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June 15, 3:00 PM ET
Chat with Bob Harig

Bob Harig
  (2:59 PM)

Hello, welcome to the U.S. Open at Congressional. The 111th Open begins tomorrow and if the rain holds off this should be some test. Looking forward to answering your golf questions for the next hour. I'll get to as many as possible. Let's get started.

Shortrib (Memphis, TN)

1. Don't know to much about Congressional Golf Course. Therefore what hole is the most crucial of the U.S. Open? 2. What requirements does a golf course have to have in order to host a major tournament? Thanks

Bob Harig
  (3:03 PM)

Two holes stand out to me, 10 and 18. No. 10 is a long par-3 over water that everybody will have to play as their first hole of the day in either the first or second round. And 18 is one heck of a finishing hole, over 520-yard downhill. It could make for an interesting finish on Sunday.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

In 1997 the players didn't care for ending with a par 3, how will they like starting on one, a long one over water, on Thurs/Fri?

Bob Harig
  (3:03 PM)

Most don't seem to care for the idea of that hole starting out, especially those playing in the morning. And the 11th hole is no bargain either. But it's the U.S. Open and nobody figured it to be easy.

Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)

Stricker is quickly becoming the most accomplished American golfer never to win a Major. Do you think more has not been made of that because Stricker fell so far down in the world rankings for a few years, because he is so well liked on Tour, or some other reason?

Bob Harig
  (3:05 PM)

It has to do likely with the fact that Stricker has turned into an overachiever. He got into his late 30s having won three tournaments and was in a deep decline. To expect him to win majors when he wasn't even exempt for three years was a lot to ask. Now that he's established himself as the top American, he is still 44 and not many win majors in their 40s.

Nelson (DE)

A recent SportsNation poll showed that 62% of respondents think Tiger will fall short of Nicklaus' majors record. What percentage of your media peers would you say feel the same way?

Bob Harig
  (3:07 PM)

Probably the same number or more. The skeptics are out in full force now and it's understandable. He's now missed three opportunities in the last 12 majors. Think about Nicklaus, who went 37 years without missing a major. It won't get any easier.

Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)

Why does the USGA set-up the U.S. Open to be so challenging while the Masters sets the Masters to allow for players to post a low score?

Bob Harig
  (3:09 PM)

You can debate this topic endlessly for sure. The U.S. Open has always been about testing players to the limit, making the tournament the toughest test in golf. The Masters goes back and forth on this and it's really more about weather conditions at Augusta -- although there have been years where players complained about it being set up too tough.

hoosier109 (indianapolis)

Bob, love the chats, love the U.S. open.. do you think lefty can finally come through and win the open this week? his length and craftiness with the short sticks should give him an advantage at congressional.. i think it will come down to his putter though.. thoughts?

Bob Harig
  (3:10 PM)

I am picking Phil this week. I just think it's almost now or never. He turned 41 on Thursday. Only 8 players in their 40s have won the U.S. Open. The course should suit him, he hits it long and high which bodes well. No question Phil needs to make more putts. He needs to avoid three-putts, has to convert the testy short ones. He's struggled on the greens this year. He's apparently been working with a different grip on the putter.

Patrick (Hanover)

I noticed that Tiger was the betting line favorite before he decided not to play in the US Open. Why does he continue to be very high on lists of favorites by bookmakers? Is it because they don't want to put him at say 25-30 to 1 where he probobaly should be becuase so much action would go on Tiger that if he won they would have to pay out a ton of money?

Bob Harig
  (3:13 PM)

Your take is probably correct. As you know they try to spread out the action. They inch Tiger up to get people to bet on him but if they make it too high than everybody takes a chance and they could really get stuck because they really need more people betting on the other guys. The entire betting thing, as you know, is not really about who is going to win, but getting the right amount of money being bet.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

If you could lead the field in one stat this week, what would you pick?

