Still trying to catch my breath after an exciting Masters. Hope everyone enjoyed. Lots to try and get to here I'll answer as many questions as I can. Please fire away.
While reading your article on Phil(shameless plug) on Sunday you stated that this would not be his worst major lost and while I agree with that and certainly don't put it up there with Winged Foot, I do beleive this is up there. He didn't need to do anything special like big charges at the 2009 masters and 2011 Open championship. I believe he wil be kicking himself as 70 gets him into a play-off and 69 wins. Also what this would have meant having 4 green jackets tying Arnold and would have pulled even with Tiger which would have seemed unthinkable 7 years ago. Your thoughts?
Thanks for that shameless plug. . And it's a great debate. You are right, this one ought to sting. Turns 2 triples into doubles and he's in a playoff.The reason I think Winged Foot was more painful, however, was he hit a bad shot at the wrong time, then compounded it by not laying up and assuring himself a spot in a playoff.At the Masters, he had a bit shot at the wrong time -- and then got a horrible break. He deservied a bogey on that hole for hitting a bad tee shot, not a triple because hit hit the railing of a grandstand and took an unbelievable bounce.Also, let's get this out there: going back to the tee was not a very good option either.But you're right he was that close to a fourth green jacket. It's got to hurt.
So two years ago Tiger's life is in shambles and finishes 4th. last year his swing is in shambles and finishes 4th and this year with seemingly all the momentum in the world has his worst finish as a pro. Can you explain that or is that just golf?
I don't know how you explain it, frankly. I don't think he knew how to explain it. Makes no sense. The worst finish would have been understandable two years ago. Hard to believe it could go so bad from Bay Hill to Augusta in a matter of 10 days.
What happened with Luke Donald and the scorecard?
It was basically an Augusta National error. They read and put in their scoring system his score in the wrong way. A 5 was written on the card, that's what he signed for. They thought it was a 3 due to a smudge. .. Goes again to the argument that why go through all that nonsense. Those who follow know what he made on the hole.
Did Tiger go back to the Scotty at Augusta? I heard rumors but nothing was confirmed.
No, he continued to use the Nike putter
What shot were the pro's more impressed with - Phil's Flop or Bubba's Hook?
The guess here is they were more impressed with Phil's flop shot -- although Bubba's was incredible also.
More triples in April - Phil or Jose Reyes?
Do the players go to the US Open course for practice rounds as frequently as they do for the Master's? I would figure they would go more since it's a different course every year. Also, is the course for the US Open set up at "playing condition" earlier than Augusta is? You here Augusta is different on Wednesday than Thursday.
Yes, many of them do go to the U.S. Open site and you could argue it's even more important. But like Augusta, the course changes as it gets closer to the tournament. My guess is Olympic is not playing like the US. Open right now just like Augusta doesn't two months prior.
Bob: What golfer aside from Tiger, disappointed you the most with his play at the Masters?
Rory. He was one shot off the lead heading into the weekend and basically became a non factor after the first hole Saturday. Very strange for him to drop off that much.
Is it fair to say that Tiger either has it or he doesnt in majors? He has never won a major from behind, and when we does win, a number have been by a wide margin
I would disagree with, despite what just happened at Augusta. He was no worse than sixth at each of the previous Masters going back to his last win in 05. He was tied for fourth at the 2010 U.S. Open. Last year's PGA he was coming off injury which makes it a poor one to judge.
How would you assess Louis's performance on Sunday? He seemed really calm and in control, yet other then the albators, he barely made any birdies and was really scrambling for par's. I guess a 69 on sunday holding the lead is pretty good?
Hard to find fault with Louis. He made a couple of bogeys after that double eagle but nothing on the back nine. Made a couple of birdies on the par-5s, some great putts to save par. His putt on the 18th during the playoff looked like it was in.
Bob,When asked about his tee shot on four, FIGJAM stated that he hit it where he wanted and that he got an unlucky bounce from the bleachers that led to another triple. How can any shot that hits anywhere near the bleachers be considered an on target attempt? I think FIGS needs to accept the mistake and the repercussions for a wayward shot and stop making excuses. Thoughts?
