Busy day at the Masters. Let's get started folks. Feel free to fire away with questions. Thanks
Although it is not the same situation, can you see a little 1960 US Open feel to the Masterst, with Phil(Hogan), Tiger(Arnie) and Rory(Jack). Certainly Phil is not past his prime like Hogan and Tiger currently is not the best player in world, and Rory is not a 20 year old amateur but do you see any similarities?
The difference in age certainly lends itself to that. Yes, Rory is more established than Jack was and Phil is not 7 years past his last major title. Phil 41, Tiger, 36, Rory 22. A pretty healthy range.
With 90 players making the cut last week at the SHO, they had a cut on Saturday, do they do that every week or is it just when too many guys make the cut like last week.
They do that went the field exceeds 78 players. Those who are cut on Saturday are still credited with a made cut and they are paid whatever the prize money is down to those positions.
I'm hearing the azaleas are well past peak. Did August National ship in replacements from northern states so we get the classic Masters visuals on TV this weekend?
The early warm weather contributed to the flowers blooming early. No replacements that I'm aware of. Still looks great.
Do you think the changes to 8 and 16 greens will result in a new pin placement or two?
Yes, and they might have made those holes easier as well.
What do you think is the most under-appreciated hole at Augusta National? Has to be on the front 9, given the hoopla about the back 9... I would suggest #5, which is a beautiful hole that Jack and others have copied almost to a T in some of the courses they've designed. What hole is it for you?
No. 5 is an excellent choice but I go with No. 4. That is a brutal par-3 and it yields a ton of bogeys.
If Tiger can post top 5's at Augusta the past 2 years with his golf game in shambles, I guess that means we should expect him to be right at the top of the leaderboard come the back 9 on Sunday?
It doesn't necessarily mean that. But it does suggest that his course knowledge is a big help and that if his game is in good shape he should be able to do even better. But we all know things happen even when guys are playing well.
Did Jack ever have a swoon his career like Tiger's recent downturn? I am guessing not, but he must have had some low points?
Jack had a few low points in his career. After winning the 1967 U.S. Open, he didn't win another major until taking the 1970 British was the biggest drought whlile in his prime. After winning the '75 PGA, he didn't win another major until the '78 British, then won three majors in his 40s.
Any specific thoughts about the pairings? Other then Tiger in the middle, they've stacked the last few pairings
Most likely for television purposes.
How's Arnie feeling this week after going to hospital a couple weeks ago? Ready to go for his tee shot Thursday?
He is apparently fine and ready to smack one down the first fairway.
Watching Tiger's press conference today, seemed like he was at peace with everything going on with his game and his life, much more conversational than usual during his pressers. You were there, did it get that feel?
He was trying to be a bit more engaging, trying to tell a few stories for sure.
Have you seen anything more astonishing and heartbreaking on the golf course than IK Kim's missed putt on 18 at the Kraft Nabisco?
No doubt, that was brutal. Very unfortunate.
I'm of the opinion that Hank Haney is pretty much an opportunistic lowlife for writing that book about Tiger. Why isn't anyone in the media pointing out that Tiger hired Haney to help him drive the ball better and yet he was terrible driving the ball under Haney. He won all of those tournaments because of his ridiculous short game, which Haney had nothing to do with. Has anyone noticed that Tiger is driving the ball longer and straighter now under Foley, just like he did under Harmon.
Those things you mention have been discussed a great deal in the media. There are several ways to look at it. If you just go simply by the record, Hank did a great job: 31 tour titles, 6 majors. If you examine the stats, Tiger's driving was poor. Did he win in spite of that? Possibly. Maybe he wasn't healthy enough to drive it better. No doubt he's hitting the ball better, espeically off the tee, now than he has in some time.
Would it be harder for Keegan (or any other first timer) to play well at Augusta vis-a-vis the other majors? Or is it just the PGA that lends itself best to a first timer....
The Masters is difficult to win for a first time because of the course knowledge that is required. And everyone is not equal. The veterans have vast experience and that gives them an edge.
Can someone get to 20 under this year? Phil calling it a birdie fest, conditions just seem like someone is gonna really catch fire this year.
