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Four-Ball: Glass half full or half empty for Phil Mickelson?

Even in defeat, Phil Mickelson still found a way to exude the positives, giving the thumbs up to the Pebble Beach crowd while walking off the 18th green Sunday. Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Shooting even par in a final round doesn't often lead to victory. So what should we make of Phil Mickelson's near miss at Pebble Beach?

And how huge is Vaughn Taylor's win for a guy who hasn't had a full-time PGA Tour card since 2012?

Our scribes weigh in on those topics and more in this week's edition of Monday Four-Ball.

1. Does this loss help or hurt Mickelson for the rest of the year?

SportsCenter anchor Matt Barrie: While it will be labeled a "loss" for Phil Mickelson after missing a 5-foot birdie on the 18th to force a playoff, I think this week only helps him the rest of the way. Mickelson said coming into Pebble Beach that the game feels easy again, and he comes out and shoots 16 under and should've won. If he's stacking tournaments that lead to confidence about his game going forward, this was a win.

SportsCenter anchor Jonathan Coachman: I think this will actually hurt Phil Mickelson the rest of the year. CBS shows the graphic for a reason. It's been 938 days since his last win. The longer he goes without tasting the trophy, the more doubt there will be when he gets into contention. Few golfers know victory like Mickelson, but that lip out will, without a shadow of a doubt, be in the back of his mind if he finds himself there later in 2016. And not to mention, every point counts, and Mickelson wants to make the U.S. Ryder Cup team. That makes this hurt more.

ESPN.com senior golf analyst Michael Collins: Hurt. Going into Sunday, it was Mickelson's tourney to lose and he lost. As excited as he could have been in the weeks leading up to this event, there will be residual from this loss. His next win will have to be come from behind.

ESPN.com senior golf writer Bob Harig: It helps. Mickelson has suffered more painful defeats, and he'll only grow from this one. Clearly he does not have it all together. When he hit 9-of-18 greens Saturday and still shot 66, it was understood that he got away with it and made the most of his short game. He hit just nine greens again on Sunday and paid the price -- despite the dramatics at the end.

ESPN.com senior golf writer Jason Sobel: I spoke with Mickelson directly after his round and as I wrote in my column about him, don't expect this one to stick with him for too long. On the heels of his 32nd career runner-up finish, Mickelson is better equipped to handle a close call than perhaps any other pro golfer. He was disappointed, sure, but I got the sense he was more motivated than anything by his performance this week.

2. Are you buying or selling stock in Pebble Beach winner Vaughn Taylor?

Barrie: You can't sell stock in Taylor, because no one owned any. And I'm not buying just yet. He's on my stock "watch list." There's no question his story this week -- coming in as an alternate, then closing with seven birdies to beat Mickelson -- is golf at its best. Clinching a spot in the Masters, his "Super Bowl" makes it even sweeter for the Augusta State grad. Watch his game, though, as his stock could drop low again before April.

Coachman: I am selling stock. I just can't buy someone who didn't have his card since 2012 and had not won since 2005. I love this story, though. The raw emotion of the life-changing win will follow him for a while. The $1.2 million dollar pay day and full exemption will cause less stress, but it does not change the results. I would love to buy this stock, but not after one "lightning in a bottle" week.

Collins: Buying. He's "The Ninja" because you never see him coming until you're already beat. I'd wager he'll have at least one more win by the end of the 2017 season. How many guys get a second chance like he has been given? He's old enough to stick with what got him this win.

Harig: Buying. How can you not? Taylor is playing with house money now. He had not possessed a full PGA Tour card since 2012. Now he's in the Masters, fully exempt through 2018. Life is good and he can enjoy.

Sobel: You know what they say: Buy low, sell high. Taylor's stock has never been higher than it is right now, so I guess that means I should sell. But his story of perseverance and perspective is too good to pass up. I don't think at nearly 40 years old he's about to set the PGA Tour ablaze, but I'm a sucker for a good story, so I hope we'll see him in the mix more often.

3. How surprised are you by Bernhard Langer's victory so soon after being forced to abandon his anchored putting stroke?

Barrie: Putting is about confidence in the stroke and the head being clear. Switching from an anchored putter can mess with both. Langer finding something so quick, after relying on the anchored putter for 17 years, is a surprise. He admitted to using 15 different putters and four styles in the past month alone. I'm sure he didn't think the transition to the short stick would go so smoothly, so quickly.

Coachman: Not surprised at all. Langer is the best player on the senior tour. He hits it close to the pin. I don't care how you putt, his talent will overcome. And we saw it this weekend. I wish Langer was a little more dynamic and brought more sizzle to the course, because the combination would really put energy into the other guys. But you can't make someone something they are not. But at no point am I ever surprised when he wins.

Collins: My good friend Pete McDaniel tweeted me, "Inventor/innovator Charlie Owens said he never anchored the long putter." I'm not surprised at all Langer won with it. What I will want to know is how long before Adam Scott gets in touch with Langer to set up a lesson.

Harig: Not surprised at all. Langer's entire career has been built around overcoming putting woes. He had the yips 25 years ago, managed to adapt and won a second Masters. He was always going to figure this out.

Sobel: I'm not surprised at all. Those people who were crying that the sky was falling for ex-anchorers are now starting to realize that having to change a putting style is hardly a death knell for a player's career. I still expect Adam Scott, Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson to win more times in their careers, each one helping to crush this notion.

4. What are your expectations for Rory McIlroy at the Northern Trust Open this week?

Barrie: Anytime Rory McIlroy puts the peg in the ground, I expect him to be a factor. Add to that, he gets a field with some names, and you'll get a full dose of "play to win" Rory.

Coachman: I don't have big expectations for Rory McIlroy this week. McIlroy usually plays the second or third week in a row very well. His swing needs to be on point, and being off for a few weeks is not good for him. I have always thought McIlroy needs to play more, but maybe that is me just being selfish. I do think that the star power in the field this week will get his juices flowing. But much like Spieth at Pebble Beach, I don't think even a Sunday 66 will get him close to the top of the leaderboard.

Collins: No matter how great a player you are, Riviera is not a place you win the first time you see it. This is McIlroy's first time teeing it up in this event. If there's any rust in his driving accuracy, he's not going to be here for the weekend, but a top-25 finish is a fair ask.

Harig: It would be a surprise if McIlroy were not a part of the conversation come Sunday. He has played decently in his two European Tours starts, and he ought to love Riviera.

Sobel: I expect him to play really well, because he's a very good golfer. How's that for some expert analysis? Really, I see a result like so many others for McIlroy in the past few years: He'll struggle to get into a rhythm over the first few days, linger somewhere around 30th place going into the weekend, then start to figure things out, vault into sixth place by Sunday evening and hop a flight to Florida with things looking very good for his game going forward.