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October 26, 3:00 PM ET
Chat with Bob Harig

Bob Harig
  (3:01 PM)

It's time to chat about golf. The PGA Tour season is officially over. Sort of. Golf never ends, though. Plenty to talk about if you wish. I'm here as long as there are questions or I run out of time. Please fire away.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

Why isn't Phil playing in China?

Bob Harig
  (3:03 PM)

Good question. He's played the WGC event in the past. We're talking next week's event in Shangai. Only thing I can think of is that he is playing the following week in Singapore, where one of his sponsors, Barclays, sponsors the event. He has played that tournament for several years. And then the following week is the Presidents Cup in Australia. It is possible -- although I'm only speculating -- that he didn't want to be overseas for three weeks.

Patrick (Hanover)

Luke Donald has taken criticism for being number 1 in the OWGR, but with a hefty lead and no signs of giving it up soon, is it time to take him seriously after his impressive final round on Sunday?

Bob Harig
  (3:06 PM)

I am not quite sure why he has been criticized for being No. 1. He has no control over how the ranking system works. The results he put up pushed him to No. 1 and it's hard to argue with it based on the type of season he's had. We had four first-time major winners this year. Nobody won more than twice on the PGA Tour. Donald is the only player to win 4 times worldwide. I think it was time to take him seriously well before Sunday, but that final round was clearly an impressive feat.

Shoshana (Boston)

Charlie Sifford was inducted into the So Cal Hall of Fame yesterday, an event that received virtually no attention from the golf media. Should he get more recognition from the golf world?

Bob Harig
  (3:10 PM)

Charlie Sifford is in the World Golf Hall of Fame, the first African American to be inducted and, of course, one who helped break the PGA's discrimination practices. That honor alone speaks to the fact that he received recognition for what he accomplished. That is not to slight his inductiion into another golf hall of fame.

Shoshana (Boston)

Another Sifford question: He's still (understandably) bitter at ANGC over the Masters. What (if anything) should ANGC do? I'd love to see a public apology and invitation to the par 3 contest myself (maybe invite Lee Elder along as well, and see if TW would play to complete the threesome)

Bob Harig
  (3:12 PM)

This is a very difficult issue, obviously. It looks horrible now that a player such as Charlie Sifford never got invited to the Masters. However, when he won the tournaments he won in the 1960s, the qualificaiton criteria for the Mastes was different. There was no automatic win and your in stipulation like this is now (it did go away for several years before recently being put back.) I'm not making excuses for Augusta National. Did they purposely set the rules to keep African Americans out at that time? It can be debated certainly. So unless it is proven that Augusta purposely kept him out, I'm not sure they should do anything at this piont.

Andrew (WI)

Surprised that the R&A decided to enter the 21st century with its changed rule on balls moving on the green?

Bob Harig
  (3:14 PM)

I am not surprised. It should be noted that the USGA also made this change. The USGA and R&A basically are writing the rules together, releasing them separately. There had been a lot of discussion about this particular rule. It burned Webb Simpson earlier this year in New Orleans. And rember last year at St. Andrews, the second round, they actually had to suspend play due to the wind. Perhaps they'd have kept going if this rule were in place. Guys were literally afraid to putt.

Ed (Long Island)

What do you say to the marginal golf fan that says right now...see you at the Masters? Seems like the Asian events are appearance fee grabs, President's cup really has no "rivalry"...what's the appeal to the fringe fan?

Bob Harig
  (3:16 PM)

It's a good point, but I am one who believes the golf season is too long. I'm not sure I expect the marginal fan to care at this time of year. Maybe they'll get interested in the Presidents Cup, despite it's lack of rivalry, as you point out. I also believe the season should start a little later, too. Give fans a chance to work up an appetite for it.

Shoshana (Boston)

If the Pres Cup captains picks were this week (a month out like the RC) does Haas still get the nod over Bradley? At the end of the day Haas only won once, and it was a 30 person event.

Bob Harig
  (3:18 PM)

It's a very good question. For all the talk about Tiger getting the pick over Keegan Bradley, you could make the same argument about Haas. Sure he won the Tour Championship. But it was in a 30-player field. It hardly suggests he dominated the season. It's no knock, just how it is. He was close in points and that's ultimately what probably determined it, but you could certainly argue for Bradley over him. Also, another month would have given Couples -- as I've written more than once - a little bit more time to sell the idea of Tiger as a pick. It's now been more than two months since he returned at Bridgestone. He's had plenty of time to work on his game,etc.

Shoshana (Boston)

MLB has a Jackie Robinson day, and if Tiger received an honor I can't imagine it wouldn't be covered (even if he'd received another one). Just seems like he's been forgotten. Also at the time Augusta invited whomever it wanted, so they did choose not to invite him. And given that the club had no Black members until fairly recently, I'm not sure that I buy an unbiased racial history.

