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January 24, 11:00 AM ET
Chat with Bob Harig

Bob Harig
  (11:01 AM)

Hello, thanks for checking in a little earlier this week. That's because it is a lot later where I am. I've ventured over to the Middle East for the Abu Dhabi Championship. We are 9 hours ahead of the east coast, so it is 8 p.m. here on Tuesday. So welcome. And please proceed with your golf questions.

Matt (Philly)

Hi Bob,Wondering who pays the appearance fees to the players?

Bob Harig
  (11:03 AM)

At European Tour events, appearance fees are common. And it is typically handled by the sponsor, in this case, HSBC, an international banking company. But sometimes the lcoal tourist bodies kick in. Abu Dhabi wants to tout its city and hence might be compelled.

Shoshana (Boston)

Find it interesting that Tiger and Rory played a practice rd today: how'd they look? and how'd that come about?

Bob Harig
  (11:04 AM)

They played just 9 holes and I didn't see much of it. I think it came about sort of innocently. As part of the festivities, Tiger and Rory -- along with Lee Westwood -- were involved in this traditional dance. It is done here for special occasions. They were up on the stage together. It might have been then that they said, let's play.

LeAnne (Snowy Washington)

Bob, who are some of your favorites to win the Farmers Insurance Open this week?

Bob Harig
  (11:06 AM)

I picked Rickie Fowler. I like him to get his first win right off the bat. Hunter Mahan, Nick Watney. I could see them performing well there.

Jeff (RI)

Considering the appearance fees, are you surprised more players don't play overseas more?

Bob Harig
  (11:09 AM)

If you are a member of the PGA Tour, you need to get a release to play in a competing event. You can only get so many, based on circumstances. And not all tournaments pay, not all tournaments pay a lot. Some don't pay but a few players. So it's not automatic. But when it is offered, it is probably tough to turn down.

Larry (Boston)

How much more involved are the players in things leading into the tournament, if the tournament is giving them a fee? Kind of means they have to do things like the pro-am and things ilke that, right?

Bob Harig
  (11:12 AM)

True, although most of the top players are required to take part in the pro-am, whether they are paid or not. They might be asked to attend the pro-am party, show up at a dinner, do a promotional press conference. They are expected to do more than just play golf.

Shoshana (Boston)

How are you liking the middle east and Abu Dhabi btw?

Bob Harig
  (11:13 AM)

So far, so good. Jet lag for a trip this far is a killer. But people are friendly, nice, helpful. Weather is pleasant. Lot of westerners, everyone speaks English. No complaints.

Doug (Miami)

How much attention does Tiger take away from Torrey Pines this weekend?

Bob Harig
  (11:15 AM)

It huts the tournament that he is not there, but I don't think it takes much away. The tournaments are 12 hours apart by time zone. Each day's play here will be long over before Torrey starts. You can easily follow them both.

Bernie (Napa)

So who's there from the PGA Tour besides Eldrick? I know there's a really good field at Torrey Pines.

Bob Harig
  (11:17 AM)

Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood all play the PGA Tour as well. Graeme McDowell, Schwartzel, Sergio, K.J. Choi, Henrik Stenson.

Gary (Seattle)

So Rickie Fowler changes equipment on the eve of a new season. This never bodes well for players, who need time to adjust to completely new clubs. I'm sure he wasn't dropped by Titleist, so why go for a quick buck and pay a price with results?

Bob Harig
  (11:19 AM)

I admit to not knowing all the details. It could be that his deal was up and he found a better one. You are correct, it is risky. We've seen it happen time and again, a guy chances equipment for the money and ends up struggling with his game. Maybe Fowler had been testing the clubs and got comfortable with them. That is what you have to hope.

Wayne M. (Ottawa, Canada)

Bob, do you know when the following guys will be playing in tournaments again: Tim Clark, Fredrik Jacobson, Paul Casey. (Tim seems to be the biggest mystery.)

Bob Harig
  (11:20 AM)

Jacobson is entered this week at Torrey Pines. No word on Clark. And Casey's injury is expected to keem out through February, although he has resumed limited practice.

B (Charleston)

Why is it frowned upon to take appearance fees here in the US? Has any golfer ever been caught in doing so and if so, what would the consequences be?

Bob Harig
  (11:22 AM)

It is not frowned upon, it is stated in tour rules that it is not allowed. Not sure what would happen a tournament that did so, but I'm guessing a blatant payoff for playing would lead to a suspension. Of course, that would be tough to track. The tour policies the tournaments, who probably dont mind saving the money. Theyere are gray areas. Players have endorsements and in turn play tournaments sponsored by those companies. Is that an appearance fee? Certainly it is indirectly.

