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 (4:00 PM)
Hello everyone, thanks for joining this golf discussion. There sure is a lot to talk about. The volatile playoffs; Ryder Cup captains picks; LPGA's new English requirement. Or anything else you want to throw out there. Fire away.
Patrick Hanover PA
When did ADam Scott and Geoff Olgilvy get so bad?
Bob Harig (4:02 PM)
Well, I guess we're not going to waste any time! Scott has had a disappointing season, even though he won the Byron Nelson Championship. Since then, his only top-10 is a tie for eighth at the Wachovia. A broken bone in his hand did not help. Ogilvy has not been so bad. He's got six top-10s, including a win at Doral. He tied for ninth at the U.S. Open. Both players missed the cut at The Barclays and will have to scramble to make the Tour Championship.
Chuck (Long Beach, NY)
After Bethpage next year, there are no majors in the New York City area until 2016...what gives?
Bob Harig (4:05 PM)
You might get the argument that the New York area has had its share. Bethpage in 2002; Shinnecock in 2004; Baltusrol in 2005, Winged Foot in 2006 and Bethpage again next year. That's pretty good, despite the market's size and number of great golf courses. Winged Foot actually declined an opportunity to come back before 2016.
Chuck (Long Beach, NY)
Will Ridgewood Country Club get another tournament? It produced a really exciting tournament.
Bob Harig (4:06 PM)
Nothing has been announced, but the success of The Barclays begs for the tournament to return to Ridgewood. It is headed to Liberty National next year and is contractually obligated to also go to Westchester CC before 2012. You would think they would get Ridgewood back in the mix as soon as possible.
Chris (washington, dc)
Hi Bob, Any idea how the LPGA would handle a player who was physically unable to speak? I would imagine they would have a pretty weak case for suspending that person from the tour. And if that person would be allowed to play, how can they suspend people who cannot speak English?
Bob Harig (4:07 PM)
The LPGA's requirement that players be able to speak English -- which has not been officially spelled out -- does lead to all sorts of questions. What if someone has a learning disability, for example? There are all kinds of issues with this. My guess is that the LPGA will have exceptions and will do all it can to work through these issues.
Joe Zimmer, Minot, North Dakota
Do think a non English speaking LPGA professional can afford the time for a language coach when she is spending millions of hours on practicing golf?
Bob Harig (4:08 PM)
It could be argued that practicing English is as important as practicing putting. The problem is, for English-speaking players, they don't have to practice that. Doesn't it give them an unfair advantage? It does add one more element to what is already a time-consuming occupation. And another example of what a tough issue this is.
Mike (Alexandria, VA)
OK Bob, you've gotta explain to me this drop that Sergio got in the playoff. I need to be able to pull that off next time I'm dead behind a tree. What rules/decisions were used to decide to grant a drop?
Bob Harig (4:10 PM)
I can't quote the specific rule, but there is a rule in the book that allows for free relief from a burrowing animal.. . The gopher was apparently moving around under the ground. Garcia admitted it was strange and he was surprised he got relief, but once it was allowed, he was going to take advantage.
Isn't this LPGA rule ridiculous? Sure you'd LIKE them to speak English, but suspending them for not speaking it...that's just silly.
Bob Harig (4:12 PM)
The mandate to learn English has brought all kinds of reaction. You think it's silly, others applaud the rule. I happen to think the penalty is too harsh.
what's one thing you'd change about the PGA Tour if you were commish?
Bob Harig (4:14 PM)
Since it is at the forefront, I'd change the playoff events to have 144 players tee off at each one, but only have 100 starting off in the actuall playoffs. The others can still compete, but they can't win the FedEx Cup. It gives more players the chance to compete and earn money, but it narrows down the playoff field, making it more difficult to get into during the regular season.
If you could caddie for one player, who would it be? Would you want to caddie for someone like Tiger and try to pick his brain? Or would you like to caddie for a guy who's fun to walk 18 with? Of course, we're not talking about winning or not.
Bob Harig (4:17 PM)
Would probably have to go with Tiger. Just the whole scene, watching him hit shots up close, picking up what he might be thinking. . . you'd have to admit that would be pretty cool. And the pay sounds good, too.
You're right. I guess that's the part that I find silly. Punishing someone that severely for that is nuts.
