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March 9, 4:00 PM ET
Chat with Bob Harig

Bob Harig
  (4:02 PM)

Hello, thanks for joining me again this week for another golf chat. This time I'm checking in from Doral in Miami where the WGC Cadillac Championship begins Thursday. As usual, there is plenty going on in the golf world. Let's get to your questions. Fire away, please.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

The last time Tiger and Phil were paired together based on the OWGR was the 2008 US Open when Adam Scott was #3. Since then all of them have struggled to a certain extent on tour but Adam Scott has been brutal on the PGA Tour. He won the Texas Open last year but received only 26 points for winning so the field strength was miserable. He has had some success on the European Tour but what do you attribute his decline to on the PGA Tour? He is at an age where he should be hitting his prime.

Bob Harig
  (4:04 PM)

Very simply. . . putting. Adam Scott has never been a great putter. He's even gone to the long putter this year, a sure sign that things are tough. It must be brutal to hit the ball the way these guys do and not be able to get the ball in the hole.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

When Woods and Mickelson were paired at the 2009 Masters they were 7 shots back and virtually everyone assumed they were too far back. They both had chances to tie for the lead at some point on the back side and while they don't admit it they seemed to feed off each other. Do you see this grouping as a chance to spark life into their games?

Bob Harig
  (4:07 PM)

It's possible. Over the years, they have brought out the best in each other. At Doral six years ago, Tiger shot 66 in the final round and Phil shot 69 to lose to Tiger by one. But at last year's BMW, in the final round, they were sort of average, although Phil shot 67 to 70 for Tiger.

MJ (NY)

In your mind what does Tiger need to do? I feel like he cares way too much. Why can't he just throw everything out the window, and just play golf like he knows how?

Bob Harig
  (4:08 PM)

That is probably a good way to view the situation. Why be so technical? Why not be more natural? But issue seems to be getting his game to feel natural and right now it doesn't.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

So I am going to Doral on Friday and Saturday and I have a question about pairings, or should I say groupings. Why have threesomes with split tees on Thursday and Friday and then twosomes with everyone teeing off on #1 on the weekend? If the tour wanted to give the paying ticket holders more of a chance to watch play they'd prolonge the Thursday and Friday and send groups of 2 off the first tee. If they wanted a bigger TV draw they'd have it on for 6 horus of coverage like the do this weekend. I never understand why they do this at every WGC event when the field is so small.

Bob Harig
  (4:12 PM)

It probably could not be put any better. Why they don't play in twosomes off the first tee and let people spread out on the golf course is beyond me. One of the things they'll say is that by bunching the field like that, they can squeeze more players into the TV window and keep conditions nearly the same for everyone. But it's crazy that the first tee time isn't until nearly 11:30.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

Does anyone at the PGA Tour find it a problem that Woods and Mickelson are paired together on Thursday and we won't be able to watch golf's 2 biggest draws for the first 2+ hours of play? In the coming months we'll be able to watch EVERY minute of EVERY NCAA basketball game, entire lousy first round matches between unseeded players at the French Open, practice (Not a game, PRACTICE) laps at every NASCAR race (even the Truck races get practice on TV), 10 hours of pre race stuff at the Kentuckey Derby, but we can't watch golf's 2 superstars at a "premier" event for the first 2 hours they play. If the tour wants raitings, let us watch this!

Bob Harig
  (4:13 PM)

I see your point, but they have 4 hours of the telecast each of the first two days. I'm sure there will be tons of highlights to see.

Patrick (Hanover)

Even though they are great players, does the PGA tour run the risk of becoming like Men's tennis and the LPGA tour in that the top players are NON American. Certainly the hard core golf fan is going to watch but the fact that less American plaers are at the top can have an impact on viewership. Nadal and Federer have a great rivalry but ratings are not very good and I think some of that has to do with them being non American. Your thoughts?

Bob Harig
  (4:14 PM)

There is no question that the powers that be would love for more American stars to develop, even though golf is an international game and many of those foreign players make their homes in the United States and play the PGA Tour. But certainly being able to sell young Americans is important.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

Is the PGA Tour secretly (or openly) hoping for a NFL work stoppage that would delay the start of the season and give the FED EX Cup more of a national profile?

Bob Harig
  (4:16 PM)

It's an interesting thought. Golf might be able to take advantage if there is no football on in September.

Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)

Forget just Tiger, the entire older generation on the PGA Tour (i.e. Mickelson, Stricker, etc) should be very worried about this new crop of young players on the PGA Tour (i.e. Kaymer, Donald, McIlroy, etc) because this new wave of young guys seem like legitimate long-terms threats as opposed to flashes in the pan right?

Bob Harig
  (4:18 PM)

That is really how it is in golf. There are always young players coming along who seemingly have what it takes to replace theolder guys. Kaymer certainly appears to be the real thing.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

Woods and Mickelson have combined to win 7 of the last 14 Masters. If you could have Woods and Mickelson or the field at Augusta right now, who would you take?

Bob Harig
  (4:19 PM)

Even when Tiger was at his best, I don't see how you ever don't take the field. Just think of the odds. That doesn't mean it will be right, but you take emotion out of it and go with the numbers and you have to take the field.

Patrick (Hanover)

How is Titleist doing with sales? Certainly their Pro V 1's are doing good, but in the past several years they have lost Phil, Ernie, and just last year DL III(who had been a staple) as endorsers.

Bob Harig
  (4:20 PM)

I do not know the numbers, but generally speaking, Titleist remains well out in front in the ball market. Nobody is close to them.

Ed (Long Island)

What is up with Ricky Barnes? Seems the only time I've seen his name on leader boards the past couple of years is at majors, and last week's harder than expected course. Regular tour stops don't appeal to him?

Bob Harig
  (4:22 PM)

That is possibly the case, although this year he's been battling a back injury that has kept him out of a lot of tournaemnts.

Bob Harig
  (4:24 PM)

Tiger has won three times at Doral and never finished out of the top 10. But he had won seven overall at Torrey Pines and finished 44th. He had won the last two Opens at St. Andrews and wasn't in the top 20. He was nearly last at Firestone. I think it's all about playing well and if he's not, the course won't matter much.

Andrew (WI)

If Tiger was to ever be "motivated" out of his slump, playing 2 rounds with Mickelson and the guy who beat him straight-up in December (McDowell) has to be it.

Bob Harig
  (4:24 PM)

True, and yet I'm not sure motivation is the issue.

Brad (Boston)

Take your pick for Doral! Westwood vs Stricker? Woods vs Mickelson? Casey vs McDowell?

Bob Harig
  (4:26 PM)

Okay, in those matchups I'll go with Westwood, McDowell and Woods.

Bob Harig
  (4:27 PM)

True, the 19th hole tee shot has been magnified, but Tiger himself admitted that he blew two easy pitch shots on the back nine that cost him. And remember, Bjorn hit only 4 greens in regulation. I would nto say Tiger is back.

Bob Harig
  (4:28 PM)

There is no question that Mickelson and Els have suffered in the Tiger era. Mickelson has 38 career PGA Tour victories which is incredible, but underplayed because of Tiger. Els has finished second to Tiger in two majors and seven times overall.

Bob Harig
  (4:31 PM)

He says his elbow is fine, but he's got to be having some difficulty getting back to form. He shot 85 last week. And he's been working on swing changes throughout the elbow ordeal. For the rest of this year, he'll mostly have to rely on sponsor exemptions and he's probably going to need some time.

Ed (Long Island)

Do the ultra-elite pro's feel they have better chances to win majors and WGC's since the courses are designed harder, thereby eliminating a good portion of the field from contention compared to a regular tour stop where anyone can play it and shoot in the 60's all 4 rounds?

Bob Harig
  (4:32 PM)

Hard to say. Your point is well taken, then again the field is stronger at the top. And yet, the fluke factor is more or less gone because the fields are smaller.

Nick (Atlanta)

Don't you think it's kinda "convenient" for Tiger to talk about time with his family when last year he was in the middle of all this turmoil and STILL played in the Masters! Does he think we are stupid?

Bob Harig
  (4:34 PM)

Well, he has to play at some point. People across the world have marital issues, family problems, and they still go to work. In Woods' case, I think you can read between the lines. .. there are times when he is going to have his kids to himself and he wants to be home during those times.

Matt (Houston)

Do you expect Phil to play at the Houston Open again this year considering he won the Masters the following week last year?

Bob Harig
  (4:35 PM)

It is not official as of yet, but that appears to be the plan.

Mikey Mero (Alpharetta)

I would say that Kaymer has what it takes and the work ethics to be real great...what are the chances of the PGA getting him to sign on this side of the lake? Maybe even bring Westwood... I know the tops are over there right now but it wasn't till recently it go that way...

