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February 16, 4:00 PM ET
Chat with Bob Harig

Bob Harig
  (4:01 PM)

Checking in this week from Riviera Country Club, home of what used to be called the L.A. Open but what is now known as the Northern Trust Open. A reminder: send mailbag questions to bobhespn@gmai.com. I try to answer any questions there I can't get to here, but you have to email them to me. Thanks again for your participation and let's get started.

Bob Harig
  (4:01 PM)

Checking in this week from Riviera Country Club, home of what used to be called the L.A. Open but what is now known as the Northern Trust Open. A reminder: send mailbag questions to bobhespn@gmai.com. I try to answer any questions there I can't get to here, but you have to email them to me. Thanks again for your participation and let's get started.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

What kind of odds could we have gotten to wager that Bill Murray would win onthe PGA Tour before Tiger Woods did this year?

Bob Harig
  (4:03 PM)

I'm sure they would have been astronomical. .. Not too many people, I'm sure, were thinking about Murray winning the pro-am at Pebble Beach, still a heck of a story.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

Everyone laughs at me when I say this but for my money Riveria is the best non major venue on the PGA Tour now that Cypress Point is out. How far off am I?

Bob Harig
  (4:04 PM)

It's all certainly a matter of opinion. There are plenty who agree with you. Others might say Pebble Beach, but Riviera has a lot going for it.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

Speaking of Cypress Point, will it ever be placed back in the rotation for the AT&T?

Bob Harig
  (4:06 PM)

Not as long as it has restrictive membership policies. That issue would have to be resolved, as would the fact that Cypress Point is very short. Still. . . it would be terrific to have that course back in the rotation.

Patrick (Hanover)

I know he did well at Pebble, but why does Sam Saunders continue to get sponsor's exemptions? I know he is Arnie's grandson but really hasn't done much when he has had the opportunity. Is it more for what Arnie has done for that particular tournament? To me unless Arnie was showing up at the event is there really any benefit for the sponsor?

Bob Harig
  (4:08 PM)

Everybody needs there in, and Sam Saunder's in happens to be his grandfather, Arnold Palmer. Also remember that Palmer is a part owner of Pebble Beach. That said, Saunders had a nice tournament at Pebble, his best PGA Tour finish. You can bet he wants to make it out here on his own instead of going the sponsor exemption route.

Patrick (Hanover)

What do you think is the biggest surprise with Tiger, is it that he hasn't won or the fact that at times he has basically looked non competitive? In 1998 and 2004 when he was going through his other swing changes he didn't win very much(only once each year) but he still for the most part was in contention alot.

Bob Harig
  (4:12 PM)

To me it is the latter, that at times he has appeared to be so lost. I think we can excuse the lack of winning. It is clear now that the mental, emotional fallout from last year had a huge effect. And he's going through a swing change now that apparently is taking some time. But you're right, he was far more competitive in 2004 when going through a change, and the view here is that his short game then was far more sharp.

Bill (Toronto)

Is there any hope for a productive year from Mike Weir this year or are his days of being a productive golfer behind him? thanks.

Bob Harig
  (4:14 PM)

Mike is going to need some time, I'm afraid. The tendon issue in his elbow last year was pretty serious, and he admitted he should not have tried to play through it. I'm not sure he is 100 percent year but he is slowly but surely coming back.

Patrick (Hanover)

Is much talked about on the weekends when PGA is on CBS that it is supposed to start at 3:00 EST and college basketball sometimes runs it out to 3:30 for blowout games sometimes? How does the tour feel about that?

Bob Harig
  (4:15 PM)

This has come up several times in the last few weeks, and all I can say as a follower of golf is that perhaps those basketball teams should quit calling so many timeouts in the last few minutes.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

What do you think that the PGA Should have done about Tiger Woods Spitting on the Golf Course?

