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January 20, 4:00 PM ET
Chat with Bob Harig

Bob Harig
  (4:00 PM)

Welcome back and thanks for participating in this week's golf chat. We're already into the third week of the season, with the Bob Hope Classic off to an early start. Plenty to discuss and your questions on any and all golf topics are welcome. Fire away.

Patrick (Hanover)

We hear all the time about Pebble being one of Tiger's favorite courses and that he would not want to miss the major season this year becuase of that, yet he has not played Pebble since 2002. How can that be considered one of his favorite courses when he never plays it?

Bob Harig
  (4:02 PM)

Patrick, good question. While Pebble might be one of his favorite courses, the tour event is not one of his favorites for two likely reasons; the weather in February makes for soft, bumpy greens. Over the years, he has expressed his disdain for such conditions. And let's face it, the pro-am format with 6-hour rounds is not something he enjoys. So while he might really like the golf course -- and only two rounds of the AT&T are played on it -- the other things have caused him to skip.

TIM DELANEY (SAN ANTONIO TEXAS)

BObWhy are ya baggin on Allenby? Guys Mom died last year and he won twice over the winter. Good showing at SOny got beat by a miracle chip by Palmer.He is onthe up and will win twice this year...

Bob Harig
  (4:04 PM)

Tim, you are referring I take it to me giving him a "bogey" in my birdies and bogeys column. I wouldn't describe it as "baggin" on him. I am aware of all that you laid out,and it's true. However, for a guy who is consitently ranked among the top 20 to 30 in the world, I find it surprising that he has gone 8 years on tour without a win. And granted, Palmer was fortunate Sunday, but Allenby had a chance to tie and didn't. And we're talking about going up against a guy who was 150th on the money list last year.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

Bob, what is your take on the PING wedge situation. Also what is to stop all the other manufactorer's from suing under the equal protection clause. If its legal for Ping why not everyone else?

Bob Harig
  (4:06 PM)

Brian, I wrote about this (shameless plug) this week on ESPN.com and basically brought up the question of whether or not this is right. Are these guys not playing by the spirit of the rules. The reason it is legal for Ping is due to the litigation they endured more than 20 years ago. It is complicated, but they had this club that went farther than even the square groove rule at the time allowed and as a compromise the USGA allowed that particular club to be grandfathered in. It certainly is an interesting issue, although if you check out the piece, you will see that the experts seem to feel that old clubs will give players no advantage.

Mike H (NC)

I saw that Jerry Kelly withdrew from the Sony - any word on if this was injury related and if so if it is serious?

Bob Harig
  (4:09 PM)

Mike, you are right, Kelly withdrew from the Hope. He also withdrew after the first round of the Sony with back problems. He is concerned about it enough to be seeking some medical opinions.

Todd (Delaware)

I noticed the Phoenix Open is not the same weekend as the Superbowl this year. I enjoy an afternoon watching a rowdy 16th hole prior to the big game. Why the change in scheduling?

Bob Harig
  (4:12 PM)

Todd, you're right, Phoenix is going at the end of the West Coast Swing, following the Match Play. .. I believe there were some issues with the networks and the Olympics. NBC, which has the winter Olympics, swapped a couple of events with NBC and the tour juggled the schedule to make it a bit smoother.

Jason (Bozeman/Montana)

What do you make of Ogilvy's recent comments on Tiger? I think that everyone needs to give Tiger a break and let he take care of his personal business and then come back to golf when he will be 0 focused. Your thoughts?

Bob Harig
  (4:14 PM)

Jason, I just wrote (another shameless plug, sorry) about this today on ESPN.com. I actually happen to agree with Ogilvy, that Tiger is going to have to say something before he comes back to the tour. Now that doesn't mean he can't take care of his personal business. I agree with that. Take care of business, come back when you are ready. But you know he is not just going to show up at a tournament and talk about the golf course and his swing. He's going to have to answer some questions, even if it is to say, "I'm not going to answer that." And as Ogilvy pointed out, it will be better if he gets much of that out of the way far away from a tournament site.

Paul (New York)

What is the feeling around the locker room about all of the Tiger Woods news? Not necessarily when he will come back but there take on the scandle.

Bob Harig
  (4:15 PM)

Paul, I have been to a couple of tournaments since this occurred, and you are seeing players asked about it. Their opinions vary. Many of them don't want to go there on this, but for the most part, they are anxious for him to get things sorted out and to get back. On a purely golf level, they hope he is able to figure things out and return the same player.

Jamie (Boston)

What do you think the fan reaction will be when Tiger does finally take the course again?

Bob Harig
  (4:18 PM)

I think it will be mixed. He might hear some jeers, which is unusual in golf. All it takes is a couple to stand out. My guess is you'll see more ejections at a golf tournament than you will from an NBA game simply because poor fan behavior in golf stands out so much.

ED (LONG ISLAND)

When do we see Phil?

Bob Harig
  (4:18 PM)

Ed, looks like he'll be back next week in San Diego, with the initial plan to play five straight.

