Hello, welcome back, thanks for joining this golf chat. After eight weeks out West, the men's golf tour has moved East to Florida. That means the Masters can't be far off. Lots going on, your questions on everything related to golf are welcome. Please fire away.
Will Tiger Woods win the Masters this year?
Steiny, might as well start with a Tiger question. He didn't last long last week at the Match Play, but I don't think that has any bearing on how he will do in the Masters. Assuming all is well with his knee, I don't see any reason why he won't be a factor at Augusta. Win it? I wouldn't be surprised.
A few weeks ago at the Buick INvitational, I noticed that they had a third round cut. I don't recall them doing that before. Have they always done that or is that something new
Patrick, excellent observation on your part. Here's the deal. Last year the PGA Tour passed a controversial rule where if more than 78 players made the 36-hole cut, the actual number who would play on would actually be the total closest to 70. The idea was to help with pace of place on the weekends. Anyone above the number closest to 70 would be credited with a made cut and paid last-place money, but they couldn't play on. Players balked. It basically meant that whatever the cut number was, you better be one lower to assure playing on the weekend. So they changed the rule. Now when a tournament has more than 78 players make the cut, they all play on Saturday. But they have a cut for Sunday to the closest number to the top 70 and ties. Again, you don't get to play the final day but you are paid. At Torrey Pines, they had more than 78 players make the cut.
What do you think of the name change to Quail Hollow Championship? Seems kind of clunky and possibly missing a "the"
Mike, I don't have a problem with the tournament being called the Quail Hollow Championship, but I do have a problem with these companies running away and hiding despite spending the money. Wachovia/Wells Fargo is still paying its sponsorship fee. But due to fear of backlash, they've pulled their name from the tournament. How does that help them, other than with perception? They've spent the money. Why not market yourself and try to make your company stronger?
Is McIlroy going to be a great golfer for years to come?
Steiny, McIlroy appears to be the real deal. He's already won at Dubai. He has numerous veteran players lauding his swing and his game. He had a nice showing last week at the Match Play. He seems to be mature beyond his game. This should be fun to watch.
Any update on Luke Donald, should we expect him back next week?
Mike, it apparently was only a scare. Donald does not have issues with the tendons repaired last year in surgery. Apparently the pain he felt had to do with scar tissue. He did withdraw this week from the Honda but there's a good chance we'll see him at Doral.
Do you think Paul Casey's comments a few years back about America were overblown? I remember Luke Donald said things that were just as bad and no one seemed to notice.
Jacob, you are referring to Casey's "properly hate" Americans quotes which were overblown. He got burned by the British tabloid The Daily Mail which wrote a headline saying. "Stupid Americans. I hate them." Casey never said that. He was pointing out that you have to build some "hate" for the Americans during the Ryder Cup. Donald tried to support him as all. Casey was criticized and had to deal with some fall out. After all, he ives in the United States, went to school at Arizona State, married an American. He suffered, but it was overblown.
Lee Trevino made a cheap shot at Tiger Woods, addressing that he would like to see all golfers play every tournament for 3 years. Do you think that Tiger would if he was asked, or even the rest of the field?
Al, I'm not sure it was a cheap shot. Trevino simply thinks the top players should play more often. Many people feel that way. Trevino's heart is in the right spot, if not his head. It is unrealistic to think That Tiger is going to play every tournament in three years. He basically plays 15-18 out of 40. Even playing them all within four or five years would be tough. Very tough. I don't see it happening.
Great article on Ernie. I feel like Ernie is pretty close to doing some great things this year. What do you think? Also, what are your thoughts about Rory McIlroy? The first time I saw him play on the Golf channel last year, I knew he was going to be pretty darn good. What do you expect from him this year on US soil?
It would be nice if Ernie could get it going again. He had a good run at the Match Play last week, but is off to a slow start at the Honda, shooting 73 in the first round. As for McIlroy, as I mentioned earlier in this chat, he is getting a lot of attention. This stretch in the U.S. will be a good gauge for him, but if he fares poorly, not to worry. There is no rush. Or at least there should not be when you are 19.