I don't think he was making an excuse. He simply answered the question. He aimed left of the pin there. The bleachers are not that far from the green. If you hit them, the ball is righ there and you have an easy pitch after a free drop -- if it's too close. Hitting to the right is an automatic bogey. No way to get the ball close to the pin. So he was being strategic. Obviously he hit the ball farther left than what he wanted. But to think it's going to hit a railing and bounce over the grandstand into an area where nobody goes? That is unlucky.
Dear Bob, World Numbers 1 & 2 both had bad weeks at the 'Sters. Why is the sky not falling on Luke and Rory like it is Tiger. Bad weeks happen, and I'm sure all 3 will bounce back. PS. I.think.Rory.might.still.have.some.demons.at.the.National.
Good point. Worlds No. 1 and 2, Luke and Rory, were not a factor on Sunday. Tiger has a bad week and it's a huge deal. But Tiger is held to a different standard. 14 majors. That is why he will always be a story, win or lose, good or bad.
Bob,Tiger clearly still has alot of work to do on the swing that he and Sean Foley have been working to perfect. Tiger better have Foley chained to his compound driving range in Jupiter, Florida or there will be hell to pay.
I am not sure he does have a lot of work to do. Seems to me he simply is too mechanical at the moment. It worked for several weeks, including Bay Hill. And then it just leaves? I wondered if he was trying too hard, wanted it too much, and it got in the way.
Over the course is his professional career: do you think Tiger has made more bad golf-related decisions than good? Of those, which was his worst and which was his best?
I would say he's clearly made more good decisions. You don't win all that he has won without. His best decision was revamping his swing way back in 1998. That decision, which seemed odd at the time, helped him go on to have those monster years from 1999-03. While it seemed odd that he changed again then, the record with Hank Haney is hard to argue with.Worst decison? trying to play injured at last year's Players. That cost him dearly.
Does Kyle Stanley have what it takes to compete in a major?
It's hard to say, really. Not enough evidence either way. His bounceback at Phoenix was impressive. He certainly has a lot of game. I would expect that he'll have an excellent career. How that translates to majors at this point is nclear.
alot of people are suggesting that Bubba's game is not well suited for The Open because of his ball flight, but I see it the other way - with his imagination and he fact that he can literally play any shot, shouldnt The Open set up nicely for him?
It's all about Bubba. It's his mindset, demeanor. At last year's Open he had a bad finish and never recovered. He has the shots. More about being patient, dealing with the bad ones. As it usually is.
Hey Bob - When will we see Tiger tee it up again? I was looking at the schedule and maybe see 1 tournament he may play before the Players?
Most likely Wells Fargo at Quail Hollow. That is a logical guess.
Saw your tweet on Ernie. Can you clarify why Ernie is not automatically entered into US Open as a past champion?
A win only gets you 10 years. His last U.S. Open victory was 1997. USGA changed world ranking criteria this year to top 60 at due dates, in late May and then the Sunday prior to the Championship. If he's in the top 60 at either point, he gets in. Ernie is 59th right now.
Is Sergio good enough to win a major? Rory didn't think he was ready last year then suddenly was. Sergio said after the Masters he's not good enough, I think if he says that then he's not and may never be?
It was a curious thing to say. If you don't think you can win, how will you pull it off in the end if that is on your mind? That said, I still think he has the game to do it. But he's got to get over those thoughts.
I know it is still months away, but as I am going to the Ryder Cup, don't you think given the USA recent succes on Tour this year could be an amazing battle?
To me, the Ryder Cup is always amazing.. even with the blowouts of a few years ago. The European team is loaded. Should be fun.
After this weekend, it looks like Phil, Tiger, Bubba, and Mahan look to be close to locks on pts for the Ryder Cup if they keep their current play going.. who do you see being 4 other auto qualifiers for DLIII?
The majors have a such a big influence on this, still three more with double points. You win a major and that really enhances your chances. I think Keegan Bradely has an excellent chance to make it on his own. Do does Matt Kuchar given his consistency. Bill Haas. Ultimately I think Jim Furyk will be there.
Should Augusta do something to penalize Tiger for his tantrum on 16?
Not sure they have any authority to do so. You can bet he'll be hearing from the PGA Tour about it.
What is Tiger's best chance at a Major Championship this year after watching a very disappointing 4 rounds at Augusta?
