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 (2:59 PM)
Hello, checking in from the Honda Classic, first of four straight events on the Florida Swing -- and for me too. Plenty to chat about if you are willing. Please fire away with your questions.
Do you think Steve Stricker has a future as a putting guru to the pros like Dave Stockton is now? Could that be one reason he's playing at this high a level lately?
Bob Harig (3:01 PM)
He probably does if he wants it. Stricker seems to have fought off the putting demons that plague players as they hit their 40s. He's 45 and shows no signs of weakness on the greens.
Who's your favorite to win the Honda Classic?
Bob Harig (3:01 PM)
I went with Graeme McDowell. But if you saw my Match Play picks, you know to stay away.
Brian (Westborough, MA)
Who do you think is the favorite for the Masters at this point and who would you pick for the Masters now?
Bob Harig (3:03 PM)
Phil and Tiger are the favorites. No matter what, they seem to always be read to play there, although Phil struggled a year ago. If I had to pick, I'd go with Phil.
John B. (Winchester, VA)
I believe it's long overdo to take Tiger OUT of the headlines. He's has been shamed personally and does not deserve the attention since he's not even winning. Perhaps, in time, he will rise again but there are too many other golfers much more deserving of the medias attention.....Thank You.
Bob Harig (3:04 PM)
Your welcome. . . But the numbers suggest otherwise. TV ratings, web hits. . .all of them soar when Tiger is involved. It just can't be denied. More people tune in when he plays, more people read what is written about him than the next time guys combined. Do others deserve more attention? Maybe. And when they get it, that attention isn't consumed -- not based on the numbers. As far as his personal issues. .. most golf fans long ago moved on. They care about his golf.
Brian (Westborough, MA)
Do you see Phil or Tiger playing much on the champions tour outside of the majors?
Bob Harig (3:06 PM)
No, but then again, so many top players have said they would not play on the Champions Tour, but the comeptition and the limelight end up drawing them back. The only great player who really has shunned senior golf is Greg Norman. It's a shame, because people still love to see him play.
don (denver colorado)
Whatever happened to tiger's doctor that was criminally charged? And do you think it is unreasonable to assume that tiger juiced?
Bob Harig (3:12 PM)
Anthony Galea. .. he is not serving jail time. Was sentenced in December to a year of supervised release because he transported misbranded and unapproved drugs into the U.S. . Galea has long maintained that he did not treat Woods with HGH or anything illegal. The procedure he has been associated with Woods is a a legal blood spinning technique that was used to help Woods' knee.It is not unreasonable to assume that Tiger used performance enhancers. But that doesn't mean he did so. You can deduce that he did because he got bigger and stronger. But that, again, does not mean he did anything illegal.I go back to this: Woods, who is not outspoken about much, was firmly in favor of a drug testing policy for the PGA Tour, which was implemented in 2008. Since then, he has been subject to testing.I know many people are skeptical, but that is as far as you can take it.
What tournament this year do you see Tiger finally breaking through and winning again?
Bob Harig (3:12 PM)
I've been saying all along, since before the start of the year, that he'd win at Doral, a course he knows well and where he'll have had plenty of tournament preparation going in.
What can the PGA tour do to increase popularity when Tiger doesn't play? Would it help to add stableford scoring events, team events, or even more Pro-Am events to the schedule?
Bob Harig (3:14 PM)
I don't think those things are the answer to capturing the casual fan. If anything, they make it more confusing. What golf has always needed is a front-runner, a champion. Palmer, Nicklaus, Watson, Norman. . they won a lot. Golf fans like a dominant player. So without Tiger, the game needs somebody like Rory or Keegan Bradley to come out and win 5 or 6 times in a year. Remember, with Tiger pretty much out of the picture the last two years, nobody won more than 3 times in 2010, and nobody won more than twice last year.
Jefe (Lin City, NV)
So when TW says "I couldn't read the putts" (especially at Pebble Beach where he destroyed the field several years ago) does it really mean "Holy ****, I've got the yips!"
Bob Harig (3:16 PM)
I don't think so. The yips are more of a mental issue on short putts. Tiger simply seems to have some trouble with his technique, which is compounded when he reads greens poorly.
Matt (at work)
Bob are you flying your Helicopter in each day this week?
Bob Harig (3:17 PM)
It's in the shop, unfortunately.
How much, if at all, do you think people are going overboard saying that Tiger never used to miss key putts or intimidate other players? On the flip side, are his struggles now being blown out of proportion?
Bob Harig (3:18 PM)
It is interesting that Tiger used that Cameron putter to win 13 of his 14 majors and about $60-million. He never switched until the 2010 British Open. I don't think he is contractually obligated, and I'm not sure that is the reason anyway. The feeling here is if Tiger felt he'd make more with the old putter, he'd go back.
I know we're all obsessed with Tiger and his putting, but any discussion of Rory's? He missed a few against Hunter, and was very poor on tour last year
Bob Harig (3:20 PM)
Short putting has been a weakness for Rory. It plagued him at the 2010 Ryder Cup. He's very good on the mid-range to long putts but some of those 5-footers give him trouble, which is not good for such a young player.
