Chat with Jason Sobel
Send your questions now and join Jason right here on Monday at 4 p.m. ET for all the answers.
Jason Sobel (4:01 PM)
What's going on, golf fans? Are you excited for the FedEx Cup? What's that? I can't hear you! I said ... are you excited for the FedEx Cup?!?! OK, that's better -- thought so. OK, so there may not be much buzz going on with the upcoming playoffs, but still plenty to discuss, so let's get going. I'll be here all hour (or until you stop asking questions)...
Hans (St Louis, MO)
Who are your favorites to win at the Barclays this week? Can we also get a couple of your sleepers to do well?
Jason Sobel (4:06 PM)
Tough one. Tougher than most weeks, because -- for the second straight tourney -- they'll be playing at a "new" (read: old) course. Ridgewood will play to 7,304 yards, but its three par-5s will be near or over 600 yards, which should make them three-shot holes for all but the longest hitters. Essentially, this should turn the event into the 2006 Masters, as the best wedge players may be the ones who most capitalize on such holes. I'm picking Stuart Appleby to win, but honestly it's based on nothing other than the fact that he's about due and his caddie is from New Jersey -- which means even less than nothing. As for sleepers, well, let's not forget the defending champ, Steve Stricker, who could thrive on this kind of course, and Rich Beem has been playing well lately, too.
How do you think the playoffs will do without Tiger?
Jason Sobel (4:08 PM)
I think they'll do very much like the last two majors. Tiger's absence will be a major headline going in ... and a brief footnote coming out. Unless we have some excruciatingly boring events, with random dudes winning by 5, I think there will be excitement and drama throughout. Will the ratings be as big as when Tiger is playing? No, but that's just a fact of life; there's nothing the tour can do to overcome that.
Cosmo (Anytwon, USA)
I know that Tiger said that he is not going to swing a club until next year. From what you know of him, do you think that that is possible? Someone like Tiger has to be already itching to get a club in his hands, right? Do you think he just sits around or tries to get himself into even better shape (aside from his knee)?
Jason Sobel (4:10 PM)
Look, most of the people sitting here reading this chat (myself included) would have a hard time not picking up a golf club for six full months, especially when living in a climate like Orlando -- and we're not even pros! So yeah, I think it has to be eating at Woods that he can't play, but he also knows that one wrong move before he's ready and he could suffer a major setback. Next year's Masters is his ultimate goal -- he wants to be healthy for the first major of '09. If his best way to be healthy for that event is to not be swinging a club right now, then that's what he has to do, like it or not.
James (Montgomery, AL)
If Kenny Perry wins a playoff event or two and ultimately wins the FedEx Cup, shouldn't he be included in POY discussions with Tiger and Paddy?
Jason Sobel (4:13 PM)
Nope. I think if the four majors were won by Trevor Immelman types -- guys who had one really good week, but didn't do much for the remainder of the season -- then we could open it up to other players, but there's no way Perry can do anything in the next month that will usurp the accomplishments of Woods and Harrington. Then again, it's a player vote. If a guy wants to vote for Kenny Perry, that's his right. But don't expect a guy who skipped the British Open to get much support in the locker room for POY.
Jim from Isleworth, Florida
Jason for what it's worth i saw Tiger putting at Isleworth for an hour last week.
Jason Sobel (4:15 PM)
I'll file that one under, "Maybe I believe you, maybe I don't." Sorry, too easy to be skeptical of those on here who aren't genuine. That said, it wouldn't surprise me, either. Just days after Woods said he could putt, "but won't," he was seen putting. That's sort of typical Tiger. He's always trying to throw everybody off the scent, while he does the opposite of what he says.
Mike (New York)
Hi Jason. I like Villegas chances this year to win it all. Your thoughts on him
Jason Sobel (4:16 PM)
Good player, bordering on great if he can ever eliminate the big numbers. As we saw at both the British and PGA, he can go really low on any day, but it hasn't equated to any wins yet. A FedEx Cup victory would be a huge breakthrough; it would definitely mean more to a player like Villegas than, say, Mickelson or Harrington.
Jason, I'm not a golf fan by any means. Couldn't really care less. However, my company has a suite for the Ryder Cup at Valhalla. Give me a reason for going, aside from the free beer. Thanks!
Jason Sobel (4:19 PM)
It's the most intense golf competition there is. Twenty-four of the world's best players competing for no money at all, just bragging rights for the next two years -- and they get so nervous about it that some have trouble just pulling the trigger. Meanwhile, thousands of fans will be watching matches at no more than four holes at a time during the first two days, leading to a football stadium-like atmosphere. Believe me, even if you don't like golf, this is the one event you'll appreciate. If you have a chance to attend, don't let it go by.
Christian (High Point, NC)
Any thoughts on the Wyndham Championship?
