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July 7, 7:23 AM ET
Chat with Bob Harig

Bob Harig
  (4:00 PM)

Hello everyone. Getting the gear together for the trip to next week's British Open, which means it's not too early to talk about the next major - or anything else in golf. Fire away with your questions.

Vancouver, BC

Bob, what are your personal thoughts about the new drug testing policy on the PGA Tour? Do you like it or as Rocco puts it, is it "bull----?"

Bob Harig
  (4:03 PM)

I understand where Rocco is coming from. He doesn't like the personal invasive nature of the policy, among other things. But in this day and age, you have to have these deterents in place, just in case. Justin Leonard said drug testing is a necessary evil, and that is a good way to put it. It is also a signal to a young person that taking anything illegal is not going to help them when they become a pro.

Mike, NY

Villegas only win came out of USA. It came at Japan. Do u see him contending at the British Open as he did in the US Open?

Bob Harig
  (4:05 PM)

Camilo Villegas has never played in a British Open but he did tie for ninth at the U.S. Open and has three top-10s this year. He has not been in the hunt very often, however. Is next week the week he pulls it together? I would tend to say no.

Justin (Ohio)

Hi Bob, how impressed are you by the way Anthony Kim has won his two events? 5 stroke win at Wichovia and a 65 in the final round last week. Seems like he might actually have the mental makeup to challenge you know who in the coming years.

Bob Harig
  (4:07 PM)

Very impressed. He's only 23 and has two victories in his second year on the tour. You have to like that. Does he have the mental makeup to challenge Tiger? That remains to be seen. He appears to have a good attitude. But he's yet to finish ahead of Tiger in any event in which they've been in the same field. Might have to give him some time. At least he has not suffered a slew of demoralizing defeats at Tiger's expense.

Al (Kahalik, MN)

Robert, +/- 2 on the number of majors Phil wins before Tiger comes back to form

Bob Harig
  (4:09 PM)

I have to go on the low end. I don't see him winning the British Open, his worst major. And even if he wins the PGA, I don't seem him winning back-to-back majors. I think Tiger will be back to form by next year's U.S. Open. That doesn't mean Phil won't win one after Tiger comes back, but you asked before he comes back to form. I'm sure he would gladly take one.

Will (Oregon)

When do you leave for the British?

Bob Harig
  (4:09 PM)

I'm headed over this weekend, hoping to scout out the area before getting started with the serious stuff.

ryne (MD)

do you think there is a drug problem on the Tour?

Bob Harig
  (4:10 PM)

No, I really don't. I would be surprised if anyone were tested for a performhance-enhancing substance. There will likely be some positive tests for supplants or perhaps medicines that are not approved. I would view that as minor. But in order to be sure, you have to test.

Matt (ATL)

Who are your favorites across the pond next week ?

Bob Harig
  (4:12 PM)

I've been saying Lee Westwood all year. He nearly pulled it off at the U.S. Open and I'm sticking with him. I also like Geoff Ogilvy to do well.

Marc (IN)

I assume you have been to atleast one Ryder Cup in your career. In your opinion, is the atmosphere enough to pay the high ticket prices and drive down to Louisville?

Bob Harig
  (4:14 PM)

I would hate to tell anyone how to spend their money, but the atmosphere at a Ryder Cup is incredible. The one thing it has that a regular tournament does not is intensity from the opening tee shot. Everyboyd knows how important every point is and you can feel it throughout each and every day. If you can afford it, but all means, go.

Michael (Houston)

how close was Creamer to pulling off a 59 today? I saw she birdied the last, did she have an eagle putt?

Bob Harig
  (4:14 PM)

Apparently she was 9 under for her last 11 holes. At the last, she made a 20 foot birdie putt after hitting an approach onto the green, so she would have needed to hole that fairway shot to shoot 59.

Alex (Wilmy)

I am feeling VJ next week... He needs to bring his game for once and stop trashing women

Bob Harig
  (4:15 PM)

Don't know that he has trashed any women lately, but this is a tournament I'm surprised he has not won.

Robb (Colorado)

Bob, Just curious; do you think Stevie Williams has loss of income insurance? He is probably losing $300-500k in money with Tiger out.

Bob Harig
  (4:16 PM)

The caddies were taking up a "collection" last week in Washington for their "fallen" colleague. To collect the money, they put out a shot glass -- showing you just how bad off they really think he is. I'm sure Steve doesn't have a whole lot to worry about.

Justin (Ohio)

Your thoughts on Tiger not going to the Ryder Cup as some honorary participant? Seems smart to me.

Bob Harig
  (4:17 PM)

It probably is. People would be all over him. Media would want to interview. So would TV. It would be great to get his insight, but I'm guessing he wants no part of that.

Al (Kahalik, MN)

Sergio your favorite to win the British? Kinda tough to have a favorite that hasn't even won one major

Bob Harig
  (4:18 PM)

He is not my favorite, but it would not surprise me if he did well. Sergio is having a nice year, he had a good tournament last week in England and he probably feels the British Open owes him one.

