Chat with Bob Harig
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, ESPN.com golf writer Bob Harig will stop by as the U.S. Open is set to start on Thursday.
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 Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET!
Bob Harig (4:01 PM)
Hello, welcome to Bethpage, site of the U.S. Open. Weather permitting, the tournament will get underway tomorrow morning. But there's rain in the forecast tonight and all day tomorrow. Lots to talk about, so fire away with your questions and I'll try to get to as many as possible.
Hello Mr. Harig,I asked Dr. Sobel this question earlier (probably didn't have time to answer), but I was just wondering what your thoughts/feelings were about the 3rd round, Tiger's in paticular, during last years US Open. I would think it must have been one of the most incredible rounds of golf to have witnessed live right? Certainly not the best round (-1, 70), but all of those amazing shots had to be almost astonishing. I would love to hear your perspective on it and what it would take to come close to duplicating this year...if possible.
Bob Harig (4:04 PM)
Matt, there's no doubt that Tiger's third round last year was amazing, despite what appears to be a rather ordinary score. Two eagles and a birdie in a six-hole span on the back nine says it all. He holed two long putts and chipped in for a birdie. I'm not sure it can be duplicated, and I would guess Tiger would prefer more consistency as he had some issues during that round as well.
Mr. Harig,Are you in the camp that Tiger can't finish a Major unless he is leading after 54 holes? I don't understand some of the detractors who seem to use this against him as a flaw. Has anyone else in the history of golf even lead 14 times going into the final round of a major? It seems that this gets lost in the Tiger is only a front-runner at the Majors thought.I would love to hear your thoughts,Matt
Bob Harig (4:04 PM)
Matt, I think that is a product of the fact that when Tiger plays well, he gets himself into the lead. It shouldn't detract at all that he has never come from behind to win one. Don't think it matters a bit. I'm guessing he'll lose one from in front and he'll win at least one from behind. It's a credit to him that he's gotten it done so many times when leading.
Adam (Hoboken, NJ)
How has Furyk looked this week in practice? Is too much being made of his 2002 result and lack of distance compared to some of the other big names? He is playing well and has a good Open track record, can he pull it off?
Bob Harig (4:06 PM)
Adam I have not seen Furyk hit a shot this week so far, and while I think there is something to the course not suiting him because of his relative lack of length off the tee, you are right in that he has played very well recently and has performed well at the U.S. Open. I think the latter is more important.
Nature Boy (Victoria, BC)
Hey Bob. The Scientist is out! Too much time looking into the microscope, I guess. With such a key player on the DL, who do you see as the European with the best shot this week? Thanks!
Bob Harig (4:07 PM)
The reference is to Robert Karlsson, who had three top-10s in majors last year. . . I happen to like Paul Casey, ranked No. 3 in the world. A European has to win the U.S. Open one of these days.
Jason Sobel (Mom's Basement)
What would I shoot if I played the Black this week?
Bob Harig (4:08 PM)
127 with 17 lost balls.
Do you think too much is being made of TIger hitting 14 of 14 fairways at the Memorial. Still at the end of the day after a week of great ball striking, he still needed a 65 to win by a shot. With Tiger and basically every top player its basically going to come down to putting plain and simple.
Bob Harig (4:09 PM)
Patrick, I don't think too much was made of it when you consider how many fairways he had been missing up to that point. Yes, he needed 65, but he needed it because two days prior he shot his worse score of the year, a 74.While putting is always key, Tiger hit it stiff at the 17th and 18th holes and also chipped in for an eagle.
How are US OPen qualifying venues selected? ARe they all set up the same and can a player basically go to any venue?
Bob Harig (4:10 PM)
Patrick a lot goes into the selections. Is the course of the proper caliber? Does it have availability. They like to have several near population centers and tour sites. They are impossible to set up the same, but the USGA likely has some minimum requirements regarding green speed, rough length and yardage. And a player can choose his venue.
Jake (Butte MT) [via mobile]
I know you probably get this question a lot right now but if Tiger hits fairways is he a lock to win? Also do you think Phil will have the same mindset as Tiger did after his father passed away? Its hard for me to think his mind can be only focused on golf right now.
