Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

January 9, 10:09 AM ET
Chat with Bob Harig

Bob Harig
  (1:59 PM)

Hello, thanks for joining us today. We're into week 2 of the golf season, and already there is plenty to talk about. Fire away with your golf questions, and we'll do our best to come up with an answer.

Steiny (NYC)

What are thoughts on Lorena Ochoa getting engaged?

Bob Harig
  (2:01 PM)

Steiny, my first thought is good for her. Happiness can lead to even better golf. But it does make you wonder how long she'll be around. Ochoa has made it clear that she will not play golf forever. If there are plans for a family, then she might not be a full-time player for much longer.

Steiny (NYC)

How do you think Vijay Singh will recover?

Bob Harig
  (2:02 PM)

Steiny, quick on the trigger with the questions today. I think Vijay will be fine. He does such a good job of staying in top condition. In fact, sometimes he over does it with golf. Perhaps this break will be good for him, although he'll have some catching up to do when he returns -- which is unusual for him.

Steiny (NYC)

What are your thoughts on Adam Scott being joined at the Mercedes Championship by Hollywood vixen Kate Hudson?

Bob Harig
  (2:04 PM)

Okay folks, Steiny is sort of dominating the proceedings here. . .But to answer the question, there do need to be topics off the golf course to discuss, so good for Adam Scott.

Brandon (Minnesota)

Is this a steiny q and a with Bob?

Bob Harig
  (2:07 PM)

Brandon, so far it is. .. Go ahead and weigh in with something of interest.

Matt (Atlanta, GA)

Bob,do you think Ernie's showing last week causes Phil to work a little harder in his off season? And how about Anthony Kim's wonderful showing as well?

Bob Harig
  (2:10 PM)

Matt, to be honest, I don't think anything Ernie does has an effect on Phil. True, it was nice to see Els get off to a good start. But Phil I'm sure is working on various aspects of his game regardless. And Anthony Kim did have a nice tournament, which is important given all of the expectations for him this year.

Brandon (Minnesota)

As a casual golf fan, what do you expect from Mickelson this year?

Bob Harig
  (2:12 PM)

Brandon, I expect Phill to have a great year. Why not? He wasn't that far away from it last year, winning twice and a couple of other close calls. I'm sure where he wants to improve is in the majors. He really wasn't a factor in any of them. One major victory this year makes it an outstanding season, no matter what else happens.

Dale (Louisville)

did the pga learn anything about how to operate without tiger last year?

Bob Harig
  (2:15 PM)

Dale, I think they knew the situation before Tiger went out. Basically two-thirds of their tournaments are played without him anyway. They have always hoped for and tried to achieve a spill-over . .. in other words, they want to grasp golf fans who tune in to watch Tiger and hope they keep them when he's not around. That probably has not gone as well as hoped. Still, the tour has lots to build on. Anthony Kim Villegas, Sergio. All of them will help, especially if they can give Tiger any kind of a fight.

Tom (RI)

Who's the better player, you or Sobel?

Bob Harig
  (2:16 PM)

Tom, I think "player" is too kind of a term, in both of our cases. But as much as Sobel plays, he still can't take me.

Rolias (STL)

Should golf be an Olympic sport?

Bob Harig
  (2:18 PM)

Rolias, this is an interesting debate. My personal feeling is no, because I believe that the truly top players in the game will have a hard time getting excited about it. They have the major championships, which will always be the most important thing to them. . . . However, there can be a lot of good that would come from golf in the Olympics. Countries that put funding into Olympic sports would see more players emerge. It does have its merits.

Eric (Ann Arbor, MI)

With Tiger on the recovery and more players ready and willing to travel/play on the European tour, is there added pressure on Finchem and the PGA to develop and market younger, home-grown stars?

Bob Harig
  (2:19 PM)

Eric, the PGA Tour is always going to feel the need to market young players, regardless of the situation. However, they can't develop them. These guys come along on their own, and it is the hope that several of them will have success, something to build on.

Cosmo (Anytown, USA)

Is it possible that Phil is always going to be 'not that far off' and not have the heart to forge ahead be the leader of the pack?

Bob Harig
  (2:21 PM)

Cosmo, sure it's possible he won't quite get there, but I doubt it would be for lack of heart. Many forget just how good Phil has been . .. 34 victories, three majors. Maybe we have expected more, but that's a Hall of Fame career if he never wins again.

Justin (Mansfield, PA)

What type of year do you think Ben Curtis will have?