Bob Harig
  (4:19 PM)

How about Andres Romero? The Argentine has quietly contended each of the past two years. He missed a playoff by a stroke last year. He won on the PGA Tour this year.

Dale (Louisville)

Who's an under the radar guy for the British?

Bob Harig
  (4:19 PM)

How about Andres Romero? The Argentine has quietly contended each of the past two years. He missed a playoff by a stroke last year. He won on the PGA Tour this year.

Zach Rastall (Marinette, WI)

Can Steve Stricker take advantage of Tiger's abscence, being that he's not as good on US soil?

Bob Harig
  (4:20 PM)

I would say the same thing for any player: there are many tournaments where Tiger doesn't play, and I don't see the same guys taking advantage. Nobody seems able to dominate like Tiger, even when he is not around.

Stu (Providence, RI)

How have the players taken to the idea of testing? They've had a while to adjust.

Bob Harig
  (4:22 PM)

It is probably too early to say. There have been a lot of opinions on the subject, they've had plenty of time to get used to the idea. They know it isn't going to change.

Justin (Ohio)

Do you know much about Birkdale? Bombers course? Ball strikers? Short game? Does it favor a particular type of player or game?

Bob Harig
  (4:24 PM)

It is not a bomber's course. They've had just 150 yards in the last 10 years and it measures less than 7,200. . It asks for all aspects, like most courses over there. You better be able to get it up and down because you're going to miss greens. Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson have won at Birkdale. Perhaps that suggests you need to be aggressive.

Mike (New York, NY)

What is the criteria that goes into selecting a Ryder Cup venue? It seems like they are always held at "second tier" top leve courses. Will we ever see a Ryder Cup at say, Winged Foot, Shinnecock, or Oakmont, assuming they aren't hosting the Open that year?

Bob Harig
  (4:26 PM)

There are three criteria: money, money money. Seriously, it's all about the cash. Ryder Cups go to venues willing to pay for them. The PGA of America owns Valhalla, so that means it can profit even more from this year's Ryder Cup. More said than Winged Foot or Oakmont not having a Ryder Cup is the lack of links courses used for the tournament in Europe. Why not St. Andrews, Royal Troon? It's a shame.

Paul (Portland, OR)

In Sergio's mind, doesn't everyone and everything owe him one?

Bob Harig
  (4:27 PM)

He certainly seemed to suggest that in defeat after last yera's Open loss in a playoff.

Mike (New York, NY)

Does the Ryder Cup captain have any say over the venue that will be selected? I know the home captain can set up the course to play a certain way, but does he have any say over the location?

Bob Harig
  (4:28 PM)

He has no say in the venue. Those things are determined years in advance for reasons stated earlier. But the home captain can be heavily involved in course set up, which includes hole locations.

Zach Rastall (Marinette, WI)

Do you believe The Ryder Cup is underrated?

Bob Harig
  (4:28 PM)

No, but I don't believe it is overrated, either. I think in Europe they tend to make a bigger deal out of it than is made in the United States. But the event is special and ranks right up there with the majros in terms of interest.

Chris: (LA,CA)

No love for the Big Easy...he is the defending Birkdale Open Champ

Bob Harig
  (4:29 PM)

Actually, I do like Ernie's changes, but he did not win at Birkdale. His Open win came at Muirfield in 2002. Mark O'Meara won the last Open at Birkdale in 1998.

Chris (Providence, RI)

You've got to think weather is going to be a big factor like it is every year...my bet is that Paddy can repeat if the weather is typical Great Britain crummy...Sergio if its nice.

Bob Harig
  (4:31 PM)

Weather was a big factor the last time at Birkdale. It was windy and rainy on Friday and Saturday. Tiger shot 78 in the third round, Mickelson had 85. But two years ago at Hoylake, which is in the vicinity, temperatures were around 90. You never know.

Justin (Ohio)

I guess nothing is full proof. I don't think you would consider O'Meara an aggressive player.

Bob Harig
  (4:32 PM)

True, which is why it is hard to predict what kind of player Birkdale favors. Ian Baker Finch also won there.

Ben (NY)

What's going on with paul casey this year?

Bob Harig
  (4:36 PM)

The Englishman has to be disappointed. He's not cracked the top 10 in any stroke play event on the PGA Tour, but he has had recent success in Europe, including a tie for thrid at the BMW tournametn in Germany.

Bo (FL)

For fantasy purposes, please rank these players: Paul Casey, Aaron Baddeley, Anthony Kim, Camillo Villegas.

Bob Harig
  (4:37 PM)

I would have to go with Kim, Baddeley, Casey, Villegas in that order.

John (Hattiesburg, MS)

Did the players like Nicklaus, Watson, Trevino, Miller, Palmer, etc. go to the extremes to prepare for a major like Mickelson does and do you think that a player can prepare to much for a major?

Bob Harig
  (4:38 PM)

I'm not sure anyone has ever gone to some of the lengths employed by Mickelson. But there is no doubt Nicklaus prepared extensively for majors. He would often go to a major venue the week prior and play practice rounds.

Matt (ATL)

ultimate British Open player all time ? Watson ?

