Did Farmers Insurance Open champion Brandt Snedeker have the round of the year Sunday at Torrey Pines? And how will Jordan Spieth's travels around the world affect his ability to compete at a high level moving forward?
Our scribes weigh in on those topics and more in this week's edition of Monday Four-Ball.
1. Fact or fiction: Brandt Snedeker's 69 on Sunday at Torrey Pines is the round of the year so far.
SportsCenter anchor Jonathan Coachman: Fact -- and it's not close. Snedeker was almost 10 shots better than the average score. That's crazy. There have been some good scores this year, but to see what Snedeker did was remarkable. Perfect ball-striking. Perfect attitude. And scoring at the same time. That's what makes a great round. Plus you factor in the weather and wind, and it's just impossible to see a 69 -- it was worth over a $1 million.
ESPN.com senior golf analyst Michael Collins: Fact. When other pros and caddies who played in those conditions say it's the best they've seen, the last thing I'm going to do is dispute it. "British Open conditions on a U.S. Open golf course," I think is what Snedeker himself said.
ESPN.com senior golf writer Bob Harig: It is difficult to think what would be a close second. Snedeker's round of 69 was more than 8 strokes better than the field average for the final round, and just one other player, Robert Streb, managed to match par. The fact that he made just one bogey in those conditions is impressive in its own right.
ESPN.com senior golf writer Jason Sobel: Fact -- and it's not even close. I think the better question here is: Eleven months from now, will Snedeker's 69 still be the best round of the year? I think we tend to get too caught up in the moment with these things. I doubt anyone will beat a field average by 9 strokes again, but I also think someone will post a great round to win a major championship, and it will overshadow anything we witnessed in January.
SportsCenter anchor Matt Barrie:: Fact. The conditions were absolutely horrible on Sunday, and somehow Snedeker shot a 69, which ended up being nine strokes better than the field. Add to that, Snedeker made the cut on the number, then won the tournamnent. Rain and 40-plus mph winds claimed most of the field. Snedeker somehow was weatherproof and dodged a high number. A 69 in benign conditions likely gets you cut. This week, it got Snedeker praise and a win.
2. World No. 1 Jordan Spieth's travel schedule: Too much, too little, or just about right?
Coachman: I am never going to say he's doing too much. I think at this point it's just right. We would all love to travel to South Korea, Australia, Hawaii, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, etc. Living life is what it's all about. And Spieth knows it. At 22, he is about himself first and being the No. 1 player in the world. Making the money and also performing at every stop shows me he can handle the travel. Now the proof will be in the Masters pudding. But I think if he didn't do this in 10 years when he has a family, he would really regret it.
Collins: Too much. But, you don't know how much is too much until you go too far. The good news is, Spieth has an ability to lift himself from out of exhaustion and still play golf at a higher level than most of his competition. The bad news for everyone else will come when he settles in on a schedule. That means he'll be fresh every tournament.
Harig: Too much. But it's not just the international travel. Spieth could have done what he has done to this point -- seven tournaments in seven different countries dating back to the Presidents Cup, and none in the continental U.S. -- and maybe been OK. But on top of all that, he is scheduled to have just three off weeks while playing six tournaments leading into the Masters.
Sobel: Too much. And to his credit, Spieth has admitted this. But just as golf is a cyclical game, so too is the conditioning of its best players. Trust me: He'd rather be tired in late January and early February than, say, the second week of April. If he's smart -- and I do believe he is -- Spieth will learn something from this schedule and revise future travel to keep him fresher in the short term.
Barrie: Too much. Spieth has even said it. I get it, he's 22 years old and just starting his brilliant career. But even private travel can take a toll on you, especially when it's done in consecutive weeks without time to rest. After a year that saw him win two majors and competitive in all four, it would be a shame to see the mileage win in '16.
3. How fair was the way the PGA Tour handled the suspension of play Sunday at Torrey Pines?
Coachman: I think it was fair, and what else could they do? No one wants to stay an extra day, and with most of the field finished, they had to try and get the round in. In hindsight, maybe they should have just cancelled the day so everyone has a chance to play on Monday. But you can't assume that the forecast will always be correct. It's like being on the wrong side of a draw. It's part of the game.
Collins: That's an unfair question! See what I did there? Man, I'm funny! The tour was in a no-win situation in this case. Did they let them play in unplayable conditions? Probably for a little while. If they had called play altogether Sunday and played Monday with no crowd and no network coverage, Snedeker's win doesn't happen. So, if this is the worst mistake the tour makes all year, I'd consider this a win.
Harig: No matter what course of action the tour had taken, there would have been complaints. What is "fair" in golf? It's an unfair game. The tour could have made the decision to not start the final round at all, especially given the forecast. Or it could have kept going when it twice suspended play in the fourth round. And when it suspended play for good, the tour probably had little choice. There were 50 mph winds blowing across Torrey Pines, and the conditions became dangerous for those on site. These decisions are never easy, especially when there is a mandate to try and play 72 holes.
Sobel: I heard a few whispers from PGA Tour players that it was "unfair" to suspend play when they did. One in particular told me that an official said to him they suspended play because "it was getting tough to hit shots out there." His contention -- rightly so -- is that it was tough all day and everyone should have been held to the same standards. That's fine, but when safety is a concern, fairness isn't the highest priority. I think it was handled correctly.
Barrie: It is what it is. Sure, there was a chance Monday's weather turned out to be vintage La Jolla perfection, in effect taking Snedeker's brilliant performance down the leaderboard. But Jimmy Walker and KJ Choi found out quickly that Monday was as bad as Sunday.
4. Who had the more impressive albatross this week, Ha Na Jang on the LPGA Tour, or Jason Gore on the PGA Tour? (Watch Jang's hole-in-one and Gore's shot at the Farmers Insurance Open.)
Coachman: I will go with Jason Gore because it was much longer and he had to navigate some water. I also factor in the reaction afterwards, and Jason Gore has the biggest smile in the business. And I loved the fact that the microphones picked up when he said "it's the first one I have ever had."
Collins: Gore's albatross. You know what no one is going to mention when they talk about Ha Na Jang's albatross? That it was 218 yards. Gore's albatross was from over 250 yards out, and there was a pond in front of the green to navigate -- which is exactly what he did.
Harig: There is undoubtedly an element of luck to these great shots going in the hole, but the nod here goes to Ha Na Jang simply because her albatross occurred on a par-4. She hit the double dose of rare shots -- an albatross and a hole-in-one. And the albatross was the first in LPGA history.
Sobel: I've got to give it to Jang, because her 'tross came on a par-4 for a hole-in-one. But come on, LPGA: a 218-yard par-4? Just as the tour has bastardized major championship history by promoting a fifth tournament to that status, it's now rewriting record books through another compromise. Move 'em back to at least 250 for a par-4 and I'll be way more impressed next time.
Barrie: Both were great. Ha Na Jang's albatross came off the tee on a short par-4. That's why I give the edge to Gore, who went off the deck from 258 yards on a par-5 and sunk it.