Chat with Michael Collins
Welcome to Sportsnation! On Monday, ESPN.com golf writer Michael Collins brings his unique perspective as a former caddie into the chat.
Collins, who joined ESPN in August 2011, started his career as a stand up comedian and became a caddy by accident. He started looping for fun in 1999, but by 2003 decided to make it a full-time gig. He was the caddy for Chris Couch in 2003 when he won the Nationwide Tour championship.
Collins has never won an award for his writing, but he'll tell you that's probably because he failed high school English and still types with only his index fingers. But he's smart, funny and, most importantly, knows the game and what players and caddies go through on a weekly basis.
Send your questions now and join Collins Monday at 3 p.m. ET!
Michael Collins (3:00 PM)
It's the fastest hour in golf! Tiger wins, Rory turns a corner, Puerto Rico has a great finish and we're still month away from the Masters! I gotta ask... How many of y'all think Tiger's just gonna go dominate the Masters?
I know it was a joke... but any chance Tiger eventually does use Stricker as a full time putting coach? And does that get to Foley since Tiger used Stricker for the help?
Michael Collins (3:01 PM)
Eventually Stricker may do like Stan Utley and the Stockton's have done, but Foley just works on Tiger's swing stuff. I've never seen him work on Tiger's putting. Not saying it never happened but...
What are your thoughts on Tiger's sloppy finishes at Doral and Torrey? Is that a result of having big leads and just letting up on the gas or could this become a mental issue come the back 9 of a major?
Michael Collins (3:04 PM)
Recent issues at majors for Tiger have started on Saturdays. I think the Torrey Pines finish was just a frustration of slow play. Yesterday was a case of letting off the gas a little bit. I still believe Tiger wins the US Open this year but I don't have him winning the Masters.
Is Tiger all Nike in the entire bag (clubs and ball) now?
Michael Collins (3:05 PM)
I asked this to Farrell last week, but have you ever considered doing a golf podcast? Even poker has one!!!!!
Michael Collins (3:06 PM)
I'm on it. Probably gonna start the week of Arnold Palmer doing a couple test ones and see the response.
Angel (Springfield, MA) [via mobile]
Hey Mike, With the way Tiger played this week, he's got to be the favorite heading to the Masters right?
Michael Collins (3:08 PM)
He will be but it's a mistake to have him a 5/2 favorite and the next closest guy at 10/1. Tiger hasn't won there since 2005.
Can I think Tiger win majors other than the masters? Think the hardest shot for him right now is a draw with the longer clubs
Michael Collins (3:09 PM)
Yes, and I can agree which is why I think he'll win the US Open but not the Masters
Any Tiger/Rory comparisons just need to stop...Tiger Woods is in a class all by himself and is an all time great. If he putts this well, wouldn't you think 2 majors this season with 7-10 wins possible?
Michael Collins (3:10 PM)
10 wins, no. But 2 majors and 6-7 wins are possible. NOT probable, but possible.
When am I coming back from my suspen, err, I mean my injury?-Vijay
Michael Collins (3:11 PM)
So he doesn't play Honda and isn't ranked high enough to get into the WGC... he's in the field this week.
As a former caddie, what is your opinion of how Tiger's current caddie is doing?
Michael Collins (3:13 PM)
Joe is one of the best caddies of all-time. I'm sure there are still things about Tiger's game in situations that he's learning but so far I give him an A grade.
Over/Under: 0.5 career PGA Tour wins for Ryo Ishikawa when he's done
Michael Collins (3:13 PM)
Over. But less than 3.
How does Stricker get away with only playing 11-12 tournaments, thought PGA Tour mandated 15 events?
Michael Collins (3:16 PM)
Great question. He's exempt this year but would give up his membership at the end of this year.
Armen Baghdasarian (Los Angeles, CA)
Michael, I am a huge Tiger Woods fan but I am not one of those fans who is die hard and ridiculous...but i do hate how people keep talking about its only because of Stricker and that he almost blew it at the end. in my eyes that was dominance...what do you think?
Michael Collins (3:18 PM)
It was dominant. Anytime you keep your lead for that long over the weekend, finishing the way he did, doesn't send up any red flags for me.
Susan (New Jersey)
Based on Tiger's 2 PGA victories in 4 events, do you think he will still only win one Major in 2013?
Michael Collins (3:20 PM)
I do. The Masters doesn't set up well for him. The Open is always dependent on the tee times you get, that leaves the US Open and the PGA Championship. Is winning 50% of those two absurd to think?
