Scott, Rory make major statements
And who sits atop women's professional golf in the United States?
So which rode uphill more this week? And what does it mean for their major chances as we get closer to summer?
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Our scribes dive into those topics and more -- plus a bonus question -- in the latest edition of Four-Ball.
1. Which was the more difficult win this week, Rory McIlroy's or Adam Scott's?
Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: McIlroy's. Even Bobby Jones said the toughest part of golf to conquer is the 6 inches between the ears. Imagine everything that was going through Rory's ears last week while still playing well enough to win. That was an impressive back nine as well.
Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Not to take away from McIlroy's final-round 66 at the BMW PGA Championship, but he backed into that win when Thomas Bjorn blew a 6-shot lead on Sunday. Meanwhile, the newly minted No. 1 in the world, Scott, survived one of the most bunched leaderboards of the year and a tough fought playoff to complete the Texas grand slam.
Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: McIlroy had his personal woes to overcome, plus a golf course he was not fond of. But Scott started the Colonial tournament by shooting 39 and had to fight back from that, as well as a jam-packed leaderboard Sunday with a slew of players in contention.
Kevin Maguire, ESPN.com senior golf editor: Both were monumentally difficult considering what each was going through, but Scott's was harder simply because he had all the pressure in the world coming off just "earning" that No. 1 ranking. The Aussie had so much more to prove, both to himself and the outside world. No one would have thought twice if McIlroy missed the cut after calling off his engagement to Caroline Wozniacki.
2. What does this do for Rory McIlroy heading into the bulk of the major championship season?
Collins: It will help him win major No. 3 this year, which will probably be either the U.S. Open or PGA Championship. For McIlroy, it's all about turning that one bad round into an even par or 1 over round, and he was able to do that this past week.
Evans: At the beginning of the week, McIlroy wasn't sure how he would play after making the difficult decision to break off his engagement. With the win, he proved that he has the mental toughness to play well with his personal life under a microscope. Now with a clear head, he can focus on golf, which will make him dangerous in the remaining three majors of the year.
Harig: It's huge. It gives him that much-needed victory that he had not achieved on either the European or PGA Tour in some 18 months. And it solidifies his feeling that he was on the right track. McIlroy was playing well this year. This confirms it.
Maguire: The Northern Irishman can be a bit streaky, but when he's on, no one is touching him. That being said, assuming Tiger Woods isn't healthy enough to play at the U.S. Open, McIlroy has to be the betting favorite going into Pinehurst.
3. Fact or Fiction: Adam Scott will seriously contend for a major this summer.
Collins: Fact. He will make another run at the Open Championship and PGA Championship.
Evans: Fact. Scott is too good not to contend in one of the majors this summer. He has a beautiful swing, a consistent putting touch and, most importantly, the poise, experience and confidence to handle the pressure of being on a leaderboard in the majors.
Harig: No doubt. He has basically been the best player in the majors the past two years. There's nothing to suggest he won't put himself there again.
Maguire: I'm not saying he will win a major between now and mid-August, but if someone gives you decent odds, take them and run with it. The mental aspect of his victory against Jason Dufner in the playoff at Colonial cannot be understated. He affirmed with authority his place at No. 1 in the world rankings and will carry that with him for a long, long time.
4. Jessica Korda notched her second win of 2014 in Alabama. Is she the No. 1 American right now, and if not, then who?
Collins: Does any other American woman have two wins? Then as inconsistent as her game can get at times, she is still the best right now, but that will change by the time we finish the U.S. Women's Open.
Evans: Stacy Lewis is the No. 1 American in the women's game. She leads the LPGA Tour in nine categories, including the money list, scoring average, putts per greens in regulation and rounds in the 60s. She has finished outside the top 10 only twice in 11 events in 2014.
Harig: I side with Stacy Lewis. She has one less victory, but she has been in contention a bunch.
Maguire: It's Stacy Lewis, and not because she's the highest-ranked American either. You can easily make a case for Korda (two wins in 2014). Or Lexi Thompson (the newly minted major champ after winning the Kraft Nabisco). Or a rejuvenated Michelle Wie, who has posted a win, seven top-10s and a season-worst finish of T-16 in 10 starts. Lewis has, from start to finish, been the most consistent golfer -- not just American -- on the LPGA Tour this year with a whopping nine top-10s in 12 starts.
5. How much solace does Colin Montgomerie take in finally winning a major championship on U.S. soil?
Collins: If I cut your arm off, would you like a bandage? While I'm sure it's nice and he appreciates it, the sting of never winning a regular tour event or major won't ever be soothed. But enjoy putting your name next to Mike Reid, Denis Watson, Roger Chapman and Kohki Idoki. I'm sure that makes everything okey dokey.
Evans: Nothing makes up for Monty never winning on American soil during his regular tour career when for several years he was one of the top players in the world. If anything, taking the Senior PGA is just a sad reminder of his surprising lack of success over the years in the U.S.
Harig: It doesn't replace one of the regular majors, but it's a nice victory nonetheless. The Senior PGA is the oldest of the senior tournaments and, along with the U.S. Open, probably the most prestigious. He beat a strong field over 72 holes. Good stuff.
Maguire: Any win feels good and that paycheck won't hurt, but like with any major that isn't with the young bucks, there's an asterisk next to it. Not for the record books, mind you, but no one is going to start calling him "Colin Montgomerie, major champion" any time soon. It's no different for Monty as it is for any other golfer who didn't win one of golf's big four on the PGA Tour but was able to take down his fellow competitors on the Champions Tour.
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