Chat with Bob Harig
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, ESPN.com golf writer Bob Harig will stop by to chat live from Quail Hollow Country Club in Charlotte, N.C., the site of this week's Wells Fargo Championship.
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 (3:58 PM)
Hello, thanks for checking in. I'm chatting from Quail Hollow, site of this week's Wells Fargo Chamionship. As usual, lots going on in the golf world. So let's get started. Fire away with your questions, please.
Brian (Westborough, MA)
What is the future of the Wells Fargo Championship? IMO this is the best course they play oin the regular tour when you consider the layout, weather, ability to charge from behind and tough finish.
Bob Harig (4:01 PM)
It is a great tournament and a great course and has found a great spot in the schedule, the week prior to the Players. And now, finally, after two years, the title sponsor, Wells Fargo, has decided it is okay to have its name on the golf tournament -- even though it paid the bills prior and didn't take advatnage. That's another story.As for the event, it is contracted through 2014. Quail Hollow has been awarded the 2017 PGA Championship, so that complicates things. It's unlikely the course would host a tour event in the same year. They are almost too close together. So does the tournament structure a new deal to not be in the mix ub 2017? Should be interesting, but it's a ways off.
I noticed a few weeks ago that Larry Nelson was honored by the PGA of America. Why wasn't he ever named a Ryder Cup captain? Always seemed to be a guy who got overlooked to me.
Bob Harig (4:03 PM)
Good question. It's really a shame that Nelson was not a Ryder Cup captain. He won three majors, including two PGAs! And he had an outstanding record in the Ryder Cup. Another thing: a Vietnam vet who goes on to win the U.S. Open? Could there be a better candidate for captain? It was a major oversight.
Golf's rules have always been that there was very little room for interpretation (except in cases of getting drops). Why is there a change to allowing interpretation, such as determining if a putter may have grazed a ball at rest versus the "wind" moving it? Seems like they're allowing a whole lot of rules to be potentially challenged if they seem "unfair." Maybe the OB rule should be next.
Bob Harig (4:08 PM)
First, the rule you are speaking about which relates to what happened to Webb Simpson has not been changed yet. They're talking about it. I know what you're saying and this is dangerous. But I have long felt the rule as it relates to the greens is unfair. Simpson's putter was well behind the ball. He clearly did not make it move. What's wrong with simply replacing it and no penalty? Same with when the wind blew like it did last year at St. Andrews. Guys were afraid to set up to the ball.Since you brought up the O.B. rule, this has long been a personal gripe of mine. Think about this. You hit a 280-yard drive and it goes out of bounds by a foot so you're hitting 3 off the tee. Or, you swing and miss at a drive and now you're hitting 2 off the tee. What is worse?The point is why not make O.B. like a lateral hazard, with a drop and one stroke penalty?
Ray (Fairfield, CT) [via mobile]
Bob, what do you think about athletes like Tony Romo consistently trying to qualify for the US Open and other tourneys? Do you think it takes away from those who have spent their entires lives trying to make the cut?
Bob Harig (4:10 PM)
I have not problem with it because he is trying to qualify and not being given a spot. Cheers for Romano if he advances through two stages of qualifying to make the U.S. Open field. That would be incredible. What I don't like is someone like John Smotlz getting a sponsor exemption to a Nationwide event. And this has nothing to do with him playing poorly, as I really felt he would do well. How great would it have been if he had tried to Monday qualify? That doesn't hurt anyone.
Brian (Westborough, MA)
Why does the USGA want to change the rule Webb Simpson violated on Sunday? It seems the proposed new rule would add grey to their rule book that is so black and white. Their rules may be harsh but they are easy to interprut being they are black and white, adding shades of grey makes this more of a decision and not a ruling.
Bob Harig (4:12 PM)
This is a hot topic obviously and it's not easy. It just seems there is a fairness issue. I think most guys know when they make the ball move, such as putting a club behind the ball in the rough. But if you put the club down and the wind blows, why does that mean a penalty? How did doing so help you in any way?
Any update on The future of the Heritage?
Bob Harig (4:13 PM)
Nothing so far. Tournament officials remain hopeful and confident they will find a new title sponsor.
Shortrib (Memphis, TN)
How come when i'm watching golf on TV, the analysts talk softly when they are no where near the hole that the golfers are playing?
Bob Harig (4:15 PM)
They probably are near the hole. If you hear a course reporter he is in the fairway with the players. And many of the announcers are in booths that are right above the green. They would be easy to hear for any of the players.
