Hello, thanks again for visiting this week's golf chat from Atlanta Athletic Club, where the PGA Championship begins on Thursday. Plenty to talk about once again. Feel free to fire away with your golf-related questions.
With Congressional, Royal St. Georges and now Atlanta Athletic Club filling our the majors for the year how would you rate the venues overall? Seems to be a down year.
Let's be honest, it's tough to beat Pebble Beach and St. Andrews after last year. Given all the issues at Whistling Straits, AAC seems a better venue.
Was last week's WGC event one of the strangest in history? Adam Scott shoots 62 on Thursday and all anyone is talking about is Tiger's 68. Saturday he has the lead all anyone is talking about is 19 year old Ryo and Sunday he dominates, shoots 65 and wins going away and all anyone wants to talk about is his caddy. Very bizarre to me.
You bet it was bizarre. The focus on Tiger should not have been surprising given that he was out for three months. And Ishikawa is an amazing story. Scott led the whole way, and on Sunday, his caddie, Steve Williams, steals his thunder and then slams Tiger. Not your typical golf tournament.
Larry Nelson is playing in the field this week. He has 3 major championships, 2 more than Lehman Couples, Love, Kite, Wadkins, Pavin, Azinger, Sutton and 1 more than Crenshaw and Stockton. Yet he has never captained a Ryder or President's Cup team. He won the PGA twice and that seems like the criteria to be a Ryder Cup Captain these days. He was also a Vietnam Vet and none of the above were. Why, with all that on his resume, is he always overlooked to be a captain?
Unfortunately, Nelson's time has passed, but you are absolutely right, the PGA erred in not making him a captain when he was in the age range for captains. His two PGA victories should have been enough. Then there was the fact that he was a Vietnam vet who won the U.S. Open -- after taking up the game at age 19. And then the Ryder Cup record, which was outstanding. It really is a shame it did not happen for him.
Tom Watson has won 8 majors and seems to be a golf historian and probably the "Custodian" of the game amongst active players. That being said the one hole is in resume is the PGA Championship. He won the Senior PGA and with it a spot in this week's event. Why not tee it up in what literally may be "Glory's last shot" for him and try to win the career grand slam?
Watson was eligible due to his Senior PGA victory but took a pass. Not exactly sure why. He has played a lot lately, including last week's Champions Tour event, which followed the British Open, the Senior British and then the Greenbrier. I'm guessing he felt the course was too long for him.
Bob, how big of a factor will the weather, especially the humidity, be this weekend? Does fitness give players a decided advantage?
I don't think there is any question that the weather can play a role. The heat and humidity that is expected takes a toll physically and mentally. And when it is this hot, the ball really flies. So sure, someone in good condition canhave an advantage.
What are some of the biggest changes at AAC since 2001?
They lengthened the course in a few places and changed all of the greens.
Do you have to find the fairway this week to play well or is the rough manageable?
The rough does not appear to be very manageable. It seems you are in big trouble if you go in there. Hitting fairways is going to be key.
Since it is PGA Championship week we have to revisit the 2010 PGA Championship. Had Dustin Johnson made his putt on 18 to "win" would it have been the biggest letdown in the last decade on the PGA Tour when he found out he was assessed a two stroke penalty?
It would have been brutal. It was bad enough that he fell out of a playoff. If he had made the putt when he thought he won to fall out of a playoff, that would have been really bad, worse than the fallout that ensued. Bottom line, it was Johnson's responsibility to know it was a bunker -- even if it was a poorly marked one on a course that had too many.
What do you think the chances are that Tiger qualifies for THE TOUR Championship this year?
It is going to be very tough. Tiger is not a lock for the first playoff event, let alone the fourth. He is 129th in points and needs to be in the top 125 to make the Barclays. He then needs to be in the top 100 to make the Deutsche Bank, the top 70 to make the BMW and the top 30 for the Tour Championship. There are more points available in the playoffs, but he's got to get there first.
What is your opinion about Steve Williams on Sunday?
I agree with him: he went over the top. If he wanted to let Tiger have it, that was his business, but when it came to talking about winning, he made it sound like he was the one who won th golf tournament, not Adam Scott. I hate to criticize someone for being honest, but he could have been more gracious to the guy he caddied for.
I know this isn't really a golf specific question, but I will ask anyway: why do the networks insist on jamming whatever they think is topical down true sports fan's throats? Is it because they really think my mom might watch for a few minutes? Real golf fans that I know don't give a bleep about Tiger. I myself didn't miss him when he was gone, and don't care if he ever plays another competitive round. What caddy are they going to interview next week, Fluff?
In general, they are always trying to reach the biggest audience, and to do that you have to draw in the casual fan. It is pretty much understood that Tiger does that. Lots of people only watch if he plays. So coverage of him increases. It's really that simple.
Did you find it interesting that even when Stevie apologized on his website, he still reiterated that it was the best win of his career?
He actually said it was the most special on his website. I think there is a difference there, however subtle.
Seems the reports are mixed as to how tough the rough will be this week, what are you hearing?
From the players I've heard speak about it, the rough will be tough. It doesn't seem like guys will have an easy time of advancing shots to the green.
