Hello, checking in from Abu Dhabi, sorry for the delay. . Let's get started as we've got limited time this evening. Well, it's evening where I am, approximately 8:30 p.m. Thanks for your questions. Fire away.
Do you believe Tiger's committing to the Farmer's Insurance Open is simply because the tournament director in Qatar refused to pay Tiger's asking price? Or does Tiger truly value his history and legacy at Torrey Pines?
Tiger's agent, Mark Steinberg, said there were never any discussions with the Qatar tournament about playing there. Never any negotiations. So it seems that the tournament director may have said that knowing Tiger wasn't coming. And it certainly makes sense that Tiger would want to play at Torrey Pines next week anyway.
What is your prediction for Tiger's 2013 season? Winning a major? FedEx Cup?
In our preseason predictions, I said I thought he would win 4 times worldwide, including a major. I picked the British Open as the major he'd capture. Now any of you have followed along know how futile picking winners of golf tournaments can be. So take those predictions at your own peril.
What tournament are you most looking forward to this year? Muirfield perhaps?
No doubt. The British Open is always a favorite. All of the courses are unique, and there never seems to be a bad Open.
Bob, who do you think has the better season - Rory or Tiger? And do you think Rory will struggle w/ the added pressure of the Swoosh?
I have said they'd both win 4 tournaments, both win a major. Kind of a copout I suppose. As for extra pressure, you'd have to think, given human nature, that he wants to play well and justify the multi millions Nike is paying him.
Bob, welcome back to the land of the chat. I'm interested in your opinion on the Tiger/Rory relationship. For me, Tiger has always been a guy who respected players that won major championships. Especially those that are good guys and that dont publically challenge him or offer any perceived slights (e.g. Harrington - he used to talk about him glowingly all the time during his run of majors). I think he see's Rory as the future of the game, and possibly in the end a chance to be one of the greatest golfers who's ever lived, and respects that. Others have suggested that he has a hidden agenda to his "friendship" with Rory, but I just don't see that.
I think you summed it up quite well. Tiger likes Rory, respects him, sees him as a young, up and coming player. That doesn't mean he doesn't want to beat him.
I don't understand why people are saying Rory is now the face of Nike Golf. I don't think the average fan even knows Rory is switching to nike. Am I right about this that Tiger is and will always be the face of nike until he retires
I think Tiger is still the face of Nike golf but Rory is now someone else that Nike can lean on quite heavily. The exposure the two of them get is about as big as it gets in golf.
Sense any annoyance or resentment from the other golfer's that the only topic of conversation is Rory and Tiger?
Not really. Sure, there is some I suppose. But this has how it's been through the Tiger era. Lots of questions about him. Now Tiger is getting lots of questions about Rory.
Good afternoon Bob. What's the weather forecast for Abu Dubai this week?
It is virtually the same every day: high of 78-80 degrees. Low of 58. No rain. Big factor will be if there is wind. It has been extremely windy so far, but it is supposed to subside.
who wins this weekend bob?
For what it's worth, I have picked Justin Rose. (I picked Brandt Snedeker at Humana.)
Will Tiger ever come back to the PHX Open? What about Rory? Does he ever debut at TPC Scottsdale?
I don't see him going back to the Phoenix Open. For the most part, once a tournament leaves Tiger's schedule, it doesn't return. As for Rory, it also seems unlikely. He has opportunities in the Middle East this time of year, and he seems to want to gear his U.S. debut around Match Play, Honda, Doral.
How would you define a "good" year for Rory in 2013? How about a "bad" year?
A good year would be 3 or more victories. A bad year would be to not win at all.
I'd like to get your thoughts on Vijay Singh. He had a solid start last week, if he makes some putts, he would have been easily in top10. What do u project for him this year. Any majors?
I keep thinking that Vijay is going to break through and win again but we're on more than 4 years since his last victory. He still works as hard as anyone. Believe it or not he turns 50 next month. If he were to win a major, he'd be the oldest to do so in history.
Interesting that you just tried to define what would be a good or bad year for Rory without mentioning majors. When does Rory reach the point in his career where majors, not regular wins, define his success?
