Chat with Bob Harig
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.
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Harig Archive: Columns
Bob Harig (12:00 PM)
Hello everyone. Well, we've got all four of the major championships behind us, but the FedEx Cup playoffs loom, as does the Ryder Cup. Any and all golf topics are open for discussion. So fire away with your questions and let's get started.
BJ (Des Moines, IA)
What is the perception of the PGA Championship among the players on tour?
Bob Harig (12:02 PM)
The perceptions vary. Most players probably think it is not as prestigious as either of the Opens or the Masters, and yet they all agree that a major is a major, it counts just the same as the others. Until last week's tournament, they also typically saw it as the most "friendly" of the majors in terms of course set up.
Hello from Spain! What do you know about a PGA Tour being held in Valderrama from 2010? In Spain it is said that there has been chats between Mr.Finchen and Mr.Ortiz Patino (Valderrama's owner)
Bob Harig (12:03 PM)
Not sure what discussions are going on between the tour and anyone in Spain. I do know that the World Match Play Championship -- not the PGA Tour event -- is being moved to Spain next year from Wentworth in England. And there have been rumblings about the tour trying to have some of its World Golf Championship events move outside of the U.S. But none of that could happen until after 2012, when the present contracts expire -- unless of course a contract is broken, which is certainly a possibility.
THey say my win at the PGA was Tiger-like. It wasn't. Tiger doesn't win majors coming from behind. I do
Bob Harig (12:03 PM)
Somehow I doubt Mr. Harrington has the time to join our chat, but the point is well taken. Harrington trailed going into the final round of each of the three majors he has won, including by six shots at Carnoustie last year. In all 14 of Tiger's major championship victories, he either led or shared the lead heading into the final round.
Chris, Nova Scotia
Bob, Question about Olympic golf. It's probably going to be in there within the next 2-4 Olympics so how would they do it? Regular stroke play would have too many ties for a gold-silver-bronze right? Matchplay or something more inventive perhaps?
Bob Harig (12:05 PM)
Good question about the format. If golf does go into the Olympics, it would be good to see them do something other than stroke play. And is it an individual competition or a team competition? You could, perhaps, have stroke play qualifying and then a match play competition. But it will be interesting to see how they approach it and if they get creative. It would be difficult to get fired up about another 72-hole tournament.
I'm in a 1 club tourney next week...what's the best club to use? I'm thinking 5 or 7 iron
Bob Harig (12:06 PM)
Chris, more power to you. What do you do out of the bunkers? Or on the greens? I would probably opt for the 5-iron to try to get as much distance as possible, then also use it as a putter and hope I stay out of the sand.
Mike from Highland, Michigan
Who is the player of the year? Tiger or Paddy?
Bob Harig (12:08 PM)
I am going with Harrington at the moment, but you could argue this either way. Tiger won a major and three tournaments in only six starts, and his worst finish was fifth. Of course the way he won the U.S. Open will not be forgotten. But Harrington has two majors and there is precedent for two majors trumping all else. Also, shouldn't a player have to play more than six events? There are no minimum requirements, but it is a consideration.
So I guess Bubba has no shot at being a captains choice. I was hoping I would get to root for another lefty who is long off the tee.
Bob Harig (12:13 PM)
I wouldn't count Bubba Watson out just yet. The reason is none of the players who did not make the team on points makes an absoultely compelling case for being picked. Nobody is particularly hot at the moment, all have negatives, as does Watson. But his length is intriguing. Hitting the ball as far as he does can be a big advantage in alternate shot and in best ball. He probably needs to show something in the next few weeks, however.
Nick (Tampa , FL)
Is it possible thatt Chad Johnson is making the statements he does to make a statement about an important issue. The arrogance of his statments is what makes you talk about it which brings his issues to the foreground. His arrogance is merely a vehicle for his points of view.
Bob Harig (12:22 PM)
Oops. . I was trying to figure out if I have missed a golf named Chad Johnson. I know there is a Chad Campbell. And a Zach Johnson. But a Chad Johnson?? Hmmm. Must be a lost chatter wanting to talk football I suppose. Carry on with the golf!
Would people really take into account HOW Woods won his major? Does that really matter when thinking about player of the year? Paddy won two majors. I'd say that trumps anything else anyone else did, no?
Bob Harig (12:24 PM)
Very good point and I'm sure many share it. I'm just throwing out all possibilities. I would think some voters -- players, remember -- might take into a count that Tiger didn't play a tournament between the Masters and the U.S. Open and was bascially playing on a broken leg. But, as you say, two majors is two majors.
