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 (3:59 PM)
This is typically golf's slow time, but there seems to be a lot going on. Plenty to chat about. So let's get started. Please fire away with your questions, and thanks for participating.
Brian (Westborough, MA)
Come on, will Tiger's achilies/MCL magically feel better once the TPC is over? This will be yet another year he doesn't play 72 holes there. He has only played 72 holes there once in the past 4 years now. This tournament automatically receives the most OWGR points outside of the majors and the winner receives 80 points. With no Westwood, McIlroy and now no Woods should this policy be reconsidered and also is this even really a top 8 tournament anymore?
Bob Harig (4:03 PM)
It's no secret that TPC Sawgrass has not been a great venue for Tiger. It's now been 10 years since he won there. He's rarely contended. That said, I hardly think he is using an injury as an excuse to dodge it. Most agree that Tiger needs to play. This is a setback if he can't play. And he has yet to rule out the tournament.As for world ranking points, that is determined by the strength of field. If a few top players are missing, the ranking points distributed would be less. I think you can certainly make the argument that by adding all of the WGC events, the Players has not been helped. It is the flagship event of the PGA Tour, but it doesn't count on the other tours like the WGCs do.
Is it correct that the last time Tiger missed events between the Masters and US Open was 2008?
Bob Harig (4:05 PM)
That's true. In 2008, he had arthroscopic knee surgery just days after the Masters. Then he suffered a setback in rehab that kept him from playing until the U.S. Open. We later learned that he had broken a bone in his leg. .. In 2009, Woods won the Memorial prior to the U.S. Open. Last year, he played Quail Hollow, Players (where he withdrew)and Memorial prior to the U.S. Open.
Steve (Delray Beach, FL)
When I was in little league my grandfather coached me and used to let me pitch a lot and bat first. He caught all kinds of heat from it from parents of the other players. Why doesn't Arnold Palmer catch heat for getting his grandson into all these events? I've never even heard one word about it and it is so blatant.
Bob Harig (4:10 PM)
Well, it has actually come up in these chats. Someone else question why Sam Saunders was getting a free pass. All I can say is Saunders is an aspiring pro who has some limited Nationwide status. Certainly Palmer's influence helps,and that is the game guys play who are looking for sponsor invites. It is also quite clear that Saunders is not some hopeless aspiring pro. He played at Clemson and has shown flashes of being an excellent player. In four events this year on the PGA Tour, he's made two cuts, tying for 15th and 30th. He's also made one of two cuts on the Nationwide Tour.
What golfers come to your mind that had injuries that negatively impacted the remainder of their careers? Any with leg injuries similar to Tiger?
Bob Harig (4:11 PM)
The biggest one that comes to mind is Ben Hogan. After his 1949 car crash, he played sparingly. His legs were injured badly and he had difficulty walking. Two-time U.S. Open champion Andy North also had a lot of knee issues, which perhaps kept him from winning more often. Can't think of anyone else with a specific knee issue like the one that has bothered Tiger.
Don't you think that if Tiger actually believed (like so many people already do) that he'll never break Nicklaus' record of 18 major wins, he would simply retire?
Bob Harig (4:13 PM)
It is hard to believe that Tiger would continue to play if he didn't have belief that he could win, period. It appears he is well away from that kind of thinking.
Henrik Stenson (Sweden)
Where did my game go? Am I injured or is it a Duval-like mental thing?
Bob Harig (4:16 PM)
There is no doubt that Stenson is having a hard time. He has really played poorly this year and has barely contended since winning the Players Championship two years ago.One possible issue, and this is purely speculation on my part, but Stenson had a lot of money tied up with Stanford Financial, the company that basically had all of its assets frozen -- and perhaps a good bit of Stenson's money. .. If so, you could see where that would be a mental strain.
Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)
I know that FedEx Cup points accumulate throughout the year and that The Players Championship is always called the unofficial 5th Major but what do you think about the PGA Tour adding two bigger FedEx Cup events, one in the spring and one in the summer? By adding the extra events, that would allow players that are performing well earlier in the season to bank even more points. Furthermore it would allow the PGA Tour to create even more interest in a few more tournaments. What are your thoughts on my minor tweak to the FexEx Cup?
Bob Harig (4:18 PM)
There have been lots of tweaks proposed to the FedEx Cup, and I do think there is some merit to having some sort of event or points cutoff earlier in the season simply to create some more buzz or awareness. Frankly, nobody pays attention right now. They won't pay attention until around the time of the PGA Championship.Maybe if they had a first third or first half points cutoff, where anyone wo finishes in the top 10 or top 5 or whatever is guaranteed to get to the third playoff event. Something along those lines to have there be some sort of discussion about it.
While Kevin Na might be able to beat me 100 times out of 100 on the course, I just want the record to show that I have never been higher than a 14 on any hole since I've been 12 years old. So there
Bob Harig (4:19 PM)
Yes, but after making 14, did you shoot 80? That's what is incredible about Na's 16. He still shot 80.