Bob Harig
  (3:20 PM)

The issue is far too complicated to argue here. I'm not defending anyone. Your points are valid. But the Masters did have qualifications back then. Could they have invited Sifford? Probably. It looks horrible now that they didn't. It wasn't until 1975 that Lee Elder played, but he got in because he won in Pensacola the year prior, after qualifications had been changed.

Ed (Long Island)

Beginning of this year Phil put his goal at 50 wins and another couple of majors - for him to get to 50 wins, with the depth of talent out there, will he need to consider adding multiple events each year?

Bob Harig
  (3:25 PM)

It's a great goal, but getting harder to achieve. He needs another 11 wins and Phil has never won more than 4 times in any season.

Patrick (Charlottesville, VA)

Bob, who do you think had a better breakout year: Bradley or W. Simpson? Bradley has the PGA and another win, but Simpson was so consistent all season. Your take?

Bob Harig
  (3:26 PM)

I'd go with Simpson. He lost two playoffs in addition to his two victories. Second on the tour in top 10s. Bradley had a great year, but also missed 10 cuts. That's a lot of missed cuts.

CP (Charlotte)

Can you give me an example of the new ruling that would allow a player to smooth sand or soil before playing from a hazard "provided it is for the sole purpose of caring for the course and Rule 13-2 (improving lie, area of intended stance or swing or line of play) is not breached." I can't think of an instance where this ruling would apply in a hazard. Am I missing something?

Bob Harig
  (3:28 PM)

It seems like they might have opened the door to some trouble with this one, to be honest. It will require a judgement call by a rules official if it is deemed that the player was doing more than caring for the course. If you use your feet to move the sand around, isn't that testing the lie? Perhaps some rules gurus can shed some light.

Shoshana (Boston)

The tour came off looking incompetent this weekend with the situation with Donald. Seems to me like they need 1 end of the season, and they have 3 this year

Bob Harig
  (3:30 PM)

Correct, this does not look good. The tour was ready to send out ballots for player of the year this week, forgetting that the WGC event in China counts as a victory for PGA Tour members. I will say that none of us in the media asked about it, either. We all assumed Disney was the end point ot the season, just as it was last year. Of course, HSBC was prior to Disney last year. The tour should make the HSBC event official money and then this argument goes away.

Shoshana (Boston)

I also wonder how much the fact that Haas had won that Sunday (48hrs before picks) played a role in him being selected "recency theory"

Bob Harig
  (3:32 PM)

I don't think there is any question that had something to do with it. The tour unquestionably made the picks to be right after the Tour Championship because it wanted it's FedEx Champion to be part of the Pres Cup team if not already. You move farther away from it, and there is more time for all to sink in.

Bob (Seattle)

My biggest concern is the tacit approval of the no women members at ANGC by the PGA Tour. Yes, the Masters has the right to be held at a private club which can choose its own members. And yes, it's technically not run by the PGA Tour, however it counts as a official win, official money, and you get membership on the Tour if you win. Plus, Billy Payne's take down of Tiger was unseemly, especially if you view it through a racial perspective.

Bob Harig
  (3:34 PM)

It's true that PGA Tour events are not allowed to be played at venues that discriminate based on race or gender. So a place such as Cyrpess Point or Butler National (which allows no women at all) are no longer tour venues. This dates to 1990, by the way. The tour slides on this because Augusta National runs the tournament, not the tour. And if you're the PGA Tour, are you going to say that the Masters doesn't count? Talk about a dicey dilemma. Augusta does have the right to do what it wants. But the view here is it should be above something such as this.

Shoshana (Boston)

If we want to get into the subject of women, the R&A is brutal. Not only are they an official governing body of golf, they don't allow women members, and still host the Open at clubs that ban women (a practice the USGA stopped)

Bob Harig
  (3:35 PM)

Good point. Royal St. George's has no women members, neither does Muirfield. And the R&A, which is a club, doesn't.

Ed (Long Island)

Do Australian golf fans embrace the President's Cup? Can we be seeing the par 3 at Waste Management for 18 holes??

Bob Harig
  (3:36 PM)

I do not think it will be like TPC Scottsdale, but my guess is they will embrace is very strongly. They did in 1998. Geoff Ogilvy has talked glowingly about the impression the event made on him back then just after he turned pro.

Bob (Seattle)

The new bunker rule - maybe it would be applied to a golfer who fails to get out of a large bunker (but with the ball not close to his current location), smooths his footsteps before moving and playing his next shot. The testing the lie aspect doesn't really exist since the golfer already hit a shot from that bunker.

Bob Harig
  (3:37 PM)

This is true. Players often insttintively start smoothing the sand with their feet after they hit a bunker shot. And if they leave it in the same bunker well ahead, they'd be penalized for that. In this instance, that penalty would no longer apply.

Ed (Long Island)

What was your best moment of the 2011 season?

Bob Harig
  (3:38 PM)

I'd probably have to go simply with the back nine on Sunday at Augusta. So much going on. Tiger tied for the lead. Then Adam Scott and Rory and Jason Day and finally Schwartzel. . So much going on and an incredible finish.

