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March 19, 3:00 PM ET
Chat with Bob Harig

Bob Harig
  (3:01 PM)

Hello, checking in from Bay Hill in Florida, site of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. As usual, plenty to discuss in the world of golf. Your questions welcome. Please fire away.

Dan (Fl)

Tiger or the field this week? And Since Masters and British Open seem to be the best 2 majors for him this year, which other major does he have the better chance at, The U.S. Open of the PGA?

Bob Harig
  (3:03 PM)

To me, you have to take the emotion out of it. How do you not pick the field? As great as Tiger has been at Bay Hill, he also has five finishes 20th or worse. So the odds say go with the field. As for the other major, I'd go with the PGA. Just not sure how Merion will set up. Perhaps takes some of his advantages away. But then again, maybe he won't have to hit as many drivers and that helps?

Milton (Illinois)

2 questions...1st: Do professional golfers have to pay to enter a tournament? 2nd: How much of a 1st place check (just say 1 mil)do they actually take home? thanks

Bob Harig
  (3:04 PM)

The PGA Tour no longer has entry fees, it used to be something nominal like $100. As for take home pay, it is my understanding the entire amount is deposited, they are then resonsible for taxes.

Brian (Westborough)

Recently the Houston Open benefited from being the week before the Masters and setting up their course in a similiar manner. What impact will the schedule change this year have on the Houston Open and the Texas Open and will both courses set up their tracks similiar to Augusta?

Bob Harig
  (3:05 PM)

Houston is approaching it the same. San Antonio would have difficulty tailoring its course to Augusta National. My guess is less than 20 players from the Masters will be in the field, perhaps less.

Brian (Westborough)

If i offered you Tiger, Rory and Phil vs. the field at Augusta right now who would you take?

Bob Harig
  (3:06 PM)

Similar to an earlier answer, I think you go with the field

pj (midlo)

your gut tells you that rory will or will not right the ship this year now that he made the switchover to new clubs with his mega endorsement deal?

Bob Harig
  (3:07 PM)

I think he will get it sorted out, and I suspect that the clubs have little to do with it at this point. He is struggling with his swing. He's had plenty of time to get used to the equipment.

Susan (New Jersey)

Do you agree with Andy North's assessment that Tiger has not won the Master's since 2005 because he did not make enough putts inside 10 ft? Some say the course doesn't setup well for him but, he won in 2005 after they made all the course changes in 2002 and has been in the top 4 2006-2011. Since his iron and wedges are back to top form wouldn?t this make him more likely to win at Augusta?

Bob Harig
  (3:08 PM)

I agree that putting has been a big issue for him at Augusta. He's not been consistent. Yes, the "Tiger proofing" of the course has affected him, especially on holes such as 11 and 15 where they have put in an abundance of trees. But as you said, he still contended. It's more about the entire package. Is he doing everything well? He was at Doral, and that will be important at Augusta.

Chris K (Wisconsin)

Regarding Rory you wrote, "Nothing looks worse than quitting." In comparison to cheating? Racism? Excluding women from a golf club?

Bob Harig
  (3:10 PM)

During competition, there is no racism, no excluding women. Those issues are not relevent to the discussion. I'll give you cheating. Of course that would be horrible. But quitting in the middle of a round is as bad as it gets. No athelte wants to be called out that way.

Shoshana (Boston)

It's the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and their are a lot of great names in the field, but it feels like this week is ALL about Tiger (even more than normal when he tees it up). So is today a little bit calm before the storm?

Bob Harig
  (3:11 PM)

Pretty quiet today. Tiger coming off a big victory and a place where he's won numerous times only increases the attention on him.

koko (boca raton)

with tiger seeming to have elimintated the left miss and one side of the golf course. how does he power fade seem to set up for augusta? along with the distance control on the wedges seem more dialed in how do you fancy his chances?

