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May 12, 4:00 PM ET
Chat with Bob Harig

Bob Harig
  (3:56 PM)

Well, it's not like there isn't a lot going in the golf world. An amazing turn of events in the Tiger saga, an unlikely winner at the Players. . . anything golf related is on the table. .. Fire away with your questions.

Brian (Westborough)

Hypothetically, if Tiger wanted to go back to Butch would he be able to? Would Butch be open to it, Would Butch allow himself to coach Tiger and Phil and would Phil allow it?

Bob Harig
  (3:58 PM)

Brian, lots of questions there, few answers. My guess here is that it would not work. Tiger wants his instructor to be more or less exclusive to him. He's certainly not going to work with someone who is working with another top player. I believe the Tiger-Butch ship has sailed.

Patrick (Hanover)

What's the difference between the 18th at Sawgrass and the 18th at Doral? To me they look like the same hole.

Bob Harig
  (4:00 PM)

Patrick, it is a much sharper dogleg to the left at TPC. . Also much different greens. There is more room to bail out to the right of the 18th at TPC. But both are pretty scary finishing holes.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

Alexis Thompson is making her pro debut at age 15 this week. Have either the PGA or LPGA tours considered an age limit for pros? If they set it at 20 or 21 this could also breathe life into events like the US and British Ams and we could also see amateurs on tour again. It seems now they don't want to take an exemption into a tour event for fear they will run out of them when the turn pro.

Bob Harig
  (4:01 PM)

Brian, she's actually not debuting until next month, and the LPGA does have an age minimum of 18 for being a tour member. They can't stop Thompson from turning pro.

Brian (Westborough)

Any idea when Phil plays next?

Bob Harig
  (4:01 PM)

He has committed to Colonial and the Memorial.

Brian (Westborough)

Is Seve still planning on playing in this year's Open?

Bob Harig
  (4:02 PM)

His hope was to play in the Champions four-hole event that precedes the Open. And it is unclear if he is going to be able to make that. Nobody believes he is going to play in the championship itself. It would be terrific if he could make it to the 4-hole deal.

Brian (Westborough)

Do you think Hank quit because tiger let him get killed in the media for his swing when the hole (sorry had to do it) time he was hiding a neck injury that could have impacted hiw swing.

Bob Harig
  (4:04 PM)

It's complicated, I'm afraid. I think Hank had just had enough of the scrutiny, the getting blames when things went wrong and little praise if they went right.

Brian (Westborough)

It's great to see the Texas Open get a stronger field, any idea what this is being attributed to? Is it going to come at the expense of the Byron Nelson next week?

Bob Harig
  (4:05 PM)

I am guessing the new venue, TPC San Antonio, has something to do with it. Some want to check it out.

Mike (NC)

Does Sergio need an intervention? I know his wrist is hurt but it seems like it is more attitude then injury to me

Bob Harig
  (4:06 PM)

Mike, Sergio does appear to have some motivaitonal issues. He showed some flashes of his old self last week at the Players but he hasn't contended in months.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

What is the Problem with Tiger Woods' neck?

Bob Harig
  (4:06 PM)

Nobody knows for sure. He is supposedly going to have an MRI this week to try and get some answers.

Mike (NC)

Any word on David Toms having surgery?

Bob Harig
  (4:07 PM)

Mike, not yet. It appears he is trying to put it off.

Bill (New York, NY)

I think the odds are very strong that Tiger only plays 4 more events this year, the 3 majors and Bridgestone, and if he goes 0 for 4, he shuts it down has surgery and gets ready for next year

Bob Harig
  (4:08 PM)

Bill, I think a lot depends on what they find out about his neck. Does he need surgery and does he do it sooner rather than later? Or is it something less severe that requires rest first? Lots of unanswered questions.

Robb (Colorado)

I have to take Haney to task a little bit here. In his statement he had to make a big fuss about how he "resigned" and wasn't fired. He mentioned it in two different ways. Who cares about that? Fact is, he would not be where he is today if it were not for him being Tiger's coach.

