Guan's invite can inspire China
And can Ian Poulter translate Ryder Cup rise into major success?
With much of the professional golf world centered in southeast Asia this past week, youth was served an invitation to 2013's first major, a Ryder Cup stalwart captured a second WGC and an American woman zeroed in on her tour's top honor.
Our experts analyze all that and more in our latest edition of Monday Four-Ball.
1. What's the most significant aspect of Guan Tianlang's Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship victory?
Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: The most significant thing about his win is the fact that he did it while averaging only 250 yards off the tee with his driver! For many years we've said golf has become a bomber's game. A 14-year-old has proved that to be not completely true. While the courses have gotten longer and firmer, it still goes to show that old saying "drive for show, putt for dough" holds true even for the new style of golf. Guan will inspire a whole new crop of kids who are being told they don't hit it far enough.
Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Guan Tianlang is a 14-year-old kid about to play in the biggest golf tournament in the world. It's hard enough to come to Augusta as a PGA Tour winner for the first time, but imagine what will be going through his head once he gets to the first tee on Thursday, April 8, 2013.
Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: The attention it will bring to golf in his homeland. China is home to some 1.3 billion people, few of whom play golf. But those numbers are slowly rising. Guan's victory and his subsequent appearance in the Masters will bring more attention to him and the game and perhaps spark interest among others in China.
Kevin Maguire, ESPN.com senior golf editor: There will be plenty of impact in the near future because of Guan's Masters appearance. More important to me, however, is which kid 20 years from now will be telling their story about how when they were 7 they got up in the middle of the night to watch him play in the Masters? That's when we'll know how big an impact 2013's first major will have on golf.
2. True or false: Ryder Cup stalwart and WGC-HSBC Champions winner Ian Poulter will seriously contend for a major in 2013.
Michael Collins: False. Ask Colin Montgomerie how many majors a great Ryder Cup record gets you. Poulter might have a good showing in a major next year, but I don't see him winning one.
Farrell Evans: True. Poulter had three top-10s in the majors in 2012. At 36, he has finally matured enough to contend regularly at the majors.
Bob Harig: False. That's the easy answer because he has rarely contended in majors. Unless the names somehow change to include "Ryder'' and "Cup,'' there are no guarantees, despite Poulter's recent success. He's had only six top-10s in majors, three of them coming this year. But in none this year was he in serious contention coming down the stretch.
Kevin Maguire: True. Poulter seems set to make a run in 2013 and capitalize on his dazzling performance at Medinah. If the Brit can channel the energy and excitement that he conjured up at the Ryder Cup during one of those four key weeks of the year, even a major victory isn't out of the question.
3. Where's the best golf on the planet being played this coming week, Southeast Asia, Mexico or Florida?
Michael Collins: Singapore. Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen just those four names are enough. But if the world's most interesting golfer is playing (Miguel Angel Jimenez), well, all other tournaments have to be second.
Farrell Evans: Florida. From top to bottom, the best field in the world will be in Orlando on the PGA Tour.
Bob Harig: No question it's in Asia, specifically the Barclays Singapore Open. No. 1 Rory McIlroy is there to try to get a comfortable lead in the Race to Dubai, as is Phil Mickelson, who finished runner-up to Poulter in China. The LPGA Tour heads to Mexico and only two of the top 30 on the money list are playing in the season-ending PGA Tour event in Florida.
Kevin Maguire: Even though waking up in the middle of the night (for a third straight week) isn't great for the sleep cycle, it is where the top golfers in the world are competing. Nothing against the PGA Tour finale in Orlando or Lorena Ochoa's LPGA Tour event in Mexico, but the Barclays Singapore Open boasts names like Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson. I don't suspect many top 15 players in the world will be in attendance in Florida or south of the border, so I know which tournament I'll be watching closest.
4. Stacy Lewis has all but locked up LPGA Tour player of the year to become the first American since Beth Daniel in 1994 to garner the honor. Does Lewis have the game to become the next great American superstar?
Michael Collins: As great as Stacy Lewis is, the mantle of next U.S. superstar belongs to Lexi Thompson. Even though Thompson didn't get a win in her official rookie season, she still has the "it" factor when it comes to being the next American LPGA superstar.
Farrell Evans: Lewis needs to follow up this season with another great one in 2013. Then we'll know if she is the real deal or just another player who had a career year.
Bob Harig: For now, she probably is America's next great superstar. Winning player of the year honors should afford her that title, and she has shown strong improvement this year, winning four times after capturing a major in 2011.
Kevin Maguire: Absolutely. Her LPGA Tour-leading fourth victory Sunday was also her astounding 15th top-10 of the season. Wow. Oh, and she's currently ranked No. 2 in the world, so I'd be stunned if she wasn't challenging for the top spot sometime in the very near future.
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