Chat with Bob Harig
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN.com golf writer Bob Harig will stop by to talk about the 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 Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET!
Bob Harig (3:00 PM)
Plenty to chat about again in the golf world, even though this is a rare off week on the PGA Tour. Let's get started. Please fire away with your questions. Thanks.
Chris K (Wisconsin)
Does Captain Love decide the tee and pin locations at Medinah? Would fast greens tend to favor the USA team?
Bob Harig (3:02 PM)
He certainly has influence over such things, although I don't think he dictates exactly where the pin locations are each day. As the home captain, however, he can dictate length, fairway width, green speed. I'm not sure green speed mattres much as all of the players on the European Team play a good bit here, although American players are more accustomed to it.
Tim Finchem alluded to a possible minor tweak to next year's play-offs (e.g. points only worth 4 times as much in play-offs, not 5) and of course have the TC as the final event of the year. Do you think they've pretty much landed on a model that we'll see for the forseeable future? Seems like they are getting close to the ideal model
Bob Harig (3:04 PM)
You would probably get a lot of arguments about the format. You'll hear now how it's unfair that if Rory finishes second at East Lake he might not win the Tour Championship. Then again, they need drama there, right? I wouldn't mind seeing them have the playoff points be graduated. For example, a guy gets 500 points for a regular tournament win. Why not 1,500 at Barclays, 2,000 at Deutsche Bank, 2,500 at BMW .. then a reset and then 2,500 at Tour Championship?
Has the stature of the Ryder Cup grown over the past decade or so? I dont recall it being quite the focal point 15 years ago that it is now. Even with the exciting play-offs and the Tour Championship, alot of attention is being paid to the Ryder Cup.
Bob Harig (3:06 PM)
You bet it has increased. Probably over a span of about 25 years. U.S. used to always dominate. U.S. started losing and it got interesting. Remember, U.S. is 2-6 in the last 8 Ryder Cups.
I've heard that Muirfield (Open venue next year) is considered by some to be the best course in Britian. What are your thoughts on it?
Bob Harig (3:07 PM)
Yes, many rank it very highly. Most believe it is certainly in the top 2 or 3 of Open venues. You'll get arguements for St. Andrews first, but Muirfield is right there. Ernie won there in 2002 and the weather was a huge factor on the Saturday, when Tiger shot his highest score as a pro -- 81.
Tom H (Hartford, CT)
Did John Huh lock up rookie of the year by qualifying for the Tour Championship?
Bob Harig (3:09 PM)
Good question. I would think so. He's got a win and is in the Tour Championship, which gets him in at least three majors next year.
Ed (Long Island)
Playoffs typically are best of the best and should be tested to best of abilities, why do they seem to be playing courses that are birdie fests the last 2 weeks?
Bob Harig (3:10 PM)
One thing they don't want to do is set up these courses like majors. It's a grind at this time of year, and the players would go ballistic if they were having to kill themselves to make pars. Deutsche Bank is always a shootout. Crooked Stick got hammered by rain and was defenseless. It'll be much more difficutlt at East Lake, where winning score is usually around 8 under to 10 under.
Who's your most improved golfer this year?
Bob Harig (3:11 PM)
Not to be silly, but Tiger certainly qualifies. A year ago at this time he didn't even qualify for the FedEx. Was horrible at the PGA Championship, etc.. . To go in another direction, I like Jason Dufner. He won twice this year and figured out how to do it.
Ed (Long Island)
With Rory never have played East Lake before, any real disadvantage to him?
Bob Harig (3:14 PM)
It is not a difficult golf course to learn, but he certainly doesn't know it like Tiger and Phil. There could be some adjustments to be made.
If Tiger and Rory both skip the WGC-HSBC is it a blow to the concept (neither currently have it on their schedules & it was announced today Rory is playing in Singapore the week after)
Bob Harig (3:16 PM)
I'd be surprised if Rory skipped it because he is playing in Shanghai the week prior in a different event in China, the one he won last year when it was unofficial.I do think the tournament gets a boost next year when it counts as a full-fledged PGA Tour event with FedEx Cup points.