What do you think of how the us ryder's cup team is being put together?
Bob Harig (12:25 PM)
I like how it was put together -- more emphasis on this year, emphais on money earnings rather than top 10 finishes, four captain picks three weeks after the PGA. But if you are talking about the actual team, there are some concerns. Who is really playing that well aside from Ben Curtis, who got in at the end. Meanwhile, Europe's team looks much stronger. But we've said that before about the Americans.
Bob, are you a video gamer? Ever play the Woods video game? What do you think?
Bob Harig (12:26 PM)
Guess I'm showing my age and my ignorance. I have never played Tiger's video game, but have heard good things. The fact that it continues to be updated suggests it is popular, correct?
do you think if someone won two majors, but didn't win another tournament, and maybe not even in contention (but made the cuts) for those other tournaments, that would be enough for a player of the year? Not saying that's what Paddy's done, I'm just wondering how much weight 2 majors has.
Bob Harig (12:28 PM)
I guess I go back to Mark O'Meara in 1998. He won two majors, the Masters and British. He was on the fringe of contention for the PGA, but not really in the mix on the last day. He won the player of the year over David Duval, who won four times and the PGA Tour money title. Tom Lehman won a single major and the Tour Championshp and beat out Mickelson -- who won four times -- in 1996. Majors carrie a lot of weight. It is nice to have the arguement, isn't it?
Ken (Trenton, NJ)
I still say that the US team might fare better without Tiger. Sure he's the best in the world, but I think his own teammates get intimidated by him. That said, I don't know if the us players are playing all that well right now.
Bob Harig (12:30 PM)
Lots of theories on Tiger's absence. I go with Azinger, who says how can a team be better wihtout the best in the world? But there is something to the arguement that his own teammates have trouble playing with him. And as stated earlier, there is some concern about the form of the U.S. team at the moment.
Good question. If you could only use one club, which would it be? I wouldn't be setting any records, but I would use an 8, 9 or wedge. Seems like those are the only clubs that I hit great the highest percentage of the time.
Bob Harig (12:31 PM)
This probably depends a lot on the skill level of the player. You wouldn't make many pars hitting nothing but 8 irons but your chance of being in play and being able to get up and down from around greens would be enhanced. Would love to hear about the resutls of tht one-club tourney.
With the busy golf schedule and season, do you get any time to hit the links yourself? How often do you get to play? Or do you not want to play after spending so much of your work time around the sport?
Bob Harig (12:33 PM)
Gerald, if anything, being around it so much gives you the bug to play more. But my golf is limited. Haven't played since hauling my clubs across the pond to the British Open. I probably average about twice a month, which is far too little, to be honest.
random question: when a player turns 50, are they forced to play the older tour? for example, if tiger turns 50 and still can compete on the regular tour, would he be allowed to?
Bob Harig (12:34 PM)
No, you are not forced to play the Champions Tour. For example, Greg Norman, as a lifetime member for winning 20 times, could play the regular tour. As long as a player 50 and older is exempt -- such is the case with Fred Funk now -- he can play the regular tour.
With the olympics going on, it seems like golf as a sport is a hot topic. Do you think it should be in the olympics. It is a pretty international sport, however, like you said earlier, it would have to be something different. I doubt the best players would make the trip to the olympics if it were just another tournament.
Bob Harig (12:36 PM)
My stance is that a gold medal would not be cherished as much as winning a major championship, hence you might not get the participation of the top players. However, there are a lot of positives to golf in the Olympics, such as growing the game around the world. Countries would put resources into developing golfers who could compete in the Games.
Twice a month? Bob, you should get Sobel's cushy job. Seems like he's always talking about his latest golf outing! :)
Bob Harig (12:37 PM)
Might have to discuss that with the boss. Hmmmmm.
Other than the majors, what's your favorite tour stop?
Bob Harig (12:38 PM)
There are lots of them, but would probably go with the Players Championship. The TPC Sawgrass is a great place and the venue has really emerged over the years.
Dan (North Carolina)
Have you and Jason played together? Who wins?
Bob Harig (12:40 PM)
We have played together, never competed, but if the competition entails who has the most golf balls remaining at the end of the round, I win.
Stan (Oklahoma City)
How optimistic should we be about Tiger actually playing in the Masters?
