Chat with Bog 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 (3:00 PM)
Hello, thanks for checking in. Lots of stuff happening in the world of golf. It was a big weekend at Pebble Beach for Phil Mickelson. Not so much for Tiger Woods. This week the tour moves to Riviera, and next week is the first WGC event of the year. Please fire away with your questions. Thanks.
Given that it's unlikely that Tiger recapturs the heights of his past (e.g. 2000 season), what is realistic moving forward? Surely we might expect him to eventually hold the record for most tour wins, and at least threaten Jack's 18 majors, no? Even if tiger only wins once or twice a year (still not bad considering the parity today) that will put him past Snead's 82 and presumbly a few majors closer to Jack. Thoughts?
Bob Harig (3:03 PM)
Tiger is judged against the his own unrealistic records. He is not 36 and in his 17th year as a pro. What athlete in any sport do we expect to maintain the same level of accomplishment 8, 10 years past their greatest run? So yes, it's not realistic to think in terms of 2000. Or even 2006, when he won two majors in the same year. But to win a couple of tour events a year for the next five to seven years? Certainly possible. And you know he's going to be in the mix for majors.
Hey Bob. I heard Lucas Glover was supposed to be in the field this week at the Northern Trust. Is he still hurt and/or do you have any inside info on his status? His absence is killing my fantasy team
Bob Harig (3:06 PM)
Thought he was going to give it a go, but he's not playing at Riviera. That's some number he did on himself in Hawaii.
Sean R (KCMO)
what's the update on Paul Casey's recovery? Will he have to play more on the European Tour than in the US in order to make up for lost Ryder Cup points?
Bob Harig (3:08 PM)
Casey has been hitting balls and is making every effort to come back at next week's Match Play Championship. As for the Ryder Cup. .. very tough call there. They have two avenues, earning points through European Tour events or your world ranking points earned from the start of the qualifying process. He's put himself behind on both. It's going to be difficult to do it thru the European Tour list for someone who doesn't play that many events, and yet, if he can do well in the WGCs and the majors, those help him on both categories.
2000 was a career season, Tiger's avg season on tour is about 5 wins and a major, that's a significantly fairer standard to compare him too
Bob Harig (3:10 PM)
Very true. Asking him to achieve what he did in 2000 is way too much. Just three years ago he won seven times around the world. Jack Nicklaus won 4 times at age 38 in 1978 and had the two majors in 1980 but the other years in his laste 30s were lean. It's more realistic to think that Tiger wins a couple of times a year and contends in majors.
Can Phil use this win for fuel in the Masters?
Bob Harig (3:10 PM)
Yes, but he had a great win the week prior to the Masters last year in Houston and wasn't a factor at Augusta. Phil is wildly unpredictable.
Nate (The Moon)
Tiger needs to go back to Butch. Yes his swing was much different back then, and he might not be able to do the same things now, but he was so dominant. I would say go back to Hank but that relationship is shot after his book.
Bob Harig (3:11 PM)
It is not going to happen, folks. Tiger and Butch split 10 years ago! Among the reasons for making that change was Tiger's desire to take pressure off his knee. There are other business, personal reasons in play, too. That ship long ago sailed.
Is it just me or was Tiger playing too conservatively on Sunday? I've long argued that he actually plays very conservatively most Sunday's, esp in Majors. No one was ever able to step up with a superb round to take advantage until Y.E. Yang. That Sunday at the PGA Tiger didnt even consider going for any flags. Why is he so cautious?
Bob Harig (3:13 PM)
I agree that at times Tiger has played cautiously, but don't think that was the case Sunday. He simply didn't have it. He obviously putted poorly but his issues weren't because he was conservative. He simply didn't hit enough good shots. His wedge play has been an issue.
Ryan (Dayton) [via mobile]
I thought Nantz and Faldo made a great point Sunday that during the final round at Pebble, Tiger seemed to be demoralized by Phil just like he used to do to the guys who were paired against him on Sundays during his otherworldly stretch a few years ago. I don't know if he has any chance to win on tour this year if he keeps putting like a weekend hacker. Do you think he can get things back on track before Augusta?
Bob Harig (3:15 PM)
I think, if anything, Tiger was demoralized by his own play. He trailed Phil by two shots standing on the 7th tee. That's nothing. It's one errant drive by Phil, one little charge by Tiger. And then he 3-putted the 7th green from 20 feet. Who knows what might have happened had Tiger made it thru 7-8-9 with pars instead of bogeys. Big if of course.
When everyone clamors for Tiger to go back to Butch I wonder if they realize he was nearly as good under Hank (esp if you factor in that 200o was the best putting yr of Tigers career). Or that 3 of Phil's 4 majors came under Randy Smith. Butch is a great coach, but Tiger won bc he was Tiger, and Phil wins bc he's Phil. Coaches help, but they don't make the player
Bob Harig (3:16 PM)
Tiger had a great record under Butch, a more consistent record under Hank. Both coaches would tell you that it was more about Tiger than it was about them. As we've seen under all coaches, these changes in the swing take time. And it certainly wasn't Sean Foley's methods that led to 6 putts inside of 10 feet not being made.
