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 Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET for all the answers.
Harig Archive: Columns
Bob Harig (2:01 PM)
Hello, welcome to Augusta National, where things are finally starting to warm up. It's a beautiful day and it's supposed to get nicer as we go. The Masters is now less than a day from beginning, and as we chat, the Par 3 Contest is being staged on the nearby Par 3 course. There's lots to talk about, so feel free to fire away with your questions
Barb Philadelphia, PA
Bob, Do you think Tiger might join the par 3 contest again next year - with Sam ?! That would be so cute!
Bob Harig (2:04 PM)
Barb, Tiger is skipping the Par 3 this year and seems to be of the mindset that he can prepare better for the tournament by practicing early on the course and getting out of here. Would he ever have his kids take part? Now that's an interesting question to ponder.
Andrew Chicago, IL
I say Tiger goes wire to wire. He is going to start on Thursday with his first ever opening round in the 60's with a 65, and follow that up with a 67,67,66 and never look back. Do you agree?
Bob Harig (2:05 PM)
Andrew, Tiger might ultimately prevail, but I have a hard time seeing him shoot those scores. Interesting stat: since winning here in 2005, his only round in the 60s was the final rund 68 he shot last year.
Hi Bob, honey combs here, Did you see "the scientist" had a nice showing in Houston? Would you be surprised if you saw him trade in his lab coat for a green jacket come Sunday? Thanks!
Bob Harig (2:09 PM)
The reference, of course, is to Robert Karlsson, who had three top-10s in majors last year, including a tie for eighth here. His form this year is questionable, although he is coming off a tie for 14th in Houston. I could see Karlsson as a sleeper pick.
Jer Flair (Toronto, ON)
So the Scientist's lab partner out there is Zach Johnson. Does playing with a former champ help or hurt him?
Bob Harig (2:10 PM)
Jer, I don't think it ever hurts to play with a past champion, if they allow you to pick their brain. Certainly you can learn a lot by playing with and talking with a player who has had success here.
Gus - New City, NY
Hello Bob, Where has Cink been this year? Do you think he might be able to bring it together this week? Thanks
Bob Harig (2:12 PM)
Gus, since finishing third at the Match Play, Cink has dropped off, with three lackluster peformances and nothing better than a tie for 30th. But I like his chances here. Cink has a lot of experience at August. And in the past three years, he's been 10th, tied for 17th and tied for third at the Masters.
Bob, How will the course changes affect the field if any? Does it take away the possibility of a winner like Zach or Trevor again, or does that depend on weather?
Bob Harig (2:13 PM)
Michael, the course changes for this year were minimal. They moved a couple of tees up and trimmed 10 yards from the course yardage. The big question will be if Masters officials move tees way up if the weather gets dicey. But it's suppose to be warm for most of the weekend.
Paul (Williamsville, NY)
Where do you rank Mike Weir's 18th hole 6-8 footer in 2003 on the list of greatest clutch putts in Masters History?
Bob Harig (2:13 PM)
Paul, it's certainly been underrated. If he had missed the putt -- and Len Mattiace had won -- history would be much different.
Dave (New York)
Any guess as to the winning score this year, given weather forecasts, course set-up, etc? I'm thinking something like minus 6 or 7. The Masters was more fun when lower scores won it. Finally - is Phil's head and game in the right place to win this week? THANKS
Bob Harig (2:15 PM)
Dave: I agree with your winning score total. Somewhere around 8 under or so, I think, it will get it done. The weather will impact that. And I believe Phil is more than ready. He's been gearing up for this and I sort of view last week in Houston as a fluke.
Chris (Chaska, MN)
I read an opinion stating that the winner of this year's Masters would win the tournament on the strength of his wedge play. Do you agree with that assessment? With course and weather conditions in mind, are there any other facets of the game that stand out over others that will correlate to success this week?
Bob Harig (2:16 PM)
Chris, I think wedge play is a big part of it, especially if the par-5s are not reachable in 2. Those are 16 birdie opportunities if you can be hitting your wedge close. But so many other factors are important. Driving it in the fairway is a much more important now that Augusta has rough; and the short game and putting are always huge at Augusta, no matter the weather.
Chris, San Diego, California
If Mickelson can go after the par 5's and get some birdies, I like his chances. His scoring on par 4's coming down the stretch is not very encouraging - the answer for Phil will be how he can attack the par 5's - go Phil!
Bob Harig (2:17 PM)
Chris, sounds reasonable to me.