Bob Harig (4:19 PM)
If you look at it from the LPGA's side, there has to be a penalty with teeth otherwise the players might just blow it off. I happen to think a fine would be better, maybe a hefty fine. Say $25,000 for the first offense with the threat of another fine and a suspension after that. Taking away their chance to play is pretty tough.
Who do you think is in the best position in the playoffs?
Bob Harig (4:20 PM)
The easy answer is Vijay. He's in first place. And he's plenty used to playing a lot of tournaments. This is perfect him. He's played well at the Deutsche Bank in the past. But as we are seeing, the playoffs don't allow for mediocre play. He'll need to be in contention at the last three tournaments in order to win the whole thing.
What's the best course on the Cup playoffs sked?
Bob Harig (4:24 PM)
Very difficult to say. Ridgewood in New Jersey got rave reviews, this week's tournament at the TPC Boston has been well-recieved in the past; next week they are going to Bellerive in St. Louis, which few have ever played; Nick Price won the 1992 PGA Championship there. And then East Lake is a classic old course.
Ken (Trenton, NJ)
Does the length of the playoffs favor any particular player or type of player?
Bob Harig (4:25 PM)
As I mentioned earlier in talking about Vijay, I think it is perfectly suited for a guy like him, someone who plays a lot, is used to the grind. These are four big tournaments, three of them in a row. It's a lot of golf. Lucky for them the Ryder Cup helps give them a two-week break after next week's BMW Championship.
Do you think the Cup has been successful in its early stages?
Bob Harig (4:27 PM)
I do. It is doing what was intended, which was to bring the best players together more often and in the same tournaments at the end of the year. And the new points structure is making it all the more interesting because there is going to be so much movement, like you would expect in something called the playoffs.
WHo do you consider the best putter on Tour?
Bob Harig (4:29 PM)
The stats might not always say so, but to me it's Tiger Woods. He can be streaky, but does he ever miss a big one? That putt he made to tie Rocco at the U.S. Open was amazing. And so was the one to keep the playoff going.
Do you believe Tiger when he says he could be back earlier than we all thought?
Bob Harig (4:30 PM)
I am not sure Tiger said that. If he did and you can cite it, that would be terrific. Tiger has said he is going to be careful, that he won't be able to swing a club until next year, and that he doesn't know when he will return. Many were thinking he would be back by the first of the year. He didn't rule out playing in the Dubai tournament, which is late January. But he didn't guarantee it, either.
do you think we'll ever see the PGA expand the playoff timeframe and have something like NASCAR's Chase, where the last group of tournaments are all for the Cup?
Bob Harig (4:31 PM)
That is basically what these last four tournaments are for in golf. Everyone had their points re-set at the beginning and the point allocation is different in these tournaments all with the idea of crowning the FedEx champion.
Is there any prize money for winning the Ryder Cup?
Bob Harig (4:34 PM)
No, it is purely for pride. The players are, however, given $200,000 each to direct to the charity of their choice.
As long as we're doing bests...who's got the best short game? Best off the tee?
Bob Harig (4:35 PM)
Tiger certainly has a great short game as well. Tough to top that. . . And you have to love Sergio Garcia off the tee. When he is on, he is both long and straight.
Kerry (Portland, ME)
Do most of the top guys play until the very last tournament? Or do most hang it up for the year early?
Bob Harig (4:38 PM)
If you mean after the FedEx Cup, most of them don't. The golf season is now set up in a strange way. The FedEx Cup ends next month with the Tour Championship. Bu then another six tournaments make up the Fall Series and count on the money list. It's sort of like playing baseball games after the World Series that count in the standings, with the playoff teams locked in. Many of the big names take that time off, allowing those who are still trying to earn their card or still wanting a chance to compete to have at it.
I know we've disected it to death, but what do you see happening in the Ryder Cup?
Bob Harig (4:39 PM)
Very hard to say. On paper, the U.S. team is clearly the underdog. Without Tiger Woods and without a ton of guys playing great at the moment, the Europeans look stronger. But we've often said that about the American team and look at what has happened? That is the beauty of the Ryder Cup. The format tends to make those paper evaluations less meaningful.
So I guess the question is, do you think guys would rather win the Ryder Cup or a Major (money aside)?
