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June 23, 4:00 PM ET
Chat with Bob Harig

Bob Harig
  (4:00 PM)

Well, plenty to talk about after an interesting U.S. Open. Let's get started. Feel free to fire away with your golf questions.

Brian (Westborough)

Everyone complained about the 14th green but almost no one complained about the 17th green. Only 8% of the field hit #17 in reg on Sunday. With the back tee that green seems too small/firm to hold any well struck tee shot. Those that did hit it did so by running the ball through the rough short of the green. Is anyone looking at changing this hole or is that blasphemy seeing as how this is one of Pebble's signature holes given what happened in '72 and '82.

Bob Harig
  (4:02 PM)

Believe me, the 17th green had its share of conversation as well. Less than 20 percent hit the green on Saturday. Just seems like very paltry numbers for the best in the world, which suggests unfairness and flukiness. You had to get lucky, almost, to make a par. Not sure what is in store. I'd have liked to have seen them put the pin on the right side more to make it play easier. It's still a 220-yard shot.

Brian (Westborough)

Why did the ceromony after the 72nd hole not include Havret or the 2 amateurs who won low am? It always has in the past.

Bob Harig
  (4:03 PM)

I did not watch the ceremony, but I was near the green amid the chaos before it began and did see Havret. I believe he was part of it. Cannot be sure about the amateurs.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

Is Pebble Beach going to keep the course set up with the fairways directly adjacent to the ocean or are the going to revert to the old set up?

Bob Harig
  (4:05 PM)

I believe the answer is they are going to let some grass grow along the edge of the fairways to help the mere mortals. As you could see, folks paying $500 would probably not appreciate the set up. It will get back to being more benign, with wider fairways, etc.

Nelson (DE)

Is Tiger now more at risk of losing his #1 ranking because of shutting down for the remainder of the season after the US Open 2 years ago?

Bob Harig
  (4:07 PM)

No, if anything that now helps him, because he will not be "losing" any points he might have gained in that period. As each two year period rolls over, you lose the points you had. What is happening, though, is any success he had a year ago is actually now counting less. So his No. 1 ranking will continue to be in danger.

Jim (NY, NY)

Where was the attack by Tiger against the USGA or the grounds crew at Pebble that cause David fay to respond so sharply? If Mr. Fay is so interested in comparisons I'd suggest we all compare his petty reaction including a choreographed shot at Tiger to that of Mike Davis, an official that clearly has a better unemotional perspective that you'd hope from someone who's officiating and not competing.

Bob Harig
  (4:09 PM)

Tiger was pretty direct after the first round. He called the greens "awful." No matter your opinion on the subject, the greens were the same for everyone who played that afternoon -- when the leaders scores emerged, by the way. Tiger knows better than anyone how poa annua greens are in California. He grew up on them. I thought Fay was simply defending the honor of the folks who work hard to get the course in shape. The greens were certainly not "awful" but every day standards.

Nick Rolando (Orlando)

Bob, love your work, keep it up. I had a quick question: what's going on with Sergio Garcia? While watching the US Open he showed no emotion after chipping and almost holing out bunker shots, is there something going on in his life we don't know about?

Bob Harig
  (4:09 PM)

I wish I knew what was wrong with Garcia, but you are right, he appears to not be into it right now. He is languishing, not having fun, playing very average golf.

David (Texas)

What are your thoughts on Tiger throwing Stevie under the bus at the open over club selection?

Bob Harig
  (4:12 PM)

I wrote about this briefly in my birdies and bogeys column (sorry for the shameless plug) and I am not sure he threw Steve under the bus, but. .. just the fact that many think he did suggets it was poor form. Tiger basically said he wasn't committed to the advice Steve gave him, went with it anyway, then was sorry he did. That to me says Tiger has some issues in his game. He wasn't committed to what he thought or what his caddie thought and that is always dangerous. As I wrote, Tiger knows better than anyone that at the end of the day the decision rests with the golfer and it is his responsibility.

Nelson (DE)

With the USGA reducing the number of exemptions for finishing in the top 15 to just the top 10, any word on how they will determine how those extra spots will be awarded?

