Chat with Bob Harig
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, ESPN.com golf writer Bob Harig will stop by to talk about the 2011 golf season.
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 Wednesday at 4:15 p.m. ET!
Bob Harig (4:13 PM)
Hello, sorry for the brief delay on the start time. I'm checking in this week from Torrey Pines in San Diego, site of the Farmers Insurance Open which begins tomorrow. Don't forget the mailbag (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have questions outside of this chat. Let's get started, thanks.
I'm not a die hard golf fan, but I occasionally like to watch. But why should I care about Martin Kaymer?
Bob Harig (4:15 PM)
He's on the verge of becoming the No. 1 player in the world, he's just 25, seems to have incredible maturity for his age, has won 5 times in the past year including a major championship. He could be around for awhile. Seems like a nice guy, too.
Mike (charlotte, nc)
enough of the "next Tiger" talk as those expectations are unrealistic, but who of the under 30 group can you see possibly being the next Mickelson or Singh - i.e. 3 or 4 majors and 30+ tour wins...it just seems like even that is a lot to ask for
Bob Harig (4:17 PM)
I think Kaymer is an excellent candidate for that. You're right, it is unrealistic to think someone will be the next Tiger -- or even Phil. A lot of the young guys are hyped, but Kaymer has a major and a slew of victories in Europe. It will be interesting to see if he ever plays the PGA Tour full time.
Ed (Long Island)
A lot of talk about rules being too harsh with the DQ's. My thought is that they should keep it as is. Even though it is a harsh penalty, by changing it, it will now give players pause to call penalites on themselves, and if the camera catches them, so be it. Harsh penalties is probably the best way to keep everyone in line when there is no 3rd party officiating going on.
Bob Harig (4:20 PM)
Your point is a good one. The problem with allowing for strokes to be added after the scorecard is signed is it means a player who does not know the rules is rewarded. And how do you decide between what a player should or should not know?
Mike (charlotte, nc)
What's the point of having the one round on the north course this week? The south is regarded as the better course and there is usually such a discrepancy with the scoring between the two that it doesn't seem to make any sense to use it
Bob Harig (4:24 PM)
It makes for simpler pace of play. They don't have to cram an entire 150-player field on one golf course the first two days. They can split them up over two courses, spread them out and get them around due to daylight issues.
who pays these appearance fees players get for the Euro Tour events, sponsors or R
Bob Harig (4:27 PM)
First, the R&A is not the governing body, it is the European Tour. And it is the sponsors who pays those inducements. They have a choice: put the money into the purse, or hold some back to give to the big names. You'll often notice that the tournaments that give appearance money also have modest purses.It is against PGA Tour rules to give appearance money, and they would likely be bringing on more problems. If they have sponsor issues, those same sponsors would feel pressure to pay playyers on the side. Not a good situation.
Ed (Long Island)
Do you think Phil overly focused on majors and the other tournaments are really practice rounds to get ready for the majors? How does the player had the lowest cumulative score in the 4 majors in 2010 be so pedestrian in basically every other tournament. Seems he is not motivated and could be thinking at this point in his career, adding 2 more majors can really cement his place in history, winning the other tournaments don't do much to his resume.
Bob Harig (4:29 PM)
I don't think there is any doubt that Phil is trying to get himself ready for the majors. But what is also unclear is how much his wife's illness has played a part in this and the arthritis that he disclosed last year that he has. Phil has not provided a lot of insight, and it might be that those are major distractions.
What would you think of an idea of say rotating the Fed Ex Cup events to differnt venus of tournaments that struggle for fields. Ex: Moving say Harbor town to one and so on and so on. This would guarantee these events of quality fields. I know they have agreements with Barclays, Deutshc Bank etc but something to consider.
Bob Harig (4:31 PM)
You are right, there are agreements in place, but it would be good for the tour to consider some different ideas, such as you suggested. There are numerous ways to make the playoff events more appealing and perhaps a rotation of some kind would help.
dan McCauley (canada)
Tiger is still #1 who is really out their that can challenge him? Remember he is always in the top when he is playing his game.
Bob Harig (4:34 PM)
Well, he's not No. 1 according to the rankings, although I understand your point. He was not playing his game last year, and the question still remains if he can get back to that.
Andres Arbelaez (Orlando, FL)
Bob, I was wondering if you got a chance to catch Tiger today during his Pro Am round? If yes how is he looking?
Bob Harig (4:35 PM)
I've gotten a couple of questions along these lines and, unfortuntately, I've not seen him hit a shot. He's on the course as we speak. I'll be checking him out tomorrow morning when he tees off for real.
Many people think Tiger has lost his intimidation factor over other players. But I?m drawing a blank on any past events (specifically majors) where players crumbled when he was at or near the lead. Examples on the contrary include Bob May and Rich Beem, both of whom played great when Tiger was at or near the lead. What do you think?
Bob Harig (4:38 PM)
Those are some good examples, yes, of players who did not falter. Rocco Mediate was great at the 2008 U.S. Open as was Chris DiMarco at the 2005 Masters. I don't think it was so much players crumbling as being unable to close the gap or make a move when Tiger was in the hunt.
Is there any connection at all, be it financial, organizational, or anything at all between the PGA Tour and the European Tour?
Bob Harig (4:39 PM)
The only connection you can make is that they co-sanction the World Golf Championship events -- Match Play, Doral, Bridgestone and HSBC.
