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Saturday, March 1, 2014
Updated: March 3, 3:30 PM ET
McIlroy's collapse surprised many

ESPN.com

The great thing about golf ... there is always next week. That might be what Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are thinking at least, after their finishes Sunday at the Honda Classic.

So what's at stake in this week's WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral? And what might the future hold for Tiger Woods with that balky back?

Our scribes dive into those topics and more in the latest edition of Four-Ball.

1. Who will have more to prove at Doral, Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy?

Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: If Tiger plays (and that's a big if), he'll be the one with the most to prove. Who's having a better start to the year? Rory. Guess what we're not asking Tiger? How he lost a tournament ... because he hasn't been in contention yet.

Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Tiger. The 14-time major champion needs a good event before the Masters. His confidence can't be too high right now.

Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Rory, and mostly because Tiger has little to prove at this point. He's got to worry about getting healthy, and trying to show anyone that his game is OK is really missing the point. Rory, however, is going to want to bounce back quickly from a tough day.

Kevin Maguire, ESPN.com senior golf editor: Tiger Woods, only because there is more uncertainty surrounding his immediate future. McIlroy, while his collapsed in a sense reminded us of his back-nine woes at the 2011 Masters, still played well enough to get into a playoff at PGA National, but Woods' health appears to be an issue that just won't go away.

2. Bigger surprise at the Honda Classic: Rory's collapse or Tiger's WD?

Collins: Rory's collapse. We've seen Tiger be cautious with an injury before, and that's the right thing to do. We haven't seen Rory crash and burn like that since... maybe Augusta 2011. But as surprising as his collapse was, I think it means big things for him the rest of the year.

Evans: Rory's collapse. Tiger was out of contention after his awful start on Sunday. But with a 2-shot lead going into the final round, you expect Rory to hold on and win the tournament.

Harig: Rory's collapse. While nobody expected Tiger to withdraw, it just didn't seem possible that Rory would lose 5 strokes to par over the closing 12 holes. As it turned out, he could have shot 73 and won.

Maguire: Rory's collapse. Everyone seemingly had penciled in McIlroy for PGA Tour win No. 7 simply by showing up Sunday. That didn't happen, in spectacular fashion, when he fumbled his way through the Bear Trap. Although Tiger's withdrawal wasn't expected, his aging body has shown signs of breaking down often in the past several years. It's a simple fact of getting older and having hit thousands and thousands of golf shots for decades.

3. What were the most encouraging and discouraging parts of Tiger's game at the Honda Classic?

Collins: Encouraging: The Putter. Tiger had putting rounds of 30, 25 and 23, in that order. Discouraging: Only one day did he hit double digits of fairways and never hit more than 67 percent of his greens. There's much work to be done.

Evans: Tiger's 65 in the third round was encouraging, but his continued inability to put together four good rounds is a distressing sign for a player trying to get over a winless streak in the majors that's now approaching six years.

Harig: He can take the knowledge that, when healthy on Saturday, he finally put a good round together -- despite missing a bunch of fairways and greens. What's discouraging for him is the uncertainty. In order to get his game in shape, he needs to be healthy enough to practice.

Maguire: The encouraging part was how well his short game appeared, especially in that Saturday 65 which easily could have been a 63. When the rest of his game went south, he was able to chip in for birdies, hole testy par putts and generally keep his round going.

The discouraging part, besides the injury, was how inconsistent he was overall. From one day to the next, Woods' game didn't have the same feel to it and if he can't string multiple good rounds together in March at the Honda Classic, how is he going to do it in April at Augusta National?

4. Assuming he's healthy, should Tiger Woods add another tournament to his pre-Masters schedule? And if so, where do you think he would play?

Collins: The Bridgestone Invitational is the only tournament he has played before a major, ever. I think it would be a good idea for him to play the Shell Houston Open, just to change up the routine. Is what you're doing working? If not, try something different.

Evans: Yes. Tiger should play the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook. The Copperhead course is one of the toughest layouts on tour. If he can play well there, he can play well anywhere.

Harig: It would probably be a good idea at this point, especially if he isn't able to play at Doral. Woods now has played just 10 full competitive rounds in 2014. Doral would give him 14 if he could do it. Where to add? Perhaps the best place might be Houston. He has never played the week prior to the Masters, but maybe this is the time to change things up.

Maguire: Absolutely, but that's only if he's healthy. Tiger just hasn't played enough golf prior to the Masters, much in the same way Rory McIlroy didn't last year.

That being said, I don't see Woods playing in Tampa because that would be four in a row (Honda/Doral/Tampa/Bay Hill.) And he's never played the week prior to the Masters as a pro, so I'm crossing off Houston. That leaves the Valero Texas Open the week after Bay Hill, which doesn't seem very likely, either, but it's probably the one he could pencil in. McIlroy actually added it to his schedule last year and finished second, although it didn't seem to help him much at the Masters, where he was T-25.