Chat with Jason Sobel
Among his other duties, Sobel writes a weekly column, the "Weekly 18."
Send your questions now and join Jason on Monday at 2 p.m. ET!
Jason Sobel (1:59 PM)
Ponder this, golf fans: In the 24 hours or so that he's been alive, Charlie Axel Woods is probably more famous than all of us in this here chat room put together. Hmmm, I wonder if he's more famous than Nick Watney, who won the Buick Invitational yesterday. Well, there are two topics for us to chew on and discuss. Hit me with plenty of others. I'm at your service for the next hour. You may now swing away...
kurt anderson denver co
Weekly 18 is my favorite content on espn.com. Your style entertains, yet informative content is key. "brah got skills."
Jason Sobel (2:01 PM)
I agree wholeheartedly. Oh wait -- that wasn't really a question, was it? While I'm on the subject though, I think we should start having Weekly 18 speed-reading contests. If you can read that monster in under an hour, you win.
Mike - NC
I think you should get the head guys to allow you to live blog from the 17th at Quail Hollow this year, good times all around
Jason Sobel (2:02 PM)
I'd love to get down to Quail Hollow this year. Not sure if we'll do the live blog form there, though. Next live blog occurrence will be ... whenever TW returns. I think we can now safely narrow it down to either the Match Play or the CA at Doral. When he comes back, I'll live blog.
Mark O'Meara said that Rory McIlroy is ahead of where Tiger Woods was at the same age. Do you agree with Mark?
Jason Sobel (2:04 PM)
They're at different levels. At age 19, Tiger was busy winning U.S. Amateur titles and playing college golf. Rory obviously went the professional route earlier and is currently ranked 16th in the world, so I would guess that gives him a leg up, but it's apples and oranges. If we could time travel and have McIlroy play a 19-year-old Woods 10 times on 10 different courses, I don't think he's winning more than 3 or 4 of them.
What do you think of Phil M's chances at Pebble This week?
Jason Sobel (2:06 PM)
Not very good at all. Who knows? He could turn it all around in the span of a few days, but what's really troubling with Mickelson's game right now is that it's not just one thing that he's having problems with. He can't drive the ball straight, he was pushing many of his iron shots and worst of all, his putting game looked atrocious at Torrey -- where the greens are pretty familiar. I've never seen a great player miss so many short putts at a non-major before. A very good Tour veteran should make at least 80 percent of his 6-footers. Mickelson missed eight from that range on Friday alone.
Dan- Boston, MA
Just finished reading the latest weekly 18 and noticed a reference to your golf bookshelf. What are your favorite golf books on the shelf right now you want to read? keep up the great work...
Jason Sobel (2:08 PM)
Since you actually read all the way to the bottom as opposed to just scrolling, I'll answer the question. I did read Smiley's book Follow the Roar, which I highly recommend. If I could shut myself off from the outside world for a day or two, I'd crack open the newest Jenkins novel, which -- regrettably -- I still haven't read.
Gus - New City, NY
Hey Jason, Is John Rollins on suicide watch? Thanks
Jason Sobel (2:11 PM)
If he is, don't worry -- based on how he played yesterday, his hands are probably too shaky to shoot straight. For a guy who's biggest career "highlight" (despite two wins) has been choking to Tiger in the AMPC a few years ago, he didn't do anything to erase those memories. Still, if he takes it at face value, a runner-up finish is something to build on. If he lets it get to him, though, we won't hear from him again this year.
Gary Dowdell (Cincinnati)
Outside the absence of TW, what's been the biggest golf story of the year thus far?
Jason Sobel (2:13 PM)
Well, the "year" is only five weeks old, but I'd have to say that right now it's the depth of talent on the PGA Tour. We've had five bonafide winners in Ogilvy, Johnson, Perez, Perry and Watney. Ask most fans to name the top 5 or 10 players in the game and these guys may not get mentioned, but they're all either elite players or right on the verge of making that leap. Hasn't been one fluky guy in the mix yet.
How impressed have you been with Nick Watney thus far?
Jason Sobel (2:15 PM)
Love that guy. Seriously. If I could buy stock in a player, I would have bought low on Watney before the season and could now reap the benefits. And I wouldn't sell yet, either. I've told this story a few times in various places, but last year at The Barclays, I sat and watched him on the range for 30 minutes. I walked away thinking, "Unless this guy putts like me, there's no way he won't be a superstar in the next year or two." And now it's starting to happen.
Barbara - phil, PA
And what is that golf tournament that Tiger is back at (probably Doral) going to like - a complete madhouse or what !!
Jason Sobel (2:16 PM)
Absolutely. Whether it's Match Play or Doral, fans will be lining the ropes by thousands in hopes of catching his return, while the golf press -- which has been decimated in the economic downturn, resulting in fewer and fewer on-site reporters at non-major events -- will be out in full force. I know I'll be there.
