Chat with Bob Harig
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, ESPN.com golf writer Bob Harig will stop by to talk about the 2011 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 Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET!
Bob Harig (4:00 PM)
Hello, welcome back for our second golf chat of the 2011 season. Already plenty going on in the world of golf.First, another quick plug for a golf mailbag we've started. Send your golf questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org. We can't typically get to everything in the chat, so ask away at the address we'll answer them on ESPN.com.For now, fire away with your questions.
Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)
As a native Cheeshead the only knock I can find on Steve Stricker is that he is a Cheesehead but roots for the Chicago Bears. Besides that, it seems like Steve Stricker is really one of the nicest guys in the world. Can you give me a little insiders perspective on Steve Stricker?
Bob Harig (4:01 PM)
Steve Stricker is one of the nicest guys in the world. The Golf Writers Association of America voted him their recipient of the Jim Murray/ASAP Sports award with annually goes to a player who, basically, is cooperative with the media. It's a tough group to please.
Brian (Westborough, MA)
What is your take on viewers calling in rule violations? I hate when people compare it to calling in a holding penalty in football. Golfers are responsible for calling their own rule violations and I think if they new the rules better viewers would never have the chance to call a rules violation in.
Bob Harig (4:03 PM)
I agree that golfers need to know the rules better. That is the bottom line. If Camilo Villegas was thinking more clearly or knew the rules, he obviously would not have done what he did last week. That said, it still bugs me when viewers call in to report rules violations. I personally feel that only a rules official, player, caddie, walking scorer, should be able to bring a rules violation to the attention of officials.
Where would you rate Jonathan Byrd in terms of US players? I know he has never done well in big events but he does have 5 wins which is more than alot of guys.
Bob Harig (4:05 PM)
It's amazing what two victories in his last two starts has done with Byrd. Prior, I think he might have been viewed as an underachiever. Now he's got as many victories as Tom Lehman.
Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)
I know a number of people have been critical of the FedEx Cup, what are the chances that the PGA Tour revamps the FedEx Cup system?
Bob Harig (4:07 PM)
They are not doing anything about it for 2011. The decision was made to leave things alone so as not to confus the issue any more. This will be the third straight year where no tweaks are made, even though there reamins the very real possibility of a player capturing the FedEx Cup without winning a tournament all year. That is something they probably need to figure out at some point.
Brian (Westborough, MA)
The Sony Open field isn't great and hasn't been for years. Is this a tournament on the "list" that the tour wants to see the top players enter more often?
Bob Harig (4:10 PM)
It might not be great, but 22 players who competed last week -- all tournament winners obviosly -- are playing the Sony. Jim Furyk, Ernie Els, Steve Stricker, Matt Kuchar . . . it's really not bad. The Sony benefits from the Tournament of Champions and this tournament is far above many that would be on a list to attract more top players.
Gary (Los Feliz)
Ultimately, what happened to David Duval? Can he make it back? He's had a few near misses, but why can't he get over the hump? Thanks!
Bob Harig (4:13 PM)
It would take a lot of space to go over Duval's issues. Basically, he suffered from burnout, disinterest and injuries -- not necessarily in that order. It still, to me, is hard to believe that 2010 ws the first year since 2002 that he finished among the top 125 to remain fully exempt without any other exemptions. Duval basically got away from the game in the 2003-04 time frame. He got married, other intersts. Duval has often said that getting to No. 1 was never what it was cracked up to be. But in recent years, he does seem committed to regaining his form. I doubt he'll ever been close to No. 1 again. But it wouldn't surprise me to see him win, although he has rarely contended in the past eight years.
Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)
It seems like the PGA is trying to get away from marketing just Tiger even though Tiger really is the only one that creates sensational ratings for the casual golf fan. Like him or hate him, the average golf fans turns on the television to watch Tiger and no one else can do that. What are your thoughts on how the PGA is marketing the tour this year as all the young guns v. Tiger?
Bob Harig (4:16 PM)
I don't have any problem with how they choose to market themselves. I'm not sure it has an effect. You are right, Tiger drives interest no matter how he is doing, whether he is liked or not. That thought has always been that those who follow when Tiger plays will like what they see and come back even when he doesn't. That has not proved to be the case, although maybe to some small degree.What golf probably needs is another dominant player, no matter who it is. That type of success is what seemingly draws people.
Brian (Westborough, MA)
Do the PGA players feel as if the European Tour's Desert Swing (Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Qatar and Dubui) have surpassed the PGA Tour's West Coast swing in terms of premeir events?