Bob Harig (4:11 PM)
Jake, I would not consider Tiger a lock if he its fairways. It would make the task far easier for him, but he's still got to hit it on the green and make a few birdies while avoiding the big numbers. As for Phil, it is tough to believe he can maintain the focus necessary. But I also think he took that into account before deciding to play.
Joe (New Haven)
Hey Bob, I am going to the tournament on saturday. I have played the course a couple of times, but there werent grandstands erected for my foursome. Where is a good spot to catch the action.
Bob Harig (4:12 PM)
Joe, there are lots of good spots, but I happen to like the grandstand at the 17th green. There was the site of lots of action in 2002.
With the wet conditions you can expect the tees back and the rough wet - added to tight fairways. Could this all come down to who can get up down the most times from 120 yards by sticking their wedges in tight on the soft greens to save pars after laying up?
Bob Harig (4:14 PM)
Adam, it's possible. No doubt there are going to be some very long approach shots. It might come down to the best hybrid player.
Any predictions on what score will be leading after the first round?
Bob Harig (4:14 PM)
Tom, it's only a guess, but I'm going to say somebody will shoot 66, simply because there is usually always at least one player who gets hot even on a tough course.
Andy (Harrisburg, PA)
How big of a deal are you placing on hitting fairways off the tee? I played Bethpage about a month ago and the rough was definitely some of the toughest I have ever played out of. Do you see the winner being in the top 10 for the week in fairways hit?
Bob Harig (4:16 PM)
Andy, I think hitting the fairways is always one of the most important factors at the Open, but in recent years it is also about how much you miss by. A few errant tee shots that are just a few yards off are not as penal as in the past. Guys can advance the ball out of that stuff.
Seems that none of the top players in the Tiger-era can past that 3 majors hump (Mickelson, Els, Harrington, Vijay), any thoughts on who has the best chance of claiming their 4th?
Bob Harig (4:17 PM)
Tom, I like Mickelson to get his fourth major, but not necessarily this week. I'm not sure Vijay has another major in him, and Els has to get his putting woes straightened out to make it. Harrington certainly has the chance to win more but he's been struggling all year.
How will the wettness of the couse effect the long ball and shortball hitters?
Bob Harig (4:19 PM)
It is an advantage for the long hitters because their errant drives will tend to stop rolling into the rough and they'll have shorter irons into the greens. The short hitters will have trouble getting to the greens.
bobby (bridgewater, nj)
I'm in a pool where you can only use a golfer once a year. For this week i am between Ogilvy, Mahan, Weir and Villegas. I know ogilvy is the best golfer of the bunch, but do you see any of the other three making a push?
Bob Harig (4:20 PM)
Unless you really want to save Ogilvy, I think this is a great week to use him. The others are all risky. Mahan played well at last year's Open, perhaps he is worth taking a shot on.
Julie (Las Vegas)
What number will be the magic one if it continues to rain? above or below par. I think it will be -2 for the trophy.
Bob Harig (4:21 PM)
Julie, if it continues to be soft -- and all indications say it will be -- then under par will win. I'm going with 6 under to hoist the trophy.
RAY GORDON REID ( ALBANY NY 12207)
QUESTION TO BOB HARIG AT 4.15 HI BOB GOING TO TURNBERRY
Bob Harig (4:21 PM)
Ray, yes I'll be at Turnberry next month.
How do you think Big Ben's 81 will hold up against the pros? Sobel had an over under of 7.5 players not being able to best him, what are your thought?
Bob Harig (4:22 PM)
Tom, I don't think there is any question that some players will shoot worse than 81 -- although I was surprised that he scored that well.
I think driving accuracy will be a key in winning the Open this year after playing at Bethpage about a month ago. The rough was so vicious I believe that the winner will be in the top 10-20 in the stat for the week. How do you feel about this Bob?
Bob Harig (4:23 PM)
Andy, there is no doubt the winner will have to hit fairways. The rough is going to be brutal, and several holes are nearly unreachable anyway.
