Chat with Bob Harig
Harig covers golf for ESPN.com and provides columns, features and analysis on the world of golf, specifically the PGA Tour. He has contributed to ESPN.com's golf coverage since 1997.
Send your questions now and join Bob on Thursday at 2 p.m. ET for all the answers.
Harig Archive: Columns
Bob Harig (2:00 PM)
Hello, thanks for checking in today for this chat. The golf world, of course, is buzzing after Tiger's comeback on Sunday. We've got a major championship underway at the Kraft Nabisco, a great field on the PGA Tour in Houston and next week is the Masters. Lots going on, so let's get to it. Fire away with your questions, please.
Patrick Hanover PA
Why has there been little to no mention of Tiger getting help from Sean O'Hair as in Tiger only shot 3 under and Sean had a 5 stroke lead. Tiger played well but was far from lights out. You know BOb if it was the other way around you would here much more about Tiger collapsing then Sean winning.
Bob Harig (2:01 PM)
Patrick, let me throw some numbers at you. Tiger's 67 was tied for the second-best score of the day. Only one player, Kevin Na, who was out of contention, shot 66. There were just 20 scores in the 60s, with Tiger's 67 one of just nine that was 68 or better. The point is, nobody was going low, and Tiger managed to do so. Now I'll grant you, Tiger needed some help from O'Hair. An even-par round on what turned out to be the easiest of the scoring days would have gotten O'Hair the title. But Tiger birdied two of the first three holes to put the pressure on -- which is exactly what he had to do.
Do you think Norman still loves Augusta?
Bob Harig (2:03 PM)
Steiny, I don't think there isn't any question that he does. He has called it his favorite tournament, despite all the misery it has inflicted. It's going to be interesting to see how he fares next week.
Patrick Hanover PA
Why are some LPGA events only 3 rounds instead of 4?
Bob Harig (2:04 PM)
Patrick, this likely has to due with the sponsor. Some of them prefer to have two days worth of pro-ams to entertain their clients or to be able to raise more money for charity. And the LPGA by-laws allow for 54-hole events.
Chuck (Long Beach, NY)
Who gets more over the top media coverage? Tiger or the President? I know Tiger deserves praise, but it is getting tough to watch sometimes.
Bob Harig (2:05 PM)
Chuck, you are not alone in your feelings, but then explain the spike in ratings, the spike in web hits. Tiger's win at Bay Hill was the highest-rated golf broadcast since the U.S. Open. . . which Tiger won. At ESPN.com, we get far more feedback on anything Tiger related. Doesn't that suggest that is what people want?
Jill (New York City)
It seems like there are at least 4 shots each tournament that ONLY Tiger could make. Why are the broadcasters so prone to hyperbole with Tiger? Its annoying.
Bob Harig (2:06 PM)
Jill, sort of along the lines of my previous answer to Chuck. Even the other players comment that Tiger does things not everyone else does or can do.
What can you tell us about Ballesteros? How is he feeling?
Bob Harig (2:07 PM)
Steiny, I only know what I read this week, but Ballesteros granted his first interview and was very upbeat about his recovery from four surgeries to remove a tumor. He's got a long way to go, but it would be great if he could get healthy enough to make an appearance at the British Open this summer.
Is Johnson Wagner going to be a great golfer for years to come?
Bob Harig (2:08 PM)
Steiny, one tournament victory does not make a great golfer. His victory last year in Houston was his only top 10 and he's been struggling for much of this year.
Ben Madison, Wi
Bob, Since the Shell Open sought to attract more premier players prior to the Masters and it appears they have been successful, do you think other tournaments prior to subsequent Majors will have their own initiatives?
Bob Harig (2:10 PM)
Ben, it's possible, but the problem is that the other majors change every year, which means they could be faced with trying to simulate vastly different condtions. The Memphis event precedes the U.S. Open and it can try to have very narrow fairways, deep rough and hard greens to simulate U.S. Open conditions, but is that what players want the week prior to a grueling test? The John Deere tournament -- and for that matter, the Scottish Open -- can't come close to being like a British Open venue such as Turnberry. And now that the Bridgestone precedes the PGA Championship, I doubt Firestone will have to worry about that as the course holds its own.
Does the Masters give special invitations to those who are not exempt but are playing well right now (DLIII etc.)
Bob Harig (2:11 PM)
Steve, unfortunately the Masters does not -- although it could. It's special foreign invitation seems kind of outdated. The Masters should simply give special invitations to whomever it pleases.
Charles Madison, WI
Bob, Do you think those who chose to go the Houston Open will be negatively affected for not playing at Augusta National this week being 15 of the last 20 winners skipped playing the previous week?