Do you think Sergio will win a major this year?
Pat, we've been waiting 10 years for Sergio to win a major. He certainly has the ability and you'd have thought it would have happened by now. As for this year, it's so hard to predict, but I do like his chances at Bethpage, site of the U.S. Open. He contended there in 2002 when he wasn't the player he is now. The course is long and requires good driving, which when Sergio is on, he is among the best.
What are your thoughts on the suggestion that every tour player should have to play every event every 3 years ? Seems geared towards Tiger who seemingly "doesn't need" the Tour
Steve, this came up earlier in the chat, and you're right, any rule like this could just mean Tiger says, "I won't be a tour member." He is exempt for the majors and would as well for the WGC events based on his world ranking. He'd be allowed to take up to 7 sponsor exemptions. He'd be fine. It's a noble idea, but I just don't think it will work. The players simply have to take it upon themselves to show up more.
Saw something on the golf channel the other night and they said Phil is done winning majors, i've got to believe he has one maybe two more in him, what are your thoughts?
Mike, I do think Phil has more majors in him whether he will actually do it is another story. We forget how good this guy is. His performance at the Northern Trust was a great example of the good and the bad but Phil should have plenty of good years left.
Hello Mr. Harig, I have been wondering where Mr. Sobel's Weekly 18 column was this week. Can you shed some light on this for me. Thanks
Matt, Jason will be thrilled to know that somebody cares. I think he was all typed out after last week's Match Play, where he did a live blog from the course. He might have suffered heat stroke out there as he got pretty sun burned in the desert. It's tough duty. But the Weekly 18 will return after the Honda Classic.
Hello Bob, I don't understand why so many people seem to have problem with players picking their schedule. It seems to me that it is the only way to ensure competitiveness arther than just seeking a check or a made cut. If you want to have a real chance at winning then you put all of your efforts into that, which unless you a Vijay seems very unlikely to happpen week in week out. Would people rather see Phil and Tiger struggling to make cuts or in contention to win at every tournament they play?
Matt, you make a good point. Tiger puts a ton of effort into the events he plays. If he were asked to play more and went through the motions -- as many do because they play so much-- that wouldn't be a good thing, either. I think the overall point, however, is that fans want to see these guys more. They don't understand why they can't schedule a few more events.
It seems like Davis Love is making great improvements with his swing carrying over from the end of last year till now. Will he contend this year in majors?
Pat, Davis needs to get "in" the majors first. He's not yet eligible for the Masters. He needs to be among the top 50 in the world by March 30. Right now, he is 53rd.
Im going to the US Open and I was wondering what are the chances of Tiger winning again
Raymond, I think Tiger has an excellent chance at Bethpage. The course is long and hard, which suits him. By then, you would think Tiger would be completely back from his knee issues and lengthy time off.
Where is Anthony Kim this week? We really haven't seen much of him this year. Maybe all those "tiger challenger" predictions are a bit premature...
Andy, apparently Anthony Kim is taking the week off. He lost in the second round of the Match Play last week after playing in Malaysia and Australia the previous two weeks. He's played just three PGA Tour events so far.
I run a Major's pool every year. People in the pool have used your picks in the past. I need you to put out fake sleepers and picks prior to the Majors so I can finally win. Okay?
Cosmo, if people used my picks, they didn't do very well. All you have to do is pick the opposite of me, you'll do fine.
So Bob, is it your turn this year to follow in Mr. Smiley's steps and follow Tiger on every hole ?!! I want to see it !! Talk about miles and miles of walking ...
Barb, you offer the perfect opportunity to plug Smiley's book, Follow the Roar. He went every hole with Tiger last year, which turned out to be just seven tournaments. Me? I got wiped out following him for nine holes last week in a practice round.
Any insider tips or secrets to scoring some Masters tickets?
Mike it's the toughest ticket in sports, but the economy has driven the "resale" price down. This might be the year to try. Just beward: those selling them are not supposed to, according to Augusta National rules.
Singh usually has a strong second half of the year, we will see him in contention the first half of this season?
