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August 17, 4:00 PM ET
Chat with Bob Harig

Bob Harig
  (3:58 PM)

We're here again to chat about golf. Plenty to discuss for those interested after another interesting major championship. Feel free to fire away with your golf-related questions. Thanks.

Patrick (Hanover)

Most likely Tiger will be the most covered golfer until he retires, but when does he stop being "Breaking News" if the medicore play continues. You could argue that since he came back in 2010 he has really only contended in 3 events: (10,11 Masters, and 10 US Open)

Bob Harig
  (4:00 PM)

I think you nailed it. "Until he retires." There seems to be a lot of consternation over how much coverage Tiger gets, and yet all the surveys, ratings, web hits, etc. point to the fact that far more people watch and read when he is involved. That's simply fact, regardless of how poorly he's performed.

Cornelius (Seattle)

Can Charl Schwartzel win Rookie of the Year or is Keegan Bradley a lock?

Bob Harig
  (4:00 PM)

Schwartzel can definitely win rookie of the year. He had the best performance of any player in all the majors combined. But he'll probably need to win another tournament in order to make it happen as Bradley has two victories to Schwartzel's one.

Patrick (Hanover)

The PGA is and most likely will always be 4th in the pecking order of major championships, but you could argue that the last 10-12 years it has been #1 in terms of excitement and drama. ( Tiger and Sergio in 99, Tiger and Bob May in 00, DT and Phil in 01, Beam and Tiger 02, Shawn Micheel's great shot in 03, Monday finish in 05, YE Yang and Tiger 09, Bunkergate 10, and Kegan and JD in 11.)

Bob Harig
  (4:03 PM)

No argument here. The PGA has produced some of the best majors over the past decade-plus.

Brooks (Raleigh, NC)

For all the debate about 15-18 being too hard, ala Phil, from a fan standpoint watching on TV, it was fantastic. I don't think you could ask for a more entertaining closing to a major championship. Thoughts?

Bob Harig
  (4:04 PM)

The end was riveting mostly because Jason Dufner made it so. Had he made a couple of pars on the closing holes instead of three straight bogeys, it would have been a pretty boring finish. Granted, Bradley birdied two of those holes and that was what was unexpected.

Patrick (Hanover)

I wrote this two weeks ago but Fred Couples has basically said if Tiger can walk he will be on the Pres Cup team but with no form in his two events back and currently 28th in the standings and with no events, he most likely will fall further behind. Can he really justify a Captain's pick. You have to think Rickie Fowler gets one as he currently is 11th if he doesn't qualify, and Keegan Bradley at 18th may be another. How much heat would Freddie take for that?

Bob Harig
  (4:07 PM)

I have written about this in birdies and bogeys (shameless plug) and agree that Couples is setting himself up to take some heat. Last year Woods was a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup but you had a hard time arguing that there were four players that should be picked ahead of him when there were four picks. Now there are only two picks and Fowler, Bradley, Ryan Moore. .. lots of guys could lay claim to being picked. Tiger certainly has an excellent match play record and Couples can justify picking him, but it's just surprising that he would have said so at this point. The PGA Tour, networks, etc., will come under fire for pressure to have Tiger involved.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

Can you help me figure our this Play it Forward thing? I'm a +2 handicap who averages about 280-290 yards with a driver so i should be playing about 7200 yards. My typical foursome has my uncle (a sratch golfer but 65 years old) who hits it about 250 yards and he'd play about 6300 yards. My father doesn't move well (also 65 years old and a 20 handicap) and hit his driver about 175 so he'd play the 4600 yard tees (which don't exist but let's say they do). And lastly my brother in law who hits it about 270 yards (but is also a 20 handicap) and he'd play the 6800 yard tee set. So we'd play 4 different tees, have a 20 handicapper tee off behind a scratch golfer and this would help the speed of play how? Honestly if we tried this we'd be kicked off the course by hole 3. It seems this works only if your foursome is of the same length and ability.

Bob Harig
  (4:08 PM)

I think you nailed it. Obviously for someone of your ability, the need to move up a set of tees is not really apparent. But do the other who play with you go to the back tees? If so, that's the problem -- and that is what is trying to be addressed. For those of us who are not single digit handicap golfers, the idea is to move up, play a shorter course, and experience the thrill of actually being able to score better. It's a good idea in most cases.