I would be surprised if someone went that low. They can set the pins in positions where nobody would shoot low scores if they were so inclined. Tiger suggested he's surprised nobody has ever shot better than 63 and it's only been shot twice, but he then remarked that the course is so tough, so tricky in spots.
Bob, in an online debate with Rick Reilly, Skip Bayless said (1) Tiger struggles at Augusta and (2) Graeme McDowell lost at Bay Hill rather than Tiger winning. Is he the stupidest man in sports?
I would argue against both premises. Tiger certainly doesn't struggle here. He's been outside the top 10 on three occasions in 15 years. Tiger shot the third-lowest round of the day at Bay Hill.
What are other players saying about dustin johnson's WD?
Nothing so far. We only learned about it earlier this afternoon.
How different does the course look without the blooming azaellas (sp)?
It still looks good to me.
Kevin Na is paired with Ben Crane....over/under on time played? 6 hours?
It will be brutally long either way.
Hey Bob, I heard that Tiger switched back to his old putter during the Augusta practice round yesterday. Is this true? And will he use it on Thursday?
Do not know the answer to either question. He does experiment with the putter.
Seems to be some mystery about DJ's WD. He tweeted that he tweaked his back, yet several stories today are doubting what the real story is, and his agent isn't commenting. Any insight?
His agent has apparently said he hurt his back lifting a jet ski. . .
How does Tiger not win this week? He is playing so good, I just can't see him losing...
No guarantees in golf. Stuff happens.
What's with putting Phil and Hunter in the last group and Rory in the next-to-last group on Thursday. Why would these top players get stuck with the worst conditions? Isn't one of the perks of being a top player decent tee times?
The Masters tees everyone off the first hole and somebody has to go last. They are going to want marquee groups toward the end and it is not unusual to have name players going near that late during a regular PGA Tour event.
Bob, Any word on how Tiger has looked in his practice rounds? Will rain give him more or less of an advantage?
Hard to say, he's seemingly been fine in the practice rounds. My opinion, it is to his advantage to have the course firm and fast. He is more skilled at holding greens, hitting greens in regulation. It's harder to do that when the greens are hard.
Bob, do you see couples possibly pulling off another top 15 at the Masters like last year?
All a matter of the back staying healthy. He still has the game.
Bob, based on Tiger's success with the stinger this past year, why do you think that he will choose driver over that on some holes? Is the risk of missing it left or right worth the extra 20 yards on the drive?
That's an interesting question because I have long felt that he should sacrifice distance for accuracy. He's typically so good with his irons. But there are holes here were distance is important. The second and eighth for example. The 15th. The 11th and even the first.
Do you think Augusta is trying to make a point with the Na and Crane pairing, and shouldn't that group have went off last for the sanity of all the other players
Putting them off last would have been a great idea. Or ,there are two "breaks" in the tee times. Why not right before one of them?
Thoughts on a winning score? Phil called it a birdie fest, making it sound like 20 under par is in play??
So much depends on the weather, and the forecast keeps changing. I'd be surprised at 20 under.
What are the chances we see lift clean and place tomorrow at the Masters? And if so does someone shoot a 62?
I feel pretty certain they've never done lift, clean and place here. I will check on that.
Is there any way for us to follow the action beginning Thursday without staring at a leaderboard...no cells/ few tweets
Check out espn.com. . There will be featured holes, etc.
How has Tiger looked this week?
Hard to say. Have seen him hit several shots, and on the range, and all looked fine.
Without wind, is this still considered a very difficult golf course for the pro's? Seems the winning score goes pretty low without wind.
It's more about the softness of the course and the temperatures. Wind obviously makes a difference but it isn't necessary for the place to be difficult. Green speeds, pin locations are big factors.
More critical holes on Sunday to play at par or better....10,11,12 or 16,17,18?
I would say the last three. There will be a bunch of bogeys at 10 and 11. But you better not be making bogeys on the final three holes if you want to win. It can happen and still win, but not likely.
How is Watson been playing on Champions this year? He have another chance of making a showing this week?
