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 p.m. ET!
Bob Harig (4:01 PM)
Thanks for visiting this week's golf chat. Lots of stuff going on in the golf world these days, so let's get to it. Fire away with your questions.
Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)
What do you make of Johnny Miller's most recent comments comparing Tiger's recent struggles to Tyson's collapse after losing to Buster Douglas? I respect that Miller speaks his mind but this seems too far for even an outspoken guy like Miller right?
Bob Harig (4:05 PM)
The big difference to me -- and I'm certainly no boxing expert -- is that Tyson was not seen as the same intimidating fighter after losing to Douglas. Others saw that physical superiority gone. In golf, you are still playing your own ball. Just because Tiger is struggling does not mean another player is going to do well. Perhaps it now helps them down the stretch of tournaments. Nonetheless, it was an interesting comment by Miller.
Paul (McKinney, TX)
You had someone mention in your chat last week that Tiger could fall as low as #8 in the world rankings. You said that was incorrect but it was widely mentioned this past week as possible. When even the golf scribes don't understand the world rankings is it time to alter them?
Bob Harig (4:06 PM)
It was possible that anyone in the top 10 last week could pass them based on certain scenarios. But not EVERYONE could pass him. They all couldn't finish high enough push him that far back.
How much stock do we put in Tiger's quick exit from Match Play? Anything can happen in a single 18 hole match, but it still seems like he makes mistakes at the wrong time which is very un-Tiger like.
Bob Harig (4:07 PM)
You're right, it is tough to putt too much into one match. What was troubling was the way he lost. Had he simply missed the birdie putt on 18 and lost there, it would not have seemed so bad, possibly. But he had all the momentum after that birdie and then immediately knocks his tee shot into the desert on the first extra hole. It also should be noted that Thomas Bjorn wasn't exactl yon fire. He hit just 4 greens in regulation.
Matt J (New York)
Do you think the PGA Tour is falling behind to the European Tour? Is it possible they can merge and just make one tour? Maybe one plays in north america, and the other one plays in europe and asia, but has points that count towards the same thing. Just an idea.
Bob Harig (4:10 PM)
I do not think it is falling behind the European Tour. We are simply seeing the rise of a lot of European golfers right now. There are 12 in the top 25 right now. Europe also has a lot of excellent events, and yet you won't hear much about European Tour events outside of the WGCs until at least April.
Luke Donald is certainly an elite player and was clearly the best player at the WGC, but is he really the #3 player in the world?
Bob Harig (4:11 PM)
It is certainly worth debating. The win was impressive, but it was his first on the PGA Tour since 2006 and just his second overall since that year. Donald won last year on the European Tour, but it was not a strong event. He's had a lot of high finishes, been consistent, and that helps a lot in the world rankings. No. 3? Probably not.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What is the Hardest (Toughest) Golf Course on the PGA Tour?
Bob Harig (4:13 PM)
Outside of the major championships, and if you go in relation to par, the Champions Course here at PGA National was the toughest in 2010. But this is a par-70 course so that skews things a bit.
While I applaud Phil for playing 6 weeks in a row(something Tiger would never dream of doing) and helping out events on the West Coast, do you think though it has been detrimental to his game as he looked tired the last few weeks? May we see him split up the events in the future?
Bob Harig (4:14 PM)
The case can be made, certainly. I actually asked Phil that very question after L.A. and he dismissed, saying that two of the events were bascially at home, San Diego and LA. -- which he flew to every day and stayed at home. Still, six straight weeks, including the first one 12 time zones away in Abu Dhabi is not something a lot of players do.
2011 has been a slow start for many of the big names(Phil, Tiger, Ernie etc.) but can you explain the incredibly slow start of Jim Furyk. His game has always been about consistency but this year he has 2MC, made the cut on the number at NTO and went out in the 1st round at WGC?
Bob Harig (4:16 PM)
Furyk is typically a slow starter. But last week he chalked it up to a "horrible" short game. Doral and Innisbrook are courses where he has won and should offer a few more clues.
