Chat with Bob Harig
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.
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Harig Archive: Columns
Bob Harig (4:00 PM)
Hello golf fans. It may not feel like it, but it's playoff time in golf. Yep, the FedEx Cup playoffs are underway. Some people think playoffs is the wrong word, and we can discuss that if you like. Or any topics related to golf. We've got an hour, and I'm here as long as you've got questions. So let's get started.
BJ (Des Moines, IA)
Mickelson, Els, Singh, Westwood. Do you think there is a major win left in any of them?
Bob Harig (4:01 PM)
I do, although I think it is much less likely at this point for Singh, just because of his age. Although Vijay has done a great job of defying it to this point, you just don't have that many major champions past the age of 45. Westwood has not yet won a major, and I kept thinking this was his year. Mickelson certainly has majors left in him, as does Els. But there are only so many to go around, as we all know.
How do you see this FedEx thing playing out?
Bob Harig (4:04 PM)
I hate to be vague, but I really do think it's wide open. When the guy in last place, Lee Janze, could lead the thing if he wins this week, it's really hard to predict. It is clear that the new stipulations this year that shrunk the difference in re-seeded points and add points for those who make cuts will add a wide variation from week to week. You're going to have to do something to win the $10-million, that's for sure. As for who, I really think it will be somebody in the top 20 currently. They'll need one strong week and a couple of decent finishes to get it done.
It's been a couple of years now...how do the players react to the Cup?
Bob Harig (4:07 PM)
Their attitude seems indifferent, although in year two more of them are starting to see the monetary significance. If you can perform well in these four tournaments -- or just get into them -- you'll have huge purses to play for, plus that big bonus. And it's not just $10-million to the winner, remember. Second place gets $3-million with payoffs all the way down through 150th place. It's a pretty good deal.
Rick (Annapolis, MD)
Any possibility of ever having one of the majors moved to the time of the Cup season?
Bob Harig (4:09 PM)
I would say it's highly doubtful. The majors are their own entities, run by their own organizations. Now if you want to talk about moving the Playrers Championship into the FedEx Cup playoffs.. . that is also very, very unlikely. But the PGA Tour runs it, so it is more possible than a major moving to this time of year.
What's been the biggest surprise of the season to you so far?
Bob Harig (4:14 PM)
I would have to say Tiger's knee problems and subsequent surgery. Remember at the beginning of the year there was a lot of talk about him wining the Grand Slam. I don't think anybody outside of his inner circle saw this coming. They surgery after the Masters was a huge suprirse, and then nobody knew that he had injured himself during rehab before the U.S. Open -- which he goes on to win. The whole Tiger thing this year came as something completely unexpected.
outside of the majors, what's been the best story?
Bob Harig (4:15 PM)
Probably Anthony Kim. We've been waiting for a young player to emerge for some time, and Kim has stepped up with two victories this year and made the Ryder Cup team at age 23. That's pretty impressive.
how do you think the players would react to moving the players to the playoffs?
Bob Harig (4:16 PM)
To be honest, I don't think it would be a good idea. The tour and the players want the tournament to stand on its own. And it does, with its own May date and on a golf course that is very well known. I think they like it right where it is.
Ralph (New Jersey)
Have you been watching any of the Olympics? What do you like so far?
Bob Harig (4:16 PM)
Golf's not in the Olympics, is it? Oh, yes, another topic.
so is it just the money that's keeping these guys playing in the playoffs?
Bob Harig (4:19 PM)
Not completely, but we'd be fools to think it's not a big part of it. They have tried to make this unique, but to do so, they had to throw a lot of money out there to assure that all the top guys would be together in these events.
Oh, no you didn't Bob. you just opened that box up. Golf in the Olympics. I say it needs to be done. It's a more international sport than BMX riding or some of the others.
Bob Harig (4:19 PM)
It's a perfectly good argument. There are lots of good reasons for having golf in the Olympics, as the game is played around the world and the Olympics would help grow it even more. But there are downsides as well.
So how good can Kim be?
Bob Harig (4:21 PM)
He can be one of the best in the world. Now whether or not he gets there is another story. By that, I mean top five ,top three in the world. He's shown he's got the game, But can he keep it going, be consistent, fight through the tough times? There is a lot that can get in the way of greatness, but he certainly seems to have the necessary places from where you start.
Ken (Trenton, NJ)
Will you be out at the FedEx event this weekend?
Bob Harig (4:21 PM)
I am sitting this one out. My colleague, Jason Sobel is there as we speak, blogging on all things Barclays.
Melissa (New York)
What do you think of the Ryder Cup team? Think we have a chance?