The length of Augusta makes it very difficult for Tom Watson at this point.
I have heard rumors that Tiger went back to his old putter during the practice round yesterday. Is this true? And will he use it on Thursday?
A few have mentioned this, but have no idea if he will put it in play on Thursday.
Don't think I've ever seen a story on why Faldo doesn't play anymore. Wondering why he doesn't play the Masters?
It is mostly due to the TV commitments. When he decided to go into TV, he put the competitive clubs away for the most part and doesn't want to participate without playing. And the TV days are long. To do that job right would make it difficult to play.
Hearing Luke Donald talk about his achievements, it seems he is aware that people tend to write him off easier than the other big names simply because his game is clean but not very unique. Do you feel the same way? Or do you feel this will be an extra motivator coming into Augusta this year?
Yes, he is often overlooked or under the radar. Part of that is due to his lack of overall success. last year was great but Donald has not been a prolific winner in his career.
Is John daly hanging out across the street from magnolia lane in the circle K parking lot again this year?
I believe it is down the street.
I have heard over and over again the platitude "Tiger playing well is good for golf" or something to that effect. I understand he is good for the revenue streams and overall health of those that draw their income from the golf industry. However, I contend that he sets a bad example by his on course etiquette and general treatment of the media. What are your thoughts on his position as the prime role model in golf?
Lots of players do not exactly comport themselves well on the golf course and his treatment of the media -- good or bad -- is irrelevent. The numbers overwhelmingly suggest that when Tiger is playing, playing well, in contention, there is far more interest. It's not even close. It's not like you can argue the point. He drives the interest.
Do you think ESPN and Golf Channel could possibly close down for a few days if TW doesn't win?
Kind doubt it.
Did Tiger receive any questions regarding the Haney book during his press conference today?
He did not, and it's not surprising. He's made it clear on a couple of occasions he's not going to answer them. The time frame is short. Need to make the most of it.
What's the story behind Dustin Johnson? This back injury has to be pretty bad if he's WDing here.
Don't know the story. Agent is not responding to questions. You would think he'd do all he could to play the Masters. If he's withdrawing on Tuesday, that perhaps says something.
This year seems like it is shaping up to be on of the most exciting and competitive in the last 10 years. Do you think it will be one of the best in history?
Hard to say. It's shaping up nicely, but four of the last five years -- Zach, Immelman, Cabrera, Schwartzel -- produced a winner we were not expecting. It would be great if all the top players wer ein the mix.
Have you read Haney's book and if so what did you think of it?
Anyone seeming like a dark horse in watching practice rounds and warm ups? Also, it looked like Day injured himself on the range this morning, any more on this?
Don't know any more on Day, it's been discussed that he might have hurt himself. Impossible to determine who might play well based on these practice rounds. Course changes so much.
Bob, what's on the menu for the Champions Dinner?
South Afrcian BBQ. .marinated & grilled filet mignon, lamb chops, chicken breast and boerewors with monkey gland sauce. .. I am not making this up.
Is the gender of the IBM CEO going to come up at Billy Payne's State of the Master's address tomorrow?
I would be stunned if it did not.
Do you know if TV viewers will be able to see Tigers entire 1st and 2nd rounds live? They have to put him as the featured group online at least right?
He's teeing off late Friday so most all of that round will be seen. His Thursday round will likely be over before the main television window starts at 3 p.m., although there is some on line coverage at espn.com prior to then.
What do you think of potential weather issues and the impact on the tournament?
It's always an issue. If the golf course gets soft, it changes things considerably. Balls hold on greens, don't run into the rough, putt slower. The course also plays considerabl longer. Weather delays can be a mental drain too.
Will we have to put you and the ESPN crew on suicide watch if TW misses the cut? We'd need a week to figure out who actually won with all the BS you guys spew about this clown.
Nobody is forcing you to read or watch. We'll be fine without you.
Regarding the slow play, with Augusta very outspoken about making this an enjoyable experience for the patrons and golfers, do they have the authority to put someone on the clock since they run this tournament, or is it still the PGA that oversees this and does nothing?
