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February 20, 4:00 PM ET
Chat with Bob Harig

Bob Harig
  (4:00 PM)

So it's snowing in Arizona. One of the most exciting days on the golf calender has been posptoned until Thursday. But there's still plenty to chat about in golf. (And did I mention that Hoosiers victory last night? Sorry, I digress). Feel free to fire away with your golf questions.

De'shean (New York)

Is my man T-Woods going to win this week

Bob Harig
  (4:01 PM)

I would not be surprised either way. Match play is so unpredictable. One thing I'll say, however. If he doesn't win -- or even if he gets eliminated in the first round -- it really means little about the state of his game.

Lefty (DC)

Bob, Think a semi-unknown like a Scott Piercy could sneak up and get a U.S. spot in the Presidents Cup this year?

Bob Harig
  (4:02 PM)

I don't think it would be sneaking up so much. He's currently 16th in the standings. The top 10 automatically qualify. We've got 4 majors and three WGCs with lots of points. There's a long way to go.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

What is the Oldest PGA Tour Event Ever?

Bob Harig
  (4:03 PM)

Well, if you consider the British Open a PGA Tour event, it is the oldest. The U.S. Open dates to 1896. The oldest non major is the BMW Championship, which is really the Western Open. It began in 1899.

victor (Monroe,La)

Do you think tiger woods will ever start his round?

Bob Harig
  (4:04 PM)

Just in case you missed it. . . play was suspended about an hour ago for the rest of the day due to snow. Tiger never teed off.

John Passehl (Chicago)

Tiger said he goes out to win every tournament, and if he didn't he was wasting his time. I've never won any tournaments, am I just wasting my time?

Bob Harig
  (4:05 PM)

Not knowing your game, I'd say no, as you or most of us should not be expected to win tournaments.

JY (TO)

How come Phil and Vijay arent considered life time members on the PGA tour? Is the requirement not 20+ wins and 15 years service?

Bob Harig
  (4:08 PM)

My understanding is they are considered life members. As is Tiger... But as it relates to playing opportunities on the PGA Tour, Tiger, Phil, Vijay have higher status based on major wins, PGA Tour wins, etc. Tom Watson, Greg Norman and Davis Love can get into tournaments based on Life Membership, but is is 17th on the priority rankings for exempt players.

JY (TO)

Why is there no opposite field event this week as there usually is with a WGC?

Bob Harig
  (4:09 PM)

The event in Mexico has now moved to the fall and will have its own date in the new first part of the schedule.

JY (TO)

With Henley's win, is he now immune to the reshuffle that takes place after this weekend? Does he have access to any PGA tour event he likes for the next (almost) 3 years?

Bob Harig
  (4:09 PM)

A victory gives you an exemption for the rest of this year and another two years. So the reshuffle does not apply to him. He is a fully exempt players.

Lefty (DC)

Bob, whats your educated guess on Finchem's move re: belly putters?

Bob Harig
  (4:10 PM)

That's the burning question, isn't it? From what I gather, he would love to see the USGA not go through with the ban. But if it does? It is a slipperly slope for the PGA Tour to write its own rules. I have a hard time believing the tour would do that.

Al (Red Bank)

Are Dustin Johnson or BVP going to figure it out before the Masters?

Bob Harig
  (4:12 PM)

I wish I could figure that out myself. I thought Dustin was on his way to a great year after winning in Hawaii. Then he misses the cut at two events where he's had success. Van Pelt had a great finish to 2012. I've hardly hear his name this year.

Chris K (Wisconsin)

Good weekend for Charlie Beljan! Twofer: 1. What is he doing with his caddie on putts?2. Will Charlie will qualify for the Masters?

Bob Harig
  (4:13 PM)

Whatever he is doing with his caddie, I wish they'd outlaw it. It's much more common to see that on the LPGA Tour. As for the Masters -- he is now 64th in the world and needs to either win or get inside the 50 by March 31. Another strong finish or two gets him in the top 50.

Bob (Seattle)

I've played golf in snow before, why can't they? It'll solve the distance issue quickly and sell more yellow golf balls.

Bob Harig
  (4:14 PM)

If snow sticks to the greens or grass, the feeling is that the course is not playable.

Patrick (Philly, PA)

What are some of the major differences between getting a course back in playing shape after snow, rather than rain? They can't just shovel it into a bunker...

Bob Harig
  (4:14 PM)

They need the snow to melt. Then they need to see if there is standing water.

Dave (Va)

Guys got an amazing swing, but did Schwarzel frustrate you too on Sunday with his putting? Seems like he should have won by 2-3 strokes.

