Chat with Bob Harig
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN.com golf writer Bob Harig will stop by to talk about the 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 Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET!
Bob Harig (3:03 PM)
Happy New Year. Didn't we just to this? Pretty much. Golf's brief offseason has come and gone and it's first week of 2012, with the PGA Tour and European Tour getting started. So we're getting started. Feel free to fire away with your golf questions. We'll try to do this at the same time every week.
Tommy (Green Bay, Wisconsin)
Rules question: Say a player hits an approach shot and the ball hits the hole and severely damages it. If the hole is not regulation size, can the Tour move it? If so, where would they move it. My buddy down in Orlando was playing a casual round and he did that. Wonder how the Tour would react to that? Thanks.
Jeremy (Marlboro, NJ)
Hey Bob, Happy New Year. With all the signs pointing towards Tiger playing Pebble and a new internet rumor of Tony Romo being his partner, do you see Tiger opting in to the celebrity rotation? Or would Tony have to ask out of it to play with Tiger?
Bob Harig (3:09 PM)
Yes, if the cup is damaged, the hole can be moved. I am unable to cite the specific rule at the moment, but perhaps a rules guru out there could chime in. And they would move it to the closest possible spot.
Bob Harig (3:11 PM)
Sorry, didn't answer this question Jeremy (Marlboro, NJ): Hey Bob, Happy New Year. With all the signs pointing towards Tiger playing Pebble and a new internet rumor of Tony Romo being his partner, do you see Tiger opting in to the celebrity rotation? Or would Tony have to ask out of it to play with Tiger?There is a lot of conjecture out there that Tiger is going to play Pebble Beach. And hence, the rumors that his pro-am partner would be Tony Romo. Have no idea if he would opt out of the celebrity part of the draw. The feeling here is if Tiger plays Pebble, he'll do whatever is asked.
Why is Rory hyped up so much? I don't understand the comparisons that he could win 10+ majors, or that he is going to be as good if not better than Tiger. He doesn't and never will hit the ball as long as Tiger did in the past and currently does, he doesn't putt as well as Tiger did in the past and never will putt as well as Tiger did or currently does. He can hit iron shits, but how is he really that much better than a guy like Fowler? Both hit it about the same length, and are streaky putters. Does Rory's irons and wedges really much him a potential hall of fame player? I just don't understand the hype for Rory.
Bob Harig (3:15 PM)
It's an interesting subject, because Rory does have some flaws, especially putting. He seems to be an average putter at best, and that has held many back. Much of the hype has to do with Rory's golf swing. It is very natural and seemingly not very mechanical. And he does hit the ball a long way, if not as far as Tiger in his prime. He seems much more solid than Rickie Fowler, but you are right, it is hard to envision Rory putting as well as Tiger ever did at his best. Winning the U.S. Open by 8 strokes, however, was quite impressive.
Percentage-wise, how good do you think Tiger can be going forth compared to the days in which he was most dominant?
Bob Harig (3:18 PM)
I consider him to have been most dominant in 2000-2001 and what athlete do we expect to attain the same levels 10 years or more later? So I think that's impossible. But just three years ago he won seven times worldwide. So if we're going by that, why can't he do 75 percent of that, which would be 4 or 5 victories in a year? I think that is possible.
What are your Tiger predictions for this year? When will his first win come? How many wins? How many majors? Does he get back to #1?
Bob Harig (3:22 PM)
Wow, putting me on the spot. Of course you all know my prognosticating ability, so take it for what it is worth.I have said I see his first victory coming at Doral, with a total of three victories. And if he is to a win major, I like Royal Lytham for that. Will he get back to No. 1? Probably not this year, and a lot of that has to do with Luke Donald and if he slips any. But we saw how far Tiger jumped by winning Chevron. It's certainly possible for him to move into the top 10 with a number of strong tournaments.
