Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

September 11, 1:33 PM ET
Chat with Bob Harig

Bob Harig
  (3:59 PM)

Welcome to the Ryder Cup at Valhalla in Kentucky. After a lot of hype, we're almost ready to tee this thing off. The morning pairings will be announced shortly during the opening ceremonies and we'll have a full-day of action -- finally -- starting tomorrow morning. Fire away with your questions.

Mike(Sterling Heights, Mi)

What's the course set up like?? Heard Zinger was going to mow all the rough down for his big bombers. Then Tiger and Bubba didn't make it to Valhalla and I heard he scrapped that plan.

Bob Harig
  (4:01 PM)

The course is not set up like a major championship. The fairways are wide, the rough not very rough, the greens not overly fast -- although they are likely to get faster. I think we can expect a lot of birdies, which is how it should be in match play.


Bob: if it's close after Saturday, how do you see Zing setting his lineup for Sunday singles--Mickelson at the beginning or the end?

Bob Harig
  (4:03 PM)

Tough question, and one that would be interesting to see play out. . .I would think you want to put Mickelson somewhere in the middle. He is one of the team's best players. You want to make sure his match counts.


Which holes do you think could be the difference makers on the course?

Bob Harig
  (4:05 PM)

I'm looking at three holes: 10,13 and 18. . The 10th is a par-5, first hole of the back nine, a place where you have to expect nothing less than a birdie: the 13th is a risk-reward, short par-4 of just 350 yards. And of course the 18th is another par-5 easily reachable in two shots. The match obviously has to make it to that point.

Ronald (New Hampshire)

Do you think Kenny Perry can hold up under all the local pressure?

Bob Harig
  (4:06 PM)

This is probably one of the biggest questions of the week. Perry has heaped a lot of this pressure on himself. Nobody has made the Ryder Cup such a priority -- making it and playing well in it. He appears to be playing well and that is important because this is a difficult format if you do not have your game in shape.


is it possible that the usa would become more of a team without tiger?

Bob Harig
  (4:08 PM)

There has been some speculation in this regard, although I think it is simply trying to find something positive out of a huge negative. Tiger's loss is a big one. Who more would you like to have it come down to on Sunday? Who is a better clutch putter? It is hard to imagine the U.s. team better without him.

Dale (Maryland)

Bob: Has the Americans lost their desire for team golf over the years. It just seems some of the big name players just do not fair well in team competion.

Bob Harig
  (4:09 PM)

Lots of people have wondered that, and yet the Americans seem to do okay in the Presidents Cup. I think it simply has more to do with no playing well at the right time. The Europeans have simply played better.

jd texas

When do they announce pairings today? Who wins?

Bob Harig
  (4:10 PM)

The Friday morning pairings will be announced sometime around or just after 5 p.m. ET during the opening ceremonies. . I have earlier predicted a U.S. victory and will stick with that.

Michael(Frankfort, KY)

Just got back from a day at Valhalla. The crowds were enormous. Yesterday, J. B. drove 13 green on the fly! The course is green but the rough is sparse. No rain for weeks down here. Can't wait for tomorrow!

Bob Harig
  (4:11 PM)

Yes, the weather is supposed to be perfect. Sets up nicely for a great event.

A.J. (Defiance,Ohio)

are there 2 players for the US that you think will only play one match or not at all the first two days?

Bob Harig
  (4:14 PM)

Nobody will sit the first two days. In fact, Paul Azinger said that he expects to play everyone on Friday. That is smart. You know everybody has to play Sunday, you might as well get them in there. Sitting a guy for an entire day shows a lack of confidence. So with that, I'd also be surprised if anyone plays just once during the first two days.

Anthony (Ohio)

Who would you put with Phil? Boo maybe? If i was Azinger i would try and make sure Boo plays against Sergio. that would be great.

Bob Harig
  (4:15 PM)

Phil has played all of the practice rounds with Anthony Kim, Justin Leonard and Hunter Mahan. I believe Azinger divided the groups that way with a purpose and so I think it is pretty safe to say with Phil's partners will come from among those three.

Mike (Glendora, CA)

Is there do much pressure on Anthony Kim? He seems to be everyone's "suprise leader".

Bob Harig
  (4:17 PM)

Perhaps, but maybe that is good. He is a great young talent who should be around for years on the U.S. team. Why couldn't he be the American version of Sergio?

Blair (North Carolina)

We always hear about all the distractions with the social functions. What are the nights like for these guys leading up to and during the tournament?

