Chat with Bob Harig
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, 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 Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET!
Bob Harig (3:00 PM)
Hey, time to get started. Thanks for checking in, all golf questions welcome, will try to get to as many as possible. Please fire away.
Nelson [via mobile]
Do you know when was the last time a score as high as yesterday (284) won either a Tour Event or major? Did the Blue Monster play too tough in your opinion?
Bob Harig (3:02 PM)
The winning score at Doral is extremely rare. Last year only two tournaments had a higher winning score, the U.S. Open at 1 over and the Open Championship at 3 under...The Blue Monster had numerous changes made that need to mature and then you have the brutal weather and wind conditions from last Friday. Too tough? Maybe, but it sure made for an interesting tournament.
Do you have a sense of exactly how long Tiger's back has been bothering him and also, what type of treatment has he received for it?
Bob Harig (3:05 PM)
Wish I knew the real answer to those questions. Tiger has always been and remains very private about his personal stuff include injuries. Perhaps he doesn't want to make excuses. My guess is his injuries are worse or have been worse than he's let on. When did the back issues begin? Well he clearly had them at the Barclays last August and even prior to that at the PGA Championship. And it lingered for several tournaments. This year there appeared to be no issues until Honda. As for treatment, again no specifics.
Tiger is playing everybody for a fool. These "back issues" are nothing but a setup for why he failed at Augusta. He can say after the Masters he just couldn't prepare properly because of his back. He's setting up his excuse. By the way, it will be a decade since he won there, so people need to wake up.
Bob Harig (3:08 PM)
You are not alone in your feelings. There is a healthy segment of people who think this way. From my view, and I've seen him at a lot of tournaments, he's not faking this. Why would he? Deliberately pull out of a tournament? All of a sudden come up hurt during a tournament he has a chance to win? I'll stand by what I've said: if he could win 5 tournaments last year (more than anyone) along with 2 WGCs and the Players -- better fields than at least 2 of the majors -- then he's certainly got plenty of game to win a major.And to set the record straight, a non-victory at Augusta this year would mean 9 years without one there.
Some of you may still be falling for the act, but Tiger is the boy who cried wolf. The back only hurts when the Sunday fade is in full swing. The apologists say the fade is in swing because the back hurts, but it's pretty clear it's the other way around. He starts off bogey, double or something of the sort, then the wincing starts. If he started birdie-birdie, the back would not be an issue.
Bob Harig (3:10 PM)
Maybe the birdie-birdie start would be due to the back not being an issue... and perhaps the bogey start is a result of the back already hurting.... To me, it's always dangerous territory to question someone's honesty about what hurts, and when. How do you know?
Just to clarify, Tiger hasn't come up hurt in tournaments he has a chance to win. He comes up hurt after poor Sunday starts in which he has played himself out of tournaments. The "back pain" this week was no No. 6 when he had fallen nine shots behind.
Bob Harig (3:12 PM)
Actually, he was 7 shots behind ,but why let facts get in the way?At the time of the injury, he was 1 over for the tournament. The winning score was 4 under. Could he have played the last 13 holes in 5 under? Maybe not.. Bottom line, he needed to shoot 69 to tie. That's not out of the question.If you really watched him, you'd be hard-pressed to say he wasn't hurting. And no way he wants to shoot 78 wihtout a birdie.
How does that work at tournaments when there is a storm like this past weekend at Doral. I know they blow the horn but do they ever catch players in the middle of their backswing or at the moment of putting?
Bob Harig (3:13 PM)
Typically players have an idea that the horn might be coming, but it's inevitable that some are caught in their backswing.
Is it common for rich people to spend 10's of thousands of dollars to play golf with PGA tour pros? Do most of the big name players do it? Had never heard of this until Dufner mentioned doing it in an interview.
Bob Harig (3:13 PM)
Not sure what Dufner said, but each week on the PGA Tour the Wednesday pro-am prices range from $5,000 to $12,000.
Regarding the Sunday WD, wouldn't a lot of players fight though it because of the money at stake. $25k just for finishing 5 holes means more to some guys than Tiger.