He can win any of them if he is playing like he did at Bay Hill. Hitting greens in regulation and having a solid short game is a key to winning majors, where the conditions are usually more difficult and making tons of birdies is not required. I like his chances at Lytham for the British Open if he gets it together. But as we've seen, it doesn't matter how much a venue favors someone if they are not playing well.
IN YOUR MIND WAS BUBBA SHOT IN THE PLAYOFF THE BEST SHOT OF THE MASTERS?
It was a great shot, no doubt. But Phil's shot on Saturday on 15 was remarkable. Most guys would not try that. And of course Louis' double eagle, although of course there is an element of luck to a ball going in that hole. Bubba hit a tremendously gutsy shot. He could have simply chipped out and nobody would have blamed him.
How many majors will Louis end up with? He has the best swing on Tour right now.
He has a great swing, but he's not won on the PGA Tour outside of the 2010 British Open. Lots of great swings out there. I'm surprised he has not won more.
Bob, did the Olympic Club make any changes to the 18th green to get a return of the Open? (Remember the Payne Stewart putt rolling down the hill?)
I do believe they smoothed out the green somewhat to keep that from happening again.
Since the course changes at Augusta Tiger has not won... are they that drastic to stop arguably the best player of all time?
They started the changes in 2002 and he won in 2005. So he has won. But your point is well taken in that the course has been modified extensively and he's not fared as well. It's not so much the length as it is where they have put trees and rough that has negated him. You have to be much more accurate off the tee and hit longer shots into many greens.
People are talking about Phil's misfortune at Augusta.. what about Lee Westwood... he finishes 2 shots out of playoff, with 1 of them being the 12 inch miss on Sunday, and another being the short eagle miss Sunday on 15... that doesnt include any other missed putts.. He should get more heat than Phil IMO
No doubt, Westwood was right there again, and the putter was the big reason he didn't win.
Only 3 Americans finish in the Top 10 at the Masters - does this give concern for DL III and the Ryder Cup - that these young guns don't show up at the big moments?
I doubt he's concerned. Phil, Bubba, Kuchar are likely going to be on the team. You figure Tiger to be better than he was. Mahan, Stricker. Lots of time. You can't base what will happen at the Ryder Cup on the Masters.
Isn't Rory getting a bit of a free pass here (while TW is getting really scrutinized)? Rory also had a ton of momentum coming to Augusta, and he had as much unfinished business here as TW...
I'm not sure he's getting a free pass, but no doubt his should have been viewed as every much the same disappointment. They tied for 40th. Rory had been in the top 5 of all but one tournament going back to the PGA. He won Honda and was third at Doral. And while he was closer going into the weekend, he shot worse scores than Tiger.
Seemed a bit odd of Peter Hanson to layup on 12.
Jack Nicklaus once shanked a ball on that hole as well.
I went back and forth on the issue all weekend, but I have to admit it was kind of neat to see Augusta without all of the awesome flowers and blooming trees. Gave it a different look.
It didn't bother me much. The place still looked great.
Some interesting comments from Rory after the Masters, saying that he doesn't feel as comfortable on the tee there now as he used to. Seems like he and Tiger just came into the tournament and just totally lost confidence in their swings
Which is hard to believe given their form going in. Golf is the ultimate four letter word.
Let's say Tiger wins his 18th major in miraculous fashion at Augusta on his 49th birthday after trying for years to get there. How long would he continue playing to get to 19?
Why wouldn't he keep going into his 50s for as long as he felt competititve? He would be exempt at all of the majors, even the U.S. Open through age 54 if as you say he wins the Masters at age 49. The other majors he's exempt through his 50s at least.
I was talking about this on my radio show with someone yesterday -- what do you think Bubba's ceiling is? Can he be a 3-4 major guy? For me, I think it comes down to his mental game. Keep his emotions in check and he can take on any golf course.
It's going to all be about the mental side for Bubba. He has in the past discussed having difficulty dealing with fame. Guess how much that is going to increase now? Demands on his time, expectations. All of that plays into it going forward.
Bubba is a bad putter, and statistically has a poor short/wedge game. On the weeks he's on he can win, but to expect him to be consistent is probably a little much
Agreed, he is not very consistent. He could put a lot of work into his wedge game, as long as he hits it. But in some ways he needs to accept this, try to get better, be patient for the weeks he has it.
Given its prominence in the world of golf (and how its looked at by sports fans outside of golf), does ANGC and its membership policies embarrass golf?
