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August 21, 3:00 PM ET
Chat with Bob Harig

Bob Harig
  (2:59 PM)

Hello again, thanks for checking in and participating. Augusta National, PGA Tour playoffs, Ryder Cup. . . lots to chat about. Please fire away with your questions.

David (Orlando,Fl) [via mobile]

Hey Bob whose your favorite going into the playoffs? I know the fedex playoffs have gotten a ton of flack but I couldnt be more happy to watch the besy players in the world play in the fall

Bob Harig
  (3:01 PM)

I have no favorites, no way to know who is going to win this thing. Picking golf winners is impossible! But your point is valid. Lots of issues with the playoffs, but bottom line, they provide us with 4 really good tournaments at a time of year when we would almost certainly ont see all these guys playing.

Chuck (Cold Spring Harbor, NY)

The notion that because players, like Dufner, can skip the first round of the "Playoffs" means that technically this isn't a playoff doesn't make sense to me. There are many post season formats where higher seeds get first round bye's. While I wish Dufner was playing, he's earned this first round "optional" bye.

Bob Harig
  (3:03 PM)

I guess in the NFL, the top two teams in each conference have a bye. But there are no byes in the NBA, NHL or MLB. I think the point here is that in playoffs, if you qualify, you play or you don't move on. That said, Dufer is perfectly within his rights to do this. He had a great season, and he can get away with skipping an event and easily move on to the next tournament.

Ed (Long Island)

Do you think this whole situation with Augusta is being blown out of proportion a bit? So now they have 2 female members - how is that really going to impact anything other than Martha Burke now needs someone else to pick on.

Bob Harig
  (3:05 PM)

It's symbolic more than anything. The most famous private club in the world that hosts one of the 4 majors and also reaps millions from those who pass through its gates is now admitting women members. As I wrote on ESPN.com (sorry, shameless plug), this won't change a lot. We're still talking about wealthy people who belong to a very exclusive club. But it does send an important message, that at such an important place, where the leaders of business often meet to play golf, that women can be members, too. So while I understand your point, I don not think it is overblown. It's important.

Andrew (WI)

I wonder if somewhere, Sergio is pissed at the Golf Gods again for having the Augusta news come out just as he's winning his first title in forever.

Bob Harig
  (3:05 PM)

The timing was pretty amazing.

JY (TO) [via mobile]

Next year following the conclusion of the tour championship, how long of a break will there be until the new season starts? Only a few weeks?

Bob Harig
  (3:07 PM)

I believe it will go like this. Tour Championship, followed by an off week (when the Web.com final event will be played), then the Presidents Cup at Muirfield Village and then the very next week the Frys.com Open. So yes, not even a few weeks.

JY (TO) [via mobile]

Do you think the change to have the tour championship the final event of the golf season next year will enhance the playoff structure?

Bob Harig
  (3:09 PM)

It will make things simpler. The regular season will end after the Wyndham Championship. You are either in the playoffs or you are not. Those who are not are relegated to the Web.com 3 tournament series to try and regain their card. Those who are in get a crack at a lot of prize money and bonus money. When it's over, it's over -- no more tournaments afterward to decide the money list. We'll have a FedEx champion, the season will be complete, and a few weeks later, the new one will begin, with a break coming for the holidays.

Shoshana (Boston)

This year (like every other yr) there were several players who are inside the 125 on pts, but outside it on money (and vice versa). Starting next year the top 125 on pts, rather than money will determine cards? Do you like the change?

Bob Harig
  (3:12 PM)

Actually, I did an item on this in Birdies & Bogeys column (sorry, another shameless plug.) You are right, the two lists do not match up. Next year, the FedEx points list is going to be what they go by. However, for one year (next year) as the transition to the new system, if you are outside of top 125 in points but inside the top 125 in money, while you won't get in the playoffs, you'll at least be exempt for the following year. After that, it's all FedEx Cup points.Do I like the change? I guess I wish they would decide it all on money and not points. Then again, the number of points at all regular events is the same, with slight increases for WGCs and majors. So in that respect, it is probably more fair.