Bob Harig
  (2:23 PM)

Justin, that is hard to say, because Curtis has never been a prolific winner, although he has proven to be no major fluke. He' seems to go in streaks. Last year he had a nice second half of the season to make the Ryder Cup team and people forget he was right there at the PGA Championship.

Gus (New City, NY)

What's your favorite West Coast tourney? For some reason mine is whatever they call the one at Riviera

Bob Harig
  (2:24 PM)

Gus, you're talking about the former Los Angles Open, now the Northern Trust Open. For me, it's Pebble Beach. There's just something about that location.

Matt (Atlanta)

Read your piece about Sandy Lyle and his possibly being passed over for Ryder Cup Captain. Do you think that another reason for this is that he has not been an active player for a while and most of his team would not know him, similar to what happened with Faldo this past year?

Bob Harig
  (2:26 PM)

Matt, that could be a possibility, although I don't buy into it. How well does he really have to know them? Of the 12 members of the team, 10 are decided through points. He has to pick two of them. The pairings are important, but often the players and assistants have imput. We're not talking about managing a baseball team or coaching football.

Erik (Chicago)

Do you think the Eagles will win the super bowl

Bob Harig
  (2:28 PM)

Hey Erik, wrong sport, but us golf folks follow football, too.. I'll say the Eagles won't even make it to the Super Bowl. Cards make it to Tampa.

Eric (Ann Arbor)

It looks like the PGA tour is OK this year in terms of sponsorship for tournaments, but there are many sponsors who have expiring contracts next year, do you think the tour will have to drop/move some tournaments next year?

Bob Harig
  (2:30 PM)

Eric, the tour has done an amazing job of weathering such crisis. Years ago, they had far more tournaments up for renewal and managed to be fully sponsored. That said, there are challenges. Maybe they have to consider lowering purses or contracting a few tournaments. That is not ideal, but some good can come of that. If the rest of the world is cutting back, it is possible golf will have to as well.

Brandon (Minnesota)

What do you say to the people who say golf isnt a grinding sport?

Bob Harig
  (2:31 PM)

Brandon, usually what they say is golf isn't a sport, period. I think anyone who has tried to play golf and been frustrated by it would argue otherwise. And hitting a golf ball well requires an athletic move that very many can never grasp.

Gus (New City, NY)

Back to the Olympics, i know it won't have the same interest, but why not keep it as the best amateurs. It will bring a lot of focus to the next generation and in turn generate a following when they turn pro. Thanks

Bob Harig
  (2:33 PM)

Gus, unfortunately the days of amateurs being a big part are long gone. For golf in the Olympics to work, the massive television audience is going to want to see the stars. For what it's worth, Tiger will be 40 by the time the 2016 Games come around -- the first time golf could be included.

Gus (New City, NY)

If you're right about the Cards going to the SB, will any of the locals be at the FBR?

Bob Harig
  (2:35 PM)

Gus, gret point. The Super Bowl is the week of the FBR Open in Scottsdale, Of course the game is in Tampa. Here's my guess: the tournament will be even more wild. All of those people will turn it into an even bigger party as they get ready for the game.

James (Buffalo)

What do you think of the idea of the PGA scrapping the fall series and moving the first tourney after the Super Bowl? There are to many tournaments anyways.

Bob Harig
  (2:36 PM)

James, I don't think the Fall Series will be scrapped. I agree there are probably too many tournaments, but those lower-level guys who are trying to make a living don't see it that way. They want those playing opportunities, and the tour is composed of more than 200 players, not just the stars. I do like the idea of starting the season a little later, though. Next week -- when there is an off-week -- to me is the best time to start.

Matt (Atl)

Kenny Perry has just come off his best years in golf, and he is nearing the age to go to the Senior Tour. Do you think he pulls a Funk and plays both tours for a while, or does he just go straight over to the Senior...errr, Champions Tour?

Bob Harig
  (2:38 PM)

Matt, what guys like Perry and Funk are finding out is if you still have the game to compete on the regular tour, you might as well continue to do it. Trying to play both tours is very difficult. You can't do either justice that way.

KO (Pittsfield, MA)

Will David Duval win a tournament again? His decline makes me want to root for him kind of like a Rocky movie.

Bob Harig
  (2:41 PM)

KO, I have my doubts about Duval. I really felt he would get his game back together. And he is trying. But the truth is, he's made just 21 cuts and has no top 10 finishes in the last four seasons. He's not really even close, so it is hard to see him winning.

Cosmo (Anytown, USA)

To your tv ratings point without Tiger, what technological advancements do you think the tv networks could make (or are already making) that would make the telecast more attractive to the casual fan?