Bob Harig (12:41 PM)
Total speculation here, so keep that in mind: but he said the other day he won't even begin to swing a club until January at the earliest. How long does it take after that to feel good about his game? If anybody can do it, Tiger can, but you really do have to wonder. Many unknowns at this point.
What does a golf writer do during the winter?
Bob Harig (12:41 PM)
Golf never stops! There is no winter for a golf writer.
Nick (New York)
Who do you think will win the FedEx Cup?
Bob Harig (12:43 PM)
At this moment, I would go with Harrington. He will be close enough to the top spot when the playoffs begin and the points are reset that it will not hardly matter. But it will be much more interesting this year with no Tiger in the mix.
Do you think Tiger could play lefty if had to?
Bob Harig (12:44 PM)
I think he could play left handed, but not at the level we're talking about. I'm sure he could beat me playing left-handed however. And I'm a lefty.
But if tiger starts swinging in January, that gives him 3+ months to get ready for the Masters. That should be enough, no? Seems like he's playing it smart and not trying to push it. We see what happened when he did that hte last time.
Bob Harig (12:45 PM)
It does give him more than three months, but will he be able to rip drivers right away? Or will it take some time? What about walking 18 holes? If he starts hitting balls in January and there are no setbacks, it is certainly possible, we just don't know.
What does a golfer do for relaxation when he reitres???
Bob Harig (12:46 PM)
The high-profile ones apparently design courses. And fish.
Brian (NY, NY)
do you think paddy can carry some of this momentum over to next season?
Bob Harig (12:47 PM)
It is possible. Harrington is not one to sit still for fear of being passed by. I would bet he will put a lot more emphasis on being prepared for the majors, especially the Masters.
zack (gainesville, Fl)
Even though tiger is the best gofler in the world, how long will it take him to get back to champion status after not swinging a club for 5 months?
Bob Harig (12:48 PM)
That is the great unknown. You know he will put maximum effort into his rehab. He'll have time to chip and putt and work on his short game before he can begin hitting full shots. But golf is always a work in progress, even for Tiger when he's healthy. That is why there is some doubt about how long it might take.
John ( Phx,AZ)
The FBR Open ( Phx Open ) should be your favorite. Too bad more golf tournements are not set up like that!!!
Bob Harig (12:49 PM)
Have never been, but from the looks of it, the FBR sure is fun. That is some atmosphere they produce at the tournament.
I've always wondered this. We keep hearing about how Tiger reinvented his swing a couple of times. Why would he? And what exactly is he doing to redo his swing? He was winning before he kept toying with it.
Bob Harig (12:52 PM)
The first time he changed his swing -- in the 1998 timeframe -- he did so to get more control. Tiger was very long, but had poor distance control with his irons. . The second time, in the 2003-2004 timeframe, he was, among other things, trying to gain more consistency, trying to take ownership of his swing, and also working to protect his knee. That remains a work in progress. It does seem odd that Tiger would fix something that was seemingly not broke, but in his mind, there was room for improvement. And it's hard to argue with the results.
What do you think is the biggest mess up or mistake that hackers like me make in our golf game?
Bob Harig (12:53 PM)
From what the pros typically say about us hackers, there are many things. We don't practice our short game enough; we swing too hard; and we don't take enough club. Those are just three of many.
What does he do when he tries to change his swing? Is it arm positioning or something?
Bob Harig (12:55 PM)
It is probably too technical or too complicated to discuss in this medium, but Tiger's biggest flaw is something that most of us could never dream of: moving our hips too fast. Typically we don't do it quickly enough. For us, it would be a good problem to have, but for him, it has caused him to get "caught" on the downswing, which either results in him losing his shots to the right or overcompensating and hoooking them.
For us hackers, the biggest mistake was picking up a club in the first place, and falling in love with one of the most frustrating sports ever invented.
Bob Harig (12:57 PM)
Gus - NY
Hi Bob, Do you think we as US fans care more about the Ryder Cup than the players do? Thanks
Bob Harig (1:00 PM)
It is possible. The U.S. players have been accused of not caring as much as their European counterparts, but that is likely the fallout from losing. It is a pretty fair bet that when they get inside the ropes, none of the U.S. players wants to lose. They are competitors, pros. Nobody likes to get beat. But when they lose, excuses are made, or reasons sought. It call comes down to playing better.
Bob Harig (1:01 PM)
Okay folks, I'm out of time. Thanks for all the questions. Check back again next week. Enjoy the golf this weekend.