Chat with Jason Sobel
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN.com golf columnist Jason Sobel stops by to chat about the golf season and the upcoming U.S. Open.
Among his other duties, Sobel writes a weekly column, the "Weekly 18."
Send your questions now and join Sobel to chat Tuesday at noon ET!
Jason Sobel (12:06 PM)
Sorry I'm a few minutes late. Just finished a very quick lunch here at Bethpage Black (tortelini and a caesar salad... croutons and a plastic fork, not a good mix, btw). Let's get going with your questions...
Dr. Sobel,What are the eats like this week?Thanks,Matt
Jason Sobel (12:08 PM)
Seriously, every single major... this is the most asked question. Pretty basic lunch-type stuff. Always good food in the USGA pressroom. Beat you to the punch in my intro, though. And I'm trying to break Bob Harig's tournament record cookie total this week, so wish me well.
Jason - when will your 1-156 rankings be coming out?
Jason Sobel (12:10 PM)
Tomorrow morning. I'm currently about 8 percent done with them. It's not the ranking players that is so time intensive, but the short write-ups that go with them. Might be pulling an all-nighter tonight.
Joel (Portland, OR)
Jason, have you witnessed Sergio crying yet? Give him a hug for me, would you?
Jason Sobel (12:11 PM)
One of my fellow writers gave Sergio a suggestion: Stand on the first tee on Thursday and waggle, waggle, waggle... until the crowd starting murmuring and getting restless. Then step away and yell, "Gotcha!" That would be one way to get the crowd back on his side a little bit.
With BPB playing so long because of the weather does that make the fairways easier to hit for guys like Tiger because they are softer.
Jason Sobel (12:13 PM)
Yeah, you make a good point. Instead of hitting the fairways and watching their balls scoot into the rough, expect the overall driving accuracy to be up this week. But that lack of roll will also mean lots of long iron shots into the greens.
Jessica (Oklahoma City, OK)
What amateurs will make the cut? Any of my Okie boys?
Jason Sobel (12:15 PM)
I'll give you two right now. Kyle Stanley is a kid who is coming off a great season at Clemson and could reach the weekend. And from Oklahoma State, just for you, I'll pick Rickie Fowler to make the cut for a second straight year.
JEREMY (Tulsa, ok)
How can a course this long justifiably be fair to all players?
Jason Sobel (12:16 PM)
Jeremy, meet Dan in New York...
Dan (New York)
I think the rain could help the shorter players since they no have a chance to hold the greens with their approach shots. They have no chance of holding a 4-iron on a hard green but they can hold a hybrid or wood on a soft green...Could this be the case
Jason Sobel (12:18 PM)
There you go. Absolutely, I think in some respects the rain helps the shorter players. This stuff is all one bit Catch-22. When it rains, the obvious advantage goes to the longer hitters and yet, the shorter guys have a better chance of holding greens. You can analyze it forever; chances are, at the end of the week, the leaderboard will be a mix of all types of guys. That said, I still think those who hit the ball with a high ball flight will fare really well.
Rando (Sri Lanka)
Why does everyone write that Tiger did a practice round but yet say nothing ABOUT how it went? Wouldn't that be the biggest news of all??? (i.e., "he hit all the fairways" or "wow, he was all over the place today" ???)(BTW I noticed this comment in an article, so it isn't my original idea. But it is a GREAT question.)
Jason Sobel (12:19 PM)
That's because it's not like he's playing one total round with one ball. He's hitting a few tee shots, a few approaches, several chips and putts. Very tough, if not impossible, to describe how a player is playing when he's just hitting shots and not playing a complete round.
Alex (Austin, Texas)
Jason what are your thoughts on these so obviously TV-planned pairings...feels a little gimmicky for my tastes.
Jason Sobel (12:21 PM)
I actually like it. I mean, would you rather the PGA Tour's "randomly computer generated" tee times? Group these guys by name, country, college ... whatever. I think it's more fun than the alternative.
Patrick (Rockford, IL)
Any love for Zach Johnson this week? I have always thought he has the game to win an Open.
Jason Sobel (12:22 PM)
I do like him a lot this week, although two things scare me. First off, when I spoke with him yesterday, he mentioned how long the course was playing about six times in a 12-second span. Gotta wonder if that's in his head. Secondly, in five previous Open starts, he owns a best finish of T-45 and three MCs. But I do think he's a better player now than ever before -- and yes, that includes during his Masters win.
Chris (Myrtle Beach, SC)
Dustin Johnson can hit the ball a long way but is somewhat unpredictable when it comes to what kind of scores he will shoot. how do you think he will fare at BP?