Jason Sobel (4:21 PM)
Good tournament, good course, good champion ... but I'm not gonna lie -- that was as close to a snoozefest as I've seen all year. Nothing against Pettersson, who played well all week and is a deserving champion, or McCarron, who looked like Vijay Garcia (Sergio Singh?) on a few of those final-round putts, but it had all the excitement of Royals/Blue Jays on September 28.
Alan (Memphis, TN)
Can Michelle Wie hack it (no pun intended) at LPGA Q-school?
Jason Sobel (4:24 PM)
Remains to be seen. One reason most players hate Q-school -- among many -- is that it doesn't necessarily recognize the best players, only the best that week. As far as talent level, I'd have to believe she'll be at the top of the list, but that alone won't mean an LPGA card for '09.
Ryder Cup or The Players Championship. What would be your pick to attend if you can only go to 1,
Jason Sobel (4:26 PM)
Not even sure the Players would be top-five. Just from a fan standpoint, I'd go Ryder Cup, Masters, British Open, Mercedes and -- just for the hell of it -- FBR Open.
James (Montgomery, AL)
Speaking of the Ryder Cup, who do you think is the best bet to go 5-0 for the Americans?
Jason Sobel (4:27 PM)
5-0?? Wow, I think Azinger would be pretty happy with 2-2-1 based on recent performances. A perfect record would have to come from a player that can get awfully hot in a hurry and that player just may be Anthony Kim. Not saying he'll do that well -- I could see him going 1-4 as well -- but if he's on top of his game, he could be close to unbeatable.
Matt (San Diego)
Hi Jason, Last week I got into a big debate with a co-worker. he claimed that Phil Mickelson was a "choker, and underachiever, and complacent." I said I'm not sure you can be the 2nd or 3rd best player on the planet, win 3 majors, be 13th in PGA victories, and likely end you career in the top 15 of players ever to play the game by being any of those. Which way would you lean?
Jason Sobel (4:31 PM)
I'm with you. It still astounds me that I receive emails from people who are living in 2003, calling Mickelson a "choker," among other things. If you can win 34 times and still be labeled a choker, then doesn't everyone else who has won even fewer titles have to take on a similarly horrible label, too? I know Mickelson has found himself in many situations in which he was contending in the final round, only to lose on the last few holes (Bridgestone is a good recent example), but you don't win that much if you're a choker. As for the claim of complacency, if anything, he cares too much. This is a guy who visits all major championship sites a few weeks ahead of time to plot and strategize his way around the course. Then he gets there and practices his butt off. Not sure where complacency would come into play there.
Bryan Santa Barbara
A little fantasy question for you. I got Estes as a carryover player but when I scanned the field for the Barclays, he was not in it. Did he just decide not to play? He is 124th in FedEx points so it looks like he does qualify.
Jason Sobel (4:33 PM)
I believe he's injured, though I'm not positive what the injury is. On the official entry list that I just received, he is listed under "qualified players who are not competing in The Barclays due to injury or other issues."
steve in orlando
Do you have a man crush on Roland Thatcher?
Jason Sobel (4:35 PM)
More like the other way around! No, seriously, I had never met Roland before caddying for him last year. We got to be friends and since he's injured, he did a little work for us during the PGA. Great guy, but I try not to write any more about Roland than I do about anyone else on tour.
Sawl T (San Fran)
Two questions...First - seems to me that Beemer has some stones (See Rope-a-Dope PGA Championship Win) and now, when the chips were down again, he played awesome to get into the Fed Ex chase)...It would be nice to see him play better more often. Any chance he makes the Ryder Cup? Prolly needs a win I'd guess. And second, how much Shampoo do you think C Hoff uses in a month? Lots? or None?
Jason Sobel (4:38 PM)
Beem is never going to be a week-in, week-out consistency guy, but he can get it done when he needs to. The beauty of Azinger's plan for captain's picks -- well, the beauty for those who are eligible, at least -- is the fact that anyone can win in the next few weeks and instantly vault himself onto the roster. Beem goes Win-5-10 the next three weeks and he's on the team, I would think. Same goes for every other U.S. player, too. As for Hoffman, well, it all depends on the sea salt and the wind. I'm guessing he needed a full bottle to help get the knots out after winning the Hope last year.
Given that Petterrson won and Dougherty finished second in Europe last week, who would be your 2 wild card picks if you were Faldo and had to pick now? I'm sure Azinger wishes he had Faldo's problem.
Jason Sobel (4:41 PM)
Seriously, you've gotta think Azinger is ticked off at the fact that Pettersson didn't become a U.S. citizen when he first moved here at age 15. If I were Faldo, right now I'd take Ian Poulter and ... wait for it ... Colin Montgomerie. I know Monty isn't playing his best golf right now, but he only needs to play well for three days. He's shown he can do that. Put him on the team and I guarantee he'll go at least 3-2, if not better.
