Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

July 17, 10:30 AM ET
Chat with Bog Harig

Bob Harig
  (10:28 AM)

Hello, thanks for joining at a much earlier time. Plenty to chat about from Royal Lytham. My time is a bit limited so I'll have to cut out early. Fire away and I'll get to as many as possible. Thanks.

JY (TO)

Is The Open your favourite event to cover each year?

Bob Harig
  (10:29 AM)

There are lots of great events to cover, but this is tops, simply because of the uniqueness. A foreign country, links golf, the history. There are lots of challenges, but that's fine. It is a really neat place to be, no matter the venue.

Kirk (OK)

I mentioned in last week's chat that the number of players this week could exceed 156. You dismissed it. We're at 157 as of today and it could have been more if Simpson, Toms, Day, and O'Meara don't withdraw. Who goofed up in this case?

Bob Harig
  (10:31 AM)

I did not dismiss it, but I answered it incorrectly. I did not realize that they had no problem going over 156.Their exemption criteria calls for a field of 156 but if more get in, they don't have a problem with it. They have plenty of daylight here and simply added tee times.But.. if somebody withdraws, they don't add players until they get below 156.

Davis (Bama)

Are there only two amateurs in the field this week?

Bob Harig
  (10:31 AM)

That is correct, one of them is the British Amateur champion Alan Dunbar who is from Northern Ireland.

Mike (Chicago)

Is the British Open field of players better thea US Open field? Masters?

Bob Harig
  (10:33 AM)

It is better than the Masters, simply because the Masters has a small field. More players get in at the Open Championship. As for U.S. Open, it's probably pretty close. Both invite top 50 in the world, etc. Both have qualifying with tour players.

Mike-OB (OB)

Isn't the difficulty of the course being overplayed a bit? If there are a couple days of consistant nice weather, the winning score could be -654 (or something like that).

Bob Harig
  (10:34 AM)

I am not sure the difficulty of the course has been overplayed. The difficulty of the rough has been disucssed, as well as the bunkers. With a fast-running course, Lytham has yielded scores well under par the last two Opens.

JY (TO)

How is Lytham considered amongst the Open rota courses? Sounds like it is perhaps the top (or second) course in England that they play?

Bob Harig
  (10:36 AM)

That is very subjective. There are 4 in England: Lytham, Birkdale, Hoylake and St. George's. Most would probably put St. George's last, but the other three are a toss up.

Greg (NY)

What do you think the winning over/under par score will be this weekend?

Bob Harig
  (10:37 AM)

Wish I were good at predicting such things. I think it's going to be 8 to 10 under. This place yas yielded under par scores in the past. It's not long. And it's softer than usual.

Greensington (Home Sight)

Yes, Lytham has yielded scores well under par. BUT was that not when the course was playing at par 71, Hob?

Bob Harig
  (10:38 AM)

Yes, and it's par-70 now. Duval was 10 under in 2001, so take off 4 and he'd be 6 under. Lehman was 13 under in 1996, take off 4 and he'd be 9 under. . It's still quite possible to get under par here.

Arianne Long (Canada)

How have Tiger's practice rounds been going.

Bob Harig
  (10:39 AM)

They appeared to go well, for as much as that was worth. He looked very comfortable on Sunday morning when I watched him play most of the back nine. Yesterda the weather was poor and today he got in practice before it began raining. He seems to have a good attitude about the course.

JY (TO)

Seems like Tiger is very comfortable with the course set up and the need to keep the driver in the bag. Does this type of set up give him an advantage over many in the field?

Bob Harig
  (10:40 AM)

He's going to have to hit some drivers here, it's not like Hoylake. Still, it's a matter of positioning. Staying away from those fairways bunkers. If he can do that and hit a lot of greens like he's done when he's won this year, he'll be in contention.

Ed (Long Island)

How is the cut determined this week?

Bob Harig
  (10:42 AM)

top 70 and ties. No 10 shot rule.

tim (scotland)

Very interesting debate about best rota courses, especially in England. Over here, the general consensus is Birkdale, R St George's, Lytham and then Liverpool. But it seems the order is different for Americans. Thoughts?

Bob Harig
  (10:44 AM)

It's not me, it's the players I think. From the comments, you can tell that St. George's is down the list, the other three are closer. It seems that Birkdale might ranke first. Remember, these guys played Hoylake just once.

Ed (Long Island)

Are the fairways sloped to feed the balls into the bunkers, or do you have to mis-hit your drives to find the bunkers?

Bob Harig
  (10:45 AM)

I think it is more about hitting them poorly, although of course you can think you hit it just right but you were off a bit in alignment or projection and it funnels into a bunker.

Dave (Tallahassee Fl)

Do you believe Tiger will benefit playing with excellent ball-strikers/links players in Sergio and Justin?

Bob Harig
  (10:45 AM)

Not sure it matters much. It's all about how he is doing and how he feels.

Ryan (CT)

I remember you picked Tiger to win here at the start of the season. Do you still feel as confident?

Bob Harig
  (10:46 AM)

I said at the beginning of the year that I thought he'd win one major and that this would be it. I'll stick by it . . for what that is worth.