Any thoughts on David Duval's chances?
Bob Harig (4:23 PM)
Tom, Duval continues to persevere, and he did well to qualify. But he's not shown enough form to think he can contend. I think making the cut would be an accomplishment.
Will (Norristown PA)
While I'm not saying that Tiger will definitely win, why are people comparing Tiger winning the Memorial and becoming the favorite for the US Open to his win at Bay Hill and becoming the favorite for the Masters? To me they are two totally different things because he pretty much won Bay Hill with smoke and mirrors while at Memorial he had one of his greatest ballstriking tournaments ever?
Bob Harig (4:25 PM)
Will, I'm not sure anyone is comparing the two victories, other than that winning gives you confidence and in each case it made people think his chances were better. No doubt, his victory at the Memorial was a more complete win.
Nick Faldo shot a 66 in the third round back in 02 to get into contention and he has never been considered a long hitter, is too much emphasis being put on the big-hitters advantage?
Bob Harig (4:27 PM)
Tom, you're right, there were several players not considered long hitters who finished in the top 10 back then, including Jeff Maggert and Scott Hoch. But I don't think too much is made out of it. They had to have exceptional weeks, and that doesn't meansomeone else cannot do the same. But the advantage is clearly with those who can get it out there and give themselves a shorter shot to the greens.
Any idea where the greens will be running? 13? 14?
Bob Harig (4:28 PM)
Justin, I'm guessing they'll be in the 14 range, although the wet conditions can have a say in that.
Scott (Salt Lake City)
Bob, I like Phil and it will be a feel good story if he wins but I just don't see it happening. With all the hype surrounding him, it seems like the pressure to perform will be too high. What do you think?
Bob Harig (4:29 PM)
Scott, many feel as you do. It would be incredible if he pulled it off, but it's a lot to ask under the circumstances.
Roger (St. Louis)
I have been wondering how it was decided and what is the rationale for the first and second round groupings to be the same. For variety, why can't you have one player in the group move up and another to move down a time slot. I am sure someone can figure out a way to prevent a player playing both mornings or afternoons.
Bob Harig (4:31 PM)
Roger, I think it's done for simplicity sake. There has to be a fairness issue in regards to playing early and late, and there is only so much time in the day, so they group them in threes and let them know when they'll play for the first and second rounds. You're right, I don't think it would be tough to switch one guy out of each group. but I'm not sure there is much point in doing so.
Other than golf being really difficult how do explain guys like Harrington and Sergio struggling so much?
Bob Harig (4:35 PM)
Justin, Harrington's woes are simple. He is a tinkerer, and he has been working on something hasn't clicked. He claims he often takes a step back to move forward. Garcia's woes are more hard to explain. He has used the breakup with a girlfriend as part of his excuse, and that certainly can affect someone. But he has not contended in months after such a great year last year.
Alex (Herndon, VA)
What are the chances an ameteur finished in the top 25?
Bob Harig (4:36 PM)
Alex, with 15 amateurs in the field, I thnk the chances are better, although still not great.
Cosmo (Anytown, USA)
It seems that the US Open courses get longer and longer every year. Is this a trend that will continue? Or will there be a point in time where the courses/players/technology reach a limit and the course lenghts become more static?
Bob Harig (4:37 PM)
Cosmo, it will continue if the powers that be feel that the courses they choose for the Open can be overpowered if they don't do something. Personally, I think a great neutralize is more short holes, believe it or not. Not a short course, but more shorter holes, where players have to get it in play and it doesn't so much matter how far they hit it.
I know I'm in the minority but I am already tired of the Phil and Amy story. I know I'm going to be hammered with it this weekend.
Bob Harig (4:38 PM)
Justin, a bit jaded perhaps? If Phil is in contention or playing, you'll have to get used to hearing about it.
New Yorker (NY)
tiger recently switched to a 10.5 degree driver. does this switch really make that much of a difference and do you expect he'll perform as well off the tee this weekend as he did last?
