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November 30, 4:00 PM ET
Chat with Bob Harig

Bob Harig
  (4:01 PM)

Hello, thanks for checking in. So much for golf's offseason as there is a lot of tournament golf this week around the world. I'm weighing in from the Chevron tournament in California, where Tiger plays for the last time this year, along with 17 others, including Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland, who are coming off their victory for the U.S. at the World Club. Please fire away with your questions.

jack columbus oh [via mobile]

How is tiger "back"? his presidents cup performance was terrible. and how did his 1 point "clinch" the cup when the us won by 4? tiger bias?

Bob Harig
  (4:04 PM)

Who said Tiger was back? I think it's been said that he is improving. And he was terrible at the Presidents Cup? Did you watch it? He went 2-3, which isn't great, but he lost a match in which he hit 17 of 18 greens. He made 6 birdies in 15 holes during the singles to win easily.And you don't seem to understand how the Presidents Cup works. One match was going to get the point that won it. His happened to be the clinching match. More of a coincidence, however winning by 4 is not a rout. That's the difference of 2 matches.U.S. won 19-15. If Tiger and Stricker -- who were the last two players -- each lost instead of won, it would have been 17-17.

john florida [via mobile]

How about waiting until tiger actually wins before saying he is better

Bob Harig
  (4:05 PM)

Might as well deal with these right away.Does a player have to win before you can say he is improved? Tiger was pretty bad at the PGA, where he was 10 over par for two rounds.

randy [via mobile]

Tiger seems to have some confidence now. Should he play more pre-Masters tournaments to so his confidence can continue to grow?

Bob Harig
  (4:07 PM)

It probably would not hurt to play more, as long as he balances the tournament starts for the right amount of practice and rest. But it seems pretty clear he could have used more tournaments at times. He says he is healthy. If he can go, the best way he is going to get used to tournament conditions is to play in more tournaments.

Tivo (Pittsburgh)

So I will just ask now, but what event, if any do you see Tiger breaking thru and getting a victory?

Bob Harig
  (4:09 PM)

If you've seen my track record on such picks... The problem for Tiger is that he's playing nicely now, and about to take another long break. How does he come back from that? He's said he will play the Abu Dhabi tournament for his first of the year. Then there might be another tournament before the Match Play. Chances are he could play Honda the week prior to Doral, which would be his fifth of the year. He's won at that venue three times. So that'll be my pick. Doral.

JY (TO)

If professional golfers throughout the world could only win one major, what do you think the breakdown would look like? I've got 50% Masters; 30% British; 20% US Open; <1% PGA

Bob Harig
  (4:11 PM)

I would put it at 30-30-30-10. . . I think it's fairly even among the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open for various reasons. Obviously a player would take any of the four, but if he could choose, it's most likely going to come from among those three. The PGA, however, has a place for those who family came up as PGA professionals. So I would give it more than 1 percent.

JY (TO)

I find golf fascinating because of the rise, fall and rise again trends that characterize the game, really like no other sport. We've seen Westwood follow that path recentl; which former "star" do you see making a comeback?

Bob Harig
  (4:12 PM)

How about somebody like Padraig Harrington? He's really fallen off recently, but seems determined to get back up there.

JY (TO)

What tourney are looking forward to the most next year?

Bob Harig
  (4:13 PM)

At this point, the Masters. As the year ends, that becomes the one to look forward to the most.

Patrick (Charlottesville, VA)

If they had given a Comeback Player Award, would David Toms have been the easy favorite?

Bob Harig
  (4:14 PM)

No doubt. . . which is why it is surprising they didn't get the award. Brandt Jobe is another possibility. Had a great year after just a few years ago nearly seeing his career end due to an accident that severely injured his hand.

Jake (Carmichael)

Any chance the PGA Tour ever starts putting the hammer down on slow play? These guys spend longer on the green than it should take to play the entire hole, picking at every blade of grass in their line and reading from every angle multiple times. It drives me crazy,

Bob Harig
  (4:18 PM)

We could talk about this issue forever, but unfortunately, nothing seems to get done. The tour is unwilling to take the unpopular step of simply penalizing with strokes for slow play. Give them one warning, and then the next time, hit them with a 1-shot penalty. Second time, 2-shot penalty. Just do it and see how fast they get. Instead, there is an elaborate fine system that they don't even announce. Even publishing fines would serve as a decent deterrent.

mutley california [via mobile]

Harig explain how tiger can get wgc points in this weak 18 person field?