Andrew (WI)

Will the PGA Tour drag in some international events when they start the new seasonal format? Seems like they should count the HSBC to throw a bone to the big name players to start.

Bob Harig
  (3:13 PM)

That is exactly what they are going to do.Next year, the new season will begin with the Frys and then you'll have tournaments such as Timberlake, McGladrey and Disney. Then the tournament in Malaysia followed by HSBC Champions in China. Both the Malaysia event and the China event will count as FedEx events on the PGA Tour.

CLG (Florida)

Is Tiger on the grounds already? Haven't heard anything about him practicing or whether or not he will have a press conference.

Bob Harig
  (3:13 PM)

I am not at the Barclays, but Tiger is playing in the pro-am Wednesday.

Chris K (Wisconsin)

US Amateur final was pretty dramatic but how about using carts to speed things up? I muted most of the coverage.

Bob Harig
  (3:14 PM)

This is actually the danger of match play. It's tough to fill all that time on TV.

Shoshana (Boston)

After Tiger skipped Barclays in '07 and Vijay won before the TC in '08 PGA tour had a decision to make: they decided they wanted the regular season to mean something, and the TC to decide the winner, Duffner (and Furyk) is the result. You make choices

Bob Harig
  (3:15 PM)

They have made it much tougher now to skip an event, but you can still get away with it. Dufner very much risks falling out of the top 5, and being in the top 5 heading to Atlanta means a lot. That said, he could have missed the cut and it would be the same result.

meetgolfers (Kansas City)

Does golf need a 5th major? The sport has become very global and a major in Asia could could give it a huge boost.

Bob Harig
  (3:16 PM)

Four majors is perfect. I am not sure how you change it and adding to it can't just be done with some edict. How would you change history? So much involved. Asia does have a WGC event. Unless all the powers that be agreed to move one of the majors to Asia, I don't see how you accomplish this.

Alex (Anaheim)

Do you have a favorite golf book?

Bob Harig
  (3:18 PM)

There are lots of them, but I really liked The Grand Slam by Mark Frost. An excellent look into Bobby Jones' winnign the four biggest tournametns of the day back in 1930 and a lot of great info about the man himself.

Bobby (Arkansas)

I agree that it is about time that August added some female members. But I have a problem with all the bad publicity they received for not having them before. Shouldn't a private club be allowed to have whatever kind of membership they want. If people didn't like their policies then they didn't have to watch/play/support the Masters. Whatever happened to freedom of association? We may not agree with their previous policy, but they should have been left alone to have said policy.

Bob Harig
  (3:20 PM)

You are correct. They had every right to do as they pleased with their membership policies. There is no law prohibiting private clubs, and by their very nature, they invite who they please. The pressure came because of their very public affiliation with the golf world through a major championship. And of late, their very public attempts to grow the game through various initiatives. It simply looked hypocrical. So they had freedom of association. But that doesn't mean people couldn't have an opinion about how they should operate.

JY (TO) [via mobile]

Could you ever see the tour championship rivaling the majors? Even 20 years from now once it becomes ingrained into the fabric of golf?

Bob Harig
  (3:20 PM)

No. The majors will always be supreme. I would put the Players Championship well ahead of the Tour Championship and it has no chance to rival the majors.

Gus (New City, NY)

Bob, Need your help settling a bet from when Furyk won the Tour Championship. Is there an official PGA Tour rule about players wearing their hats backwards while playing? Thanks

Bob Harig
  (3:21 PM)

I believe Furyk only did that on the last green due to the dripping water as it was raining quite hard. Is there a rule? I don't think so. But the guess is if a player did that for an entire round, he'd be told to turn the cap around or risk a fine.

