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January 17, 3:00 PM ET
Chat with Bob Harig

Brian (Westborough, MA)

Would changing the venue of the Sony Open to a different course in Hawaii help improve the field?

Bob Harig
  (3:00 PM)

Hello, thanks for checking in. We're already into the third week of the golf season. President Clinton has a big role in the former Hope, Phil Mickelson begins his season, the European Tour plays in South Africa and next week Tiger Woods starts the year. Plenty to talk about. Fire away with your questions please.

Bob Harig
  (3:02 PM)

Sorry, I didn't answer Brian's question. Here it is, followed by my anser: Brian (Westborough, MA): Would changing the venue of the Sony Open to a different course in Hawaii help improve the field?I don't think the venue is the issue. It's the distance and the fact that players have so many great choices for tournaments. There are 40-something events and most play a little more than half. It's easy to skip a long trip when there are so many other good tournaments to play.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

If the Hope er Humana is well received with 4 rounds, and with Clinton on board, what are the chances Tiger plays this event down the road?

Bob Harig
  (3:03 PM)

The fact that it has shrunk to four rounds is a big help for all concerned. Players were just not enamored with five rounds and four courses. But it's still a pro-am with three courses to learn. And again, with so many choices, for Tiger it's easy to skip.

Steve (Minnesota)

Is there statistical proof that putting improves when players use the belly putter or is it just another fad?

Bob Harig
  (3:05 PM)

An interesting question. I have not seen anything statistically based. It is certainly clear that belly putters are not a cure. Nor are long putters. If that were the case, Adam Scott would have won five tournaments not one. But it does seem to help guys. Players who struggled with consistency seem to role the ball better. They claim that even missed putts look better than the way they did it the old way. Still, there is a learning curve and you have to still read the putts and hit them with the right speed.

Mike-OB (OB)

Could there possibly be any other reason Tiger has chosen Pebble and the HSBC? Also, does it matter in the grand scheme that he's chosen these tourny's?

Bob Harig
  (3:09 PM)

There has been some chatter that he chose those events for reasons other than simply golf. And it's a fair point. Tiger admitted when it was announced he was going to Abu Dhabi that HSBC has been a strong supporter of his foundation. He is also getting a hefty appearance fee. No secret there. So is it all about golf? No. As for Pebble, he has had success there but hasn't played for 10 years. He needs to start his season domestically somehwhere. It's a good place to do so, and it doesn't hurt that AT&T also sponsors his tournament at Congressional. Is he doing a favor for a business partner? Probably. And yet it's hard to argue with him playing that tournament.

Craig (Colorado Springs)

Do you have any update to Paul Casey's injury and when we might see him back in action? Also, what do you see for Ernie Els in 2012?

Bob Harig
  (3:11 PM)

No update, other than he suffered a shoulder injury while snowboarding on Christmas Eve. Apparently it was a dislocated shoulder and it was going to keep him out at least two months. He might not be able to tee it up until March, an unfortunate situation because Casey dearly wants to make the European Ryder Cup team.

Shoshana (Boston)

Are you heading to Abu Dhabi next week? Heard any buzz about who has looked good over the non-existent off season?

Bob Harig
  (3:12 PM)

I am headed to Abu Dhabi, a first excursion to the Middle East. And everybody seemingly looks good in the offseason. It sounds like Mickelson has had a good one. Rory, although it's been short. Lee Westwood. But the results will tell.

Shoshana (Boston)

Did Pres Clintons's presence have anything to do with Phil showing up? And what's the deal with him not showing up till Thurs? He can practically commute from his house

Bob Harig
  (3:13 PM)

I don't think it hurt. It is quite possible that Clinton did some lobbying. But the bigger aspect is probably getting rid of Silver Rock, the course in the rotation he did not like, as well as going down to four rounds, with just two amateurs per group. Those were probably bigger factors.

Baummer (Colorado Springs)

Have you heard any more about Paul Casey's injury and when we might see him tee it up? Also, how do you think Ernie Els will do in 2012?

Bob Harig
  (3:14 PM)

I forgot the Ernie Els part of this question.Ernie is a big mystery. Two years ago he had a resurgence, and then lsat year fell back again. He has dropped out of the top 50 in the world and needs to move up in order to get into the Masters. You'd think there might be some urgency for him at this point.