Bob Harig
  (4:16 PM)

Well, the European Tour fined him, as even Tiger admitted was appropriate. As for the PGA Tour, they never announce sanctions. It would be surprising if they fined him, too, although we'll never know.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

Bill Murray seemed even happier than DA Points when they won. DA Points gets to go to the Masters, collects about $1MM and a 2 year exemption. Bill Murray gets a trophy. It was a terrific scene and everyone was thrilled. When was the last time Tiger Woods genuinely had fun playing golf? I have a hard time remembering a time after the 2005 Masters. Do you think part of his problem is that he doesn't enjoy being out there?

Bob Harig
  (4:18 PM)

Interesting segue into Tiger. .. First, I would say he was pretty happy after winning the 2006 British, 2007 PGA and 2008 U.S. Open. But your point is understood, and even Tiger admitted that at times he was not having fun playing golf as his personal issues swirled around him. And it is possbile that he is not enjoying the game as much right now, simply because it is frustrating to him at the moment.

Roger (Chicago)

Hey Bob, you know I really have to say that all this bashing of Tiger spitting on the green is well deserved! I understand that sometimes we all get the urge to spit, but walk yourself over to the outside of the green, and take care of business there. What's your take on the matter? Thanks.

Bob Harig
  (4:20 PM)

My take -- shameless plug, I did write about this the other day on ESPN.com -- is that basically too much was made of it. That said, you are not wrong. He should not have done it on the green, and I think we can all agree on that.

Bob Harig
  (4:23 PM)

I have long said that Tiger is held too a much different standard in this regard. He has a poor tournament and there is all kinds of consternation. Phil has a poor tournament and little is said. A bigger picture view should prevail. Even the best players have off weeks. Phil has his share, but what Tiger has done over his career in terms of cuts made and top 10 finishes has set an unrealistic standard.

Nelson (DE)

Do you think in Dubai that Tiger spit in anger or he just did it without thinking?

Bob Harig
  (4:27 PM)

To be honest, I think it was a combination of both. He was clearly frustrated at the moment. But he knows better than to do it on the green.

Gary (Los Feliz)

Big David Duval fan here!! I feel this will be the year he wins again! What do you think?

Bob Harig
  (4:28 PM)

I wish I shared your optimism, although I admire Duval's resolve. He keeps at it. But let's be honest -- this year marks the 10th anniversary of his last victory on the PGA Tour.

Shoshana (Boston)

Even in golf standards change (it used to be much more acceptable to chew dip or smoke while walking the course), so why in today's day and age, when most pros and amateurs curse, is cursing considered disrespectful of the game?Also how did "make behavior more respectful of the game" morph into I will never curse or slam a club again? I'm pretty happy with cursing every few bad shots, and no clubs in galleries (then again cursing doesn't bother me).

Bob Harig
  (4:31 PM)

There is a wide range of opinion on this topic. Some people are horribly offended, others don't care. Tiger dropping a curse word on the course doesn't bother me because it is so prevalent. Others do it. But for some reason, the behavior is not excused in his game. He understands he's held to a different standard, and because he is on TV so much, he probably does need to be more careful.

Nick Rolando (Orlando)

Bob, eventually will we see Westwood, McIlroy, Quiros, etc take up PGA Tour membership and play in the FedEx cup? Also, positive signs for Sergio?

Bob Harig
  (4:33 PM)

I don't think we are going to see Westwood join again. He seems content with the way he is doing it and doesn't want to be away from his family as much. I definitely think that McIlroy will be back and that Quiros is a strong possibility. Playing the PGA Tour affords so many financial opportunities and it also does help players achieve high standing in the world rankings if they play well. As for Garcia, I thought it was a good sign that he got into the mix last week, despite his poor finish. He needed to take that step.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

Why doesn't the tour utilize the back tees at Pebble for the pros? Especially the one at 17.

Bob Harig
  (4:34 PM)

Perhaps they think that 17 is too difficult of a par-3 from the back. A lot of it has to do with pace of play. They obviously feel the course is stern enough that way.