Can you tell us how is not playing in NY this week besides Tiger?
Jason Sobel (4:42 PM)
Straight from the press release: Tiger Woods (USA), Luke Donald (England), Justin Rose (England), Lee Westwood (England), Alex Cejka (Germany), Jason Bohn (USA), Bob Estes (USA), and Roland Thatcher (USA).
What's happened to Lorena Ochoa lately?
Jason Sobel (4:43 PM)
Great question. Wish I knew. At one point this year, she took over the role of World's Most Dominant Golfer from Tiger Woods, but ever since he shut it down for the year, they've won the same number of events. Not sure what Ochoa's deal is, but she was in contention again going into yesterday's final round and didn't score very well.
Chris (Phila., PA)
Golf in the Olympics?
Jason Sobel (4:46 PM)
I'm all for it, but the newly-minted IGF seems like it's going to go about it all wrong, making the sport a 72-hole stroke-play event for the Olympics. Zzzzzzz. Give me something fun. Have 'em play a scramble. Have the men and women compete together. Whatever. Do something different to make people take notice. That's the one thing that golf has over sports like tennis and soccer. Those games can't really be changed to make them any more fun to watch. Golf can, it's just a matter of the powers-that-be doing so for the Olympics.
Charles (Jacksonville, Fl)
Is Villegas the best player in the world without a PGA Tour or European Tour victory?
Jason Sobel (4:48 PM)
Tough to say off the top of my head. I can tell you that most of the players at the top of the "Best player to have never won a PGA Tour event" list, like Justin Rose and Tim Clark, have already won on the Euro Tour, so that's an interesting caveat, when you throw that in there. Without doing the research, I'd say he has to be top-five, at the very least.
I am planning to go to Doral next year. Do you think Tiger will be on the field?
Jason Sobel (4:50 PM)
If I was a betting man, I'd have to believe that Tiger would come back for either Doral and/or Bay Hill before playing the Masters. I don't think Woods himself knows the answer to that one yet, but if he's healthy enough, I've got to imagine he would want to get one of those events under his belt rather than playing the year's first major as his initial event.
Tyson (Hermosa Beach, CA)
Do you think the Fed Ex Cup is adding excitement to the game like the "Race For The Chase" in NASCAR ?
Jason Sobel (4:53 PM)
Can't even pretend to know anything about NASCAR's format, but I can tell you that the PGA Tour's FedEx playoffs are miles ahead of the previous alternative, which was a bunch of late-season events that may or may not have had some good players involved and never really moved the needle on the radar screen. You may not be very excited about the upcoming events -- but I can guarantee you're more excited about them than you were about the 2006 Southern Farm Bureau Classic and other events that used to exemplify how the schedule sort of faded into oblivion in the autumn months.
Which golfer is the best non-golf athlete?
Jason Sobel (4:54 PM)
Good question. One that I'm (sort of) working on right now, as I put together an all-PGA Tour football team, position by position, for a column that should coincide with the beginning of the NFL season. Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia and Camilo Villegas are among the obvious choices, but I've been told that Tim Wlkinson is a workout fiend, too.
Christian (High Point, NC)
So Vijay wins the WGC-Bridgestone ... and then misses two straight cuts. Should we be keeping expectations low for him during the playoffs, or are Donald Ross courses kryptonite for him and he'll be ok once away from them?
Jason Sobel (4:57 PM)
Until Vijay figures out his putter, I wouldn't expect him to contend much more. Then again, if anyone can turn it around in a hurry, it's him. Will be interested to see if he switches putters in coming weeks.
Sports Fans Everywhere (Anytown, USA)
Wake me up when Tiger's back...We're tired of the choke-a-thon that is the PGA Tour without him...
Jason Sobel (5:00 PM)
Funny. That's what I kept hearing after Tiger announced he was done for the year. And then a handful of top players won some events, and we had a fun, dramatic competitive final two majors ... and now you're back? Really? The notion that "everyone not named Tiger chokes all the time and can't win" might be the dumbest one I've ever heard. Yes, he's good. Yes, he's better than everyone else. But that doesn't mean that every other player is terrible. And as far as choking, honestly, we really haven't seen much of that, either. Pettersson was the 36- and 54-hole leader at Greensboro and he won. Where's the choke-a-thon there?
Mary Lou (NC)
FYI, Carl Pettersson lives in Raleigh, not Greensboro - he lived there in high school. How do people get picked to be Ryder Cup captains?
Jason Sobel (5:02 PM)
That is true; stayed there after going to N.C. State, I believe. Basically, either Paul Azinger or Nick Faldo will call a player not already qualified and appoint him to a spot on the roster. Easy as that.
Jason Sobel (5:03 PM)
That's it for me. Thanks for the questions and be sure to check out the semi-Live Blog from The Barclays later this week. Until then, hit 'em straight...