kisner scrambled for an all-world par of his own at No. 16 and gazed up at the iconic leaderboard as he walked to the 17th tee box, his title chances still hanging in the balance a shot off the lead.

    Francesco Molinari was next, a textbook par save at No. 16 to go along with a collection of by-the-book holes that saw the Italian play his weekend rounds bogey-free. He also hit what may have been the most important drive of his life into what a Scot would call a proper wind at the 17th hole.

    Xander Schauffele, who was tied with Molinari at the time at 7 under par, anchored the action, missing a 15-footer for birdie at the 16th hole. Moments later the Italian calmly rolled in a 5-footer for birdie at the last to finish his week at 8 under par.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    All this unfolded over a frenzied final hour of play at Carnoustie, offering just a taste of what the other four-plus hours of play resembled.

    “I couldn't watch Xander play the last two holes, to be honest,” said Molinari, who became the first Italian to win a major. “That's why I went to the putting green, because I probably would have felt sick watching on TV,”

    Carnoustie may not be the fairest of the Open rotation courses, but it certainly delivers the dramatic goods regularly enough.

    Woods’ prediction earlier in the week that this Open Championship would come down to no fewer than 10 would-be champions seemed hyperbolic. It turns out he was being conservative with his estimate.

    All total, 11 players either held a share of the lead or moved to within a stroke of the top spot on a hectic Sunday. For three days Carnoustie gave, the old brute left exposed by little wind and even less rough. Earlier in the week, players talked of not being able to stop the ball on the dusty and dry links turf. But as the gusts built and the tension climbed on Sunday, stopping the bleeding became a bigger concern.

    If most majors are defined by two-way traffic, a potpourri of competitive fortunes to supercharge the narrative, this Open was driven in one direction and a cast of would-be champions with a single goal: hang on.

    A day that began with three players – including defending champion Jordan Spieth, Kisner and Schauffele – tied for the lead at 9 under, quickly devolved into a free-for-all.

    Kisner blinked first, playing his first three holes in 3 over par; followed by Spieth whose poor 3-wood bounded into a gorse bush at the sixth hole and led to an unplayable lie. It was a familiar scene that reminded observers of his unlikely bogey at Royal Birkdale’s 13th hole last year. But this time there was no practice tee to find refuge and his double-bogey 7 sent him tumbling down the leaderboard.

    “I was trying to take the burn out of the equation by hitting 3-wood to carry it. It was unlucky. It went into the only bush that's over on the right side. If it misses it, I hit the green and have a birdie putt,” Spieth said.

    Schauffele’s struggles coincided with Spieth’s, with whom he played on Sunday, with a bogey at the sixth sandwiched between a bogey (No. 5) and a double bogey (No. 7).

    This opened the door to what the entire golf world has awaited, with Woods vaulting into the lead at 7 under par, the first time since the ’11 Masters he’d led at a major, and sending a low rumble across the course.

    Since Woods last won a major, that ’08 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines on one leg, Spieth and Schauffele, who Tiger spotted four strokes on Sunday, graduated from high school; McIlroy went from phenom to four-time major winner and Donald Trump was transformed from being a TV celebrity to the President of the United States.

    But the fairytale only lasted a few minutes with Woods playing Nos. 11 and 12 in 3 over par. They were the kind of mistakes the 14-time major champion didn’t make in his prime

    “A little ticked off at myself, for sure. I had a chance starting that back nine to do something, and I didn't do it,” said Woods, who finished tied for sixth but will have the consolation prize of moving into the top 50 in the world ranking to qualify for the last WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone in two weeks.

    But as Woods faded, McIlroy made a familiar move, charging in an eagle putt at the par-5 14th hole to tie Molinari and Schauffele at 6 under par. The Northern Irishman would run out of holes, playing the final four in even par to finish tied for second, but the moment wasn’t lost on him.

    “It was great, just to be a part of it and hear the roars. Tiger being back in the mix. You know, everything,” McIlroy said. “There's a lot of big names up there. It was nice to be a part of it. For a while, I thought Tiger was going to win. My mindset was go and spoil the party here.”