Rory potentially losing the Fed Ex makes more sense if you think of the TC like the super bowl, or WS - more of a culminating event. Or if the play-offs didn't matter more than reg season events, he wouldn't have nearly as large a lead. All of the weighting is artificial. The tour wants the play-offs to matter more and the TC to matter the most. Which makes some sense
Bob Harig (3:18 PM)
Correct. While I see the point of those who believe it is unfair that he could lose the FedEx Cup after winning the last two events, that's no different than the 18-0 Patriots losing the Super Bowl to the New York Giants. The Patriots, overall, won more games. But they didn't win the last one. The tour wants the playoffs to matter more and it wants the Tour Championship to matter the most. Four years ago, when Vijay only had to finish to win the $10-million, the system was getting ripped. It was stupid, really. So we've gotten to this point.
Why the week off? I know they want everybody to play, but with $10 million on the line, I think these guys could suck it up for another week. Give 'em the break before the Ryder Cup instead.
Bob Harig (3:19 PM)
Next year, the break will come after the Deutsche Bank, then BMW and Tour Championship. .It's a tough ask to get these guys to play this much golf. I understand the break. Only other way around it is to have only 3 playoff events or perhaps push them back a few more weeks. But that defeats the purpose of getting it done and not going far into the football season.
I think one problem is that the PGA can't figure out if the FedEx is playoffs or a chase. They call it "playoffs" but if that were the case, the qualifiers for the TC would all be on equal footing at it would be winner take all, like the Super Bowl. As presently constructed, it's more like NASCAR's Sprint Cup chase. Personally I like a playoffs and Super Bowl.
Bob Harig (3:20 PM)
For the reason you state, "playoffs" is a bad description. They want it to be both a season-long chase as well as a Super Bowl. It's hard to be both. They've tried to figure out a way to serve both.
Yet another FedEx playoff season turns into a joke. Rory wins two of the three events, yet somebody who hasn't won all year can win in Atlanta and take the whole thing. If they are going to reset the points, why not just put everybody at zero for the Tour Championship and make it winner take all? Or why not reset the points every week? I know they're trying to avoid having the title wrapped up heading into East Lake, but when the No. 1 guy wins two in a row, he should have it locked up.
Bob Harig (3:22 PM)
I addressed this earlier, but it looks silly to have it wrapped up before you get there. That doesn't work. I would much prefer everyone who gets to Atlanta has an equal shot at the FedEx Cup. Let them start over. Winner of tournaent wins FedEx. Give a bonus to the winner of the points through the BMW. (So Rory would be rewarded for being No. 1 right now). But it would be intense if everybody was equal.
Lois Lane (Krypton)
(you are not being silly. Within one year from #58 to #2..I doubt anyone could do that as quickly.I read that some of the Euro Ryder players are going to practice this week at Medinah...any Americans? Or are any of the top 5 FedEx pros expected to practice real early at the Tour venue to get extra practice time for that course. What if the weather is atrocious w/rain next week? Birdie fest again...yikes!
Bob Harig (3:24 PM)
Yep, Tiger had fallen to No. 58 in the world. People forget that. And he's had chances to get to No. 1. Not sure about practice at Medinah this week, certainly Luke Donald could get there because he lives in Chicago. Poulter and McDowell not in Tour Championship. My guess is the Tour Championship guys are putting the clubs away for a few days this week.
Isn't it unfair that Rory could finish 2nd at East Lake and lose the cup?
Bob Harig (3:25 PM)
Depends on your perspective. Read through this chat as I've covered this a bit, but I can certainly see both sides. I tend to feel, however, that you have to have the Tour Championship mean something. To have it wrapped up now would be like giving the Super Bowl to the team before the game is played.
If the Tour really wants fan interest in the "playoffs," then they need to start after the PGA and finish before the NFL season begins. It's September. Football is king. NASCAR is climaxing. The baseball playoff races are finishing. Golf is an afterthought come Labor Day.