Bob Harig
  (4:19 PM)

It is not nearly as bad for the players as it used to be or they make it out to be. The reason it becomes an issue for them is because their time is very limited. They are not able to do things on their own as they are used to at regular tournaments. They have cut back the number of functiosn the players are required to attend. The gala dinner held on Wednesday night just requires them to show up, not participate in the dinner.

Jim Gallagher (Yorktown VA)

Tell us about the "Azinger rough" - has the PGA "shaped" the course to provided the US' long hitters with more friendly rough conditions in their landing zone?

Bob Harig
  (4:20 PM)

The problem with that theory is that the Europeans have plenty of bombers themselves. Henrik Stenson, Paul Casey and Sergio Garcia hit the ball plenty far. That said, the fairways are wide, there is plenty of room.

Dale (Maryland)

Bob, I'm already looking ahead, but do you think Colin Montgomery will ever captain a European team in the future?

Bob Harig
  (4:21 PM)

The early speculation has Montgomerie taking on the task in 2014, when the Ryder Cup is played in his native Scotland.

Jake (Alabama)

How has coach azinger made this group of stars think more like a team and do you think the pairings that have been made reflect that they are more worried on a team aspect in stead of making stars?

Bob Harig
  (4:22 PM)

I think he's gone about making mini teams, at least if you look at his pairings in the practice rounds. Mickelson, Kim, Leonard and Mahan made up one group; Cink, Campbell, Stricker and Curtis made up another; and Perry, Furyk, Weekley and Holmes made up the third. I think he has wanted those folks to bond and will make his pairings from among them.

Parce (Minneapolis, MN)

Bob - Honestly -- Does the U.S. stand a chance? With the number of rookies we have and the experience the europeans have and our track record the past few tourneys - will the europeans clinch it saturday?

Bob Harig
  (4:24 PM)

I believe the Americans have an excellent chance, simply because stroke-play qualifying for the event doesn't necessarly translate into match play success. The Americans have six rookies but the Europeans have four. And those six American rookies have never lost a Ryder Cup. I'd be stunned if the Europeans had a huge lead after Saturday.


Have you gotten a real sense about how the guys like Azinger as the captain? Do you think they will feed off of his energy?

Bob Harig
  (4:25 PM)

I get the sense that they like him. But I don't think feeding off of him is an issue. This is simply about playing good golf. The U.S. team has failed to do that recently.

Dale (Maryland)

Bob, How did Zinger choose his co-captains? I know Ray Floyd and Dave Stockton have Ryder Cup experience, but I don't believe Ollen Browne does.

Bob Harig
  (4:27 PM)

He wanted Floyd and Stockton becasue of their past experience. Olin Browne is a friend and also plays the PGA Tour and knows the players.

Ronald (New Hampshire)

Which of the European rookies is playing the best right now?

Bob Harig
  (4:28 PM)

Both Soren Hansen and Oliver Wilson played well to make the team on points. Graeme McDowell and Justin Rose are the other rookies.

Erich (Cincinnati, OH)

I know we want to get through this cup, but who are the possible selections for captain in 2010 and 2012?

Bob Harig
  (4:29 PM)

On the American side, names such as Corey Pavin and Davis Love have been mentioned. For Europe, it is a good bet that Jose Maria Olazabal will get picked sometime soon, as well as Colin Montgomerie.

Rob (Dallas)

Bob, all the Euro rookies made it on points. Also, I think the key will be Jiminez that guy plays great over here

Bob Harig
  (4:30 PM)

Yes, all the rookies made it on points, but Faldo had just two captain's picks. Jimenez is a Ryder Cup veteran who has played well this year too.

Rob (Dallas)

Do you think that if a Perry/Holmes team goes out first tomorrow first at loses to Garcia/Westwood it would be as a big as when it happened to Phil and Tiger in '04?

Bob Harig
  (4:31 PM)

I'm not convinced they will go out first or that they'll even be a team. Holmes is not a great candidate for alternate shot. But no question, there is a danger of momentum going to the Europeans if they are able to thwart a popular team.

Charlie (Charleston, WV)

There has been talk of starting out with J.B. Holmes and Kenny Perry. While the crowds may like that, I think it would be better to just use J.B. Holmes in Four-ball not foresomes. I would start first match with Mickelson and Kim...

Bob Harig
  (4:32 PM)

There is a lot of valadiity to this. Holmes was a somewhat controversial captain's pick because his record was not all that strong He is somewhat erratic off the tee. That's not so good in alternate shot.