JY (TO) [via mobile]

It is fair to say Tiger has raised the profile of the majors? His intense infatuation with winning maJors seems to have enhanced their significance over the past 15 years. I don't recall them being quite this important 30-40 years ago

Bob Harig
  (3:23 PM)

The majors were always important but they really became a big deal in 1960 when Arnold Palmer more or less invented the modern Grand Slam. Big-name players in the 40s and 50s rarely went to the British Open. Hogan played it just once, for example. Nobody thought of the four majors as we think of them today. The Masters had yet to build its tradition. But in '60, Palmer won the Masters and U.S. Open and talked about winning the British and the PGA and winning a modern slam. The idea took off. Here we are 50-some years later.

Evan Almighty (Indy)

Back to Kiawah Island (which I loved) ... Will the Ocean Course ever get another major? I know figuring out the traffic will probably be the one determining factor. (I was lucky enough to stay on the island and did not leave it until Sunday night!) But the players seemed to enjoy the course, even despite the crazy wind on Friday.

Bob Harig
  (3:25 PM)

Therein lies the problem. You were one of the fortunte ones. Unless they come up with another traffic plan and shuttle a majority of the people from off the island -- as opposed to letting thousands park ON the island in one of the dumbest decisions ever -- they can't go back. There is way more to a major than a golf course that challenges the players. Otherwise we'd have majors at Pine Valley or Bandon Dunes or any number of places that simply can't accommodate.

Andrew (WI)

The drama is out of the European Ryder Cup team selection, right? Sergio solidly in now, and Poulter and Colasaerts seem like rather obvious selections. They're way ahead of everyone else in thes standings and all the other big names are faded (with the possible exception of Paddy)

Bob Harig
  (3:27 PM)

Colsaerts can still overtake Martin Kaymer this week in the European points. He'd have to win or finish in a tie for second with no more than two others. In that case, then there is some drama. Colsaerts would be in and then you have Poulter, Kaymer and Padraig Harrington to choose from. Poulter to me is a lock. So then what? Kaymer has played poorly all summer. He has no top 10s since the week after the Masters. Harrington had not been great either, but has played better and has all that experience.If Colsaerts doesn't knock out Kaymer, then I think it's simply Colsaers and Poulter.

Joe (NJ)

Do you think with Bethpage Black playing to a par 71 that the course is at risk of hurting it's reputation as one of the toughest courses in the country?I have played the course twice from the back tees and as a short hitting 13 hcp i found the course to be very playable and not overly difficult.What hurt me the most was the length.In my opinion if these guys can keep it in the fairway we might see some really low scores with the course not being set up for a US Open.

Bob Harig
  (3:29 PM)

No, I don't think the par matters much. Those are still tough holes. But it won't be nearly as tough as U.S. Open. It's going to be interesting to see it play easier and how they do.

Bob (Tacoma)

Your thoughts on Sergio's chances in the Playoffs? At least in reaching East Lake? I realize climbing 3 spots is actually harder than it would seem, but believe that the single biggest motivator for him has always been the Ryder Cup. Wouldn't surprise me to see him go on a run.

Bob Harig
  (3:30 PM)

He's made his chances of reaching East Lake far better.It's actually not that difficult as the points are 5X great in the playoffs. A top 10 and he moves way up. And yes, the Ryder Cup clearly has to be on his mind. I think playing these tournaments helps guys prepare.

JR (Phila)

That's an interesting question about the caps...Is there any regulation now that you *must* wear something? I remember a time when many players went hatless. Is the change now just an acknowledgement of sun damage?

Bob Harig
  (3:31 PM)

There is nothing saying you have to wear a hat.

Shoshana (Boston)

Is anyone else a little worried about Tiger going into this stretch? 5/6 weeks & the RC is a lot of golf at the end. Last time he played 3 in a row he WD'd

Bob Harig
  (3:32 PM)

It is a lot of golf in this stretch. Three straight weeks, a week off, then two more in a row.

Joe (NJ)

How pumped are you to see some combination of Tiger,Phil,Rory,Sergio and Dustin battling Sunday at Bethpage?

Bob Harig
  (3:32 PM)

It would be great. That is what these events give us a hope of seeing this time of year when there is no way it could happen otherwise.