Bob Harig
  (4:14 PM)

To be honest, that one caught us by surprise. I didn't realize until Sunday that they had reduced 2011 exemptions to the top 10 from the top 15. My guess is that they want to have the extra leeway for qualifying spots. They might not change anything else because the top 50 and other exemptions can vary.

Jim (NY, NY)

Davis Fay knows better than anyone (since he studied the quotes) that Tiger was very complementary of how the greens were during his morning practice rounds. He also knows very well that Phil played the morning on Thursday and Tiger played the afternoon.

Bob Harig
  (4:15 PM)

Right, which suggests some sour grapes from Tiger. The greens are never as good in the afternoon. And on Thursday, three guys shot 69 to lead -- and all played in the afternoon. It came off poorly for Tiger.

Jim (New York, NY)

If Tiger steadies himself and goes on to win 20+ majors it will be pretty hard years from now to convince people he was in this freefall we've been reading about when they go back to his results from this year and see his finishes at Augusta and the US Open

Bob Harig
  (4:16 PM)

Jim, good point. And I'd say the same thing if he goes on to win a couple of tournaments this year. If you didn't know any better, top 4 finishes at the first two majors does not suggest disaster.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

Why is Shinnecock not being included in future US Opens. I've heard they may land the 2018 Open but it seems to me this is every bit the course that Pebble is. I wouldn't even name Pebble as the best California course (Riveria).

Bob Harig
  (4:17 PM)

The guess here is that the 2004 debacle is going to be difficult to overcome. It might also be that Shinnecock doesn't want it after all that went on that year with the greens.

Lou (East Liverpool, OH)

I must have missed David Fay's reaction to Phil's comments about how his putt on 14 rolled on Sunday. I guess he reserves his judgement to the now easy target of Tiger

Bob Harig
  (4:18 PM)

Let's be clear, nobody was happy with the greens, especially in the afternoons. It was Tiger who said it first and he even said he spoke what others would not say. Still, same greens for everyone, and it is not a secret that those surfaces are bumpy. If you remember, Tiger's putt to tie Rocco in 2008 at Torrey Pines -- same kind of greens -- took a few hopes before falling into the cup

Brian (Westborough)

Ernie Els declined comment after losing the US Open. Tiger and Phil stayed for a brief tv spot and a full press conference. Do you think Tiger and Phil speaking after helps to ease the pain and allow them to get over it quicker? While I'm sure all of them are dissapointed to lose it seems Tgier and Phil get over these quick (especially since 2004) than Ernie.

Bob Harig
  (4:20 PM)

To be honest, I don't think it helps them get over it. If they had their true wish, they would skip it. But they know it's not worth it. Ernie shouldn't have skipped either, but as his manager said he was "gutted." For obvious reasons.

Jim (NY, NY)

So people complain that Tiger never says anything then when he remarks that he found the greens to be very bumpy one afternoon and shares his frustration about making the mental mistake of hitting a shot he didn't commit to he's labelled an unloyal whiner. Exactly what reason does he have to be forthcoming going forward?

Bob Harig
  (4:22 PM)

It's a good point. We want these guys to be honest, and then when they are, they get hammered. But I think there is a difference between being honest and making excuses. Criticize the greens, but then couch it but saying something like "I know better, and needed to deal with it." Say you and Steve made mental mistakes, but also add: "It's my responsibility." In the end, he's then taking ownership.

David (Texas)

When will Tiger accept a bad round as just that not "The greens are horrible" or "Stevie just miss clubed me"? I mean unless he played a differant course Saturday then those were the same greens and you didn't hear a peep out of him.

Bob Harig
  (4:22 PM)

Folks, as you can see, there are different takes on this issue.

Lou (East Liverpool, OH)

Can we help Corey Pavin with a list of 12 guys that are currently better than Tiger for his team:1. Phil (maybe)2-12 uhhh

Bob Harig
  (4:23 PM)

It's interesting to me that Tiger, without doing much this year, has moved to seventh in the points. Last year all that counted with the majors, which this year are double.

Henry (Columbus)

Prediction time. Winner and sleeper for the week. I'm going with Mahan (owns this tourney) and Bubba Watson as my sleeper...

Bob Harig
  (4:23 PM)

I went with Rickie Fowler as my winner this week, but I agree Mahan is an excellent choice. He's got a win and three other top five finishes at this tournament.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

Tiger had a tough time last year getting the elite players to enter his event. With the new course this year and his off the course issues, how does the field look so far? Have any of the big names committed?