Bob Harig (2:12 PM)
Charles, there seem to be different views on this. Obviously this year we have a huge group of guys who feel it is better to be competing in tournament conditions as preparation. And over the years, there have been players who might have spent too much time preparing at Augusta and got themselves burned out. Weather conditions can play a big part in this, too. Anybody playing Augusta National this week might find a far different test a week from now. Then again, those who get in a few early practice rounds and get some rest and practice might be in a better position. It has worked both ways to varying degrees of success.
Any word from players who've played Augusta National lately on how it's playing compared to recent years?
Bob Harig (2:13 PM)
Nelson, Greg Norman was there recently and couldn't believe how long it was playing. They've had a wet spring in Augusta, but because there have not been significant changes to the course from last year, it seems fewer people have gone to take an early look.
Tommy (Green Bay, WI)
What is the status of Vijay's bum knee?
Bob Harig (2:14 PM)
Tommy, Singh's knee -- which was operated on in January -- has definitely given him some trouble. After Doral, he withdrew from the Transitions Championship, where he won in 2004. He played at Bay Hill but shot 77 in the third round and tied for 59th. He is playing in Houston this week but has yet to tee off due to the weather delay this morning.
Paul (Williamsville, NY)
Does this break the streak of Steiny not getting the first question?
Bob Harig (2:15 PM)
Ah, Paul . . . yes, the streak was broken. Steiny wasn't first this week but he's made up for it with plenty of questions which I can't possibly get to them all.
Barb Philadelphia PA
Is Tiger your pick for the Masters right now? That must have been exciting there on the 18th hole at Bay Hill Sunday ! Was that you near Tiger when he was being interviewed by NBC after his putt? You got on TV!
Bob Harig (2:17 PM)
Yes Barb, blotting out the TV screen for you and others ranks right up there among life's thrills. Sorry about that. . It was cool to see the entire thing unfold, and since I'm never right about these things, I will gloat about picking Tiger to win last week at Bay Hill (go back and check my picks, it's true!) As for the Masters. . . well I'm not sure yet. This sure makes it easier to pick him.
Tommy (Green Bay, WI)
Any word on when John Daly will return... rumor has it he has now lost close to 50 pounds and is back working with Rick Smith.
Bob Harig (2:18 PM)
Tommy, not sure when JD is due back, but it could be fairly soon. He's been out since late last year and the tour or Daly never said when his suspension began. He has been working with Rick Smith and reportedly has dropped a few pounds.
Peter (Youngstown, OH)
Does Harrington have a chance to win the "Tiger Slam" with Tiger back in action?
Bob Harig (2:21 PM)
Peter, I assume you are referring to the "Paddy Slam?" Winning four straight majors? It's true he won the first two without Tiger around, but I'm guessing that Harrington is more concerned about himself. He's sturggled to get his game into form this year, although he had a good Bay Hill and appears to be off to a good start in Houston. It would be fun if he could get into contention.
Shaun (Detroit, MI) [via mobile]
Hey Bob... I was just curious to know how you think Tiger will fair this year... will he keep the #1 rank?
Bob Harig (2:24 PM)
Shaun, the gap has closed considerably since Tiger was out for so long, meaning there is a chance he could lose his No. 1 ranking. But Phil would have to win Houston this week just to make it close going into the Masters. If anybody like Phil, Sergio, Ogilvy or Harrington were to get hot, they could overtake him. Of course, if Tiger keeps winning it will be that much more difficult.
Bob, How much do you think Tiger's motivation to keep the #1 ranking and give Phil something to think about played into his performance at Bay Hill?
Bob Harig (2:25 PM)
Robb, honestly, I don't think that was any factor. I think Tiger very much wanted to get into contention once before the Masters and deal with those nerves. Winning was a bonus.
Zac (Chandler, AZ)
Why Did Phil skip the Arnold Palmer? Seems like a stupid idea to say no to Arnie and miss a tournament that Tiger is in
Bob Harig (2:26 PM)
Zac, lots of guys skipped Bay Hill this year. Over the years there has been some grumbling about the course, and this year a good number chose to play in Houston instead. Phil obviously felt that peaking for the Masters would work better for him by taking two weeks off after Doral.
Bob, why was play in Houston suspended? The weather report says it's clear skies...
Bob Harig (2:27 PM)
Dave, I'm not in Houston, all I know is they had a weather delay this morning which pushed back tee times more than two hours.
How long is the 1st Round going to be delayed?
Bob Harig (2:28 PM)
Rob, they are playing now, it was delayed this morning
Gus - New City,NY
Bob, Is Jason Gore on the road back, or was last week a case of everything coming together? Thanks
Bob Harig (2:29 PM)
Gus, Jason finished tied for eighth, but whether he is back remains to be seen. He is the first to admit that his game goes in streaks.