Best part about this "offseason" was Finchem's ability to reach a new TV deal. In today's day in age, much more difficult to resist the $ of non-network stations and stay on the networks. He did a good job of both. I don't like everything he does, but that was solid.
Bob Harig (3:24 PM)
The new TV deal actually came before the season ended, but your point is noted. Given the state of the economy, the PGA Tour's ability to extend a TV deal with more money and bigger purses was quite the accomplishment. The tour has done a remarkable job of replacing title sponsors throughout some difficult times. It speaks to golf's value. Next up: FedEx Cup renewal. That will be interesting.
Why is the British Open back in England again this year? They have never had it in England back to back years, and honestly these are two of the worst courses in the rotation. I know that the Open is at St. Andrews every 5 years, but don't you think courses like Muirfield, Carnoustie, Turnberry deserve to be visited more than about once every 10 years?
Bob Harig (3:27 PM)
Yes, this is an oddity. For the first time it is in England in back-to-back years. The Olympics being played in London this year had something to do with it. It was to be Royal St. George's this year, but given it's proximity to London, they moved it up a year, although that didn't mean they couldn't go to Scotland this year. Since there are 9 courses in the rotation and St. Andrews gets it every 5 years, they can't really go to the others more frequently than every 7 to 10 years. Next year it will be at Muirfield, which hasn't had it since 2002. After that it goes to Liverpool, which last had it in 2006.
Barry (San Jose)
Why doesn't the PGA Championship include some of the better courses in the USA or at least play the courses harder than they play? The US Open is seen as better than the PGA Championship because its played at better courses and the courses play harder. It also does have something to do with its the National Championship of the USA, but the PGA Championship is definitely seen as the worst major.
Bob Harig (3:30 PM)
The PGA goes with a kinder course set up than the USGA, but this year it's going to Kiawah Island's Ocean course, which Golf Digest just ranked as the hardest in the U.S. I'd like to see the PGA take it's tournament to climates that are more appealing than the hot venues like Atlanta and this year South Carolina.
Barry (San Jose)
Do you see the British Open adding any courses to the rotation?
Bob Harig (3:34 PM)
There are currently nine, and there were rumblings last year about going to Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland. It was played there just one time (1951), the only time it has been held outside of Great Britain. With Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke winning majors, there has been a push to go back, as the venue itself is considered top notch. But logitics are a concern. Can Portrush handle the gallery, can the town handle housing needs, etc. It would be great if they went there.
Patrick (Charlottesville, VA)
Great to have ya back, Bob! First chat of 2012, and I got my PGA Championship tickets yesterday. We're off to a good start. My question is, how much of a bounce back will we see from Jim Furyk and Martin Kaymer? Furyk was money at the Presidents Cup, which bodes well, but Kaymer fell off the map completely.
Bob Harig (3:36 PM)
Ah, you are forgetting that Kaymer won the HSBC in China. That was a pretty big victory. I don't think Kaymer really went anywhere -- he's still fourth in the world -- just overshadowed. Furyk will be interesting. He did have a strong Presidents Cup which should be a boost. It was a strange year for Furyk, with lots of missed cuts. But he seems to have straightened out his equipment,which was part of the issue for him last year.
Does Colin Montgomerie have a shot to make any of the majors this year?
Bob Harig (3:38 PM)
He will need to make a huge jump to get into any of them. Monty is 306th in the world. His best bet is through qualifying, especially the British Open.
Jeremy (Marlboro, NJ)
If I'm not mistaken you live in the same general area as where PGA National is located, right? Can you chime in on the other big Tiger rumor about him playing Honda?
Bob Harig (3:40 PM)
I actually live on the other coast from PGA National, but yes that is another big rumor, that Tiger will tee it up at the Honda Classic. He said at Chevron that he would be adding a new event this year. That certainly would qualify. He's never played it as a pro and now he lives just a few miles away.
Which young star of 2011 do you see having a better 2012: Webb Simpson or Keegan Bradley?