Jake (CT)

why does every see Westwood pulling through this time? Is there really anything about this time around (course fitting his game, part of his game that is clicking that will really help him this week) or is every just playing a hunch that he'll finally win one? Do you give him the best chance of the PGA top-5 to win?

Bob Harig
  (10:47 AM)

Not sure that everyone does seem him pulling through. But he has seven top 3s in majors. He's ranked third in the world. He's from England, familiar with the course, likes links golf. People think he should win a major, hence they like his chances.

Matthew (Glasgow)

Can you see someone separating themselves from the field on this course? Or will the weather contribute to having a bunched up field this week?

Bob Harig
  (10:47 AM)

No, I expect there to be many players with a shot at winning come Sunday.

Ed (Long Island)

Do they do split tees the first 2 days?

Bob Harig
  (10:48 AM)

No split tees, one of the beauties of the Open. Everybody goes off No. 1. Tee times start at 6:16 and go past 4 p.m. It's terrific.

Burke (Birmingham)

Who is most likely to MC? tiger, phil, bubba, or westwood?

Bob Harig
  (10:48 AM)

Out of that group, I'd have to say Bubba. Not saying he will miss, but given that choice.

David Richards (Iowa)

Do you feel that the players that played John Deere have time to get used to their surroundings in just a couple days???

Bob Harig
  (10:49 AM)

I think they are at a disadvantage. They got here Monday morning. They've basically got 2 full days to learn the course and get acclimated to the time change.

Ed (Long Island)

Based on latest weather forecast - any distinct advantages to either side of the draw expected?

Ed (Long Island)

Does Tom Watson make the cut...AGAIN??

Bob Harig
  (10:51 AM)

It's supposed to rain Thursday morning so the late half would have the advantage if that holds true. You would think. But things change quickly around here.

Marc (Malden, MA)

A couple months ago, I read an article about a high school senior who lost her chance at four straight state titles because she signed an incorrect scorecard that had her winning by 8 instead of 7. My question is haven't we reached the point where on certain levels, we shouldn't require players to keep manual scorecards? Think about it. On professional tours, each group has tv cameras, several tour officials, scorecard carriers. Couldn't we have one of them keep score electronically? We're not in the 40s anymore.

Bob Harig
  (10:53 AM)

There is no doubt that golf at the highest levels should move past penalties for incorrect scorecards.

David Richards (Iowa)

Do you feel Zach Johnson or Steve Stricker would benefit by skipping the Deere? If so, guess how many strokes it would possibly save them ( in your opinion of course) ?

Bob Harig
  (10:56 AM)

Nothing is absolute, but guys who have played in the Deere have not come over here and done particularly well. That could just be a fluke. Stricker has had some good finishes but not been in the mix. Maybe it takes its toll? Of course, guys are used to travel. But here, you are playing a completely different course in weather that is 30 degrees cooler and a 6-hour time change.

Ed (Long Island)

Are the fairway bunkers pot bunkers or more like the fairway bunkers we see week in week out?

Bob Harig
  (10:56 AM)

they are pot bunkers and extremely penal.

Ed (Long Island)

Who does the England faithful root for the most this week - Westwood, Donald, Poulter, Rose...other?

Bob Harig
  (10:57 AM)

They root for them all. . and Rory.

Ed (Long Island)

Any water hazards to be concerned about on the course?

Bob Harig
  (10:59 AM)

I do not believe there is a single water hazard that comes into play.

David Richards (Iowa)

Is there any talk of changing the ruling on balls coming to rest in divots, and the ability to move them out ? Your opinion?

Bob Harig
  (11:00 AM)

There has been very little talk about this. Making divots into ground under repair has been discussed forever. It's a good argument too but I think it's fine the way it is.

Adam (Work)

Will ESPN be showing a tape delay on Thurs. and Friday? If so, what time can I catch those?

Bob Harig
  (11:02 AM)

The telecast is live each day with taped highlights each evening in the U.S.

tim (scotland)

do you know any other clubhouse that sits so close to the 18th that it comes into play?

Bob Harig
  (11:03 AM)

Royal Troon is similar with the clubhouse right behind the 18th green.

Mike (NYC)

Answer a John Daly question- its good for golf!How do you see the big guy playing this weekend?

Bob Harig
  (11:03 AM)

He's actually been playing nicely of late. It wouldn't surprise me to see him have a good week.

Jeff (WI)

Is there a curse on the past Open winners? Cink, Clarke. They haven't played well after there wins at the Open.

Bob Harig
  (11:04 AM)

No curse, that's golf. Ooshuizen hasn't done a lot either, although he lost in a playoff at the Masters.

Nick (Chicago)

Hey Bob, i heard that you watched Tiger's practice round. What is the key for him this week at the Open?

Bob Harig
  (11:04 AM)

Stay out of the bunkers! Seriously, you have to avoid those fairway bunkers. There are 205 total bunkers on this course.

Ed (Long Island)

Would a British Open add more to Phil's career resume than a US Open victory? Talk is always about his desire to win a US Open, but I think a British Open would be more impactful to his accomplishments.

Bob Harig
  (11:05 AM)

Either one would be impactful. It would be a fifth major.

Bob Harig
  (11:06 AM)

Okay folks, I'm sorry but this was an abbreviated one today. Thanks for all the questions. Enjoy the Open Championship.