Bob Harig (2:31 PM)
UPDATE: Play in Houston has been suspended again. Rain delayed the start this morning and this means the first round won't get completed today.
The Mass Hacker (Massachusetts)
Do you think that the added pressure of needing a win to make the Master's field is going to help or hurt a guy like CH3 this weekend?
Bob Harig (2:32 PM)
I would think the pressure is off now. For a guy who has won just twice in his career, it's awful lot to ask him to pick one tournament and win it. The pressure for him was to try and get high enough in the rankings to qualify or to maybe win earlier in the year. Now if he gets into contention. .. I would still think the idea of winning would be enough pressure.
Bob, I think the most overlooked part of Tiger's game must be his putting. Not only does he not miss putts inside 5 feet, he also tends to make a lot of 10-20 footers. When you consider that even a perfect stroke can result in a miss due to a minor imperfection in the green, it's even more ridiculous that he makes so many long putts down the stretch.
Bob Harig (2:34 PM)
Dost, I don't think his putting is overlooked, but you nailed it. There is no better clutch putter. He didn't putt very well at Doral and tied for ninth. He had an unbelievable putting week at Bay Hill and look what happened.
what do you think was the best masters of the past 30 years?
Bob Harig (2:35 PM)
X, I'm sticking with Nicklaus in '86. . 46 years old, shoots 30 on the back nine, wins his 18th major, beats Norman, Seve, Kite. .
I understand that when it comes to golf... Tiger walks on water. But there's a great tourney going on right now. Why focus 90% of the questions on him while he's not even playing this week? So many other great stories out there. This chat is boring.
Bob Harig (2:36 PM)
Sorry Jon, those are the questions being asked. It's sort of like asking why Tiger gets so much attention and then you see that ratings double and tons more people care about him than anything else. You suggest ignoring him?
Mkevin (Plano, tx) [via mobile]
Bob, why is there such a small amount of thurs/friday Masters coverage? It makes little sense since it is arguably the most popular major.
Bob Harig (2:37 PM)
I take it you're talking about the television window? That is all determined by Augusta National, and they have long gone by the theory that less is more.
Justin (Richmond Tx)
Bob, I think more credit should be given to the folks putting on the Shell Houston Open. 18 plyers out of the Top 20 are playing this week. I can't wait to follow "Lefty" and "the Shark" tomorrow!
Bob Harig (2:38 PM)
Justin, I believe the numbers are 8 out of 10 and 15 out of 20. . But still, your point is well taken. See my piece on ESPN.com about that very topic
Really?? Look at your leaderboard.
Bob Harig (2:39 PM)
Sorry Rob, I'm not making it up. . They had a weather issue this morning and then early this afternoon they suspended play due to high winds.
Gary (Fontana, CA)
I often hear golf pundits talk about how Tiger brings so much attention to tournaments that he plays (like Bay Hill), but that other tournaments lose out when he doesn't play. I understand the low interest without Tiger in the field, but would the implication is that the interest would be higher if Tiger had never picked up a club. Is that at all realistic?
Bob Harig (2:41 PM)
Gary, I have often said that golf was doing just fine before Tiger came along. He has brought incredible interest when he plays, but there seems to be this negativity when he doesn't -- even though as many golf fans in this chat have pointed out, there are a lot of great stories even when he isn't playing. The trick is getting the non-golf followers to understand that.
Any insight as to why Adam Scott isn't in the field? Seems odd for the defending champ not to be there
Bob Harig (2:43 PM)
Mike, Adam actually won two years ago. He played the last three weeks in a row, although he missed two cuts.
ben (milford ct)
bob, what are the chances we will ever see tiger and lefty head to head in the final day of a major? Who would be the "favorite" if any?? What do you think that would do for ratings/buzz for golf?
Bob Harig (2:43 PM)
Ben, that would be the dream scenario, wouldn't it? I think Tiger would be the favorite, but I doubt Phil would back down. It would be phenomenal to see them both in that situation.
mkevin (plano, tx) [via mobile]
Would you take tiger vs. the field right now in the masters? If not, who's your pick?
Bob Harig (2:45 PM)
I would have a hard time taking anyone againt the field. That just doesn't make sense. As great as Tiger is. . . Don't have a pick yet and Tiger is a strong contender but to take him over the field?
Keith (Spokane, WA)
Rory McIlroy... thoughts on his chances of winning a major this year?
Bob Harig (2:46 PM)
Keith, I think that's a lot to ask of him. He's obviously a great talent, very mature for his age, getting all sorts of kudos from his peers. But I'd like to see him play a major as a pro and contend first before predicting when he might win one.