Jason Sobel (12:23 PM)
I like him this week. He won at Pebble earlier this year, so the guy knows how to play through some weather issues.
Bob (New York)
Thoughs on Geoff Ogivly this week. A few months ago he looked like the possible favorite. Now what?
Jason Sobel (12:27 PM)
Ogilvy has been all over the place. Such a good player, but wildly unpredictable. He shot a 63 on Saturday at the Memorial -- five shots better than anyone else in the field -- and then followed with a Sunday 75. I think he'll play really well this week, this is his kind of course. But even with a U.S. Open title to his credit, I don't know if he's the kind of guy who can string together 16 pars with a birdie and a bogey. One bad round here could spell lots of trouble.
Devin (Asheville, NC)
What do know about Trevor Murphy? He graduated with me at Charlotte and I was curious if you've seen his name pop up anywhere the last couple years?
Jason Sobel (12:29 PM)
Spoke with Trevor before coming out here this week. Pretty cool guy. Was a top-ranked skier before turning to competitive golf and now he's playing the mini-tours and living in Scottsdale. No idea how he'll play this week, but anyone who has been competitive for only a few years and has still reached this level has a lot of potential.
Did Tiger mention his knee at all at the press conference this morning? Any hint that slogging and swinging through wet fairways (or rough) is going to give him trouble in that regard?
Jason Sobel (12:30 PM)
He was asked about the knee and said that everything feels great and continues to feel better and better by the day. Of course, if the knee wasn't feeling great he wouldn't tell us anyway, so take that with more than a few grains of salt.
Alex (Columbus, OH)
What are the chances that David Duval can put together a few rounds of good golf at Bethpage?
Jason Sobel (12:31 PM)
You know, call me crazy, but I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility. Duval put together two really good rounds in qualifying. He played well in the '06 Open and last year's British. I could see him posting a few decent numbers to at least reach the weekend.
Zack (Frankfort, KY)
You think Lefty will have another emotional week that can actually culminate into a win or will he be spending the weekend enjoying his Father's Day at home?
Jason Sobel (12:32 PM)
Can I pick something in between those two? Not sure he will win -- if he does, as I wrote in my Weekly 18 column, it will be one of the greatest U.S. Open dramas in history -- but I don't believe he'll miss the cut, either.
As a preview for your rankings, give me two guys outside the world top 30 that will be on the leaderboard Sunday afternoon.
Jason Sobel (12:34 PM)
I don't have the OWGR in front of me, so I'm sorta just guessing here, but Graeme McDowell and David Toms are two guys I like this week who aren't ranked very highly.
Ben (Cleveland, Ohio)
After Big Ben's 81 do you feel that we could be in store for a very low US Open where a score like 7 or 8 under wins?
Jason Sobel (12:36 PM)
It may sound silly to read too much into what a few single-digit celebs shot six days before the opening round, but the fact that each of them were comfortably in the 80s speaks volumes about the playability of the course right now. Originally, I thought it would be a winning score of even-par, but if the greens remain soft, it could get to that 7 or 8-under number.
Jason (Detroit, MI)
As a working member of the media, what are your thoughts about the USGA's announcement of back-to-back US Opens at Pinehurst? Will guys stay around for two weeks and cover both?
Jason Sobel (12:39 PM)
I think it's a cool idea. As David Fay, the executive director of the USGA, told me the other day, there aren't very many -- if any -- other courses on which you could do this. But it will be fun to see the men and women playing the same course in consecutive weeks. And yes, from a media perspective, I would imagine that many of us would simply stay in the Pinehurst area for an extra week. Not that I'm complaining.
Any chance Brian Gay makes another move this week? He obviously had a great run at the St. Jude's, and an incredible tournament at Harbourtown earlier this year, but on a course where par is a great score, and there aren't as many birdies available, does he have a shot?
Jason Sobel (12:40 PM)
I think he's becoming a really good player, but it's so tough to come off a victory and contend again one week later. Add in the fact that he's never made a cut in five previous Open starts and I don't see it happening for Gay this week.
Ian Poulter's game seems to peak during major weeks the last couple of years. What are the chances he breaks through and wins one this week?
Jason Sobel (12:42 PM)
Ummm, I think I'm gonna wait for my rankings to come out before letting you in on my assessment of Poulter's game right now. But I'll allow this much: I think he'll be up there this week.
My buddies and I were debating yesterday on the Bethpage range who puts the best move on the ball. Courtland Lowe was my pick. What's your take? Thanks.
Jason Sobel (12:43 PM)
Haven't seen Lowe swing it yet, but that's an interesting choice. Tough to pick against Ernie Els or Adam Scott, which just goes to show there's more to this game than a pretty swing, as neither of those guys has seen much success recently.
