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April 20, 4:00 PM ET
Chat with Bob Harig

Bob Harig
  (3:58 PM)

Hi again, thanks for visiting and participating in this week's golf chat. As usual, there is plenty to discuss in the world of golf. Please fire away with your questions.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

After the West Coast Swing stopped in places like Pebble, Spyglass and Riveria and the Southern Swing stopped in Doral, PGA National and Bay Hill and then of course Augusta does it seem like these 3 weeks of TPC San Antonio, Hilton Head (which is nice to play but just eh to watch someone play) and TPC Louisianna are let downs? Also do you think the less than 5 star courses have something to do with the less than 2 star fields?

Bob Harig
  (4:00 PM)

We could probably argue all day about the venues. The San Antonio venue appears to be a good one and Harbour Town has plenty of supporters. I happen to think that there is a huge exhale after the Masters. There's a letdown, hangover, whatever you want to call it. It again goes back to the theory that there are too many "good" events. Quail Hollow is in a few weeks, then the Players. . There are just so many choices for players.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

Where you surprised Augusta didn't invite Matteo Manassero to the Masters this year? He was the reining low am (granted he turned pro so not defending low am), had won on the Euro tour and was just outside the top 50 despite being only a pro for less than 12 months. Also do you get the feeling that he will never be ineligible for the Masters again?

Bob Harig
  (4:03 PM)

Now that you mention it. . . yes I am surprised. The Masters has given out its share of international exemptions over the years and Manassero certainly would have been a logical choice for the reasons you mentioned. I'm guessing the size of the field had something to do with it. As I wrote in my birdies and bogeys column this week (sorry, shameless plug), the Masters is concerned about having 99 players in its field. As for never being eligible, Manassero is in great position to return. He is now 33rd in the world. The top 50 at the end of the year and two weeks prior to the Masters get in. And there are numerous other ways he can qualify.

Paul (Buffalo)

Hilton Head is one of the nicest vacation spots in the country. Why is The Heritage having so much trouble finding a sponsor? I heard on the Golf Channel it may have to be placed in the Fall Series or terminated all together.

Bob Harig
  (4:06 PM)

You're right, it is puzzling. But so much goes into title sponsorship of a golf tournament. I'm guessing South Carolina doesn't have the kind of corporate entities that can either afford $7- $8-million a year or golf does not fit with their objectives. So that means you have to find an outside company. Are they able to entertain their clients there the way they want? You would think so? Is the date good for them? So many factors. The cost of sponsorship has gone way up in recent times, and with this economy, many have cut back. That makes it hard to find a match. But it appears they are doing all they can to find someone to step in. That will be a big topic of conversation all weekend and into next week.

Paul (Buffalo)

Not to be the skunk at the party, but all the attention Brian Davis got/is getting over what happened last year is a bit much. He was not going to win, period.

Bob Harig
  (4:07 PM)

You're probably right. But he had absolutely NO chance of winning by calling that penalty on himself, which I think is the point. There was still a chance otherwise, however small.

Patrick (Hanover)

I heard a few weeks ago that it was the first week of the reshuffle on the tour. Does that have to do with the players with not much status and how much can they play. Could you briefly explain how that works and how many there are per year of those.?

Bob Harig
  (4:13 PM)

This is actually a big complicated, so bear with me.The players who come out of Q School and off the Nationwide Tour are actually ranked according to their finishes, alternating spots. So 10th on the Nationwide money list actually puts you about 20th in the pecking order for getting into tournaments. These players are technically not fully exempt. That guy who is 20th only gets in a tournament if there are 20 spots available following all the exempt players who enter.Five times during the year, they have a "re-shuffle" That meand that order is changed based on money earnings. So Gary Woodland, who was 11th going into the season, emerged 1st after the first re-shuffle at the end of February based on his money earnings.They had another re-shuffle after the Houston Open, with others to come after Memphis, Bridgestone and the Tour Championhship.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

With the new SA WGC event being held the same dates as Tiger's event, what are the chances, even if they move the Sherwood event, that he tees it up in SA?

Bob Harig
  (4:15 PM)

First, that tournament is not set yet. The South Africa WGC needs a sponsor and while the commissioner of the Sunshine Tour has said he wants that date, it doesn't mean it will happen then. Even if it does, maybe Tiger keeps the same date. Think about it? A WGC event in South Africa in December or Tiger's nice 18-player event with guaranteed money and rankings points the same time? He'll have no trouble attracting players -- unless the PGA Tour does not allow him to have his tournament the same week.What are the chances Tiger goes? I think that is going to be a big ask for a lot of players, especially if they play in China just a few weeks prior.

Doug Greenberg (San Antonio)

Hi Bob-thanks for the chat. Huge Phil and Stricker fan. What course left of the 3 majors sets up well for Phil? Stricker has been under the radar so far this year-Does my fellow cheesehead get a "W" this year? Thanks

Bob Harig
  (4:17 PM)

It was 10 years ago that Phil Mickelson shot the lowest score in PGA Championship history except for one player -- David Toms, who beat him by a stroke at Atlanta Athletic Club. It returns this year, so that would seem to be a good venue for him. Phil has never fared particularly well at the British Open. And I do see Stricker winning somewhere. Maybe he defends at the John Deere.

Shoshana (Boston)

Does the SA president think that just because it's a WGC he's guaranteed high profile Americans? December is a really bad date, heck the HSBC barely gets any of the top Americans (although it does get Tiger/Phil) and it's a month earlier

Bob Harig
  (4:19 PM)

I really think they need to think this through a bit more. There is too much golf. If you ask these guys to play a high-profile event like that in December, then they are going to skip January. And everybody complains about that. Golf needs some downtime. If they want to play into December, then don't start the next season until February.

Gary (USA)

Who are some nominees for the Ryder Cup Captain in 2014?

Bob Harig
  (4:22 PM)

David Toms would be a pretty good possibility

Russ (MN)

Let's just say I wanted to be a caddy on tour, let's just say Nationwide tour. What's the process?

Bob Harig
  (4:23 PM)

There isn't one, really. Players are free to hire their own caddies and they find them on their own. It's not up to the tour to do the hiring. It's very much a right place, right time type of deal.

Brandon (San Francisco, CA)

When're Tiger and Phil Playing Next?

Bob Harig
  (4:23 PM)

Nothing official, but the Wells Fargo Championship (Quail Hollow) in two weeks appears to be the spot for both.

Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)

I still can't get over how much fun the last two hours of the Masters was to watch. Having Tiger's name towards the top of the leader board helped, but for how much golf fans love the big names I would venture to guess that it didn't dampen the enjoyment of the Masters that it wasn't Phil or Tiger that won. Do you agree or am I way off base?

Bob Harig
  (4:24 PM)

I hope you are not off base. It was a great final round, great drama. It shouldn't matter who won after all of that. The winner Charl Schwartzel did it by birdieing the last four holes. Good stuff.

Robb (Colorado)

Bob, Seems like Tiger is making strides with his physical play, but I still just don't know if he will make it back mentally. That missed eagle putt on 15, plus the missed par put on 12, are putts he NEVER would have missed before. Will he ever get back the edge?

Bob Harig
  (4:26 PM)

There's no doubt we're seeing Tiger miss putts that we did not see in the past. Is that mental or physical? One he pulled, the other he pushed. The edge comes back if those putts fall.

Nick (WI)

I'm assuming Luke Donald could become #1 with a win this week, or a string of high finishes in the next month. Least accomplished #1 ever if it happens?

Bob Harig
  (4:27 PM)

Both Donald and Westwood could go to No. 1 this week with a win.. And yes, you could certainly make the argument that Donald would be the least accomplished No. 1. Everyone other than Westwood either had won a major or went on to win a major after becoming No. 1.

Shoshana (Boston)

Agreeing that disclosing fines wouldn't be a bad thing (heck it's pretty normal), but should a guy who is president of an association that doesn't allow women members really be lecturing on good manners and decorum?

Bob Harig
  (4:29 PM)

Peter Dawson is chief executive of the R&A, which does not have women members. So a fair point. But it's a separate issue, nonetheless. He's talking about the two main professional tours and his organization is the big rules-making body outside of the U.S. which runs the British Open.

Seth (Hartford)

What are some fairly new top-notch course that could be future sites for a major? It seems fairly surprising that Bandon Dunes hasn't hosted an Open or a PGA yet? Are factors like venue size, traffic, etc, much more important criteria than I realize?

Bob Harig
  (4:30 PM)

Bandon Dunes is a logistical issue and those criteria are huge in picking a major venue. You've got to have room not only for spectators but corporate entertainment, parking, media, television concerns. It's a huge undertaking. . the U.S. Open is going to be going to Chambers Bay in a few years, a new venue.

Mike P (Great Falls)

Who's do you think is the best player without a win and the best player without a major? Leaning towards Marino and Stricker myself...

Bob Harig
  (4:31 PM)

I agree with Steve Marino on best player without a victory. Stricker is certainly in the conversation for best without a major. I'd probably go with Lee Westwood.

Shoshana (Boston)

Thoughts on the Open championship changes? Seems like the course is silly enough already, and only one person broke par in '03. Then again the wider fairways are probably causing a few guys to be a little happier

Bob Harig
  (4:33 PM)

The course didn't need length in 2003 to frustrate the best in the world. Royal St. George's is the quirkiest of Open venues. Lots of tricky and bumpy fairways that propel a perfect drive into the rough. You have to really figure out where to hit the ball off the tee. So to length it and change par from 71 to 70 does seem odd. Although they only lengthened it by 100 yards.

Shoshana (Boston)

In 2000 Tiger didn't miss short puts, but he's missed a ton of putts at Augusta the last few years ('06 anyone), an he finished dead last in putting at the US Open one year he finished 2nd. I think over the last 5-6 years Tiger's infallible putting has been more myth then reality.And maybe I'm biased but not allowing women members strikes me as more offensive then spitting and cursing (which he was complaining about in the fine interview).

Bob Harig
  (4:34 PM)

I am not condoning the policy, simply pointing out that the R&A does govern men's golf and he's speaking about a men's professional golf issue.

Nick (WI)

What are criteria for foreigners joining the PGA tour? Could Mannessero do it with a certain world ranking or something else?

Bob Harig
  (4:36 PM)

They are the same for any player who does not have status on the PGA Tour. If, for example, Manassero wins enough money at the U.S. Open and British Open and maybe a world event or two or any other PGA Tour events he gets into (he did play two in Florida), he could become a special temporary member. He'd have to earn more than 125th on the money list last year. He'd then be exmept for the rest of the year. And if he finishes in the top 125, he could take up membership next year. Otherwise, he'd have to go to Q school like everyone else.

Zac (Alabama)

Do you honestly see tiger woods winning a major championship this year? if so which one?

Bob Harig
  (4:37 PM)

I never say never with Tiger. No absolutes. I wouldn't be surprised either way. Best venue? I'd pick Royal St. George's. He missed a playoff by 2 strokes in 2003, a year in which he was dealing with swing changes.

Tom (L.A.)

It was mentioned in the Brian Davis article that after the ruling, he just wanted to concede the playoff to Furyk but couldn't because the officials wanted to have Furyk putt out for the TV viewers. My question is, can a player just concede the playoff if he's hopelessly behind in the hole, or does it still require a final holed putt by the winning player?

Bob Harig
  (4:38 PM)

Because it is stroke play, the holes must be completed. It is not a match play situation as far as conceding. TV or not, Furyk would have had to finish the hole.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

To follow up on a topic from last week don't you think some players are much better players when they don't lead on Sunday? Take Rory, correct me if i'm wrong but he's won twice, once from way ahead and he barely won and another time from way behind and he won by a mile. Another example would be Geoff Ogilvy, I always thought he didn't win the US Open as much as he had the lowest score. When he saved par by chipping in on 17 (on a shot that may not have held the green had it missed) and made a great up and down on 18. But even then he only won because Monty, Furky, Harrington and Mickelson had their SNAFUs on 18. He has done nothing (outside of match play where there is no Sunday lead) since winning the Open. Dont you think some players are just more comfortable charging and if they fall short they can say "oh well, i tried my best and no harm done?" Where as if they blow a lead they get asked about it forever.

Bob Harig
  (4:41 PM)

There is a good bit of truth to that statement. I still say it is easier to win if you have a lead. Maybe not mentally for some. But having a cushion means you can make a few mistakes.

Paul (Buffalo)

Do you see any other PGA Players creating there own tournament like Arnie, Jack, and Tiger? If so who would it be?

Bob Harig
  (4:42 PM)

I would not be surprised to see Phil Mickelson do something. It would make a lot of sense if he is so inclined.

Nick (WI)

Is looking at who has done well in the AT&T at Congressional at all useful for predicting U.S. Open performance? Choi, Stricker, Kim have good records there recently.

Bob Harig
  (4:44 PM)

It is useful to a point. Yes, same golf course, same routing, same greens. Being comfortable there is a plus. But the course will play different. The rough will be higher, fairways narrower. Greens probably faster. The conditions will not be the same, even though it's close to the same time of year.

Shoshana (Boston)

Didn't Charl S. and Rory last year gain PGA membership this year through earning enough money as a non-member? But does Manaserro want to become a member? Seems like his lack of distance might be more of a problem here?

Bob Harig
  (4:45 PM)

Rory already was a member and could be one still due to his victory at Quail Hollow. Schwartzel, Oosthuizen and McDowell all became members in 2011 based on 2010 money winnings. As for Manassero, I think he would compete just fine over here. But he's got plenty of time. He just turned 18. Maybe best to play the European Tour for a few more years.

Seth (Hartford)

Has the USGA decided to reorder the closing holes at Congressional for the Open like they did in '97? If I remember correctly they closed with a par 3 and it was pretty anti-climactic, as all the drama happened on the standard 18th hole (tough par 4 with water).

Bob Harig
  (4:46 PM)

The routing of the holes has changed. The 18th will be a par-4. I believe what was the 18th then -- a par-3 -- is now the 10th.

ryan (so cal)

Your thoughts on Brandon Steele. A flash in the pan or a long successful career?

Bob Harig
  (4:47 PM)

Very, very hard to say. You might ask the same thing about Vegas and Woodland. A victory might propel them to more.

Seth (Hartford)

The general consensus is that The Players is the "5th major." What do you think the 6th is? (aka the next-most prestigious title)

Bob Harig
  (4:48 PM)

I would have to go with one of the WGCs, probably the one at Doral. It seems to always have the top 50 to 60 players in the world.

Nick (WI)

Any thoughts on why Stricker seems to be playing so few tournaments this year? He was never a Vijay, but his schedule this year is Tiger-esque.

Bob Harig
  (4:49 PM)

I think he is just trying to pace himself better. And he did take a bunch of time off last year with a shoulder injury.

Robert (CA)

What do you think of Aaron Baddley's chances this week? Past winner and having a very good year so far.

Bob Harig
  (4:50 PM)

He's an excellent putter which is key at Harbour Town. Beyond that. . . I'm not the best at picking these things. How many had Brendan Steele last week?

Nick (WI)

We're seeing a lot of major champs come from the 25-75 world ranking range lately, any players to watch from that area for the rest of the year?

Bob Harig
  (4:51 PM)

Edoardo Molinari is ranked 29th. But picking one is tough. Everybody in that group is good enough to win a major.

Shoshana (Boston)

There have been rumblings for a while, but do you think the belly putter will get banned? and what is the argument against them?

Bob Harig
  (4:53 PM)

It seems the issue of long putters and belly putters has been around for a long time with no action. And I'm somewhat surprised. You clearly have an advantage when you can anchor the club. Then again, nobody has won a major using a long putter.

Patrick (Hanover)

How was Jim Thorpe received by both players and fans in his return to the Champions tour last week?

Bob Harig
  (4:54 PM)

It seemed to be very positive. Thorpe has always been a popular guy.

Bob Harig
  (4:59 PM)

Okay, I am out of time. . . Don't forget my mailbag: bobhespn@gmail.com. . I try to answer questions there every week as well. .. Look forward to chatting again next week. Thanks for all the questions.