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February 12, 3:00 PM ET
Chat with Bob Harig

Bob Harig
  (2:59 PM)

Hello, thanks for checking in again and participating. Plenty again to talk about in golf. Lots of guys making their PGA Tour debuts this week at Riviera. First big, big tournament of the year next week at the Match Play. Brandt Snedeker, Vijay Singh. .. Whatever you want to discuss. Feel free to fire away with your questions.

Bob (Seattle)

Vijay isn't getting suspended, is he?

Bob Harig
  (2:59 PM)

Nobody knows. The tour is investigating the situation right now. If he indeed took a banned substance, then a suspension is warranted.

steve (west palm beach)

if a substance is banned why isnt the player IMMEDIATELY suspended? Then let him appeal......double standards again at the TOUR

Bob Harig
  (3:01 PM)

We don't know if the substance he took was banned. He admitted to taking the deer antley spray. That is believed to contain a banned substance called IGF-1. But does it contain it? If it doesn't, should he be suspended? Clearly if he took a banned substance and admitted to taking it then he's got to be suspended. By the tour has an appeal process and this might not be resolved real quickly. (Shameless plug, wrote about this subject today on ESPN.com in Birdies and Bogeys).

Colton Dean (Georgia)

Your Masters favorite? And why?

Bob Harig
  (3:02 PM)

I honestly don't have one yet. It's too early to say. And I picked Padraig Harrington to win last week. He missed the cut. Very tough picking these golf tournaments!

Joe (MA)

Hey Bob, curious on your thoughts about the WGC Accenture course? Do you like it for match play? Know if the players like it?

Bob Harig
  (3:03 PM)

I would say that the reaction to the course is mixed. It's not terribly well regarded. But in match play, that isn't that big of a deal. A mediocre course can still produce great matches. Obviously the climate is a big factor in staging the event there in Arizona.

Scott (Texas)

Who does the editing on the page? How did nobody notice that in the Monday 4 Ball the 4th ball was a question asking about Justin Rose this week when he obviously isn't in the field? How can nobody catch that?

Bob Harig
  (3:04 PM)

Nothing is obvious when it comes to players in the field. At the time it was written, we believed Rose was in the L.A. field. It happens. Sorry.

Chris K (Wisconsin)

You could order a bottle of deer-antler spray and have it tested for IGF-1? Just put it on your expense account.

Bob Harig
  (3:06 PM)

Something tells me it wouldn't be that easy. Regardless, on something this serious, the tour is going to take its time. This time, unlike the only other time there was a drug policy issue, the public is aware this is going on. The last time all of this occurred in private.

Dan (CA)

So much great golf between now and the Masters. In your opinion do you see any player separating themselves as the consensus #1 after Augusta? Not necessarily in terms of world rankings.

Bob Harig
  (3:08 PM)

I don't. .. I think we have the chance for a really good year and mix of winners, as we've seen already with the likes of Dustin Johnson, Tiger, Phil and Brandt Snedeker winning.

Chris K (Wisconsin)

Great weekend for Brandt Snedeker! An article said that he has learned to watch what says because of the number of microphones around a course. Has he been known to use colorful expressions?

Bob Harig
  (3:09 PM)

It was a great weekend for Snedeker. It's been a great year or even a great six months. He's already had four top-five finishes this year? Outstanding. Let's hope he keeps it going. Great guy, great player.. As for colorful expressions, that is not my understanding. Perhaps he fears something slipping out that he would not want broadcast.

Bob (Seattle)

The elimination of the Pub Links reinforces the image that the USGA only cares about the elite player or private golf courses. Could the PGA step up and become the rules and tournament organization for the recreational golfer? They could have very similar rules to the current but change the anchoring and OB rules, among others. In addition to the PGA Championship, they could run their own national public or handicap tournaments. Maybe the PGA professionals could run local tournaments that feed into a national competition.

Bob Harig
  (3:13 PM)

Your concern is shared by many. At the very least, there is the perception that this is a slight to the average guy, as that was the intent of the original Public Links. In the USGA's defense, the Public Links was created to offer an opportunity for those who could not compete in the U.S. Amateur. Until 1979, that tournament was only open to those who were members of USGA clubs. Now you'd be able to play in both. And in truth, both events are really glorified college tournaments. The USGA didn't see the need to have both, regardless of how it looks.As for having a separate rules making body, I think that is the subject of a long discussion. For the most part, all of the organizations have deferred to the USGA and R&A on rules. It has been what makes the sport unique.The PGA of America is more about training teachers, growing the game, etc.

