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 (4:03 PM)
Hi everyone. Checking in from Atlanta at the Tour Championship. But anything golf related is game, including the Ryder Cup or anything on your mind. Fire away with your questions.
Bob, I've kinda been late to notice the field of the Tour Championship with the week off and the Ryder Cup. No offense to Kevin Sutherland, Bubba Watson, Ken Duke, Briny Baird, Tim Clark, and even Andres Romero. But is this what we signed up for with the new FedEx Cup Points list? After watching Boo Weekley and J.B. Holmes (both Top 30 in the money list) rock it at Valhala, I have to watch these guys? Really? I love golf, but am not compelled to even watch this weekend. Vijay's got it wrapped up. Meanwhile, Geoff Ogilvy, Adam Scott, Boo, J.B., and even Stephen Ames are on the sideline. What's going to be down? Talk about going out with a whimper. Disgraceful by Finchem and co.
Bob Harig (4:05 PM)
Well, I think you're being a bit harsh on the commissioner. They tried to change things this year in order to create more volatility during the FedEx Cup playoffs and one of the results was guys moving into the Tour Championship who otherwise would not have made it. Is that bad or good? Hard to say. Several have suggested it is not the Tour Championshp of the past, but then, that's not what they wanted anyway. No doubt, they'll need to look at the system again.
Woytek (Cracow, Poland)
I've got a question which is I guess forgotten because US won. What do you think of the Hunter's Mahan caddie job just after Mahan sank that putt on 17th. He didn't do anything to low Hunter's emotions which resulted in Mahan's tee shot at 18th straight to the hazard.
Bob Harig (4:07 PM)
One of the first things I thought of after Mahan went into his celebration mode was that he's going to have to calm down in a hurry. Sure enough, he hit his tee shot in the water at 18 and settled for a half instead of a tie in his match, which could have been huge had things played out differently. I'm not sure his caddie could have done anything. And captain Paul Azinger quickly got over to Mahan after he walked to the next tee, no doubt trying to settle him down. Didn't work.
Do players play in a pro am every week before tour events?
Bob Harig (4:08 PM)
It depends on the tournament but most regular tour events have a pro-am on the Wednesday preceding the event. Those required to play are based on the previous year's money list, so it usually means all of the to players.
Bob, I heard some reports of the Europeans complaining about the American fans. Did you hear any of those reports?
Bob Harig (4:10 PM)
There were a few complaints, mainly from Lee Westwood, who quickly folllwed up by saying the whole of American fans were outstanding and that it was just a few who were out of line. That happens at the Ryder Cup. Overall, I don't think the Europeans had much to complain about there.
Do you think the US team can take some momentum from winning the cup this year?
Bob Harig (4:11 PM)
I'm not sure momentum is the right word. The next Ryder Cup is two years away. Some guys will be older. New players will be on the team. But they can certainly look at what went right, they have a good group of young players who ought to be on the team again and they can build on that.
Ralph (New Jersey)
It seems with the rookies on the team that the US was a little looser than they usually are. Did it seem that way to you too?
Bob Harig (4:11 PM)
There's no question that having six rookies turned out to be a good thing. They were not saddled with the baggage that came from losing the last three Ryder Cups.
As a 24 year old, Anthony Kim is my new favorite golfer to watch. Forget Phil and Tiger. This kid has some real talent and looks like he could be a great golfer for the US for a long time.
Bob Harig (4:12 PM)
Not sure there's a question in there, but it's tough to disagree with the premise. Kim has a lot of game and he should win a lot of tournaments and be a Ryder Cup star for years.
Which Member of the USA rydar cup team should we watch out for this year?
Bob Harig (4:14 PM)
I certainly think Anthony Kim is worth keeping an eye on, but we said that before the Ryder Cup. He won twice earlier this year, contended at the British Open, is high up in the FedEx Cup points.
The US won without Tiger. And they looked a little less tight than usual. Do you think everyone tightens up around Tiger because he's so good? Or were the two unrelated.
Bob Harig (4:15 PM)
That is a theory that is going around, but remember that during the team portion of the Ryder Cup, Tiger can have three partners at most. And usually it is the same guy for at least two matches. He's maybe affecting two players. So it's hard to believe that the others were tight just because he was around.
Perhaps Boo and JB should have played better during the last few months if they wanted to be in Tour Championship.
Bob Harig (4:16 PM)
It's true, they had their opportunities to get here. The complaint has been, however, that the points in the playoffs moved so much, a year's worth of work could have been wasted. Padraig Harrington is not here despite winning two majors.
who do you think played the best for the Americans?
Bob Harig (4:18 PM)
I'd have to go with Hunter Mahan. He played all five matches, didn't lose any, and went 2-0-3, helping the Americans earn 3 1/2 points.