Jeremy (Marlboro, NJ)
Hey Bob, now that you answered most of my other question, did Tiger tell you guys after the presser which putter he'll be using this week?
Bob Harig (4:39 PM)
That is one I'm going to have to find out tomorrow. He was using the Nike putter at Chevron and it appears that is the direction he is headed.
Do you see Graeme McDowell continuing his passionate play from the Ryder Cup into a major or two this season?
Bob Harig (4:40 PM)
It's very possible. Due mostly to confidence. McDowell has been playing at a high level, he got it done at two huge events. Why not again?
I saw the article you wrote today talking about the limited number of starts non-PGA Tour members get on the tour. Couldn't Finchem and friends just come up with a simple solution: don't count the WGC events as an event for non-members? I mean, the whole point of those events is specifically to get the top players on the same course at the same time regardless of tour affiliation. So why penalize a guy like Westwood for playing the very events he's basically obligated to play?
Bob Harig (4:45 PM)
Andrew, thanks for the plug.You might be on to something there. If they're not going to take up membership, those events don't count, and then they could still play as many as 6 or 7 other PGA Tour events.But in that case, they might as well just become members.
2 = Over / Under on total majors for Louis Oosthuiezen. I've got the under.
Bob Harig (4:46 PM)
I think you might be able to say that for a bunch of guys who have one major to their names.
Which player, currently younger than Tiger, do you think will be the first to own 2 major titles?
Bob Harig (4:47 PM)
I think Martin Kaymer is an easy prediciton since he already has 1 and he's just 25 years old.
Chris (Twin Cities)
I have this theory that since the Euro tour fields are not as deep as those on the PGA Tour, that the top-10 guys on the Euro-Tour keep getting a boat load of OWGR points each week since it's kinda easy to finish high. Look at the winners so far, some familiar faces right? And over here on the PGA Tour, about the exact opposite.
Bob Harig (4:48 PM)
There might be something to that, especially in the top-heavy European Tour fields. But world rankings points are based on the entire field. And European fields going all the way down are weaker. So less points, in theory, are available.
What decisions, if any, do you think will be made regarding the recent incidents where TV viewers called in rules infractions? Do you think the PGA Tour will do something while the organizations running the majors (Augusta National, USGA, R&A, PGA) do nothing or vice versa?
Bob Harig (4:50 PM)
The PGA Tour is pushing the USGA/R&A to look at its rules on disqualifications that occur due to signing an incorrect scorecard when the player didn't know a rules violation took place. The PGA Tour could enact its own local rule to deal with the matter but has been reluctant to do so.
Ed (Long Island)
Right now you can rattle off a ton of guys who have the game to win a major, Mickelson, Woods, GMac, Westwood, Rory, Kaymer, Stricker, Johnson, Furyk, Casey...just this list alone would take 2 1/2 years if each guy won one each...not including the young guns or out of the blue winners like Ooost...seems like a lot of quality players may never win a major...
Bob Harig (4:51 PM)
It's hard to win them, which makes what Tiger has done incredible. How has Els won just three or Furyk only one? I think you point sums it up.
Ok I'm confused about how pro-am times are chosen? given out? I heard that it had something to do with previous years money list which is why TW was so much later today then normal, but JD was off at 7am? so now I'm confused again.
Bob Harig (4:53 PM)
Don't feel bad, because it is confusing. The pro-am field is comprised of the top 30 money winners from the previous year plus various other categories, including sponsor picks. That's why Daly is in the pro am. Priority for tee times is given to those at the top of the money list, which is why Woods always had his choice and took the first time. But there is some leeway.
I kinda have a feeling that Phil's game is in the early stages of a Vijay-esque decline. (His arthritis, his poor play after the US Open last year) Your thoughts?
Bob Harig (4:54 PM)
I do think there are some concerns about Phil and his game. He really never contended after the U.S. Open last year and the arthritis is a serious deal, even though he downplays it.
Brian (Westborough, MA)
On the Euro Tour heavy weight theory it doesn't make sense. In Japan Ryo Ishikawa, Yuta Ikeda and Hiroyuki Fujita win about 50% of their events and they never receive more than 20 points for a win. They always finish high and due to the strength (or lack there of) of field they can't get into the top 30.
Bob Harig (4:58 PM)
That's true, and I think that makes the point that playing against weaker fields does not necessarily mean you are going to climb the rankings faster than someone who plays against stronger fields.
One thing that should be disturbing about the recent DQ hub-bub: Instant replay (in the form of watching replays of the action) has managed to find its way into golf of all sports.
Bob Harig (4:59 PM)
Yes, the whole thing is uncomfortable. Not all shots or playes are televised. Then again, if someone sees a violation, shouldn't it be brought to the attention of the rules officials?
kenessell [via mobile]
Martin kaymer is 26. You keep saying he's 25.
Bob Harig (5:01 PM)
My mistake. He turned 26 at the end of December.
Brian (Westborough, MA)
Will Tiger play in LA this year?
Bob Harig (5:02 PM)
My guess is no. It's the week following Dubai and the week prior to Match Play. I don't see him playing three in a row -- unless he skips the Match Play, then perhaps LA comes into play.
Bob Harig (5:03 PM)
Okay folks, I'm out of time. Sorry for the late start, which meant a bunch of questions are not getting answered. Try my mailbag -- email@example.com. Thanks again for checking in.