Guest (Palm Beach)

Why would the Tour or WADA include a product on the banned list without first testing that the product really has the item? What are they doing? Going on hearsay

Bob Harig
  (3:13 PM)

It's not the Deer Spray that is banned but the IGF-1 that is believed to be in deer spray

Dan (CA)

Is the tour / WGC's ok with top players like Phil skipping events like the match play? There are only 4 a year right?

Bob Harig
  (3:15 PM)

The belief here is that they want all players eligible to compete in the WGCs. So I'm sure they are disappointed Phil is not playing.That said, the tour helps create this problem. There are so many good events. And I applaud Phil for supporting the five regular PGA Tour events prior to the Match Play. They probably need the help much more than a WGC does, which is assured of a great field.

Shoshana (Boston)

In any sport you tend to be allowed to play during a) the investigation and b) any appeals. Seems reasonable for Vijay to be afforded the same courtesy. Better question is what sort of suspension/fine would be reasonable - a whole year seems a tad draconian

Bob Harig
  (3:17 PM)

Under the rules, the suspension could be for "up to a year." Agreed, one year seems to be a bit much if he truly had no idea he was taking a banned substance. Doug Barron knew full well he was taking testosterone -- even though that story has a secondary element: he really did need it. But remember, ignorance is not a defense. Will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Ernie (DC)

Question about pin positions at pro tournaments. Do the caddies/golfers know in advance where the pin positions are to be located for each round? Is there an indicator mark on the greens during practice rounds?

Bob Harig
  (3:18 PM)

In most cases, the caddies do know, but not necessarly more than a day in advance. The field staff typically puts a red dot in the area where the pin will be located the next day. Obviously every player and caddie gets a pin sheet the day of competition and is aware of where the pins are located before teeing off.

Tom (LA)

All due respect to Phil, he never makes it past Friday in Match Play anyway, so it's not like we're missing anything with him not playing. Much better to have him at Riviera where he has a history of playing well.

Bob Harig
  (3:19 PM)

It's true, Phil's Match Play record is surprisingly poor. I'm with you, glad to see him support all the other events.

Aaron (Wisconsin)

Regarding the comments last week on slow play and the tours next steps at public courses?why are the tees labeled men?s, woman?s, etc? Would more high handicappers and beginners use the ?womans? tees if they were called ?beginners tees? or even just ?red?

Bob Harig
  (3:20 PM)

There is no question that a stigma can exist. Golf courses have gotten better about referring to them as "forward" tees or "back" tees. And really, a golfer has to take his ego out of it. The game is more fun if you play from the correct set of tees.

Shoshana (Boston)

The way this is going milk is going to end up on the banned list, after all it contains banned hormones

Bob Harig
  (3:21 PM)

I leave that to the scientists. Obviously there is a common sense element to some of this that is seemingly missed. But they come up with these bans for what they believe is good reason.

Ed (Long Island)

Torrey, Pebble Beach, Riviera all seem like sensational courses. How come more of the top players don't play more of them - especially the foreign players that took up PGA membership? I know a few of them played the mideast swing, but not all.

Bob Harig
  (3:23 PM)

In the case of Pebble Beach, it's simple. They have to play three courses in a pro-am format that is brutally slow. Also, the greens in California in the winter are not typically great. These guys are spoiled, love those smooth, fast greens they'll see next week in Arizona and again likely in Florida. And then there is the scheduling issue. The European Tour is back-ended with big events at the end of the calendar year. Many guys see this as their opportunity to take time off.

John (Nashville)

Your article about Vijay had me wondering about him and Augusta this year. Do you think they would encourage him not to play? How bad would it look for ANCC if he played this year, won, and then was suspended? Seems like a complicated situation for them since it is an invitational, yet he is a past champion, etc., etc.

Bob Harig
  (3:24 PM)

It's a great point, but they are sort of stuck. They kind of have to let this play out by the rules. And yet, it would be incredibly embarrassing if this were still not resolved and he had a great tournament.

Shoshana (Boston)

I love the new foursome tournament idea, and I do think the publinx had lost its purpose. But I wish that in conjunction with with announcement of its demise, the USGA had included a new tournament aimed at helping those who cannot afford the expensive AJGA circuit, maybe one that is free, including a travel stipend (which is ok under NCAA laws)

Bob Harig
  (3:26 PM)

It sounds good, but the tournaments the USGA runs are money losers as it is -- other than the U.S. Open. Obviously they have plenty of money, but not sure they want to be handing it out. Perhaps they could get a corporate sponsor to help them with something like that.