In the past several years the Honda classic has emerged as one of the better non major, non WGC events. What has been behind the rapid uptick?
Bob Harig (4:18 PM)
The golf course is one factor. PGA National seems to be a place the players like. It's spot between two WGC events also helps as it attracts a lot of international players who decide to play three in a row.
Brian (Westborough, MA)
Any possible word on what course could host the match play if dove mountain doesn't? Will it definately be in the desert or Tucson area?
Bob Harig (4:19 PM)
There really has not been a solid answer to that question. If it doesn't return to Tucson, then where? It has to be a warm-weather locale obviously. Choices are limited in February.
Brian (Westborough, MA)
I've heard rumors that Detroit could land a PGA event, any truth to that?
Bob Harig (4:20 PM)
There have certainly been rumors. General Motors has gotten back into golf sponsorship as Cadillac is the new title at next week's Doral event. It would make sense that they might want an event on their home turf. Nothing official yet.
Mike (Charlotte, NC)
Because Johnny Vegas won earlier is he no longer part of the reshuffle for first year players?
Bob Harig (4:22 PM)
You are correct. I had an item in my birdies and bogeys column on ESPN.com (sorry for the shameless plug) on the reshuffle which occurred after last week's events. If you want to learn more, go check out that piece. But to answer the question about Vegas, he no longer has to worry: by winning the Bob Hope, he is fully exempt for the rest of this year and the next two years.
Let's just say Europeans take the entire top 10 of the OWGR. Do you think this would have any measurable impact in the propserity of the PGA Tour? (let's just say half are PGA tour members)
Bob Harig (4:24 PM)
I really don't. As you say, several of them would still be PGA Tour members. And even non members still play in PGA Tour event. And tour events go much deeper than 10 places. There are dozens of players in a tournament each week, and as we've seen this year, so many of them can win.
Bob Harig (4:28 PM)
No word on those commitments. It could have just been wishful thinking. Certainly there has been a legitimate thought that by losing in the first round, he might want to play more tournaments. So far, all we know about is Doral next week.
Bob Harig (4:31 PM)
There is no doubt that given Tiger's seemingly strong end to 2010 -- Australia and a playoff loss at Chevron -- that more was expected. An issue-free offseason to work on his game seemed like the perfect lead-in to this year, and yet he's struggled. You're correct, that is troubling.
Pam (Palm Beach)
I saw on the NET that Badds parents house burnt down. Is Badds at this tourney and what are you heraing
Bob Harig (4:34 PM)
I do not know a lot of details, but it is true that Aaron Baddeley's parents home in Australia burned and a lot of memorabilia was lost, although thankfully no one was seriously injured. He is not playing the Honda.
Pam (Palm Beach)
Do you think that the #1 player , a la Woods is faced with a lot of external pressures plus his own internal pressures to perform at a high level at a tournament, and that could be the main reason for not playing 3, 4 weeks in a row. Now the pressure has mutiplied exponentially
Bob Harig (4:37 PM)
There is no doubt that Tiger deals with a lot at tournaments. He is held to a different level. Over the years, he has put a lot into each event. That is not to say others don't, but let's face it, others who are not as high profile can go about their business having an offweek and nobody notices. That certainly is among the reasons his schedule is limited.
Will people stop over-reacting to Tiger? He's playing some bad golf. I'd bet my life savings he has another top 5 at Augusta and lets be honest that's the most important thing to him right now.
Bob Harig (4:39 PM)
There are different ways to look at it, I suppose. You say it is over reacting and it possibly is. All will be right with the world for Tiger if he wins the Masters. I'm guessing he wont' be satisfied with another top 5. But he's gone nearly 16 months without winning. He's not even contending right now. These questions are just part of it.
Aaron (Saugerties, NY)
Bob, what are the chances that the Heritage continues past this year? It would be very sad to lose such a great tournament. I hope that since it is moved away from the week after the Masters, that some bigger names, like Phil, will show up, especially considering the circumstances.