Bob Harig (3:26 PM)
It's very hard to do. And the tour has all of its players to account for. It wants to offer as many playing possiblities as possible.
Lois Lane (Krypton)
Why is it that all these questions about being unfair are popping up now? Must be new visitors to the game of golf or the PGAT in general. Wasn't Bill Haas #29 or something and HE WON!
Bob Harig (3:28 PM)
We've had this same format for four years. In 2009, Tiger had an unbelievable year. He would have lost the FedEx Cup but Mickelson was not in the top 5 heading to Atlanta so he held on even though he didn't win the tournamet.
Could Tiger and Snedeker be paired together at the Ryder Cup? And.... Which is the more compelling Singles Match-Up on Ryder Cup Sunday: Tiger-Sergio at Medinah 13 years, later.....or Tiger versus Rory, 1 versus 2, the legend versus the legend-in-the-making??? Thanks, sir. :-)
Bob Harig (3:29 PM)
Tiger could be paired with Snedeker, but I really think we'll see Stricker and/or Furyk first.. As for singles, I think Rory is more compelling, espeically if it is meaningful. But Tiger/Sergio would certainly be a great second choice.
If a Shaun Micheel or Rich Beem can win a major championship, what's wrong with a lesser golfer winning the FedEx Cup? If you want to reward Rory for his season, that's why the POY award was invented.
Bob Harig (3:31 PM)
If you go by the idea of "playoffs" the teams that reach the Super Bowl or World Series or NHL finals have no advantage based on the regular season. They could have won 20 more games than the opponent but they are all equal in the finals (there is a home ice component in NHL I suppose).. Rory actually has an advantage. If he finishes high enough, he's not going to get beat out by somebody in the lower portion of the standings. But in general, he has to perform again.
The tour doesn't care about playing opportunities for everyone. If it did, it wouldn't have so many invitationals during the year (Bay Hill, Memorial) with limited fields. At least during the WGC events they have secondary events. All the Tour cares about is keeping Tiger, Phil and its stars happy.
Bob Harig (3:32 PM)
That's not really true. It's the reason we have four more tournaments AFTER the Tour Championship and next year will have them as the start of the new season in the fall. If they didn't care about playing opportunities, the season would be much shorter so that fans could develop an appetitle for it. But we've pretty much got tournaments all year.
Northern Ireland or British - is it the tabloids making hay or do we need to be from overseas to understand?
Bob Harig (3:35 PM)
I think you need to be from Ireland to understand. There are many folks there who believe it should be one unified country. I can't begin to appreciate the political and emotional ties, the history of what has gone on there, the religious strife. Very tough.Think of it this way. Rory, who is from Northern Ireland, carries pounds in his wallet and pays his taxes to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. But if he drives south across the border into the Republic of Ireland, he'll need Euros and is not technically a citizen. His passport is British.You can see how unbelievably complicated it gets when all of Ireland competes in some sports, but not all.
Evan Almighty (Indy)
Bob what do you think if the TC would be 32 players in match play? That would be five rounds the two finalists would have to play.
Bob Harig (3:36 PM)
Not a fan of match play in this format.If I had my way, the'd do one of two things. Cut it down to three playoff events and have 60 advance to Tour Championship.Or split the bonus money, award half to the points leader after BMW (Rory) and then the other half to the winner of Tour Championship, which on points reset, just straight 72-hole stroke play golf.
Dave (Carmel, IN)
It is not Northern Ireland or British...it is Ireland or Great Britain. Northern Ireland is United Kingdom, Ireland is not. Rory is UK
Bob Harig (3:38 PM)
He said "I feel more British than Irish."His point being that as a resident of the U.K.. . And yet, in sports, he competed for all of Ireland as an amateur, as there was not a distinction made.
Saw the Arnie / Jack / Gary / Lee special last night on TGC and enjoyed. Could you see a Phil / Tiger / VJ / Ernie special in 15 years? I just don't think the guys have the camaraderie and welcome your thoughts.