Brian (Westborough, MA)
I know how much you love talking about grooves but do you think the new grooves have anything to do with Tiger not winning since the rule change? Everyone mentions his putting or his fairways hit but to me his shot around the green have been terrible by even an average pro's standards in the past 18 months.
Bob Harig (4:20 PM)
It is an interesting theory. Woods had made the switch to conforming clubs before the deadline, but had continued to use the same wedges. Perhaps he has had difficulty with the new wedges, although he has never suggested as much. He has said there is some different technique involved in his chipping since he began working with Sean Foley.
How soon do you think someone will take the #1 spot in the OWGR and hold it for a decent length of time?
Bob Harig (4:23 PM)
I am not sure that is going to happen anytime soon because the top players are separated by so little. Even though he played in a weak-filled event on the Asian Tour, Lee Westwood was still able to move to No. 1, despite earning a small number of points by winning. Kaymer, Donald, Mickelson, McDowell, Woods, McIlroy -- any one of those guys could get to No. 1 and it could change again the next week.
Pam (Palm Beach)
Is it true that the Media miss TW when he is not in a tournament, since they dont have him in person to berate, yet when he is around they are mad since he does not answer the questions to their liking?
Bob Harig (4:27 PM)
Well, that's an interesting way to put it. I am not sure, for one, that the media berates Tiger when he is in a tournament. Sure, in our line of work, you love to have long, expansive, thoughtful answers. He doesn't always answer questions to our liking -- but you can say that about a ton of athletes, can't you? I would say, in general, that the media likes having Tiger play. It makes things more interesting, good or bad. He remains the game's most compelling figure, and I think the run he made at the Masters is strong evidence of that.
Has it been set yet where Woods event will be held in 12'?
Bob Harig (4:28 PM)
If you are speaking of the AT&T National, I feel quite confident saying it will be back at Congressional. That is my understanding, not official. If anyone out there has conflicting or confirming info, please advise.
After shooting 14 I probably went on to shoot 120, but that's neither here nor there Bob! haha
Bob Harig (4:32 PM)
Yes, and that sort of makes my point! We all know what we'd do if we made a 16. The fact that Na still managed to shoot 80 -- and had a putt for 79 -- is pretty impressive in its own way.
Ed (Long Island)
Do you think golf has too many "BIG" tournaments now? 4 majors, several WGC's, Arnie and Jack's tournaments...with all of these high caliber tournments, it almost takes away from the majors in that the players have all faced each other in previous tough tournaments and no more mystique. Maybe that is why we have had such a breadth of winners over the past few years in majors - playing a major is the same as playing so many other tournaments throughout the year.
Bob Harig (4:34 PM)
Where to begin? How to keep this brief?I have said and written many times that golf has too many big events. As nice as the WGCs are for the game, bringing the top players together more often, it is at the expense of the regular events that make up the tour's backbone. There is no PGA Tour wihtout events like San Antonio, Hilton Head, New Orleans. The top players often skip them, but the tour is about the 200-plus members and tournaments each week. I'm not sure it hurts the majors. I like the idea of the top guys teeing it up more. But why not in regular events, as their schedules allow? These guys are not going to skip guaranteed paydays with no cuts. And so here we are. I could go on and on.
Pam (Palm Beach)
One of your colleague from SI proclaimed that Woods is finished permanently since he disclosed his injury. Why the hurry to proclaim that he will never catch Jack.
Bob Harig (4:36 PM)
I think it is dangerous to say Tiger is done. You do that at high risk. Sure, you can make the argument: 5 majors is more than any current player has. Even 4 to tie Jack is what Mickelson has won in a career. It's a big ask to win 4 majors. Tiger is 35, injuries, wear and tear, etc. . But what if this swing change clicks in? I agree it is going to be difficult for him to catch Jack, but to simply rule it out? Not now.
Interesting story about Jason Bohn on the website. Do you think he could have made it to this point without that one and a million hole in one?
Bob Harig (4:39 PM)
Yes, Jason Bohn, one of golf's really good guys, has an interesting back story. He made a hole in one at a charity event nearly 20 years ago when he was in college. First prize: $1-million! To take it, he had to turn pro and give up his college eligibility. He is being paid $50,000 for 20 years, and next year is the last year. He has said that $50,000 per year is what allowed him to start his golf career without sponsors. It helped him through the low times. Neat.
Are slow players like Kevin Na and Ben Crane the most unpopular players on tour?
Bob Harig (4:43 PM)
Actually, I don't think they are, necessarily. At least in the case of Crane, many people like him. Even Rory Sabbatini who had that celebrated blow up was sorry because he likes Crane. But no question slow play can fray the nerves.
Lou (East Liverpool, OH)
Is it true that even since the Tiger scandal began that Tiger's 3 top 5 finishes in majors are more than anyone else?
I agree about there being too many "big" events. Tim Finchem may be the worst commissioner in all of sports, and that is saying something. The WGC, the FedEx Cup just serve to water down the season.