Bob Harig
  (4:10 PM)

Robb, I think it is a matter of pride. There had been so much speculation about it and he wanted it clear that he decided to leave. And while the relationsihp has benefited Haney greatly -- as he says -- you can argue that he wouldn't be any less off had he never coached Tiger. Haney was a respected teacher with acadamies and all sorts of deals in golf before Tiger came along.

Shoshana (Chapel Hill)

I thought a lot of the reason Tiger left Butch was he thought the swing was hurting his knee. Also Tiger was still with Butch in 2002 and only won that one major this year. Seems like people idealize that time because of the two dominant years

Bob Harig
  (4:11 PM)

There is no question that many of the things Tiger did under Haney were to try and alleviate pressure on his knee. Whether he left Butch for that reason is unclear, although at the time he felt he could be on his own. In 2002, Tiger won two majors and finished second at the PGA.

Ian (nyc)

US Open is 4 weeks away... Does Tiger Play? and if so what are his chances of winning?

Bob Harig
  (4:12 PM)

Ian, it is actually 5 weeks from Thursday. I think we have to find out first the deal with the MRI and what it shows and how much time, if any, he has to take off before he can resume practicing. As I said before the Masters, I would never discount Tiger from doing anything. But it is clear his game needs work.

Shoshana (Chapel Hill)

Any word on Tiger's MRI? Has he even had it? Seems like he should be able to get one as soon as he wants.

Bob Harig
  (4:13 PM)

No word. . . It would make sense to get it done as soon as possible.

Shoshana (Chapel Hill)

Do Golf writers pay any attention to what goes on in other sports? I have never seen a top athlete admit to an injury until it becomes so obvious it can't be ignored (Lebron shooting free throws left handed for instance). Tiger would've been killed for making excuses if he'd said something about it.

Bob Harig
  (4:13 PM)

In Tiger's case, what is the harm in disclosing an injury, other than some sort of macho pride? No player can take advantage of it like in other sports. He's not vulnerable because somebody knows about it.

Lou (East Liverpool, OH)

I think anyone writing a "Tiger is done" "Tiger will never reach the same level" type story should be required to reprint their similar "analysis" from '03-'04 so the public can make a judgement on there credibility.

Bob Harig
  (4:14 PM)

I'm not sure anybody is saying Tiger is done. That would be kind of foolish.

Mike (NC)

Do you think Quail Hollow in a perfect world wants to keep the regular tour event and host a major in addition to it like Peeble is doing this year, or are they more inclined to go either or? I'd hate to lose a great event each year for a major every 6-8 yrs

Bob Harig
  (4:15 PM)

Mike, it seems like they want to go either/or.. . I'm with you; keep the tour event every year. It's a great one and not worth giving up for the occasional major. And let's face it, would a PGA in August work?

Brian (Westborough)

Why didn't Ryo Ishikawa make the trip to TPC Sawgrass?

Bob Harig
  (4:17 PM)

I believe travel issues were the reason. He was committed to the Japan event where he shot 58 the week prior to win. He is due back in the U.S. at the U.S.Open next month.

Ali (New York, NY)

Do you think Lee Westwood will win a major this year?

Bob Harig
  (4:17 PM)

Ali, I've believed for a long time he would win one, but you start to wonder after a bunch of close calls.

Bob (Seattle)

It seems like Erica Blasberg's death has been seriously under reported in the golf and sports media. If Ricky Barnes died, the media would be all over the story.

Bob Harig
  (4:21 PM)

I am not so sure about that, really. So far, the details have yet to emerge.

Jim (NY, NY)

Mickelson deserves credit for winning the Masters and is playing better golf than Tiger at this moment, but don't you think many in your profession who are writing "the torch has been passed" type of stories about someone that has been in the top ten in just 3 of 10 tourneys are letting personal feelings creep into their writing/comments?