Bob Harig (4:23 PM)
The U.S. Ryder Cup team has some serious question marks about it? The guys who have played before have not performed all that well, and the guys Paul Azinger is looking to pick -- except for Hunter Mahan today -- have not done much recently to distinguish themselves. I absolutely think the U.S. can win. But can and will are two different stories.
What do you make of all the good scoring so far in Jersey?
Bob Harig (4:23 PM)
I don't know enough about the course, which is new this year, but I would attribute it to, generally, nice day, course in good condition, not much wind. . Things that allow players to go low.
Did I read right? There are 144 people playing this weekend? Don't only 125 have their cards? How is this a "playoff" when everyone on tour AND MORE play?
Bob Harig (4:24 PM)
It's a great point. First, the money list and the points list are different. But still you're premise is correct. There are more players who start in the playoffs than will retain fully exempt status for 2009. In my mind, this is one of the flaws of the system.
if you could add one player to the Cup team, who would it be?
Bob Harig (4:27 PM)
There is no easy, simple answer to that quesiton. Nobody stands out, which is not good. Mahan playing well this week would help him, and I would be inclinced to pick him because at least he also has Presidents Cup experience.
bob do u believe golfers are athletes? i dont
Bob Harig (4:29 PM)
I guess it depends on your definition of an athlete. You don't necessarily have to be a good athlete to be a good golfer. But being a good golfer does require an atheltic move. Reptition and coordination and touch and feel and power are all traits that are stengthened with athleticisim.
Shouldn't you have to earn your way into a playoff system? What does the PGA say about this?
Bob Harig (4:30 PM)
Well, in theory, the 144 players did earn their way in. There are some 200 players with some sort of status on the PGA Tour. And the tour wanted a large field so that more players had playing opportunities, while also offering up hope -- however slight -- that someone could get hot and come from way back to win the whole thing.
Cosmo (Anytown, USA)
My 3 year old daughter asks me everyday to put golf on TV. Is this a sign that I have been a good dad, or am I setting her up for years of cursing and frustration?
Bob Harig (4:31 PM)
I'll go with good dad. Given the other options on TV for kids, golf is a pretty good one.
With talk of majors, in the next couple of years when Tiger makes his run at Jack's 18 majors, there is now a new threat in Harrington as he has clearly taken Phil's spot as #2, will this be a threat to Tiger or just a small bump in the road?
Bob Harig (4:32 PM)
It is possilbe Harrington could be a threat, but we've seen lots of threats to Tiger, and he has still got the best of them. The one thing Harrington has gone for him is his ability to close. He showed it in these last two majors. He showed a fearlessness, an ability to fight from behind. Whether he does that against Tiger remains to be seen.
I thought with Tiger out, Phil would shine. But he hasn't really stepped up much. Is it just me, or does that seem about right?
Bob Harig (4:33 PM)
It seems right to me. Phil has had a lackluster summer. He really wasn't a factor at either the British Open or the PGA. He probably should have won the Bridgestone Invitational, but bogeyed three of the last four holes. He's still got a chance to win his first money title if he can get hot in the next several weeks.
Mike (Watertown, NY)
I'm a little nervous about our Ryder Cup team. No one seems to be playing great going into the tournament. I have a bad feeling that we might get blown out.
Bob Harig (4:35 PM)
Not sure about a blowout, but your concerns are justified. Mickelson hasn't won since May, Cink missed the cut in the last two majors, Furyk hasn't won this year. Kenny Perry played one round in a major championship. And the guys looking to make it as picks are not standing out. Maybe it's better to go in fretting.
Do you think that Tiger and other top players would play in the Olympics in 2016?
Bob Harig (4:36 PM)
That is the big question. The stars need to play to make it worthwhile and interesting, but one of my problems with golf in the Olympics is the players already have prizes which they would likely view as bigger -- the four majors. And if the Olympics in any way gets in the way of that schedule, then it becomes problematic.
how can u watch golf? its boring. what are u a women...real men watch football
Bob Harig (4:37 PM)
So what does that make someone who bashes golf but joins a golf discussion group? Hmmmm.
I can't stand it when people talk about other athletes liking to play golf and think they could make it on Tour (Smoltz, Romo), just because they can shoot a low score (with no one watching). Are you kidding me? Try hitting that putt that Tiger did to force a playoff at the US Open. All those people screaming and the pressure and your knee hurts.....no way.
Bob Harig (4:38 PM)
No doubt, the game is a lot easier than it looks, especially to other athletes who seemingly pick it up with ease. They hit the ball a mile and score well at their club, but inside the ropes against the best in the world at the game, it would be a different outcome.
Cosmo (Anytown, USA)
If you were sentenced to only play one golf hole for the rest of your life, which hole at which course would it be?