Bob Harig
  (4:41 PM)

You would have to say that, probably. Harry Vardon won six British Opens, but tha was a long time ago. What's interesting about Watson is he won his five Opens at five different venues: Carnoustie, Turnberry, Muirfield, Royal Troon and Royal Birkdale.

Jeff (New York)

How do you think Jean Van de Velde will do at Birkdale? Maybe since it's not Carnoustie, the demons will not be haunting him so badly.

Bob Harig
  (4:44 PM)

It would be some story if he were able to contend. It is a great story that he came through local qualifying to make the field. But his record this year does not suggest it: he's made just six cuts in 15 European events, with his best a tie for 25th.

Paul (Portland, OR)

The funny thing is, all that preparation and only recently has Phil found success with the three he's won.

Bob Harig
  (4:45 PM)

True, but I don't think he used to prepare the same way. It took him awhile to find out the formula that works best for him.

Chris (Chicago)

Not to dwell on Tiger, but your point about no one ever dominating in his absence is tournaments shouldn't be surprising. No one dominated before he came on tour. The thing the older guys (Nicklaus, Player, etc.) don't seem to appreciate is that the lack of a clear challenger to Tiger is not a knock on his dominance, but rather emphasizes how impressive his dominance has been. His unprecendented dominance has come in a era with such depth that no one else has even dominated a little, before or after he came along. I really think this could be illustrated better if someone would figure out some stats on depth of field.

Bob Harig
  (4:46 PM)

I don't think that's a question! But it's a great point. Tiger's dominance is appreciated even more when you consisder that nobody else is able to come even close to having consistent success, even when he is not around.

Zach Rastall (Marinette, WI)

Are you going to get some tea and crumpets at the British Open?

Bob Harig
  (4:46 PM)

No, but hopefully I'll be able to find some ice.

Waylon (Vancouver, BC)

If you could play a round with 3 PGA Tour players, who would you choose and why?

Bob Harig
  (4:48 PM)

How about Steve Flesch, Rococ Mediate and Brandt Snedeker. They seem like good guys who would not make fun of my lame game.

RAY GORDON REID JAX FLA 32250

QUESTION TO BOB HARIG MY FAVORITE BRITISH OPEN 1977 WATSON JACK .N YOU YES OR NO

Bob Harig
  (4:50 PM)

Is that my favorite? Well, it's probably up there. I was at Carnoustie in '99, and that was incredible. However, Watson's "Duel in the Sun" victory over Jack at Turnberry no doubt goes down as one of the greatest majors, not just British Opens.

Matt (ATL)

Rocco would surely make fun of your game!

Bob Harig
  (4:50 PM)

Good point. . But I think I'd take my chances. It would be worth it.

Matt (ATL)

What are the sites for next years US / British / PGA ?

Bob Harig
  (4:51 PM)

U.S. Open-Bethpage Black; British Open-Turnberry. PGA-Hazeltine

John (Hattiesburg, MS)

When you cover a tournament like the British, do you like to walk the course with a certain player or players, stay at one hole, etc. and how much time is spent in the media room, to be able to follow all that is going on?

Bob Harig
  (4:52 PM)

Unfortunately, the proportion of time spent in the media room is far greater than on the course. But at the British, it's nice to see the entire place, follow a few groups, perhaps watch the leaders.

Al (Kahalik, MN)

Lee Westwood...the next Monty. They already look the same

Bob Harig
  (4:54 PM)

Well, it's possible. Westwood was long viewed as a player who could win majors. He had a slump, but has come back.

Matt (ATL)

any players already there taking practice rounds this week that you're aware of ?

Bob Harig
  (4:55 PM)

Not really aware of any. I'm sure Mickelson has gone to Birkdale either on his way to the Scottish Open or plans to be there Sunday night. Lots of players at Loch Lomond this week.

Zach Rastall (Marinette, WI)

Who was your favorite golfer to watch ever?

Bob Harig
  (4:57 PM)

Back when I was covering Bobby Jones (just kidding). . .How could I not say Tiger? He's been incredible. Of course it was nice to see Nicklaus, Watson, Trevino, but I never saw any of them in person in their prime.

John (Hattiesburg, MS)

It is said that Palmer popularized the British Open in the States, do you think that Tiger has done the same thing in this era or does the television coverage get the credit. Or is it some of both?

Bob Harig
  (4:58 PM)

There is no question that Tiger helped bring great attention to the British Open as well. He has won twice at St. Andrews, the home of golf. He completed his first career Grand Slam there in 2000.

Brad (Pittsburgh, PA)

Is Phil's game too much air not enough ground for the British? Don't see many "stingers" on the tee for him, and tough to play flop shots into the wind.

Bob Harig
  (4:59 PM)

That is probably a big part of it. Mickelson has not been great in the wind. He hits towering shots and is a whiz with those lofted wedges -- which don't always help much at the British Open. That said, he's plenty talented enough to win there anyway.

Bob Harig
  (5:00 PM)

And with that, folks, I've got to run. Thanks for all the questions. Check in again next week. I'll be chatting from Royal Birkdale next Thursday and Friday. Cheers.