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November 3, 4:00 PM ET
Chat with Bob Harig

Bob Harig
  (4:01 PM)

We have a new No. 1 -- although that was expected -- and a pretty big tournament about to take place in China with the top four in the world all having a shot to be No. 1 by Sunday. Who said there's no meaningful golf being played now? Thanks for checking in, and as always, your golf-related questions are welcome. Fire away

Michael C. (Westport, CT)

Do you see the interest in golf continuing to trend downward now that Tiger is no longer driving TV ratings like he used to? Seems like golf is following tennis, which had a golden age with American stars in the 80s and 90s but flattened out and went back to being a niche sport when international players took over. That looks like what is happening in golf. Your thoughts?

Bob Harig
  (4:05 PM)

I think this is an interesting topic. One thing you have to remember is golf was pretty healthy before Tiger came along. It didn't have a dominant star like Tiger and did fine. Greg Norman, Nick Faldo, Fred Couples, Davis Love. .. those guys did pretty well. The game had long spurts of many different players winning majors. Tiger simply raised the level way beyond where it had ever been. When he is not around, it simply recedes to its former level, maybe even above that threshold. Which really should be fine. I happen to think he has skewed things so much that people forget the game did fine without him -- just not at the enormous level with him.

Joe (Los Angeles)

Who is your pick to win the HSBC Championship?

Bob Harig
  (4:06 PM)

I am going with Ernie Els. It would make sense that somebody with a chance to go to No. 1 won't win. And Ernie played in Malaysia last week, so he is over all the travel woes.

Harry (Tampa)

What place do you think Tiger will finish in at the HSBC?

Bob Harig
  (4:08 PM)

My guess -- and that is all it is, really -- is that Tiger is not going to win, but that he will finish in the top 10. It's always hard to tell how someone is going to do after a long layoff. Tiger has traditionally played fine after such long breaks, but this year has been so unsuual, it is difficult to predict.

Matt (Bethlehem, PA)

Do you see more low scores in store this weekend at the HSBC?

Bob Harig
  (4:11 PM)

I do. . . I think that is what the golf course yields. Last year Phil Mickelson shot four rounds in the 60s and was 17 under par for the tournament. Unless there are some weather issues, I'm guessing somebody will need to do something similar.

Dave (San Francisco)

How many majors do you see Rory Mclroy winning in his career?

Bob Harig
  (4:13 PM)

He needs to get the first one first, as rudimentary as that sounds. What I mean by that is the first one might lead to a bunch. But the first one is so tough. If you'd have asked me the same quesiton about Sergio Garcia 10 years ago, I'd have said he's win 5 or 6 majors. He still doesn't have one. The problem I fear for McIlroy is putting. He's really shaky on those short, pressure putts. He had a relatively poor Ryder Cup beecause of it. It might have cost him at the PGA Championship this year. All that said, he was right there in 2 majors in 2010 at age 21. Pretty good stuff.

Andrew (London)

Do you ever see Lee Westwood or Paul Casey winning a major?

Bob Harig
  (4:17 PM)

Yes, I could see both of them winning a major. Westwood has been hanging around in several majors lately. Casey is still plenty young, hits it far, has a lot of game. Whether they do or not is another story, but I would not be surprised at all to see them come through.

Nelson (DE)

What do you think is the right timeframe that should be used for computing World Rankings? 24 months? 12 months? Other?

Bob Harig
  (4:19 PM)

I don't have a problem with 24 months, the issue I have is that the results of those first 12 months are weighted too heavily. They've tried to make it a gradual drop off, so a guy who is say ranked 10th doesn't drop to 100th because he loses everything he did a year ago. But it needs to reflect current results a bit more, so there isn't as much of a lag time. In other words, Tiger probably should have dropped from the No. 1 spot sometime in the summer, based on his lack of play. Then again, who really stepped up to grab it?

Mariano (Syracuse)

Lefty, Ernie, Westwood and Vijay, who has had the best career?

Bob Harig
  (4:22 PM)

I don't think there is any question it is Mickelson. he has the most majors -- 4 -- and the most PGA Tour titles at 39. I would probably put Els next, but barely, over Singh, who has more PGA Tour victories. But Els has had an incredible worldwide career with more than 40 worldwide titles along with his 18 PGA Tour wins. Both have three majors. Westwood would be behind them because he has no major titles.

Marrio (Mississippi)

Have you seen Tiger swing and if so how do it look?