Brian (Florida)

To bring up a point I brought up in last week's chat, the reason I feel the new ryder cup qualification rules hurt the Euro Tour is that the players who will get in on money probably would have gotten in on points anyway. And the guys who will get in on points are less likely to get in on money. For instance Peter Hanson, Ross Fischer, and Miguel Angel Jiminez would have not auto qualified under these rules. But Justin Rose who barely played the Euro Tour last year would have. The only non-pga tour member that would have qualifed on points would have been Edoarda Molinari. This new selection process takes a lot of the value off euro tour events as far as the qualifying and puts it on pga tour events. As a fan of both tours I feel like this is bound to decrease at least slightly the quality of fields on the euro tour in the months leading up to the ryder cup. Which seems counter intituitive since the euro tour runs the ryder cup over there.

Bob Harig
  (4:37 PM)

I think you are on to something. There will clearly be overlap in the European points and the World list which means the team can go further down the world list to be filled out And that is a benefit to those who play on the PGA Tour. And that, ultimately, provides for a stronger team, or should. Hard to believe that Paul Casey and Justin Rose would have hurt the Europeans last year.

Pam (Palm Beach)

So far on the Euro and PGA tours ,exclude Kaymer's win, it is an anyone can win at any time. On that basis, who is your pick for the Northern Trust Open this week.

Bob Harig
  (4:38 PM)

You're right, it's been so many different players, how can you pick a winner? That's why I went with Phil this week. he's due.

Jeff (DC)

Bob- in addition to Dustin Johnson, please rattle as many other golf "mudders" that you can think of that are playing in this weeks field? Specifically, is angel cabrara a mudder?

Bob Harig
  (4:39 PM)

Lucas Glover comes to mind, the ultimate mudder at Bethpage. David Duval did pretty well in that swamp, too. But really, most of these guys have played in wet conditions so often. Padraig Harrington is another. It is more the ones who deal with the adversity than the actual playing condition of the course.

Brian (Florida)

It's worth noting, Paul Casey still would have needed a captain's pick even with the new requirements.

Bob Harig
  (4:40 PM)

Good point. Remember, however, that a rib injury in 2009 was a setback that carried over into 2010. Still, had he played more in Europe. . .

Pam (Palm Beach)

Is it possible to have a moratorium on Tiger Woods press conferences, especially since his play at this time does not put him among the top players. Thus leave him in peace to get his golf game in shape without the constant harangue.

Bob Harig
  (4:41 PM)

I don't see that happening. There is simply too much interest in Tiger, whether it is good or bad.

Shoshana (Boston)

In terms of fan interest do you think that golf is hurt by the fact that so many golfers are relatively stoic on the course? Personally, I find it far more entertaining to watch a guy like Tiger or AK, who let you know if they like or hate a shot. Seems like that's frowned upon though

Bob Harig
  (4:42 PM)

You're right. We don't like it when they show no emotion, then get upset when they show too much.

Ross (Ames, IA)

Other than Bubba, we've had a bunch of no-namers (pardon the expression) winning so far on the PGA Tour. Would you say it's be cause of our super competitive tour, or lackluster performance of our top dawgs

Bob Harig
  (4:44 PM)

Probably a little bit of both. The fields are deep, and winners seemingly come from everywhere. Still, a guy like Jim Furyk is off to a slow start, as is Tiger. Phil has had one tournament where he has contended.

Ross (Ames, IA)

What the heck happened to our American contingent in the OWGR top 10? they are dropping like rocks.

Bob Harig
  (4:45 PM)

Yes, world golf has shifted, no doubt. Westwood, Kaymer, McDowell, Casey, Donald have edged some Americans out. But this should not be a surprise.

Ed (Long Island)

Will weather play a factor in either playing conditions or delays this week?

Bob Harig
  (4:46 PM)

It is quite possible there will be some delays. The weather forecast is not good.

Chad (NYC )

The Europeans are coming! Should make for some more interesting results. Luke Donald and Paul Casey, Loui oooo and Karlson too, your thoughts on an oversea'er taking it this weekend?