Bob Harig (4:43 PM)
It looks bleak at the moment, but the PGA Tour has shown an amazing ability to keep its events sponsored during tough times. In my opinion, moving away from the Masters is not good for the tournament. It's never been about a bad field there. It gets a good one. But you've got to have a title sponsor and finding one has proved elusive.
Bob - You think part of Tiger's problem is that he has not had enough rounds in competition and he plays a week takes a few weeks off then plays another week and takes a few weeks off?
Bob Harig (4:44 PM)
This has certainly been one of the theories. Tiger has said he needs more "reps" and yet he has declined to add tournaments. He's played just nine competitive rounds this year. In the past, taking that kind of time off has never hurt his game, and he knows what is best for him. But right now it seems that stringing together a few tournaments would help.
Bob Harig (4:47 PM)
I think Rory is getting a bad rap on this. Not taking up tour membership is another issue, but his comments about Tiger if you read them in context have simply been him stating his opinion. I don't think any disrespect is intended. And Rory played with Tiger at Chevron and they got along fine. It would be fun to see them paired again however.
Bob Harig (4:49 PM)
Good question, not sure what is going on there. Off the top of my head, there was Bethpage in 2002, Shinnecock in 2004, Baltusrol in 2005 for PGA, Winged Foot for 2006 for U.S. Open, Bethpage in 2009. Now it appears at least a seven or eight year gap before he plays again.
Bob Harig (4:50 PM)
I stand corrected. I thought the question last week was about the top 10. . . The OWGR does put out various scenarios, althoug the chances of all of that happening were somewhat remote.
Pam (Palm Beach)
To your comment on TW playing more tourneys in a row. This is a man who has won countless tourneys. Why would not TW knows what is best for him. Why the second guessing and hand wringing. Yes TW made some wrong decisions but why are we all telling him what to do in his golf
Bob Harig (4:51 PM)
I did say that he's followed this schedule to great success in the past. But he himself has said he needs more reps under tournament conditions. Hence, the wondering why he doesn't enter more.
Bob Harig (4:53 PM)
My guess is that he's going to put a lot of emphasis on the Masters. He loves that tournament and will do everything he can to peak for it. He says that the arthritis is not an issue because he caught it early and has the proper medication.
Tom (Cleveland, OH)
I heard in the media tent, guys are doing a shot of irish whiskey for every time the TV guys say "Bear Trap". What brand?
Bob Harig (4:53 PM)
Hey, this job is hard enough. Whiskey? Press room? Not here.
Brian (Westborough, MA)
Is it true that JB Holmes withdrew from the Honda Classic becuase he was still asking for relief on the 18th hole against Bubba?
Bob Harig (4:55 PM)
Some slow play humor. . . Not sure why Holmes withdrew, it might be because he hadn't planned on playing last week. He got in as an alterante.
Brian (Westborough, MA)
Fred Couples could have won in LA, finished t6 and everyone talked about it. John Cook finished 3rd (at age 53) and not one word of it, why is that?
Bob Harig (4:56 PM)
I'm guessing it has to do with the strength of field. The Mexico event had nobody among the top 64 in the world. Still, it was an impressive performance by John Cook.
Can you share your view on some Champions Tour/ part timers who might be a dark horse to win a major this year? I'm thinking Couples and Pavin are at the top of the list.
Bob Harig (4:58 PM)
I really think it is unlikely. Consider that nobody has ever won a major in their 50s. It's just hard to do.
Bob Harig (4:59 PM)
People like rankings. They are fun to debate. And in many instances, they are not meaningless. The world ranking helps decide who gets in every one of the majors to some degree. The Masters, U.S. Open and British all have a top 50 criteria. I can assure you No. 51 cares.
Hi Bob- Is there any reason why the World Match Play Championship can't be played in like Europe or something?
Bob Harig (5:01 PM)
There is a World Match Play Championship played in Spain. If you are speaking of the WGC tournament just played in Arizona, there is no reason it couldn't be in Europe and many feel that it should be. Or should at least be moved around.
Bob Harig (5:02 PM)
Okay folks, I'm out of time. Thanks again for all the questions. Check back next week when I'll be at Doral. In the meantime, questions for my mailbag are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy the golf.
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