Bob Harig (4:20 PM)
I am not sure PGA Tour players feel that way, but you can bet the European Tour does. Next week's tournament in Abu Dhabi will likely have four of the top five in the world. Qatar and Dubai will also have strong fields. It's the way of the world. But there was a time when the PGA Tour's West Coast tournaments hardly attracted any top players, even without European Tour competition. Now, typically, Torrey Pines, Pebble Beach and LA have good fields. So does Phoenix. And the Match Play, of course.
I have heard some compare Phil's 16 under in 2010 at the Master's to Tiger's 18 under in 1997. Obviously Tiger's was more dominant but the course was changed alot since 1997. Would you see any comparison at all?
Bob Harig (4:22 PM)
That is an interesting point. I just looked it up and Phil's total of 272, 16 under last year, was the lowest at the Masters since Tiger shot the same score in 2001. In the eight years in between, nobody had done better than 276. And it's probably no coincidence that extensive changes began to the course after the 2001 event and really picked up in 2002. So, yes, in that regard, you could probably compare Phil's feat to Tiger's -- although Tiger's will always be remembered more in that regard because he won by a whopping 12 shots. Even though the course was far easier then, nobody other than Tiger shot better than 282, 6 under. Remarkable, really.
Ritchie (Kansas City)
what is your opinion as to how many times we'll see PGA "rookies" like Oosthuizen, Karlsson and Schwartzel playing in 2011 outside Majors & WGC events? All 3 have high OGWR, but I doubt they'll play more than 15 or so total.
Bob Harig (4:25 PM)
I wouldn't be surprised to see them play exactly 15 -- the four majors, four WGCs (if they play China), Players and then six more, likely near the majors. The reason? All three are also members of the European Tour, which requires 13 tournaments -- of course 8 of those overlap with the majors and WGCs. Karlsson, perhaps, we could see more of because he's got a home in Charlotte.
So, did Dustin Johnson forget about his live-in girlfriend or were they "on a break?"
Bob Harig (4:28 PM)
I don't know the answer, but I did wonder if Gulbis was not supposed to spill the beans.
Ed (Long Island)
I've asked this before, regarding tournaments in September and after, why don't they have these tournaments in January and February during the week? You could get prime time television coverage and not go up against the NFL playoffs. Start Monday or Tuesday and end of Thursday or Friday.Also schedule a tournament in the location of the Super Bowl and have it end on Saturday - crowds would be enormous and pumped up.
Bob Harig (4:30 PM)
I love outside the box ideas such as this. I have long wondered why the PGA Tour, so fearful of football in the fall that it ends its FedEx Cup season in September, then starts its new season going up against three weeks of NFL playoffs. Sure, why not play Tuesday through Friday these weeks, especially in Hawaii, and make it a primtime show? The Phoenix Open is traditionally the week of the Super Bowl and doesn't seem to have a problem with going up against it. I do think some more creative ideas are necessary.
If you had to pick one off the radar guy to sneak up on everyone and win the money list ala Matt Kuchar, who would it be?
Bob Harig (4:32 PM)
Is Jeff Overton considered off the radar? He finished 12th on the money list last year wihtout winning a tournament. Win a tournament or two and he's right there.
Are we about to witness a new begining for Tiger, or the slow but surely downfall of Tiger Woods? I can see Tiger not winning anything again this year, but I can also see Tiger and Phil having two amazing years and battling each other quite a bit.
Bob Harig (4:34 PM)
This is the big question, isn't it? I was among those who believed last year that once he got inside the ropes, Tiger would put all aside and go back to his winning ways. He had always done so previously. It didn't happen, and it was a struggle. I have a hard time believe he won't win again. But how long will it take? And we've waited a long time for Tiger and Phil to battle consistently.
Bob, after reading Sobel's article on Fowler earlier this year it got me to questioning his presence within the game. Can he be as transcendent as TW is/was and give a real jolt to the game? Or will he simply be a very popular player to fans who ALREADY exist within the game?
Bob Harig (4:36 PM)
It's hard to believe anyone being as transcendent as Tiger. Putting that aside, Fowler will need to win. Villegas was pretty popular back in 2006 or so when he first came out, but without the victories, all of that popularity fizzles.
And speaking of girlfriends, would Rory have kept his PGA Tour membership if he broke up with his girlfriend earlier last year?
Bob Harig (4:37 PM)
I think the girlfriend excuse was just that -- an excuse. Not knocking McIlroy, but let's face it, when you live in Northern Ireland, there are not a ton of tournaments close by. Even when he's playing in England, Scotland, Frnace . . . he's still a plane flight away from home. He's still on the road.
Should the fact that Oosthuizen has won 3 times since the last time Schrawtzel won have any effect on rookie of the year predictions? Everyone seems to be picking Charl, but Louis seems like more of a closer.