The thing to realize about Galea, is that his issue was illegally treating people in the US. HGH is legal, and many Dr's prescribe it, it's just not legal for pro-athletes. So any athlete that goes to a sports med Dr, is probably going to someone who has prescribed HGH to a patient at some point.
Bob Harig (3:21 PM)
True. You can't assume that Tiger was seeing this guy for HGH. He could have tried to get that from a lot of places. This guy did the blood spinning thing and that's his stated reason for seeking him out.
Brian (Westborough, MA)
Are there any changes to Augusta this year that you are aware of?
Bob Harig (3:22 PM)
Not that I am aware of. Augusta has been pretty forthcoming in recent years with such changes. But we'll see pretty soon.
Griffin (Geneseo, NY)
Tiger has, I think, only 5 stroke play events under his belt since he's been able to practice full force with the new swing, maybe 6 if you count last years Masters. I know everybody wants you to break him down in all ways possible, but do you feel we just need to give him some time?
Bob Harig (3:25 PM)
If you throw out the Bridgestone and PGA, events for which he was truly not ready last year after being away for nearly four months, Woods has played five stroke-play events, the Presidents Cup and the Match Play. In those tournaments, he tied for 30th (Frys), finished third (Aussie Open), 1st (Chevron) T3 (Abu Dhabi), T15 (Pebble Beach. He went 2-3 at Presidents Cup and lost in the second round at the Match Play. In general, he has looked good in those tournaments. He had a poor final round at Pebble, didn't put well at the Match Play. Scrambled beautifully and make a lot of putts in the final round at Abu Dhabi, but hit it poorly after playing well for 3 days. . . It's true that this is not a huge sample of time. Remember, he was gone for four months. Anybody else and his comeback would be considered fine.
Patrick (tampa )
do you think tiger will win at least one event this year normal or major?
Bob Harig (3:28 PM)
Yes, I've said I think he'll win Doral, win a major, add a third PGA Tour title somehwere else.
Brian (Westborough, MA)
If i told you 1 player would win 3 majors this year who would you guess (and you can't pick Yani Tseng!)
Bob Harig (3:29 PM)
I'd have to go with Rory in that case.
Tom (Los Angeles)
How can people think Tiger is a favorite in any tournament? There are so many good young golfers now that are so talented.
Bob Harig (3:31 PM)
Which is why it is surprising his failure to win is met with so much angst. If anything, what he has achieved has served as an unrealistic standard by which he is judged.
Just a couple years ago, everyone was going nuts about the depth of the Euro players. Now, it seems like it's a big 3 (or 4 with Kaymer) and the rank-and-file have all fallen back, and now it's the US with depth (Keegan, Haas, Mahan, Snedeker, Simpson, etc). These things just cyclical or are we reading too much into it?
Bob Harig (3:32 PM)
The European Tour has never had great depth. It is just that it has seen a number of players rise to the top in the world rankings. This has been discussed here before, but the ranking points players receive are based mostly on how top-heavy a field is. Case in point, Dubai -- which had Westwood, McIlroy and Kaymer a few weeks ago, but nobody else in the top 25 -- gave more ranking points to the winner than did Pebble Beach. So the depth has always been stronger on the PGA Tour. European Tour has seen more of its players rise toward the top.
According to the OWGR pts allocation Riviera had a better field than Honda, but somehow I doubt Honda would trade
Bob Harig (3:33 PM)
Good point. Riviera had No. 1 Luke Donald, who is not at Honda. That skews things.
Excited to see the WGC Championship at TPC Trump - Miami?
Bob Harig (3:34 PM)
Maybe we'll get some waterfalls.
What is up with AK? I really thought he'd bounce back this year
Bob Harig (3:34 PM)
I have to believe it goes back to when he injuried his thumb in 2009. He took time off, had surgery, came back too soon. . and has never been right since. Perhaps he got into bad habits, etc.
If one of these young golfers (Rory, Keegan, or Mystery Golfer X) were to begin to win multiple times a year, and in dominant fashion do you think golf fans would embrace them regardless of what flag colors attached to their name are?
Bob Harig (3:36 PM)
Yes, I really think nationality only matters when it's the Ryder Cup. Rory will be immensley popular in the U.S. Same for any number of players who might become dominant.
Tiger used to do a bunch of things consistently top 10 on tour, GIR %, Scrambling, strokes gained putting, approaches from 50-125yds. Right now he's doing exactly one of those things well (GIR). One thing he historically hasn't been good at is 5-10ft putts.
Bob Harig (3:37 PM)
He's also not dominating the par-5s like he used to, which could be due to a number of those factors you stated.
Hi Bob! How do you think the fellas who played 5 days in a row (Rory) bounce-back and compete this weekend? Do you see that playing a factor in their performance?
Bob Harig (3:38 PM)
For a guy like Rory, it shoulnd't be an issue. He's 22. He's obviously playing well. Mahan isn't playing. Westwood? I think it's more about playing well and staying on a roll.