Bob Harig
  (4:23 PM)

The last time I saw Tiger swing a golf club in person was at the Ryder Cup, where on the last day he looked terrific. That said, to the untrained eye, his swing often looks fine. The issues that have been discussed in his game are quite technical and not necessarily easy to detect just standing there watching.

Jonny K (New York, NY)

Do you think Tiger will ever return to dominance?

Bob Harig
  (4:24 PM)

I guess it depends on what is meant by dominance. I certainly think Tiger can get back to winning multiple times a year. Remember he's just a year removed from winning 6 times on the PGA Tour and 7 times overall. What's to say he can't win 3 or 4 times in a season. It is just hard to envision him going on the kind of major run he was on between 2005 and 2008 when he won 6 majors.

Doug (Medford)

Who is your favorite current golfer?

Bob Harig
  (4:27 PM)

I am not sure I have a favorite. There are dozens I enjoy watching play. And certainly there are players are excellent to deal with from a media standpoint. Probably too many to name. But lots of good candidates on both lists.

Kevin (Glen Rock, NJ)

Bigger surprise in the Fall Series....Rocco 182nd on the money list and winning and securing his card or Byrd's hole in one to win in a playoff?

Bob Harig
  (4:32 PM)

I would have to go with Rocco. A hole in one to win, yes that's a surprise. But that is also somewhat fluky. Byrd's shot could have stopped an inch away and he might have still won the playoff. Rocco had shown little or no form heading into that tournament. Then to make an eagle a day to win by one -- pretty good stuff. And also a big surprise.

Nelson (DE)

Although his off course issues had to be distracting, how much do you think Tiger not winning the Masters contributed to his poor 2010 season? He probably felt for some time that given both Open venues, this year was his best shot at winning the Grand Slam. Thus not winning at Augusta might have really frustrated him the rest of the way. I ask because it ended up being arguably his best tournament of the year.

Bob Harig
  (4:35 PM)

Perhaps the Masters gave him a false sense that everything was going to be okay. To finish fourth after all he had been through was really remarkable. As it turned out, he did it with smoke and mirrors. Tiger didn't putt particularly well, at times he was fighting his swing, and in his haste to come back, he tweaked his neck, which turned out to be an injury that forced him to withdraw from the Players Championship. He then fought his swing going it alone all summer. So I'm not sure if the Masters frustrated him as much as it turned out to mask some of his issues.

Ross (IA)

Bob, do you think the Euro PGA tour is essentially an equal to the PGA tour, or would you say it's noticeably less competitive. If the PGA tour is a 10, and the Nationwide is a 6, how would you rate the Euro tour?

Bob Harig
  (4:37 PM)

Given your numbers, I would put the European Tour at 8.5. But there's really much more of a gap between it and the Nationwide Tour. The Euoprean Tour is very competitive and produces a lot of the game's top players. It simply lacks the depth of the PGA Tour. By that I mean I'm guessing the 50th player on the money list on the PGA Tour might be able to finish 20th in Europe.

Kevin (Las Vegas)

What are your thoughts on Noh Seung Yul? He seems like he will be a star?

Bob Harig
  (4:40 PM)

It is hard to say if he will be a star. At 19, he's already made a name for himself by winning on the European Tour at the Malaysian Open. Certainly we've seen a lot of great women golfers come out of South Korea, and now some excellent men in K.J. Choi and Y.E. Yang. It will be interesting to see how he progresses.

Andrew (WI)

In the past couple of winters, we heard some buzz about American players (notably Anthony Kim) talk about going for European Tour membership. Kim had an injury keep him from pursuing it, but any buzz this time around about the idea?

Bob Harig
  (4:42 PM)

The excitment for that prospect seems to have waned. I am not aware of any high-ranking American players who are seeking their European Tour membership, and it's mostly due to how good they have it here and the hassles of travel. Still, for a young player, the idea would be intriguing. If you managed your schedule properly,you could have a great deal of success in both places while seeing the world.

Pam (Palm Beach)

What do you think about Adam Scott chances this week? Yes he is down in the ranking and folks have stopped talking about him

Bob Harig
  (4:47 PM)

You are right, Adam Scott has been kind of quiet, although he did make it to the Tour Championship and had top 10s in two playoff events. And he won the Texas Open earlier this year. He hasn't played since then, so it is diffiuclt to gauge his form.

Ross (IA)

With that said, I wish they wouldn't assign equal OWGR point for regular tournaments.