Bob Harig (3:39 PM)
You never know what time will do. They might find it fun years from now.
Tiger versus Sergio rematch at Medinah? 99 all over again! Is the tree on 16 still there?
Bob Harig (3:39 PM)
I don't think the tree is there anymore.
Over the course of 4 rounds have many strokes does lift, clean and place save a player? My guess would be 1 - 3 shots a day. Propping the ball on a great lie makes a huge difference when you're hitting a wood into a par 5.
Bob Harig (3:40 PM)
That's probably about right. It can make a big difference.
I'm confused. Can any of the 30 TC qualifiers win the FedEx Cup? If Rory comes in 3rd and say the 28th ranked player wins, who is the champion?
Bob Harig (3:44 PM)
Yes, any of the 30 can win, but for No. 28 to do it, he'd need Rory to finish at the bottom. Rory begins TC with 2,500 points. The winner of the TC gets 2,500 points.No. 28 Ryan Moore starts with 230 points. If he wins, he'd have 2,730 points.If Rory finishes 24th, he gets 235 points and would edge Moore by 5. . And then Moore has to worry about the guys who are second, third, fourth, etc. . .
Ed (Long Island)
Why doesn't Northern Ireland just put it's own golf team in the Olympics? Bahamas has their own Olympians and they are under Bristish rule, Puerto Rico has Olympians, possession of US.
Bob Harig (3:46 PM)
I don't know the answer, but in the Olympics, the U.K. competes as one nation, so anyone from Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England competes under the U.K. flag. . It's different in other sports, such as World Cup soccer. England has its own team, so does Scotland. .. In World Cup golf, Northern Ireland and Ireland compete as one nation..
Patrick's question is the very reason the playoffs are a joke. You can't have announcers with calculators on Sunday at the Tour Championship. Well, Carl has a two-shot lead and will win as long as Rory finished no better than T-13, as long as Dustin isn't worse than a three-way tie for fourth. Nobody understands the points to begin with, so why make it even worse at the conclusion?
Bob Harig (3:46 PM)
I agree. That is why there needs to be a system where the winner of the event wins the FedEx.
Follow-up to Bernie's question. With a new year-round schedule, wouldn't it make sense to make the playoff and Tour Championship a summer event ahead of football? Some events now held earlier in the year could move to September.
Bob Harig (3:47 PM)
The problem is the major championships. When would you fit it in? Certainly those need to be part of the regular season? You can't fit in 4 playoff events after the PGA and get done prior to football season.
My heart is still aching for Paula Creamer. Three-putt on the 72nd hole, then eight playoff holes on Sunday before losing on the ninth hole Monday. I don't have any fingernails left. At least she's in good form headed to the British Open.
Bob Harig (3:48 PM)
That was a tough way to lose especially since she has not won for so long.
Evan Almighty (Indy)
Bob, do players/media enjoy shootouts like we've had at Boston and Crooked Stick? The crowds were so energized last week because they had something to cheer for with all the birdies. Just maybe not every week. I thought Bethpage was kind of dull with the rock hard greens.
Bob Harig (3:49 PM)
There needs to be a mixture. I thought the last two tournaments were great, people want to see birdies. But then again, a guy shoots 70 and gets lapped. As I said earlier, I think you can't set these courses up like majors.
Colsearts vs Bubba, Tiger vs Rory? could this ryder cup be truly a great one?
Bob Harig (3:50 PM)
It has tons of potential. No player ranked lower than 35th in the world.
I know it helps to play meaningful golf heading into the RC, but is there some worry that Europe will come in (slightly) fresher, since only half their team is playing in the TC? Tiger sounded pretty dead and hurting at the BMW
Bob Harig (3:52 PM)
It used to be that the U.S. team didn't play enough golf leading up to the Ryder Cup. Now you worry if it's too much. Only 5 European players in the Ryder Cup compared to all 12 Americans.. I think this off week is key. There's no pro am next week at East Lake, the days are not long because there are only 30 players. And then the Ryder Cup doesn't begin until the following Friday. I think being competitive means more than being fresh because I don't think they'll be burned out.