They traditionally follow USGA rules and there is no strict rule for stroke penalties. Being put on the clock can affect them on the PGA Tour, which is a big deal overall. But for the most part, nothing ever happens in this regards.
It's worth watching that online debate between Bayless/Reilly just to see Rick Reilly facepalm at the things Skip said. Trust me. It's hilarious. Anyway, one of the things they debated was Jack's record. Gut feeling, does Tiger get to 19?
Tough one on Tiger. I could go either way. If you made me argue it, I would say no. He needs to win more majors (5) than any other current player has own in their career. Think about that. And he's 36. But you doubt him at your own risk.
who is your dark horse this week? could you see a lesser known player taking the title?
I picked Keegan Bradle as a sleeper. You all know how tough it is to pick. I certainly think it's possible a lesser known player can win. It happened last year.
Please tell Oliver it is all an attempt to coddle little TW....
Whatever you think. For some reason you're still here.
True or False.. DJ WD and ESPN calls it conspiracy, TW withdraws when he's out of contention and ESPN calls it good move. You guys are such clowns.
Nobody called it a conspiracy. They haven't told us the reason.
Will Martin Kaymer be able to make a cut at Augusta?
He's 0 for 4 so far. Amazing really.
Where's your favorite place to watch guys play at Augusta National?
Sixth hole, 16th hole. They are near each other, can catch action on both by going back and forth.
Is jet ski code for Natalie?
Will Ernie be back next year at Augusta?
He's going to have to get into the top 50 by the end of the year (very possible) or make it to the Tour Championship (very, very possible). So I think yes.
Any word on how many Masters tickets were available through the lottery? Were our odds better or worse than Mega Millions?
They never say, but the guess here is very few. Maybe a couple hundred, tops.
Does the last group on Thursday have to turn around and be out first on Friday? That would seem to be a bit of a disadvantage.
No, the last group Thursday -- Mickelson, Mahan, Hanson -- tees off at 1:53 and then at 10:46 a.m. on Friday.
In the debate of Tiger vs. the field, where does this field rank in comparison to others which he has beaten?
The field is virtually the same in that regard. You've got the top 50 in the world and then players who got in various other ways such as money list, winning tournaments, top finishes at other majors. With 6 amateurs and several non-competitive former champions, the number of players to beat is reduced. Even at his best, hard to not take the field in such an instance -- if you take out emotion and go with the percentages.
Do you think tiger will win a major this year? If so which one(s)?
Been saying he'd win at Royal Lythm. Also said he'd win at Doral -- and he got hurt. . Very tough picking these things.
How does Augusta enforce such a strict cell phone policy? Metal detectors at the doors? Phone sniffing dogs? Tree cameras? In crowd spies? Can you really not have a cell phone on the course?
They have metal detectors for spectators. Media are allowed to use them only in the press building. Some spectators manage to get in with them and if they see you using it, you're gone. Same for the media.
The more firm and fast the golf course, the more it will separate for talent, skill
This is true. That's why the best players don't want it to be soft. It evens things out more.
Thoughts on KJ Choi this week? He's a guy who always seems to play well here. Is his current form enough to ride that and break through as a major winner?
There's an under the radar, sleeper type pick that many are asking about. Has had a good record here.
What is going on with Anthony Kim? The guy had 11 birdies at Augusta and isn't even in the field this year. Is the thumb still an issue?
It's not the thumb, it's the aftermath. Rushing back. Getting into bad swing habits when it was not quite right. Now he seems to be having difficulty bringing his game to the course.
Why does the media and some coaches give/take so much credit for a golfer success? I have never seen a coach hit a ball in competition . Also a coach cannot coach on the sidelines like in team sports.
Some of it is based on the player praising his coach. But you are correct, the player hits the shots. He can't accept advise from a coach during the round.
What is going to be the toughest major venue this year?
Quite possibly Kiawah. Sounds brutal.
I am out of time folks. Thanks for all the questions and sorry I could not get to so many more. I will try to answer your queries on twitter throughout the tournament. @bobharig. Feel free to chime in there. In the meantime, enjoy the Masters.