Regarding his comments about Tiger and others getting instruction- why does Bubba think he's got it all figured out? Couldn't it just as easily be argued that with some professional help someone of his talent level could be doing better than 7 top 10's in his last 32 events?
Bob Harig (4:17 PM)
This is in reference to a story I wrote earlier today (sorry, shameless plug) about Bubba Watson, who basically said Tiger's got it all wrong by changing his swing, etc. And it's true, maybe with some instruction, Bubba would be even better. But he's gotten this far without. His opinion.
Lou (East Liverpool, OH)
You mentioned large player entourages in your article, could you give an example of how many and what type of people generally are with a player at a tournament?
Bob Harig (4:17 PM)
Again, in reference to the Bubba story. He doesn't have a swing coach, a sports psychologist, an agent traveling with him. Many players have all of that, maybe a publicist, a trainer. Soem have chefs, nannies.
Bob,Any chance Tiger is using the knee as an excuse to focus on practicing more? I know it is injured, but with his inconsistency I wonder if he is trying to buy time without saying he needs it. If that makes sense.
Bob Harig (4:19 PM)
I doubt it's an excuse, but it's possible he simply didn't feel good about his game being brought to a tournament and wanted to use the time to heal and get better prepared. Tiger has never been about getting his game in shape at tournaments.
Is Brennan Little going to be on Dustin Johnson's Bag?
Bob Harig (4:21 PM)
This week Johnson is using Dan Quinn, the former hockey player who caddied for Ernie Els some last week. Next week at the Players he is using Joe LaCava, Fred Couples' longtime caddie. He said today he is unsure what will happen after that.
Brian (Westborough, MA)
With the NFL Lockout in place will Tony Romo try to Monday Qualify for the Byron Nelson? Also, seeing as how he did make it through local qualifying for the US Open last year and played OK in secitonals there could be at least a snowballs chance in hell he makes it. Would the players on tour be more welcoming to a athlete/celebrity playing in one of their events if they actually qualified as opposed to taking a sponsor's invite?
Bob Harig (4:22 PM)
There is no question that anyone who qualifies will be welcomed. That is no easy task to get into any tournament that way.
Frank C (Ottawa Canada)
Bob, Can you give your opinion about rookies and how difficult it is for them on the PGA. THere's a Canadian rookie I'm specifically referring to that has struggled after getting through Q-shool (finally). How do successful rookies do it? How do they juggle the travel, sponsors, $$$, competition and strive for consistancy?
Bob Harig (4:25 PM)
It would take longer than the space we have here, but no question, being a rookie on the PGA Tour has its challenges, especially given that there is no guaranteed income outside of endorsements or outings. Players have to learn which courses they like, dealing with travel, getting in practice rounds. And rookies typically are not fully exempt, meaning they don't always get into every tournament. There are numerous hurdles.
Jason (Fairfax, VA)
How does Congressional rank in terms of US Open Courses? They have been running alot of stories in the post this week about how tough it looks.
Bob Harig (4:26 PM)
According to defending champion Graeme McDowell, nobody will break par for the week. He played the course on Monday. The course certainly has a lot of favorable history.
If Bubba would have made the same comment 3-10 years ago Tiger would have beaten him by 20 the next tournament. Now, things will go on like nothing was said!
Bob Harig (4:27 PM)
To be honest, I don't think Bubba meant anything bad by it. And he might say the same thing to Tiger, basically, hey, you're thinking too much. That said, there is plenty of evidence to suggest instructors are a big help to these guys. Bubba is the exception not the rule.
Brian (Westborough, MA)
Is this the best 3 hole closing stretch on tour?
Bob Harig (4:30 PM)
Outside of the majors, the last three holes at Quail are probably the best, certainly the toughest.
What do you feel has been the secret to Tommy Gainey's very good play so far this year with a 2nd and two 3rd's and what can this do for a player like him when he basically has his 2012 card sown up in May.
Bob Harig (4:31 PM)
It appears to be a matter of confidence. And he gained it by winning a couple of times last year on the Nationwide Tour. Made him feel better about his game. Now that he's basically wrapped up his tour card, he can relax, play more aggressive if he wishes. Go for some pins. Try to win. But also, it would be good for him to try and move up in the world rankings as that would give him even bigger and better opportunities.
In response to Brian about the best closing 3 hole stretch. I would put PGA National(Bear Trap) up there as well.
Bob Harig (4:34 PM)
Bear Trap is actually 15, 16 and 17 I believe. . 18 at Honda is a rather mundane par 5.