Jeff (Chicago)

Can the PGA really follow through with these guidelines to qualify for these prestigious tournaments if that means no Tiger? I mean Tiger isn't qualified for the HSBC, Chevron, won't be qualified for next years WGC tournaments unless he wins. A rule is a rule, but its really hurting the PGA having Tiger not eligible for tournaments. Finchem and every player can talk about how the tour is in good shape, but the stats don't lie. Tiger makes TV rating and ticket sails go up dramatically.

Bob Harig
  (4:10 PM)

You're right, few want to see Tiger on the sideline for the big events, but you can't change the rules. First, he is eligilbe for his own tournament, the Chevron. As long as he is in the top 50 in the world through a cutoff date next month, he can play. He'd still be eligible for the Match Play at this point. But you'd be making a mockery of competition if you found a way to put him in World golf events for which he is not qualified.

Brooks (Raleigh, NC)

I meant more along the lines that 15-18 played so hard all week, it was interesting to watch. Yes, we viewers like to watch pro's stick it close a good amount of the time, but it's also somewhat fun to watch pro's take on challenges of bunkers, water, crazy long distances and come up short a good amount of the time, just like the average joe at home.

Bob Harig
  (4:11 PM)

Point taken.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

The PGA hasn't been in the western part of the country since 1998 and with the USGA getting solid ratings with the US OPEN out west why not bring the PGA west again and put it in primetime?

Bob Harig
  (4:11 PM)

Amen. Makes no sense to not go out West at least once every five years. Surely there is a venue to be found. Torrey Pines?

Brooks (Raleigh, NC)

At the point where Tiger was -3 through however many holes, what was the biggest difference in his swing and/or demeanor compared to the rest of his round.

Bob Harig
  (4:13 PM)

Tiger said that for the first 5 holes of the tournament, when he was 3 under, he was simply playing mechanically. Thinking about putting his club in the correct position. And it was working. Then he tried to play naturally, let it happen -- and it was a disaster. Usually a player is trying to get to where he is not thinking about his golf swing. Tiger clearly was not at that point yet.

Collin (Boston)

How far will Tiger drop in the OWGR if he only plays the Australian Open for the rest of the year?

Bob Harig
  (4:13 PM)

Various projections have him dropping out of the top 50 just before the Aussie Open.

Tom (Cleveland)

I laugh at the Play it Forward campaign. Tell the course to get a marshall. There are millions of seniors who would trade some free time to ride around on a cart and kindly tell a group to mind their pace. They should have saved all the money and worked to resurrect caddy programs and bring more youth into the game.

Bob Harig
  (4:15 PM)

Surely you've been to a golf course that has plenty of marshalls and play is still slow. I've seen far too many people playing tees they have no business playing. Many courses have a set of tees at 6,000 yards and the next set is 6,600. That seems short compared to what the pros play but it is actually very long for those who hit 240 yard tee shots. You move up, you take trouble out of play, you have shorter shots to the greens, it takes less time. The program has plenty of merit.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

How could Couples not take Tiger? If he doesn't take him, Tiger regains his form and the US loses he'd be killed. Tiger went 5-0 in the Presidents Cup last time and to say Rickie Fowler should be on it is a joke. Tiger is having his worst season ever and he has as many wins in this season as Fowler and he's come a lot closer to winning a major this year than Fowler has. Yes Tiger is not the same player now that he was but there aren't 12 better Americans.

Bob Harig
  (4:17 PM)

And I think that is certainly an argument to be made. Tiger still brings plenty to such a competition. It just doesn't look real good when he's played all of two events since the Masters and isn't playing now and won't play again -- possibily-- until the week prior.

Collin (Boston)

How do next year's major venues set up for Tiger's game?

Bob Harig
  (4:19 PM)

If we've learned anything over the past two years, the venues don't much matter if you are not playing well. If he is back on his game, Olympic, Royal Lytham and Kiawah won't be any worse or better for him than the venues this year. It's more about the state of his game.

Brian (Los Angeles)

Do you see Tiger playing any European Tour events, or playing in Fall series events? Do you think Freddie might tell him in order to be on the President's Cup team that he has to play a fall series event?