Jeremy (Victoria, BC)
Hey Jason - Is 2009 going to be a break-out year for Robert Karlsson. I think The Scientist has a good vibe going so far this season.
Jason, What do you think of 'the scientist'? Does Karlsson have what it takes to win a major this year? Thanks,
Not to make this a fantasy chat, but I like Robert karrlson at the World Match Play. What do you think?
Jason Sobel (2:19 PM)
Hmmm....either Robert Karlsson is more popular than I thought or he's got one fan with a bit of a multiple personality disorder. I've liked Karlsson's game for a while -- it's hard not to -- but until he come through in the clutch on the weekend, I'm just not too sure about such lofty expectations for him. He's been king of the top-five finish in recent years, so he's got a ton of game -- just not sure he has that killer instinct needed to win tournaments.
Do Perez, or Watney, make the President's Cup team this year?
Jason Sobel (2:21 PM)
I say yes on Watney, no on Perez. And I'm basing that on very little other than the fact that they each have a ton of competition to make the squad. I just think Watney has a little more upside. That said, Perez plays a lot of practice rounds with Fred Couples. If he's close, but just misses, don't be surprised to see Freddie select him as a captain's pick.
Jason, I promise this will be my last time on this issue, but how is Year III of the Els plan to catch Tiger going? Kind of sad when Woods is out for 9 months and Els still loses ground
Jason Sobel (2:22 PM)
Tough to beat a guy when he's down. Els will readily admit that the plan isn't quite going according to form. We can look at it one of two ways: Either it was too ambitious to think he could make such a run or it was great of him to set goals so high and hope to achieve them. I still don't think we've seen the last of Ernie in a big event, but the window closes a little bit every year.
Dave M. (Spokane)
"The Scientist" That is a great name for Karlsson, I'd love to get my hands on his formula sheet.
Jason Sobel (2:23 PM)
Umm, that sounds kinda dirty...
Who's got your favorite swing on tour? Luke Donald's on the top of my list.
Jason Sobel (2:26 PM)
Luke's not a bad one. That's a great question. Trevor Immelman is up there for me. And I love Sergio Garcia's swing. He swings with confidence, if that can be a tangible quality of a swing.
Did Phil Mickelson pick up a golf club in the offseason? He looks like me after taking 4 months off in the winter.
Jason Sobel (2:28 PM)
Actually, no. It wasn't quite four months off from the game, but he did take a lot of time off. Prior to the FBR Open, Mickelson talked about putting in 8 or 9 days of hard work. Well, there were others who didn't take a day off and that difference is showing right now. Maybe the most troubling thing for Phil is that he's always been a West Coast guy and a fast starter. If he doesn't play well in the next month or so, it could wind up being a long season.
Gus - New City NY
Which celebrity you got this weekend?
Jason Sobel (2:28 PM)
Berman 2 and 1 over Reilly.
J, Whats your prediction for the big Wiezy this week? Her 1 appearance at this event, she finished in second place.
Jason Sobel (2:29 PM)
Nothing would surprise me. I haven't heard much about wie lately, though as is often the case with her, no news is probably good news. She could win by 5 or shoot 82-81 and I wouldn't be shocked either way.
Marc, Charlotte (again)
Can you tell Mickelson not to wear the white belt again? The fashion guy from the Golf Channel would not have been impressed.
Jason Sobel (2:31 PM)
You're right. It would be one thing if he was draining putts from everywhere while wearing a black-shirt/black-pants/white-belt combo, but when you're playing badly it tends to look even worse. Of course, this is coming from a guy who just placed his order from the Ian J. Poulter Design catalog (true story), so I may not exactly be an expert on fashion, either.
Jason- Still waiting for your answer on Karrlson in the WMP. He dominated at his singles match during the Ryder Cup and would like to know if you think that will dranslate.
Jason Sobel (2:33 PM)
Sorry, I did forget that one earlier. Gotta see the matchup, gotta see how the players are faring going into it. I tend to never pick Euro Tour players at the AMPC if they're just coming over for one week. Tough thing to travel halfway across the world, play one round on an unfamiliar course and fare well. If it was a 72-hole stroke-play event, they could make it up. But a Wednesday start means a little early jetlag and they're flying back home before they even knew what him them.
MAJ!!!!!!!!!! Mechanic in 09!!!
Jason Sobel (2:34 PM)
Interesting stat: If Jimenez wins a major this year, he would be the first player with a ponytail to do so since ... whomever won the last LPGA major of 2008, I think.
Might Mickelson ultimately retire as the greatest player never to have been considered the best active player (over say a 1-year stretch) at any point in his career?
Jason Sobel (2:37 PM)
Wow, can we load some more conjecture, assumptions, variables and subjective opinion into that question? If you say so, then sure. I'm not even sure how to research that one. Was Gene Sarazen ever considered the greatest player for a one-year stretch? Maybe, I'm not positive. Seve Ballesteros? Possibly. Gary Player? Actually...that could be your answer right there. Or maybe Lee Trevino. Or Tom Watson. there's no way to answer this, so let's just move on and try not to hurt ourselves giving it too much thought.