Bob Harig (4:38 PM)
A lot of the Schwartzel backing comes from the fact that he finished second to Ernie Els at Doral. And everyone seems to love his game. But it's true that Oosthuizen has had more recent success. Still hard to take either seriously as rookies.
Steven (Toledo, OH) [via mobile]
Adam Scott made a little bit of a comeback last year. Do you think he can improve on that and return to where he used to be as one of golf's elite?
Bob Harig (4:39 PM)
I have a hard time figuring out the deal with Adam Scott. Perhaps he is too nice of a guy. He also seems to struggle with his putting, a huge issue with many young players. It would be great for the game for him to be a factor.
Does Tiger start his season at Torrey Pines, Bay Hill or Augusta this year?
Bob Harig (4:42 PM)
It's not official, but I don't think there is any question it will be Torrey Pines.
What would be a "success" for Tiger at Torrey Pines? Being in contention on Sunday's Back 9 or does he have to win?
Bob Harig (4:43 PM)
I think being in contention would be a success. I think it's a lot to ask -- even if nothing had happened to Tiger -- to expect him to win there every year, which he seemingly does.
I'm wondering with Ernie saying he's cutting back on his European schedule, do you know whether or not he's still a member of the European Tour?
Bob Harig (4:46 PM)
Remember, if Ernie plays the four majors and the four WGCs, he needs to play just 5 more tournaments to keep his European membership. And he's already played one -- the South African Open he won last month is a 2011 event. So now he needs just four more. He has said he's going to a South Korean event in April, and he'll undoubtedly play the BMW PGA Championship in May. That means just two more, one of which will surely be the Dunhill Links. . .
What tournaments do you expect Tiger to play this year? Obviously the 4 majors, 4 wgc, torry pines, bay hill, memorial, quail hollow, the players, and the 4 fedex events assuming he qualifies for them all. That's 17. Expect him to add any others? Or perhaps eliminate one of them like Quail Hollow?
Bob Harig (4:49 PM)
He will play his own tournament, the AT&T National, in July. Any others? Maybe. It'll be interesting to see if he adds a Florida event, maybe Honda. Could he maybe add one of the Texas events after the Players? Just speculating, but I doubt it would be much more beyond that.
In your opinion, what is the biggest difference maker between sustained success in college golf, on the nationwide tour and on the PGA Tour
Bob Harig (4:54 PM)
The ability to stay grounded and deal with the inevitable low periods on the PGA Tour. The competition is more difficult, the travel is a grind, and guys run into difficulty. Trying to stay consistent and fight through the adversity is much harder to do.
I was slapping myself in the head for forgetting the AT&T National as soon as I submitted that question. Aronimink was one of my favorite venues on the pga tour last year. Any chance that at some point it'll be used for a major or perhaps become a regular tour stop? I feel like it would be a shame for it not to be used in some capacity after this year.
Bob Harig (4:54 PM)
After this year, the tournament is moving back to Congressional and the D.C. area. It is hard to believe that Philly doesn't have it's own tour stop, but there are no openings.
Given that Phil has never been consistent, why do people keep expecting a consistent rivalry to develop?
Bob Harig (4:55 PM)
Good point. I simply think that is what fans would like to see.
Is Graeme McDowell becoming a major factor in the golf world, or is he just on a streak?
Bob Harig (4:56 PM)
I think it's both. It is quite possible that he could cool off at some point. But I do think the confidence he has gain, the success he has had, will lead to more. He doesn't have to worry about qualifying for majors, so he can loosen up and go after it more.
Ed (Long Island)
Do you think golf fans haven't truly appreciated the extended greatness of Tiger and Phil? They have both been there for 15 years, many players have come and gone but none have sustained the level of play of these 2. Question more pertains to Phil, since a lot of negative of him not reaching #1, but if you look at the tournaments he's won over the last 2 years, very impressive tournaments and in 2010 having the combined lowest score to par in the majors.
Bob Harig (4:59 PM)
There's no question that we often take these guys for granted. Tiger especially. To win at the level he's won at, to have the consistently high finishes is remarkable. Phil has been inconsistent throughout his career, has stretches where he has finishes well down the list or misses the cut. But, still. . . 38 victories. Tied for 11th all-time, one behind Tom Watson.
Pam (Palm Beach)
The best player in the world active is Tiger Woods. The player playing the best in the world could be either G-Mac, Westwood or Kaymer. Am I wrong? The best playing in the world and the Player player the best may not be the same person.
Bob Harig (5:00 PM)
You can certianly look at it that way. Last year, Tiger was the best player in the world by the rankings, but he certainly wasn't playing the best.
Bob Harig (5:02 PM)
Okay, I am out of time.I'll again plus the golf mailbag. Send questions to: email@example.com.Thanks for participating, and I'll look forward to answering your email questions or in next week's chat.