Bob Harig (3:41 PM)
If pressed, I'd go with Simpson, simply because he seems to be a better putter. But both players are coming off of excellent seasons and I wouldn't be surprised to see either play well again.
Any new talk on the belly putter lately? Or do I just need to give up and realize it is here to stay? Anchoring a club should be illegal!!! (I feel better now)
Bob Harig (3:43 PM)
There does not seem to be a strong movement to ban them, as it comes mostly from the media or some players who are against the clubs for the reasons you suggest. The problem is they let it go too long. Now players are coming to the game using long putters.
Do you think Westwood can still pull out a major? Or have his best chances now come and gone?
Bob Harig (3:44 PM)
If Darren Clarke could win a major, why not Lee Westwood? His game has hardly slipped. Putting has been his biggest problem but he's been there a bunch. Needs to get some breaks.
Rob (Ashland, Ore)
I will sincerely miss the late Jim Huber's commentaries about golf. Did his off-course demeanor match what we saw on television?
Bob Harig (3:46 PM)
What a shock. Jim Huber was a great guy, very understated. Loved the British Open. And was the first one to go with the comments Fuzzy Zoeller made after Tiger's Masters victory in 1997. Fuzzy chose to shoot the messenger, which is a shame.
Any sign that Donald will slip back to the pack? Think he finally contend at a major this year, let alone win one?
Bob Harig (3:47 PM)
It would be a lot to ask of Donald to do what he did last year, contending nearly every week. Perhaps he focuses more on the majors. I could see him contending in those and perhaps preparing for them better, not playing as much.
Regarding your thought that Tiger do about 75% compared to the '00-'01 period: what is the biggest reason for him not getting to that level? Other players? Decline in his game? Other?
Bob Harig (3:48 PM)
A combination. He's now 36 and it's hard to ask him to be as good as he was at 26, even in golf. There is more competition, etc. And he's still working on a swing change.
Regarding Adam's question about the belly putter: do you think the ruling bodies feel it doesn't provide that much of an advantage? Or that players in the past have switched away from it and had success (ex: Stewart Cink just prior to the '09 Open Championship).
Bob Harig (3:49 PM)
I think there is something to the fact that the long putter/belly putter is not automatic. Guys still miss plenty of putts with such putters. It helps some players, but others tell you they struggle. That could be why the ruling bodies perhaps do not think it is that great of an advantage. And yet, they want to offer it up as hope for some who do.
Jack (New York)
Any thoughts on Peter Uihlein's decision to turn professional and opt to play in Europe?
Bob Harig (3:51 PM)
I think it was a shrewd move on his part. Many were surprised that he had planned to play another year of college. By turning pro and going to Europe, he can get his card there if he does well enough and have a full year of competition if he chooses. He signed with Chubby Chandler, who will be able to get him the max number of sponsor exemptions.
What do expect from Phil this year?
Bob Harig (3:53 PM)
Big mystery. We just never know with Phil. He had a nice Presidents Cup after a very lackluster seocnd half to the season -- aside from nearly winning the British Open. My guess is he'll be highly motivated heading to Augusta and the U.S. Open. We'll see from there.
You mentioned Jim and Fuzzy's ill-advised comments on Twitter I believe. What were Fuzzy's comments about Tiger?
Bob Harig (3:54 PM)
Fuzzy was trying to be funny, but it got him in a world of trouble. I suggest googling it. He was interviewed after finishing his round while Tige was on his way to the 12-shot victory.
Bob Harig (3:58 PM)
Shameless plug. . . first birdies and bogeys column of year posted. I bemoan a familiar topic, the lackluster start to the golf season. http://tinyurl.com/78ebgo8
Bob Harig (3:59 PM)
Good questions. The LPGA has yet to announce its schedule for 2012. As it stands, it will have fewer domestic tournaments than international ones.
Bob Harig (4:00 PM)
Okay folks, out of time. We're off to a good start. Thanks for all the questions in the first week of the new year. Check back again next Tuesday. Cheers.