Bob Harig
  (4:36 PM)

I don't think there is any question that Kaymer will play the PGA Tour at some point. He's only 26. He's got time. And he has a home in Arizona. It makes sense. Westwood is another matter. He's 37 and has taken his card in the past. He's comfortable not playing the PGA Tour.

Sig (Louisville)

I see a sleeper winning this week, maybe Overton. Your thoughts?

Bob Harig
  (4:37 PM)

It's been the year of the sleeper and I like Overton. He's got to win one of these days.

Jon (Des Moines)

Wondered if you'd spoken with Villegas this week. Seems like he's really struggling between the injuries and the change to Taylor Made equipment. This is generally the time he gets it going, so I was curious as to what he's had to say about his game this week.

Bob Harig
  (4:40 PM)

Have not spoken to Villegas but listened to him briefly last week and he basically just said he's playing poorly at the moment.

Bob Harig
  (4:40 PM)

Have not spoken to Villegas but listened to him briefly last week and he basically just said he's playing poorly at the moment.

Bob Harig
  (4:40 PM)

Have not spoken to Villegas but listened to him briefly last week and he basically just said he's playing poorly at the moment.

Chip (Miami)

I have a chance to go to my first Tournament at Doral on Friday. Of course I want to try to catch a little Tiger/Phil action, but do you have any suggestions for how to navigate my way around to get the best experience. ie. Pick one hole and stay there, move around, stake out a spot near a tee box or a green. Any help appreciated, thanks

Bob Harig
  (4:42 PM)

There are many different ways to go at this. If you want to see a lot of one player, you need to walk along with them. Sometimes camping out at a spot is good and watch them come through. Because they are playing off both tees, you could sit at 18 and then watch them come through before heading over to the first tee. There's lots of room to get around at Doral.

Patrick (Hanover)

Any update on Phil's condition? I heard that he was sick. I need to make my Fantasy pick. Of course he was sick in 2009 and that worked out ok.

Bob Harig
  (4:43 PM)

Beware the injured or ill golfer. Phil was not feeling well on Wednesday but it didn't appear it was going to affect his ability to play.

Tim Bryant (New Jersey)

Should Lee Westwood or Martin Keymer be taken seriously as number one by finishing number two?

Bob Harig
  (4:44 PM)

The way the rankings work, they have been the most consistent players. Kaymer, especially, has nothing to defend. He won the PGA last year, along with three other tournaments. And he's won this year.

Mike (Charlotte)

Any idea on when Sergio will play on the PGA tour this year?

Bob Harig
  (4:46 PM)

He is scheduled to play next week at the Transitions Championship.

Bob Harig
  (4:48 PM)

Donald is third despite winning just twice since 2005. But he's been in the top 10 a ton -- and he did miss a lot of time two years ago with an injury.

Pam (Palm Beach)

Do you think that Johnny Miller's comment in comparing Woods life to Mike Tyson was out of Line and should have been called out by the TV network for it. What about the silence of his fellow commenters on the show

Bob Harig
  (4:52 PM)

I guess it depends on you take what was said. Did Miller mean that Tiger has not been the same since his scandal, like Tyson was not the same after getting beat by Buster Douglas? That might be a fair point to make, although there's hardly been a large body of work for Tiger. . . bottom line, Miller probably could have made his point in another way.

Tom (L.A.)

What's your vote on most contrived gimmick to inject life into a dull course? I'll go with The Bear Trap. Of course, if they introduce actual bears into the proceedings, I'll willingly change my vote.

Bob Harig
  (4:53 PM)

That is what we are waiting to see. Fowler, Kim, Dustin Johnson are guys who can certainly be there for a long time. But they have to do it.

Ross (IA)

I'm an average joe, is there any way I can go to the Masters, how much money would I need?

Bob Harig
  (4:57 PM)

If you are not on the list of patrons who have the right to buy tickets every year, your options are to find somebody who is and become friendly with them; go through a ticket broker; or apply for practice round tickets through the club. You'd have to do that for next year. The ticket broker route can get mighty expensive. Face value for four days is $200, which is a bargain in today's sporting world. But you could expect to pay 5 to 10 times that.

Bob Harig
  (5:01 PM)

I am out of time. . Thanks again for all the questions and participation. Much appreciated. I also answer questions in my mailbag. Send them to: bobhespn@gmail.com. Enjoy the golf.