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Sunday, November 10, 2013
Updated: November 11, 12:20 PM ET
What held Tiger back in Turkey?

ESPN.com

What went right (and wrong) for Tiger Woods at the Turkish Airlines Open?

And with the world's best golfers spread out on multiple continents this time of year, it's only natural to debate where we'll keep the closest eye on golf. Will it be the Middle East? Mexico? Australia?

Our scribes go head-first into those topics and more in this week's edition of Monday Four-Ball.

1. What did Tiger do best (and worst) in his T-3 finish at the Turkish Airlines Open?

Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: Tiger's best was averaging 26.5 putts per round. His worst was only hitting 38.5 percent of his fairways, which is atrocious. There's plenty of time to work it out until Augusta, though.

Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: It's hard for some people to believe, but Tiger gets beat sometimes. He shot 20 under in Turkey. In most tournaments, that's good enough to win. Yet he struggled with his swing Sunday.

That's not news with Tiger, but he held it together, despite battling his driver and fighting a minor arm injury. Increasingly, his occasional poor rounds and swing breakdowns are costing him tournaments. That's good news for the rest of the players.

Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: He gave himself a lot of chances, mostly due to strong iron play, which resulted in 27 birdies and his second-lowest 72-hole total (268) of the year. But his driver let him down, as evidenced by his lack of domination of the par-5s. He played the 20 par-5s in 10 under. He needed an eagle at the par-5 18th on Sunday to have any chance and instead missed the fairway, leading to a par.

Kevin Maguire, ESPN.com senior golf editor: For the best aspect, he minimized his mistakes. On two separate occasions in 2013, Woods' fewest number of bogeys or worse in a tournament was six (both were victories at the Players Championship and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.) This week in Turkey, Woods only had seven bogeys or worse. Also, what reminded me of the Tiger of old was how on the 18th hole in the third round, he hit his tee shot so far left that he had to reload and hit a provisional. Well, he found his first one and didn't just avoid dropping a shot but made a birdie on the par-5. That's the Tiger who could turn 74s into 68s.

On the downside, Tiger was 10 under on the 20 par-5 holes for the week. Winner Victor Dubuisson was 14 under on those same holes. That's a 4-shot difference, and Woods finished 4 shots behind the Frenchman.


2. Thumbs up or thumbs down on Turkish Airlines Open winner Victor Dubuisson making a splash on the European (or maybe PGA) Tour in 2014.

Collins: Thumbs up on the European Tour. He beat a stellar field, which will give him all kinds of confidence going forward next year on the European Tour.

Evans: Thumbs up. Dubuisson has to find out whether he is good enough to play consistently with the very best players in the world. To beat Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose, Ian Poulter and Tiger is very impressive. It's one thing to beat these players on a very difficult golf course where scores are higher, but he beat them in impressive fashion with a 24-under finish. He outplayed the field. That has to be a huge confidence boost for his career.

Harig: Thumbs down. Although Dubuisson showed flashes of success this year, the Turkish Airlines Open was just his first victory and it came on a relatively easy course. We'll see how this translates. The good news is he should emerge with some confidence. And he's likely headed to the Masters.

Maguire: Thumbs up. The Frenchman is only 23, yet proved he could hold off a stellar field that was nipping at his heels. He jumped into the top 50 in the world rankings with the victory. That will likely get him into the Masters and the early-season WGCs. He's rarely mentioned in conversations about the best young players in the game, but that could all change quickly if he can capitalize on this strong week.


3. How did Chris Kirk win the McGladrey Classic?

Collins: Kirk had a lower score than everyone else. Seriously though, his strokes-gained putting Friday and Sunday is why he won. Having a +4.346 in that stat in the final round is insane. Just proves when the putter's hot, you always have a chance.

Evans: Kirk hit his drive into the fairway on the 72nd hole and Briny Baird found a fairway bunker, where he topped his next shot into a hazard. Tied going into No. 18, the event came down to that last hole and Kirk had the best fortune.

Harig: He put himself in a position to let somebody else make a mistake, and that is exactly what happened when Briny Baird hit his approach in the water at the final hole. Kirk shot 66 but Baird was right there with him until he blinked on the 18th.

Maguire: There isn't a stat for it, but Kirk answered the bell when he could have packed it in. Several times on the back nine Sunday he didn't falter by making key clutch putts when it mattered most. Even after finding a water hazard late in the round, Kirk kept it together to notch PGA Tour win No. 2.

4. Which golf tournament are you watching most this coming week: The PGA Tour in Mexico, The European Tour in Dubai or maybe the Australian Masters?

Collins: Where's the "none of the above" button? Since I'm at the second stage of Q-school for the Web.com Tour, if we watch any golf this week, it'll be the PGA Tour event in Mexico. That's mainly because it's like watching the golden light at the end of the tunnel for my buddies trying to make it to the final stage.

Evans: I will be watching the action in Dubai to see who wins the European Tour's version of the FedEx Cup playoffs, the Race to Dubai. Henrik Stenson will finish off what has been a spectacular year with a win to take the series.

Harig: I'm curious how Adam Scott fares at the Australian Masters. The venue is one of the all-time greats, Royal Melbourne, and Scott is coming off a victory at the Australian PGA. A sweep of all three Aussie majors appears in sight.

Maguire: The European Tour in Dubai. Wherever the best players are playing, that's where I'll be watching (with a close eye on Adam Scott in Oz, too.) Granted, there's no Tiger or Phil in the field in the Middle East, but there are still plenty of storylines and great golf to be had. Nothing against the PGA Tour's midseason finale (if you can even call it that), but it's hard to get up for a tournament that so many big players are skipping. That's not really the case on the European Tour, even if it means getting up at 3 a.m. ET to watch it live.