Patrick (Yorktown, NY)
I think the big question when you guys get Tiger again is whether he was able to practice chipping and putting during this down time. If not wouldn't you consider this a big setback especially in terms of having his game tightened up for the US Open?
Bob Harig (4:35 PM)
There is no question that it is unfortunate for Tiger that he has not been able to build on his success from the Masters. There his swing seemed to come together. He appeared more relaxed and less mechanical. Just an observation. I'm sure he'd have loved to have worked on that, and now four weeks later, there's little indication that he has been able to work on his game.
Is Lucas Glover in the Witness Protection Program? Or did he retire after his US Open win?
Bob Harig (4:39 PM)
It really has been a struggle for Glove, especially lately. He's missed three straight cuts and has no finish better than 20th. Last year he had three top-10s but has not contended for a victory really going back to 2009.
Brian (Westborough, MA)
Any word on how Palmer played today? Did he play for the tournament tees?
Bob Harig (4:41 PM)
Still on the course at the moment, don't know how he's playing but he did rip one down the middle off the 10th tee and is playing from the tournament tees. Gotta loe 81 year old Arnie playing it back.
Jim (NY, NY)
Give us a percentage on Tiger playing in The Players.
Bob Harig (4:42 PM)
My guess is it's 50-50. I didn't get the sense it was real serious but if he's not had a chance to practice much, that might keep him out.
Its seems as the rest of the country is still struggling through the weak economy the PGA Tour is back to being stable. Is that the case?
Bob Harig (4:45 PM)
Probably a bit of a generalization. The PGA Tour has done a remarkable job of working through a very difficult economic time. I am not sure I would call the situation stable. It seesm to fix one problem and then has to deal with others. And it will soon if not already be in the midst of television contract negotiations.
Ed (Long Island)
Any update on what Phil has been working on since the Master's? Should we have high expectations for him this week?
Bob Harig (4:46 PM)
No update as of yet. Phil is playing in the pro am right now and nobody's had a chance to talk to him. This is his first tournament back. He was obviously playing well going into the Masters,then had a disappointing tournament. It all depends on how motivated he is at the moment. It's quite possible that Phil suffered a letdown after Augusta and needed some time to regroup.
10 different winners in the past 10 majors. Of the one-hit wonders (which I think is 8 of them), who do you think might actually win a second?
Bob Harig (4:50 PM)
If were are focusing in on the last 10 majors, 8 won for the first time. I happen to think that McDowell, Kaymer and Schwartzel are all certainly capable of winning again. I thought the same of Cink although he's not won anything since winning the British in 2009.
Frank C (Ottawa Canada)
Why has Dustin Johnson missed so many events?
Bob Harig (4:52 PM)
This is his 10th event of the year on the PGA Tour, which is a solid number of tournaments to this point.
Lou (East Liverpool, OH )
I know people like to say that no one is bigger than the game and we've been force fed the next generation storyline by the PGA but since the emotional Mickelson story at the '10 Masters nothing has come close to capturing the interest of the casual fan like Tiger's front 9 on Sunday at Augusta. Whether he's fist pumping or cursing himself in anger Golf desperately needs that red shirt out there in contention on a consistent basis again- agreed?
Bob Harig (4:54 PM)
There is no doubt that having Tiger as a factor makes things a lot more interesting. I often get email chasting me for writing about Tiger so much, but his quest for golf's biggest records and his comeback from the scandal remain compelling.
Off the Mike: Whatever happened to 2005 US Champion Michael Campbell and rising Nationwide star Michael Sim? Have heard from either of them in quite some time.
Bob Harig (4:57 PM)
Campbell all but completely lost his game although he is still competing. Sim was 65th on the money list last year but is definitely struggling in 2011. He's played 9 events and made only 2 cuts.
Everyone said last year that Tiger had his best chance of winning a major because of the courses. His record on the courses this year isn't that shabby. He has won the AT &T at Congressional, He came in 4th at the Open Championship in 2004 at Royal St. George and He had a Top 30 at Atlanta Athletic Club in 2001. Am I alone in thinking Tiger could possibly take a Major this year?
Bob Harig (4:59 PM)
If last year proved anything, it's more about how he is playing than the courses. Sure he's had some success at these venues, but he had won 7 times at Firestone and had his worst 72-hole tournament as a pro. It doesn't matter what the course is if he's not playing well.
Bob Harig (4:59 PM)
Okay, I am out of time. Thanks for all the questions. And don't forget about my mailbag: firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy the golf and I'll check in with you again next week from the Players Championship.