Mickelson had yet another bad Ryder Cup. What is it with him and the Cup?
Bob Harig (4:19 PM)
I wouldn't call it bad, just not great. At least he finally won a match. At least Mickelson is off to a decent start at the Tour Championship. His lackluster play recently is puzzling.
How would you evaluate Boo Weekley's performance? I think after watching him have so much fun, I might have found a new favorite golfer.
Bob Harig (4:20 PM)
I thought it was terrific. Boo had fun, earned a lot of fans, fired up the crowd, and he showed he can play, too.
Tiger and AK in 4ball in 2010 at Celtic manor??
Bob Harig (4:22 PM)
It's an interesting thought, although Mickelson may have already claimed Kim.
Do you think maybe Tiger was watching the Cup and saw them all having fun and maybe thought that next time he'll loosen up a little bit. He always seems to press at the Ryder Cup.
Bob Harig (4:23 PM)
According to captain Azinger, Tiger was texting him during the Ryder Cup. So he was watching. But I don't think Tiger needs to change his approach. It's just not in his nature. You know he is trying as hard as he can.
Bud (charlotte, nc)
People were asking about where all the young golf talent was before the Cup, but now it seems after the Cup and we got to see all these rookie Cup players perform that everyone's talking about all the good young players in the game. What do you think?
Bob Harig (4:24 PM)
They still need to rack up the victories. Anthony Kim is an outstanding talent, and Mahan and Holmes are both under 30. But Mahan and Holmes have just three wins between them. Boo Weekley is 35 and has two wins.
I think everyone can agree that the FedEx Cup playoffs still need to be tweaked. Vijay wrapped up the points win before the final tournament. Guys who should be here aren't. Are there any plans to tweak the system in the near future?
Bob Harig (4:25 PM)
They are definitely going to look at it in the offseason. As I've said before, it is difficult situation when somebody wins more than once. How do you make it fair to that person? They need to adjust the points again, and hope for more even play among the top guys to make the Tour Championshp compelling.
Is it safe to assume that golf (and NASCAR) are better off without playoffs? The fake drama added to the last four events can be done without. We all know it's just about the extra $10 mil and not the trophy.
Bob Harig (4:26 PM)
These last four events would be nothing without the FedEx Cup -- because you wouldn't attrac good fields. Golf after the PGA Championship has been a wasteland. Now, at least, we've had four top-class tournaments to end the regular season. It has flaws, but it's far bettr than the alternative.
It's only a year's work wasted if you take the Tour championship as the end of all golf events. It's only four weeks - the FedEx trophy is nice, but it's not everything.
Bob Harig (4:27 PM)
Most players would agree. The FedEx Cup is a nice way to end the season. But it doesn't replace the majors as the biggest events in the sport. Never will.
Do you think that the U.S. would have won the Ryder Cup if Tiger Woods was healthy and on the team?
Here's a thought for the FedEx. Keep the cut down in the first 3 tournaments with the points system. Then the final match with a field of 30 either play match-play or winner take all for 10 mil. Players would not take a "bye" and it would not be wrapped up by the last tournament. Plus, the "final" tournament would take on a Major feel/pressure.
Bob Harig (4:34 PM)
MIke, the problem with your idea -- which is a good idea -- is that it doesn't reward anyone for the whole season. Bubba Watson (not to pick on him) barely squeeked into this tournament, but then he could win the $10-million with one hot week? I just don't think the tour wants to go down that road.
Marc (Malden, MA)
The British papers critizing Faldo are ridiculous. It's not his fault Garcia/Westwood/Harrington didn't win a single match.
Bob Harig (4:35 PM)
That is basically what I wrote in a column this week on ESPN.com. You can question some of his decisions, certainly. But when it comes down to it, his top players didn't perform. Garcia, Westwood and Harrington failed to win a single match. Had they all done so (independently of each other) the Europeans would have won. That's how close it really was.
Will this Ryder Cup loss affect Faldo's reputation among Europeans?
Bob Harig (4:39 PM)
Unfortunately, it appears that way, which is a shame. His six majors and 11 appearances as a player should far overshadow what he does as a captain. There is some vindictiveness at player here. Faldo was not always the greatest to deal with among the media during his heyday. It's not fair, but that is what some of this is about.
How about this system: Keep your FedEx points you won throughout the year and use the current point system in the Cup events. That way you are rewarded for playing well throughout the year, correct?
Bob Harig (4:40 PM)
But that would make it nearly impossible for anyone from the bottom to move up. And what is the point of playing if you have no chance whatsoever? Lots of ideas, but no easy answers here.
Michael (Winston-Salem, NC)
It's like they went to play a Tour Championship and a British Open broke out.
Bob Harig (4:40 PM)
Well, it's not raining sideways, there's a gentle breeze and the food is so much better. So it doesn't seem much like a British Open to me.
Will Azinger be Ryder Cup captain again in 2010?
Bob Harig (4:42 PM)
Good question. My guess is no. What does he have to gain? It would be fun if he took on the task again, however.
I don't get why a Professional golfer who gets paid to play golf should have to be motivated to play a tournament. This is ludicrous. The goal of a playoff system is to reward the best player throughout the year, not someone who is lackluster the whole year and gets hot in the last couple tourneys. What am I missing here?
Bob Harig (4:44 PM)
Ask the New England Patriots about your theory. I know we're not talking the same thing here, but in the playoffs, the winner is not always who was the best all season. The New York Giants barely made the NFL playoffs last year, had to go on the road for all their games, and upset the Patriots. But who was the best in the regular season? Golf wants to reward who was best and seems to not want to reward those who got hot at the end.
How do the greens at East Lake look this year? Last year, there were big issues.
Bob Harig (4:45 PM)
They are perfect. After all the water issues last year, they were replanted with a new grass and they look very nice.
Do you think the Europeans will tweak their selection process in 2010 like Azinger did?
Bob Harig (4:47 PM)
It wouldn't be a bad idea, although their system of using world ranking points and a European money list is a good one. But they could add more captain picks, which is always going to give the captain more options. Back when Tony Jacklin was captain he had three at-large selections, but they have since gone back to two.
Is there's ever gonna be a Thrilling finale for the FedEx Cup??
Bob Harig (4:49 PM)
The best way to do it, probably, is take a page from the LPGA's book and have everyone who qualifies start over. .. But they just seem reluctant to do that, which makes it very hard for this competition to come down to the back nine with a putt for $10-million on the line.
Cosmo (Anytown, USA)
Zinger has stated that he has been working on the Ryder Cup for 2 years. With all due respect, what is there to do that would take up 2 years?
Bob Harig (4:51 PM)
He would be the first to admit that he didn't work on it for two full years like you do at your job. But it's been on his mind that long. He's had numerous commitments, mostly to promote the event. But it's not like a football coach who studies film all night, that's for sure.
Bob, thanks for the chat. I know it's tradition, but what are the odds of adding more countries to the Ryder Cup. Excluding golfers such as Vijay, Els, Ogilvy, and Weir, to name a few, seems to downplay this event these days. See Oliver Wilson.
Bob Harig (4:54 PM)
Well, Vijay, Els, Ogilvy and Weir all play for the International team in the Presidents Cup. It's not the same as the Ryder Cup, not nearly the same emotion. But don't know how you would add other countries and keep the spirit of fighting for your continent or Tour like the Europeans have now.
Ak is breaking out, Tiger is coming back, Harrington defending, and hopefully Lefty will get out of his funk. I can't wait for 09.
Bob Harig (4:55 PM)
Yes, there's a lot to look forward to. There's actually a lot of golf left this year but typically just the diehards pay attention. Then the start of the new season will be here before you know it.
Mike (New York)
Why do people ask the same question week after week? It's as if people who are in these chats have never watched/ read about golf before. Clearly we have the President's Cup for people like Vijay. Can we get some more pressing questions? I feel like you have answered the same questions every week for the past year.
Bob Harig (4:58 PM)
Mike, with all due respect, not everybody comes to this chat all the time. Maybe they just didn't know. Believe me, there are plenty of worse questions!
You think it is kind of funny the two leaders of this Major happen to be a team that was paired in the Ryder? I am about sick of hearing the bashing of Phil Mickleson, do you think he will hold on? Everyone speculates that he plays stupid golf, just to show off. Do you think he will make smart decisions throughout this weekend? Who is your prediction after seeing play so far as to who will win? (I know its kind of early.)
Bob Harig (4:59 PM)
Not so sure that Phil makes as many bad decisions as he just doesn't hit as many good shots as he would like to. There would be nothing better for this tournament than to see Mickelson and Kim battle for the title, but there's a long way to go.
Andrew (Peoria, IL)
I don't quite get all the FedEx cup whining. When a player wins 2 of the 3 playoff events, he's earned the right to have an insurmountable (or near-insurmountable) lead. All they need is two tweaks: more points for top 10 or top 15 finishes, and less points for just simply making the cut.
Bob Harig (5:01 PM)
Andrew, I think you've got it. The way this works, if a guy wins two of the first three -- or wins and finishes second as Tiger did last year -- he's going to be hard to beat. That said, awarding more points for high finishes and less for making the cut would make things more compelling for sure. A guy like Villegas could have cut into Vijay's lead at the BMW if that had been the case.
Bob Harig (5:03 PM)
I'm out of time folks. Thanks again for all your questions and check back again next week. Enjoy the golf.