Bob Harig
  (3:15 PM)

greens in regulation.. I think that guarantees you will be in contention. Becuase even if you don't make a lot of birdies, people are not going to make a lot of birdies at an Open anyway. And plenty will be making bogeys by missing greens. You might say it's this way every week on tour, but not necessarily. You could hit 18 greens and if you make only 1 or 2 putts, you get lapped. Not always so at the Open.

MichaelJack (State College Pa)

Hi Bob ...One of the fascinating aspects of the US Open is the qualifying process which leads to a colorful field of players who, although accomplished players, are not necessarily household names. Any Tin Cup types at this year's event?

Bob Harig
  (3:17 PM)

You're right, more than half the field comes from qualifying. That means we've got a 16-year-old and a 55-year-old in the field. That said, Tin Cup is a movie for a reason. It just doesn't happen. Two years ago Lucas Glover went through qualifying and won the Open. But Glover was an established tour pro who had already won a tournament.

Patrick (Hanover)

I have been reading many articles and viewing programs talking about the US Open is WIDE open with Tiger not there. Why is it so wide open with him not being there? Many in my opinion would not have picked him anyway and it's not like he was dominating the tour. Your thoughts?

Bob Harig
  (3:18 PM)

Even if Tiger were here it would be wide open. We've had 10 different major winners going back to 2008. Lots of guys who aren't name players winning tour events. It's wide open because nobody is truly dominating like Tiger did.

Zach Williams (Arlington, VA)

Will the length of Congressional, take some U.S. Open-type contenders out of the mix in your opinion?

Bob Harig
  (3:19 PM)

It will only do that if it rains. Right now, the course is playing hard and fast. That means even average hitters will be able to get the ball out there.

Bob (Seattle)

How are the greens? Will they hold up in the weather? And are the greens truly stimping at 14.5?

Bob Harig
  (3:20 PM)

Yes, they are stimping at that speed, but there is some concern because of the hot weather last week meaning they might have to take the edge off a bit.

Neal (Cube City)

Bob, what did you think of the golf boys video? Do you think the older players look at the young crowd today and shake their head?

Bob Harig
  (3:21 PM)

I give them credit for trying, but I thought it was pretty brutal. I don't want to bash guys for showing off a lighter side.

Nicholas Ferrell (Brooklyn, NY)

Is it just me or did Ryo Ishikawa give a more heartfelt apology for a very innocent and innocuous driving incident than most athletes or people in general do for DUI's?

Bob Harig
  (3:22 PM)

I just think that is part of his culture. Ishikawa got caught driving in Japan with an International driver's license and apparently he doesn't have won to drive at home. He probably knew better, but it was made into a big deal there.

Honkey (Nashville TN)

Who is the best Amateur in the field? Can any of them flirt with a top 10 finish?

Bob Harig
  (3:24 PM)

I would have to say Peter Uihlein, the U.S. Amateur champion. But Patrick Cantlay is coming off an impressive freshman season at UCLA and qualified for the Open in Columbus where there were a ton of tour players. Top 10? It would take an incredible performance.

Mike-OB (OB)

Would Monty have been a fair exemption for the USGA? Ryder Cup Captain, faired well in U.S. Open's as recently as Winged Foot and of course there is '97.

Bob Harig
  (3:26 PM)

It would have been contorversial because Monty has not been competitive for some time, really. But given that he's three times been a runner-up at the U.S. Open and had a close call here, you could see how they might have considered it.

Doug (Chantilly, VA)

In looking at the course setup, it seems there are many more birdie opportunities than other Opens. Is that the case? And could we see 8 or 9 under par being the winning score?

Bob Harig
  (3:29 PM)

I tend to agree. They changed the sixth hole to a par-5 and the fairways, while narrow, have an intermediate cut of rough that gives you a chance to play to the green. It's possible the winning score could be 8 or 9 under, but I tend to think it will not be that low. They can set the pins in some brutal spots if they want.

Joe (NJ)

Will Steve Williams ditch Tiger if Adam Scott wins the US Open?

Bob Harig
  (3:29 PM)

Good question? The guess is no, but that would provide some interesting fodder.