Bob Harig
  (2:42 PM)

Cosmo, I already think they are doing some good things. The Shot Tracker (where it follows the flight of the ball) shows that not everybody hits it as straight as we have been led to believe. The technology that shows how a putt breaks is fascinating and seems to be right on.

Bill, Knoxville, Tenn

Do you think Geoff Ogivly is going to have a big year after his win in Hawaii?

Bob Harig
  (2:43 PM)

Bill, I think Ogilvy is going to have a good year, but Mercedes is not the reason. In fact, in the last several years, a win at the Mercedes has meant very little. But Ogivly had a great end to last season -- he won in Australia -- and I think this is just a carrover.

Gus (New City, NY)

I love the Fall Series, watching these guys frind it out. The occasional DL3 needing a win, etc. Also it helps makes the golf shakes in the cold a little bit easier to take. Thanks

Bob Harig
  (2:44 PM)

Gus, good point. There is interest in those fall tournaments, even if it is not as much as the others. And if the PGA Tour didn't put on tournaments, somebody would.

MB (Atlanta)

No mention of John Daly's suspension? I don't recall anyone being suspended on the PGA Tour before, but somehow I think this was a long time coming.

Bob Harig
  (2:47 PM)

MB, it was discussed some last week, and Daly is not the first player suspended by the tour. In fact, he's been suspended before. The tour doesn't announce the suspensions, but it typically gets out. In Daly's case, yes, this was justified and necessary, unfortunately.

Chris (Bakersfield, CA)

Why is the USGA playing the US Open at so many public courses now,I would like to see them go back to places like Brookline and Cherry Hills. What are your thoughts on that?

Bob Harig
  (2:51 PM)

Chris, there are many reasons, although I wouldn't say they are going to "so many" public courses. Bethpage and Torrey Pines are really the only truly "public" venues. Yes, Pinehurst and Pebble Beach are accessible to the public, but very expensive. But to answer your question. . .these are excellent venues, and it does speak well of the game to go to places that all of us can visit. That is not to say there is anything wrong with the places you have mentioned, although I believe in the case of Cherry Hills, the course is simply no longer challenging enough for a U.S. Open.

Eric (Ann Arbor)

The PGA and R&A got rid of the square grooves for players in PGA and European tour tournaments, but allowed the rest of us to wait a few more years. I believe that is the first time there has been two different criteria for approved clubs. Besides the fact that the pros are that much better than most of us, what are the reasons for the purposely double standard?

Bob Harig
  (2:53 PM)

Eric, the grooves rule goes into effect for pros next year. The rest of us have several years to comply. The average golfer mostly is not playing in USGA events -- where he would need to comply to the ruling. And they want to give people time, knowing that club purchases are expensive.

Kevin (Glasgow, KY)

Bob, who is your sleeper for the Masters right now? I think it would be awesome to have a Major showdown with Kim and a matter of fact I think it would be unbelievable for golf to have a rivarily between some of the great young guys. I think Villegas, Kim, Sergio can create this and I would personally love for it to happen. Atleast we would have to listen to the Phil vs. Tiger talk...which shouldn't even be discussed as Phil hasn't lived up to his part of the table.

Bob Harig
  (2:55 PM)

Kevin, none of those guys you mentioned would be a sleeper. I wouldn't be surprised to see any of them in the mix. A sleeper is someone like Zach Johnson, who nobody was picking to win two years ago. Or even Trevor Immelman last year. He was on no one's radar. Would Brandt Snedeker be a sleeper? He was a contender last year.

Chris (FL)

How many majors does Tiger win this year?

Bob Harig
  (2:57 PM)

Chris, tough to say. I think the Masters is too soon to expect him to win. But he's won at Bethpage. He was second at Hazeline. And I don't think there is any British venue on which he can't have success, so Turnberry ought to be fine, too. He could win them all, although I'll be conservative and say he gets one of those three, most likely Bethpage.

Shaun (St. Cloud, MN)

How far do you think Adam Scott has fallen behind Sergio, Kim, and Villegas as far as the great young players in the game, or is still right there?

Bob Harig
  (2:59 PM)

Shaun, he has slipped some because he's never really contended in a major, but I wouldn't put Kim and Villegas too far ahead of him just yet. Scott has been around for awhile and we have expected ore out of him by now.

Jay (PA)

Tell Kevin that Phil has won 2 of the last 5 Masters, please.

Bob Harig
  (3:00 PM)

Jay, people are tough on Phil. I think it speaks to his talent. They believe he should have accomplished more. But he's accomplished quite a bit.

Bob Harig
  (3:01 PM)

I have run out of time. Thanks for participating and check back in again next week. Enjoy.