Four-Ball: Masters 'favorite' gets more muddled

How the top three prepare for the Masters (1:41)

Michael Collins and Bob Harig talk about how the top three golfers are spending the week before the Masters. (1:41)

Some of the PGA Tour's best will be strolling down Magnolia Lane in less than a week. So which ones will get to the Masters with an air of confidence among their peers?

And are there any concerns among some of the top players in the game -- even the ones who are winning?

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

1. With one week left before the Masters, and elite-level golfers winning left and right this year, who is the prohibitive favorite a week before getting to Augusta National?

ESPN.com senior golf analyst Michael Collins: To be honest, I don't know that there is one. Has everyone forgotten about Bubba Watson? With Adam Scott in form, and Jason Day now with two wins, the only two question marks are Jordan Spieth (who I believe will play into readiness in Houston) and Rory McIlroy. If you gave me $20 and said you have to bet it, I'm betting Bubba.

ESPN.com senior golf writer Bob Harig: It's easy to say Jason Day, but what about Adam Scott? Bubba Watson? Jordan Spieth? Rickie Fowler? Louis Oosthuizen? Winning prior to the Masters is never a prerequisite to taking home the green jacket, and sometimes it is a detriment. Still, you have to love the way Day has turned a quiet season into a ton of momentum heading into the Masters.

ESPN.com senior golf editor Kevin Maguire: Golf isn't like other sports in which the defending champion owns an advantage. If anything, it can be a detriment. In just two starts at the Masters, could Jordan Spieth improve upon his average finish of 1.5? Of course, but the plethora of talent that's playing to such a high level right now is overwhelming. I'll go out on a limb and say a former Masters champion will win another green jacket. So that includes the likes of Spieth, Bubba Watson, Adam Scott, Phil Mickelson and maybe a few more.

ESPN.com senior golf writer Jason Sobel: I think we can remove the adjective "prohibitive" from this discussion, because this topic is definitely up for debate. Based on what he has accomplished over the past two weeks, it's nearly impossible to call Jason Day anything but the favorite right now. Really, though, it's by only a smaller margin over Rory McIlroy, with Jordan Spieth, Adam Scott, Bubba Watson and -- yes -- Phil Mickelson right there on the short list of contenders.

2. Which player do you have more concern about going into the Masters, Jason Day or Rory McIlroy?

Collins: Neither, but McIlroy would be the one I'd be afraid for if he gets off to a slow start. I don't think winning was a big deal for Rory. I'm sure he would have loved to win before the Masters, but I think he found out what he needed to do last week. As for jason Day, three sessions in a float tank and two nights in a hyperbaric chamber, and he'll be 100 percent.

Harig: There is no concern with Jason Day if he is healthy. Rory McIlroy is another matter, and it's simply his inability to turn great ball-striking rounds into low scores. We've seen it several times. He has been in contention a few times and not converted, and he has seen a lot of his competition have great success.

Maguire: Jason Day. To paraphrase Tiger Woods, an ailing back is no joke. Anyone who has had back problems knows how true that is. Yes, the Aussie played through it admirably at the WGC-Match Play, but as he has said, it can flare up at any time. Rory McIlroy, on the other hand, is a streaky player. It takes just a single four-day streak to complete the career Grand Slam next week.

Sobel: Quite honestly, I have a lot more concern for the other 85 or so players in the field than these two. Jason Day has proven he can play great golf when he's something less than 100 percent physically and Rory McIlroy has proven he can turn things around in a moment's notice. They'll both be fine. Of course, they both can't win, which means that whoever doesn't -- or very possibly both of them -- will have to address those "concerns" at the end of next week.

3. Jordan Spieth is playing the Shell Houston Open this week. So what's the best prep for Augusta, playing the SHO or resting/practicing?

Collins: There's no right way or wrong way. Day needs the rest, so does Rory. Spieth, on the other hand, needs to play. If Spieth didn't play Houston, he'd have zero chance at Augusta, same as if Day played Houston. I have always been a fan of when the European Tour players come to play Houston as prep. With the Match Play being last week, I wonder how many of them will now be exhausted come Masters week.

Harig: There is no right way. Tiger Woods made it about preparing at home, but we've seen guys like Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth do quite well playing their way into the Masters via competition. Whatever suits the player is likely the best formula.

Maguire: It's not so much resting vs. practicing as it is understanding what works for each player individually. For someone as young as Spieth, even though it might seem as if he has been in the public eye for years, he has still played in only two Masters and a dozen majors total. Just because he likes playing the week before a major now doesn't mean that's how it'll be forever. Golf, like most sports, is all about adjusting to the situation.

Sobel: Trick question. This one is up to a player's discretion. Tiger Woods has always preferred to prepare for major championships by resting and practicing beforehand; then again, he has won a few PGA Championship titles directly after competing. Phil Mickelson wants a week inside the ropes beforehand, and that's proven to be a solid strategy for him. There's no right or wrong answer here.

4. The year's first LPGA major -- the ANA Inspiration -- kicks off this week. Can you pick anyone other than Lydia Ko to win?

Collins: Nope. We saw it last year. When Lydia Ko gets it going, no one can beat her. Every golfer hopes to peak at the majors, and she is now peaking ... again. Too bad for everyone else on the LPGA Tour for a few weeks!

Harig: She is extremely difficult to pick against, but it would be foolish to think there are not others who can win. I still like Stacy Lewis to break this victory drought and win.

Maguire: We're not at a Lydia Ko-versus-the-field type of situation (yet!), but the teenager who won last week in California will be hard to beat. A second major victory in a row wouldn't be a stretch for Ko, who turns 19 next month.

Sobel: Of course I can. And you know what? I will, just to be a contrarian. I like top-fivers Lexi Thompson and Stacy Lewis this coming week, but I'll go with Sei Young Kim to win the year's first major. After three wins last year, she's already on the board with one this season -- and there's no place better than at the ANA for her to get her first major victory. She finished T-4 at the event last year.