Brian (Chicago)

If Stricker wins a major, is he a Hall of Famer?

Bob Harig
  (3:16 PM)

A good question, a good debate, but to me the answer would be no. If he added one major he'd have 13 total victories. I sort of view 15 as a hazy line of a minimum and really closer to 20, with either a major or WGCs or a Players. Stricker does have have a WGC on his resume, but to me, he'd have to do more to get into the Hall.

Shoshana (Boston)

Phil played 6 events in a row to start the 2011 season and then seemed to wear down into the summer and fall. Do you see him cutting back at all early on in an attempt to remain "fresher"

Bob Harig
  (3:19 PM)

You're right, he played 6 straight starting with Abu Dhabi. What does he cut out this year? He's playing Humana, and has played Torrey, Pheonix, Pebble, LA and Match Play. . All are hard for him to skip.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

Do you know of any changes to Augusta National this year?

Bob Harig
  (3:20 PM)

Have not heard of any. Things have been quiet. That doesn't mean there won't be some tweaks.

Bernie (Napa)

Any idea how the players feel about KellyTilghman blindsiding Matt Every on live TV last week with the arrest questions and her failure to mention he was never charged?

Bob Harig
  (3:22 PM)

Not sure how the players feel, but he had to know the questions about his arrest were forthcoming. He got grilled about it in the interview room as well. So I wouldn't say he was blindsided. And the charges were dropped, but he was charged -- and important point. The bottom line is he was suspended for those actions by the tour.

Bernie (Napa)

And any idea if Jeff Overton will be suspended for his arrest and no contest plea for the incident outside the Indiana bar?

Bob Harig
  (3:22 PM)

The only way we'll know is if Overton tells us. The tour won't say.

Adam (St. Louis)

What do you make of Faldo and Miller's comments about Stricker not being a great candidate to win a Major Championship?

Bob Harig
  (3:24 PM)

I did not hear the comments directly, but understand the discussion. While Stricker is the highest-ranked American and has had an excellent career since turning 40, the truth is players his age rarely win majors. He will be 45 next month. You have to go back to Robert De Vicenzo at the 1967 British Open to find a player who was as old as 44 when he won his first major title. Not any major, but first major.

Patrick (Charlottesville, VA)

With the same rubric you outlined regarding Stricker, would you consider Furyk a Hall of Famer?

Bob Harig
  (3:25 PM)

Given the same parameters, probably not. He's got 16 wins and a major. No Players, no WGCs. He does have a Tour Championship and a FedEx Cup. Has played on a ton of Ryder Cup and Pres Cup teams. He will get support undoubtedly. But 20 wins would make his candidacy a lot stronger.

Robopz (Houston, Texas)

Harrison Frazer... why so good... why now?

Bob Harig
  (3:26 PM)

Grreat story. A year ago it seemed like he was on the verge of quitting. But he's had a lot of injuries and appears to be healthy. He won in Mempihs and that opened up doors -- his first WGC event, his first Tournament of Champions and now his first Masters. That can change the outlook.

Rob (Ft Myers, FL)

Please comment on the importance of spine angle in the golf swing. In my opinion, it's a waste of time to teach things such as swing plane, grip, close/open stance, etc if the golfer doesn't understand what spine angle is and how critical it is to the golf swing. Thanks.

Bob Harig
  (3:29 PM)

Rob, it sounds as if you are a far better authority on that subject than I am. I'm happy to pass along thoughts on the subject, but my spine angle is likely not one to be copied. . so have it if you can.

Tom (Middle of Nowhere)

Vijay vs. Rory out back behind the locker room. Who you got?

Bob Harig
  (3:30 PM)

Yep, there was a dustup of some sort between Vijay and Sabbatini during the third round last week. Not sure who said what or what the deal was exactly. Vijay said something to Rory's caddie and Rory defended his man. Seems like they are made for each other. I'd probably take Vijay.

Shoshana (Boston)

AK is a guy who loves the Ryder Cup, but right now he isn't in any of the big events. What do you expect from him?

Bob Harig
  (3:33 PM)

He is not off the radar for the Ryder Cup because he was tied for fifth at the British Open last year -- and only the majors got points. But he has a lot of ground to make up to get into the big tournaments. He is ranked 84th in the world.