Bob Harig
  (4:22 PM)

Not sure about personal feels, but it is too early to say the torch has been passes. Certainly at this moment Phil is playing better than Tiger -- and has finished ahead of him in five straight tournaments in which they've played.

Brian (Westborough)

how does the tour feel about the set up of the TPC Sawgrass this week? I know they had a cold winter but last time I checked a map they are about 200 miles south of Augusta and Augusta was looking about 90% of its norm. Add in an extra 28 days and this place should have been much nicer looking. Those greens looked brutal this week. They looked like the greens at a dumpy 9 hole muni.

Bob Harig
  (4:24 PM)

The grasses at Augusta and TPC are different. The grass in Jacksonville is not used to so many sub-freezing temperatures and warm temperatures were very late in arriving. Lots of issues in play in that situation. And while they might not have looked green, they played very well on the weekend. They were lightning fast, just as they wanted them.

John (LA)

Did Tiger think that Haney was becoming too famous like Fluff was as his former caddy?

Bob Harig
  (4:26 PM)

I really don't think that was a factor. I'm sure Hank had to run it by Tiger before doing the TV shows. He had to allow him to do other things, as it was not a full-time job. I'm guessing this is all about performance and philosophy.

Jim (Allentown, PA)

Assuming Tiger is in the field what % do you give that the USGA pairs him with Mickelson in the US Open?

Bob Harig
  (4:27 PM)

I gave that very little chance. They did that in 2008, and although it worked out better than expected, it is not a really wise move. So many people want to watch those two players that it is almost unfair to put them together.

You're wrong (Oakland, CA)

Of course you give up something if you disclose an injury... even if it golf isn't a DIRECT contact sport... there is a huge mental aspect, and when you know your competitor is injured, it can certainly help reduce intimidation. This is why the most dominant athletes in all sports (including golf) don't like to disclose their injuries too much.

Bob Harig
  (4:28 PM)

It doesn't matter a bit. The opponent still has to get the ball in the hole faster, no matter Tiger's limitations. If a player needs Tiger to be injured to think they can beat him, then that player has bigger problems.

John (San Diego, CA)

I know sometimes the truth gets in the way for some but can you set people straight on the fact that if Tiger was faking he would've withdrawn after round 3 given that he was clearly out of contention.

Bob Harig
  (4:34 PM)

I simply go by the fact that it is the first he has ever withdrawn from a tournament due to injury and only the third time as a pro he's withdrawn. It's just not been part of his history.

tony (South Beach)

So Bob, Who do you like this week at TPC San Antonio?

Bob Harig
  (4:35 PM)

This week is almost impossible to pick. Brand new venue that nobody's played. It only opened in January.

Shoshana (Chapel Hill)

Pitchers don't report arm injuries till they're forced to go on the DL even when its obvious things aren't right. It's a competitive thing, a weakness. This is common across all sports. And it gets hard to take golf reporting seriously when they get all sanctimonious about not being told rather then reporting the story (and its not like there weren't clues something was going on)

Bob Harig
  (4:37 PM)

Pitchers have nothing to do with golfers. Nobody is getting santimonious, but people are questioning whether or not he quit on the round because he hadn't said a word about the injury prior. Why not? Because he's being competitive?

Dan (CA)

Why does he need to tell you he has a bad neck?

Bob Harig
  (4:41 PM)

Because it would help explain why he has been struggling.Look, he doesn't have to do anything.But injuries explain things, and he chose not to disclose it until a time when people then wondered if it was legitimate -- which, by the way, I believe is absolutely legitimate.

Fran (NYC)

Any news on McIlroy's back injury? Did it affect him at TPC - his ball-striking wasn't nearly as sharp as the week before?

Bob Harig
  (4:44 PM)

I don't think the back was bothering him at TPC as much as the inability to rebound from such a high of winning at Quail Hollow the way he did. Factor in the fact that he celebrated his 21st birthday on Tuesday and it adds up to a few things going against him.