Bob Harig
  (4:47 PM)

The world ranking points are determined by the strength of the field. Which basically means players benefit whenever the No. 1 ranked player in the field plays. If a regular event has a high number of highly ranked players, the world ranking points being offered will be higher.

Pam (Palm Beach)

People are touting Rickie Fowler as Rookie of the year. Do they not realise the Rory MC is also in the running. 1 win and 2 top 10 in Majors. A win always trump piling up top 10s in my view

Bob Harig
  (4:51 PM)

Good point. To be honest, I'm not sure if McIlroy is eligible. I believe he is because this is his first year as a tour member. But he did play 11 times last year. But as you pointed out, a victory alone is better than anything Fowler has accomplished to this point.

Thomas (VA)

Luke Donald often seems to be a golfer that is overlooked as one of the better players in the game. After watching him at the ryder cup it seems like he should be winning a lot more than he is. Do you see Luke Donald really becoming one to watch in 2011, or will it be another year with a bunch of top 20 finishes but never getting a victory?

Bob Harig
  (4:52 PM)

That has been said about Luke Donald for a couple of years. He is a top 10 player in the world but has just two PGA Tour titles. He won this year on the European Tour, but has just three victories total there. He is very consistent, was hampered bya wrist injury two years ago, but really should have a few more trophies. Puzzling.

John Ostojic (Abu Dhabi, UAE)

Where do you put Anthony Kim in the mix of younger generation players such as Kaymer and McIlroy? Is there anyone out there that you think people should keep their eyes on? Any unknowns?

Bob Harig
  (4:54 PM)

I would put Kim right there. He doesn't have a major like Kaymer, but he's had some good success at a young age and who knows how good this year might have been were it not for the thumb injury and subsequent surgery which really ruined his season.

Kevin (Las Vegas)

If Westwood, Kaymer and Mickelson all don't make the cut this week or finish very poorly does Tiger have a chance to take over the #1 ranking with a second or 3rd place finish?

Bob Harig
  (4:58 PM)

The only thing that is certain is any of the top 4 would go to No. 1 with a victory. From there, the scenarios are numerous. Tiger could go to No. 1 with a high finish without winning, certainly, depending on what the others do. And this tournament does not have a cut.

Curious (Del Boca Vista)

Bob, can you enlighten us on how the field was selected for the HSBC? I haven't heard of a lot of these dudes

Bob Harig
  (5:00 PM)

Numerous ways to get into the field. Winners of the majors and other WGCs; Winners of 23 tournaments on the PGA Tour this with the highest strenght of field from 2009; same for European Tour; winners from 9 Asian Tour sanctioned events;; winners from 5 Japan Golf Tour events. Winners from 5 Sunshin Tour events. Winners from 5 Australasain Tour events. . . World Rankings, Fed Ex Cup. .. Numerous!

Matt (Bethlehem, PA)

Jim Furyk won the FedEx Cup but was never really a factor in the majors. Can the system be tweaked to the point where finishes in the bigger tournaments carry a bit more weight?

Bob Harig
  (5:01 PM)

Not if they want the playoff events and the Tour Championship to have some drama. That is the balance that is difficult. If you give a lot of weight to the majors and a guy plays poorly in the playoffs, should he win the whole thing? It's a tough call for sure.

Andrew (WI)

Only about 5 months until the Masters!

Bob Harig
  (5:05 PM)

Yes, and it will be here before you know it!

Pam (Palm Beach)

What do you think about the theory why the Young guys putting strokes are suspect under pressure -Sergi, Rory, Adam Scott, Sean, Rickie Fowler is because turning pro so early and thus not having great chances to hone thier strokes in enough high pressure competition stunted their progress. In addition their swings being so good so early,they did not have to rely on short game to get them out of trouble

Bob Harig
  (5:07 PM)

There is probably something to all of that. I happen to think it has more to do with spending so much time on the long game and not getting a natural feel for putting. Then again, a guy like Sergio was a very good putter at a young age and something happened.

Bob Harig
  (5:07 PM)

There is probably something to all of that. I happen to think it has more to do with spending so much time on the long game and not getting a natural feel for putting. Then again, a guy like Sergio was a very good putter at a young age and something happened.

Bob Harig
  (5:08 PM)

Okay folks, I'm out of time. The next golf chat will likely not be until the week of Tiger's Chevron World Challenge in early December. Enjoy the little golf there is between now and then and please check back that week. Thanks again.