Jack (Long Beach CA)
Have you spoken to Paul Goydos since the death of his ex-wife? He played pretty well this past weekend and I am hoping he can at least keep his card if not contend for a win.
Jason Sobel (2:38 PM)
Haven't spoken with him. As far as I know, he still hasn't planned out his schedule yet. The good news is that if he misses a bulk of the season, the PGA Tour has a new exemption for "family crisis" which I'm sure he would qualify for, enabling him to keep his card for 2010.
Chris; Baton Rouge
Have you been taking advantage of technology? Any new clubs you'd recommend?
Jason Sobel (2:41 PM)
So far this year, I've been using a 460cc metal shovel to scrape away the ice on the driveway, going with a carbon graphite ice scraper on the car and I'm really feeling confident in my long game, as the snowblower hardly ever strays from the fairway -- er, driveway. So to answer your question, no, haven't taken advantage of anything.
I work at a small paper here on the coast and my boss has told me I can cover 2 non-major tournaments this year. My question is this: which of the remaining tournaments provide the best food in the media tent?
Jason Sobel (2:44 PM)
Hate to break this to you, but I believe the Tour now contracts media dining out to the same service every week, which means the meatloaf that you pass on in the Quad Cities may very well be the same meatloaf that you wind up eating the next week in Milwaukee. That said, go to the Players, where we ink-stained wretches can actually mix with people of taste in the course's grillroom -- or what I like to call "Tim Finchem's Rock of Love Clubhouse." (It looks just like Bret Michaels' house on the show; did I really need to explain the reference?)
Gary Dowdell (Cincinnati)
Which of the four courses to host majors this year would the average golfer enjoy the most?
Jason Sobel (2:48 PM)
I'm pretty sure you can ask me that question every year and I'd keep saying Augusta National. That said, Bethpage could be fun -- if you're into self-mutilation. I'll let you know. I'm playing there two weeks before it hosts the Open.
Is Cory Pavin the best they could come up with to lead the Ryder Cup? Why not just give it to Chip Beck.
Jason Sobel (2:49 PM)
Pavin was never the best player nor the most dynamic, but he's a smart guy and always got the most out of his game. If he can do the same thing with the members of his team, the U.S. will be in pretty good shape.
Considering the pro's play 30 or more strokes less than the average player, why do their rounds take so much longer?
Jason Sobel (2:51 PM)
It may have a little something to do with the fact that they're playing for hundreds of thousands of dollars more than the average player. Think about it: If it was your job and you were getting paid on a pay-per-performance basis, would you rush through it just to get done faster? Believe me, I know slow play is an issue, but that's what happens when every stroke means so much out there.
Joe (Stamford, CT)
Which will play tougher this week; Spyglass or Pebble?
Jason Sobel (2:52 PM)
Probably depends on how much the wind is blowing at the two courses, but I'll go with Spyglass. It's just a more difficult course overall than PB.
Who's better at golf -- me or Tiger's infant?
Jason Sobel (2:52 PM)
I don't know you, but ... Tiger's infant.
Marty Hackel (TGC)
Phil's belt made me throw up in my mouth.
Jason Sobel (2:52 PM)
That made me laugh.
Jack (Long Beach CA)
What happended to DLIII this weekend? After playing well in Hawaii and Thursday, I thought he might have a better chance. Can he win again before April?
Jason Sobel (2:54 PM)
I've been saying for a while that I think DL3 has No. 21 in him before the Masters, but not if he keeps shooting 77s. He's playing very well right now, though, so don't bet against him. He's won a few times at Pebble, so this could be the week.
Over/Under on the amount of obligatory Caddyshack references during the Pro-Am while Bill Murray is playing?
Jason Sobel (2:55 PM)
From the gallery? From the broadcast booth? From Murray himself? All combined, it'll be in the thousands ... so they've got that going for them, which is nice.
Do you think that the golf should have an all star event?
Jason Sobel (2:58 PM)
It would be a great idea to bring out the stars and have some sort of skills competition and maybe even a team event at some point -- anything to show off the personalities and do something a little different. It can't be on a Wednesday before a tourney, though. Ancd it needs to be at an event where the top players will be. Just spitballing here, but maybe finish the first playoff event on a Saturday, then have something like this on Sunday of that week, with the PGA Tour's top players are involved in NBA/NHL weekend-like skills competitions. I'm sure there are better ideas than what I just thought of, but they're worth exploring for the Tour.
Jason Sobel (3:01 PM)
The hour is up, which means that's all for me today. One last shameless plug to read the Weekly 18 and if you have any further unanswered questions, there may just be a secret email address somewhere at the bottom of that column where you can reach me. Thanks for all the questions. Until next time, hit 'em straight ...