In pro-ams like the AT&T, besides his own caddie, can a pro solicit advice from his amateur partner/caddie during a tournament round? (Not that a pro would want advice from his amateur partner but just curious)
Bob Harig (3:18 PM)
Yes, because it's a team competition that is allowed. And as you saw, the pros are giving a good bit of advice to their amateur partners, as well as the caddies for the pros giving advice.
Is Tiger intimidated by Phil? Seems like a ridiculous question on the surface, but Phil going nuts for -5 through 6 holes, and Tiger responds by gakking 3 straight shorties for par. It seemed clear to me that Phil just sucked all the life right out of Tiger, and may have enjoyed doing it too.
Bob Harig (3:19 PM)
It's certainly a reasonable assumption given what happened. But again, Tiger is 2 back standing on the 7th tee, a short par-3 that required a half wedge shot. He hit it to about 20 feet and 3 putted. I really doubt that was due to intimidation. Tiger knew a lot of golf was left. Lots of chances to make up ground or for Phil to make mistakes. It just seemed he lost confidence in his putting and it only got worse.
Do you think we will see anyone win multiple majors in a season anytime soon?
Bob Harig (3:19 PM)
It's been awhile. Padraig was the last to do it in 2008. Since then we've had a different major winner in each one, let alone in the same year.
This Tiger talk simply drives me crazy. Where in the conversation is the fact Phil shot 64, three strokes better than anybody else in the field? Tiger hasn't won since 2009. The tour has moved on, but the media has not.
Bob Harig (3:22 PM)
And I guess all those people who watched on Sunday haven't moved on either. It was the highest-rated non-major final round since 2007 Torrey Pines, which Tiger also won. The ratings were best for Pebble in 15 years. Sure, a lot of that was Phil, too. But it was more about the Tiger-Phil pairing. If you think the media is not moving on, it's because golf fans sure seem to want Tiger in the discussion.
Can you give details as to why the rounds at Pebble take 6 hours? Even on Sunday when there are fewer amateurs? I hear the phrase "amateurs slapping it around" but amateurs slap it around at every course I play and rounds don't take 6 hours.
Bob Harig (3:24 PM)
Very simple. Most tour events have three pros in a group the first two days. At Pebble, you have four, and 2 of them are amateurs. Let's say that one extra player adds just 3 minutes per hole to play all of his shots -- which is being nice. That's 54 minutes. So a round that would normally take from 4 to 4 1/2 hours with 3 pros is going to take at least an hour longer. Throw in the fact that the other guy is an amateur. He hits more shots, loses more balls, etc. All adds up.
Why doesn't the Match Play event allow alternates. Paul Casey has to kinow by Friday if he's a go. If Saturday he changes his mind, his spot four days later won't get filled. Pretty bogus. They don't have to reshuffle the draw, just put No. 66 into his spot.
Bob Harig (3:26 PM)
I don't think that is the case. I'm just answering this quickly and will try to get an answer but the event does allow alternates until some point early in the week, perhaps Monday night. Anyone who drops out at that point simply causes the field to reshuffle and everyone moves up a spot. After that is when, I believe, a player is not replaced. But the deadline is not as early as you believe.
Any chance you can use another tournament besides Chevron to make the point that the rankings are top heavy? There are lots of other examples, and the point doesn't get lost in Tiger Conspiracy Hysteria :)
Bob Harig (3:30 PM)
Yes, good question, as I seemed to cause a mini furor on Twitter yesterday by posting the OWGR points for Chevron (Tiger got 44) and Pebble (Phil got 38). Rafael Cabrera-Bello got 48 for winning in Dubai. That tournament had just 3 players from the top 25, but they were Nos. 2-3-4 .. Rory, Westwood, Kaymer.. Pebble had Dustin Johnson, Tiger, Phil, Mahan, Watney. All top 25 guys. But not ranked as high. Pebble clearly had a deeper field in terms of top 50 players. But the rankings skew toward the top, hence more points in Dubai.
Good comparison other than Chevron to use: The Nedbank Challenge was a 12-man event and Westwood got 34 points for winning that.
Bob Harig (3:33 PM)
There has been a lot of venom toward Tiger over this, like he makes the rules. The governing bodies including the World Golf rankings people allow show field events to give world ranking points if they the tournament meets certain criteria.
Eric Ray (Eight oh Six)
I think Tiger choking is what he deserves. His bad play is his punishment for acting so stupidly. You mess upin God's eyes, you will pay for it. Good luck Tiger...or should I say Cheetah
Bob Harig (3:34 PM)
There would be a very, very long list of prominent athletes then who would be struggling in all sports if your scenario is how it plays out.
