Chat with Bob Harig
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPN.com golf writer Bob Harig will stop by to talk about the 2009 golf season.
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 to chat Thursday at 2 p.m. ET!
Bob Harig (2:00 PM)
Hello, thanks for checking in this afternoon for this golf chat. We've got a lot going on in the golf world. Phil and JD teeing it up in Memphis. The LPGA's second major going on. And, of course, next week it's time for the U.S. Open. Feel free to fire away with your questions. Let's get started.
Pat sellersburg, in [via mobile]
With the u.s. Open being such a demanding mental test, does phil really have a shot at winning?
Bob Harig (2:02 PM)
Pat, that is really a hard to say at this point. He said yesterday he was looking forward to having something else to concentrate on for five horus a day other than his wife's illness. We all know that won't be easy. Phil has played well this year. He shot 68 today in Memphis. The mental challenge will obviously be the greatest one.
Dion Sydney australia [via mobile]
Hi Bob, besides tiger and phill, who would be the favourite for the US Open?
Bob Harig (2:03 PM)
I'm not sure if he is a favorite, but I like Paul Casey. He's have a great year, Bethpage should suit him. I like Geoff Ogivly, too.
marky w (Cable King) (Allentown, PA)
Do you know if Calvin Peete still golfs?
Bob Harig (2:05 PM)
Apparently, not much. He hasn't played on the Champions Tour in years. Peete is now 66 years old. He lives in the Jacksonville area and his wife is involved with the First Tee program there.
BJ (Des Moines, IA)
Of the New York area courses that host majors, which is your favorite and why?
Bob Harig (2:06 PM)
I'd probably have to go with Shinnecock on Long Island. I love the fact that the course has stood the test of time. It's been around for more than 100 years. The second U.S. Open -- although the layout was quite different -- was played there in 1896. We've had three since, with Raymond Floyd, Corey Pavin and Retief Goosen winning. All were excellent tournaments.
Bob Harig (2:07 PM)
Bryan, my easy answer is to always go with the field. Take the emotion out of it. That doesn't mean Tiger won't win, but if you had to put your allowance on it, wouldn't you go with the field?
Bob Harig (2:14 PM)
Sorry folks, it appears we are having some technical difficulties... Keep sending in your questions while we get it resolved. Thanks
Bob Harig (2:16 PM)
David, very good point. This has got to be extremely difficult. At first Phil wasn't going to play for awhile, so you know he put his game on hold. Now he is playing, coming back with a lot of emotion and support. It could be tough to sustain. Perhaps the support carries him through. I'm not sure I would be surprised either way, however. Sometimes these guys do great things under such duress.
Mike (Great Falls, MT)
What are your thoughts on Steve Marino and his potential success on tour?
Bob Harig (2:25 PM)
Mike, I love Steve Marino, I think he's going to break through soon. And once he does, I think he'll win a lot.
Jeff (Troy, Ohio)
What are the odds Sergio hears something along the lines of 'Nice shot Mrs. Norman!' next week @ the Black?
Bob Harig (2:26 PM)
Jeff, it's quite possible that Sergio will hear some ribbing next week. If you remember, he got quite an earful the last time at Bethpage.
Tommy (Oconto Falls)
John Daly mentioned the greens over in Europe are slower than here in the States. Is there a reason for that?
Bob Harig (2:27 PM)
Tommy, I think it simply has to do with weather conditions and how they set things up over there. On the PGA Tour, conditions seems to be pristine every week.
What do think the winning 4 day score at Bethpage will be? 2? It may be rainy
Bob Harig (2:28 PM)
Rob, the weather I'm sure will dictate. Rain will make it play even longer, although the greens will be softer. I would think no matter what, it'll be somewhere around par, maybe 1 or 2.
Didn't get to see Phil's play today. How was he driving the ball--a rather key question before the Open?
Bob Harig (2:30 PM)
Tim, I'm not in Memphis and didn't see Phil either. If anybody wants to weight in, feel free. Thanks.
What do you think of Bethpage as a U.S. Open venue?
Bob Harig (2:31 PM)
I think it's terrific. And the players really like it, too. The fact that they are back so soon shows you how well it has been received.
Why does the British Open have a rota system for courses while the U.S. Open seems to go to many different venues?