Chris K (Wisconsin)

At Pebble Jim Furyk had three good rounds after a poor opening round. Think he's a gallery favorite this week?

Bob Harig
  (3:26 PM)

I think he is in most cases anyway.

Bob Harig
  (3:28 PM)

I'm unclear where this question originates. I'm not sure that he has been criticized. Yes, some have questioned changing equipment in response to queries about the pluses and minuses of doing so. But most agree that Rory is going to figure it out, that he can play great golf no matter what he uses.

Bob Harig
  (3:31 PM)

I've said this many times. There are only so many tournaments a guy will play. If he skips one, it's likely because he's got other ideas about his schedule. In Phil's case, he is playing his fifth straight tournament this week. There's likely be questions if he skipped Phoenix, Pebble or Riviera, places where he's won. In fact, he's won at all five of the tournaments he is playing to start the year. To be honest, I wish a few more players would skip the big WGC events and support some of the others. It's an unfair fight for the Tampas, Houstons, San Antonios, New Orleans of the world.

Chris K (Wisconsin)

In prior chats you've made the point that a win should not be discounted because a player has past success on a course. Phil's play underscored that this weekend. Granted he would have done better had he kept his balls dry but even then he was far out of contention.

Bob Harig
  (3:31 PM)

No doubt. You could say the same about Dustin Johnson. Has 4 top 10s at Pebble including two wins. And he missed the cut.

Ed (Long Island)

The Vijay situation seems simple to me. Test his blood for the IGF-1, if it's there, suspended, if not, play on - either way make a public statement about it. There does seem to be a question as to whether you can get the IGF-1 from a spray, read some articles that it may have to be taken as a shot to get it into the body and the spray doesn't do it.

Bob Harig
  (3:32 PM)

The problem is, the tour doesn't test blood. In fact, few of the sports leagues do yet. That is coming.

Mark (Tempe, AZ)

I've played Dove Mountain. I've watched the Match Play on TV. I see no reason why a Jack Nicklaus design in a beautiful area of the country with great February weather is some sort of problem for the Match Play...?

Bob Harig
  (3:35 PM)

It's not. But the course has not been viewed highly by the players. A GolfWorld survey a few years ago had it near the bottom. That said, in match play, that doesn't matter much.

Joe (NJ)

Do you think Schwartzel is ready to take it to the the next level where he is one of the five best players in the world?

Bob Harig
  (3:35 PM)

I thought he was when he won the Masters. Now he's had a great end to last year and start to this year in European Tour events.

John (Nashville)

Can you explain a little bit about how the fields are filled now? Previous Top 125 (Fed Ex or money?) + past champions get first dibs, right? Then they go to the list of new Q School / Web.com grads? Do the top 10 from the previous week jump to the top of that list? How does the Monday qualifier play into this? Do the alternates from Q/Web.com play the Monday qualifier to improve their chances? thanks!

Bob Harig
  (3:43 PM)

The priory rankings can be complicated. Here, basically, is the rundown.1. Major winners from past five years (believe it or not, if you won the U.S. Open or PGA prior to 1970, you are fully exempt.)2. Players Champ win for past five years.3. Tour Champ winner past three years.4. WGC winners in past three years.5. Leader of Fed Ex Cup points last five years6. Leader of PGA Tour moeny list last five years.7. Winners of PGA Tour events within past two calendar years.8. top 50 in career earnings (one time exemption)9. Top 30 from previous year FedEx Cup points.10. Top 125 on official money list frm previous year (next year, that will change to FedEx points and money list)top 10 from previous week is well down the list and past champions are not necessarily guaranteed a spot. The top 25 from Q school and the Web.com is the 25th priority ranking. .. And Monday qualifieres are basically dependent upon how many spots the tournament is allowed to set aside for that.

Ed (Long Island)

Are the Champions courses setup immensely easier that the PGA or even Web.com? Rocco rarely makes the cuts on the PGA tour, even has played a few Web.com tournaments over the past couple of years and hasn't won or tore up the courses - first tournament on Champions shoots a 61.

Bob Harig
  (3:45 PM)

No question Champions Tour courses are set up easier. Shorter, less rough, slower greens.

Guest (Palm Beach)

Bob, did you see the comments Sandy Lyle made about MC Nikes last week. Do you look or read Golfchannel and see/hear the critiques of him.

Bob Harig
  (3:45 PM)

Right, and others have questioned it, but it's not like he's getting hammered over it. Guys change clubs all the time.