Bob Harig (4:41 PM)
In my mind, there would be no debate whatsoever. A major championship. That is what you are remembered for. Nobody remembers Jack Nicklaus' Ryder Cup record.
That's actually a good idea for the Fall Series. Let's the little guys have a shot at actually winning some of the money.
Bob Harig (4:42 PM)
I don't have a problem with it either. But, if you read an earlier answer, I suggested full fields for the playoff events, even if not everyone is playing for the Cup. That gives them another chance to make money. And lessens the need to have as many Fall Series events, which in truth, get very little attention.
Who do you think will be the Euro wildcard picks? I think Clarke and Casey should be the choices.
Bob Harig (4:43 PM)
Your guess is as good as mine. I would not be surprised to see the two names you mentioned. Ian Poulter will also get strong consideration. It appears Colin Montgomerie's hopes are gone, meaning one of the best Ryder Cup players in history will be missing.
Why is it that it seems like the Europeans play better in match play in the Ryder Cup? Do they play that format more over in Europe or something?
Bob Harig (4:46 PM)
That is the big question, isn't it? But I do not think it has anything to do with being more adept at match play. The Europeans don't play any more match play events than the Americans. They play stroke-play events over there, too. They seem to have a knack for making clutch putts and they also -- for whatever reason -- seem to handle the ebb and flow of match play better, understanding that it does you no good, for example, to lag a putt for a safe par if your opponent then makes a birdie. That leads to a big momentum shift, which in the last several Ryder Cups seems to always go toward the Europeans.
How do the Cup points work? Is it possible for someone to win it all without winning one of the playoff events?
Bob Harig (4:51 PM)
At the end of the regular season, players' points were reset, with Tiger Woods (not playing) get 100,000 all the way down to Lee Janzen with 92,000-plus. . . At each of the first three playoff events, the winner can earn 11,000 points, with 7,400 going to second place, all the way down to 2,000 and chance for 70th place. That means the person in last place could vault to the top with a win. And it also means that a player who misses the cut this week gets nothing and can be passes by a dozen or more players. Yes, it is possible for someone to win it all without winning a tournament. For example, if Sergio Garcia -- who is second, had nothing but top-5s, I'm guessing he'd be right there at the end, depending on what others around him do.
Padraig is the leader for player of the year, correct?
Bob Harig (4:52 PM)
Not necessarily. He's a strong candidate. He won two tournaments, and both happened to be majors. If he flops in the FedEx Cup, maybe some will look at his year differently. Although Tiger's year was shortened due to injury, he won four times, finished second and fifth, including a major. Pretty strong, too.
Bob, give me your thoughts on Mickelson. It is interesting after a year and a half approx with Butch his driving stats (accuracy) have actually began to trend downward compared to his 06 stats. Are we starting to see the beinning of the end for lefty's best competitive days, or do you think he is still in the familiarization phase with Butch's swing methods similar to what Tiger went through between mid 97 through late 99??
Bob Harig (4:53 PM)
My thought is it is more of the latter. Phil seems encouraged by his work with Harmon, despite what the stats say. He's too good and too talented for it to be the beginning of the end. He still is second in the world, remember. And has won twice this year.
I called in sick to watch the first round today. Damn you Labor Day!!!!
Bob Harig (4:54 PM)
Yep, the Deutsche Bank is the lone tournament that begins on Friday and ends on Monday, because of the holiday.
So, shouldn't the system be such that someone has to actually win a tournament to win the Cup?
Bob Harig (4:55 PM)
I am not sure how you could make it so. It is most likely that you would win a tournament to win the whole thing. But obviously there are scenarios where it might not happen. If Singh misses the cut this week, he will drop well back and someone like Garcia could get a hefty lead on him without winning.
Are you as not impressed with Phil as I have been this year? I thought he would have stepped up without Tiger around.
Bob Harig (4:58 PM)
A lot of people expected that, but Phil has not spend his whole career finishing second to Tiger. And there have been plenty of tournaments where Tiger wasn't there, and Phil didn't win.
Bob Harig (5:01 PM)
I'm out of time.. Thanks everyone for participating. . .I'll be checking in next week from the BMW Championship, so hope you can join in there. . . Have a good weekend.