Correction to my own comment just posted: it was 38, not 34. Read the wrong year's totals.
Bob Harig (3:35 PM)
Also, it should be noted... Graeme McDowell got more points for winning Chevron in 2010 than Tiger did. And in 2009, McDowell's second-place finish gave him enough points to move into the top 50 and get a Masters invitation. And that year he won the U.S. Open.
Have a chance to play the Island course at Innisbrook; looks like a tough track. Is it worth the trip?
Bob Harig (3:36 PM)
Definitely. I'm partial is it is near where I live. Copperhead is where they play the tour event, but Island is very good, too. Little known fun fact: Phil won an NCAA title on the Island when playing for Arizona State. . in 1990.
Brian (Westborough, MA)
So has Lee Westwood sent Tiger a thank you card for taking the heat away from him on Sunday? That chip on 18 in Dubai was brutal.
Bob Harig (3:37 PM)
For all the scrutiny on Tiger, Westwood and McIlroy didn't exactly shine over the weekend in Dubai.
Why isn't Stricker playing Riviera? He is a recent champ and runnerup. Is he having health issues?
Bob Harig (3:39 PM)
Don't know. Surprises me to not see him there. But there has been no word on an injury.
Brian (Westborough, MA)
Why didn't the use the back tee on #17? This is one of the times of the year where the green is receptive enough to hold a shot from it.
Bob Harig (3:40 PM)
My guess is it's a pace of play issue. Longer hole, takes longer, that kidn of thing.
Why didn't TGC have LIVE cameras following Tiger on Thursday and Friday? I saw more live shots from Chris Berman that Tiger Woods. What gives?
Bob Harig (3:41 PM)
My understanding is it is a logistical, expensive issue to get live shots from the other courses. You saw stuff on tape, but not live. All of the main cameras are set up at Pebble.
For the match-play until the brackets are set (on Monday) you add from the alternates list to the bottom of the field. After the bracket is set, an alternate goes into the see of the person they're replacing (until play starts). Last year that happened with Tim Clark and JB Holmes
Bob Harig (3:42 PM)
There you have it.. So, if for example, after Monday Lee Westwood had to withdraw, the alternate would fall into Westwood's spot in the draw.
Chris (New Orleans)
Will Butch get through to Phil? The last 2 tournaments Phil has cut down on "bombing" the ball and controlled his golf ball, he has a 2nd at the British and a win at Pebble.
Bob Harig (3:42 PM)
Butch actually talked about that. Said conditions meant Phil had to do that. And look what happened.
Chris (New Orleans)
It seems like this win is putting a much bigger spotlight and respect on the career of Phil Mickelson. For a guy with 40 PGA wins and 4 majors, is he not one of the all-time greats? Especially with the way he has embraced mentoring some of the younger stars on tour? What if he wins 5 more tour events and finally gets a us open? What would it take for him to be in your top 10 of all-time?
Bob Harig (3:46 PM)
Phil's career has at times been overshadowed but getting to 40 wins should take care of that. He's ninth all time on the PGA Tour. Nick Faldo and Seve Ballesteros, who won numerous times in Europe, might bump him out of that top-10 list. Bobby Jones isn't included either. But it's hard to surpass Woods, Nicklaus, Snead, Palmer, Hogan, Nelson, Casper, Hagan. Player didn't have as many tour wins but won nine majors. What about Trevino with six majors? Tough, tough call. But if Phil gets to 50 wins? 5 majors? Great debate.
That's not true on the match play. Once the bracket is set, there are no alternates. The Tour doesn't want to risk diluting the field in Mexico if someone has committed there.
Bob Harig (3:48 PM)
There definitely is a point when they don't put playes at the bottom of the field (such as Ernie Els who is 65th.) Then there is a point where an alternate goes into the withdrawing players spot. This did happen last year. But then it ends and a match would just be conceded.
After the bracket is set, there are no alternates. Bad info Shoshana.
Bob Harig (3:50 PM)
Again, I don't think that is true. She is referring to a cutoff point when the alternate takes the place of player who withdrew. But there is a point, perhaps Monday night, when the field is set and if a player drops out he is not replaced.
Patrick (Charlottesville, VA)
Your thoughts on TGC and CBS totally biffing us at the start of coverage on Sunday? I understand they've got to show the end of the college basketball game on CBS, but why couldn't TGC continue coverage in the meantime?
Bob Harig (3:51 PM)
Not Golf Channel's fault. They are contractually obligated to go off the air at 2:30 p.m. ET. There is a transition period apparently for graphics, personnel to get ready for the 3 p.m. network broadcast.I'm sure they would have loved to have stayed on the air.