Why does the golf media pretend that all of Europe is one country?
I know its not practical, but wouldnt it be cool if the PGA was matchplay? Prior to the WGC matchplay, there was practically no match play on tour, despite it beingprominent historically in golf. It would certainly help create a unique element to the PGA, which as everyone knows is by far the least regarded of the majors
You are correct, it would be a unique way to do it, but it's not practical, really. Golf is entertainment and you can't entertain a huge crowd of people on Sunday if only 2 or 4 players remain. That's the problem with Match Play. Of course,the PGA was a match play event until 1958.
Are you of the opinion that the ultimate assessment of who is the best player of all time will come down to whether Tiger can equal or surpass Jack's 18 majors?
It is probably the easiest way to judge it although you can at least argue whether it was more difficult to win in one era or another.
Good afternoon, Bob. I still can't believe Steve Williams playing the sympathy card last week and then grandstanding Adam Scott, only to come out of it wearing a white hat. (To me, he's still a thug and a jerk.) Is this the prime example of how far the legend of Tiger has gotten off the tracks?
It certainly showed how upset and hurt Williams was that he'd go off on Tiger like that. And it also shows that perhaps Tiger's timing was poor. He turned Williams into a sypathetic figure when had he been fired at another time, it might have been applauded.
Can a player turn down participation in a press conference for a major? I dont see where Phil had his presser so far for the PGA champ.
You are very astute. Phil was on the list, then backed out. No reason was given.
My opinion on the Stevie thing is that media/public get mad when interview subjects (like Tiger) say nothing. Then, the interview subject (Stevie) actually answers a question honestly, and media/public don't like what he said. I say it's called "typical." The real question is, why was Feherty and CBS interviewing the caddie in the first place? When the Packers won the Super Bowl, FOX didn't interview the equipment manager.
I think you know what he was interviewed. It was the first time since the firing became public that Williams caddied in a tournament -- and he was on the winning bag. Fans were chanting his name. He was clearly reveling in the atmosphere. It begged to get reaction - which CBS and the print media did. They reported his comments. As for not liking what he said, sure, that's part of it. Steve could have done himself real well by saying he felt he was wronged by Tiger, that he was happy to be on winning bag again, and that Scott played great.
Bob, quick question. Last week I was watching the WGC event coverage online, holes 15 and 18 I think. At one point Atwal was at the back of the 18th green but still had to chip since the pin was in the front right. His caddie was tending the pin and he bladed the shot almost hitting his caddie. Would there have been a penalty for that?
If you hit your caddie with any shot, there is a penalty.
If Tiger somehow pulls it off and wins the whole thing, do you think he'll take a shot at Stevie?
I get the sense that Tiger is moving on from the whole thing and trying not to be drawn into it, no matter what happens.
What would be a better story for the PGA, a popular player finally winning their first Major (i.e. Donald, Westwood, or Stricker) or another young gun winning their first Major (i.e. Jason Day or Bubba Watson)?
I am not sure any of those scenarios is better than the other. Certainly any of the players winning a major would be a pretty big deal, but a lot depends on how it is done, the circumstances.
Welcome to Georgia! How big a story would it be if Rory wins a second major at the age of 22 this week? Could his victory raise the profile of the game?
No doubt. Rory has a chance to be a superstar, but he's got to win more. He's looking for his fourth career pro victory. A win at another major would help.
two quick fire questions- What position does TW finish in this week and who is his new caddy
I'm thinking a top 20 finish for Tiger. No new caddie yet. He has not said and I really don't know who it is going to be.
Bob, what's your view of the PGA giving Jerry Pate an invite to this PGA? The rumor is he asked for it so he could say goodbye to major championship golf where he won his US Open. However, his invite means another player is not invited. Seems like a dicey situation.
Very curious decision, to say the least. Pate is 57 years old. He's barely competitive on the Champions Tour. He never won the PGA and his victory here in the U.S. Open was 35 years ago!
At what point on Sunday does D.J. lose another major by another incredibly crazy scenario..... and what will it be?
For his sake, let's hope it doesn't go down that way.
What do you make of all the talk about who will get to design the course down in Brazil for the 2016 Olympics? It seems like Nick Faldo's idea of a bunch of different past and present golfers desinging the course seems impractical, with trying to presumably make the course have some continuity.
Faldo's idea is not practical, really. Too many egos, too many agenda. For whoever gets the project, it will be considered a coop.
Does this course favor the long hitters?
I would have to say it does, especially given the length of the par-3s and some very long par-4s. It always helps to have length.
How weird is it -Luke Donald fired his caddie of 7 years, his brother no less ; was that disloyal; Adam Scott fired his caddie of 8 years and had no caddie in place, but "borrowed" Stevie since his employer was on injured reserve - convenience?
Luke parted ways with his brother awhile ago, which shows that no player-caddie union is safe. Adam Scott actually used somebody else for a few tournaments after he parted ways with Tony Navarro and before asking Williams to work for him.