Bob Harig
  (3:13 PM)

Well, there are several holes at Augusta where a draw is important: 2, 5, 8, 10, 11, 13. .. But a fade also comes in handy. Tiger has worked it both ways when at his best. It's more the big miss he has to worry about. Certainly getting that short game dialed in, or his scoring irons from less than 120 yards, is important to his success.

Shoshana (Boston)

Feel like the course that Tiger hit the fewest drivers on this year was Honda, and that was his worst stroke play result on tour this year

Bob Harig
  (3:15 PM)

That was a strange tournament. He hit some wild drivers. Had 2 lost balls. Seemed like whenever he hit a good drive, he didn't hit it close. And when he missed a drive, he had no chance to hit it close. A week later he had it all dialed in.

Greg (Arkansas)

All the hoopla about Tiger fails to recognize he only plays well on courses he knows like the back of his hand -- Torrey, Doral, Bay Hill, Firestone. On other courses, he's just another guy -- missed cut at Abu Dahbi, first round at Match Play, middle of the field at Honda. He hasn't won anywhere new since his return.

Bob Harig
  (3:16 PM)

How many "new" courses has he played since his return? You forget he was T3 at Abu Dhabi last year, second at Honda with a 62. Played pretty well in both events. I think the argument that he wins "only" at courses he knows is absurd. He's been on tour for 17 years. They all play the same courses.

Mike (SD)

Did Tiger hit any draws with the driver at Doral.

Bob Harig
  (3:18 PM)

I don't recall him doing so often

Chris K (Wisconsin)

Golf depends on personal accountability but the PGA Tour does not make fines public. What is the reasoning behind this policy? Any chance Rory will say if he was fined for withdrawing from Honda? Thanks for chat!

Bob Harig
  (3:20 PM)

I think it's a mistake to not make fines public. It would help deter behavior. The tour's stance is that why let people know about all the litle things they might not have known? They again, how is it going to change anything if a guy gets a $150 fine for tossing a club? And my guess is if asked, Rory would say if he was fined.

Bernie (Napa)

At what point do people realize picking a winner anywhere is pointless? Who had Michael Thompson? Who had Russell Henley? Who had Kevin Streelman edging Boo Weekley? Golf is the most unpredictable of any sport, so why can't people enjoy it for that?

Bob Harig
  (3:21 PM)

That's why I always say to take my picks for what they are worth -- humor. Trying to predict golf winners is impossible. Nobody had Streelman or Michael Thompson. Nobody picked them going into the final round.

Shoshana (Boston)

Bob, do you agree that Rory will have a career more similar to Phil than Tiger? As in mostly streaky but when he's on...look out.

Bob Harig
  (3:22 PM)

I think it is a big ask for anyone to have a career like Tiger's. Let's be honest. Rory has already missed more cuts on the PGA Tour at age 23 than Tiger has at 37. Rory is clearly more of a streaky player, a guy who goes into ruts for times and works his way out. If he has a career like Phil's it will be a very successful one, obviously.

Oliver (Bentonville)

Not much love out there for Stacy Lewis becoming No. 1 in the world rankings, or for the mammoth final round to overcome a BS penalty and a four-shot deficit to win. Only the second American to ever reach No. 1. She's clearly the hottest player on any tour right now.

Bob Harig
  (3:25 PM)

No doubt. A great achievement for her, and like a lot of stuff with the LPGA, underrated.

Brian (Alexandria VA)

Bob -- When do you think the PGA changes the way it deals with suspensions and/or discipline? Don't you think we have a right to know, as fans, if our favorite players are going to be sitting out a few weeks? It should would help my Fantasy lineup.

Bob Harig
  (3:27 PM)

I agree. Transparency would really go a long way.

Jack (UK)

Have you been to Nona Blue yet and are you going to try the Gmac and cheese?

Bob Harig
  (3:28 PM)

Going to check it out tomorrow. .. Love the Gmac and cheese idea.

Carla (Florida)

Do you think Tiger will win more than 1 Major in light of his early success in 2013? What do you think of Hank Haney's heaping praise of Tiger's form and thinks this means great things are to come?