    By the time the final groups reached Carnoustie’s finishing stretch it was a two-man party, with Molinari proving for the second time this month that boring golf can be effective.

    Although he’d won the European Tour’s flagship event in May, Molinari decided to add the Quicken Loans National to his schedule because of his precarious position on the FedExCup points list (122nd) – he won that, too. The week before the Open, he fulfilled his commitment to play the John Deere Classic, a requirement under the PGA Tour’s new strength of field rule, and finished second.

    Although his track record at The Open was nothing special – he’d posted just a single top-10 finish in his first 10 starts at the game’s oldest championship – his machine-like game was always going to be a perfect fit for a brown and bouncy links like Carnoustie and a topsy-turvy final round.

    “I told his caddie earlier this week, because I didn’t want to say it to [Molinari], I have a good feeling this week,” said Molinari’s swing coach Denis Pugh. “It was the perfect combination of clarity and confidence.”

    With the sun splashing against the baked-out fairways, Molinari emerged from the clubhouse, wide-eyed and a little dazed after what could only be described as a major melee, his no-nonsense, fairways-and-greens game the perfect tonic for an Open that defied clarity until the very end.

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    Spieth and Schauffele were put on the clock Sunday

    By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 8:13 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Contending in a major championship on what is largely considered the toughest major championship course can be hard enough, but as Jordan Spieth reached the 10th tee box, he was given another layer of anxiety.

    Spieth, who was playing with Xander Schauffele on Sunday at Carnoustie, was informed that his group had fallen behind and been put on the clock. On the next tee, he was given a “bad time” for taking too long to hit his drive.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “I handled it OK, but looking back, you know, that was a turning point in the round,” said Spieth, who played Nos. 10 and 11 in even par and finished tied for ninth after a closing 76. “If you get 1 under on those two holes with a downwind par 5 left [No. 14], it's a different story.”

    Spieth, who began the day tied for the lead with Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at 9 under, had dropped out the top spot with a double bogey-7 at the sixth hole. He was tied for the lead when officials put his group on the clock.

    “I took over the allotted time on the tee on 11 to decide on 3-iron or 3-wood, but throughout the day, I think I played the fastest golf I've probably ever played while contending in a tournament,” he said.

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    Woods (T-6) qualifies for WGC-Bridgestone via OWGR

    By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 7:43 pm

    After narrowly missing out on a 15th major title at Carnoustie, Tiger Woods can take solace in the fact that he earned a return to Firestone Country Club by the thinnest of margins.

    Woods was ranked No. 71 in the world entering The Open, and the top 50 in the rankings on both July 23 and July 30 will earn invites to the upcoming WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Despite missing a short birdie putt on the 72nd hole, Woods' three-way tie for sixth was enough to lift him to exactly 50th in the updated rankings.

    It means that Woods will return to Akron in two weeks despite starting the year ranked No. 656. Firestone's South Course is the site of eight of Woods' 79 career PGA Tour victories, including his most recent worldwide victory back in 2013 when he won by seven shots. He has not played the invitation-only event since withdrawing in 2014 because of injury.

    That's also the last time that Woods played in any of the four WGC events.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Woods had stated for several weeks that he hoped to return to Firestone this summer, given that the tournament will permanently shift to TPC Southwind in Memphis beginning next year. While he had the option to play next week's RBC Canadian Open to bolster his world ranking, Woods reiterated in recent weeks that his status for Akron would simply hinge on his performance in The Open.

    "One of my goals is to get into Akron one last time before we leave there," Woods said at The Players Championship in May. "I've won there eight times and I'd love to get there with one more chance."

    Speaking to reporters after a final-round 71, Woods explained that he thought he needed a top-4 finish to qualify and had fallen short. Instead, his 5-under total and best finish in a major since the 2013 Open at Muirfield proved to be just enough.

    Woods will now take a week off before teeing it up in Akron Aug. 2-5, followed by an appearance the following week at the PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis.