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June 8, 4:00 PM ET
Chat with Bob Harig

Brian (Westborough, MA)

Did Vijay actually WD from the sectional qualifier or just no show it? I believe it makes a difference to an alternate. As someone who has tried to qualify 7 times and I was once an alternate to a sectional i'd be very upset if someone blew this off and didn't actually WD.

Bob Harig
  (4:00 PM)

The way I understand it, he did not show. There was DNS by his name. I agree that if that is truly the case, then it's poor form, although if I'm an alternate, I'm there believing somebody isn't going to make it. But if you know you are not going to play, you should say so.

Bob Harig
  (4:01 PM)

My apologies for not welcoming everyone in first. Please feel free to fire away with your golf questions.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

Congratulations to Sam Saunders. I've been the first here to rip him and Arnie for his sponsor's invites but this is legit, I hope he plays well and they both enjoy it.

Bob Harig
  (4:01 PM)

Yes, there is nothing better than making it on your own.

Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)

Three eagles in seven holes for Stricker spanning the end of his second round and the start of his third round at the Memorial was pretty impressive. Do you know if that seven hole stretch was some type of PGA Tour record?

Bob Harig
  (4:02 PM)

I do know that it's the 13th time somebody made three eagles in the same tournament by doing it on a par-3, par-4 and a par-5.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

Were players OK with Schwartzel's drop on Friday and who was his scorer, Mickelson or Donald?

Bob Harig
  (4:03 PM)

Don't know the scorer, but both players said they didn't have a problem with it.

Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)

Stricker's win at the Memorial last weekend added another win to his already impressive resume. Do you think Stricker is the best current American golfer that has never won a Major?

Bob Harig
  (4:04 PM)

Stricker, Matt Kuchar, Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson are certainly the top ones, especially based on the rankings.

Shortrib (Memphis, TN)

Bob: I'm curious: Between the four majors, why is the Masters always played on the same course every year and not on a different course each year like the other three majors? Thanks

Bob Harig
  (4:05 PM)

The Masters and Augusta National go together. You couldn't play it somewhere else, it would not be the Masters. It started out as the Augusta National Invitation Tournament so it was meant to be played there.

Chris (Kansas)

At this point in his career and with the string of unfortunate happenings in his life, doesn't it make sense for Tiger to take 6 more months or a year off from golf to get physically and mentally healthy? Seems to me that what he has been doing the last 3 years isn't working

Bob Harig
  (4:07 PM)

You can certainly make the argument that he needs to take time off to get healthy and not to rush his return. Take the time to get healthy and also to work on his game. But you also have to play to be competitive. Lack of tournament play earlier this was believed by many to contribute to some of his problems. So he has to balance that. If he's healthy and feels good about his game, he should play.

Jim (NY, NY)

Is Tiger trying to do right by AT&T by saying he's gonna try to make it back for his tourney? If he's pulling out of the US Open this far in advance isn't that a sign that he's nowhere close to being ready to return?

Bob Harig
  (4:07 PM)

Your conspiracy theory is certainly a possibility. Then again, the tournament is still three weeks away. Perhaps he just feels that the U.S. Open is not enough time to prepare but three weeks is.

Chioke Hassan (Baltimore,Md)

Dear BobWill the President attend the U.S.Open?

Bob Harig
  (4:08 PM)

No announcement has been made as to whether he will attend.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

I haven't heard anyone mention this but Tiger WD'd 9 days before the first round. That tells me he's no where near being ready to play. Had he in any condition to think of playing he would have WD'd probably the day of or before the first round. He says he wants to play in 2 weeks at the AT&T but really I don't think he tees it up in a major again until Augusta. Do you agree?

Bob Harig
  (4:10 PM)

I think he shouldn't come back until he his ready. And really, nobody knows. It could be that he got back to hitting balls and just doesn't feel that a week is enough time to prepare from a golf standpoint. Or that he could re-injure himself.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

But as an alternate you're not alloted practice privledges that an exempt player is given. I'm sure there was an alternate there but he wouldn't have been allowed to practice on the course before hand. Also i'm not sure he would be allowed in the field. When Dustin Johnson almost missed his tee time at Riveria in rd 1 this year they weren't going to DQ him and allow an alternate in, they were just going to DQ him.

Bob Harig
  (4:11 PM)

I don't know how all of the qualifiers work exactly, but the guess here is that at a certain point, if a player had not registered on site, they went to the alternate list. And in a field that size, there certainly were going to be withdrawals for which the alternates were put in place.

Scott (Johnson, RI)

I agree with Brian, Tiger gave more notice for a WD that he normally gives for entering a field is not a good sign.

Bob Harig
  (4:12 PM)

I don't think you can say either way, really. It simply says that he knows right now he won't be ready. Maybe he didnt' want to put his game on display during practice rounds, maybe he just knew that after what he endured at the Players, it wasn't smart to even try.

Ed (Long Island)

How many players in the field for the US Open?

Bob Harig
  (4:12 PM)

156

Bill (Toronto)

Should Mike Weir hang up his clubs and leave the game for perhaps the tv booth? His game has been less than spectacular the past 2 years and shows no sign of improvement.

Bob Harig
  (4:13 PM)

Weir has really been struggling. It's tough to watch. He says he has recovered from the elbow surgery but he's really lost with his game. Should he quit? Not if he feels he can get it back.

Lou (East Liverpool, OH)

With Tiger out does the USGA have any hope of captivating the casual sports fan's interest unless Mickelson is involved on Sunday?

Bob Harig
  (4:14 PM)

It's a major championship. Those typically captivate the average sports fan. Sort of like I watch the Indy 500 every year but don't typically follow other Indy Car races.

Patrick (Hanover)

It has been Phil's pattern to play the week before a major. He has done so throughout his career. Lately though he has skipped Memphis, the week before the US Open. I know the one year he had the issues with his wife but why this recent change?

Bob Harig
  (4:15 PM)

He hasn't said, but the guess here is that he just doesn't feel the course in Memphis is good preparation. He was to spend some time at Congressional this week.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

the folks at the OWGR breakdown the world in 8 areas, Europe, USA, Japan, Australasia, Africa, S America, Canada and Asia. With the exception of Africa (Schwartzel) every other group is led by a non major winner. In your opinion, are enough points given to and do majors stay on the OWGR long enough?

Bob Harig
  (4:18 PM)

The majors are weighted based on the strength of the field, just like other tournaments. So, in theory, you could get just as many or nearly as many points for a WGC event as for a major. Do they stay on long enough? One of the arguments has been that tournaments stay on a player's record too long. Tiger still has world ranking points on his record from 2009. He will be losing them, but should it matter?

Patrick (Hanover)

What has been up with Phil and some of his putts. He really seems ot be blowing some of those by the hole alot. He will have a 4 ft putt and have a 6 ft putt coming back. Your thoughts?

Bob Harig
  (4:19 PM)

There's no doubt Phil has struggled on the greens. He has been perplexed by it. He's struggled to get the pace. And it does seem like sometimes he has turned to hitting putts harder and taking out the break.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

Why no love for Tom Lehman from the USGA? He was Mr. Bridesmaid in the mid-late 90's in this event and is still a competitant player on the Senior Tour. He was right there at Congressional in '97 and i don't think he's ever received a special invite from the USGA.

Bob Harig
  (4:22 PM)

The special exemption criteria really seems to have varied over the years. For the most part, the exemptions have gone to past U.S. Open champions or multiple major winners. Lehman is neither.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

No i disagree, the majors are pre weighted with the winner automatically receiving 100 points. The only other event like that is the Players with 80 points for the winner. No strength of field calculation for these 5.

Bob Harig
  (4:24 PM)

There is a "home tour" strength of field for a tour's signature event. So as you say, the Players, the BMW Wentworth, get 80 points, just like the top event in Japan. But the majors are on the list for two years just like any other tournament. They are not weighted more in that regard.

Mikey Mero (Alpharetta GA)

What do you make of Vijay missing his first major in lord knows how long?? Also I saw that you tweeted about jack going to 146 majors in a row, how close was Vijay?

Bob Harig
  (4:25 PM)

I wrote about that subject this week in birdies and bogeys and, basically, I think it's lousy of Singh to not try. His streak was 67 in a row dating to 1994.

Matt (Philly)

Vijay is a fraud. He gets a special exemption last year and totally blows off the qualifier this year. Pretty small of him.

Bob Harig
  (4:26 PM)

I think the fact that he got an invite last year suggests he should have at least tried this year.

Jim (NY, NY)

I don't understand the whole Tiger needs to shut it down for the year line of thinking. If that's the smart thing to do from a health standpoint fine but otherwise I think his biggest problem the last two seasons has been his inability to get into a consistent rhythm. He doesn't need to clear his head, he needs to start seeing the results of his swing change during tournament play and get the confidence back that comes from winning. The quickest way to do this is to get back into his normal playing schedule, which happens to be pretty heavy the second half of the year. Agree?

Bob Harig
  (4:27 PM)

If healthy, I do agree. He needs to practice and play. But first, he can't be favoring an injury and developing bad habits.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

How do you rank Congressional in terms of the other US Open venues?

Bob Harig
  (4:28 PM)

Not at the top, but certainly a worthy venue, although I wonder why it hasn't gone there more often.

Ed (Long Island)

Once Tiger gets back, whatever time frame that is, even if it's next year, he still should be very competetive until 42 or so, he's 35 now, so that's another 28 majors for him to get 5 - a crazy pace - but it seems that every major for the next 7 years will have this theme to it...maybe it's time to lay off this story until he gets another 2 to Jack and focus more of the hype on the tournament and current story lines.

Bob Harig
  (4:31 PM)

If healthy, why should we expect Tiger not to be competitive at age 45? Kenny Perry nearly won a major at age 48. Tom Watson at 59. Steve Stricker is 44 and competitive. Tiger would have 40 more majors after this year if we take him through age 45. It's still going to be very difficult to win five more.As for the story line, it's not going away, as long as he is playing, as long as he even comes close, like he did at the Masters.

Lou (East Liverpool, OH)

Respectfully disagree with you on interest in the US Open. Unless Mickelson or some sentimental favorite is in contention the casual fan will not be captivated. That doesn't mean they won't tune in to catch the final holes for the natural drama that comes from them, but despite the golf world's best effort American fans don't really care that much about the other top players or the "next wave" yet.

Bob Harig
  (4:32 PM)

Maybe not captivated, but they'll watch, just like the other big events in sports. I am not captivated in the least by the Kentucky Derby or the Daytona 500 but I watch them.

Jeremy (Marlboro, NJ)

Do you think the USGA is at risk of "losing the golf course" next week because of the heat or will Mike Davis have everyone on top of it and prevent that from happening?

Bob Harig
  (4:33 PM)

The guess here is that Mike Davis and his staff will be very careful. They are certainly aware of the difficulties of staging a U.S. Open at Congressional, where heat is likely to be an issue.

Eddie (Frederick, MD)

Hey Bob, Any chance we see Daly return to somewhat of his former self, or is the end of the big guy?

Bob Harig
  (4:34 PM)

I don't think it's the end, because golfers never go away especially ones who continually get sponsor exepmptions. But I don't think we'll see Daly return to former glory.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

Any word on what Jack thought of Phil almost driving #18 on Saturday? I figured he'd be out early Sunday putting in a Hinkle tree to prevent that from happening again.

Bob Harig
  (4:34 PM)

That drive was aided by a cart path bounce.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

Take your pick, Russell Henley or Peter Uihlein in the Open? Also it's been 20+ years since Mickelson was the last Am to win on tour. IF, it ever happens again, doesn't it almost have to happen at one of the 3 majors? Probably 85% of amateurs who play an event play them at majors.

Bob Harig
  (4:38 PM)

I really couldn't choose over those guys as I haven't seen enough of them. Both have great resumes. You raise an interesting point about amateurs winning on tour. Far more of them play in the majors. And yet, can you imagine the pressure if they were to get into contention? No amateur has ever won the Masters and it's been since 1933 at the U.S. Open. (No amateurs in the PGA)So it's not likely at a major either.

Someone other than Brian (Columbus, OH)

I thought it was great to see Stricker and Kuchar, two of the nicest guys on tour, battle it out for a prestigous tournament last week. How do you think both will fare next week at the Open?

Bob Harig
  (4:39 PM)

I think they need the conditions to be hard and fast because Congressional is so long. But given their accuracy and overall good play, I would not be surprised to see either contend.

Alex (Columbus, OH)

Your thoughts on Tom Watson becoming next year's Memorial honoree? The way he's playing, he could tee it up in the tourney and still finish top 10 there.

Bob Harig
  (4:40 PM)

My thought is I'm surprised he didn't get the honor earlier! And yes, if he played -- which he should -- he might do quite well.

Mikey Mero (Alpharetta GA)

How did I miss birdies and bogeys this week? I'm usually right on top of that. Could youpost a link? Also I've noticed that some of the changes made it longer and took it par 71. I know it's usually the hardest but is this getting a little much? Greame even said he'll be surprised if they break par. Personally I think it will be the weather that determines how hard it will be. Thoughts..

Bob Harig
  (4:42 PM)

It is possible that birdies and bogeys is not yet posted. Keep checking! (I just looked, will be there soon). And yes, Congressional is longer. More than 7,500 yards. The 18th is a 520-yard par 4. McDowell did play the course on the day it was much cooler and damper than it is expected next week. And you're right, the weather will play a huge factor. If it's dry and hot, the ball will go and the length won't matter as much.

Nick (Atlanta)

I was on 8 at Augusta for Tiger's eagle. I don't understand how he can look completely fine there, but barely walk at the Players. Does a cortisone shot help that much? I find that hard to believe

Bob Harig
  (4:43 PM)

All I can say is something happened because he was clearly not walking or functioning well at the Players. And he was not walking well when he attended the media day for the AT&T and said he was still using a walking boot. Whatever happened at the Masters he must have made worse somewhere, somehow.

Jay (Dallas, TX)

Had Kim Jong Il applied to play in the US Open would the USGA allow him to play as he is the leader of a country with which we restrict trade?

Bob Harig
  (4:44 PM)

He would have needed a 1.4 handicap index to attempt to qualify. The USGA doesn't discriminate.

Jeremy (Marlboro, NJ)

Your thoughts on all this chatter for a South American Tour, backed by the PGA Tour?

Bob Harig
  (4:45 PM)

The tour would be something that would be on a level lower than the Nationwide Tour, another place for people to play. If they can fund it, I'm not sure what the downside is.

Ed (Long Island)

How long are you exempt as past champion for the majors? I know Augusta is for life, but what about the other's? Reason I'm asking is, could Tiger get to the point he only plays the majors to go for the record, take care of his body and just play a couple of tournaments a year to stay sharp - I don't think sponsor exemptions would ever be an issue?

Bob Harig
  (4:48 PM)

The Masters and PGA are for life. The British is until age 60. The U.S. Open is a 10-year exemption so Tiger has through at least 2018 there when he will be 42. If he is among the top 50 in the world that would be another way. And certainly he could get a few special exemptions you would think.And as a lifetime member, Tiger is basicall exempt on the PGA Tour forever. You're right, he could just take sponsor exemptions and play a handful of events.

Jeremy (Marlboro, NJ)

From an off-the-course perspective, Is Mike Davis taking over the reigns at the US Open one of if not the best things that's happened to golf in the last decade?

Bob Harig
  (4:49 PM)

Davis' setups of U.S. Open courses have been applauded, mostly, by the players. There seems to be more variety, an ability to play some shots from the rough to the green, and also some risk-reward short par-4s.

Jim (NY, NY)

not sure if Nick is part of the conspiracy crowd but Arjun Atwal commented during the Memorial that Tiger was not in good shape back at home- in a walking boot and on crutches. If Tiger is exaggerating the extent of his injury as some seem to think then he's really putting a lot of effort into the charade.

Bob Harig
  (4:50 PM)

It doesn't make sense that he would fake it or make it out to be worse than it is.

Will (Cincinnati)

Fresh off your trip to Muirfield Village, what did you think of Jack's newly designed 16 and how it may add more drama to the Presidents Cup's finishing stretch there in two years?

Bob Harig
  (4:51 PM)

I didn't have a problem with it, but I also didn't have to play it. Many of the players seemed to think that the green was too hard for as long of a shot as they had to play. They could have maybe moved the tee it up a few days. But once that green matures, there is nothing wrong with the hole -- although I didn't think the old one was as bad as Jack suggested. .. "a way to get from the 15th green to the 17th tee."

Ed (Long Island)

What is the bigger issue for the players at the US Open, the rough or the faster greens?

Bob Harig
  (4:52 PM)

Both. The greens will be fast, but the fairways are typically narrower than at a regular tour event, and the rough far more difficult to navigate.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

Has Mike Davis' set up of Us Open courses allowed for players who aren't strait off the tee (Mickelson) to have a chance more so than in the past?

Bob Harig
  (4:54 PM)

In my opinion yes. .. there were many Open setups where it seemed your only choice if you were in the rough was to wedge it out. But he did contend at a few Opens that were like that.

Eric (Indiana)

Well Sergio qualified for the US Open, but still needs to qualify for the British. Is winning the US Open his only shot? Isnt there something about winning or placing highly in Euro tournies to make the British (I heard that talk in relation to Monty)?

Bob Harig
  (4:55 PM)

There are several ways to get in for Sergio, but he can't be in two places at once.The top finisher not already in the field who is in the top five at :AT&T or John Deere on PGA Tour, French or Scottish Opens on European Tour.There is also a money list on both tours. The PGA Tour's includes the Players, Memorial, Memphis, U.S. Open and Travelers. .So say Sergio had a good Memphis, U.S. Open and Travelers, he could get in that way.

Bob Harig
  (4:57 PM)

Okay, I'm out of time. Please join me next week when I'll be at Congressional for the U.S. Open. Look out for a time in case it changes.And feel free to chim in with your questions for my mailbag: bobhespn@gmail.com.Thanks again.