Ed (Long Island)
Maybe the Tour should just rip up the schedule and start new since it is basically a year round tour now. End Labor Day weekend with the TC, start 2 weeks later with the Hawaii Tournament of Champions and schedule out best how the majors could fit in - maybe have the PGA or US Open in the fall, keep Masters in April, etc...
Bob Harig (3:52 PM)
The tour does not have a say when the majors are played. Those dates are pretty much set by the Masters, USGA, R&A and PGA of America. All have their reasons for wanting to have them when they have them. Tour has to work with them.
Ed (Long Island)
If for some reason an alternate is needed for the US Ryder Cup team, has Mahan played/commented his way out of consideration for that?
Bob Harig (3:54 PM)
Good point. He probably has. If there is an injury or illness, a player can be replaced up until the opening ceremony.
How likely is it that TW passes Rory for #1 in the OWGR next year?
Bob Harig (3:55 PM)
It's certainly possible, but it's all about winning. If Tiger wins enough, he could do it.
doug g (san antonio)
I love how so many people were making comments about Phil being "done"-He won early in the year, lost in a playoff the following week, one bad swing may have cost him a masters win, and he has just played great in the last two fed/ex cup events. Done? I think not.
Bob Harig (3:56 PM)
It does sort of point out how you need to step back sometimes and view the bigger picture.
steven in orlando [via mobile]
Bob, are you a fan of the current playoff schedule...3 weeks in a row and then off until next weekend? it seems like the tour would have been boosted by having the Tour Championship this weekend...lots of momentum and huge storylines.
Bob Harig (3:57 PM)
I've said it before, but I'd prefer three playoff events and keep going. Let the momentum ride and have a big payoff for the winner of the last tournament. It hurts to take a break this week, but it's a lot to ask these guys to go 4 straight just two weeks after they've been asked to play British, WGC and PGA in a four-week span.
What was the reason for the LPGA to replay the 18th hole 8 times Sunday then suddently change and go to the 6th hole Monday to conclude the playoff?
Bob Harig (3:57 PM)
Apparently on Sunday they had announced it would only be the 18th. That's where all the fans were located.
If Tiger ends up with 85 wins and 16 majors, is there a plausible argument that he is better than Jack? Or is the only way to be recognized as better than Jack to get to 19?
Bob Harig (3:58 PM)
I really think thats up to whoever is arguing. You'll get plenty of debate either way.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
When will be the Final PGA Tournament of the 2012 Season?
Bob Harig (3:59 PM)
This season's final event is Disney on Nov. 11. Next year Disney will be part of the 2013-014 season. It will be at the beginning rather than the end.
In terms of passing Rory Tiger will have two things going for him - he'll be dropping 2010 results, and he might get back to 40 events. Working against him Rory has earned more pts this year & will be dropping events. So basically Tiger will have to outplay Rory next year to get back to #1
Bob Harig (3:59 PM)
There you have it!!
The winning score at East Lake is usually 8 or 9 under. What the heck happened the year Tiger got it to -23? On a par 70?
Bob Harig (4:00 PM)
You're thinking of 2007. That year, they had a horrible drought in Atlanta and lost the greens. The course was hard and fast with grens that were not hard and fast. It was a fluke.
April: MastersMay: US OpenJune: Open ChampionshipJuly: PGA ChampionshipAugust: Playoffs
Bob Harig (4:01 PM)
The PGA Championship ended on Aug. 12 this year. The playoffs can't get done by the end of the month unless you only have two events.
Bob Harig (4:03 PM)
I'm out of time and lots of quesitons didn't get answered. My apologies. They were coming in fast and furious. I'll be doing this again next week from East Lake. Or you can ask me on twitter: @bobharig. I'll get to as many as I can there. Thanks again.