One of Finchem's key points I thought, during his interview with NBC this past weekend was growing the legacy of the Fedex cup to really establish a tradition. How big can it get?
Bob Harig (3:41 PM)
It can't get bigger than the majors, which is a problem. But it can become something that fans embrace as a great way to end the golf season.
Rory's comments about beating Lee Westwood... it felt like a slight to Mahan for beating him in the afternoon. Did you guys feel that way about his comments, or was it overblown on TV?
Bob Harig (3:42 PM)
No, I think he was just being honest. He put a lot into the match against Westwood. That was obviously a huge deal, first to beat him, but to also come back from 3 down. It put him in position to get to No. 1. Think he let down a bit. But remember, it's not like he was awful early on against Mahan. There were all squar thru 5.
Do you think Rory can make a run at Jack's record?
Bob Harig (3:44 PM)
I thnk that's a lot to ask at this point. I'd first like to see him make a run at Phil's or Faldo's or Norman's.
Do you feel Mahan is braking through and going to be a better contender and be out front, or still have his wins come from well behind when others falter?
Bob Harig (3:45 PM)
Always so hard to tell. I would have thought his win at Bridgestone in 2010 would have propelled him to more. But this was his first victory since then.
Do you feel Dustin Johnson doesn't put in the time with his short game, or does he really work on it and just continue to struggle?
Bob Harig (3:48 PM)
Good question. I don't know. He certainly must know that this wedge game, his short game, is holding him back. You'd think he'd spend hour upon hour hitting and learning shots from inside of 150 yards.
Tom H (Hartford, CT)
Why do analysts/reporters/commentators insist on including guys in their 30s as part of the "young guns" who aren't afraid of Tiger. (Bubba, 31. Hunter, 30. Haas, 30. Snedeker, 31. Watney, 31. Z. Johnson, 35!) Is it solely because they are younger than Tiger?
Bob Harig (3:49 PM)
Those guys have not suffered many defeats to Tiger.
Unless you mean making a run at Norman's major chokes, I think he'll catch Norman's resume. Of course, if you did mean chokes, he's got one down already ;)
Bob Harig (3:49 PM)
I meant more his overall record, but even to be serious, just getting into contention that often would be a plus.
Wondering your opinion on this: greatest rivalry in the game today? Is it still Tiger/Phil, or has Rory/Lee gotten to that level yet (or am I missing another one?)
Bob Harig (3:51 PM)
There probably isn't a great one right now. Tiger-Phil attracts considerable interest regardless.
Prediction for Tiger this week?
Bob Harig (3:52 PM)
This is a good test for him. Lots of water, potentialy lots of wind. Good place to see where his game is at in terms of ball striking. It's typcially not a birdie-fest, so the putting issues of recent times might not as be pronounced. I don't expect him to win on a course he hasn't played.
any updates on how injured Daly is?
Bob Harig (3:55 PM)
he definitely hurt his elbow in India, but how serious is not yet clear. He has a sponsor's exemption to the Transitions in 2 weeks so we will see then.
Griffin (Geneseo, NY)
Any chance Yani Tseng tees it up on the PGA tour in the next few years?
Bob Harig (3:56 PM)
There had been some rumblings about her playing the Puerto Rico event next week, but it didn't happen. I think it would be neat if she did it.
Should we say goodnight to what could have been a potential Tiger/Phil rivalry between Rory and Ricky Fowler? I think the casual golf world would go crazy over something along those lines.
Bob Harig (3:57 PM)
Rickie needs to start winning for there to be any chance of a rivalry.
People keep talking about Mahan improving on the greens, around it sure, but the guy was 13th on tour in putting last year
Bob Harig (3:58 PM)
The knock on Mahan has been his chipping,somewhat unfairly due to the Ryder Cup where he chunked that chip at a crucial moment. But it's been more overall. Mahan was the first to admit his short game wasn't good enough.
Do you find it at all odd that the first tournament Tiger will play this year that he really likes (and has had a lot of success at) will be Doral?
Bob Harig (4:00 PM)
That is only because he skipped Torrey Pines for Abu Dhabi. Little would have changed otherwise.
Bob (Tampa, FL)
I have to agree with many others that Tiger is just so overrated and over hyped now. Yes, he is an above average player but there are just so many better players now that the TV networks should be covering on a more regular basis. Thoughts?
Bob Harig (4:01 PM)
Like I said in an earlier post here. . . the TV ratings, the web traffic suggest that is what people want. For every one who complains about too much Tiger coverage, there must be 100 who are craving it.
Will we see kenny perry contending at any pga events again, and how many events is he playing this year? Was a couple short years ago he was playing as well as anyone
Bob Harig (4:02 PM)
He should have won the Masters in 2009 but now he's 51 and when you start going back and forth between the Champions and regular tours, it is difficult to maintain that high level. I would not be surprised to see him contend occasionally because he still hits it long.
Bob Harig (4:03 PM)
Okay folks, I'm out of time. Thanks again for all the questions. . Enjoy the golf and we'll do it again next week from Doral.
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