Hello from St. Andrews, Scotland, where my fingers are so cold I'm having trouble typing. Seriously, this is one raw day, and the players are luck the Open doesn't start until tomorrow -- although I must admit it might be kind of cool to watch them play in this. I'm here for the next little while, as long as my fingers keep working. Please fire away with your questions.
Hard to believe it was only 3 years ago that Sergio had a putt to win the Open. Now he's struggling to make cuts, any chance he contends this week?
Brian, Sergio is 80 to 1 in the betting shops here, which shows how far he has fallen. In golf, anything is possible. I would never say never. It just doesn't seem likely that he would put it together here this week. These huge greens are an issue because of his putting problems.
Hey Bob, has Sobel done his Open rankings yet? I can't find it online
He has done it and it is a ranking of 50 players that will be on the site this afternoon.
Why did you have Muirfield so low on your list of open courses?
Thanks for the plug on a piece I did earlier this week ranking all 14 venues used for the Open, including the nine now in use. I admit Muirfield is not very high. But I also qualify it by saying the list is not very scientific. I have been to 10 of the 14 venues, including Muirfield. Perhaps it should have been higher.
Bob who wins the British Open this year?
I see this question coming a lot so I will give you my pick: Ernie Els. He came close at the U.S. Open, loves the Old Course, is geared up for another run at the title. I just like this chances. Obviosly there are tons of guys who can do it, but I like Ernie.
Would the R&A ever consider a non links course for the Open? The Belfry would be a nice stop.
The short answer is no. All of the courses in the Open rotation are links courses and people would scream if they went away from that. It is a unique way to play the game, sort of like going from hard courts to clay or grass in tennis. And Brian, the Belfry? C'mon. It's an American style course and not a very good one at that.
Did you know that 2-time runnerup Johnny Bulla (1939, 1946) who lived her in Arizona for years has his driver in the R&A Museum. Apparently in 1939 in atrocious weather, he never missed a fairway. Wonder if it is still there? His best bud Sam Snead only went over in 1946 because Bulla urged him to -resulting in his only Open Championship. Looks like the weather could be miserable except for Saturday, right?
Thanks for the info, and you're right about the weather. It appears as if it is going to be a lot different than in 2000 and 2005.
Who has a better shot, Tiger or Phil?
I just have to go with Tiger, based on Phil's poor record at the Open. Just one top 10. No top 10s at St Andrews.
Which was the course that was dry and brown a few years back? That was a pretty freak ocurrance.
You are probably thinking of Royal Liverpool, better known as Hoylake. It was hot and dry and the course was brown. Typically that is how they look with no moisture.
Do you see Phil ever winning a British Open?
I find it hard to believe that he has fared so poorly at the British Open. Given his skills and his numerous victories, you'd think he would be fine on these courses where his short game imagination should shine.
Who are your top dark horses for this year's Open?
How about Chris Wood, the Englishman who is the only player to finish in the top five the last two years.
Any chance we see another Tom Watson-type stunner again this year?
Can it happen three years in a row? Another old guy in contention? It's hard to believe, really. Greg Norman nearly won, then Tom Watson. It sure would be fun, though.
With steady rain in the forecast what are the chances of a weather delay at the British Open tomorrow or Friday?!?!?
The chances of a weather delay are almost non-existent. That is the beauty of the British Open. There are no lightning storms and the courses drain because they are sand based. So the greens and the fairways are not unplayable. The only thing that could delay play would be severe winds such as we had here on Sunday. If the ball moves on the greens because of wind, they will delay. But for nothing else. It's kind of cool.
Given Tiger's lack of distance control and inability to put the ball in the hole...How in the world is he the "odds on favorite" this week? Since when, "What have you done for me latley", was discarded?
The betting odds are more a reflection of what the general public at large thinks -- which kind of shows what the masses know, which is not much. Tiger in now way should be the favorite, but his odds are the lowest because so many people have bet him. The bookmakers price flucuates based on the action.
Not much talk about Ross Fisher.Two top-tens in his last 3 starts.Do you like his chances?
Yes, not much talk about Ross Fisher, whose been a very steady player but not as impressive lately as Westwood, Rose, etc. But he was in contention last year and there's no reason to think he won't be a factor.
How big of an advantage would you say the Europeans have in the rainy weather?
I don't think it is a big advantage. Pro golfers play in poor weather all the time. They get used to rainy conditions. Nobody is used to playing in the weather we have had today. Nobody would ever go out in it.
Please tell me that the fans won't be cheering for Tiger like he's back in the States?
It is hard to say what kind of reaction he will get. I'm guessing most fans just care about his golf.