Bob Harig (3:14 PM)
Sure, many players deal with injuries each week. Some have been known to bunt it around. Tiger seemed to be okay hitting a driver but struggled with the other shots at Doral.
What do you make of Hank Haney's comments that Tiger's intimidation factor was "overblown"? I tend to agree, in the sense that perhaps his consistent winning and domination was intimidating, but he wasn't winning and dominating because he was intimidating. Thoughts?
Bob Harig (3:17 PM)
I am not sure what Haney said exactly, but I think where intimidation comes from is people knew that Tiger was unlikely to make mistakes. He got up on the leaderboard and had a way of making a clutch shot or putt and didn't fall back. That meant many times a player in contention tried to do things he shouldn't have done, thinking, "I need to play better than him." That leads to taking chances, going for pins, hitting driver where an iron might be better, all kinds of things that have to do with course management. That in essence is where the "intimidation" came from. It made players do things out of the norm, which in turn helped Tiger.
Scott (San Diego)
What have you heard on the match-play for next season since it is apparently out of Marana? La Costa, Overseas? Some other random spot? Move on the schedule?
Bob Harig (3:18 PM)
Seems to be wide open. Commissioner Tim Finchem said at the Match Play that they'v enot ruled out anything, although the date appears to be fixed and they won't likely go to a market that already has a tour event. There is a possibility they return to Tucson, maybe not Dove Martin.
If I'm reading things correctly, and I may not be, but Spieth had a better rookie year than Woods did, so why isn't he being hyped as the next greatest golfer of all time?
Bob Harig (3:19 PM)
Not sure Spieth had a better rookie year. Tiger won 2 of his first 6 tournaments as a pro in 96. The following year he won the Masters and 4 tournaments total. That said, Spieth is getting plenty of hype and well-deserved.
Hey Bob, what do you consider the most impressive thing about Tiger's career to this point? I believe the % of cuts made is something that is unbelievable.
Bob Harig (3:21 PM)
That is an often overlooked aspect. Doesn't get the attention because making a cut means being just above average. But when you look at the numbers of the other players, it is really impressive. Tiger has missed 9 cuts in his PGA Tour career over 18 years. Rory has missed 10 to this point. Phil missed 77. It happens, but not often to Tiger. It says a bunch about his high level of play..Clearly tho to me the number of victories stands out.
What would be Tiger's motivation for faking an injury? I doubt he could care less what people think about him. If he cared what people think of him, then he would do better interviews and he would sign more autographs. There is nothing to gain by faking an injury. You don't go from being player of the year to all of a sudden looking lost on the course.
Bob Harig (3:24 PM)
You're right, I think he gains nothing. If anything, he prefers to keep injuries to himself. Rarely talks about them. Remember the elbow injury at the U.S. Open. Said it first happened at the Players. Never said what hole, what day. Trying to protect a score? Doubt he cares.
Were you at Doral? What was your own personal impression of the place? Would you drop $450 to play?
Bob Harig (3:25 PM)
I was at Doral and the changes are overall good for the pro game. Not sure about amateurs. Big greens generally are good for amateurs because it's a bigger target. But you're likely to 3 putt a bunch of them. I'd love to play (played the old Doral) but I'd be hard-pressed to spend $450 on any round of golf unless we're talking Scotland. And it's not that expensive there
What's the story with Jason Day's thumb? How serious? Thumb injuries are pretty bad, because they are so easy to re-injure. Is the Masters in doubt?
Bob Harig (3:27 PM)
I don't think it's serious, skipping was to make sure there were no issues for the Masters
Digging into the Tiger stats, the most impressive to me is his conversion of 54 hole leads / co-leads into victories. It's over 90% and sole leader after 54 is mid 90%. I don't have exact #'s but I believe tour average is around 35%. Winning 90% shouldn't be humanly possible.
Bob Harig (3:28 PM)
And it's 14 of 15 in majors.
There was plenty of talk early this year about how short tigers backswing looks compared to last year. I guess its safe to say he was protecting against his back flaring up again.
Bob Harig (3:28 PM)
It could be. He certainly seemed to be saying that he wanted to protect himself for the long season by not doing as much in the offseason.