Parce (Minneapolis, MN)

Why did rocco get left off the team? Didn't he do a enough to be a captain's pick?

Bob Harig
  (4:33 PM)

I'm not sure that anyone did enough to be a captain's pick. Aside from Stricker -- who nearly made the team on his own -- nobody did much to distinguish themselves. Rocco shot an 85 in the final round of the PGA, remember. But he did go toe to toe with Tiger at the U.S. Open and his popularity would have been good for the team and the crowd.

George P. (New York)

Who would you put against Sergio Garcia on Sunday if it's tied/tight after Saturday if you were Azinger?

Bob Harig
  (4:34 PM)

The problem is, you can only guess at when Garcia will play. You cant' match up a player against him. But if you could I'd go with Stewart Cink, who took him down in Sunday singles last time at the K Club.

RGS (Brooklyn, NY)

Monty has typically been the target of the american crowds over the last few Ryder Cups--with his absence, who do you think the fans focus on? Sergio or Harrington perhaps?

Bob Harig
  (4:35 PM)

Well, I hope they don't "target" anyone. Root hard for your players. Deathly silence for the other guys. That is much more effective.


Do you think Furyk has as much pressure as Mickelson considering he hasn't played well in the last few or is mainly on Phil because he's the #2 ranked player. Is it fair how Mickelson is criticized and someone like Furyk not so much?

Bob Harig
  (4:37 PM)

It's a good point. Furyk hasn't been too good, either. His overall record is 6-12-2, including 1-6-1 in fourball.

Rob (NY)

Not to swithc subjects but have the Captains for the President Cup been announced? Still Nickluas?

Bob Harig
  (4:38 PM)

US captain is Fred Couples, international captain is Greg Norman.

Rob (NY)

What are the venues for the 2010 and 2012 Ryder Cups?

Bob Harig
  (4:38 PM)

2010: Celtic Manor in Wales. 2012: Medinah near Chicago.

Don (Kentucky)

What is the feeling of the players from Europe or USA, on Valhalla in general. Is it enough of a golf course for this type of format ?

Bob Harig
  (4:39 PM)

Valhalla has been panned as a major championship venue, but for the Ryder Cup it is probably perfect. It's got a nice mix of holes, and it's really not about the difficulty or lack thereof in match play.

Rob (NY)

Any sense that they will keep Azinger's new selection process for the 2010 Cup?

Bob Harig
  (4:40 PM)

I would be surprised if they didn't keep it. Having more captain's picks is certainly better, as was a selectio process that didn't limit you getting points to top 10 finishes.

Adam (Knoxville, TN)

Many golf writers have criticized Faldo for not using one of his Captain's picks on Monty. What are your thoughts on Faldo's decision concerning the Ryder Cup veteran?

Bob Harig
  (4:41 PM)

Actually, there was more criticism that he didn't take Darren Clarke. Most agree that Monty did not play well enough this year to deserve a spot. Clarke, Poulter, Casey and even Sweden's Carl Pettersson were all good choices. He just had too many.

Arthur (Charlotte)

Why did Azinger chooose to go with the alternate shot format first, then the four ball?

Bob Harig
  (4:42 PM)

The Americans have been getting dusted in the morning competition. In fact ,the U.S. has not led after the morning session since 1991. The formats have gone back and forth, and Azinger just wanted to change it up.

John ( Phx,AZ)

Why no talks for O'meara to be captian, Is it still fall out about the money thing?

Bob Harig
  (4:43 PM)

No, it is more due to the fact that O'Meara is now in his 50s. They typically like to pick a captain who is in his mid to late 40s and still playing a bit on the PGA Tour.

Jason (Atlanta, GA)

Do you have a sense for the fan presence so far? Are there more/less European fans than in past US hosted Ryder Cups? Could that be a factor?

Bob Harig
  (4:44 PM)

There is no question the crowd will be dominated by Americans And that certainly is an advantage for the U.S. -- unless the Eruopeans can do what any visiting team wants to do and that is quiet the crowd.


what's your dream scenario come Sunday? a hole out from Perry to win? Boo not conceeding a 2 footer to Garica and him missing it? I could think of a lof of dream endings.

Bob Harig
  (4:45 PM)

Those would certainly be pretty good. I'd just like to see it get to Sunday with the outcome in doubt, and with the last matche son the course being meaningful.

