Chat with Jason Sobel
Send your questions now and join Jason right here on Tuesday at noon ET for all the answers.
Jason Sobel (12:03 PM)
Good afternoon, golf fans. For a bye week, there's plenty of things to talk about. The Ryder Cup is coming up next week and, of course, the FedEx Cup playoffs are still in full swing. (I like Vijay Singh to win, but what do I know?) I'll be here for an hour, so fire away with your questions...
Ivan (Mobile, AL)
It was an interesting leaderboard this weekend. Could this be a boost to Villegas' confidence now? Will he be more of a contender?
Jason Sobel (12:05 PM)
Absolutely. Guy was knocking on the door for about two years and finally broke through on Sunday. We've always known he could make a ton of birdies; if he can now eliminate making big mistakes -- and by big, I mean doubles and triples on the card -- he's going to be a force for a long time. Maybe never a top-five player, but a guy who can win 2-3 times per year.
Jason, the Tour Championship becomes meaningless yet again, we want compelling playoff action with a finale that means something. The people that become the faces we remember throughout the golf season are the tournament winners. Tweaks I'd like to see to version 3.0 of the FedEx Cup include all tournament winners guaranteed a spot in the 1st round of the playoffs, all 5 major winners(TPC included) qualify for all 4 playoff tournaments, and go along with cutting the total playoff contestants from 144 to 100 and then down to 75 for 2nd tourney, to 50 for 3rd tourney, and then for the final tourney have the top 30 with 5 major winners included in that, play 5 rounds, have a cut after 2 from 30-20, cut after 3rd round 20-15, cut after 4th 15-10, and one final round for all the marbles...that could be a compelling playoff season for the Tour and the all important television partners
Jason Sobel (12:10 PM)
As for the first part, you're reading my mind, Dan. It hit me yesterday, just after I had finished writing my Weekly 18 column, that the FedEx Cup should have a qualification list rather than simply going off the points list. And I think you've got it about right. I'd say any tourney winners from that year are exempt into the first two, any winners of WGCs are in the first three and any major or Players winners are automatically in the Tour Championship. If that means we get an odd number -- say, 27 or 33 -- of players in the final field, what's the big deal? As for how the final tourney should play out, I've heard a lot of discussions on this recently from a lot of fans and players alike. Some say match play is the way to go, but that's only good in theory; when Henrik Stenson plays Geoff Ogilvy in the final round and no one shows up to watch, it'll go over like a lead balloon. I've also heard a winner-take-all proposal, much like the LPGA's ADT Championship, but really -- if Dudley Hart wins at East Lake, should he really be the recipient of the year-long race and $10 million? That's why there's a separate purse for the tourney itself. So I'm not sure I have the answer yet, but at some point, I'm gpoing to sit down, crunch the numbers and write my FedEx manifesto, in which I outline exactly how points should be delineated next year and beyond.
What are your thoughts on American pairings for the Ryder Cup? Mickelson doesn't have his usual partners (Toms, Austin, DiMarco), and Furyk will be sans Tiger. How do you see 'Zinger pairing up the boys on Uncle Sam's Team? I'm thinking Boo Weekley and Anthony Kim would be solid, and putting Holmes and Mickelson together would seem to work in Fourball as they are both capable of birdies in bunches.
Jason Sobel (12:12 PM)
As I wrote yesterday, I think Zinger has six bombers and six steady eddies. I'd pair like-minded players in foursomes (for example, Kim told me he wants to play with Mickelson; let 'em have at it) and opposite-style players in fourballs (there's your Kim/Weekley pairing). I mean, if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. I have no inside knowledge that this is what Azinger will do, but I've got to think it will be discussed at some point.
Do you think it's odd that the Tour has an off week this late in the season? Especially when all the big tournaments are over. Or is it because of the Ryder Cup they have the week off to prepare?
Jason Sobel (12:14 PM)
I do think it's a little odd. Not sure what the reasoning is behind having the Viking Classic next week -- during the Ryder Cup -- as opposed to this week, when it wouldn't be up against anything else. I understand the need to give players a bye week during the stretch run, but that doesn't mean there can't be some sort of alternate-field event instead.
Golf isn't golf without Tiger but besides that I think Phil Mickelson is why overrated why is he ranked to high but never does that well?
Jason Sobel (12:17 PM)
Ohh, is this like one of those problem-solvers? Like a word jumble? Do I have to move around all the words and form a relevant question? I think you're asking why Mickelson never plays well. And I think I'd have to counter that by pointing out that he owns 34 career PGA Tour wins (13th on the all-time list, I believe) and three majors. Should he be ranked ahead of Harrington right now? Maybe not, but that's a fault of the OWGR, not Mickelson himself.