Bob Harig (4:46 PM)
There may be too many big events, but I would not go so far as to say that Finchem is a bad commissioner or even close to the worst. He's done plenty of good. The WGCs are good in many ways, and so are the playoffs. If we didn't have the best players in all of those events, perhaps we'd be complaining that they are not together enough.
Jim (NY, NY)
Memo to Ed- The Rory McIlroy meltdown should tell you the there is a very big difference in the player's minds between the majors and the WGC/Memorial/Bay Hill type events.
Bob Harig (4:47 PM)
Not to pick on Ed. . . But this is a good point. The pressure of the final round of the Masters shows that it does mean a lot more than a regular event -- even though there is pressure there, too.
Why doesn't the PGA Tour allow appearance fees? I assume if they did their field could have been able to get someone like DJ this week.
Bob Harig (4:50 PM)
Some say they do allow appearance fees, simply in a more subtle manor. Phil Mickelson has an endorsement deal with Barclays. Isn't it implied that he play in the Barclays? Several guys who have deals with the Royal Bank of Canada will be at the Canadian Open.That said, I think it is a mistake to pay a player to show up. The beauty of golf is that you have to perform to be paid. Would it be good for the sport if a guy mailed it in just to collect the paycheck? It just leads to a lot of problems. But I understand your point. Dustin Johnson is halfway around the world this week collecting a payday when he could have been in New Orleans. That said, would the South Korea tournament have ever had a chance at him otherwise?
Jeremy (Marlboro, NJ)
Hey Bob. Golf World reported another iteration of the revamped end of year/Q-school plan this week. How far along is it and do you think they will have some sort of fail safe so that the #1 Nationwide tour guy who's won twice and has 7 top 10s doesn't miss out on the PGA Tour because of 3 bad weeks?
Bob Harig (4:53 PM)
I know they have updated the players on this again, but my feeling is it is a long way off. We're talking 2013 at the earliest. I think the idea is intriguing. It would be more intriguing if everybody started at 0 for these events, in my opinion. But you are probably correct in that they will slot guys based on performance, meaning that someone who had a great year on the Nationwide Tour could still have a reasonable change of remaining in the top 50.
To somewhat agree with Ed, but not on his reasons, Mickelson will likely make his last start of the regular PGA Tour season in May at the Memorial. It seems odd that he has no more "regular events" after that but yet he will play in 3 majors, 2 WGCs, 2 Euro events and 4 Fed Ex Cup events.
Bob Harig (4:56 PM)
Good point. After the Memorial, Mickelson would be likely to play: U.S. Open, Barclays Scottish Open, British Open, Bridgestone, PGA, Barclays, Deutsche Bank, BMW, Tour Championship. . All of these are select events..
Pam (Palm Beach)
Don't you think that a player being paid fees has a lot of pressure to win or do well, so it is not easy street. it would be embarassing to miss the cut.
Bob Harig (4:57 PM)
He might feel self-imposed pressure, but nobody knows how much these guys are getting. We can feel pretty safe in knowing that Westwood got paid last week. But I'm sure so did Padraig Harrington in Ireland, and he missed the cut. It happens. But I'm guessing he's not going all the way to China to miss the cut.
No the SK event wouldn't but at the same time he is thus helping the Euro Tour and the Euro's by bringing his WR points along with him. By allowing one tour to buy top players and build their WR point base they've undermined the PGA Tour's place in the OWGR.
Bob Harig (4:58 PM)
Guess here, though, is that New Orleans will still offer more World Ranking points than South Korea. Just a guess at this point. But your point is understood.
Pam (Palm Beach)
What are the benchmarks for judging a sports commissioner for Rooster to say Tim Is the worst in all of sports.
Bob Harig (5:00 PM)
Not sure there are any benchmarks for such a statement. On Finchem's watch, purses have gone through the rough. The schedule remains full. Champoins Tour and Nationwide Tour are still viable. Lots of golf on television for fans. Top players around for more tournaments. And despite my assertion that there are too many good events, the rank and file tournaments for the most part are doing well. I still think, however, they are hurt overall by so many big tournaments. Not enough sponsorship dollars to go around, not enough big name players to go around.
Lou (East Liverpool, OH)
Any chance Tiger adds on the Byron Nelson, especially if he also misses The Players?
Bob Harig (5:02 PM)
That's something I speculated on in birdies and bogeys this week (sorry shameless plug). It would seem if he skips these two tournamets, he'd want to add one to have more tournaments before the U.s. Open.
Pam (Palm Beach)
Golf is a global game - How else can you guarantee players from all over the world to play, especially on the other tours where the winnings are very low and at times would not cover travel and caddie expenses
Bob Harig (5:05 PM)
Offer big purses. It's a slippery slope with appearance fees.
Bob Harig (5:06 PM)
Okay, I'm out of time. Thanks for all the questions. And don't forget my mailbag: write to email@example.com with questions. . . I'll be back again next week from Quail Hollow. Thanks