Bob Harig (2:35 PM)
Paul: The USGA likes to move the U.S. Open around to different parts of the country and there a lot of many venues they can choose from. In Scotland and England, it really has come down to the nine courses being used being of the top quality and having the proper infrastructure. .. Even this year's venue, Turnberry, has its difficulties because of its remote location.
I'm confused. If the hardest and best course in the country year in and year out is Pine Valley, why don't they ever host a tournament there?
Bob Harig (2:38 PM)
Ben: For one thing, they are a male-only club, so that would preclude them from having it. But I'm guessing even if that wasn't the case, there would be infrastructure issues that would make it difficult to hold such a big tournament.
Any thoughts from the players on the grove changes for next year? Do you thinkg driving distances will come down if players have to go to a different ball to maintain the amount of spin they get currently on the greens?
Bob Harig (2:42 PM)
Rob, players are starting to realize that things are going to change. The spin rate will be less coming out of the rough, making it hard to stop shots on the green. And so, simply, players will want to keep the ball in the fairway.
Why is Tiger so much better then all the other guys?
Bob Harig (2:44 PM)
Gene, you can't answer this question quickly, really. Tiger hits amazingly high shots that can hold the greens. He obviouly hits it far. He's is pretty accurate with his irons, very consistent. His slumps are career years for others. He's in excellent condition, a great putter. Great mind. we could go on and on.
What's the over/under on how many times Johnny Miller mentions his 63 next week? I'd go 34.
Bob Harig (2:45 PM)
Marc, you do have to admit, it was a pretty amazing score, regardless of whether he mentions it or not.
What does being a male-only club have to do with it? Augusta doesn't have a female member, do they?
Bob Harig (2:47 PM)
Marc, the USGA will not stage an event at a course that discriminates... While Augusta doesn't have female members, it does allow women at the course. Pine Valley does not.
Pretty amazing that Tiger could take off 8 months and remain number one in the rankings--and the only reason the rankings are close is because of the minimum 40 tourney divisor (Tiger's only played around 23 tourneys but a minumu 40 tourney's is used in the calculations). Says something about "dominance", doesn't it?
Bob Harig (2:47 PM)
David, you said it best.
Phil's driving accuracy today was 57.14%
Bob Harig (2:48 PM)
Gary, thanks for that. . .
I flew up and played Bethpage a couple of weeks ago. Played from the back tees but they were 20-60 yards up from where the pros will play. Crazy tough with very hard fairways that seemed to bounce every ball into the rough. Usually mid 70s and shot 95. Should be a lot of fun to watch.
Bob Harig (2:50 PM)
Daniel, I think your example points out just how tough it will be.
Steve Stricker seems to play well at US Opens and he is having a very good year, but does Bethpage really fit his game?
Bob Harig (2:51 PM)
Gary, I'm not sure Bethpage fits anyone's game. It is a brute. Keeping it in the fairway, of course, will be a huge help. Lots of pars goes a long way.
Paula Creamer gets her first major this weekend, true or false?
Bob Harig (2:53 PM)
Marc, she's due for one, but off a rough start, shooting 74. I think she's going to get one soon, though, maybe not this week.
Travis C. (Lake Highlands)
What about Vijay, no one seems to talk about him anymore. Does he have enough left in the tank for a push for one more major?
Bob Harig (2:55 PM)
Vijay hasn't been the same since January knee surgery. He's coming off a bad week at the Memorial. The consistency doesn't seem to be there. But a long hitter who can start hitting a lot of greens will have a chance at Bethpage. Just not sure if Vijay is there yet.
Is Tiger's re-fashioned swing--with a priority on fairway dialing back a bit on distance--perhaps in part preparation for the groove changes next year?
Bob Harig (2:57 PM)
Mike, I'm not sure Tiger would admit that he's re-fashioned his swing to hit more fairways. He simply wants to hit more, period, and I doubt the grooves issue has much to do with it at this point. My guess is Tiger knows he'll have plenty of time to sort that out.
Bob do you think Tiger will be as dominant as he was when he was younger?
Bob Harig (2:59 PM)
I guess it depends on your definition of dominance. Tiger has won six majors over the past four years and during that time has also won 27 PGA Tour events. He's working on a streak of 18 straight top-10s in stroke play events on the PGA Tour. I'd still call that dominant.
Bob Harig (3:01 PM)
I've run out of time. Thanks for all your questions. Check back next week when we'll have more chats scheduled from Bethpage. Be well.