Rick (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ok, Im not a huge Tiger Woods fan to begin with... But what the heck does he owe me or anyone else before he comes back to Golf (which we all know he will)? He cheated on his wife, got into an accident, and made a mockery of HIMSELF. What he did had nothing to do with me... so why are people asking for an apology and 'coming clean' with the Media? Just seems like other golvers want to see him with egg on his face more than anything else, do you agree?

Bob Harig
  (4:22 PM)

I think he needs to discuss what happened the night of the accident -- the police were called in, after all. I think he needs to tell us, at least generally, what he's been doing for the past two months. I don't think he owes you or me an apology. I don't think he owes us any details about his personal life, unless he feels compelled to deny some of the stuff that is out there. As the game's No. 1 attraction who announced a leave from the game for what he acknolwedged were "transgressions" and "infidelity" he at least owes golf fans some explanation, even if it is not detailed, even if it is not an apology. Then, after that, he has every right to never address it again and keep the conversation about golf. Just one opinion.

Nelson (DE)

Is it possible that some players who skip the Bob Hope event do so because it's staged over multiple courses making it harder to prepare for?

Bob Harig
  (4:23 PM)

Nelson, there's no doubt about it. Four different courses in four different days is going to be a turnoff to some. So is the amateur format, playing with a foursome of amateurs for four straight days. The tournament has been popular because of its uniqueness over the years, but unfortunately, what makes it unique also hurts it.

JB (Seattle)

Think Finchem is going to lean on TW to talk about his issues outside of a golf tournament as Geoff O. suggested? If not, it sounds like Tim doesn't think the other golfers have the same rights as TW.

Bob Harig
  (4:25 PM)

JB, my guess is that the commissioner will allow Tiger to handle it however he wants to handle it. I don't think he will interfere and if anything will support however Tiger decides to do it.

Dean Moll (North Royalton, Ohio)

Mr. Harig, I was wondering who you have as the early favorite for the 2010 Masters? I hear it is a tradition unlike any other! Hehe.

Bob Harig
  (4:25 PM)

Dean, I'm really going out on a limb here, but I like Mickelson to win the Masters. I've been saying that all along and I'll stick with it.

Bryce (Nd)

Are the same wedge requirmements in place for amateurs playing in USGA events?

Bob Harig
  (4:29 PM)

Bryce, if an amateur attempts to play in a professional event or in the U.S. Open, Senior Open or Women's Open, he/she will be required to adhere to the rule on grooves.. . All other USGA competitions will wait until 2014 to implement the rule... The rest of us chops don't have to worry about it until 2024 -- although few of us can spin the ball anyway.

Steven (Linlithgow, Scotland)

Do you agree with Geoff Ogilvy's statements that Tiger needs to adress the media before returning to the tour?

Bob Harig
  (4:30 PM)

Steven, just in case anybody missed an earlier answer -- yes I think now after all this time it would be appropriate if he said something before coming back. How much, for how long, is up to debate. But it's inevitable he is going to get asked. Might as well get it out of the way.

Justin (Ohio)

Hi Bob, a buddy and I have a bet on the ROY for 2010. He has Rickie Fowler and I have Michael Sim. Who ya got?

Bob Harig
  (4:32 PM)

Justin, Sim is not a rookie. He played the PGA Tour in 2007 and finished 162nd on the money list. But I like Sim to play well this year. Fowle certainly has a great chance to be rookie of the year given what he accomplished last year in just a few tournaments.

ED (LONG ISLAND)

Why isn't there stronger fields in the opening tournaments in Hawaii? I understand the first tournament is "Winner's Only" (still not everyone participates) from the previous year, but the 2nd one is open to everyone. Seems to be going to Hawaii to play golf would be extremely appetizing.

Bob Harig
  (4:35 PM)

Ed, I have several theories. There are just so many good tournaments that guys don't need to travel that far if they don't want to. Some prefer to ease into the season, which means they have a bit longer offseason. And overall, probably the length of the season is the biggest reason. If there were 5 to 10 less tournaments, it would be harder to skip.

Edward (Overland Park, KS)

Bob, per Geoff Oglivy's comment that reporters might now be able to ask questions to Tiger that they wouldn't/couldn't in previous years, what would your question to Tiger be?

Bob Harig
  (4:38 PM)

Edward, I have a sense that some might be willing to put up with less. Tiger has had it pretty good from the golf media. Not a whole lot of controversy to this point. Now they might not feel compelled to gloss over swing issues, behavior issues on the course, etc. As for what has occurred, I'm not sure the infidelity issues are any of our business -- except as it relates to his career. I personally would like to know generally what he has been doing during his absence. It will have an affect on his golf career, which is why it is fair game.

Tom (Green Bay, Wisconsin)

Will this be the year John Daly finally gets it right? He has lost the weight, but can he put it together?

Bob Harig
  (4:40 PM)

Tom, he seems to be saying and doing the right things. Results are another matter. He missed the cut at the Sony, although I never felt that course was suited for him. He still has immense talent. It will be interesting to see how he does. Certainly plenty still are following him.

