Chat with Bob Harig
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPN.com golf writer Bob Harig will stop by to chat live from The Memorial, just over an hour before Tiger Woods tees off.
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 to chat Thursday at 11 a.m. ET!
Bob Harig (10:57 AM)
Hello, thanks for checking in at a different day and time. I'm at the rainy Memorial in Ohio, where weather is often an issue. Looks like they're going to get back out on the course shortly but the forecast is not good. It'll be tough to get the first round in. All of which leaves some time to chat. Please feel free to fire away with questions.
Brian (Westborough, MA)
The Senior PGA Championship was in my opinion the best golf of the weekend. A lot of this had to wo with the course. Next year it is being held at Valhalla. What is the fascination with the PGA and Valhalla? It reminds me of an ex girlfriend I had that everytime I let her pick the restaurant we ended up at Arbys. We could have gone to a steakhouse, a lobster joint or even a buffet but we settled for Arbys. This championship has gone to Augusta, Firestone, PGA National and Kiwah just to name a few. For a tour that needs viewers why not go to a course that we want to see? Chambers Bay? Pacific Dunes? Even the Shore Course at the AT&T got rave reviews and any of these would draw in viewers as they are virgin to our eyes? Valhalla is so blah...
Bob Harig (10:59 AM)
Brian, thanks for the life update, and somewhere in there is an interesting question about the PGA's decision to go to Valhalla again. They've had two PGAs and a Ryder Cup at the venue, and as you said, a Senior PGA is scheduled for next year. Here's the simple explanation: The PGA of America owns the course. So from a financial standpoint, it is in their best interests to bring tournaments there. They don't get stuck with a course rental fee and in simple terms get to reap more of the profits.
Is Phil MIckelson no longer working with Dave Pelz?
Bob Harig (11:01 AM)
Patrick, he is still working with Pelz to the best of my knowledge. You just hear more about Butch Harmon and Dave Stockton, who is specifically in charge of putting. Pelz is a short-game guru which would include putting but likely in Phil's case has more to do with chipping and wedge play.
Brian (Westborough, MA)
Sergio was AWOL again in Spain this weekend? Is there an arrest warrant there for him or something? He skipped the Open de Espana and now the Madrid Masters. He also did not play the BMW PGA. He only played in the states in 1 of those weeks? The Spannish economy is in the toilet and it's biggest draw blew them off for their 2 tournaments. Even Tiger added the Buick to his schedule last year which greatly helped that tournament and local economy. Has Sergio given any rationale to his schedule lately?
Bob Harig (11:04 AM)
Not sure what is going on with Sergio, but he did play last week at the Madrid Masters. He missed the cut -- the first time he has done so on the European Tour since the 2004 British Open. Since the Masters, Garcia has played four tournaments on the PGA Tour, with his best finish a tie for 45th at the Texas Open.
What placements will it take for Phil to be #1 over Woods after this tournament?
Bob Harig (11:05 AM)
This is not official, but the word is that Phil needs to win the Memorial with Tiger finishing no better than 5th for Mickelson to take over the No. 1 spot. That won't become official until the first round is completely under way in which the field strength will be calculated. But you get the basic idea.
Bill (New York, NY)
Very strange that the golf press did not cover the Mickelson missed cut with anywhere near the visciousness that they covered the Tiger missed cut at Quail Hollow. Should Mickelson fire his swing coach too? Why does the golf press despise Tiger so much, considering that he is the reason that many of them even have a job?
Bob Harig (11:08 AM)
Bill, you raise a fair point. Phil doesn't get near the scrutiny when he struggles that Tiger does. The explanation is simple: Phil is not Tiger. He doesn't have the same record. He's missed more than 60 cuts in his career. Tiger has missed 6. Tiger has 14 majors, Phil has 4. And I take issue with the golf press "despising" Tiger. I believe that is far from the case. It is simply more a matter of his game gets incredible scrutiny, both good and bad. Over the years, it has become clear that the only consistency about Phil is his inconsistency. Missing a cut for Mickelson does not seem to be as big of a deal, perhaps becauxe we are more used to it.
Brian (Westborough, MA)
Tiger and Phil are not playing together in the skins game? They have never ben randomly paired together in a PGA event (only paired together when traditional pairings insisted so or the USGA group players by world rankings). Why does the tour insist that these pairings are random? Why not just come out and say Tiger and Phil are our biggest 2 draws and to help raitings we will split them up?
Bob Harig (11:10 AM)
Your question points out very clearly that the PGA Tour's groupings are far from completely random. They certainly are to a point. For example, it is likely not by design that Tiger is playing with Jason Bohn and Steve Stricker. But at every tour event this year, Tiger and Phil have been on opposite sides of the draw. And this week, they have exactly the opposite tee times. So you know they had to do some fiddling.
