Chat with Bob Harig
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, ESPN.com golf writer Bob Harig will stop by to talk about the 2010 golf season. He will be chatting from the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, which is also the site of the 2010 U.S. Open.
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!
Buzzmaster (4:07 PM)
Hey folks. Bob's out at Pebble Beach. He must have gotten caught up in something. Hang on.
Bob Harig (4:40 PM)
Sorry folks, the time change threw me off today. My sincere apologies. . . I'll do my best to get to questions. I am at Pebble Beach so fire away and I'll try to make up for lost time.
Brian (Lansing, MI)
How do you think Pebble will be playing this week?
Bob Harig (4:41 PM)
It will likely play soft and long. They've had a ton of rain out here, even more than usual. At the moment, it appears they won't have much rain during the tournament but the courses are pretty soggy. And it's chilly, too.
Do you think Stricker would get another top-10 finish if he was at Pebble Beach this week?
Bob Harig (4:42 PM)
Tyler, I'm guessing he wouldn't, based on his comments from the other day. And I appreciate his honesty. It's a tournament he apparently doesn't feel good about playing given the good chance for poor weather. So even though he is playing well, he apparently doesn't feel good about coming here in poor conditions. Hard to blame him.
Tom (Cleveland OH)
Will the AT&T ever return to Cypress Point? I know in '91 there were club admissions issues and the course remains under 6600 from the tips. That said, it's still an all-time track and one-round in the AT
Bob Harig (4:44 PM)
Tom, I am not aware if the membership issues have been resolved, but even if they were, the club has to want to have it. You'd have thought this year would have been a great opportunity since they made the decision to move away from Poppy Hills. But it is one of the all-time gems and it is a shame that more people are denied at least the chance to see it on TV because the tournament is no longer played there.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
When will you see Tiger Woods playing Golf this Year?
Bob Harig (4:46 PM)
This remains the No. 1 quesiton I am asked and I honestly have no idea. Nobody in his camp is saying a thing. Anything you read about it these days is sheer speculation. I am still of the belief that he does not want to skip a major championship. And if he wants to win the Masters, he needs to play someone prior. But I am only giving you an opinion.
Most people assume that Pebble in February will be the same Pebble in June for the U.S. Open. But the USGA will not reveal an open setup for a pro-am will they?
Bob Harig (4:48 PM)
Brandon, the USGA has no say in the set up this week. It's the PGA Tour's deal, and Pebble will be much different in June than it is now. Even if the same folks were setting up the tournament, it would be different. It is soft and wet now; it should be dry and firm in June. Because amateurs are part of the AT&T, you can't have brutal rough. So it will be much different this week.
Can you shed any insight into players or media talking about a possible return for Tiger? There are always hundreds of varying reports that he'll be back at this tourny or the tourny, match play of the Florida swing.
Bob Harig (4:50 PM)
Jim, as I said in a previous answer, nobody really knows. Tiger might not even know. And if he does, those he has shared it with are not saying. We all have our thoughts on the subject, but there is nothing of any substance out there.
Patrick (Hanover PA)
I noticed that the Farmer's Insurance tournament was an OPEN. Did Buick take the invitational status with them or was that a tour decision?
Bob Harig (4:51 PM)
Patrick, unfortunately the terms "Open, Invitational and Classic" often have become the same thing. The Buick Invitaitonal wasn't that at all; it had Monday qualifying. It was "open" to anyone who could get in. . . Now certain tournaments are "invitationals" such as the Masters, Arnold Palmer, Colonial and Memorial. The fiels are limited and you have to qualify based on certain criteria.
Has the tour ever considered having a California stop that isn't in the winter? It seems a shame that these great courses (Pebble, Spyglass, Riveria and Torrey Pines) are all played in off peak growing seasons. Even if they just rotated one tournament a year to a summer time spot. Not to mention they could have a Prime Time finish on the East Coast if they managed it right.
Bob Harig (4:52 PM)
Brian, it's a great point. The Champions Tour event that is played at Pebble is in the late summer and typically has glorious weather. I believe tradition plays a part. It has always been this time of year. I don't see it changing. But it would be cool if it did, at least once or twice.
Is the LPGA Tour having a 2010 season?
Bob Harig (4:54 PM)
Marc, believe it or not, it begins next week -- in Thailand.
Hurry up Bob. Got 45 minutes left until I can leave work. Was hoping you could fill that hour.
Bob Harig (4:54 PM)
Justin, sorry for the late arrival today.
With Tiger and Phil out of the WGC Match Play, who is your favorite to take home the title?
Bob Harig (4:56 PM)
Dan, even with them in the tournament, I'd consider it wide open. Match Play leads to all kinds of upsets. Geoff Ogilvy seems to have the format down, but you've probably seen my record in picking winners.
Hey Bob, why is the field this week lack the big names who will be playing in June? I know the guys who make the cut will only play Pebble twice, and the conditions will be different. Can you think of anything else?
Bob Harig (4:57 PM)
Dan, I think you answered your own question. It's only two rounds on Pebble, the conditions will not be the same. However, a bigger reason is likely the format. Some guys just do not like playing three different courses. It's just how it is.
Bob, I'm struggling with this whole Tiger thing. As an avid golfer and someone who watches week to week regardless of whether Tiger is playing, I still feel that he is important to my enjoyment of golf. Having someone march towards the records books is something that truly inspires the avid fan. I feel conflicted now. Do I still want him to break the records despite his recent transgressions, all the swearing, club throwing and non-engagement of the fans? I am in a state of confusion. How do you think dedicated fans will perceive him when he returns?