I can't remember if you wrote about this previously, but I was watching The Haney Project last week and they showed Phelps playing at the Ryder Cup Pro-Am with George Lopez. Well, we know who Mr. Lopez's caddie is (and there was incriminating video evidence), so I gotta ask, what was that day like?
Michael Collins (3:22 PM)
Our team won the event. I read every putt for George and he made 7 birdies. Sitting around after with Phelps at the clubhouse and talking golf and sports... one of those "moments" I'll tell my great-grandkids
Does Bubba have a good shot to repeat in Augusta?
Michael Collins (3:23 PM)
As awesome that would be, history says no.
Todd (South Dakota)
Have you ever seen an all-timer who misses as many short putts as Phil? This week Tiger was machine like from 5-10 feet and Phil was the total opposite.
Tiger deserves all the plaudits today, but I happened to follow Phil all four days, and I liked what I saw. He already has a wire-to-wire W in hand, and finishes T-3 at a WGC (not his favorite venue) after a 2-week vacay in which he didn't touch a club for the first week. People will laugh at me, but Phil was really close to making it a game with Tiger. The man missed literally 8 legit birdie chances on the weekend, and gave up 3 strokes on missed shorties. What do you think of his game? He just seems not to be missing so wide off the fairway, and his iron game is sharp. He starts rolling it a bit better, and who knows what could happen.
Bob Mallett (Oakley, CA)
Was the field of top players intimidated by Tiger leading all four rounds like when he was playing at his peak?
Michael Collins (3:26 PM)
There are courses Tiger just owns... that was one of them. Arnold Palmer next week is another one. But at the majors, the field is not intimidated.
Stricker is in fact exempt for the next several years due to wins all that happens if he doesn't play 15 is he loses his voting rights.
Top 3 finishers in Tampa this week?
Michael Collins (3:29 PM)
Expert Picks will be out onTuesday afternoon...http://espn.go.com/golf/
Everybody is talking about the state of Rory's and Tigers games going into the first major of the year, but what about Luke Donald? He didn't do anything to impress me this past weekend he is going into this week as the defending champ. Out of the top 3 in the world do you think he should be the most worried going in.
Michael Collins (3:31 PM)
The problem for Luke two things, he's short and crooked off the tee. That doesn't bode well for him at any majors. But a strong showing at Honda could help. He won't be a factor at Augusta though.
Augusta in one month. I'll put Tiger and Rory, and let's say a red-hot Snedeker on one side, the field on the other side. Which side you got?
Michael Collins (3:32 PM)
Tiger, Rory, and Sneds
Tommy (Green Bay, WI)
If his career ended today, would John Daly be a hall of famer? Two majors along with 3 PGA Tour wins and a title in Europe should be enough right?
Michael Collins (3:34 PM)
As much as I'd like to say yes, I'd have to say no. I honestly think his actions on and off the course that have been considered by some an embarrassment on the game will keep him out.
How did Tiger win 4 Master's, but now people think he can't and won't win there again especially now that all aspects of his game have come together?
Michael Collins (3:36 PM)
His last win at Augusta was 2005. Why is that? Answer that and you answer your own question.
Mark O'Meara is laughing at the fact that people think JD's record is good enough for the Hall of Fame. Or maybe it's crying
Michael Collins (3:37 PM)
James (Philadelphia, PA)
Does the money a caddy gets paid (i.e. the percentage) differ depending on the event, regular tour event vs. WGC vs Major?
Michael Collins (3:37 PM)
No, the percentage stays the same.
Hey Mike, glad to see Rory had a strong round Sunday, what does he have planned tournament wise before the masters?
Michael Collins (3:38 PM)
Only Houston. So he's got two weeks off, then Houston, then a week off, then Masters
Has the switch to Nike equipment affected Rory's game or do you feel it has just been the pressure of being the worlds #1 player?
Michael Collins (3:39 PM)
A little bit of both, but mostly equipment and a swing flaw that look like has been fixed.
How much more does Phil's legacy improve with a win at the US Open or Open Champ?
Michael Collins (3:40 PM)
He's going into the Hall of Fame but a US Open would be HUGE after what happened at Winged Foot.
Don (Berkeley, CA)
Doesn't Tiger need to win on a golf course he hadn't dominated prior to 2008 before we can talk about him being back and winning majors?
Michael Collins (3:41 PM)
Absolutely. Like last year after he won at Arnold Palmer and everyone went off the deep end at how he was gonna dominate at the Masters. People have short memories.
Weird thought of the day, with the Hootie changes Augusta no longer would have set up well for Jack. That is sort of sad. Oh and fun with numbers: if not for the minimum divisor of 40, Tiger would have passed Rory for world #1 this week
Do you think Keegan is doing the right thing by publicly addressing the "cheating" allegations?