Bob Harig (4:40 PM)
I would go with the 18th at Pebble Beach. A par-5, along the ocean, you get to hit driver plus a lot of other clubs depending on the conditions. Not bad.
Ken (Trenton, NJ)
I've got some friends that say how great it would be to be a tour pro. Yeah, it'd be great to be Tiger, but what percentage of players make the millions? Only a small few, right? I thought I've heard that some of the players on tour struggle to make it. Or am I wrong?
Bob Harig (4:42 PM)
I guess it depends on what you mean by "struggle." Mathias Gronberg barely kept his job for this year by finishing 125th on the PGA Tour money list. He earned $785,180. Even after paying his expenses and taxes, that's a pretty good year for a guy who "struggled." But there are plenty of guys who have status and make very little, then there are the Nationwide Tour and mini tour players. Not everybody is getting rich out there.
Pete (New Jersey)
Bob, I think it was Sobel's chat (I don't think it was yours) where someone said he was playing in a one club tournament. If you were going to do that, which club would you pick?
Bob Harig (4:43 PM)
Somebody did ask me about that recently, and I think I said the 5-iron. Seems to me it would be easier to putt with it. But maybe it would be better to have a 7-iron so you could hit chips shots and bunker shots easier? That would be tough.
The Jimmy (NYC)
You're King of Golf... what is the first improvement that you make to the game?
Bob Harig (4:45 PM)
I would change the out of bounds rule. I think out of bounds should be treated as a lateral hazard instead of having to re-hit from your original spot. It would save time and from an equity standpoint, it seems more fair. To me, it has always seemed strange that you get penalized more for hitting a 250-yard shot out of bounds (stroke and distance) than you would if you swung and missed (the stroke you took.)
Daniel (Hammond, IN)
So how much do you think a guy like Gronberg pays for expenses? I'm guessing if he's 125 on the money list, his endorsements aren't pouring in and he has to field some of his own travel and all that, no?
Bob Harig (4:46 PM)
Well, just about everybody with a tour card has some sort of endorsements, whether it be clothing or clubs or what have you. But if he plays 30 weeks, youv'e got to be looking at close to $100,000 right there. Many weeks are going to be more than $2,000. Then he's got his caddie. Still he ought to get by, right?
Hmmmm, I'm not so sure Bob. Not sure if I could survive on $200,000-$300,000 after I clear expenses and taxes and all that. That'd be rough, wouldn't it? Just think, no Gulfstream V!
Bob Harig (4:50 PM)
LIke I said, it's all about what you consider "struggling."
I would rather clear $80,000 before taxes playing golf than what I make now pretending to work while I follow golf chats and blogs.
Bob Harig (4:52 PM)
Now there is some good perspective!
Bob, my brother and I went out to play last weekend. He's only played one other time in his life and it was 5 months ago. I've played for a few years, but only about once per month. I only beat him by 12 strokes (granted we were both over 100). Does that say more about my game or his?
Bob Harig (4:54 PM)
Hard to say. Could have been beginners luck. Or maybe that is as good as he will get while you have a chance to improve. If you both enjoyed it -- and didn't hold up the entire course! -- that is probably the most important.
golf is for losers who were never good at any real sports. i like making fun of people who watch or play golf
Bob Harig (4:54 PM)
And I like making fun of people who bash golf but decide to join a golf chat room.
Cosmo (Anytown, USA)
As a writer, how much do you miss Tiger?
Bob Harig (4:55 PM)
Very much. There is no question that having him in tournaments, trying to win majors, make history, is a huge boost to the sport and makes it more interesting. But I still think it's been very interesting without him, just in a different way.
What does your handicap have to be to try and make it to any tour? Are there any requirements to try and qualify for a mini-tour event?
Bob Harig (4:57 PM)
No, mini tours are all about putting up the cash to enter. They are a glorified form of gambling really, You have a hefty entry fee which basically makes up the purse, and usually it takes a real good performance to earn your money back. Anyone can enter Q-School, but your scores are too high in relation to the field average, you might not get to come back the next year, depending on the circumstances.
making fun of people is not very professional bob. may i speak to ur manager
Bob Harig (4:58 PM)
But it's okay for you to be unprofessional?
So, what's the deal with Ryan Moore? He's been scuffling recently (today he's +5).
Bob Harig (4:59 PM)
Not sure what is going on with Ryan Moore. He's missed the cut in his last two events and four of his last six. He won just about all of his money -- nearly $700,000 -- when he lost in a playoff to Adam Scott at the Byron Nelson earlier this year.
Bob Harig (5:01 PM)
I'm out of time. . . Thanks for all the questions and check back again next week for another golf chat. . . Enjoy the Barclays, the U.S. Amateur and any other golf you may watch or play.