The answer to the best story for the PGA is anything that will keep people talking about it for a long time. Look, right or wrong we're still talking about that stupid bunker at Whistling Straits. Nobody's talking about Charl Schwartzel anymore, and that happened this year. So I think we need a 5 man playoff caused by the leader hitting his own caddie with a shot on 18.
There is a good bit of truth to what you are saying. Controversy, drama, playoffs. . .all of that stuff lasts. But I'd say Schwartzel's four-birdie finish will be tough to forget, too.
Bob, prediction time! Winning player and winning score for the week please.
Westwood, 270. . . my only prediction.
Did Jack Nicklaus get as much crap as tiger when he fired his long time caddie?
My guess is no. Different era. Less media. Less scrutiny. But it was a story. Angelo Argea had been on his bag for years. And he dismissed him because of poor performance.
With the advances in technology recently, has the increase in length of courses really mattered? After all, outside of the long par 3's, many of the players are hitting the same clubs that the players in the 70's were hitting into many of these greens.
It matters in that to challenge these guys, courses have had to be stretched to unbelievable lengths.
Do you like Golf?
You can't do this job if you don't like golf.
If Tiger is still outside the Top 125 after this week, do you see him changing his mind and coming to Greensboro?
My guess is he will be inside the top 125 after this week but he'll have to sweat it out while skipping Greensboro. He said last week that he couldn't play next week due to a family issue so it doesn't appear he'll be changing his mind.
What's your own favorite course that you've played?
North Berwick in Scotland. Terrific.
It could be. Stricker's been playing nicely. Hitting it straight and putting well helps.
It seems like Phil is coming in under the radar this week. He seems to play his best when he is not the main topic of conversation. Do you think he can win this week? I think karma owes him one here, since the 266 he shot in 2001 would have won every other major ever played!
The only thing consistent about Phil is his inconsistency. It is impossible to predict. But you're right about AAC. He shot lower than anybody else in history but one guy.
A comment to the guy who said avid golfers don't care about Tiger. I watch golf more than most and I want to Tiger to be dominant and I care what he's doing. Just wanted to make it know that even niche golf fans care about Tiger. Because I love greatness!
There are all manner of views on this subject. The bottom line is Tiger evokes a reaction.
What final pairing would you most like to see on Sunday?
whos the most impressive guy to watch on the range. Tiger, Gary Woodland, Phil, Angel Cabrera, other?
In terms of how far they hit it, Gary Woodland is amazing.
what does AK need to do? seems to be he just enjoys playing golf and making a ton of money. winning doesnt seem to be as important to him as some of the other top tier golfers.
I'm not sure that's true. Kim has struggled to get back from the injury last year that led to surgery. He's had some better form lately.
Bob, what do you see in the race for Player of the year? Phil if he wins this week? Can a non-member win POTY? Could it be Clarke and McIlroy couldn't win it even if they won this week?
It's pretty wide-open, isn't it? A non-member could win player of the year, but the FedEx Cup stuff will have a big say. What if somebody wins two of those tournaments and the FedEx Cup?
Regarding my earlier ?, we hear about European dominance from somewhere. We don't hear as much about "Northern Irish dominance" or "England not living up the the hype," we just hear "European dominance."
There's been a ton of talk about Northern Ireland since three of the last six majors have been one by players from there. The Europe thing likely has to do with the Ryder Cup.
Zach Johnson seems like the kind of guy whose game fits AAC? His driving accuracy stats are solid and he's a streaky putter. What do you think of his chances this weekend?
I kind of like Zach Johnson for the reasons you state. A bit under the radar too. Had a pretty good week at Firestone.
Thought on Jason Day's chances this week?
How far away are East Lake and AAC from each other? Among the players and media, is one thought of higher and liked more than the other? Bobby Jones was a member of both, correct?
A rough guess puts them about 25 miles apart. East Lake is much closer to downtown. And Jones played most of his golf at East Lake.
The comment -Tiger is a polarizing figure" is often written with derision; as if Tiger makes himself polarizing. Would you say that when Tiger turned pro in 1996, and signed mega contracts and tha factor of his ethnicity, then his immediate success as a pro, his introvertedness, thts what made him stand out/different
Probably all of that. And his incredible success. And the way he sought privacy and was so popular. A tournament that Tiger plays is a different deal, and he rarely plays in front of a small audience. Always in demand by the media. All sorts of factors.
Where does Ricki Fowler finish this week?
Another guy, like Jason Day, who keeps knocking on the door. This course should set up well for him. But predicting the finishes has proven to be nearly impossible.
I thought East Lake was the old AAC, then it moved in the 60's. I don't think Bobby Jones ever played at the one in Johns Creek.
I believe you are correct. The Atlanta Athletic Club was founded in the late 1800s but it was a club, not the golf course. This course where they are playing the PGA was built in the 1960s.
Do you agree that England (Westwood aside) has been woefully disappointing in the majors since Faldo went to the booth?
In terms of majors, definitely. England has not won a major since Faldo in 1996. And yet look at all the top Englishmen: Westwood, Donald, Poulter, Casey. No majors.
Okay folks, I am out of time. The PGA Championship begins tomorrow. We'll have lots of coverage on ESPN.com. Please take a look. Thanks for all the questions and enjoy the golf.