Greg (Arkansas)

Another four years of Tim Finchem means another four years without any significant changes in golf. Sure, he'll tweek the FedEx Cup and mess with the schedule, but as Norman pointed out decades ago, it's time for a World Golf Tour. And Finchem won't think about it.

Bob Harig
  (3:36 PM)

Think about it: why would Finchem want a world golf tour? He runs the PGA Tour. Would a world tour replace the PGA Tour? If so, where would all the rank and file guys play? And if there is a separate world tour, how is the PGA Tour viable? As great as the world tour idea sounds, Finchem did the game a favor by standing in the way of Norman's idea. Certainly Finchem has detractors and does some curious things. I hate that he won't do anything about slow play and won't announce fines. But he's done a lot of good.

Jim (Boston)

Is Rory Sabattini the toughest golfer to get along with on tour?

Bob Harig
  (3:37 PM)

I wouldn't say that. He can be quite accommodating at times. It all depends.

Ralph (Madera)

Seems like DJ is coming back too quickly from knee surgery. I know rehab has come a long way, but I'd be afraid to go after the ball as hard as he does just a few weeks after the knife.

Bob Harig
  (3:39 PM)

His knee surgery was at the end of November, so that's been about seven weeks. He originally said he'd come back at Torrey Pines, which is next week. So perhaps rehab has come along quicker.

Gary (Seattle)

Forget about Finchem. The commish to watch is running the LPGA. In this economy, he's added several new events and significantly boosted the purses. Now that's a hero to the players.

Bob Harig
  (3:42 PM)

There's no question that Michael Whan has done well in a very tough economy. There was concern that the number of domestic events on the LPGA Tour would be surpassed by international tournaments. He's added four tournaments to the schedule. But there are still challenges. Purses are not great, television exposure is minimal.

Jeff (Chicago)

Player of the year: Matt Kuchar, if the guy would fire at a flag once in a while. Take a few chances and he'd gets wins instead of top 5s.

Bob Harig
  (3:43 PM)

For all his success in the last two years, Kuchar has just 1 victory during that span.

Shoshana (Boston)

I'm a big Stricker fan (who isn't) and would love to see him get a major, but he said at Sony last wk that winning the week before had taken a lot out of him. Given that, why do you think he continues to play the week before majors? Esp since it's not out of the blue if he wins?

Bob Harig
  (3:48 PM)

It is true that last year Stricker played the week prior to three of the four majors. One was the John Deere, which he's won three straght times. Kind of hard to skip that one. Most guys play the WGC Bridgestone before the PGA. So it's not that easy to skip. Certainly playing the Deere makes it hard to win the following week at the British Open.

Greg (Arkansas)

So Furyk and Stricker aren't HOF yet. Among current players not already in, who is a lock? Harrington, Woods, anybody else?

Bob Harig
  (3:51 PM)

Obviously Tiger is a Hall of Famer. Harrington with three majors ought to be too. Colin Montgomerie I would think will be in the Hall, having won 8 money titles. Davis Love? 20 victories, a major, a couple of Players.

Shoshana (Boston)

Who finishes the year higher as the high American in the OWGR? Who is higher, Tiger or Phil?

Bob Harig
  (3:55 PM)

Tough one. Phil has dropped to 15th. Tiger is 25th. But Phil has more points to lose, where as Tiger has little room to go but up because he has played so few tournaments. Could be that Tiger passes Phil but isn't the top American, too.

Shoshana (Boston)

Are you surprised that McIlroy isn't playing Bay Hill? I know he took off between the WGC and Masters last year, but 3weeks still seems a long time

Bob Harig
  (3:56 PM)

No, I'm not surprised. Rory said he'll be playing Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Match Play, Honda, Doral. And last year he did take off that time and it seemed to work.

Patrick (Charlottesville, VA)

Among the older guys on tour (Stricker, Furyk, Phil, etc.), who has the best chance of being Ryder or Presidents Cup captain?

Bob Harig
  (4:01 PM)

I don't think there is any doubt that Phil has the best chance, given his long record in both. But Furyk is right behind. I would think Stricker -- without a major -- is likely more a Presidents Cup captain candidate than Ryder Cup. Best I can tell U.S. never had a Ryder Cup captain who did not win a major.

Bob Harig
  (4:02 PM)

Okay folks, I'm out of time. Thanks again for the questions. Hoping to do this again next week from Abu Dhabi if we can work out the time change issues. If not, I'll check in again the following week. Thanks