Drew (SLC)

What do you think he chances are for Luke Donald this week? Is if going to be his time finally?

Bob Harig
  (3:30 PM)

I think his chances are good, because the course is not playing long and he chips and putts so well.

Phil (Mass.)

Bruins or Canucks? Also, who has the best shot to win this week: Fowler, McIlroy, Stricker, or McDowell?

Bob Harig
  (3:30 PM)

Canucks and McIlroy

Bob (Seattle)

Shinnecock in 2018. News or non-news?

Bob Harig
  (3:31 PM)

Any time a U.S. Open venue is awarded it is news. Huge news? Not really. It's not a big surprise to go back to a popular venue.

Andy (Los Angeles.)

Hi Bob. Who is the 16 year old and how did he qualify?

Bob Harig
  (3:32 PM)

His name is Bo Hossler, he is from Mission Viejo, Calif., a junior in high school. He made it through his sectional qualifier. Youngest in the field.

cory (nc)

fast greens, firm condition. seems to favor aaron baddeley, no?

Bob Harig
  (3:33 PM)

Don't think it hurts him.

Sean Pickett (Chattanooga, TN)

We see lots of patriotism among American golfers when it comes to the Ryder Cup. Is there that same kind of "defend our turf" mentality among the Americans when it comes to the U.S. Open?

Bob Harig
  (3:33 PM)

I really don't think so. It's something to talk about, but these guys play an individual sport. They're not thinking about the nationality of the player they are trying to beat.

Jeff (Seattle)

Best/Most Deserving golf course never to have hosted the US Open?

Bob Harig
  (3:34 PM)

It is very hard to say because there are a lot of golf courses that are Open worthy but that could never handle all that goes with having the U.S. Open.

Zach Williams (Arlington, VA)

Do you agree with Andy North that the set-up at Congressional sets up well for a Mickelson triumph at the U.S. Open?

Bob Harig
  (3:36 PM)

I do. A long golf course that requires high shots to the greens and fast greens is good for him. So is intermediate rough that is playable. It means his wayward drives don't hurt him as much.

Tony (CO)

Looking at the forecast for Bethesda, there's a 60% chance of rain tomorrow with thunderstorms. Being there, do you anticipate any delays tomorrow?

Bob Harig
  (3:36 PM)

Very hard to say. It's D.C. and thunderstorms are likely this time of year. Obviously if there is lightning they'll stop. They will play in a steady rain.

Nick (WI)

Do you think Shinnecock promised to make some improvements to their course in order to get the Open back? Have changes already been made? It's pretty rare for the players to call a course unfair while the winning score is still 4 under. I'm surprised they're going back.

Bob Harig
  (3:37 PM)

It really wasn't the courses fault. In 04 it got away from those who prepare it, and the USGA is in charge of that. They dropped the ball, basically, but not monintoring the greens. The golf course itself is terrific.

Nick (Michigan)

Will we see anything as extreme this week as Oakmont in '07 (seven over wins and Phil Mickelson actually gets injured by the rough), or will we see a handful of players under par? Which one is better for the game?

Bob Harig
  (3:38 PM)

I don't get the sense that this will be as extreme as Oakmont. The greens therre are always the story. They are so treacherous. Here not as much.

Robb (Colorado)

Any chance Ernie is there on Sunday afternoon? I think he could be a wildcard player.

Bob Harig
  (3:39 PM)

Ernie has been struggling this year. He needs to find some magic.

Zach Williams (Arlington, VA)

With the length of Congressional does that shortened the list of contenders?

Bob Harig
  (3:40 PM)

It depends. If it rains, the course gets really long and takes a lot of players out -- even though it's soft. If it's hard and fast, shorter hitters can get the ball farther down the fairway and if they are straight, can have an advantage over long hitters who are not accurate.

Andy (Los Angeles.)