Bob Harig
  (4:15 PM)

No question. He really let an opportunity slip by. And he's been playing great of late. Hasn't been out of the top 5 on European Tour going back to end of last year with a couple of victories.

MJ (Philly)

How many strokes do you give to Obama against Tiger?

Bob Harig
  (4:17 PM)

This takes some guesswork. But you have to figure Tiger is about a +8 handicap on a non-championship course. (They played it at under 6,300 yards). Pres Obama is probably a 16.. So that's a difference of 24 strokes. In that case, Tiger is giving him 12 a side.

Andrew (WI)

So I'm reading a Rick Reilly column the other day, about the long putter....and he throws around the C word (cheating) pretty liberally. Seems harsh. Are the anti-belly putting side really that harsh on their use, or is this column more of an outlier of an opinion?

Bob Harig
  (4:19 PM)

The issue is wide ranging. Some believe it's not big deal, others believe it shouldn't be allowed. It's not cheating. Right now, it is allowed under the rules of golf. Some use it flippantly as to suggest it is cheating. Ernie Els referred to it that way himself -- and is now in favor of allowing anchoring.

Bob (Seattle)

So, what's the plan for the Match Play? 36 tomorrow and Friday?

Bob Harig
  (4:20 PM)

For now, they will resume where they left off today. No other plans have been announced. It is undetermined if they will begin second round matches on Thursday or wait until Friday.

Bob (Seattle)

Is the belly putter as contentious an issue as you've ever seen in golf? It seems like the comments on the belly putter are as vitriolic as you get on political stories.

Bob Harig
  (4:21 PM)

It is pretty divisive. And it only seems to have gotten this way as more and more have spoken out thinking that they should leave things alone. Among their arguments: no statistical evidence; putter has been around for more than 30 years; bigger issues in the game, etc.

John (Nashville)

Two parter: 1) heard anything new relating to Snedeker's injury and return? better / worse than expected? (2) do you think Sneds has locked up a Pres Cup spot? he's approx 5.8 million points ahead of 11th place now

Bob Harig
  (4:24 PM)

Have not heard anything further on Snedeker's injury and the seriousness. Doral is the next big thing and it will be interesting to see if he plays there. He is also entered the following week in Tampa. As for Pres Cup, I would never assume anything. I thought Hunter Mahan was a lock for the Ryder Cup last year when he won twice through the Masters. Of course there are 10 spots on the Pres Cup team, only 8 automatic on the Ryder Cup team. Snedeker is pretty solid, almost -- almost -- a lock.

Shoshana (Boston)

What has changed since december? seems like back then most of the pga tour pros were for the ban, now the PAC is against?

Bob Harig
  (4:26 PM)

It's a mystery, frankly. I do believe that a good number of players are against anchoring and in favor of the ban. There perhaps are more now who are vocal about not caring, so they say why change it? It didn't help when the PGA of America came out against it, citing making it harder on the average golfer. In my view, the average guy has far bigger issues in why he plays less or not enough golf: time, cost being the biggest. Putting? Far down the list.

Patrick (Philly, PA)

If the long putter/belly ban does does go into affect, would Tim Clark have a reasonable chance of filing an ADA lawsuit to keep using it?

Bob Harig
  (4:26 PM)

It would seem so, as he has a wrist issue he was born with that prevents him from holding the putter in conventional ways. I'm guessing if he can show that to be absolutely the case, he'd have a case and nobody would have a problem with it.

Dave (Va)

What did you think of Donald's play on Sunday? Surprised after playing well for 3 rounds, he didn't make a run. I would think playing with and getting outplayed by Merrick would fire him up.

Bob Harig
  (4:29 PM)

I just think that's golf. It was his first tournaemnt of the year. He got himself in the mix, then just had a poor Sunday ,which happens all the time. Not sure he needs any more motivation.

Shoshana (Boston)

Nah, Tim Clark isn't an ADA case. It's only ADA if it's not part of the game. In the case of Casey Martin, the Court ruled walking wasn't part of the essential nature of golf. Can't make that argument with putting. But given Clark can swing a golf club, I'm guessing there's a way for him to put without anchoring

Bob Harig
  (4:31 PM)

I'm not so sure about that. Now he might ultimately lose. But that is his recourse. He could site his disability for being unable to putt in the manner that has been changed in the rulebook. He could seek to be grandfathered in. My guess is he'll look into any legal means necessary if the anchoring is banned.

Jay (IN)

Ryan Moore's chances at making the President's Cup team are ____

Bob Harig
  (4:33 PM)

Decent. He's 20th in points. A hot summer and he could easily make the team.

Mitch (NC)

How big of a deal is it for Rory (or any other golfer for that matter) to change all of their equipment so abruptly? Wouldn't be in a player's interest to slowly introduce certain clubs while keeping some comfortable clubs in the bag?

