I'm live from Bay Hill. Let's get started.
Where do you think Tiger will finish in the Bay Hill and Masters tournaments?
I was with Tiger at the Tavistock on Tuesday. Ball striking and driver look fine, but he's not making any putts. So unless he's hitting it really close this week it's going to be tough for him to score. So I say he contends but he comes up short in the end because of his putting.
What does the headline read the Monday after the Masters?
Sweet Redemption for Rory McIlroy.
So I get that the Nationwide tour has produced more guys that stick on the big stage than Q school does, but I don't get the argument that this change is rewarding those players that play well over the course of a whole season since it essentially will still come down to a 3 tourney playoff - so they swapped a 6 round qualifier for a 12 round qualifier and then you can have guys who finished in the top 25 on the nationwide tour miss their PGA cards? Doesn't seem like an improvement, if anything just give 1-50 on Nationwide cards and make those outside the top 125 on pga tour go back to NW and earn their way back
Mike,You make a good point. It's something that Rod Pampling raised in our conversation today. He wants the Nationwide guys to get their cards without having to go through the three tournaments.
How is Tiger's confidence this close to the Masters? Is he lacking a lot of confidence in his short game?
Brian,Tiger will tell you that his confidence is great. But to watch the energy drain out of his body with every missed putt speaks to his frustration on the golf course.
Do you think that the Golf Channel is worried about Tiger limiting access to him as more amd more of this book by Hank comes out in the next couple of weeks since they promote him on the channel
You can't worry about what Tiger does because he does what he wants.
I am Just Curious is there a Fee to Play Golf in the PGA & The LPGA o Some Kind a Green Fee To Play?
Who is the dark horse to win the Masters this year?
I like Brandt Snedeker as a dark horse pick. He's won this year and he had tie for third at the Masters in 2008.
Is Tiger taking a chance with his health playing at Bay Hill? Why is he risking things so close to Augusta?
Tiger's achilles is fine. I have said all along that if Tiger is in real pain and out of a tournament he will quit. No chance he withdraws from any tournament if he has a chance to win. It wasn't smart to play on one leg when he beat Rocco at Torrey Pines in the U.S. Open.
How about Phil's chances this year at Augusta?
No one will be more prepared than Phil to attack Augusta. Someone is going to have to set the pace because Phil will be right there on Sunday afternoon.
Is it true Ernie Els doesn't qualify to play the Masters this year? That would be a shame.
Ernie has not qualified for the Masters. He has to either win or get to the top 50 in the world by the end of next week.
I know that Finchem is looking at making sponsors happy in the short run, but in the long run are these changes bad for the game? and going to hurt existing sponsors?
The biggest risk I think is what it does to players. It's already a tough gig for these guys, at least the rank and file players. But Finchem has to look to the future.
I'm really think eliminating Q School is ridiculous. It has a long and storied tradition in golf; what is the justification?
Q-school grads aren't keeping their cards. The Nationwide Tour is the proving ground.
Any chance Els get some sort of exemption into the Masters?
No chance at this point.
How much is Hank Haney's book affecting Tiger these days? Or has he just shut that out?
Tiger is not happy. He feels betrayed. Wouldn't you feel betrayed if a close friend wrote a book about everything you told them through the years.
Seriously, what is the justification for all these changes to the tour? It's really confusing
The sponsors of the fall events want to be a part of the FedEx Cup. The Tour has to take care of its partners and at the same time attend to the competition aspect of its business. They go hand in hand and the tour feels like it needs to strengthen its Nationwide Tour property to make it a viable business platform for the future.
Why did Ryo get the invite and not Ernie?
The Green Jackets at Augusta want to encourage the growth of the game in Asia and Ryo represents that.
Who would your top 3 picks be for the Masters?
Rory McilroyPhil MickelsonBubba Watson
Tiger does as much press as nearly anyone else, more than most. And book or no book he'll do the same amount of press prior to Augusta.
Farrel I'd go with the Green Jackets at Augusta want to make money off the growth of the game in Asia, and Ryo represents that :)
That's a cynical take but it's probably accurate.
Luke Donald - any chance to win a major this year? Or is he a Caroline Wozniacki?
Luke go without a major but he's too consistent. The odds are with him to win at least one.
Um Bubba is 140th on tour in putting this year. Tiger is 39th. If we're talking about putting being a problem....
The stats don't tell you everything. You know that.
Um the numbers do not support the statement that NTW tour produces more players than q-school. Also many of the players currently gaining cards in q-school are the 126-175 on the pga tour and the 26-50 on the NTW tour. Or the same guys who will get cards under the new system. The people who earn cards 26-50 will nearly always than the guys who earn cards 1-25
Shoshana,The Nationwide Tour is a business that needs to rationalize why it needs to gain more prominence.
Strokes gained is pretty good, and Bubba really is a bad putter. When he has a hot week with the putter that's when he's in contention, and we see him the most
I agree. Strokes gained is the real putting stat. But we're talking one tournament.
How's Charl Schwartzel's game? Any chance he repeats at the Masters?