Hey Jason, for those of us who might be attending the Open, where do you recommend as the best place on the course to camp out and watch the action? what are the best bleachers to be in? thanks alot
Jason Sobel (12:44 PM)
Back in 2002, I loved watching the action from behind the 17th green. But get there early -- it'll get crowded in a hurry.
What do you think about Anthony Kim and Padriag Harrington this week? Top 10 talents who have had bad years. Do you see them being ready and playing well?
Jason Sobel (12:45 PM)
Spoke with AK the other day and he told me that Colonial was his best ball-striking week in years. He's confident, so we'll see if that equates to success. As for Harrington, he's really had his struggles this year, with no top-10s in a dozen starts. I just don't see him being a factor this week.
How will VJ fair this week?
Jason Sobel (12:47 PM)
I actually sort of like Vijay Singh's chances this week. Seems like he's peaking at the right time. Finally healthy after that early-season knee surgery, so I think he can be right there in the mix come Sunday.
Alex (Herndon, VA)
Hey Jason, what odds would you give me if I said an ameteur was going to win this week?
Jason Sobel (12:48 PM)
100-to-1. No, 1,000-to-1. Maybe more. It's not happening.
Niels (Saint George, UT)
Hey Jason I think a lot of people would like to see Rocco or Kenny Perry be up there on the leader board this week, its fun to see the old guys (especially the ones with personality) be in contention. In your opinion what are the chances that we see that at BPB this week?
Jason Sobel (12:50 PM)
We'll see someone like that up on the leaderboard. I don't know if it's Rocco or Kenny or maybe Tom Lehman, but just like Nick Faldo contended here back in 2002, expect a seasoned veteran to find himself up there on Sunday.
Michael (Blacksburg, VA)
Can I get some Love for Drew Weaver (a)? Hoping to see him far above 156.
Jason Sobel (12:51 PM)
Definitely won't be 156th -- he's got too good of a pedigree. Then again, it's not like I'll have him top-10 in the rankings, either.
Dave (Garfield Heights, Ohio)
You've given us a bunch of guys you like for the weekend, but can we get a sneak preview of who you're thinking about ranking last at 156?
Jason Sobel (12:52 PM)
It's somebody you've likely never heard of. A few years ago, I put David Duval last on the list and he actually made the cut. It won't be a big name guy this time around.
Scott (Salt Lake City)
All this talk about short/long players being favored at different venues doesn't completely make sense to me. Utimately, long and straight is always going to be best on any course. Even on shot placement courses that are short, longer players are at an advantage because they're always going to have a higher iron with higher trajectory into the green, even if they're hitting from the same spot in the fairway as shorter players. What are your thoughts?
Jason Sobel (12:53 PM)
Sure, long and straight works really well on every course. Problem is, most long hitters don't go straight and most straight hitters aren't that long. If all you needed was distance, guys like Alvaro Quiros and Bubba Watson would be winning more often instead of, well, never.
Brad (Greensboro, NC)
Jason, just wanted to know your thoughts on where you think the best Open venue is. I was watching the Golf Channel and they had a countdown, just wanted to know your opinion?
Jason Sobel (12:54 PM)
Give me Pebble Beach. Anytime, any day.
I was looking at players to pick to do well this week, and I saw Hunter Mahan is making every cut this year but hasn't quite put it all together for really high finishes. Do you think he'll be a factor this week? Loved his game at the Ryder Cup last year.
Jason Sobel (12:55 PM)
I've always seen Hunter's game as more suited for a Masters or PGA than the Open, but if there are more birdies to be made this week, then sure, he could definitely be in the mix. I think he's got a ton of talent, will be a very good player for a very long time.
Jessica (Oklahoma City, OK)
I know you tweet, as do quite a few golfers. Any talk about the Twitter craze this week?
Jason Sobel (12:58 PM)
Nah, I think there are bigger and better storylines to work on, but I will say that Ian Poulter is quickly catching up to Stewart Cink in his Twitter proficiency, if he hasn't passed him already. The guys out here still have a long way to go to catch the LPGAers, though. Some of them tweet more than I blog.
Odds makers have Sean Ohair as the number two favorite? Do you agree?
Jason Sobel (1:00 PM)
Haven't seen that and no, I don't agree. O'Hair WD'd from his last start due to a sore left forearm. And I believe his wife is due with their third child any day now. I think he's a really good player, but I'm not sure this is the week for him.
Jason Sobel (1:00 PM)
OK, thanks for all the questions. Might have been a record for a golf chat. Now back to our regularly scheduled Live Blog...