Apparently it's spelled "Beau" Hossler... O_o

Bob Harig
  (3:42 PM)

Sorry folks. Beau Hossler, 16 year old from Calfiornia.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

These are the longest days of the year and for 100 years this worked, soooo, why not have every player tee off #1 on Thurs and Fri?

Bob Harig
  (3:43 PM)

They went to this system in 2002 because they were finding that they simply could not get the entire field through even with perfect weather.

Casey (AZ)

Hypothetical: Mickelson comes to 18 on Sunday with a 1 shot lead. What happens?

Bob Harig
  (3:45 PM)

He hits 3 wood off the tee.

Drew (SLC)

Did they increase the # of players in the field around 2002? or are these guys just playing slower?

Bob Harig
  (3:46 PM)

I think it is taking longer. Field has been the same.

Geoff (Bethlehem, PA)

Does Fred Funk have it in him to pull a Norman/Watson/Couples and put himself in contention come sunday?

Bob Harig
  (3:47 PM)

I think that's a lot to ask, given the length of the course. It's incredible that Funk qualified, a very impressive achievement.

Steven (St. Augustine)

Next year the U.S. Open goes back to the West Coast, your thoughts on having the U.S. Open live during prime-time?

Bob Harig
  (3:48 PM)

I love that, and I'm surprised they don't go out West more often because of it -- although we do seem to now be on more of a rotation. It's going out west in 2015 and 2019.

Matt (Columbus, OH)

Do you have the coolest job there is?

Bob Harig
  (3:49 PM)

I have often said -- as have others who I've stolen this line from -- that it would be a great job if I didn't have to write!

Charles (NOLA)

Will be attending first U.S. Open and want to take full advantage. Which holes in your opinion give me the best views of the action?

Bob Harig
  (3:50 PM)

It is hard to say. There is a viewing area between 10 and 18 that allows you to see tee shots from both holes. I think you have to sort of do a trial-and-error. Some people like to sit and see the action come to them, too.

John (nc)

How high is the rough. Is it playable or a sure pitch out?

Bob Harig
  (3:52 PM)

It is more playable the closer you are to the fairway. It is "graduated" rought meaning it gets deeper the farther off line you play. It is not simple, but it is simpler closer to the fairway than in the old days, when you basically had no choice but to chip out.

Casey (AZ)

He may say otherwise, but don't you think the 5 2nd place finishes have to really gnaw at Phil? As a fan, a win at the US Open now would be just about as big as the '04 Masters.

Bob Harig
  (3:52 PM)

It probably does bother him. Especially 2006.

Ryan (Dayton) [via mobile]

What's your take on the rotation of open courses in the coming years? Will the usga continue to integrate different courses (chambers bay, Erin hills) or will the switch back to more of the classic "open" courses year in an year out (pinehurst, pebble etc)? I personally think after the success of verbiage that the usga could only benefit from moving their marquee event around to courses that the average Joe actually has the ability to play

Bob Harig
  (3:55 PM)

Well, they are all decided through 2019 now. Next year Olympic. Then Merion, then Pinehurst. In 2015 Chambers Bay and 2017 Erin Hills. It is rare now to go to a first-time venue, but that is what they are doing .Then mixing in the old standbys like Oakmont and Shinnecock and Pebble Beach.

Michael (Chicago, IL)

If you polled all pro golfers on what major they'd want to win, how many would pick the US Open as compared to the Masters and British?

Bob Harig
  (3:56 PM)

The thought here is that the major players want to win the most is the one that is in front of them. I can't imagine anybody saying they'd rather win a Masters over a U.S. Open or the other way around. Nobody can be that picky.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

Would you rather start a round on 10 in the AM or PM?

Bob Harig
  (3:57 PM)

PM. That looks like a brutal shot to have to take early and for your first shot of the day.

Bob Harig
  (3:58 PM)

Folks, I have run out of time. I had a ton of questions I couldn't get to. My apologies. Thanks for taking the time to send them in and read the answers. If you want to ask more, I'll try to get to them in my mailbag: bobhespn@gmail.com.. Many thanks, enjoy the Open.