Jon (Dallas)

If he was gonna quit, I think quiting during a 2nd round 79 would have been more like the place to do it...no? Why didn't he WD then?

Bob Harig
  (4:45 PM)

You're right. .. that would have been an easier time to do it. I'm guessing that it got progressively worse, he figured it might get better, that he could play through. And it turned out he couldn't.

Morfar (Tallahassee)

He didn't really disclose his injury until he pulled out. He had to give them a reason. Similarly, he didn't tell anyone about the achilles until it was fixed. Same with the broken leg. No excuses until after the fact.

Bob Harig
  (4:47 PM)

Fair enough, but I still maintain that if things are not going well and you have an injury, in golf, it's not going to change anything if you tell anyone. Sorry, but a guy who plays in the morning isn't hitting it any differently because he knows Tiger's neck is bothering him playing in the afternoon.

David (Texas)

Do you feel like we're looking at another lost year or more like in 04? I think that was the year of the swing change? I would just think with the injury and now the Haney situation it's going to be atleast a year and maybe more

Bob Harig
  (4:48 PM)

David, I think it's too early to say that. So much more golf to be played, which is why I'm puzzled by the impatience. It shouldn't be a surprise that he struggled coming back.

Chris (Bakersfield, CA)

Do you think Tony Romo will make it into the Byron Nelson?

Bob Harig
  (4:49 PM)

Chris, I think it is going to be very difficult. He survived a pre-qualifier just to make it into the final Monday qualifier, where only 4 players advance.

Henry (Columbus)

Bob, not a lot of big names this week. Any sleepers to win? Do you think Johnson can 3-peat, even though the course is different?

Bob Harig
  (4:50 PM)

Yes, a tournament coming right after Quail Hollow and the Players is going to have some difficulty attracting the top players, but Ernie Els is there. Johnson doesn't have a top-20 this year. I went with Justin Leonard simply because he's won the tournament 3 times.

Jeremy (Andover)

If Phil plays in two weeks and Tiger does not. Can Phil pass Tiger for Number 1?

Bob Harig
  (4:53 PM)

I do not know all the permutations, but yes, there are again scenarios in which Phil can pass Tiger for No. 1 at either Colonial or Memorial.

Jim (NY, NY)

Does a golfer have an obligation to tell you and the fans when he's entered in an event he could care less about? Because I followed Mickelson in '06 at the Westchester event the week before Winged Foot and he really seemed disinterested in that tourney. In fact it was reported he would go over to Winged Foot to practice after his rounds. I don't recall any outrage then.

Bob Harig
  (4:55 PM)

I would say a golfer has an obligation to give his best effort in the event he is playing. But we all know that sometimes a tournament is used for other reasons. Phil was using Houston as a tune-up for the Masters this year. I'm not sure he played like he was disinterested, however.

Scott (Worcester MA)

Everyone always said Michelle Wie is the next Tiger Woods. Doesn't it seem that over the past month Tiger seems like the next Michelle Wie?

Bob Harig
  (4:56 PM)

Scott, it's one month. That's all.

Morfar (Tallahassee)

Doesn't he have to tell them what is wrong when pulling out? I don't see how he could get out of explaining why he was pulling out. Its not like he sat in a press conference in advance of the tournament making excuses. He simply said his neck had bothered him for a while, can't play through spasm, need to figure it out. Anyway, he'll be back. Maybe he can fix "fore right" before returning....

Bob Harig
  (4:57 PM)

Yes, he does have to give a reason for withdrawing and did. . But the issue of many question is why did this come as a surprise? Becuase he never let on that anything was bothering him.

John (Newark, NJ)

If Phil passes him will the media try to convince us it's a devastating blow for Tiger despite years of Tiger stating he doesn't care about the ranking, only winning tourneys?

Bob Harig
  (4:57 PM)

John, I doubt it. Tiger was passed in 2004/2005. He has always said No. 1 takes care of itself if you win.

Bob Harig
  (5:00 PM)

Okay, I'm out of time. Thanks for your participation.