What score will it take to win at St. Andrews this year with the always changing weather?
My guess? 8 under par. It won't be as low as in past years but still pretty low by major championsihp standards. The Old Course can let up so low numbers if the conditions are right. And even though it is raining now, that doesn't mean it won't be vulnerable at some point. Should be fun to see.
I'm going with Phil, especially with the weather. He has changed things a bit and understands St. Andrews now. You can throw the performance records out as he has a lot of motivation. And he is the most talented golfer I have ever seen of all the ones I covered over the years. Great short game and the putter is coming around. By the way, is my favorite grease pit Ziggys still there shucking out hamburgers and milkshakes?
If you are talking about the Ziggy's on Murray Place just a block or so from the Old Course, it is thriving. We ate their last night. One clown in our group ordered Mexican food. The place is worth plugging.
we had norman in 2008 and watson last year do you think the old guy coming back this year could be faldo
To be honest, not really. The guy just doesn't play enough. I don't see how his game could be sharp enough. If you want an old guy, how about Tom Lehman, who has played decently at the Old Course over the years and won the Senior PGA Championship a few weeks back.
Are beers $2 over there like they are at The Masters?
There is nothing that is $2 here, Chris, especially when you throw in the exchange rate.
You've been very fair on the Tiger thing that's why your column last week surprized me. The guy heads over to Ireland to play a charity event for a billionaire, who I'm sure has been very generous to Tiger's own charity through the years. He then returns to the States to see his kids for a few days but is back on the course in Scotland on Sunday with plenty of time to prep and kick any jetlag. Charity, time with kids, a few trips on a private plane- what exactly was the problem with Tigers Open bulid-up?
Lou, fair enough, I took Tiger to task for his itinerary last week. I was in no way knocking him for wanting to see his kids. Good for him. My quesiton was why go to Ireland at all? No doubt, JP McManus has done much for Tiger's foundation and that is why he went. It is commendable. But I don't think anyone would have blamed Tiger had he just gone home from Philly. I don't care how you travel, flying across the Atlantic three times in a week takes something out of you.
You have one hole left on Sunday. On the 18th hole, you need to score a Birdie. Who do you choose to play the hole... Tiger or Phil?
On the 18th here? I think you go with Tiger.
I have never been nor will I ever be a Tiger fan but give the guy a break .. You and ESPN and every other reporter are killing the guy. I actually feel sorry for him. ESPN is turning into TMZ with the Lebron and Tiger stuff. Its ridiculous.
I have to step up and defend here. We haven't been hammering on Tiger. If anything, we've tried to turn the discussion to golf. And we're hardly TMZ. Lebron? Who is that?
How do you think the new road hole will play out?
Ryan, shameless plug for the piece I wrote on ESPN.com. I don't think there is any question it will be harder. It's 40 yards longer. It's nearly 500 yards with a blind tee shot to a brutal green with a huge bunker guarding it and a road behind it. And some decent rough to the left of the fairway. I'm guessing 4 pars there this week will go a long way.
What the weather forecast for the week, and how do you think it affect the course and scores?
You have to be careful with weather forecasts over here. Nobody predicted it would be as bad as it has been today. There is a 90 percent change of rain tomorrow, then down to 60 percent on Friday and only 20 percent on the weekend. But in Scotland, you can have all four seasons in the same day.
Where do you see lee westwood, Paul casey standing on the open?
Westwood is injured -- which might be a good thing. Beware the injured golfer. But he has a calf probablme that has limited his practice. I like Casey although he's not done much lately. But it would not surprise me to see him up there this week.
Is the Old Course open to the public?
Yes it is. There are lots of ways to get a tee time at the Old Course, the best of which is to get in a daily lottery. It's not cheap, but I'm guessing that most would feel it is worth it.
The Brits are chirping about some one of them winning the Open.Is it because MAC came from nowhere to win the US open and they don't consider him the best of them. When Paddy won his 3, there never was so much chirping
Pam, first of all, Harrington isn't British. There just has been a strong run of play by English players of late: Poulter, Rose and Westwood have all won on the PGA Tour. McDowell won the Open -- he is from Northern Ireland.
Could Graeme McDowell take his 2nd major of the year?
Nothing is out of the question. I have wondered if McDowell could come back down to earth after his big win. He did tie for 21 last week at the Scottish Open and he's been playing well. Confidence should be high.
The Belfry as an Open course? I agree completely with you Bob, it is a B to B+ parkland course at best. Logistics aside, Royal County Down and Royal Portrush are the best options to expand the rotation...Waterville in sw Ireland has the teeth as far as course difficulty too.