I would say it doesn't help golf. Outsiders look at the situation and view golf as elitist. Of course, golf is made up of private clubs throughout the country. They exclude on purpose. The take here is ANGC should be above that. They do so much good for the game otherwise. Yes, it's their club, their right to do as they choose. I respect that. But this issue is a bad mark.
I'm not a fan of drop-kicking clubs, but end of the day give me that extreme reaction to frustration over essentially seeming to give up, and hugging for birdies
I think you can be frustrated and not give up and still not kick your club. Sure, I think we'd all rather he get frustrated and keep grinding than mail it in. But he can do that without getting that mad.
Bob, don't you think there is something to Bubba's driving tactic? i.e. have three shots in the bag---dead straight (which Bubba seems to play only about 10% of the time), cut (20 yards or so), massive cut (50 yards or more). Eliminate the entire right side of the golf course with the knowledge that the ball will never turn over left to right.
Of course, it turned over right big time on the playoff hole to put him in that tough spot.
Harrington and Hansen showed off more European love at the Masters.. who is going to get left off that stacked team.
There's lots of great players who might not make it, Harrington being one of them. I would think the Molinari bothers, at least one, might not be on there. What about Manassero? Jimenez? Casey? Some big names won't be at Medinah.
It seems the majority of opinion is that Phil's triple cost him the Masters, or at least a playoff (if he just makes a bogey, etc. which just assumes everything exists in a vacuum). My own opinion is Phil's putting on Sunday cost him more than the triple. For the first 3 days, he was getting putts to go in. But on Sunday, he missed makeable birdie putts at 2,3,7,11, left his eagle putts on 13 and 15 short, and his must make on 17 short. A few more made would have changed the result.
A good point. phil admitted he didn't make as many putts Sunday, that he had chances.
Since 2002 and the latest tree additions, the course seems to really favor left-handers. Any chance ANGC admits they made a mistake and take out some of the trees?
They tinker all the time so it's possible. Not sure for the reason you state. Just seems wrong to have all those trees on 11 when it's a 500 yard par-4, for instance.
What people don't realize about Bubba is that he hits the ball a lot lower than some of the other longer hitters out there. I think that will really play to his advantage in the British this year with the winds. Agree?
British Open is about being creative, and he certainly is. Can he play those bump and runs and learn to hit it short of the green and let it roll on? Certainly.
Bob, what was the media's reaction to Bubba breaking down and showing his true human side? My buddies and I got choked up watching him show so much emotion...
Not a surprise. He's been emotional in the past, such as after his first win, at his first Ryder Cup.
Bob, I have heard that the USGA is planning to set up Olympic in a very difficult way following the low scores at Congressional. Do you think that ove par could win that championship?
I am not sure if it is a reaction to Congressional or if this was going to be the case all along. But I think we can expect a very difficult test in San Francisco.
Phil's flop at 15 wasn't even his best shot either - go find the video where he hit driver off the deck. off the pine straw, with about a 30 yard slice, at the 2nd hole Saturday
I'll take the guts of the flop shot, but you're right ,that was a great shot and it was huge as he had just taken a penalty drop at No. 2. That shot helped him save par.
I guess Padraig Harrington's swing is back. He was BY FAR, the best player tee to green on Sunday. It wasn't even close. If he putted a little bit better, he could have won the whole thing. He missed a lot makeable putts.
It was disappointing to see some of those opportunities slide by. Padraig was right there with a bunch of chances.
One thing that is getting a bit lost in all of this, is that Bubba sets a wonderful example of playing quickly and decisively. I realize that his "feel" way of playing (see the shot hit the shot) contributes to this, but he deserves credit for playing efficiently.
Anyone who plays quickly -- or at least not slowly -- is worth praising.
Tiger's 14 majors should be kept in a high status by all for years to come.. Any of the top 50 in the world could win the US Open, and no one would be shocked.. and only 4 can win a major in a given year
Which is why Tiger remains a compelling story even when he is not at his best. You win that often, set that kind of bar, everything he does in golf will be analyzed until he is no longer a serious competitive player.
Okay, I'm out of time. Thanks again for all the questions. If you have more, feel free to send a few my way on twitter: @bobharig. I try to knock off questions there as well. Thanks, and take care.