Rejuvenation for Tiger, Ernie Els?
Each week, golf writer Bob Harig will take your questions and answer a few select ones on ESPN.com. Below are this week's selections.
I'm critical of Sean Foley's teaching method, but I agree we need more time to evaluate whether his work has been effective with Tiger [Woods]. At what point do you think enough time will have passed to judge the pairing? I think if Tiger hasn't fired Foley by the U.S. Open we'll hear a lot of rumors that he is on thin ice.
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Harig: There is plenty of evidence out there to suggest that numerous ways of swinging a golf club are effective. Just look at the number of swing gurus out there. They certainly do not all advocate the same thing, and yet, there are a lot of players who have success doing it different from the next guy on the range.
As for Foley, he's helped Stephen Ames and Justin Rose overcome back issues to be successful. Hunter Mahan is one of the top-ranked players in the world. Sean O'Hair is struggling at the moment, but it wasn't that long ago he was lauding Foley for the help he had received from him. No doubt it's too soon to come to a conclusion about Foley's work with Tiger. U.S. Open? The guess here is that Tiger wants to see results quicker than that, although it doesn't mean he'd be moving on to somebody else if it takes longer.
TW started playing golf at the age of 4, Jack Nicklaus worked at the family pharmacy, played baseball, built Muirfield Village hole-by-hole and board-by-board, won majors after 36 years of age. TW may or not win another tournament, or major!
-- John Foulke
Harig: Not exactly sure of your point. If it's that Jack had other interests, it is certainly possible that helped his longevity. Nicklaus might not have started playing golf as early as Woods, but he was certainly an accomplished player in his teens. He was just as highly regarded when he went to Ohio State as Woods was when he went to Stanford.
Nicklaus started a golf tournament, Woods has started two of them. Both won numerous tournaments and majors in their 20s and 30s. Will Tiger be able to win six majors after turning 35 as Jack did? I think that's what we are all anxious to find out.
When Tiger went through the knee problems in 2008, we heard from him that he had been suffering with a bad knee through most of his career. One would assume that he has had to compensate for the knee problems with his swing over the years. His current swing change is seemingly going back to a swing he had very early in his career, something his repaired knee would now allow him to do. Do you think that the swing change in that direction is related to the fact that his repaired knee will allow him to do it?
-- Paul Steinberg
Bob Harig's mailbag
Who will get off to a fast start to the 2012 PGA Tour season? Should the tour change how it opens the season? Drop ESPN.com golf writer Bob Harig a line, and he'll respond to some of the best questions. Ask Harig a question
Harig: Woods has said numerous times that he made changes in his swing to compensate for the pressure he used to put on his left knee. And despite the ACL replacement, he still feels it is necessary to reduce stress on his left knee. He was asked a question about it this week at Bay Hill.
"I think the key for when I was working with Hank [Haney] and with Sean [Foley] is to reduce that because obviously I had trashed my knee pretty good over the years, torn cartilage and eventually ruptured my ACL," he said. "That's always been a priority."
It seems like Ernie Els is always hanging around the leaderboard during the first couple of rounds in majors. He's had one or two top 10 finishes in each of the last five years. He's also had a decent year so far, with 3 top 20s in 5 events. What are the chances The Big Easy wins his fourth major this year?
-- Spencer Small
Harig: It is hard to believe we're going on nine years since Els won the last of his three majors. Since that time, he's been in the top 10 of at least one major every year but 2005. He also has nine top-fives in majors since winning at Muirfield in 2002. But Ernie has seemingly never recovered from 2004, when he had chances at all four majors and got none, finishing second to Phil Mickelson at the Masters and losing in a playoff to Todd Hamilton at the British Open. He also missed a playoff by one stroke at the PGA.
Since getting clipped by Lefty at the '04 Masters, Els has not contended there, and Augusta National seems to be in his head. Can he win another major? The U.S. Open returns to Congressional this year, where he won that title in 1997.
So Sam Saunders is in the field this week and former tour winners are alternates. I understand that a tournament sponsor gets to use invites on whomever they want but this is blatant nepotism, is it not? He has NEVER qualified for a PGA Tour event, zero, and yet any event Arnold is associated with (Bay Hill, Pebble, Bob Hope) or his buddy Jack (Nicklaus) (Memorial and Honda) he gets in. How do players on the tour feel about this? Are people reluctant to say anything because this is Arnold and he is the "King"?
-- Brian Ferris
Harig: Saunders is Palmer's grandson and he undoubtedly has benefited from that, getting a handful of sponsor exemptions. You can bet there are some folks sitting out who'd love to be in the field who are not. And maybe they feel it's unfair. So it is not necessarily a comfortable situation.
But it is an invitational, with only 120 players, and there are 18 sponsor exemptions, eight of which are unrestricted. That means Palmer or the tournament hierarchy is perfectly within its boundaries to invite him. And Saunders is an aspiring pro golfer who did tie for 15th at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. He also has a tie for 10th at the season-opening Nationwide Tour event.
Have a question? Send it to Bob Harig's mailbag at BobHESPN@gmail.com to see if it gets used next week.
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