Brian (Westborough, MA)
Any whispers on JP McManus sandbagging?
Bob Harig (3:52 PM)
You'd wonder about that if it weren't for the fact that he's been Padraig Harrington's partner for years. Surely they have his handicap records.
It's hard to rate players across era's but Mickelson has faces stiffer competition than Casper, Palmer Hogan etc. I'd argue it's a lot harder to win now.
Bob Harig (3:54 PM)
Yes and no. Phil's accomplishments are very much understated because of Tiger. But Billy Casper won 51 times, a lot of it during the Jack, Arnie, Player heyday. He won a bunch in the 1960s. Now if you want to get into the debate about fields being deeper now, I would side with that argument.
From Tues Feb 22 last year http://www.golf.com/ap-news/clark-withdraws-elbow-injury. Holmes replaces Clark. Play started on the 23rd
Bob Harig (3:54 PM)
By the way. . . Clark is trying to play this week at Riviera, first start since the Players last year.
Chris (New Orleans)
Will be heading to England for the British this year. Any advice on attending the Open across the pond? Besides heavy rain gear of course.
Bob Harig (3:55 PM)
You're from New Orleans? Be prepared to adjust your taste buds. Nothing quite as good over there, and sorry in advance to all my British friends.
Caddy Mike Corrao (Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida)
I think US Amateur should be and is the fifth major...Bobby Jones, Jack 2 more, Tiger 3 more, Arnold, Phil, many others count as one
Bob Harig (3:56 PM)
Mike the U.S. Am ship long ago sailed. Reason being is pros can't play in it. Competition not as good. Back in Jones' era, many of the top players remained amateur. In fact, you could argue that a tournament like the PGA was not as strong because amateurs were not allowed.
Any thoughts on Mike Weir not receiving an exemption into Riviera? Especially giving exemptions to two amateurs
Bob Harig (3:56 PM)
Yeah, it's unfortunate. He won the tournament of course.
Mike (Charlotte, NC)
Any chance anybody currently on tour reaches the 40 wins Phil just got to? With the talent around now I can't see someone getting 3 or 4 wins for 10 or 12 years in a row
Bob Harig (3:57 PM)
Mike, I'm trying to think of somebody currently who can get to 20 wins. Furyk? Stricker? To get to 40 is really a feat, and again puts in perspective what Phil has accomplished -- and Tiger for that matter.
Brian (Westborough, MA)
Do you think Tony Romo benefited from playing Sunday with the Tiger/Phil show? Also do you think he learns from this week and applies what he learned to his game or is humbled by how far off he is from those two and takes a step away?
Bob Harig (3:59 PM)
Romo said he learned things that will apply to football. As for golf, I thought he did quite well. I believe he shot 74 on his own ball Sunday. Of course the tees were way up for him. But in that setting, pretty good. He's probably got a ways to go though if he wanted to play golf competitively. And isn't that usually the case with other athletes who think could be pro golfers?
Pam (Palm Beach)
What is with the past PGA tour players, a la Trevino, Norman, Faldo making pronouncements on TW career publicly. Sounds like a case of jealousy. They had their chance at their career and TW has never made disparaging comments publicly on another golfer's career.
Bob Harig (4:00 PM)
I don't necessarily have a problem with it. Somebody probably had to ask them the question, and they answered. Faldo obviously does it for a living on TV. It's not disparaging so much as it is their opinion, even if some might think it's off base.
Too early to get a sense from Tiger as to whether he will return to the AT&T again? Or do you think he was reminded of the reasons why he started skipping out? Having Poppy Hills off the rota had to help, though.
Bob Harig (4:01 PM)
I got the sense tha Tiger liked MPCC but he is likely not a big fan of the format and the long rounds. I would never say never, but all along the feeling was this was probably a one-time deal.
Sorry Bob, but I disagree that the media hasn't moved on. Everything was about what went wrong with Tiger and not what went right with Phil. The guy plays probably the round of the year so far and he plays second fiddle to the guy who shot 75 and missed a bunch of 5-footers.
Bob Harig (4:02 PM)
Greg, there was a ton of coverage on Phil. You are not looking very hard if you didn't see it. And of course, Tiger shooting 75 is going to get plenty of run.
What is your gut feeling about the fed ex cup strcture? The only way guys will really care about it (from a legacy perspective) is if it sticks around for a few decades. Do you think the PGA tour will move forward with this model indefinately? Obviously they'd love it to be on par with the majors one day.
Bob Harig (4:03 PM)
They would love to move forward with it and there are rumblings that they will. But it will never, ever be on par with the majors. It just won't. It's a way to end the season better, but the majors are what they are.
Bob Harig (4:04 PM)
Okay guys, I'm out of time. Thanks again for all the great questions. Feel free to fire a few at me on Twitter @BobHarig. I will get to those on and off when time permits. Enjoy the golf.