Ed (Long Island)

Better odds - Simpson and Bradley growing on the successes of this season or pulling a McDowell and having a subpar season compared to this one?

Bob Harig
  (3:40 PM)

It's probably the latter. Now the pressure is on to duplicate it or do better, and as we've seen, that is not always so easy to do. In fact, it can be harder, espeically with all the demands, pressures.

Shoshana (Boston)

There's a lot of talk about the Pres Cup being an exhibition/not as important as the RC etc, but are we maybe selling it short this year? Seems like the Aussies at least really want it. Tiger might care, Stricker is trying to play through injury etc

Bob Harig
  (3:42 PM)

You can argue that the Ryder Cup is an exhibition, too. But it sure means a lot to those who play. The Presidents Cup simply lacks that tradition. It is also harder for it to gain traction when the U.S. wins all the time. The International side I would also argue does not have the emotional investment. If they lose, so what? Is the media in Australia going to hammer Ernie Els and is he going to care? That is a big difference from the Ryder Cup.

Ed (Long Island)

For the guys that run the tour and the future of the game - what's a better scenario in 2012 - Tiger goes back and dominates or the young guns continue to grow and win tournaments?

Bob Harig
  (3:42 PM)

I would say Tiger dominating would be far better for the tour - even if it delays the young guns. Better yet, Tiger winning a bunch, but the young guns getting their share -- and maybe even at his expense.

Andrew (WI)

I think it's rather interesting how much Augusta National has been promoting growth of the game in Asia (see the Asian Amateur). Supporting growth in one kind of minority from ANGC's perspective (Asians) but not doing it in the past for African-Americans. Am I wrong in seeing maybe a little bit of inconsistency in how ANGC handles minorities?

Bob Harig
  (3:44 PM)

You are comparing now to then. Today, not only does Augusta National support the Asian Amateur, but it also gives generously to several First Tee programs, including one in Augusta.

Patrick (Charlottesville, VA)

If Luke is ever going to to win a major, which do you think best suits his game? I'd say The Masters, followed by the British, but what do you think?

Bob Harig
  (3:44 PM)

I think he could win any of them. Putting is so important, overall play in all of the majors. You'd think he'd be well suited to a British Open (he won the week prior this year in Scotland.)

Andrew (WI)

I think the fact we had September captain's picks for a December event in itself is asking for trouble to begin with. Should've been pushed back.

Bob Harig
  (3:45 PM)

The event is actually in mid November, but your point is well taken. The Ryder Cup picks are much closer to the event.

Ed (Long Island)

So is this the time of year you get to get your golf game in shape?

Bob Harig
  (3:49 PM)

I wish. Aussie Open and President's Cup coming up. There is no offseason in golf! And there is really no getting my game in shape anyway. It is way out of shape, a disaster.

Bob (Seattle)

This year there were four first time major winners. The last time this happened was in 2003 where the winners were Weir, Furyk, Curtis, and Micheel. Hopefully this year's group has a better post-major career than the 2003 group did.

Bob Harig
  (3:50 PM)

True. None of them have won a major since. Micheel has won no tournaments since.And interestingly, none of this year's major champions won another tournament this year after the won their major.

Shoshana (Boston)

What's your schedule for the rest of the year?

Bob Harig
  (3:53 PM)

Aussie Open, Presidents Cup, Chevron. .. deep slumber

Shoshana (Boston)

So who is your player of the year?

Bob Harig
  (3:53 PM)

Luke Donald. No. 1, money title, 4 victories around the world, low scoring average.

Bob (Seattle)

Comments about Chubby/Rory?

Bob Harig
  (3:54 PM)

It's surprising, but we don't know what goes on behind the scenes. It seems that Chubby had Rory set up pretty nicely. He certainly has done well for him off the course. Maybe Rory felt it was too much.

Bob Harig
  (3:59 PM)

I kind of doubt it. Hope to play a few other places while there, if time permits. We've got a little outing planned against the Aussie writers one day.

Patrick (Charlottesville, VA)

Given how Cauley earned his card the way he did, how much pressure will be put on him to win and win fast?

Bob Harig
  (4:00 PM)

I don't think there will be much pressure on him to win. It's a nice story that he got his card this way. I'm guessing for him the thing to do now is worry about securing it for 2013, moving up the world rankings. But he thinks like a player who wants to win immediately.

Nick (Atlanta)

Is this whole twitter spat between McIlroy and Westwood media driven?

Bob Harig
  (4:01 PM)

I'm not sure there is a spat. Some have noted that Rory is no longer following Westwood. So that's interesting. And they're playing together the first two rounds at an event this week.

Shoshana (Boston)

Thoughts on Garcia's win?

Bob Harig
  (4:03 PM)

Surprised this didn't come up sooner. To shoot, what, 26 under? I dont' care where it is, that's impressive. Good for Sergio. Still a joy to watch hitting golf balls. Nothing better than to watch him on the range. If he can putt just average, he'll be a force.

Bob Harig
  (4:03 PM)

Okay, I'm out of time folks. Thanks for the questions.