Well a good year doesn't have to include majors. Last year Tiger won three times and had a good year. Majors make it great. I'm sure Rory would be disappointed if he didn't win a major this year, but let's be realistic: there are only 4 chances. He wasn't a factor in three of them last year and then won the PGA. And there are very few players in history who have won a major in 3 straight years.
In case you missed it: I'm going with Justin Rose.
Bob, like Rory, I just got the Nike VR Pro irons (no laser show for me though), I'm a 5 handicap and as much as they have helped me already, I don't think Rory is going to miss a beat considering he has more talent in his pinky finger than I do in my whole body...
There is a feeling that equipment is so good today, and that players have so many avenues to get dialed in such as launch monitors, that switching equipment is not as big of a deal as it once was. But I'm sure there are adjustments. The ball he is using is not quite the same as before. He'll need to learn the good and bad it provides.
Is there any new rule changes that are in effect this season?
No, the rules of golf only change every 4 years. Although the ruling bodies want to ban anchored putting, it won't go in the rule back until 2016.
Is this the year of Keegan Bradley?
I think it's possible. He continues to gain confidence and I love his attitude.
True or false: someone breaks up the Rory/Tiger 1-2 hierarchy in the OWGR at some point this year.
True and False. I don't think anybody moves past Rory to No. 1. He's got a big lead. Tiger just moved to No. 2 this week without playing and there is the potential for some volatility
I think winning any major is difficult, let alone more than one. Tiger is going on 5 years without a major. It's been 8 years since he last won the Masters. You're right, if he gets his short irons locked in, look out. But that's no guarantee.
I know you said you think Phil will win a tournament this year, but any chance he'll ever win another major?
Still think Phil can be a force at Augusta for a long time.
Which "breakthrough" (relative unknown to multiple winner) player from last year backs it up?
Was Branden Grace a breakthough player? He's one who I think can back it up, would be nice to see him win in the U.S.
Have any final details come out regarding Rory's contract?
Aside from the length of the contract, which is said to be 5 years, it's all speculation. Very hard to know who could know the financial numbers and who would talk about them.
Do you think part of Tiger's reasons for skipping PHX is that he knows Phil is the adopted son/fan favorite and just would rather avoid that altogether?
No, I think it has to do more with perhaps he didn't like those huge, huge crowds, decided to skip, and then adjusted his schedule and never went back. Remember 8 or 10 years ago, he was typically going from Torrey Pines to the Middle East.
Anything major to take out of the Ryder Cup/McGinley announcement? It seemed like it was his turn and it should've been an easy choice, if it weren't for the Tom Watson factor and trying to match up with a big name like Monty in response...
That seems a pretty good anaylsis. But if Darren Clarke had really wanted it, very likely it would have gone to him. When he decided to pass, McGinley was the easy choice. If you believe like ideao that it's more about the players than the captain, the notion of matching someone with Tom Watson is absurd.
In order for the Rory/Tiger top 2 to be broken up, Tiger needs to get off to a slow start & a top guy needs a great one. Tiger (if he stays healthy) will actually get up to 40 events sometime this yr + he's losing his bad 2010 results
This is true. Because of the way the world ranking works, it's actually 2011 poor results that will drop off -- 2-year cycle. Conversely, he had a lot of good results last year, which will also be diminished if he doesn't have the same success.
Hi Bob, Do you think with Stricker cutting back he'll turn into this era's Bruce Lietzke?
I'm not sure anybody could ever be like Lietzke. He simply thrived by not playing. He a swing grooved to hit a fade and never touched it. Amazing to think what he might have done had he played more.
In your opinion, what will be Tiger's biggest challenges this season? What do you think he will be building on from last season that will help him this season as well?
He's simply got to hit his short irons better. He lost so many scoring opportunities because he was missing greens with wedges or hitting them to 30 or 40 feet. Along with that, taking care of the par 5s is a big deal. It has always been among the reasons why he succeeded. On a typical par 72 course, he could count on being 8 to 12 under on the par 5s. That hasn't been the case the last two years.
Okay folks, I'm out of time. Thanks for your questions. Feel free to hit me up on Twitter @bobharig. I'll be passing along information there for the rest of the event here in Abu Dhabi. Enjoy the golf.