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Four-Ball: Offering advice to Spieth, other PGA Tour pros

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Spieth focused on majors (2:04)

Jordan Spieth says his focus is on contending in majors and will approach Augusta like he did last year. Lexi Thompson talks about turning pro at an early age. (2:04)

When Jordan Spieth reacted to negative comments on Twitter about his opening round at the Valspar Championship, the world No. 1 didn't hold back. So what advice would be helpful for the 22-year-old?

And how was University of Georgia amateur Lee McCoy able to not only beat Spieth on Sunday at Innisbrook, but come up 3 shots short of a playoff?

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

1. How should Jordan Spieth have handled the criticism he faced on social media during the Valspar Championship?

SportsCenter anchor Matt Barrie: The one thing social media trolls love more than anything is a reaction. And Spieth gave them that. At 22 years old, he has always been mature beyond his age. I was a bit surprised he said something. But with two majors and already the No. 1 player in the world, he doesn't owe anyone an explanation. Ignore it.

SportsCenter anchor Jonathan Coachman: I may have a completely different take, but I am tired of people telling us in the public eye that we are not allowed to respond to criticism on social media -- that it's not supposed to affect us in any way. He is a 22-year-old kid and has feelings like anyone else. Yes, it would be nice to say let your work speak for itself, but it's not that easy. Trolls need to be dealt with, and if Spieth decides that he wants to respond, then I say let him. It's time we fought back against these people who would never say that stuff to my face, or to Jordan's.

ESPN.com senior golf analyst Michael Collins: The best way to handle any social media trolls is to either ignore them or retweet their ignorance and let your fans go after them full bore. I admit, maybe because of my comedic background, I enjoy the latter much more. It allows the athletes to stay out of it, but the troll gets dealt with.

ESPN.com senior golf writer Bob Harig: It is easier said than done, but he should have ignored it. And he even said he should have ignored it.

ESPN.com senior golf writer Jason Sobel: There's no perfect answer here. If he doesn't respond to the trolling and it continues to eat at him from inside, that doesn't help. And yet, if he reacts publicly, it seems like he's too sensitive. As a journalist, I love seeing players who are open and honest and unafraid to fire back with strong opinions. However, if I were advising Spieth, I'd probably offer the same three words that Herm Edwards often says to football players: "Don't hit send."

2. For the fourth straight week, a former Masters champion wins. Coincidence, or is there more to it this time of year?

Barrie: Coincidence. I think we all agree that to win a green jacket, you have to be a quality player. And quality players tend to win more tournaments, and know what it takes to compete under Sunday pressure. Charl Schwartzel did that this weekend.

Coachman: Players do a great job of preparing themselves for Augusta. Having gone to the Masters last year, I now completely understand why this is the tournament that every golfer wants to win. It's also the time of year when players really start to play a lot. Repetition is necessary in the world of golf. You rarely see a player take off a few weeks and then come back and win. But a coincidence that these guys have won the Masters? Not really. Rory McIlroy could have won at the Honda, and Bill Haas probably should have won in Tampa. It just broke the other way at the end.

Collins: Pure coincidence. Padraig Harrington, John Senden, Matt Every ... any of them ever win the Masters? The list goes on and on. Spieth and Tiger Woods were the last guys to win on the Florida swing and then win the Masters. That's almost as bad as winning the par-3 contest at Augusta itself! Also, Bubba Watson, Adam Scott and Schwartzel are pretty good.

Harig: It is a coincidence. These Florida events also have produced their share of unlikely winners over the years too. While the courses are tougher now and producing some high winning scores, there is typically no correlation between success in Florida and at the Masters.

Sobel: Nah, that's just a coincidence. I'd love to say we should read something into these champions gearing up for Augusta, but there's nothing to it.

3. Why are younger players, like amateur Lee McCoy, able to finish so high on the leaderboard at PGA Tour events?

Barrie: It shows how popular golf is right now and how healthy the future of the sport will be. More and more kids and young athletes are deciding to play golf, and the talent level is starting show up on tour. Remember, when Spieth was in high school, he was in contention at the Byron Nelson. Bryson DeChambeau is a young player who had early success at SMU. McCoy is just another example.

Coachman: Younger players are ready to play now. They start at a younger age and are competitive as hell. The tougher courses are also opening their tee boxes to college tournaments, because they are now on television and it is a great way to be seen. The tougher the course, the better the golfer becomes. That is the biggest reason why when an amateur tees it up on tour, he is not intimidated by the course; he might be intimidated by the players, but not by the course.

Collins: Because they're not afraid or intimidated when playing with the top-ranked guys in the world. That's in large part now because of social media. There was a time when you only saw the best golfers twice a week on TV, so when you saw them in person, you were a bit awestruck. Not today. Why be scared of a guy I can see every day on social media and feel like I know?

Harig: They are incredibly seasoned at a young age. McCoy already has played in a U.S. Open and a John Deere Classic. He has been on a Walker Cup team. He has played on a highly ranked college team. He played junior golf. And it didn't hurt that he had a lot of experience at Innisbrook.

Sobel: That's easy: It's because they're literally playing with nothing to lose. These kids aren't playing for world ranking, Ryder Cup or FedEx Cup points; they're playing simply as they would in amateur events -- to finish as high as possible. That frees them up to play golf without any specific distractions.

4. This week's Arnold Palmer Invitational has a strong field, but should more top players compete there to honor the host?

Barrie: Absolutely, yes. Arnold Palmer is a living legend of the sport these players make a lot of money playing. When we're fortunate enough to have one of the best ever still around to host a tournament, it would be a nice touch for the current best players in the world to tee it up, and tip their visor to one of golf's great people and ambassadors. It doesn't last forever.

Coachman: It's tough. Arnie is Arnie, but a lot of the young players I don't think connect with him like the tour would want. With the Tiger era, that's the last generation that really revered Palmer the way that he deserves. And the spot on the schedule is everything. Top players have to play the WGC-Match Play the week after, and then the final tune-up before the Masters is Houston. So something has to give, and many pros like to play three in a row with the third being Augusta. Playing this week would make it four, and most like Spieth just won't do it.

Collins: No. Of the courses in the Florida swing, Bay Hill is at the bottom of the list. That is in no way a knock on Arnold Palmer the man. All golfers owe him a debt of gratitude for what he did (and still does) for the game of golf. That being said, every golfer will tell you that the first thing they consider when determining their schedule (after the majors and WGCs) are the golf courses.

Harig: Not when the PGA Tour puts out a schedule that includes so many other tournaments that its top players are expected to play. The Players, the WGCs, the playoffs. Of course the major championships. There are numerous choices, and only so many weeks these guys can play. It's unfair to think that they should have to play a specific event.

Sobel: Look, there are a lot of great tournaments throughout the year and if a player tries, he can find a case to play every single one of 'em. As anyone who travels a lot for a living understands, it's difficult to tell someone else they "need" to travel during a certain week. So I'm going to stop short of calling this one a must-play, but for everything that Mr. Palmer has done for the game and today's generation of players, yes, it would absolutely be nice to see every single one of them there to honor him.