Hey Bob--One of my favorite parts about the Masters is keeping track of the amateurs who get invited to play. Is there anyone on your radar who might be able to shoot a low score and make the cut this year?
Bob Harig (2:20 PM)
Rajesh, I don't know if Steve Wilson can pull that off, but I love his story. He's a gas station owner from Mississippi and got in by winnign the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship. They've gotten to know Wilson at Augusta, because he's been here more than a dozen times for practice rounds.
Do you think this par 3 contest can hurt a players swing for the next days regular course?
Bob Harig (2:21 PM)
Chris, if anything it should help. It's nothing but short-iron shots in the par-3 tournament.
Doug, Toledo Ohio
Will the course play harder for the later tee times tomorrow? I see Tiger is teeing off pretty late in the day tomorrow and Friday.
Bob Harig (2:23 PM)
Doug, it's an interesting question. Hard to say. My guess is it always plays harder as the day wears on; the course gets dried out ,the wind can pick up, there are more spike marks on the green. Tiger is in the second to last group on Thursday but will be teeing off at 10:45ET on Friday.
Steve Louisville, Kentucky
Bob, what, to you, is the most awe-inspiring thing about Augusta National?
Bob Harig (2:23 PM)
Steve, I think it's the total package. The hills, the beauty, the impeccable conditions, the pine trees. It's just a neat place.
If you had a 2-footer to win the Par 3 contest would you knock it in knowing that at least you will go in the record books for something, or would you miss it (presumably on purpose) to avoid the Jinx?
Bob Harig (2:28 PM)
Jay, I'd knock it in and do my best to break the jinx
Robby Berrien Springs, MI
When is there going to be live broadcasting on espn.com/golf of a single hole. They did this last year for some tournaments that had a short par 4
Bob Harig (2:29 PM)
Robby, not exactly sure what you are referring to here. . ESPN has the Par 3 starting at 3 ET and will begin coverage of the tournament on Thursday at 4. ESPN360.com will have streaming video as will Masters.com during the tournament.
Barb Philadelphia, PA
OK, the ultimate Augusta National question - which is your favorite - the pimento cheese, egg salad, or tuna salad sandwich?
Bob Harig (2:30 PM)
Barb, I know this is blasphemy around here, but the pimento cheese is not something I covet. I'd rather starve. If I had to pick, it would be the egg salad.
Hey Bob, Whats your take on Kimmer...He's been really quiet this year...Can he turn things around and hoist that "big cup" over his head come Sunday....ahhh.
Bob Harig (2:33 PM)
Kolbay, I don't fancy his chances this week. Masters first timers have it tough, and Kim hasn't played particularly well since Hawaii. And having the last tee time on Thursday doesn't help either.
Why is the Masters coverage not all day everyday Thursday-Sunday
Bob Harig (2:35 PM)
Adam, it is a question that many wonder about. Basically, the Masters folks believe in less is more. They like the idea that we crave more coverage and know that people won't miss the little that is on the air. So they limit it. I'm not sure I agree in this day and age, but they have come a long way. It wasn't that long ago that they never showed the front nine. They have allowed us to show various holes on ESPN.com and on Masters.com.
Mark - New York
Any hope for Fred Couples or the Shark!?
Bob Harig (2:37 PM)
Mark, I think it's a reach, to be honest. It is a lot to ask of these guys to contend, let alone win. Fred played well last in Houston but faltered down the stretch. Norman is a big story this week, but you just wonder if he has played and practiced enough to handle this course.
Hagler (M'boro, Tn)
Bob- What are the chances that Norman can give us another British open moment from a year ago?
Bob Harig (2:39 PM)
Hagler, I'm skeptical. Royal Birkdale is a different test. Norman's skills in the wind were on display, but the short game skills here are far more severe. It will be fun to see how he does.
Do you think we'll ever see range finders allowed on the pga? I've read that the scientist has been lobbying the Euro Tour to allow them...at least as a pilot. I had to laugh because the idea of Karlsson using a device like a range finder totally fits with his nickname.
Bob Harig (2:40 PM)
Jerry, I think it is a long way off. There is some thought that it could help speed up play. But many of the players like the idea of having to do it on their own, as those who do their homework are rewarded.
I heard that Steve Williams is caddying for Phil in the par 3 contest.
Bob Harig (2:41 PM)
Sean, good one.
Roger Madison MS
If Tiger putts well do you think he will have a run away victory?
Bob Harig (2:42 PM)
Roger, not sure he will run away with it, but putting is huge at Augusta and it is what has really kept him from winning the last three years, when he was third, second and second.