Gus (New City, NY)
Bob, What has happened to Sean O'Hair? He was so promising. Now every once in a while you'll see his name on the 2nd or 3rd page of a tourney, then nothing. Thanks
Bob Harig (3:29 PM)
Good question. I think it's a bit of a mystery to all of us.
Big Hitter (Bushwood CC)
Donaldson and Dubuisson just joined the PGA Tour. Is there anybody left in Europe? Is the European Tour just another feeder tour?
Bob Harig (3:29 PM)
The money on the PGA Tour is too big to pass up I suppose
The best thing about Patrick Reed and Jimmy Walker winning so often? This will finally be the year the Ryder Cup team gets purged of dead wood like the Furyks and Strickers who have been there, done that and have no fire. Give me Reed and Walker and DJ and Spieth and Hunter, and move the old gang into the future captains line.
Bob Harig (3:30 PM)
Quite possible you are going to get your wish
Jeremy (Marlboro, NJ)
Hi Bob, any word from those that have been to Augusta so far about any changes to the course?
Bob Harig (3:31 PM)
Not much. Only thing discussed so far is the missing Ike Tree.
I was wondering there were no stories about McIlroy and his struggles after the final round. Did he turn down talking to the media after his round?
Bob Harig (3:32 PM)
He did speak, and was quite candid. Disappointed. But you're right, not a big deal made of it. He was right there going into the round with a chance to win.
Jon (Land of Snow)
Bob, lets be honest. Tiger still hit a couple 300+ yard drives in the fairway after the "injury" again on Sunday. And he continued to hit poor iron shots and miss several putts (a few shorties). I'm sorry, but at some point we have to start talking about what I feel is a guy who has become too mechanical as he has gotten older. May just be me, but what happened to the days where he just pounded driver down the fairway and lasered a short iron without trying to make a perfect swing every time?
Bob Harig (3:33 PM)
You're right, he did hit several good drives (although not so good at the 18th, and his drives at the first couple of holes were poor.) I think it's due to the injury. He said afterward he didn't have as much trouble with the driver as he did with the stance on the putter.but the overall thought, Why not just pound a driver down there? Seems easy to you and me I suppose. But I've often wondered why he doesn't just go with whatever feels best to him.
Do you know if the Tiger/Foley relationship is still good? If he gets healthy and struggles later this year do you think he would make a change? I ask this knowing that Tiger has won more than anyone over the last couple years.
Bob Harig (3:34 PM)
From all I can tell the relationship is fine I just don't think they work together as much. That might be due to Tiger figuring he doesn't need as much help, that it's for him to deal with and have Foley offer suggestions. I think getting rid of him or switching at this point would lead to other woes.
Bob - Thanks for taking the time to chat. How do you feel about Snedeker this week? What's going on with his putting, his injury, or is something else bugging him?
Bob Harig (3:36 PM)
that injury toward the end of last year threw him off and he's had trouble getting back on track. He likes the course at Innisbrook, just yet to show any form this year.
Cody (Nebraska) [via mobile]
Hey Bob, I think Tiger new after nine holes on Sunday that his chances of winning were very slim. That being said, do you believe he was just trying to get a feel of what he could do with an injured back if he caught himself in the same situation on a Sunday at the Master's? Almost training himself to play with the injury, or what do you believe his reason for not backing out was?
Bob Harig (3:37 PM)
True, his chances by that point were all but gone. My guess is he simply tried to play through it, hoped it would get better. If he has those same issues at Augusta his ability to win will be very slim.
Hi Bob, Like to chat about Rickie Fowler, what do you think has been the biggest reason he hasn't kicked on after his first PGA Tour win?? Man has an abundance of talent, baffles me why he hasn't been more successful. Thanks
Bob Harig (3:38 PM)
He dealt with some injuries later that year in 2012 and wasn't the same. Last year he started working with Butch Harmon, which will take some time.
Patrick (Wheeling, WV)
Patrick (terrific name, by the way) Reed and Jimmy Walker seem to be locks for the Ryder Cup. Who is another younger or off-the-radar who may surprise us and earn a spot usual cast of characters (Tiger, Phil, Furyk, etc.)?