Bob Harig
  (4:21 PM)

That's an interesting thought and I wonder if it would ever be disclosed. I really don't see Europe but a Fall Series event is possible, sure. Not likely, but possible. And he does have tour victories at Vegas and Disney.

cmm (buffalo)

Why did TW not play this week? The only reason I can think of is he was simply scared of not making the cut and more evidence of the sorry state of his game - I think he cannot come to grips with where he is right now....

Bob Harig
  (4:21 PM)

He said two weeks ago he would not play Greensboro, before he played the PGA. He said it had to do with family commimtments, and you can probably infer that it means he had long-ago made arrangements for visitation with his kids.

Brian (Westborough)

One last thing on Tiger and the President's Cup. Isn't this "just" and exhibition? If that is the case he would be the guy everyone (gallery, tv viewers, media, players, TV) wants to watch and could only bring in more people and help grow the sport. Let him play.

Bob Harig
  (4:22 PM)

Right. But one thing they are sensitive to is the "just an exhibition" designation. Is it true competition or an exhibiton? I agree the event is better with him in it, regardless of his playing situation.

Jon (Sacramento)

Do you think its unfair that guys from these Asian Tours, South African Tour, and other tours get into the HSBC event, when a guy playing on the PGA tour doesn't qualify because he hasn't won anything, but he is still placing well in tournaments, and guys struggling that year also don't get in. A lot of these guys from these other tours can't even finish the tour better than +10. Isn't it kind of unfair that these guys get in over more deserving PGA Tour players? Realistically, how many of these guys on these Asian Tours and South African tours, can do any better on the PGA Tour than the Americans that don't qualify?

Bob Harig
  (4:24 PM)

Since these are "world" events they are trying to offer access to players everywhere. The HSBC "champions" offers spots to all manner of tournament winners around the world. It also has a top 25 in the world component.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

What is the fascination with Rees Jones? All he seems to do it back tees up, bring in bunkers where bombers land the ball and not only redesign classic courses but completely change their character? Does he owe money to short hitter like Corey Pavin or someone and this is how he is paying them back?

Bob Harig
  (4:25 PM)

As I'm sure you have seen, this is a favorite topic of Phil Mickelson.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

But doesn't this play it forward go against the handicap system. I don't mind giving a 20 handicapper 11 a side if we play the same tees, but i'm not giving 11 a side and 1200 yards a side.

Bob Harig
  (4:27 PM)

To be honest, I'm not sure how it factors in for the example you mention. I get the sense this is directed more at those trying to get more enjoyment out of the game. A very serious player is not going to heed this directive. But if he goes out for a casual round, perhaps he moves up a set of tees, hits more fairways, more greens, scores a few strokes better and gets done quicker -- and sees how much more fun it can be rather than frustrating.

jr5 (IN)

Thoughts on Couples captain's picks? I'm on board with Ryan Moore, solid year, and extremely good match play record.

Bob Harig
  (4:28 PM)

Anybody on the team who gets shut out is going to make it difficult for the U.S. to win.

Brian (Westborough)

I was at Akron 2 weeks ago and the tour has these huge TV screens set up everywhere telling all these stats. One of them is how far away from the hole a player is (down to the inch). If the tour uses this technology (and i'm sure the players look at it when they play) why can't they use GPS range finders then? It seems the tour is already breaking the lousy rule, why not just get rid of it and speed up play (especially when guys are playing out of position and off the yardage book)?

Bob Harig
  (4:30 PM)

I really don't think the yardage book is the reason for slow play. Even with a range finder, a player has to be ready when it's his turn. And how many are not? How many begin the process of figuring out the yardage and the club only when it is their turn to hit -- rather than doing so while the others are playing their shots? And a range finder isn't going to change the laborious pre-shot routine so many guys have. I see your point, but there are a lot more things that have to happen for play to be faster.

Bob (Seattle)

Your stroke index changes based on the tees you play. So if you move up a box, you get fewer strokes on that golf course. If you'd give up 11 a side from the same tees, you'd probably give up some thing like 8 a side with the 1200 yards difference.

Bob Harig
  (4:31 PM)

Okay, so there you have it. Play it Forward can still work.

Theo (CA)

Why doesn't the media criticize Phil missing cuts, as much as they criticize Tiger for the same thing?