Nelson (DE)

Do you think if Tiger were to do a press conference/interview prior to his first tournament, there would be less of a media circus at that first event? Seems to me no matter what he does, his first event will be a huge story.

Bob Harig
  (4:41 PM)

Nelson, there is no doubt the first event will be a huge story. But if he does something prior,perhaps more of the focus will be on his golf than on everything that has occurred since Nov. 27. And he'd have every right to reference that first press conference for not wanting to speak about anything but golf.

Jim (NY)

I know it's a tough call but if you had to predict which evenet Tiger would return at which would it be? My guess is Doral.

Bob Harig
  (4:42 PM)

Jim, I have no idea, but if I had to guess -- and I've said this since the December announcement -- I also would say Doral. It's a month before the Masters, it is a place where he has won.

Justin (Ohio)

Well that sucks. I guess I should have bet on Fowler.

Bob Harig
  (4:44 PM)

I think you should get to start over. . You shouldn't lose on a technicality. Sim is simply not a rookie so he can't win the award.

Justin (Ohio)

DL3 had a nice showing last weekend. Any expectations for him this year?

Bob Harig
  (4:45 PM)

Justin, Davis has said he wants to make the Ryder Cup team, so that suggests he is motivated to do well. First, he needs to try and get in the Masters, which he has missed the past two years.

Steven (Linlithgow, Scotland)

Do you think my man Pat Perez can repeat as champion this year at the BHC?

Bob Harig
  (4:47 PM)

Steven, seeing as how he has just one tour victory, I think it is tough to expect him to win any given tournament. That said, this is the place where he got it done. It should give him confidence to be back there.

Treyvon (Atlanta)

Is Tiger coming back

Bob Harig
  (4:48 PM)

That is the expectation, but nobody knows when.

John (Chicago)

I think Ogilvy knows that any tournament's real "preference" is ET Woods in the field, whether the paparazzi are included or not.

Bob Harig
  (4:49 PM)

John, no doubt, but I think he has a valid point. Potential hysteria might be lessened if he does what Ogilvy suggests.

Jill (Redmond, WA)

Think Tiger and Mark Steinberg are taking notes from the Mark McGwire roll-out?

Bob Harig
  (4:50 PM)

Jill, good question. It's possible. That was obviously a very-well orchestrated and planned admission by McGwire -- although not all were impressed by it. And there are facets of it that might very well work for Tiger.

Justin (Ohio)

Ok Bob. Could you give a rookie or two that could compete with Fowler for ROY?

Bob Harig
  (4:52 PM)

Well, I like Troy Merritt a lot. He won Q School after just missing out through the Nationwide Tour.He got off to a decent start in Hawaii.

Cathy (Ontario)

What's happening with Adam Scott, does he feel more committed to golf this year.

Bob Harig
  (4:52 PM)

Cathy, the fact that he won in Australia late last year had to be a big confidence boost for him. I don't think it was a matter of not being committed, he just struggled with his game.

Mike (Boston)

I don't think Tiger has to do anything he doesn't want to. It is a personal matter, which is completely unrelated to him playing golf. Just because people are interested in it and there will be a media throng doesn't mean he needs to respond to it. I guess his playing partners will have to deal with some extra distractions but so what. Oglivy should thank Tiger for driving up purses so he can be in the top 1% of earners in the world.

Bob Harig
  (4:54 PM)

Mike, ultimately you are right, but that doesn't mean any of this stuff is going away. Ogilvy has a point that -- despite what Tiger has done for them -- the other players should not have to deal with the distracions that are inevitable.

Mike (Fresno, CA)

Is anybody going to be shocked when he comes back and still dominates? I know I won't.

Bob Harig
  (4:54 PM)

Mike, I won't either. If he can win the U.S. Open on one leg,win six times after not playing for eight months, he can still dominate after this.

Cathy (Ontario)

Will we see Trevor Immelman more this year?

Bob Harig
  (4:56 PM)

Cathy, it all depends on how his wrist responds. It was troublesome enough to limit him to 13 events, and then he finally had surgery on it in October.

Frank (SD)

If Tiger didn't speak before his first tourney back, would press credentials be granted to the entertainment/tabloid media for his press conference?

Bob Harig
  (4:56 PM)

Frank,that will be interesting to see. The Tour and various tournaments have the right to limit credentials and I'm guessing they will do all they can to keep it to the mainstream media.

Dean Moll (North Royalton, Ohio)

Mr. Harig, do you see the "Vij" coming back strong this year or has his time passed?!

Bob Harig
  (4:58 PM)

Dean, Vijay had a back issue last week in Hawaii, so it will be interesting to see how that affects him. He's been such a hard worker that I don't see his age being a factor. He is seemingly over his knee problems of a year ago, but a bad back doesn't work for a golfer.

Bob Harig
  (5:00 PM)

I am out of time. Thanks for participating. Check back next week when I'll be weighing in from Torrey Pines. Enjoy the golf.