Bob Harig
  (4:20 PM)

It's actually not that weak of a field. All players are or were in the top 50 in the world when the field was set. 4 of the top 10 in the world. And all the players get world ranking points, that's how Graeme McDowell ended up in the Masters two years ago. He finished second here, which moved him back among the top 50 by the end of the year cutoff. The 12-player field at Sun City also has world ranking points. The rules stipulate that your sponsor exemptions cannot be outside of the top 50 at the time of the field deadline.

Shoshana (Boston)

I know you're at chevron, but which tournament do you prefer chevron or q-school?

Bob Harig
  (4:22 PM)

Q school is certainly more compelling, with all the various storylines and all that is at stake. But this is a great tournament to see guys a bit more relaxed. Everybody is getting paid. Nice golf course. Not too much stress. For a media person, it's a good environment.

Dan [via mobile]

Got any q school favorites?

Bob Harig
  (4:23 PM)

I like the guys who are not in such a do or die situation. Someone like David Duval knows he's going to get to play in plenty of tournaments. Same for Boo Weekley. Those guys will get sponsor exemptions.

Shoshana (Boston)

Any thoughts on the Allenby/Ogilvy tiff?

Bob Harig
  (4:25 PM)

Thought the whole thing was bizarre. Allenby precipiated it by basically throwing several of his teammates at Pres Cup under the bus. But then again, he was asked a question and was defending himself, basically saying he didn't play as bad as 0-4 record indicated. And that's probably true. But he never made it past the 16th hole in any match. You have to take some ownership, which I think was Ogilvy's point.

Ryan (Baltimore)

Simple question: How many wins for Tiger in 2012?

Bob Harig
  (4:26 PM)

Really wish I knew the answer to that one. I think he's going to win, but just don't know how much.

Jon (Mason City)

Seeing people constantly rip on Tiger makes me like him even more!!! Keep up with the bashing!!! That being said, I was just curious as to why the Chevron doesn't allow a defending champion to play: McDowell... Is it strictly based on rank, or did Graeme have other committments? Then again what are the procedures for the determining the field?

Bob Harig
  (4:28 PM)

The defending champion is one of the spots awarded to the tournament, along with the winners of the four majors. Then they simply go down the top available players in the world rankings, with 2 sponsor picks.McDowell is not defending because the European Tour's season-ending event is next week in Dubai. (I wrote about this on ESPN.com, please check it out -- sorry for shameless plug.)Dubai is like a 15-hour flight from here with a 12-hour time change. He could leave Sunday night nad not get there until Tuesday. So he's playing in South Africa instead, which is a bit easier commute.

Andrew (WI)

Is Silly Season over as we know it? If we're going to have the race to Dubai every December, there just won't be anywhere to fit in events like the Chevron anymore.

Bob Harig
  (4:29 PM)

Next year the Dubai tournament is moving back to the week prior to Chevron, the week of American Thanksgiving. But you're right, there really isn't a Silly Season anymore. Most of these tournaments given world ranking points.

Oliver (Bentonville)

I've run some numbers, and if/when Tiger doesn't play well this week or at Abu Dhabi, he could very well fall out of the top 64 and not make the Match Play field. I bet the Tour is very concerned about that scenario.

Bob Harig
  (4:31 PM)

I'd be curious at your numbers. I do not claim to be a world ranking expert, but Tiger no longer has been ranking points to "lose." Because of the 2-year cycle, he kept losing points he had earned for 7 worldwide victories in 2009. That is no longer the case. He really has nowhere to go but up. That doesn't preclude others from passing him, but he is not going to simply keep falling. My guess is the top 64 is pretty safe -- unless he really struggles.

Ry (FL)

Tiger is obviously improving from where he was 6 months ago, but do you see him getting back to #1 in the OWGR? If so how long will it take?

Bob Harig
  (4:34 PM)

This is very difficult to answer. There are three tournaments this week offering world ranking points around the world, and it's all based on what happens at each of them. A guess -- a wild guess -- would be to say that with a victory, Tiger would move up at least 10 spots, maybe even 20. He is now 52nd in the world. I would think with even a top five he'd leap several players.

G.P. (Ambrose)

I know Phil has talked about 50 wins, but do you see hime reaching 45? And how about reaching 2 more majors amongst his wins?