Michael Collins (3:43 PM)
I do. If I was in the crowd and someone said that I'd grab them and have them thrown out. Makes me mad when people act ignorant
Come on Michael... Tiger from last year to this is like night and day!
Noah (New York)
Tiger has finished top 5 at Augusta 2006-11 and had excellent scores which indicates he can still win it. 2009 -8 2010 -11 and 2011 -10. 2012 his new swing was in disarray!
Michael Collins (3:46 PM)
True, but unfortunately we're not playing horseshoes or hand grenades and the only thing that matters (Tigers words) is wins. I almost won Powerball
To answer the question you posed to Carla from FL, is it more the lengthening of Augusta or certain the additional emphasis of a right-to-left ball flight?
Michael Collins (3:48 PM)
It's the right to left emphasis, the length just means the driver is now in play and stinger 3 wood is less of an option.
So, Tiger has 50% of what he needs at Augusta... No way he contends hitting the driver the way he did this week... But man his putting was better than ever!
Cheers Heavy (Baltimore)
Pretty difficult to discount Tiger at Augusta despite not winning since 2005. Since then, T3, T2, 2, T6, T4, T4, T40. That's stunning.
Michael Collins (3:49 PM)
No discounting it even a little bit. Just talking wins. Ask Nicklaus if he'd trade all his second place finishes for two more majors, what do you think he'd say?
What's the percentage range of the player's winnings that caddies usually get paid?
Michael Collins (3:51 PM)
10% for a win, 7% for a top ten, and 5% for anything else. BUT each caddie is an independent contractor so the figure can vary greatly from guy to guy. Plus there's a weekly salary to be factored in also along with bonuses.
I'd rather have Phil since '05: W, T-24, 5, T-5, W, T-27, T-3
Robert Alan (California)
Has Tiger's popularity among fans and the golf community rebounded since the events of a few years ago?
Michael Collins (3:53 PM)
He still commands the biggest galleries and gets the highest ratings on tv. I'd say that part has come back nicely.
Will this be the year either Sergio, Donald or Westwood win a major?
Michael Collins (3:53 PM)
Westwood has the best shot
Michael, which top player with no career Major victories has the best chance at Augusta? Stricker looks good early, but I tend to like Justin Rose at Augusta
Michael Collins (3:54 PM)
Keep an eye on Snedeker
1. Why do people keep discounting Tiger's wins on courses he dominates? I think it may be even more impressive. These are tough tracks.2. Tiger hasn't won at Augusta because of his putter, not his long game. Three putt avoidance is key.
The problem with saying Tiger needs to win somewhere he hasn't dominated, is that he doesn't really play anywhere he hasn't dominated during the regular golf season. With the exception of Quail and the players. Unless he adds something, and Tiger rarely wins the first time he sees a course.
tdiddy (Winnipeg) [via mobile]
Hey Mike! I get a feeling that Tiger might have THAT YEAR that everyone has been waiting for. Other than Rory and maybe Sneds, there is no one that should really 'scare' Tiger or that there is no one on a roll. When Eldrick was ripping it up he had The Big Five chasing him. Now? The top ten has guys like Donald, Stricker and Kuchar. Nice players but...Just seems like all majors could be ripe for the picking. Crazy or Crazy Smart?
Michael Collins (3:56 PM)
Just crazy. Everyone needs to take a step back, a deep breath. Tiger still has to play Arnold Palmer before, let's see if he can dominate there first before we go jumping off any cliffs for ALL four majors.
Wasn't it on this chat last year you said that Tigers first major win in 5 years would be the 2013 Masters?
Michael Collins (3:58 PM)
I did. But changed my opinion late in the year after watching Tiger up close.
I think Tiger doesn't get his next Major until 2014 US Open (Pinehurst). Then he gets all his favorite places back in rotation for the next 2 years. Pinehurst, Royal Liverpool, Valhalla, St. Andrews. We will know after the 2015 British Open if he is going to catch Jack or not.
Armen Baghdasarian (Los Angeles, CA)
With Mickelson, Singh, Stricker and even Ernie and Furyk playing well in their 40s...doesn't that bode well for Tiger to continue his chase for Jacks majors?
Michael Collins (4:00 PM)
It does except Tiger has had much worse injuries to contend with so his health thru his 40's will be much more in question.
Michael Collins (4:02 PM)
WOW!! That went really fast. Huge crew in here today, I love it.Meet me here same time this Friday and we'll keep it going!Until then hit me on twitter @ESPNCaddieOr Email me ESPNCaddie@gmail.comThanks everyone.MC