Brandt Snedeker kept knocking on the door to the winner's circle and wouldn't be denied en route to his victory at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on Sunday.
So what did he do differently on the Monterrey Peninsula as opposed to Torrey Pines or TPC Scottsdale? And will the latest phenom change her mind and go pro? Our experts tackle those topics and more in the latest edition of Monday Four-Ball.
1. What was the difference-maker at Pebble Beach for Brandt Snedeker?
Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: The biggest difference for Sneds was he didn't have anyone ranked higher than him in the lead. He could look on the leaderboard and think, "Phil can't catch me. Tiger and Rory aren't here. I got this."
Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: His putter. On Sunday at Pebble Beach, he didn't hit every fairway and green, but he made every putt that mattered.
Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: It's easy to say that Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were not in contention. Snedeker simply kept doing what he's been doing the past several weeks, getting himself on the leaderboard. At Pebble, he was in front rather than behind and did what he had to do to cap an excellent stretch of good play.
Kevin Maguire, ESPN.com senior golf editor: The key? Snedeker put himself in position long before the final round at Pebble Beach as opposed to trailing by 7 shots at Torrey Pines and 6 strokes at TPC Scottsdale with 18 holes to play. Then, with the victory in his sights, the reigning FedEx Cup champion stomped on the hopes of his chasers early Sunday in the final round by playing the first seven holes at 5 under.
2. Fact or fiction: Phil Mickelson will not be missed at the WGC-Accenture Match Play.
Michael Collins: Fact. Even Mickelson’s fans don't want to see him take a whoopin' in the first round. And with so many other compelling matches that will happen ... no one will notice he's not there. I also applaud him for choosing family over a golf tournament.
Farrell Evans: Fiction. Phil is one of the five best players in the world, period. He should be at the marquee match play event of the year.
Bob Harig: Fact. This is the third time in four years that Lefty will miss the tournament. And in the years he has played, he's rarely been a factor. That is not to say the tournament is better without him. But there are plenty of storylines. And Phil gets a pass: He has supported the five tournaments leading up to the WGC.
Kevin Maguire: Fiction. Lefty’s been playing great (a T-60 finish at Pebble Beach notwithstanding). Even though the nature of match play can be so fluid, would you rather see Mickelson in the bracket or the 65th-ranked player?
3. True or false: Six months from now, 15-year-old Lydia Ko will be a pro?
Michael Collins: True. Unlike some of the other "can't miss" golfers we've seen come and go, winning three times by age 15 is not by luck or what I would consider a "flash in the pan." