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.
Send your questions now and join Bob on Thursday at 2 p.m. ET for all the answers.
Harig Archive: Columns
Bob Harig (2:01 PM)
Welcome back, thanks for joining us today. Pebble Beach is underway, Michelle Wie makes her debut as an LPGA Tour member and Charlie Woods is -- likely -- causing fits for daddy at night. Plenty to talk about, so let's get started with your golf questions.
What are your thoughts on Mickelson struggling with his new drivers?
Bob Harig (2:02 PM)
Steiny, it wouldn't be right if I didn't start with you. I don't think Mickelson is struggling with his new driver as much as he is just struggling. He didn't exactly hit a ton of fairways last year, and that trend has continued. But the rest of his game -- at least through the first two tournaments -- has not been sharp. This week will be interesting, because Phil certainly doesn't want a third straight unsettling performance.
Jake (Butte MT ) [via mobile]
When Tiger returns do you think he will have more wins after his first two tournaments than Phil?
Bob Harig (2:03 PM)
Jake, it will really be interesting to see what happens with Tiger when he comes back. If you are asking will he win one of his first two tournaments back, I still think that is a lot to ask. I expect Tiger to be very good when he returns, but I have a hard time getting past the idea that after eight months away, he can simply be at the top of his game. That doesn't mean he won't be.
with time limits and averaging about 30 strokes less per round than the average golfer, why do rounds that the pros play take so much longer than ours?
Bob Harig (2:05 PM)
Ken, it remains one of life's great mysteries. Why does it take so long for a threesome of professionals to play golf? Part of it has to do with this being their living. They spend way more time considering their options than we ever will. And they read greens with much more care. And part of it has to do with field size. Sometimes -- especially when there are groups that start on both the front and back nine -- it is simply inevitable that there will be backup when a group makes the turn. The math doesn't work. All that said, it is pretty obvious these guys take too long.
Will Michelle Wie win an LPGA tournament this season?
Bob Harig (2:07 PM)
Steiny, I will go out on a limb and say that Michelle Wie will win at least once. Nobody quite knows where her game is right now, but since she'll be able to compete more frequently, it stands to reason that she will be able to build momentum and confidence. That will be good for both her and the LPGA Tour.
Andrew (Austin, TX)
How do equipment sponsorships work? I notice many pros play the same drivers/irons and different wedges and putter. What if they are sponsored by one manufacturer and want to switch to a different club for performance reasons? And why would the best players limit themselves to only a particular brand?
Bob Harig (2:09 PM)
Andrew, it varies. Some manufactures require that a player use a certain number of their clubs, but not all. Tiger Woods, for instance, plays all Nike clubs. But his putter is a Scotty Cameron from Titleist -- for which he is not paid. Nike obviously allows this. .. If a player wants to switch clubs, it likely depends on the kind of deal he has. Some of them have contracts and if they want to break it, there can be problems. There are many instances where guys took the money and then found they played worse using new equipment. As for limiting themselves, they are probably not viewing it that way. They believe they have a great product -- and they're getting paid for it, too.
Dave M. (Spokane)
Hi Bob, Do you think jetlag will affect the prominent Europeans when they come over the Macth play (ie. Jimenez, Stenson, "the scientist", etc.)?
Bob Harig (2:11 PM)
Dave,I really don't. These guys are used to traveling and time changes. In fact, the Europen Tour players deal with it much more, as they play all around the world.
Jim (Forth Worth, TX)
I tried looking for this in the rules but couldn't find it...what is the maximum size (both in diameter and thickness) a ball marker on the green can be? And does it have to be round?
Bob Harig (2:12 PM)
Jim, good question. It would take me too long to find the answer so if anybody can cite the rule, please pass it along and I'll post the answer. Thanks
Edgar (St. Louis, MO)
When do tour pros get in practice time when they play on consecutive weekends? Do they travel on Monday mornings, practice Monday afternoons and all day Tuesday, and then practice and scout the course on Wednesday? If they needed to tweak something with their game, when does it take place? Off weeks?
Bob Harig (2:14 PM)
Edgar, this varies by player. Some leave on Sunday night and take Monday to relax, do laundry, workout or hit balls. Most if not all are at the tournament site on Tuesday, either practicing or playing a practice round, especially those who cannot participate in the Wed pro-am -- which takes up the course all day. I would say tweaking takes place all the time, It could be after a round, during practice before the tournament or when they have off time.
Omar (Miami, FL)
What statistical success correlates the best with being successful? Scrambling? Birdies per round? GIR? Putts per Round?
Bob Harig (2:17 PM)
Omar, golf's statistics can really be misleading. Greens in regulation is great, but if you don't make any putts, you won't score. If you're always scrambling, you aren't making enoughbirdies. Putts per round can also be misleading, but I tend to think out of the ones you mention, it is the most important. Typically, no matter how many strokes it takes you to get to the green, if you have more than 30 putts in a round, you are not going to shoot a great score. Even a player who hits every green in regulation and took two putts per hole would shoot par.
Mike (Tulsa, OK)
What is the latest on Adam Scott's knee? Will he be ready for the match play? He was off to a solid start to the season but it seems the injury struggles from last year are carrying over.
Bob Harig (2:21 PM)
Mike, Scott reported on his website recently that he has been at home in Australia and working on getting his knee better. He is scheduled to return at the Match Play at the end of the month.
King (Howell, NJ)
Better chance of winning at Pebble Beach this weekend: Perry or Harrington?
Bob Harig (2:22 PM)
King, having not seen how they are doing today, I would go with Perry, simply because his game seems to be in better shape at the moment.
Actual golf tip question: the biggest struggle I face is either feeling that I am too close or too far away from the ball when in my stance, is there a trick to knowing for sure how far away I should be?
Bob Harig (2:24 PM)
Kevin, you've come to the wrong place for actual golf tips. We're just happy to see green grass and get it airborne.
Weirsy (aside from FBR) has been playing out of his mind for the last 8 months. Will he win one soon?
Bob Harig (2:26 PM)
B, I do think Mike Weir is going to win pretty soon. He's due.
Dave M. (Spokane)
Who do you like in the "Race to Dubai"? Are you thinking Karlsson, Paddy or someone else....Im leaning towards 'the scientist'.
Bob Harig (2:27 PM)
Dave, I'm leaning toward Sergio Garcia. Because the U.S. majors and world events count, I think he's going to be in great shape.
JT (Round Rock, TX)
Why are the scores not posted for the amateur players? It is just as fun to follow the pro's as well as the celebrities with whom they are paired.
Bob Harig (2:29 PM)
JT, if you go to the tour's website, they do have amatuer scores if you look for them.
Jacob (katy, TX)
What happened to Todd Hamilton? There have been one hit wonders before but he really seems to take the cake in that department.
Bob Harig (2:31 PM)
Jacob, Todd Hamilton is in the final year of his five-year exemption for winning the 2004 British. And in the subsequent years, he's never finished among the top 125. Last year he was 150th. Since winning the British, he's had just two top-10 finishes.
Is the PGA Tour Network in trouble?
Bob Harig (2:32 PM)
Steiny, there are some reports that XM Radio/Sirrius are having some financial difficulty. How that relates to the PGA Tour Network, I do not know. Stay tuned, as they say.
Tommy, Oconto Falls, WI [via mobile]
Rumor has it John Daly is working with Rick Smith on his game? Do you think JD can make a comeback?
Bob Harig (2:34 PM)
Tommy, it's up to JD. He still has the skills, he just needs to put his mind to it, get away from the distractions, work on his health and fitness. That might be a lot to ask, but it can be done.
The Brick (VGC)
What ever happened to Jay Don Blake?...That cat had a smooth swing back in the day.
Bob Harig (2:37 PM)
Brick, Jay Don Blake turned 50 late last year and is eligible for the Champions Tour. His lone PGA Tour win came in 1991 in San Diego.
Easton (Roanoke, Virginia)
Do you think Tiger Woods will be able to come back and win the Master's this year?