Bob Harig
  (4:25 PM)

Not yet sure of the commitments, but the 4th of July date has turned into an iffy one. If you are a European Tour player, you are over there most likely. The following week is the Scottish Open and then the British Open. Hard to play those three in a row. This week's event in Hartford is getting a nice field after the U.S. Open.

Pam (West Palm Beach)

Can you get word to Tiger's camp to tell them that no matter what he says, how he says it , Tigers answers will be dissected, criticised, disparage, any other negative word, therefore the less he says, the better off he will be. I am truly tired of the crucifixion

Bob Harig
  (4:26 PM)

Pam, I pretty sure they don't need me to tell them. It goes with the territory. Surely Tiger knows that when he says what he said, it's going to get attention. Just like he's been praised for so many things over the years as well.

Brian (Westborough)

The British Amateur was held this week as well. This event used to be a major and now is about on par with a Nationwide Tour event. What happened? Also the USGA doesn't give an invite to the US Open for the Brit Am winner but the Brit Open does give one to the US Am winner. Is having this event on the same week and the US Open out of spite by the R&A for this? It makes their own defending champion (if still an am) chose between trying to swctional qualify for the US Open or defend his title in a "major."

Bob Harig
  (4:28 PM)

Brian, I am afraid that the British Amateur long ago lost luster. I highly doubt it is scheduled when it is as any bit of spite. The problem is the top amaateurs in the game today are young players who can't afford to travel overseas. And there are tons of great amateur events.

Nelson (DE)

When (if ever) do you think we'll see Tiger gain some new endorsements? Any chance some companies who dropped him might reconcile with him?

Bob Harig
  (4:28 PM)

This is an interesting dilemma for companies. Do they go out and sign him at this point? Surely it will bring a lot of attention to their company. Maybe that's good. Maybe not. I think they are all waiting and it appears it is still too soon.

David (Texas)

Ther is no doubt that Tiger is the most talented golfer in history, but peeople need to realize that that doesn't make him a role model. He may just be a jerk, which is fine. Watch him play and then turn the T.V. off

Bob Harig
  (4:29 PM)

David, I'm sure your sentiments are shared by many. For a lot of folks, it is simply about the golf and enjoying one of the best ever do what he does between the ropes.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

With Michael Campbell's recent play and also on course behavior (he pulled a Rory Sabbatini this week), will the USGA look at reducing the 10 year exemption it gives to winners to say 5 years? It seems to me that more often than not a past US Open winner will qualify for years on numerous excemption categories.

Bob Harig
  (4:33 PM)

That's a tough call. They give 5-year exemptions to the winners of the other majors, so it is hard to think they'd reduce it to that. I think Campbell is probably a unique example.

Nelson (DE)

Any word if there were Tiger hecklers at the US Open? If not, then would you say that possibility of that has pretty well gone away?

Bob Harig
  (4:34 PM)

There were a few hecklers, and there was a plane pulling a banner directed at him. I'm guessing it's still a possibility at St. Andrews and the Ryder Cup.

Pam (West Palm Beach)

Did you know if Tiger turn down J.Feinstein for interviews, book endorsement etc. when I hear him on TGC he has been insulting, to a point full with hatred for him. I noticed this prior to the Event and it has escalated since,esp being on TV more

Bob Harig
  (4:34 PM)

Pam, I can't speak to the details, but it is clear there is no love lost between the two, going way back to when Feinstein was critial of Tiger's father soon after Tiger turned pro.

Andrew (WI)

Who leads the PoY race? Or is it even pointless to ask the question seeing as it's completely wide open?

Bob Harig
  (4:35 PM)

It's a good question because for once it is not decided. Because Phil won the Masters he is certainly in the discussion. So is Ernie Els becaue he has two wins and a third at the U.S. Open. McDowell is not a tour member so at this point I'd have to say it is between Phil and Ernie -- with plenty of time left.

Frank (South Bend, IN)

I think it's fair to point out, as you know very well Bob, that we've heard Tiger describe shots and rounds of his in very derogatory and humbling terms through the years including this year. I don't think he's interested in excusing poor play/shots because they don't put major championship trophies on his shelf, which is really his consistently stated goal.