Bob Harig
  (3:29 PM)

I'm sticking with one major, at Muirfield. But wouldn't be surprised if he won any of the others.

Shoshana (Boston)

Do players go up to Augusta National early bc they really need those extra rounds to learn the course? or because they just want to play Augusta?

Bob Harig
  (3:29 PM)

Probably both

Nelson (DE)

Recently when you wrote about Tiger's chances of reaching 19 majors, you metioned that athletes don't accomplish as much at age 37 than at 27. Why do you think that applies so much to golf? I ask because players such as Nick Price, Vijay Singh, and Ben Hogan had some of their greatest years at 37 or older.

Bob Harig
  (3:32 PM)

True, but they also started late. Palmer, Watson never won a major after the age of 34. Nicklaus won three majors in his 40s, one at 46, one he says he probably shouldn't have won. Tiger has been doing this at a high level for 20 years. And we expect him to be as good now as he was a decade ago, when he was off the charts? That's almost impossible.

Matt (Woodbury, MN)

Does Tiger carry a hybrid club?

Bob Harig
  (3:36 PM)

No, he ususally switches between a 2-iron and a 5-wood, depending on the venue.

Dan (Moraga)

How do you think Brandt will play this week and up to the Masters after his layoff? We forget so soon he was playing pretty well prior to the injury

Bob Harig
  (3:37 PM)

I think we need to give him a tournament to ease back into it.

Chris K (Wisconsin)

Re: anchoring ban. PGA Tour says don't add a rule. European Tour supports the proposed rule. Have any other tours commented? Just for fun do you have a prediction?

Bob Harig
  (3:39 PM)

LPGA is favor of the anchoring ban, as is European Tour, Sunshine Tour. PGA Tour and PGA of America against.Ultimately, I think they go ahead with the ban, and the others comply.

Jeff (Chicago)

Has there been any talk with the shorter schedule this year of opening up events like this one, Memorial to a larger field? There are only 120 teeing it up this week; they could at least go to 132 or 144 and give some players a chance to earn some coin/points.

Bob Harig
  (3:41 PM)

Several events have gone to bigger fields. . .Last week was 156 instead of 144. And this week's field has been expanded to 132, as has Memorial.

Ed (Long Island)

It's a little ridiculous that the PGA hasn't announced a decision on Vijay yet. Starting to feel like an NCAA investigation that lasts forever. Any word on timing of decision? To keep this issue out only takes away from each week's on course discussions.

Bob Harig
  (3:41 PM)

I wrote about this last week at Innisbrook. No word. No indication of when there will be any decision.

Stees (DC)

@Greg (arkansas) - Well, Greg, don't all players have favorite courses? I dont see other players winning at those courses year after year. Trying to take away from a Tiger win just because its at one of his favorite courses is asinine .

Bob Harig
  (3:42 PM)

If it were so easy, more defending champions would win. At every course Mickelson played on the West Coast this year, he had won previously. It's a tribute to him. To rack up so many victories you are going to have to have multiple wins on the same course.

Ed (Long Island)

What's about this course that causes Phil the most problems? He doesn't seem to contend here all that much.

Bob Harig
  (3:43 PM)

He's not had much success in recent years, perhaps since they changed the greens?

Shoshana (Boston)

How many wins and majors do you have for Tiger and Rory this year? I'll say 7 wins and 2 majors for Tiger, 2 wins and 0 majors for Rors. What say you?

Bob Harig
  (3:45 PM)

I'm sticking with 4 and 1 for each.

Tom (Albany NY)

What did you think of Innisbrook this week? Like it/dont like it?

Bob Harig
  (3:46 PM)

I'm partial, I live in the area, have always thought Innisbrook was underrated. Not like a typical Florida course, has pine trees and undulation. Pros seem to like it.

Matt (Woodbury, MN)

Finchem is a lawyer. PGA had to back their players for the record, even if he knows the ban is going to happen.