Bob Harig
  (4:39 PM)

He needs 11 more victories to get to 50. I wouldn't rule it out, but it's going to be tough. He has never won more than 4 times in a season. Unless he's winning into his late 40s, he will have a tough time getting to 50. The majors is certainly possible. Phil remains an elite player. He will continue to be a threat at Augusta and given the venue, you know how much he wants a U.S. Open.

Jon (Mason City, IA)

Wow! That article did answer my question! See what happens when I'm not prepared? Just wondered if you were aware of any players who are switching manufacturers for the 2012 season...

Bob Harig
  (4:42 PM)

I have not heard anything specific yet, but it's bound to happen. Deals expire, and players sign new ones. And it doesn't always work out.

G.P. (Ambrose)

Generally how big are the crowds at the Chevron?

Bob Harig
  (4:44 PM)

It is not a very big golf course or one that can handle huge galleries. I would think if they get 10,000 spectators a day, that's doing quite well. Because of the smallness, the crowd's look very good.

jacksonville, fl [via mobile]

Will we see a Tiger vs Phil show down in the year to come.....?

Bob Harig
  (4:45 PM)

The golf world would love it, but we saw it so rarely when both were on top, it makes it difficult to predict such a thing now.

Bob Harig
  (4:47 PM)

I like Luke Donald to have a good year in the majors. He's done everything else very well for 2 years. That is the next logical step. And the major venues -- Olympic, Royal Lytham, Kiawah -- should suit him.

Shoshana (Boston)

The OWGR depreciates points, so points he's earned in the past will count less going forwards. But assuming TW plays ok he should be safe for Accenture. Think he'll add both Pebble and Honda?

Bob Harig
  (4:48 PM)

Right, but aside from a tie for fourth at the 2010 Masters and U.S. Open, he earned very few points the last two years. So there are less points to lose. Heading into the Match Play, he doesn't have a lot of high finishes that are going to diminish and he has none from early 2010 because he wasn't playing.

G.P. (Ambrose)

Do you see Sergio having a big year in 2012?

Bob Harig
  (4:51 PM)

I do. Sergio has rebounded nicely since his bout of burnout/lack of desire from over a year ago. Those two wins in Spain should give him a big boost of confidence. He's safely in all the majors.

Coach-O (OH)

if you get a chance to ask tiger a couple of questions at the moment, what are they and why?

Bob Harig
  (4:53 PM)

would like to know where he is going to play next year because we're always curious about his schedule. don't expect him to be to forthcoming with many answers. as you know, he keeps his schedule quiet.

ry (fl)

What do you expect to happen in Anthony Kim's soon future?

Bob Harig
  (4:54 PM)

If he's healthy, I expect to see him contending again. He showed some positive signs late in the year.

Shoshana (Boston)

Can the media room institute a fine for anyone who asks Tiger if he still thinks he can pass Jack? Also anyone who asks what his goal is this week. How about asking roughly how many tournaments constitute a full schedule to Tiger?

Bob Harig
  (4:55 PM)

Sometimes questions are asked to get a reaction or to see how it is handled.

Bob (Seattle)

Did you get to play golf in Australia?

Bob Harig
  (4:56 PM)

I did and it was terrific -- not my golf but playing golf there.

Shoshana (Boston)

Who do you think will play well this week? Hitting it well in the pro-ams?

Bob Harig
  (4:58 PM)

I base that more on who has been playing recently. Are Kuchar and Woodland too tired from China? They are at least playing well. The Presidents Cup guys are all in form. Jason Day played in Australia last week.

Shoshana (Boston)

Ok fine, but if the media is going to keep asking the same questions, no getting annoyed when they get the same answers (plus it's boring for the rest of us)

Bob Harig
  (4:59 PM)

Fair point. But sometimes you have to keep trying.

G.P. (Ambrose)

What % of players do the media get along with and talk to as friends behind the scenes, and % that don't talk at all to media behind the scenes?

Bob Harig
  (5:00 PM)

Hard to put a percentage on that. There are plenty of guys who are friendly, able to chit-chat with, talking about travel or other sports, life in general. Lots of guys.

Bob Harig
  (5:03 PM)

Okay folks, I'm out of time. Thanks for checking in and thanks for all of your questions in 2011. We'll chat again after the first of the year. Enjoy the golf -- and the holidays.