Charl's had an eagle out of the fairway on a par 5, a chip in from off the green and four birdies to end the tournament. Everything went perfect for him to win. That's going to be difficult to pull off again. Yet he's playing well.
What is happening with Rickie Fowler these days? Is he ever going to make the leap?
Kevin,Rickie is a good kid. HIs brand just matured before his game. But that's not his fault. He'll win soon.
Any idea how Tiger played this past weekend at Augusta?
He didn't say. He only said that his achilles felt great.
Sang-Moon Bae? The real deal?
Bae is good. Time will tell if he becomes a consistent performer. Two good weeks don't make a career.
How does Bay Hill rank as a course? Is it good prep for the Masters? Or is Houston better?
Arnie loves to make Bay Hill a tough preamble to the Masters. It's a tough test but so is Houston.
Ernie has had plenty of chances to qualify for the Masters and has not done it, yet. No need to ANGC to give him an exemption...
I agree. I have written though that the Masters field should be much larger than it is.
Is there any legitimacy to the claim that some of Tiger's putting woes come from the fact that he can't use his Scottie Cameron putter, that Nike is forcing him to use one of their putters for staying with him through his crisis?
Nike can't force him to use its putter. Essentially, the Nike putter is a replica of the Cameron. If the ball didn't come off the Nike face in the same manner as the Scotty, Tiger wouldn't use it. Very few players have equipment deals that force them to play all 14 clubs. But it's a guarantee that if you see anybody with a TaylorMade bag he's hitting one of their drivers.
Thoughts on Rory and Luke skipping Bay Hill? (who'd have thought Tiger would play more before Augusta than Rory)
I'm just glad to have Tiger and Phil here. Arnie's tournament doesn't have that same kind of luster that it once had. Rory and Luke want to be rested for Augusta. Everything now is about the majors and it gets bigger every year.
Would Tiger pressers offer variety if there were fewer reporters present? On a certain level seems like with 100 reporters around, it's hard to have a great press conference
Shoshana,It's not like you get tons of opportunities to ask Tiger questions. Have you ever seen the President in a small presser? It doesn't happen much. But with Tiger it doesn't matter the size. He's not going to say much.
Surprised that no one asked anything about Haney's book. Is it because they know Tiger won't talk about it or do you think the recent "gossipy" excerpts have turned some people off on the book?
Tiger said that he had no more to say on the matter. Once the book is out he'll get more questions, especially the week of the Masters.
Did Ryo say if he was planning to play more in the States this year?
He has been granted a temporary membership. He says he plans to play more.
Bae - how good is this kid?
Like I said earlier, he's had two good weeks. Let's see if he becomes a consistent performer.
Farrell, just curious if you have a definitive answer or idea on this; how many guys can have a successful career on the PGA Tour without having to play on the Nationwide Tour? I would guess the percentage is small, and if so, that would legitimize the idea of making more and more players go through that tour to get to the PGA tour.
Andrew,Nowadays unless you're Tiger or Rory McIlroy good, you probably need some time on the Nationwide or in Europe to sort out things before you can win consistently on the PGA Tour.
Master has pimento cheese...New Orleans deals some sick Cajun.... what are the grinds at Bay Hill like?
I have been busy talking to you, players and caddies to eat food.
Bae did win Asian Tour money list, and was a top 30 player. But lots of players have talent
if rory doesn't win a major this year; will that surprise you and will that change your perception or expectation of him?
I will be really surprised to see him not win a major this year. But it won't change my perception of him. It's damn hard to win any golf tournament.
Has the PGA Tour ever though of instituting a special autograph area for kids? All those adults pushing for autographs weirds me out a little
The kids get preference in the autograph row.
Let's talk about Els's post round interview...pretty classless on SS's part no? How about asking Ernie if there were positives to take? Els looked like he was ready to beat the $@#^@$%@#~!! out of SS.
Steve Sands is a good guy. That was a time when he probably should have said "how disappointed are?"
One problem with the new system is that it makes it virtually impossible for a player who is 60th in the world (so outside top 50) but not on PGA Tour to make it PGA Tour without going on NTW first.
Everyone on the Rory bandwagon, just one reminder: It took Tiger 10 majors to go from '97 Masters to winning the '99 PGA. Don't worry if he doesn't win the next year or two. Patience, grasshoppers.
Eh, media have more or equal opportunity to ask Tiger questions as any other player. There's just greater interest. Anyways it was more a theoretical question than a practical suggestion
Shoshana,No way. At the Tavistock on Tuesday, there were four teams worth of players and Tiger was the only player who would not talk to media.
Is Tiger's putting issues more mechanical or feel?
I think it's feel. Tiger has a pure stroke. Also it's not like all the misses are bad putts.
You can make the Master's a larger field, tee of on 1st and 10th holes...then go and call it the Honda. The fact you have to EARN your way into it makes it special. Best of the best competing, with some historical invites - adds to the aura and makes it the spectacle it is.
Thanks gang. Same place, same time, next week. Enjoy Bay Hill and come to ESPN.Com/golf for all your news and commentary.
Tiger is also the only guy of those 4 teams who did press conf today, and after nearly every rd, and before every tourn