Alfred G (Delaware)

Do you think Tiger Woods will ever attain the success he once had earlier in his career?

Bob Harig
  (11:23 AM)

No, but I think it's a lot to expec that. He's in his 17th year as a pro. Who in sports is as good 15 years, even 10 years later? Nobody should expect 2000. Or eve 05-06. But multiple wins is still possible. So are majors.

Shoshana (Boston)

Plus players on the tour can get paid for off-site events the week of the event

Bob Harig
  (11:24 AM)

But that is the case for any player anywhere. The key is, it can't be used as an inducement to get the player to the tournament.

Shoshana (Boston)

Given that its his first tourn of the year, and the jet lag, and the level of talent and that unlike his competitors (and unlike Torrey) he has no knowledge of the course, I'd be fairly impressed with a top 10 this week from TW. Thoughts?

Bob Harig
  (11:26 AM)

I don't expect him to win for the reasons you mentioned. This is also a course where the scores have been low. Kaymer was 24 under last year. Tiger does not typically like birdie fests. He could shoot 4 69s and play well an dlose by 10. I think this is more about seeing progress. Is he hitting it well? Putting well?

Ryan W (North Carolina)

Who do you like in Abu Dhabi this week? Does Tiger look to be a favorite?

Bob Harig
  (11:28 AM)

You have to like Martin Kaymer. He has won three times here and has a second-place finish. Tiger is always a favorite, but you have to wonder how he will come out.

Oliver (Doghouse)

Let's rant about the World Rankings once again. Mark Wilson has three wins in 53 weeks and climbs all the3 way to 40th. Rickie Fowler, as an example, has zero wins in his career and is 33rd. And let's not mention the overvaluing of the Asian Tour. When will the rankings ever get addressed?

Bob Harig
  (11:31 AM)

Fowler didn't climb the rankings because of his win in Asia. It has to do with a higher level of play or consitency overall. Fowler had four top 10s last year at three WGCs and a major. He was second at the Bridgestone. You earn a lot of points for those high finishes. I am not saying it is right. The world rankings have their flaws.

Oliver (Doghouse)

And if the rankings aren't going to be adjusted to be more accurate, then exclusive tournaments -- majors, WGCs, etc. -- need to stop using them for qualification.

Bob Harig
  (11:33 AM)

I think we are well past that point. All of the majors have signed onto the idea of using the OWGR as a basis of qualification.

Rod (New York)

Tiger is taking an approach and making it known to the media that "yes, the money is a reason I came over here." He also states he owes it to HSBC as they have donated to his foundation over the years. I think its pretty easy to figure out what he is doing in letting the PGA Tour know that this might be the future of golf if you want the league to succeed. He is just using the media as an indirect way to get it across. Have other players also expressed their feelings as Tiger did in this interview?

Bob Harig
  (11:35 AM)

The other players are not asked about taking appearnace money. That's the irony. A lot of players take appearance money, many have ulterior motives for playing tournaments. You hear more about it with Tiger.

Shoshana (Boston)

Do you think that the PGA Tour sponsors should be allowed to somewhat cut purses and transfer that money to appearance fees (since that would be the trade-off)? (although of course there are under the table app fees on tour)

Bob Harig
  (11:38 AM)

That is the only way it could work. You can't have $6-million purses AND pay appearance money. Nobody could afford that, or only few. And then it defeats the purposes as only the elite tournaments could succeed. But what if you cut it in half, and paid $3-million purse and $3-million in appearances? I don't think it would happen, because the tour seems dead set against it. (I write a column about this today; sorry, shameless plug.)

david kateeb (Chicago,IL)

Why aren't there more match play events on the PGA tour? I think we can all agree that match play events are fun to watch, but why is there only the Accenture? I'd like to see more match play on PGA tour.

Bob Harig
  (11:40 AM)

The problem with match play it doesn't work well for TV or for selling tickets to spectators. As the week wears on and the excitments builds, at a match play event, you have less players. On the weekend is when you would traditionally get your best crowds. But that is when there are fewer players and less to show on TV.

Shoshana (Boston)

Tiger could clearly stand to be more open and honest in interviews, but everything he say is way overly scrutinized and dissected, and when he does answer honestly (as about Hank) he gets ripped by a lot of people. Honestly, where's the upside?