I read that article from yesterday, but you put Boo in the Bomber category.
Jason Sobel (12:18 PM)
Good point. Although I think Boo and Mahan (and even Campbell, to an extent) are sort of hybrid guys who can play with either a bomber or a ball-striker. But good catch...
I'd Say Thanks for 10 M (Atlanta, GA)
Singh needs to stop with the prima donna act and show some thanks for the free money FedEx and the PGA Tour just handed him. I understand being upset about playing poorly, but that behavior is unacceptable. You would never see Tiger Woods behave in such a disrespectful manner to the sponsors, but I digress.
Jason Sobel (12:21 PM)
Well, first of all, Singh didn't react that way to the sponsors; he declined interviews with NBC, Golf Channel and all print reporters. I don't understand why he wouldn't want to speak with them -- golfers, by and large, are always incredibly accomodating to the media, so it's not like we get blown off all the time -- but we'll find out soon enough. Singh is holding a teleconference later this afternoon and I'm sure he'll be asked why he didn't stop to chat.
ARe you surprised to see Anthony Kim at No. 6 on the money list at this point in his career? He has two wins this year and 7 top 10s.
Jason Sobel (12:24 PM)
If you had told me he'd be that high on the list back in January, I would have been surprised but not shocked. And after seeing him play this year, there's nothing surprising about it. The kid has all the tools. What I always look for, what I think is the difference between a very good player and an elite player, is the ability to not only close out tournaments and win, but win on any type of course setup. Kim has shown he not only has icewater in his veins on the back nine on Sunday, but his game is suited for just about any type of venue.
How crazy is it that Tiger played in 6 tournaments and is STILL No. 2 on the money list?
Jason Sobel (12:25 PM)
It may actually be crazier that someone was able to pass him. A month ago, it looked like Woods was going to be atop the money at the end of the season, but it took a big run by Vijay Singh and now it seems like he's got it all but locked up.
What kind of venue is Valhalla?
Jason Sobel (12:27 PM)
Good old-style course that will be set up with wide fairways for the crooked-shooting U.S. team. Just got this from the GCSAA:
Jason Sobel (12:32 PM)
"Valhalla's fairway landing areas have been widened about 300 yards down range, mostly by extending the first cut of rough a minimum of 12 feet and as much as 50 feet. But the rough around the greens is long and thick. And Valhalla's new putting surfaces will be faster than the greens at the K Club two years ago, measuring 12 feet on the stimpmeter."
Jason Sobel (12:34 PM)
Keep those questions coming...we're hurting over here...
James, New York, NY
For the FedEx Cup, how about negative points for missed cuts, with increasing negative points all the way down the order of finish. Wouldn't that force guys to work harder at all times - even when they're likely to miss the cut while playing the back nine on a Friday?
Jason Sobel (12:40 PM)
Whether it's zero points or negative points, it's all relative. And to answer your question, no, I honestly don't think that if a guy knows he's going to receive, say, -150 points for an MC that he's going to grind even harder than he already was.
Is it actually possible that someone is actually giving Michelle Wie good advice?
Jason Sobel (12:42 PM)
I think it's more of a case of this being the final option rather than good advice, but yes, it should be considered a good thing for her career that she is going to Q-School. Not only will she likely receive her Tour card for 2009 (I'd be shocked if she didn't make it through), but I think the always-critical public will back down a little bit after seeing that she's finally earned her way toward something in her career.
Bob - (CT
Ryder Cup is not a great spectator event, as there are only 4 pairs at one time. What are your tips for best viewing and what do you think the atmosphere of the Lousiville crowd will be? Is Vallhalla a good spectator's course? I read the 13th hole play like the 5th hole at Barclays.
Jason Sobel (12:44 PM)
Haven't been to Valhalla, so I can't speak to it's merit as a spectator's course just yet. But the trick to watching a Ryder Cup is to stay ahead of the game. Since thousands of people will be crammed into a four-hole span for the first two days, get about a hole or two ahead, get a good seat, wait for all four groups to come through, then get ahead of them again. Either that, or get really good at climbing trees.
How bad did it look like Zinger wanted to beat Faldo on the Captain's Challenge on the Golf Channel last night? Any chance the Ryder Cup gets a little heated at Valhalla?