Bob Harig
  (4:34 PM)

It's a big deal because it's Rory and he's the No. 1 player in the world. But guys change equipment all the time. Some do it weekly. Some make a big change like he did in the offseason. Others ease into it. Rory has had time to work with the new clubs. Months actually. Some are working with the new stuff while waiting to put it in the bag for good.

Chris K (Wisconsin)

The proposed anchoring ban applies to all strokes, not just to putts. Conceivably this rule could impact shots from awkward stances in hazards, thus providing another opportunity for couch umpires to phone in violations during tournaments.

Bob Harig
  (4:35 PM)

Sure, but that is far less the case in other shots.

JY (TO)

Could someone like Patrick Cantlay be caught in no man's land playing part time on both PGA Tour and the Web.com tour? Granted he is off to a nice start on the PGA Tour, but he has along way to go before he gets his card, and if he doesnt put enough time on the Web.com tour, is it possible he doesnt have status on either next year?

Bob Harig
  (4:37 PM)

The big key for Cantlay is to earn as much or more money than the 200th finisher on the PGA Tour money list or the top 75 on the Web.com. . Either one would get him into the Web.Com Final Series of tournaments, which is bascially what replaces Q school. From there, if he finishes among the top 25 among those not already exempt (through finishing top 25 on web.com money list), he'll earn his PGA Tour card for 2013. As much angst as there has been over this, he has a very good chance of qualifying for the final series on both tours.

MJ (Philly)

Let's say Rory can't play with the Nike equipment. Any options out of a contract?

Bob Harig
  (4:38 PM)

My guess is there would be a long, long time before it comes to that. He wouldn't want to walk away from the money, they don't want to say their equipment didn't work for him. I'm guessing you can always get out of a contract if enough money is paid, but I think ultimately he'll figure it out.

Phil Mickelson (Vacation cruise in the Caribbean)

Enjoying sunshine and warm breezes! Hope things are going well at Dove Mountain!

Bob Harig
  (4:38 PM)

Brand Snedeker is laughing too.

SteveUK (United Kingdom)

Hey Bob - Who's your long shot pick for the Masters this year?

Bob Harig
  (4:38 PM)

I don't even have a sure-bet pick for the Masters!

SteveUK (United Kingdom)

By the way... Playing Royal St. Georges Friday... Forecast 1 degree celcius and snow showers :)

Bob Harig
  (4:39 PM)

Good luck. That course is tough enough during England's two days of summer!

MJ (Philly)

Does it help or hurt the game when a relative no-name like Merrick gets a win? People want to see the big names when tuning in on Sunday afternoon.

Bob Harig
  (4:41 PM)

I don't think it necessarily hurts, but you're right, fans mostly look for the name guys. But you can't become a name guy without winning. Perhaps if Merrick wins a few more tournaments, people get to know him, remember his story from L.A., then look for him to win more.

Shoshana (Boston)

Only a fool reads anything into what happens this week at Match play. A) it's match play b) it's the dove mountain course (and desert golf)

Bob Harig
  (4:43 PM)

In the overall scheme of things, it really portends nothing. But it offers up something different, a format that is only played once on the PGA Tour. Wish they did another match play type of event, maybe with stroke-play qualifying as a componet. Or with double elimination. The format is terrific, but it has never typically identified the best player.

Bob Harig
  (4:44 PM)

In February, that surface is typically bumpy, due to weather conditions. And some players don't much care for it, among them Tiger.

CHAD (VIRGINIA)

Just signed on so hope this isnt a repeat, most career major titles...Brandt Snedeker, Dustin Johnson or Nick Watney??

Bob Harig
  (4:46 PM)

I can barely pick who's going to make the cut from week to week and you want me to tell you who will win more tournaments!! If I had to guess, I'd go with Johnson.He just seems to have so much talent. Golf looks easy.

Shoshana (Boston)

I think it'd be fun to do double elimination, or if they played out all places through 8 (like they do with 3 and 4). I love match play and the first day is great, the problem is that by Sunday it can be rather dull

Bob Harig
  (4:48 PM)

With the format they have, they couldn't do straight double elimination. But they could do it, say, until they get until the final 8. In other words, the first-round losers don't get eliminated. If they win the second day (in which all the losers are grouped), they can play on. And then ,yes, why not play off for third, fifth and seven place? It gives you more matches on Sunday. And in a stroke play event, guys play for those spots.

KC (Sunshine)

Match play and Ryder Cup formats are great to watch. What other formats should they bring to the tour for more excitement?