Bob Harig
  (11:42 AM)

I think that is probably why he figures it is better to say as little as possible. He was honest about how he felt about Haney writing a book. And while he probably erred in making the comments about Hank wanting to make money -- Tiger is wanting to make money this week, right? -- he said what he felt. If he said nothing, he'd probably get criticized for that too. Sometimes he deserves it, but I always think we have to be careful about knocking a guy for giving his opinion -- when we asked him to give it.

Ronnie (Franklin)

Should the PGA be more like NASCAR in that they guarantee the top players a spot in the field, even if they have poor days on Thursday and Friday. NASCAR lets the top drives compete on the weekend, even if they wreck their car during Pole Day.

Bob Harig
  (11:44 AM)

It kind of goes against the nature of the game. You have to earn your way each week. No question it kills the tours when the top players miss the cut. That is likely why they have geared so many tournaments to not having cuts. But the big field cuts have to send people home or they could never finish.

Shoshana (Boston)

I think that everyone is trying to make money, but there are ways people find more and less acceptable. Haney opening schools in China and TW going to Abu Dhabi is one way, writing a book on someone else, feels different to me

Bob Harig
  (11:47 AM)

True. . .but Tiger's issues of trust were more at the root of the disppointment.

Ronnie (Franklin)

I know that the John Deere tournament lets players try out the equipment and in New Orleans, they take the players deep sea fishing, what are some of the other unusual perks the players get earlier in the week if they attend a particular event?

Bob Harig
  (11:48 AM)

Every tournament does something. Some might discount or comp rooms. Or get tickets to local sporting events. At Disney, they get free admission to the theme parks. The key is to offer it to all.

Stewart Cink (Georgia)

What the hell has happened to my game? I won a major then disappeared. Can I win again?

Bob Harig
  (11:51 AM)

Big mystery. I figured Cink would build on the Open win. Instead, he hasn't won since. And he's dropped to 142nd in the world which is embarassing.

Dan (CA)

Bob, regarding the PGA tour and appearance fees...It's about one guy only: Tiger. For example, is chucking 500k at Donald, Westwood and Kaymer really going to move the needle in a random PGA tour event? No way. And without Tiger who in the US is watching this Abu Dubai tournament this week?

Bob Harig
  (11:53 AM)

It's going to be tough to watch it regardless, but I understand your point. Bu tit's not all about the U.S. Even without Tiger, they've attracted the top 4 in the world. They've promoted it in this region. It's big for tourism and loca interests here. Big for golf fans who've never seen these guys. On the PGA Tour, I guess it depends. Would those guys move the needle enough to sell more tickets? People in the U.S. who have events in town are spoiled. They're used to it.

Ronnie (Franklin)

Steve Stricker has now has 8 of his 12 wins since he turned 40. With the advances in equipment, nutrition, etc.. is 40 going to be the new 30 in golf?

Bob Harig
  (11:54 AM)

There is a lot of good play at age 40, but the numbers don't support the idea. Stricker is the exception rather than the rule.

Pat (Detroit)

Any word on Glovers injury? Or when he will be back?

Bob Harig
  (11:57 AM)

No word. He was supposed to try this week in San Diego but is not in the field.

Matt (Philly)

Tiger it ticked about the book because he is not making any money off of it...

Bob Harig
  (11:58 AM)

I don't think that is the case, really. How much money would he make? The effort to cooperate would have taken far more time than the money he'd have made. It's the idea of someone taking advantage that he does not like.

Eric (New Mexico)

Is Tiger rehabilitated in the sponsorship world ?

Bob Harig
  (11:59 AM)

Not quite. He's added a sponsorship to his bag and a smaller deal with Rolex. Neither are for huge money. But he has semeingly turned the corner.

guest (palm beach)

why do so many people misunderstand TW's disappointment in Hank writing a book on him. This concerns trust, friendship and betrayal, especially unauthorized. Yet Hank is being called decent. I beg to defer

Bob Harig
  (12:03 PM)

Not sure Hank is being called decent. Plenty don't like the idea of him doing the book. The points you outlined seem to be what bothers Tiger more than anything.

Pat (Detroit)

Will Charles Howell III win an (more than one) event this year? I feel like with the year he had last year, he is poised to have a very solid year, including some W's.

Bob Harig
  (12:04 PM)

I always think the same thing about Howell. But he has just 2 career victories. He plays well enough to make a ton of money, but never seems to close.

Bob Harig
  (12:05 PM)

Okay folks, I'm out of time. Thanks for all the questions. By the time you wake up each day, there should be stories posted from Abu Dhabi. And then you've got Torrey Pines to watch later. Enjoy.