Jason Sobel (12:46 PM)
Don't ruin it for me. I watched the first 15 minutes, but have the rest on TiVo. You analysis doesn't surprise me, though. I can definitely see Zinger wanting to win something like that much more than Faldo. And I've been saying for two years that the best part of this Ryder Cup may be the captain's press conferences. If nothing else, they'll be highly entertaining.
Chad (Tallahassee, FL)
Anthony Kim...young, brash, full of talent, any chance he becomes the USA's Sergio in the upcoming Ryder Cup?
Jason Sobel (12:49 PM)
I'm actually working on an On The Tee video segment that I'll shoot later today in which I break down the players to watch for each team -- and Kim is on top of my list for the U.S. players. I think he's going to play really well. And he's the perfect RC type of player -- makes a ton of birdies and gets really fired up, too. The crowds will love him.
Kevin (Glen Rock, NJ)
True or False. Today, Anthony Kim is the best golfer on the Ryder cup team.
Jason Sobel (12:51 PM)
"Best" is a fairly ambiguous term. I still think Phil Mickelson has as much talent as anyone in the world not named Eldrick, so I'm not sure I'd call Kim the best player on the team just yet. But he's got a ton of talent, all the tools and is very, very good at just 23 years old. On talent level alone, I'd probably put him above everyone but Mickelson. And just for the sake of debate, I'd put Mahan No. 3 on such a list.
Guessing you were on vaca last week as it looked like Harig did most of the posting. Did you fit in any golf?
Jason Sobel (12:53 PM)
Wow - are you stalking me? Yes, I was on vacation last week, but didn't even bring the clubs with me. It's been an embarrassingly weak year for my golf game -- both the state of it and how often I've played. I think my bosses are working me too hard over here.
Mike, Tallahassee, Fla.
Do you think there's any chance Mickelson or some of the other top stars will bail on East Lake now that Singh has clinched the title, assuming he doesn't get arrested or faint before finishing? Guys have skipped that tournament before, you know. What a slap to the tour that would be, huh?
Jason Sobel (12:54 PM)
I don't think anyone will plan on skipping it, but if something comes up in the personal life of a top player, I can tell you he'd now be more inclined to skip it than if he was still in the mix for the $10 mil.
Bob H, Oldsmar, Fla.
Darned right he was on vacation. Like you can ever really tell.
Jason Sobel (12:57 PM)
Have another Chipwich, buddy.
3 weeks ago you told me Villegas would be top 20 for sure at one time. Do you see him making the top 10?
Jason Sobel (12:59 PM)
In the World Ranking? Sure. Really, after the top five right now (Woods, Mickelson, Harrington, Singh, Garcia), there's not much separating No. 6 from No. 19, which is where Villegas is right now. And unlike some of the guys ahead of him, Villegas is hot right now and only getting better.
What's to make of Mike Weir? The guy can't win a tournament when he has the lead after 3 rounds, yet, he's won a major, a WGC, and the Tour Championship. One week he's second, the next, he's DFL.
Jason Sobel (1:01 PM)
No idea, but I'll say this much: The stack-and-tilt crew works harder than anyone else on the range each week ... and can't seem to close out a tournament these days. I don't know if it's because their swings are too technical and break down under pressure or if it's just a total coincidence, but take a look at the results.
Tom (Simi Valley, CA)
I read where a player said it would be a shame if Paddy Harrington missed the Tour Championship. Well you know what? It was a shame the Cowboys missed the Super Bowl! That's why there's a playoff. I still contend the Tour Championship should be like the Super Bowl where all 30 participants have an equal chance to win the trophy.
Jason Sobel (1:04 PM)
To his credit, Harrington hasn't said that at all. I'm still not buying the fact that the TC should be winner-take-all. That's where there's a separate purse for that event -- it's not like the winner at East Lake doesn't get a trophy and a big check. It's a season-long race. Sure, the PGA Tour could do what the LPGA does and wipe the slate clean going into the final round. But you wind up with a more random winner, rather than rewarding the best player over the course of the playoffs. I mean, you might as well pick names out of a hat. Does anyone really think that Julieta Granada was the best player on the LPGA last year? She happened to play one good round ... and won the biggest check of the season.
What is your take on Kevin Streelman? Seems as if everytime I look him up he is playing well. Good guy....
Jason Sobel (1:05 PM)
Really nice guy. Really good player. He's going to stick around for a while out on tour. I wouldn't be surprised to see him win one during the Fall Finish, either.
Jason Sobel (1:05 PM)
That's all I've got for now. Thanks for the questions. Talk to you next week from Valhalla. Until then, hit 'em straight...