Bob Harig (3:40 PM)
Not sure there is anyone off the radar. clearly the team is going to have a new look. Jordan Spieth is another one who is a good bet to be there.
What's your take on Reed's post-round comments? I like when players show confidence & some personality, but I thought he went quite a bit overboard. Thoughts?
Bob Harig (3:41 PM)
He probably could have phrased it better, but it should was nice to not have canned comments. He's confident, was excited and spoke his mind. Could have been a bit more diplomatic I suppose.
I think Tiger is the poster child for what's ahead for all these young golfers. He's been abusing his body since the age of 5, and now he's dealing with issues usually found on the Champions Tour. These guys who do nothing but golf for hours a day since kindergarten will all start breaking down early. The ones who last are the ones who played other sports and haven't pounded ball after ball after ball.
Bob Harig (3:44 PM)
Tiger's been playing for a long time, no doubt. But so has Phil, and he's been relatively injury free. For Tiger, has to do with the force of his swing, the violence of it. Perhaps too much weight work played a role? Lots of theories. But in today's game, you can't get good not playing at a young age. Those who pick up the game late and don't compete are rare.
Are we in for a tricked out U.S. Open like last year?
Bob Harig (3:44 PM)
Very much doubt it...Pinehurst doesn't need to be tricked up.
It is pretty obvious there are two camps out there re: Tiger and his back. Those who believe he is hurt, and that is causing poor results, and those who believe he is having poor results and making up an excuse. Since you're in the first camp, explain that MDF at Torrey Pines where he's won a few thousand times and had no back issues. His game is off; he knows it, and everyone else is finding out.
Bob Harig (3:47 PM)
It was his first tournament of the year and he played poorly. And we later came to learn that he didn't really work on his game in the offseason, hence the poor start. He also played relatively poorly at Dubai and for the first two rounds at Honda before a good third round. All, no back issues, but yet to find his form. Nobody suggested the early struggles were due to the injuries, just his poor play the final day at Honda and the first and final rounds at Doral.
Wow are you an apologist. Tiger always starts his season at Torrey without any work, and he always wins. This year it's rust?
Bob Harig (3:52 PM)
Actually, he typically has put in a good bit of work in the offseason, starting Jan. 1. this year he didn't.. Or maybe he's just playing bad, which didn't seem to bother him given the long year.
So the back hurt the 1st day at Doral (Poor Score) no problems the 2nd day or 3rd (Good Score), and hurt again the final day? I"m not a Dr. but coming and going daily sounds fishy to me.
Bob Harig (3:52 PM)
Except that every day he said the back was bothering him, including the day he shot 66
Bob, I think the only real issue with Reed's comments was the fact that he LISTED his accomplishments. If he had simply said he thought he was one of the top guys now, it would have been fine. Listing them in that forum probably rubs people the wrong way.
Bob Harig (3:53 PM)
Yep, you can see how that would bother some folks.
Isn't it quite possible that the answer with Tiger/injuries/state of his game lies somewhere in between the 2 schools of thought? Isn't it possible that a deteriorating body, and declining skills each contribute to him being irrelevant in half the events he plays and maybe only contend in 1 Major per year instead of 3 or 4?
Bob Harig (3:54 PM)
Sure, it's a lot to expect anyone to contend in all the majors. Pretty rare really. Adam Scott had 3 good majors last year. Few are a factor in all of them. Tiger faces the same hurdle.
Bob, FYI John Cook mentioned a couple times on TV that Tiger didn't do anything over the off season. I think John knows him pretty well.
Bob Harig (3:56 PM)
Tiger has said as much. Probably didn't like admitting it, given that he typically shows up prepared. But he seemed intent on not doing too much in the offseason, looking toward the end of the year. And yet he's already having injury problems.
Some people might be bothered by what Patrick Reed said but what is the point of criticizing him? Why not take the "if you don't have anything nice to say then say nothing" approach?
Bob Harig (3:59 PM)
Lots of different theories on this one.. Gets us talking about a new impressive player.
Bob Harig (4:01 PM)
Okay, out of time. Thanks for all the questions. Hit me up on Twitter if you feel the urge @bobharig... Thanks and enjoy the golf.