Questions swirl about Tiger's health

And does Justin Rose make the Masters short list of favorites?

Updated: March 13, 2012, 2:41 AM ET
ESPN.com

It's not often the champion of a WGC event gets overshadowed on the day he wins, but that was the case with Justin Rose on Sunday at Doral. Why? That's because a former world No. 1 exited the property a little early when Tiger Woods withdrew with a left Achilles injury after hitting his drive on No. 12 in the final round.

Add to all those happenings Rory McIlroy's near-miraculous comeback in Round 4 and you've got one dizzying day in South Florida.

Our experts analyze all that and more in our latest edition of Monday Four-Ball.


1. Tiger Woods' decision to withdrawal at Doral, smart move or overly cautious?


Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Smart move -- especially for a guy who has tried to play hurt and told people he's fine. But because he's done that so many times, now I wonder if this is more serious than we might think.

Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: It seemed overly cautious to me. I don't like to sound cynical, but I doubt seriously had he been in contention he would have pulled out of the tournament. Perhaps the pain explains his 2-over round when he quit. No one wants him to carelessly exacerbate an injury, but he owes it to the fans and the sponsors to try to complete the tournament.

Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Smart move. What was the point of pushing on if he was in pain? Woods learned that the hard way last year at the Players Championship, where he felt he prolonged his summer absence by trying to play. No sense in messing up another run of major championships, especially if this is an injury that can heal quickly.

Gene Wojciechowski, ESPN.com senior national columnist: Even if it was an overly cautious decision, it was still a smart choice. Why take a chance, especially on an Achilles injury, and especially on an Achilles that has caused him problems before. To me, it was a no-brainer to call it quits for the day.


2. Doral winner Justin Rose's four tour victories have come against impressive fields. Does he get added to your short list of Masters' favorites?


Collins: After the Sunday charge by Rory McIlroy, Charl Schwartzel and Luke Donald? Sorry Justin, but if the short list is less than six, you ain't on it. Tiger (healthy), Phil Mickelson, Rory, Luke Donald, Charl Schwartzel, Lee Westwood. & Shall I continue?

Evans: Rose had a T-5 at Augusta in 2007 and a T-11 last year, so he's obviously had success on the course. But after his year in 2011, where he had five top-10s, including a win at the BMW Championship, I would have made him a Masters favorite even without the win at Doral.

Harig: Rose might have been on the list anyway, because he's played well at Augusta National on a couple of occasions, and has been on a solid run of golf going back to late last year. He now has four victories on the PGA Tour in 20 months, against some strong competition.

Wojciechowski: Rose has one top-10 finish in six Masters' appearances, so I'm not sure I'm ready to go that far. But he's on my short list to be considered for my Masters short list.


3. Given Tiger Woods' injury issues over the years, what kind of an impact might it have on his Masters preparations?


Collins: I said on Twitter when Tiger withdrew, let the worrying begin, and that's the tournament that came to mind immediately. He has been progressing over the past several months we've seen him, but now that potentially is all out the window.

Evans: He might not play in Bay Hill, which was his only scheduled event prior to Augusta. So he could have almost a month without tournament play. But he knows Augusta National so well that he just needs to be able to hit the ball without pain come tournament week to contend for his fifth Green Jacket.

Harig: This is a serious blow, even if it turns out to be a minor setback. Woods had been encouraged by his ability to train properly. He had gotten the explosiveness back in his swing, and you could even see it in the last drive he hit Sunday, one that went 320 yards. But if he has to sit out a few days, a week, that certainly was not part of the Masters plan.

Wojciechowski: Until we know exactly what the injury is, it's impossible to figure out the trickle-down effect on his preparation. But it's obvious that he doesn't want to do anything to jeopardize his Masters chances.


4. Rory McIlroy didn't win Sunday at Doral, but what did his final-round 67 and run up the leaderboard show you?


Collins: He showed me -- at 22 years old -- he can win, fly to New York, hang out with his girlfriend and play tennis, fly back to Miami, admit to mentally not being there in the first round, and still have gas in the tank to make a weekend charge. (He did shoot 65 on Saturday, too.) He might not let this "world No. 1" thing go for a while!

Evans: Rory knows that he can win every event he enters. He's that good and the players around him are beginning to feel his dominating aura.

Harig: That he's got the makeup of a No. 1 player. It would have been easy for McIlroy to take it easy this week, go through the motions, have an average tournament. It would have been understandable. But McIlroy said he was not thinking that way, which is a great sign.

Wojciechowski: McIlroy showed a real mental toughness. Earlier in the week he had said he was "mentally flat." So instead of phoning it in for a no-cut tournament, he grinded his way into third place. Impressive. Then again, no surprise there when it comes to McIlroy.

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