Brian (Westborough, MA)
What chances do you give Tony Romo to make the US Open? 50/1?
Bob Harig (11:11 AM)
I would say more like 200 to 1. It would be an incredible accomplishment if Romo made it through sectional qualifying and into the U.S. Open. Just making it to sectionals is pretty impressive for a part-time golfer. But there he is going to face seasoned pros, guys who do this for a living. It's a big longshot.
Do you think we will have a watchable tournament on the PGA tour this week?These last few weeks have been brutal.I found myself watching Couples on the Champions Tour last week.
Bob Harig (11:12 AM)
Joe, I guess it's a matter of taste, but I thought Zach Johnson's win at the Colonial was pretty compelling. The guy played some great golf over the final nine holes. But I will give you the Champions Tour's Senior PGA Championship being great stuff. Couples making back-to-back eagles and Tom Lehman hanging in there to win in a playoff is the kind of stuff the Champions Tour needs.
Vijay's exemption into the US Open: Yay or nay?
Bob Harig (11:15 AM)
Andrew, after considerable thought, I'm giving it a thumbs up. I was fine with them not giving him one, however, if they chose not to do so. The one they gave Tom Watson is the first special exemption given by the USGA since 2005. So they don't just throw these things around. And Singh has had plenty of opportunity to make the field. That said, Singh is a three-time major winner who hasn't missed a major in more than 15 years. He's been plagued with injuries, barely fell out of the top 50 the week prior to the exemption cutoff. So in the end, I think it was a good move.
Do you think Tiger's press conference yesterday was more like the old tiger where he gives the media nothing....sure felt like he's the same person he was before the "incident"
Bob Harig (11:17 AM)
Nick, it definitely had the feeling of things getting back to "normal." It was golf intensive, covered a lot of subjects, and there were some where it was clear he wasn't going to give anything up.
Steven (Linlithgow, Scotland)
Do you think this week's European Tour event at Celtic Manor will give us any kind of insight as to how the Ryder Cup will go?
Bob Harig (11:18 AM)
Steven, unfortunately I do not. The course conditions will be far different in October, and so will the atmosphere. And the majority of those will you expect to be on the European team are not even there.
Zack (Plano, TX)
Bob, what kind of chance are your giving Adam Scott this weekend? He wins in San Antonio and then did not play the Byron or Colonial. Did he play a tournament overseas? In my opinion, he takes alot of time off and in turn loses his momentum.
Bob Harig (11:21 AM)
Zack, I'm guessing his lack of tournament play since his victory is simple Scott sticking to his schedule. He likely had it planned out this way. He played three weeks in a row, including his victory at Texas, and then planned to take two weeks off before the Memorial with thoughts of getting ready for the U.S. Open. While it's true maybe he could have stayed on a roll, you've seen many times where a player it emotionally drained after a victory, too.
To the best of your knowledge, has Rick Smith ever given any sit down interviews on the break up with Phil?
Bob Harig (11:23 AM)
Not that I am aware of. It seems as though he had too much respect for their friendship and stayed above it -- and perhaps understood Phil's decison to work with Butch Harmon.
To follow up on Nick (Atlanta)'s comment, it really seems like Tiger has been far from truthful about the promises he's made about changing his attitude. Does his rebound solely depend on his golf game or could he be taking a big risk (in terms of popularity, sponsorships, and ultimately legacy) in not making a bigger effort off the course?
Bob Harig (11:31 AM)
Mike, it's hard to say right now about Tiger. He's not being real honest about his injury situation, that is for sure. He never let on he had a neck issue. Then again, he wasn't asked, and it's never been his style to make excuses or tell anyone what is going on. We've discussed this before, but in a sport where an opponent cannot take advantage of your injuries, I don't see the harm. But I think it's too early to make any specific judgments overall.
Do you get to try the milkshakes at the Memorial? I heard they are great...Augusta is to pimmento cheese as the memorial is to milkshakes..
Bob Harig (11:32 AM)
Nick, you are correct, although I have not tried any -- yet.
LPGA playing any tournaments this month?
Bob Harig (11:34 AM)
Marc, they actually have three tournaments this month, starting next week in Springfield, Ill. They also have the LPGA Championship later in the month.
To follow up on Mike's question, if Tiger wins he'll be able to do whatever he wants...
Bob Harig (11:36 AM)
Nick, there is a school of thought that if Tiger gets back to his winning ways, things will get back to the way they used to be -- both for better and worse.