Bob Harig (2:40 PM)
Easton, I really think it depends on if he can play a tournament or two before the Masters. If so, then certainly, I think he can win there. That to me would mean he's ready becasue he had given himself enough practice. But it would be a lot to ask of him to go there after nine months off -- and just one tournament in that time -- and think he should win.
Todd (Dallas, TX)
Bob, who will be the young star to make a big jump this season?
Bob Harig (2:42 PM)
Todd, we saw Camilo Villegas and Anthony Kim take a big step last year. Both are young. Another big jump would be for each of them to compete in the majors.
Since when are people calling Karlsson "The Scientist"? It's a great name for him...I'd love to get my hands on his formula sheet.
Bob Harig (2:44 PM)
Schmoo, I have to admit, I hadn't heard it before last week or so in this chat room. If anybody has any background feel free to pass it along.
Matt (long island)
Whats your prediction on Tigers' success level in his next year of healthy golf?
Bob Harig (2:45 PM)
Matt, I have to go by what his coach, Hank Haney has been saying. Simply, and paraphrasing, the guy won five of seven tournaments -- with a second and a fifth -- last year on a bad knee. How good can he be when healthy? Sky's the limit. However, I think you have to give him a little bit of time and not expect great things immediately.
Dave M. (Spokane)
Bob, Just checking wikipedia...'Its from his analytical and contemplative style of play"...SO there you go Schmoo.
Bob Harig (2:49 PM)
Dave, thanks for looking that up. .. There you have it, Robert Karlsson, also known as the Scientist.. . Thanks to Steve, also, who sent in a similar reply.
Mike Weir seems to be playing very well again. How do you like his chances this week and at the Masters?
Bob Harig (2:50 PM)
Robert, Weir is on the leaderboard at Pebble Beach and has had four straight top 20 finishes at the Masters. Despite the length, he knows how to get around there. If his game is sharp, certainly he can do it there But we can say that about a lot of players.
Do you think Kevin Streelman can break thru and get his first W this season?
Bob Harig (2:54 PM)
Trey, very hard to say. He was a rookie last year and gave himself just a handful fo chances. He's certainly capable, but so are a lot of players. The key is to continue giving himself those chances.
Riley Grant (Colorado)
I hate Golf!
Bob Harig (2:55 PM)
Riley, you must be really bored then to be here. Welcome nonetheless.
I am a firm believer that a total "scientist" can never be great. There are so many things you must adjust to and compensate for that being a combination of a "feel" player and a "technical" player is the best...hence Tiger, Jack, Ben, Arnold...What do you think is a better edge to have? Feel or Technicality?
Bob Harig (2:57 PM)
Jay, both can work. Nick Faldo did quite well as a mostly technical player. You might say the same about Hogan. Byron Nelson was a feel player. Sergio Garcia seems to have troubles when he gets too technical. It works both ways and maybe having a little of both works best.
What is the ceiling for Nick Watney?
Bob Harig (2:58 PM)
Kevin, many might have thought that he had already reached it, giving his lack of amateur credentials. But golf is funny that way. He's a young guy. A golfer can now player well into his 40s. He can keep improving.
Don (Oklahoma City, OK)
I've heard lots of players say something to the effect, "I've really started to put in the work and now I'm seeing results." What does that mean? They go from putting in 3 hours on the range/course to 6?
Bob Harig (3:00 PM)
Don, it could mean they've found the right way to work. It might be better workouts, more efficient practice, not necessarily longer.
I'm a big Charlie Hoffman fan. His cousin works in my office and when I met him during the past two Wachovia Championships I was shocked by how laid back and cool he is. He has been playing real well so far this year. What is his upside? Could he slip on to the presidents cup team. I think he is 17th right now on the list.
Bob Harig (3:01 PM)
Brian, Charley Hoffman has had a couple of good weeks recently after a rather lackluster 2008. The big key for him is to make his way into a couple of major championships, that would greatly improve his chances of being on the Presidents Cup team.
Scott (Minneapolis, MN)
I love golf!
Bob Harig (3:01 PM)
Scott,good for you. And with that, I'm out of time. Thanks again for all the questions. Please check back again next week.
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