Bob Harig (5:00 PM)
I have a feeling there will be all kinds of different approaches to the way Tiger is viewed. If you keep it simply on a golf level, however, how can anyone not be interested in seeing him pursue golf's greatest records.
Johnny P (Miami, FL)
this is one of only a few times the tour will play under 7,000 yards...but D Johnson said the other day that the course is playing long....is that true? how so---dog legs? wet? etc?? thanks!
Bob Harig (5:01 PM)
All three courses in the rotation play under 7,000 yards, which is incredible when you think about it. But it is so soft that the courses will play a lot longer. There is very little roll. It is on the cold side, which means that ball will not travel as far. You will probably see some good scoring, though, because the greens are soft.
What do you think is preventing Phil from playing well besides the putter? It looks like he's trying too hard to win, or putting too much pressure on himself to carry the tour. Your thoughts?
Bob Harig (5:02 PM)
Dan, I think there is something to him trying too hard. He seemed to suggest that. He's also been inconsistent, which is not unusual for Phil. But that doesn't mean he own't put it all together this week.
Josh (Philadelphia, Pa)
BobWho's the best celebrity player out there?
Bob Harig (5:03 PM)
Josh, it might be Tony Romo, the Cowboys quarterback. He is a scratch golfer and it seems like he plays to it.
Why is MPCC being played as a par 70 this week? It would make things so much easier to have all courses on the same par. Would the first round leader be the guy who shoots -4 66 at MPCC or -5 67 at PB or SH?
Bob Harig (5:05 PM)
Yep, they are making the math difficult this week because of the par-70 distinction. The feeling was that two of the par-5s would play too easy so they changed them to par-4s. But it would be far easier if all the courses played to the same par.
How much of an improvement is Monterey Peninsula CC to the rotation? According to some GCA aficionados, what Mike Strantz did there deserves more love from the rankings and golf course writers.
Bob Harig (5:05 PM)
Bob, I just wrote about this (shameless plug) and the story is now on ESPN.com. From all indications, MPCC is incredible.
How is this for a way to ensure the top names play every so often in each tournament. If the tour rotated the events in the Fed Ex Cup Playoffs, say this year they could have the Valero Texas Open, The Transitions Championship, The BMW and the Tour Championship wouldn't that ensure that at least once every 8 years or so these tour stops would have a great field?
Bob Harig (5:08 PM)
Brian, easier said than done. So much goes into the sponsoring of tournaments. For one, the title sponsors of the playoff events pay far more. They wanted to be playoff events and paid for the privilege. You've also got events that don't work at various times of the year.
Tom Watson finished t8 in Dubai this past weekend. If he were to play a full schedule on the regular tours (Euro and PGA) and cherry pick the courses he would fair well on what would you expect his results to be? Would he still be a top 50 player?
Bob Harig (5:09 PM)
I have wondered the same thing. The problem is, would Watson be interested enough in playing that often? It is easy to assume he would have great results if he played more. But maybe his results would suffer. No question, though, that what he did at Dubai was impressive.
If you were a run of the mill tour stop would you want to be Tiger's first stop back or not have him at all? It seems the media circus would be a complete distraction from the product you would be trying to present.
Bob Harig (5:10 PM)
Brian, my guess is that any tour stop would welcome that circus. Imagine the attention that any tournament that Tiger plays in now will receive. In the long run, it will be a good thing for them.
Do certain pros request certain amateurs to play with? How are they paired?
Bob Harig (5:13 PM)
Gary, it depends, but there is some effort made to pair up certain players with certain pros. Some play with friends, business associates, relatives.
Jeremy (Marlboro, NJ)
Hey Bob. I know it's not exactly Masters time yet but has Augusta said for sure if there will be any course changes there this year?
Bob Harig (5:13 PM)
Jeremy, from what we hear, any changes are very minor or subtle. Perhaps the biggest change is the new driving range that will be part of the tournament for the first time.
How does playing in a Pro-Am affect the players concentration and intensity. It would seem like a win at a pro-am has less of a meaning.
Bob Harig (5:15 PM)
A win at this pro-am doens't count any less than any other tournament. No question, it requires a different mindset to play when you have an amateur partner for three days. The players who embrace it seem to fare the best.
Bob-Loved the article on Snedeker, well done. I know its early in the season but have you heard any grumblings from the players about the grooves (aside from the Ping club fiasco)? They seem to be scoring just as well. Keep up the good work
Bob Harig (5:17 PM)
Matt, you saved me from a shameles splug. . .Regarding grooves, most players believe the conditions have yet to show how much of an impact the new grooves will have. The wet grass and soft greens have not led to a lot of difference. When the tour moves to Florida, players expect to see the new groove rules have more of an effect. And many of them have said they notice a difference, even if it is slight.
Bob, how many captain's picks will Pavin have for the Ryder Cup this year? Any early favorites?
Bob Harig (5:18 PM)
Joe, he will have 4 captains picks just like Paul Azinger had two years ago. It is way too early to predict at this point as the points race is just shaping up and the four majors will have a big impact because of double points.
Do you think Phil make the right decision switching back to the old putting stroke that didn't win him any majors?
Bob Harig (5:20 PM)
Ken, I assume you mean the stroke he switched to late last year. It brought him some good results. He putted very poorly last year. Had he been putting the way he putted at the end of the year ,he might have won the Masters and the U.S. Open. I realize this is different than the way he putted in winning his three majors, but that way wasn't working any more. I'd have to say this was a good move.
Do you think Tiger will get to 19 majors?
Bob Harig (5:21 PM)
Yes, I still do think he will make it.
Bob Harig (5:22 PM)
Okay folks, I'm out of time. Thanks for hanging in there and sorry again for the delay. Appreciate your patience and questions.