Bob Harig
  (4:33 PM)

It's true, Phil doesn't get nearly the same blowback that Tiger does. That said, Phil has missed three cuts over the past two years while Tiger has missed two.

Robbie (louisville)

If there's no improvement in Tiger's game, how much longer does the Foley experiment last? The criticism of Foley is getting louder and louder.

Bob Harig
  (4:35 PM)

Even though they've been together for a year, it's really a small sample of tournaments, only about 15 or so. And given all the time he took off, not much quality work together overall. Also I'm guessing that Tiger is not one to admit he made a mistake so quickly -- if in fact he even has.

Bob (Seattle)

If Couples picks Tiger for the President's Cup, odds on seeing Tiger play Scott in the singles match?

Bob Harig
  (4:35 PM)

Since the captains can make it happen, I'd say there is a decent chance -- unless they decide they don't want that drama at all. In that case, there would be 0 pecent chance of it happening.

Jeff (Chicago)

Isn't the point of the majors to have the best players play? Its ridiculous that they let these club pro's play when the alternates for these events are clearly just better players? Come on, does anyone think a club pro is going to win the tournament?

Bob Harig
  (4:38 PM)

That has long been the debate at the PGA Championship. But there are only 20 club pros in the field and even with that many, the field is far deeper than, say, the U.S. Open, where at least one amatuer is always exempt and where a number of qualifiers have no chance of winning, either. The PGA has no amateurs and had 98 of the top 100 in the world. Keegan Bradley was 108th and wasn't exempt for the other majors.

jr5 (IN)

I totally agree about the shutout, but was that you saying Moore would get shut out, or just a general statement?

Bob Harig
  (4:40 PM)

A general statement. . If any player on the team gets shutout that is not going to bode well because you play every day and can only sit out one match.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

Didn't Sam Snead almost win as a club pro? When was the last time a local qualifier won the US Open? The Sarge? yet know one complains about that. Guys who are alternates should have played better, don't cry for them.

Bob Harig
  (4:42 PM)

Sam Snead, Tommy Bolt. . but let's be clear, those were different circumstances. Those guys weren't selling golf balls at the club. Today's club pros are a long way away from a tour pro, which is why this comes up. That said, Lucas Glover made it into the U.S. Open two years ago through sectional qualifying. Still, there are a couple of dozen qualifiers who make it into the field of a U.S. Open who really have little chance of winning. Those at the PGA who didn't get into the field only have themselves to blame. Basically the PGA puts you in if you're in the top 100 in the world. Also if you were top 70 in money earned from last year's PGA.

Bob (Seattle)

So I got shutout twice for Masters tickets from the online lottery (surprise). How many tickets do you think were offered through the lottery?

Bob Harig
  (4:43 PM)

Very, very few. The odds were not good at getting them in this manner.

Dan (CA)

With the Ryder Cup in Europe last year, the TV times over here were horrible (especially on the west coast). Matches were starting at 1AM. Should we expect the same for the Presidents Cup?

Bob Harig
  (4:44 PM)

The Presidents Cup will be on tape delay. . . There is a 16-hour time difference from Melbourne to the East Coast at that time of year, 19 hours to the West Coast. Makes me wonder why they don't show it live because a good bit of it will be on in the evening in the United States.

Jeff (SC)

All this great golf and all you care about is Tiger. Newsflash He is Terrible right now and most golfers dont care

Bob Harig
  (4:46 PM)

As stated earlier, despite his poor play, he still garners the biggest ratings, the most web hits, etc.

Tom (Cleveland)

Fleck was a DRIVING RANGEpro when he beat Hogan. Dang I like the club pros in the field, a lot of them toil and their predecessors built the game's infrastructure that these pros plunder.

Bob Harig
  (4:46 PM)

Good point about Fleck, but still, it was a different era. He played the tour AND was a club pro. Lots of guys did that then. It's much different now.

Jeff (Chicago)

Bob, I am in the boat of the group of people that think Club Pro's aren't good enough, and these amateurs that qualify for the other majors aren't good enough either. Its ridiculous that a guy like Thomas Bjorn who was leading the Open Championship after the first round barely got into the Open Championship, but an amateur that doesn't have a chance of breaking 80 can qualify in a weak field for a spot.