Josh (Orlando)

Who is under more pressure to win at Augusta, Tiger or Rory?

Bob Harig
  (3:46 PM)

Both. There is no lack of pressure for either of them at this point.

Chris K (Wisconsin)

Any problem with Chris Berman playing in the Pebble Beach Pro Am? Seems like a potential conflict of interest for someone whose job includes covering golf. Perhaps he is not a journalist and so does not need to appear impartial.

Bob Harig
  (3:48 PM)

I am guessing that he wouldn't do it if the bosses didn't sign off on it. If anything, it gives you perspective. Berman does one golf tournament a year. Lots of golf media have participated in pro ams, although they are not obviously as well known. It can open up your eyes to play golf with a pro and in front of a gallery.

Joe (NJ)

Do you think Tiger has any chance at all at catching Jack's record considering all the players he has to compete against that are good enough to win majors?I think if he wins five more majors it will be bigger accomplishment than his first 14.

Bob Harig
  (3:50 PM)

The task is certainly more difficult now. As has been said many times, he needs to win 4 majors -- which is as many as Phil and Ernie have captured in their entire careers. And as you said, the depth is greater, it makes it more difficult. But if he stays healthy, Tiger should have opportunities for another 8 to 10 years.

Mark (Tempe, AZ)

Right, in match play, weather and appearance on TV (visual attractiveness if you will) would seemingly be more important...and regardless of a survey, I assume the players would show up just about anywhere if there was an $8.75 million purse waiting for them..

Bob Harig
  (3:51 PM)

No doubt, they show up anyway. Sometimes it's about more than the golf course. It's location, hotel, infrastructure. Does the title sponsor like it? Obviously Accenture likes being in Tucscon. So much goes into these decisions.

John (Nashville)

Seems to me that Sneds is really taking that "next step" in his progression as a player. He won at Pebble, where he hadn't had a ton of success. He also won after dealing with the stress of contending for two straight weeks. Won from the lead once again, which people used to say he couldn't do. And seemed to put together a very business-like, clinical final round. Frankly, he looked beat at the end. Probably a good thing he's taking vacation this week, although I'd love to see him at Riviera against that field.

Bob Harig
  (3:54 PM)

And now comes word that he's skipping next week's Match Play due to sore ribs. But you're right, Sneds is answering all the questions. His ball striking has improved considerably. With his ability to putt, that is a great combo.

Patrick (Hanover)

Prior to 2007 Phil I beleive played at Riviera 9 times with only 1 Top 25. Since 2007 he has 2 wins and 2 seconds. What do you think has changed?

Bob Harig
  (3:55 PM)

Not sure. Just seems he's found his game by this tournament in more recent times. It is a course that stresses good iron play, a Phil strength.

Shoshana (Boston)

For the person wondering about exemptions: here's the player exemption list on the pga tour website http://www.pgatour.com/news/2013/player_exemptions.html

Bob Harig
  (3:55 PM)

Yep, it's a long list. Thanks

Guest (Palm Beach)

Would you say the majors are wide open this year? Most of the top 25 golfers are now gearing their scheds around the majors. Did Woods and Mickelson teach these guys something.

Bob Harig
  (3:57 PM)

I do think there will be the usual short list at each major, but there tends to be plenty of guys we were never thinking about. Who had Bubba at the Masters last year? Or Webb Simpson at the U.S. Open? Or Ernie at the British? And I do think guys are learning there is a right and wrong way to prepare for these tournaments.

John (Nashville)

Were you aware of the PGA snafu last week with Sneds' scoring on day 2? The course scorer put him down for a 7 on a par 5 (#11 I think, Spyglass). He really had a 5. PGAtour.com had his score wrong for the whole round; never fixed it until he was done. I was told the TV broadcast had him with the wrong score as well. PGA affiliated people tweeted about how he had a four putt, and gave stats on how long it had been since his last one, etc.Seems crazy to me that it could have been incorrect for so long (he started on the back nine), and that people in the know ran with the incorrect info.

Bob Harig
  (3:58 PM)

I was not aware of the issue, but will say that at MPCC and Spyglass, they are not wired for shotlink. And with humans operating computers, there are errors. Until he could set the record straight himself, there was going to be some misinformation.

Sue (New Jersey)

Do you think Tiger Woods will win more than 1 Major in 2013?

Bob Harig
  (4:00 PM)

I am going with 1 major -- at Muirfield

Bob Harig
  (4:04 PM)

Okay, I am out of time. Thanks again for all the questions. Check me out on Twitter @bobharig. Happy to take questions there as well.