Shoshana (Boston)

Who do you like for the 4th captains pick for the US? and hwo badly is Ollie wishing that Colsaerts overtakes Kaymer for an auto spot (or that Barclays counted - for the same reason)

Bob Harig
  (3:34 PM)

If you assume that Furyk and Stricker are in, then to me it's between Mahan, Fowler and Snedeker. I could make a case for or against all. I think they need to show something in these two weeks.

Bryan (Springdale, AR)

Do you find that those who still hate Tiger Woods have a difficult time separating sports from the rest of life?

Bob Harig
  (3:36 PM)

I have never understood that negativity toward Woods. Forget his personal life. As a golfer, he's been amazing. We've been spoiled to get to watch him. Now if it's because you'd rather see more people win or you prefer parity, that's a point of view that is valid. But to discount his excellence because of personal failures I just don't get.

John (Naples)

The more I watch Rory play the more it is clear he is the best player in the owrld when he has his "A" game. Unlike Tiger, I have not seen him come away with a win with his "B" game. Is this a function of deeper fields?

Bob Harig
  (3:37 PM)

Tiger used to do that all the time. Now, not so much. And Tiger has always faced deep fields. He's lost majors to Rich Beem, Michael Cambpell and Y.E. Yang. None of those players won another PGA Tour event after beating Woods in a major.

Spencer (TN)

I heard Tiger went back to practicing with the Scotty Cameron after the PGA. Have you heard anything about it??

Bob Harig
  (3:37 PM)

I have not. Perhaps practicing, but my guess is you'll see the Nike putter this week.

Alex (indiana)

Do you think most people forget tiger is still leading the fedex cup and has won 3 tournaments even though he is having a less than tiger like year.

Sam (Hoboken)

What hole is playing as a par 5 this year that was played as a 4 at the US Open? Is it number 7?

Bob Harig
  (3:39 PM)

No question. Many judge him by his past, when he routinely won 5, 6 tournaments a year. That's hard to do. He's now 36. Nicklaus didn't win huge amounts at this age. To win three tournaments this year should be considered a success.

Bob Harig
  (3:39 PM)

Sorry, I was also asked about which holes at Bethpage has been changed to a par-5. I don't know the answer. If anyone has it, please pass along Thanks

Ed (Long Island)

What do you think about lowering the amount of players to start the playoffs? Playoffs are generally considered a reward for a good year - 125 players is over kill. I would recommend starting with 64, 32, 16 and 8 players for the final - winner of that wins the FEDEX Cup.

Bob Harig
  (3:41 PM)

This won't work becasue a golf tournament really has to have a full field of players. If anything, I'd rather see the first three playoff events have full fields of 132 or 144 players with a 36-hole cut. Now you can pare down who is still part of the playoffs, but a full field allows for spoilers. Then when you get to the Tour Championship, allow only a finite number of players.

Colin (Seattle)

Hi Bob- So if you are Captain Olazabal who would you select as your two captains picks? I would think having Sergio make the team on his own really helps.

Bob Harig
  (3:42 PM)

I think right now it is Colsaerts and Poulter.

Spencer (TN)

I just dont get it Bob. He wins countless amounts of tournaments including majors with the Scotty putter but then decides to change to the Nike for what i'm sure is sponsorship reasons. How good the Nike putter is should not matter when his great amount of confidence in winning with the Scotty is at stake. Don't you agree?? Should he not go back for good?

Bob Harig
  (3:43 PM)

I am just speculating here, but perhaps Nike required him to use the putter. They stuck by him in sponsoring him. Maybe he is paying them back? It was the only club in his bag that was not a Nike. Again, it's just a guess, but that could be part of it, because why change from what worked so well?

Marc (Malden, MA)

Carl Petterson's lame "leaf" penalty: who noticed it? Please tell me it was an actual official and not some loser calling from home. At what point does the PGA look at the rules and decide which ones are stupid?