Bob Harig
  (4:51 PM)

The problem with match play is it doesn't work well for TV. So few players on the weekend. Potential lack of stars. That's why a hybrid format that has them play out through eighth place would help. So would a match play event that has a stroke play component first. As for other formats, the Stableford works well once a year (points instead of score). The tour should bring back a two-man team event and have it count as an official victory and prize money for both. A little variety is good.

m (thought)

who wants 7th place in a match play tourney?

Bob Harig
  (4:52 PM)

Who wants sevent place in a stroke play tournament? They're getting paid a lot of money, why not have them play for it and give spectators and television views something to watch.

JD (CT)

Any reason why CBS cut away before the end of the playoff? Going to Golf Channel doesn't help those of us with basic cable.

Bob Harig
  (4:53 PM)

My guess is they felt the names in the playoff weren't big enough to keep it on network TV into prime time. Harsh, but probably had something to do with it. If it were Phil and Fred Couples, I doubt they cut away.

Brian ((Tempe AZ))

Bob, do you think that Merion is too short to pose a major (pun intended) challenge to the pros at the US Open? What do you think the winning score will be? I think that -8 or -10 could win, which is a super low score for the USGA?

Bob Harig
  (4:54 PM)

It all depends on the weather and how they set it up. If it's fast and firm with high rough, my guess is it will plenty tough, despite the short length. If it rains and is soft, look out.

Chris K (Wisconsin)

Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson were first-time major winners last year. Your top guesses for a first-timer this year?

Bob Harig
  (4:56 PM)

I still like Sergio to win a major. Adam Scott.

Shoshana (Boston)

horse and knockout are a lot of fun, why doesn't the NBA add them as games for variety (extreme of course). But really most sports don't have multiple formats during competition.

Bob Harig
  (4:57 PM)

yes, golf is different in that regard. You can have a competition and offer prize money for diffent formats. You'd have a hard time having different formats during the course of a team sport season in which all the games add up to something at the end.

Dan (Kansas City)

Does Gary Woodland stay on the tour next year or maybe even crack the top 100 by years end?

Bob Harig
  (4:58 PM)

He battled injuries last year, so he's got to get healthy and then get comfortable with his game again.

Matt (Woodbury, MN)

You mention that Tiger is +8 handicap. What would guess the average handicap is for a PGA golfer ranked #50 in the world?

Bob Harig
  (4:59 PM)

I'm just guessing on that with Tiger. I suppose it really depends on if he turns in scores at his home club. The average handicap of a tour pro is probably in the +3 to 8 range. That is why when you run into someone who is a scratch golfer, that doesn't mean they are anywhere close to a pro.

Mark (Tempe, AZ)

Sergio? Really? Even Sergio doesn't think he can win a major (he said so himself)...but if he does, it'd have to be British right given his past success in that tourny?

Bob Harig
  (4:59 PM)

That was Sergio being a whiner -- which i admit doesn't bode well. But he still has game. And I think he could win any of them.

Chris K (Wisconsin)

Your recent column mentioned golf in the Olympics. Do you know when the format will be decided? Thanks for chat today!

Bob Harig
  (5:01 PM)

Unless they change their minds, the format is decided. It will be 60 players based on the world golf rankings. The top 15 are automatic with no more than 4 from any one country if they are in the top 15. After that, no more than two per country until they fill out the field. And then it's 72-hole stroke play. Both men and women will play that format.

John (Nashville)

Why doesn't the Olympics do a combo team / individual format similar to the NCAAs? seems like a simple solution

Bob Harig
  (5:02 PM)

You do need an individual component, I believe. Otherwise the top players might not want to be part of it. But there are other ways you can incorporate the team. Best ball. Aggregate.

pat (chicago)

if you had to pick for the olympics, wrestling or golf? Golfs best care about the majors not a gold medal

Bob Harig
  (5:02 PM)

That's true, but it shouldn't be about golf and wrestling. Westing is not out because golf is in. Otherwise, why are they both in for 2016?

Matt (Woodbury, MN)

Any word on Vijay's situation? If it was a different sport I could see him appealing so that the ruling took place after he plays the Masters.

Bob Harig
  (5:03 PM)

The PGA Tour remains silent on this. The problem with your Masters scenario is if he is deemed to have violated the anti-doping policy ,any tournaments he plays in while under review can be wiped out. So what if he wins the Masters? That would be a nice mess for them all to deal with.

Bob Harig
  (5:04 PM)

It is amazing how much guys who are trying to beat each other are willing to help each other, whether on the putting green or on the range.

Bob Harig
  (5:05 PM)

Okay folks, I'm out of time. Sorry we had no golf from the Match Play to discuss. Enjoy it this weekend. And feel free to check in with me on Twitter. @bobharig. Thanks