Chris - North Carolina

Some seem shocked that Tiger is attending the RC. Why, what's he gonna do, be a cheerleader? Not his best attribute. What do you think?

Bob Harig
  (4:46 PM)

I believe you meant not attending the Ryder Cup, and I'm not shocked at all. He ewas asked way back if he'd be attending, and he said no.

Dale (Maryland)

Bob, does Zinger have any surprise motivational speakers showing up for a "pep" talk for the US team?

Bob Harig
  (4:47 PM)

Lou Holtz spoke to the team on Tuesday.

Dave (Attleboro, MA)

Has there ever been talk of a European vs. International Cup? It would be nice to see a rotation where the US player Ryder, Presidents, then a year off with the other teams have a crack at each other.

Bob Harig
  (4:48 PM)

Yes, there's been talk, but nothing serious. It would be hard to imagine the U.S. ever sitting out, given the amount of corporate money involved.


Based on the recent domination by the Europeans, how do you think they respond if they go into Sunday trailing? Think Faldo stacks his lineup front heavy?

Bob Harig
  (4:49 PM)

It's not a bad idea, but then what if the U.S. does the same? Faldo probably has enough confidence in his guys to get it done no matter who they are playing.

Erin (NY)

Does it really matter if Faldo's pairings were revealed yesterday? And what's the deal with you and Rob? Three out of four questions in a row came from him. You playing favorites?

Bob Harig
  (4:50 PM)

In Europe, they like to make a big deal out of such things. That is the magnitude of the event. Most of us thought it was kind of funny. . And I"m just answering the questions that come in as best I can, regardless of who asks.

Jeff (Ashburn, VA)

Your thoughts on whether the decision to start with foursomes rather than four-balls provides an advantage to the Americans, and if so how much?

Bob Harig
  (4:50 PM)

I wouldn't call it an advantage. It is a tricky format, one that is not used much. But for some reasons, the Americans have struggled at fourball. It makes no sense, but they have. So Azigner changed it up.

John - Wilmington

It seems Zinger is toying a lot as Captain. No. of captains picks, switching order of match formats, etc. Is this new for the captains choices or has this been in place for a while?

Bob Harig
  (4:52 PM)

He changed things because he was hoping for different results. The number of captains picks used to be two, and he asked for four. And the home captain always has the choice of the order of formats.

Dale (Maryland)

Bob, once Zinger was named captain I couldn't help but think about his battles with Seve in previous Cups. Do you think there are any other head to head battles we can look for this year. I would like to say any American vs Sergio.

Bob Harig
  (4:54 PM)

There is no doubt that any American who take down Sergio would give the team a big boost. Sergio has been a huge thorn in the Ryder Cup.

Adam (Knoxville, TN)

So which of the American and European Ryder Cup rookies (besides Anthony Kim) do you think will make the biggest impact this weekend?

Bob Harig
  (4:55 PM)

I'm going with Hunter Mahan for the Americans and Justin Rose for the Europeans to make the biggest impact among rookies.

Brandon (Orl. FL)

The weather should be perfect this weekend at Valhalla; which team do you think would better adjust to a little more inclement weather?

Bob Harig
  (4:56 PM)

It's not going to matter. The weather is going to be sunny and warm. If it does rain -- a slight possibility on Saturday -- all of these guys have played in poor conditions throughout the year. It won't be like the British Open, that's for sure.

Chad (New Orleans)

How does the area look after the Ike aftermath?

Bob Harig
  (4:58 PM)

You wouldn't know anything had happened at Valhalla, but the Louisville area in general is still suffering. Lots of people still without power.

Richmond, VA

I think that the USA can win this CUP, they just have to play together and the right groupings is crucial. I think that it is time for Phil to step up and take the role as Leader of this team. Anthony Kim is a key person in his first time on the team. Your thoughts?

Bob Harig
  (4:59 PM)

I'm not so sure about the team angle. You only play with one partner. It's still golf, and guys have to worry about their own games to a large degree. Even in alternate shot, you are still trying to hit the best shot possible. No doubt, Mickelson needs to play better and Kim could be a force for years on the American team.

Rob (NY)

If Furyk can't go for the US, won't Faldo have to pick one of his players to sit?

Bob Harig
  (5:00 PM)

It appears that all is well with Furyk. There had been some concern about the health of his wife, but Azinger said Furyk is ready to go.

Bob Harig
  (5:01 PM)

My time is up. The pairings should be announced at any moment, so check out to see who will play tomorrow morning. Enjoy the Ryder Cup.