Bob Harig
  (3:44 PM)

In this case, it was an official, but it was reviewed repeatedly on replay before he was penalized. What if he hadn't been on TV? Pettersson didn't know he committed a violation. So he couldn't have called it on himself.

mike (nyc)

The 7th hole is now a par5 if they go to the old box you need to hit a nice fade.If you hook it thats not gonna be good.

Bob Harig
  (3:45 PM)

This is referring to Bethpage. It was a par-4 for U.S. Open.

Shoshana (Boston)

What one thing would you change about the pga tour fedex?

Bob Harig
  (3:49 PM)

I have said this before, but I'd like to see the Tour Championship have all the players start out equal, no points. The winner of the tournament wins the FedEx Cup and all the way down. This would be far more compelling. The last guy in has a chance to win the whole thing by playing well that week.Now, you will hear cries that the rest of the season meant nothing to get to No. 1.My way to alleviate that would be this:Divide the bonus money. Instead of giving $10-million to winner of FedEx Cup, give $5-million to the person who leads the points after the BMW, and then $5-million to player who wins Tour Championship, with payouts trickling down.Think about it. The race to be 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 through BMW all of a sudden becomes much more compelling. A guy like Dufner might not skip this week so he is closer to the top. Then, once that is decided, you've got another tournament for the 30 who advance and they start over.

Spencer (TN)

Perhaps Bob, I think it's so sad to see a player like Tiger get hampered like this for a sponsorship conflict.

Bob Harig
  (3:50 PM)

It's just a theory, and it may not be so. Could be he likes the Nike putter better too. He's experimented with different styles. Bottom line, he's been much more streaky the past three years.

josh (annapolis)

I noticed you picked Sergio to win last week. Nice call. Choice this week?

Bob Harig
  (3:50 PM)

How about that? A rare winning pick. I went with Phil this week. Doesnt make sense -- except he's had two runner-up finishes at Bethpage.

Bill (California)

Pretty sure I saw Robert Rock playing without a hat in SF.

Bob Harig
  (3:51 PM)

Robert Rock does not play with a hat ever that I know.

Shoshana (Boston)

BTW totally agree with your B&B column on TW (shameless plug). People tend to lose long term perspective. From where he was last year to now is night/day

Bob Harig
  (3:53 PM)

A shamless and another shameless plug. Bottom line, if you took the name away and said he hadn't played for three months last year, dropped to 58th in the world, then won three times this year (and four times overall including Chevron), you'd say it was pretty good. But becaue it's Tiger, people look a standard that is impossible to sustain.

Andrew (WI)

I'm not a cynic, but I'm wondering if Dufner not playing this week has anything to do with putting up with the Tiger/Rory circus he'd be a part of for 2 days.

Bob Harig
  (3:56 PM)

I really don't think that's it. I think it has more to do with not liking Bethpage, wanting to play Wyndham last week and not wanting to play WGC, PGA Wyndam and then three straight playoff events. If he hadn't played last week, it would be a bigger deal.

Chris K (Wisconsin)

Following up from chat last week...12 players made the cut in all four majors this year. The list includes a couple near winners: Keegan Bradley, Jason Dufner, Jim Furyk, Padraig Harrington, Fredrik Jacobson, Zach Johnson, Graeme McDowell, Francesco Molinari, Ian Poulter, Adam Scott, Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/wire?section=golfonline&id=8269573

Bob Harig
  (3:57 PM)

I believe Scott and McDowell were top 15 in all four. Thanks for passing along.

Justin (Rockford, IL)

I wear a hearing aid and wear my hat backwards to prevent sweat from getting my hearing aid wet. Would I really not be able to wear my hat backwards if I was on tour??

Bob Harig
  (3:58 PM)

I am not saying you couldn't do so now. Just a guess as to how PGA Tour would handle. With an extenuating circumstance, things would clearly be different.

Bob Harig
  (4:00 PM)

Okay folks, I'm out of time. Thanks again for participating. Enjoy the Barclays and the rest of the playoffs.