Terry, Syracuse NY
Is Rory Mclroy's short game good enough to contend here?
Bob Harig (2:44 PM)
Terry, good question. I don't know the answer. The short game is tested tremendously at Augusta, espeically for a first-timer.
Chris; Baton Rouge
What's the rough looking like? Hopefully not as penal as the US Open.
Bob Harig (2:44 PM)
Chris, the rough is nothing like a U.S. Open -- or anywhere, really. It's really not rough at all, but it is enough to alter the flight of golf shots, which is why it remains controversial.
Hey Bob, Why is noone talking about O'Hair....That cat went toe to toe with El Tigre, and noone is talking about him.
Bob Harig (2:45 PM)
Brick, O'Hair tied for 14th here last year and has been playing well this year. He probably should get more attention.
Tiger did not shoot a 68 in the final round last year like you stated earlier.
Bob Harig (2:47 PM)
Bryan, I stand corrected. His 68 came in the third round. It is his only score in the 60s since he shot 65 in the third round in 2005, the last year he won.
What do you think of Nick Whatney's chances? He's playing great and is one of the "young guns" who seems to be overlooked.
Bob Harig (2:48 PM)
Ray, I like Nick Watney a lot. He's had a great year with a victory and an excellent March. And he tied for 11th in his only Masters start last year.
Franklin, Totowa NJ
I guess because in Tiger's mind the golf world evolves around him and he uses this intimidation to his advantage, the media at large thinks all we we coverage on is him. This field is full of guys that can win not named Tiger Woods. Someone will beat him and real golf fans will actually know who he is if his name is not Tiger, Phil, Ernie, Vijay or Sergio.
Bob Harig (2:49 PM)
Franklin, is that a question?
Steve S (Grand Rapids, MI)
Is there any place i can watch or track scores before 4pm??
Bob Harig (2:50 PM)
Steve, check out Jason Sobel's blog at ESPN.com tomorrow -- which will begin at 8 a.m. ET. He'll have all the updates about what is going on.
Bob Harig (2:51 PM)
Tim, I happen to love Amen Corner. Watch the shots into 11, the tee shots and all of 12 and the tee shots at 13. That is a great spot.
Believe it was on 13 during last year's final when Tiger purposely broke his club to hit a recovery shot. After all the knee rehab, do you think he would risk injury in a similar situation this Sunday?
Bob Harig (2:52 PM)
Ray, that was actually on 11 two years ago when Zach Johnson won. I'm not sure he risked injury to his knee on that shot, but I think Tiger takes into account the risks associated with any shot and how it could impact his future.
Tim S, Chicago
Bob, if you had to park yourself somewhere on the course all day to watch, where would it be?
Bob Harig (2:53 PM)
Tim, sorry, this question did not get posted early. My answer was that I like Amen Corner the best.
Parker (Park City)
Bob, help!!! In a golf pool where you can only pick Tiger once all year, do you take him this week? Wait for the U.S. Open or Tour Championship? Thanks!!!
Bob Harig (2:56 PM)
Parker, wow, tough one. My gut would be to wait -- he's great in a small field, though.
Marc - Philly
Bob, Why is GIR so important here at Augusta. Will the leader in that category be in contention this year?
Bob Harig (2:58 PM)
Marc, the leader in greens in regulation is almost always in contention, simply becaue of the severity of the greens. If you are scrambling all the time, you are going to be making a lot of bogeys. You avoid big numbers by hitting the greens and you obviously give yourself more birdie chances.
Terry, Syracuse NY
Are you tired of courses (namely Augusta) getting "tiger proofed" every year. If they would have left the course alone, Tiger would have 8 jackets by now.
Bob Harig (2:59 PM)
Terry, they had to do something at Augusta. The 15th hole was not meant to be played with a sand wedge second shot to a par 5. The 18th was not meant to have a wedge for the second shot. The problem is, did they go too far??
vegastaco Henderson, Nv
let me get this straight..you get paid for going to augusta national??? nice gig if you can get it!! my question...are there any windy days predicted and will augusta national move some tees up wind or not to get players to go for some of the par 5's
Bob Harig (3:01 PM)
Like I always say, it would be a really great job if I didn't have to write. . . . The forecast does not call for a lot of wind, and it appears the weather will be warm on the weekend.
Bob Harig (3:02 PM)
I am out of time folks. Please check back on ESPN.com for tons of coverage over the next four days. Enjoy the Masters.
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