Bob Harig
  (4:48 PM)

We will see a lot of foreign-born players through the Masters now. We've got two World Golf events coming up. A good contintent is teeing it up this week as well as at Honda and Transitions. For this week? I think it's a bit much for Luke Donald to win his first start of the year

Nelson (DE)

Although he doesn't have the playing record of other future candidates, do you think Chris DiMarco could be a Ryder Cup captain? I think he'd do a great job, especially on U.S. soil.

Bob Harig
  (4:50 PM)

I really think the lack of a major championship means no. Every U.S. captain has won at least one major championship.

Pam (Palm Beach)

At Dubai last week, for 2 days Mcilroy was crowned, on Sat he had a bad round, comments were muted, on Sunday, he bombed, comments muted. The headlines was all about Woods. So have we started soft pedalling on Mcilroy already, having hastily crowned him the coming big hope

Bob Harig
  (4:51 PM)

It's possible. Now he's only 21, but it is true that he's got two wins, one from way behind, the other from way out front. He's not shown a strong ability to close, and he's an average putter.

Shoshana (Boston)

Because of the increased importance being given to the OWGR does the home tour bonus need to be eliminated? Right now it seems like "rank and file" (guys around 50-100) PGA tour players are getting hurt by the rankings.

Bob Harig
  (4:52 PM)

The world ranking is complicated, but I do think for the reasons you've outlined that it needs to be looked at. If we are arguing about No. 1, aren't we by default also arguing about who is No. 50? And that can keep somebody out of a major?

Pam (Palm Beach)

Speaking of Ryder Cup captains, will Freddie ever become one, since they picked DL3 who is younger than Fred

Bob Harig
  (4:54 PM)

I think Fred gave up his hope of being a Ryder Cup captain when he took on the duties of Presidents Cup captain twice. The only players to do both were Arnold Palmer and Jack Nickklaus, and they did their Presidents Cup captaincies well after the Ryder Cup.

Lou (East Liverpool, OH)

Do guys that are absolute no brainers to be Ryder Cup captains get to pick whether they want to do it in when the US is hosting?

Bob Harig
  (4:54 PM)

Not really. The PGA of America makes the call, and they seemingly like guys who have won at least one major, played in several Ryder Cups, who are in their late 50s and still playing on the tour.

Jim (NY, NY)

How badly does the Tour need a good run by some of the big names (especially Tiger) at the Match Play to really give this season a jump start?

Bob Harig
  (4:57 PM)

I'm not sure they need it badly, but it wouldn't hurt simply because the Match Play so badly needs the name players to make it to the weekend.

Shoshana (Boston)

I was thinking about picking Phil this week, but I get the impression that he doesn't always play to win. Is this going to be a good Phil week? (and really I want to like Phil but that fact about him bugs me)

Bob Harig
  (4:58 PM)

I think Phil plays to win here. He's won it twice. And I do think he wants a victory soon.

Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spain)

In regards to what Brian said: Under these new rules, I wouldn't have made it last year even though I won THREE times on the Euro Tour!!! How is that fair?!?

Bob Harig
  (4:59 PM)

This is a perfect point to illustrate how the new system is actually not geared toward the European Tour. Jimenez did win three times last year, and yet would have needed a captain's pick under the new scenario.

Greg (DE)

Bob, What do you expect from Luke Donald this year?

Bob Harig
  (5:00 PM)

Hard to say about Donald. He's obviously a very consistent player to hover around the top 10 like he does. He just doesn't win very often.

Brian (Florida)

Is there any more exciting opening/1st day/round in all of golf then the opening day of the match play?

Bob Harig
  (5:01 PM)

No doubt. The Wed/Thursday excitement, however, leads to a strange weekend with so few playing. . That's why I'd love to see the Match Play have some sort of double elimination format so there would be more players on the weekend.

Bob Harig
  (5:02 PM)

Folks, I'm out of time. For those of you who did not get a question answered -- lots of you this week -- please send them to my mailbag: bobhespn@gmail.com. I'll attempt to get them answered there. . . In the meantime, enjoy the golf from Riviera and thanks again for all the great questions.