Bob Harig
  (4:48 PM)

It's a great debate, isn't it? It's the PGA's championship, and they want to reward their own by giving spots to the top 20 pros in the annual club pro championship. Imagine what a thrill it is for them. Just as it's a huge thrill for theU.S. Amateur champ to get a spot in the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open. That's what makes these events unique.

Jeff (SC)

Most website hits becasue thats all Espn golfers write about. Write about someone else and they will get hits. We like to read about golf . Period

Bob Harig
  (4:49 PM)

There's plenty of material on other golfers, believe me. But you choose to click on a story about Tiger, and then complain about it. Nobody makes you read it. But yet, way more people read that story than one on, say, Steve Stricker.

Jeff (Chicago)

Am I crazy to think that the PGA Tour should get rid of the Fed Ex Cup playoffs? Guys like Rory, Kaymer, Westwood, McDowell, Poulter are all not playing in any of the events, and then no Tiger and Ernie. Sure there are some good young players like Day, Watney, Fowler and Schwartzel. You also have good veterans like Phil, Stricker, Donald, Scott, but the Fed Ex Cup playoffs is missing the game's star (Tiger), the best young player (Rory), and two other top 2 players (Kaymer and Westwood). Its kind of a joke.

Bob Harig
  (4:51 PM)

Kaymer, Westwood and McIlroy are not playing because they are not PGA Tour members this year. McDowell will be part of the playoffs. I don't think it's the playoffs fault that some of these guys are not eligible. It starts with 125 of them! But certainly, there are many ideas out there for tweaking the playoffs and after next year -- when the current contract expires -- the hope is that the tour will look at some better ways to go about it. My personal choice: have only three playoff events instead of four.

Cornelius (Seattle)

Who does Greg Norman take as Int'l Team captain's picks? Does he take heat if he picks 2 Aussies?

Bob Harig
  (4:52 PM)

The guess here is that he's going to take Ryo Ishikawa for one of hte picks.

Jeff (SC)

I didnt read your story. I wouldnt read any story about Tiger. Real hero and role model

Bob Harig
  (4:53 PM)

Then why are you complaining? There were lots of other stories last week on players other than Tiger.

Jeff (Chicago)

It is a thrill for these club pro's, but so often we see a guy winning a major that got into the field as an alternate earlier that week, or at least an alternate always places in the top 10, while you almost never see an amateur making the field.

Bob Harig
  (4:54 PM)

An amateur has not won a major since 1933 (John Goodman at the U.S. Open) and Phil Mickelson in 1991 was the last amateur to win a tour event. So, yes, the idea of them winning is certainly not very feasible.

Jay (PA)

Does you think Tiger even WANTS to play on the President's Cup Team? I bet we don't see him again for a while.

Bob Harig
  (4:56 PM)

That's a good question. He said he wants to play. It would certainly be something for Couples to find out. I have a feeling if he picks him he'll have done his due diligence prior to the announcement.

Jeff (Chicago)

I am quite aware that Kaymer, Westwood and Rory are not PGA Tour members, but they are advertising it as the premier events of the year, when the field is barely better than a weekly tour event. If they want a premier event than hand pick the best players around the world, while adding in some guys that performed well. I know guys like Rory, Westwood, Kaymer are not eligible because they are not PGA Tour members, and guys like Ernie and Tiger did not qualify for the playoffs, but the rating are going to be down dramatically because of the amount of top name players that won't be playing.

Bob Harig
  (4:57 PM)

I understand your point, but if they are going to call them "playoffs" or a "year-long competition," then you can't just hand pick the fields. There has to be some objective criteria.

Jeff (SC)

I read them all. I am complaing becasue whe I click into Espn golf I have to look at picture of Tiger when he MISSED THE CUT .

Bob Harig
  (4:59 PM)

Well, you haven't had to see a picture of Tiger when he misses the cut very often. It was just the 7th time in 15 years that he did so. That's why it was a big deal. It's called news.

Greg Covington, GA [via mobile]

I've always rooted for Stuart Appleby but his year has been painful. What insight do you have into his present predicament? Thanks

Bob Harig
  (5:00 PM)

Very puzzling. Appleby had that great tournament at Greenbrier last year where he shot 59 and has seemingly struggled ever since.

Bob Harig
  (5:01 PM)

Okay folks, I am out of time. Thanks again for the questions and please feel free to send more to my mailbag: bobhespn@gmail.com.