Portrush hosted the Open one time and it would be great if it would get considered for the future. If they brought Hoylake and Carnoustie back, they could figure out a way to make Portrush work in my opinion.
You predicted the final score to be at -8. Do you like major golf events where there is scoring/shotmaking or do you prefer how the US Open goes?
I kind of like the R&A's position. They let the weather dictate. If it's nice and calm, they don't seem to care if it is 19 under. If it is windy and brutal, they know the score will be around par. I think that is a good way to approach. They do not seem to set up their courses any more difficult.
How critical is this tournament for Tiger Woods in his pursuit of Jack's majors record? This year's PGA site doesn't fancy him all that well and to close another year out without a major might cause him to press in the coming years.
I find it interesting how now there seems to be some urgency. People are looking at his age and realizing that you don't win a lot of majors after age 34. Tiger has defied a lot of odds. I don't think winning this week is critical, but I also think there was an assumption this one would go on his record a long time ago, making the quest that much easier.
Bob - Thanks for jinxing my pick of Ernie Els. Going to have to go find a new player to pick.
Yes, I would not go by me, folks. I'd be living in Las Vegas if I could gauge these things accurately. My picks are for fun.
Is it true that the Old Course is closed each Sunday?
It is true. Except for weeks such as this, of course.
Why is it that most people think that Mickelson short game is the greatest among present PGA players? He has a patented flop shot which he excellently executes, and thats it. His putting is extremely inconsistent. The flop shot does not work on links course which is one of the reasons he does not do well there.I really think he does not"see" the shots for links golf.A creative golfer does not see all the shots
You're right about the flop shot and it doesn't work here. But Mickelson is not just about the flop shot. He can hit all the shots around the green. It is true his putting is inconsitent, and I think that is what has hurt him most of all.
Do think the putter change was a real change for Tigers game? Or a distraction ploy for questioning by reporters.
Since it elicited only two questions -- one by yours truly -- I don't think the distraction part worked -- if that is what he intended. No, I believe he is using the different putter because he needs to in his mind. He was asked about his equipment and he answered.
Best way to get on the Old Course is to show up as a single as early as you can and usually within a couple of hours you are on.
No doubt, singles do have a good chance. But if you want to play with your buddies, you need to go through the lottery.
who is Els' caddie this week?
Ricci Roberts, who also caddied for him at Pebble Beach and both of his wins earlier this year.
bob change your article and get you facts straight...tiger did not use a ping putter to win the 1997 masters...he used a scotty cameron santa fe with a black finish...you guys are clueless
Sorry dude, the information were were given was a Ping . . switched to the Cameron in 1999 which he has used ever since.
Tiger has never played well in cold and wet. Bethpage in 2002 was wet, but warm. Didn't he shoot 80 at Carnoustie in 1999 in the cold and rain, his highest score in a major? I don't expect him to play particularly well given the conditions, let alone the suspect status of his game at this time, what do you think?
He shot 81 during the third round at Muirfield in 2002 when it was cold and rainy. And he doesn't seem to like the cold. But we're not really sure how bad it is going to be.
Do you have any idea of the current rates at the Old Course for 18 Holes and a Cart? Thanks.
It is 130 pounds, and there are no carts. That works out to be about $210.
I am in a golf pool and want to pick a sleeper. Who would you choose out of Rhys Davies, Darren Clarke, and Montgomerie?
I would go with Davies because his form is the best.
How do you like Paddy's chances. He isn't have the best of years but did have a nice T5th at the Travelers a few weeks back. Has won at St Andrews in other tourneys in the past. How come not too much is made about him this week?
I sort of like Harrington this week. It's been nearly two years since he won. He needs to get a victory again soon. He knows the course ,and as you said, his form is decent. And if the weather is bad, that is good for him.
phil or Casey?
In this case, I would take Phil
I've seen the big story about Tiger changing putters. I was wondering though what was the deal with the old Ping grip on his Scotty Cameron?
I must admit I am not up to speed on that. I understand that he did keep a Ping grip on his putter in which he blacked out the brand name.
I have heard many people saying that a long hitter will win the Open, but what about someone like Luke Donald or Jim Furyk who are shot makers with a solid putter
I don't think it has to be a long hitter. I like your picks. You guys see how I can't decide? I'm getting questions on top 5 but you don't want to go by my opinion on that.
What is your favorite major venue to travel to?
I would have to say this one. All of the Open Championship venues are terrific in their own way.
I am out of time. Thanks for all the great quesitons and for following our coverage of the Open. Enjoy a lot of golf on ESPN over the next four days.