Bob Harig
  (4:37 PM)

Again, lots of discusson on this topic. Fair enough.

Joe (San Diego)

Maybe the USGA and Mr. Fay in particular should be more concerned that of the 6 Sunday contenders they only combined to birdie 2 of the 54 holes on the back 9. Tiger beat all of them by at least two strokes on the back 9 and his play wasn't even solid.

Bob Harig
  (4:38 PM)

Not sure that has much to do with this, really. We can certainly debate whether the golf course was too severe.

Will (Hopwell Jnct., NY)

Will Phil and Tiger play any "regular" tour events the same week the rest of this year?

Bob Harig
  (4:43 PM)

I guess the questions is: what do you consider regular?They will likely be together at the Bridgestone, PGA and four playoff events. That's it. Those are probably the only tournaments Phil has left. Tiger is playing his event next week, which I suppose you could say is the last "regular" event he will play.

Nelson (DE)

Any word from players if they felt the new groove rule had a significant effect on this US Open compared to one in the recent past?

Bob Harig
  (4:44 PM)

To be honest, I did not hear that mentioned at all last week.

Matt (Houston)

Any plans to have a major near Chicago anytime soon? It seems weird that no events are really close to such a great city that supported the Western Open and previous majors very well. Thanks

Bob Harig
  (4:46 PM)

Matt, Chicago is getting the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah but appears to be shut out of majors for some time. When the USGA awarded the 2017 U.S. Open to Erin Hills in Wisconsin, they seemed to be saying no to Chicago, which was in the running with Cog Hill. Olympia Fields was the last U.S. Open in 2003.

Nelson (DE)

Is it safe to say that all future US Opens on the West Coast (Olympic Club, Chambers Bay) will be on prime time TV?

Bob Harig
  (4:48 PM)

Nelson, I don't think there is any doubt! It is surprising they didn't do this earlier. And makes you wonder why the PGA won't go out there more often.

Pam (West Palm Beach)

I know it is too early for Open Predictions, but based on what happen at the US Open, would you say that the Open is wide open, unless TW brings at least his B+ game?

Bob Harig
  (4:49 PM)

Pam, I agree: I don't think we can just hand this one to Tiger, as much as that would have seemed to be the case. You still have to be on top of your game to win these things. The quirkiness of St. Andrews brings lots into this. And remember, in 2000 and 2005, weather was not a factor. What if it is this year?

John (Winner, SD)

USGA was one stroke away from the anti-'08 playoff, as in nobody would've cared

Bob Harig
  (4:50 PM)

John, believe me, you are not the first to suggest such a thing. A McDowell-Havret playoff would have brought out all sorts of criticism for why there is an 18-hole playoff -- just 2 years after it was praised because of the drama.

Shaun (St Cloud, MN)

You talked about Sergio earlier. If he's still playing this poorly come the fall, and with all of the talent on the European side, would you put him on the Ryder Cup team based on past success if you were Monty?

Bob Harig
  (4:51 PM)

Great question. How do you leave Sergio off the European team?? How?? And yet, there are so many others at the moment deserving.

Lou (East Liverpool, OH)

I'm still not clear from the tv coverage this week. Does Johnny Miller have good "local knowledge" of Pebble Beach or not?

Bob Harig
  (4:56 PM)

I don't think there is any doubt that he does. Miller might know it better than anybody this side of Tom Watson. People forget, he won at Pebble in '94 when his game was long gone.

Nelson (DE)

I know it's still a ways out, but based on current form, who would you say should be favored to win the Ryder Cup?

Bob Harig
  (4:59 PM)

Nelson, in my mind, that's easy: The Europeans. They don't even have Harrington, Casey and Garcia as locks for the team at the moment. But as always at the Ryder Cup, the perceived strength of one team does not always matter.

Pam (West Palm Beach)

A friendly wager with you Bob, If TW makes the Ryder Cup Team on points, he will decline playing in it.

Bob Harig
  (5:00 PM)

Pam, you think he passes? I don't think so. A good friendly wager it is.

Bob Harig
  (5:01 PM)

And with that, I'm out of time. Thanks for all the great questions, much appreciated. Looking forward to our next "chat."