Bob Harig
  (3:47 PM)

A quite plausible explanation.

Matt (Woodbury, MN)

Curious as to why more players don't take the Bruce Lietske approach and basically hit one type of shot over and over that they are really good at. May not win a lot, but it seems like a bunch of top 30's and 40's would earn a pretty good living.

Bob Harig
  (3:47 PM)

There is something to be said for sticking with what you've got and making that work.

Casey (AZ)

At least to get his "majors mojo" back on the possible road to 19, do you think it's imperative for Tiger to win a major this year, especially with 40 just around the corner?

Bob Harig
  (3:49 PM)

I don't think there's any doubt he needs to win one this year to get to 18. That said, Jack won his 15th at age 38.

Gil (Boston)

Do all players get paid in the field or just those that make the cut?

Bob Harig
  (3:50 PM)

Only those who make the cut.

Chris K (Wisconsin)

Stacy Lewis had a 2-stroke penalty for her caddie testing the sand in a bunker. Do you recall a penalty for a caddie mistake on the PGA Tour?

Bob Harig
  (3:52 PM)

Seems to me the same thing happened to Stewart Cink a few years ago. He played a shot out of a bunker and it landed in the same bunker about 80 yards ahead. Caddied raked the first bunker shot. Considered testing the surface. A few years ago at the Honda Classic, Mark Wilson's caddie cost him a penalty for giving advice. It happens.

Ed (Long Island)

Tiger still has plenty of time left to win the majors needed. I think there is actually more pressure on Westwood, Donald, Scott, DJ, etc - guys who have never won one yet, and even more on Phil with him being older, to win a major this year than Tiger.

Bob Harig
  (3:54 PM)

If Tiger stays healthy, he does have plenty of time.

Casey (AZ)

Didn't Woosnam's caddie do something wrong at a Masters when Ian was pretty close to the lead?

Bob Harig
  (3:55 PM)

Yep, good one. In 2001 at Lytham, he had an extra club in the bag. Wasn't discovered until the 2nd tee and cost him two shots.

Shoshana (Boston)

Let's say Tiger doesn't win a major this year, but then wins 2 next year? or the year after? Saying he definitely needs one (or doesn't) seems sort of silly. Obviously winning one this year, would be better than none

Bob Harig
  (3:56 PM)

True, it just gets harder and harder ,the longer he goes.

Matt (Woodbury, MN)

It was at the British and he had 15 clubs (two drivers)

Bob Harig
  (3:57 PM)

Yes, Royal Lytham, 2001

Rae (California)

Any hints on what Bubba's going to serve at the Champions Dinner? Will he be respectable, or serve some fried alligator?

Bob Harig
  (3:57 PM)

He is keeping it a secret, for some reason.

Tom (Albany NY)

You're from the tampa area? You ever play Fox Hollow? love that course. 18th is pretty.

Bob Harig
  (3:58 PM)

Yes a good one. Innisbrook, TPC Tampa Bay, Avila (it's private) are also very good.

John (Nashville)

Let's talk about a different TW - Captain Tom Watson. He's called a press conference to discuss major news regarding Ryder Cup. Any rumors on what it is? If it's changes to the selection process, any predictions on what he's changing?

Bob Harig
  (3:59 PM)

Not sure what it's about. Could be changes to selection process. Maybe less picks? Maybe the majors don't count this year?

Gus (Boston)

Not directly the caddie's fault but some blame has to be placed on Dustin Johnson's caddie after the blunder on 18 in the hazard/waste area at Whistling Straits.

Bob Harig
  (4:00 PM)

No doubt. Good point.

Ed (Long Island)

When a player hits a bunker shot, many times they dig into the sand with their feet to get better positioning, how is this not testing the surface? Seems that does more than a caddy leaning on his foot.

Bob Harig
  (4:00 PM)

It's a fine line for sure.

Bob Harig
  (4:01 PM)

I am out of time, folks. Thanks for all the questions. Enjoy the golf this week.