Gus - New City,NY
Wow you picked Tiger to win last week? What's next, picking Stevie to yell at a fan at The Masters?
Bob Harig (2:47 PM)
I picked him to win and he needed a lot to happen for it to occur. It was obviously no slam dunk
Bob, the non-golf watchers understand that there are other stories, it is just that Tiger is so transcendant that he leaves us in awe watching him, and not being followers of golf, we don't find the other stories compelling.
Bob Harig (2:48 PM)
Ken, your answer is a good one for those who wonder why there is so much focus on Tiger.
Justin (Richmond Tx)
Play was suspended again this afternoon due to high winds, that's right high winds, lol!
Bob Harig (2:49 PM)
Justin, if a ball on the green moves because of the wind, they have no choice but to suspend play.
After Tiger's performance last week, how many majors do you predict he will take this year? Has it changed from your original prediction?
Bob Harig (2:49 PM)
Ken, I thought going into the year he would win one, and I still think that.
Cosmo (Anytown, USA)
Who's got a better job than Stevie Williams?
Bob Harig (2:50 PM)
All those guys whose companies were bailed out by the U.S. gov't but still got huge bonuses.
Ron, Washington, D.C.
I am looking at the early results at the tournament in Houston and Lefty is struggling. He is 3 over thru 8. Why is he so inconsistent?
Bob Harig (2:51 PM)
Ron, I guess that's just Phil. If he were consistent, he wouldn't be Phil.
ben (milford ct)
do you think it bothers tiger that no matter how big he is,Lefty is still a huge popularity draw??(almost in the palmer nicklaus sense)
Bob Harig (2:52 PM)
Ben, I seriously don't think it bothers Tiger a bit. He is plenty popular in his own right, does things his way. And he'll always have the scoreboard. But the analogy to Nicklaus-Palmer is valid. Jack has the better record, but Palmer seemed to be more beloved.
Cosmo (Anytown, USA)
What type of player traditionally performs well at the Masters? And who are some example of that type of player?
Bob Harig (2:55 PM)
Cosmo, despite the emphasis on length, we've seen all types of players perform well. Tiger and Phil play a much different game than Mike Weir and Zach Johnson Putting is always important, and Tiger's was off a bit the last few years, which cost him. Zach Johnson was spot on with his wedge play in 2007. You better drive it straight, too. Lots of factors.
ben (milford ct)
with the USGA going after groove changes, do you ever envision them going after the real culprit in the distance issue....the ball?? Why not have a uniform ball that all players must use??? (similiar to what Nascar does with some items?? This could really solve more issues than grooves or club sizes.
Bob Harig (2:56 PM)
Ben, we don't have time or space for that topic! It's a good one. A uniform ball would certainly change things, wouldn't it? But it brings into play a lot of questions. Does everyone have to play the same ball? Or do their various equipment companies make one that complies?
Chris (WA State)
Bob, What do you think a 12 handicap would shoot at Augusta?
Bob Harig (2:57 PM)
Chris, if he had to play from the tournament tees, I seriously doubt he could break 100 under tournament conditions. Now from the member tees, the course is about 1,000 yards shorter, very enjoyable.
Many in the media, hype the Phil-Tiger rivalry and portray Phil as the next best thing other than tiger.Other tour player have achevied similar feats and more in their career. Why do they not get the same treatment?
Bob Harig (2:59 PM)
Dave, if Phil gets any more attention than the rest it is simply because of his record. He's won 36 times. That's more than any other player not named Tiger who is active.
Don Miller Burbank Ca
Is there still a rain Delay at the shell Houston? Thanks
Bob Harig (3:00 PM)
Don, I'm not in Houston, but apparently they are still in a delay. I'm sure the plan is to try and resume and get in as many holes as possible.
Bob, I understand some caddies will be mic'd for this tourney... Any news on how that is going? Do you think this is something that could be broadcast in the near future? Thanks!
Bob Harig (3:02 PM)
Nate, they are doing it as a test this week but won't put it on the air. They want to see how it works. There are lots and pros an dcons to this. The boom mikes used at other tournaments appears to be the way to go, to be able to pick up some of the conversation but not all of it.
What stretch of holes do you think are most important at Augusta?
Bob Harig (3:03 PM)
Brian, I happen to think holes 3 through 7 are very important. They are not talked about much, but none of them is what you would call a birdie hole, and all can cause lots of trouble. Getting through 7 okay gives a player a chance.
Bob Harig (3:04 PM)
I'm out of time, thanks for all the great questions. Please check in next week as we'll be chatting from Augusta National. Enjoy the golf.