Bob Harig (4:40 PM)
New Yorker, Tiger says it makes a difference because more loft helps you hit the ball straighter. Probably a less there for all of us. As for performing as well off the tee.. No, not statistically. The fairways are wider at Memorial. He won't hit as many here. But if is anywhere close to that performance, he will set himself up for a lot of success.
barbara (philadelphia, pa)
Bob, what do you think of Sobel's rankings - Poulter first !!?? I think of him as a top 10 or 15, but first? Hope you give him grief on that!
Bob Harig (4:41 PM)
Barbara, I actually don't have a problem with Poulter. You have to pick somebody No. 1, and he's sort of been knocking on the door for awhile. Sobel deserves grief for many other things, including his pick for No. 156. As an Indiana grad, I'm insulted he'd put an IU guy last.
Matt (Vienna, VA)
With a couple of drop outs already this week, how many alternates show up and practice to be ready to play?
Bob Harig (4:42 PM)
Matt, I don't know how many are here, but if you're in the top five on that list, you'd be a fool to possibly miss out on a chance. Often these guys get wind of those who are thinking of skipping. And if you are on the list and somebody in front of you doesn't show, you get the spot.
Barbara (philadelphia pa)
Bob, what's the latest on the weather for Thurs and Fri ?
Bob Harig (4:43 PM)
Barbara, latest I have seen: 70 percent chance of rain on Thursday, with a 40 percent chance throughout the weekend. It's supposed to rain overnight to night, with about an inch expected. Bring the rain gear.
With as much rain as the course is expected to get, why won't the USGA allow lift/clean/replace? Seems like that might help get the tournament in, although maybe the weather will preclued that anyway.
Bob Harig (4:45 PM)
Roy, Jim Hyler of the USGA was asked that question earlier today and his simple answer: No. They just don't do that. It really is not in the rules of golf, but the PGA Tour often invokes the rule in order to get their competitions completed. In the case of the USGA, they'll wait until next week if the have to get it in, but they won't ever allow lift, clean and place.
Harold (Los Angeles)
Do you expect Tiger to ruin the psyche of Angel and Harrington on day 1?
Bob Harig (4:46 PM)
Harold, I doubt it. Both those guys have been around the block a few times. They've seen it all, played with Tiger. I doubt they'll be bothered.
Do Tim Clark, Zach Johnson and players of that ilk have a realistic chance to finish in the top 10? Will they be able to get it up and down considering the rough around the greens being so wet? I want to take Clark and Johnson in a players pool based on their play in the regular PGA events, but Bethpage being a course that will be drenched makes me have second thought.. What do you think?
Bob Harig (4:48 PM)
Mac, I don't blame you for being concerned. It's going to be tough on them. But if they are hitting it straight, putting it well. . everybody is going to have to deal with missing greens.
Cosmo (Anytown, USA)
You know that everyone on this chat is jealous of your job and secretly hates you, right?
Bob Harig (4:49 PM)
Well, I hope they don't hate me, but. . .I've always said it would be a really great job if I didn't have to write.
Gar, slc ut [via mobile]
why the emphasis on the us open being the greatest golf tourney. i'm red whit and blue through and through but history says its the OPEN eg British Open. I really enjoy the heritage of both
Bob Harig (4:50 PM)
I don't think there is a right or wrong answer. The British Open is every bit as great as the U.S. Open.
Cosmo (Anytown, USA)
Do you think the bad weather makes for better/worse TV?
Bob Harig (4:51 PM)
Cosmo, for those who like to see these guys suffer, I would think the bad weather makes for better TV. . But fans also like the excitement of birdies, so there is another side to the issue.
Matt (Vienna, VA)
Didn't the USGA allow lift, clean and place in Pebble when Tiger won, or am I thinking of the AT
Will 18 at Bethpage provide the kind of drama the 18 at Torrey did last year or is it not the type of risk reward birdie hole?
What are the "birdie" holes out there and which hole will play the most difficult...which one the easiest?
Your thoughts on Angel Cabrera, please. Is he a valid contender with his length and short game or is he like Santa Claus and only shows up once a year?