I heard awhile back there were rumblings about making some players play one or two lower-tier tournaments to help improve the overall state of the game. Agree with the concept? To me, seems like with 4 Fedex Cup events, 3 WGC events, and a couple other "must attend" non-majors....that's starting to ask too much. Reduce a few of those tourneys and then I like the idea.
Bob Harig (11:39 AM)
Andrew, I touched on this in my birdies and bogeys column this week (shameless plug). There is a movement to designate several tournaments, maybe 5 or 6, and require the top 50 money winners or FedEx cup points leaders from the previous year to play at least one of those events. I think the idea has some merit. It's not asking too much. We're talking about one tournament! The problem, as you pointed out, is there are so many "must-play" events with the majors and WGCs and playoffs, that the rank-and-file tournaments get squeezed. And let's face it, those events are the backbone of the tour. They need some help. And some of these fields would get a better field with such a move. I like the fact that they are discussing it.
Pam (West Palm Beach)
I do believe there is a love/hate relationdhip with the golf media and Tiger although as a media man you deny it. case in point, majority of golfers battle all sorts of injury daily yet they are not asked about it, like Tiger. media is offended that Tiger does not let it all hang out
Bob Harig (11:41 AM)
I am certainly not offended. But you have to ask the questions when the No. 1 player in the world -- the one who clearly attracts the most attention -- has to miss time due to an injury. Yeah, lots of guys battle injuries, but Tiger had never withdrawn from the middle of a round due to one. It's legitimate fodder, I'm afraid.
Sadie Jane (INDY)
I think a lot of people forget that golfers are basiclly independant contracters and they should not be forced to play in tournaments that don't fit into their carrer plans.It would be great to have at least 10 top 25 players in every tourney,but don't think it is something the PGA should try to force.
Bob Harig (11:44 AM)
I don't buy the independent contractor argument. If you were an independent contractor, would you get health benefits and free day care and one of the most lucrative pension plans in sports? The PGA Tour does have rules for its players. They can issue fines. They can require them to play a minimum number of tournaments. Why can't they require them to play certain ones? I realize it is not a road they want to go down, but they have to do something to help the lesser tournaments or they will no longer have them.
The reason why Tiger and Phil are split is an easy one ... TV. Each gets top billing for the 1st two rounds - one thursday and the other on friday.
Bob Harig (11:45 AM)
I don't think there is any doubt about it, but the tour maintains the groupings are random. They is clearly not completely the case.
Jonathan (Long Island)
How do you like Adam Scott's chances this week? I've been impressed with the way he's been playing of late, even before his win a few weeks back.
Bob Harig (11:46 AM)
It is difficult to gauge how a player who does not win consistently is going to fare after a victory. Certainly Scott has been playing better and a win -- plus he had one laste last year in Australia -- should give him confidence.
It's still a couple weeks away, but for our amusement, predict the US Open winner for us.
Bob Harig (11:51 AM)
For your amusement: Phil Mickelson. . . Really going out on a limb.
Bill (New York, NY)
The media defintely dislikes Tiger and covers him unfairly. When he does not win they trash him and overscrutinize his game and when he does win, they say it is because everyone else stinks and noone challenges him. Now compare this coverage to Mickelson where the media essentially has an orgasm every time that he wins.
Bob Harig (11:52 AM)
Dislikes Tiger and covers him unfairly? Pretty broad statement there, Bill. Was there a question?
Pam (West Palm Beach)
Tiger and everyone is a work in progress and a human being. Why are people, media not willing to give him time to work out his problems etc.We gave him godlike status before and we still persist in granting him godlike status to change. Are we being hyper critical because we think Tiger owes us something
Bob Harig (11:53 AM)
Pam, I don't thing Tiger owes us anything when it comes to his personal life. It's his business. But his personal life affected his profesisonal sporting life, and that is where the lines are blurred and where there becomes different levels of expectations.
Are you thinking we will see a well-known player or a newcomer come out on top this weekend?
Bob Harig (11:55 AM)
Ray, based on the history of this event, it will be a well-known player. Few first-timers win here. And most of the recent list -- Woods, Perry, Choi, Pettersson, Els, Furyk -- are established players.
Pam (West Palm Beach)
If they do the designated tournaments thing, will this not narrow down the rank and file winning of tournaments?
Bob Harig (11:58 AM)
Possibly, but I don't see it having a big impact. You figure that out of the top 50 players on the money list, a handful of them would have already been thinking of playing one of the designated events. And if they wanted, they could go further and spread it around somehow so that all of those tournaments get, say, at least 10 of those players. Not sure how that would work, but it has some promise.
Bob Harig (11:59 AM)
Okay folks, I'm out of time. Thanks again for the questions. Enjoy the Memorial and check back and next week. Thanks