Pat, Vijay has played well early in the year, too. Two years ago he won at Bay Hill. This year it has more to do with coming back from the knee surgery he had in January. He still appears to be a bit rusty.
How draining is the Match Play event for the Winner and Runner up? Does it take them longer to recover than other events?
Chris, you bring up a good point. Geoff Ogilvy played 36 holes on Saturday and Sunday after going 54 Wed through Friday. He's taking this week off so he should be fine. Stewart Cink made it to the consolation match, so he played a lot of golf. For him, it could be a matter of carrying over the momentum.
Seems like Chris DiMarco is having a bit of a resurgence this year, he's never been a big winner in terms of titles but do you see him possibly making it back into the top 30 on the money list?
Mike, I am not sure I would call it a resurgence. His best finish is a tie for 13th and he's missed two cuts.Last year he made just 14 cuts in 29 events and had just one top 10. He's got a ways to go to get back in the top 30.
Odds are very, very long that Greg Norman finally wins The Masters this year. But...if he does and considering how he got the exemption into this years field, along with his history at Augusta, can you think of any tournament win from the game's storied past that could possibly compete with a victory this remarkable?
Josh, you're right. It's an incredible longshot. Incredible. But. .. it is hard to think of a more remarkable victory. He is 54 and would be the oldest major winner by six years. It would trump Nicklaus in '86, that's how big it would be.
Ogilvy and Cink always seem to advance far in the Match Play event. Is there something to that other than that they are just both good golfers?
Mitch, they seem to have the mindset for the format, especially Ogilvy. He's made it to the finals three of four years. They don't seem to get flustered or down very easily. They just keep on going and it serves them well.
Bob, how difficult were the greens at the Match Play venue? US Open tough or worse. I certainly haven't heard anything good about them. Also, I think if Tiger can play 91 holes at a US Open with essentially one leg, then the Match Play participants probably shouldn't complain.
Matt, the greens were not so much difficult as they were funky. They were slow because of the severe slopes, and the players are not used to putting on slow greens I'm not sure they compare to U.S. Open greens, which are typically hard and fast. And I don't think anyone was complaining at the Match Play, but the reality is it's a lot of golf for those who make it to the finals.
Do you think Norman gets a bad rap for being a chocker? The 96 masters aside, at least he put himself in pressure situations, unlike other guys who always seemed to fade before the back 9.
Jacob, there is something to be said for getting yourself into contention. Norman did this repeatedly. Is that worse than never having a chance? Still, it is tough to get past all those opportunities to see what the record could have been.
Hey Bob. Do you think Mike Weir is the greatest Canadian golfer ever? We have this cat named Doellsy that has the exact same swing as him.
If we're talking male golfers, Weir is probably on top, with a strong case to be made for George Knudson -- although George never won a major championship. You probably have to include Sandra Post, too. She won three majors on the LPGA Tour.
Whats up with Lugsy? (Steve Lowery) I havent seen him in contention in awhile.
Macker, Steve Lowery is probably fortunate to have won at Pebble Beach last year, getting him a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour. He hasn't done much since.
What do you think we can expect from camilo villegas this year? Will he be a threat to anyone(tiger)?
Whitney, Villegas works as hard as anyone in the game. He finally broke through and one last year, which will help. As far as a threat to Tiger, that is a big leap. Camilo now needs to get into contention in majors. We'll see.
who do you think will win the US Open this year
Alec, I like Sergio, because he's due for a major and he played well at Bethpage seven years ago when he wasn't the player he is today.
Ouch...after all the talk about The Scientist over the past few weeks, he came up really flat at the match play. Do you think he has ANY chance at a major this year?
Gomes is referring to Robert Karlsson, who I didn't know had that nickname until it came up several weeks ago in this chat. That said. . sure, he had top-10s in three of the four last year, and led the PGA after the first round. He is coming off his best year, having won the Order of Merit in Europe.
I've run out of time questions and time. Thanks to everyone for participating. Time permitting, I'll be checking in from Doral next week. Please join. Have a great week.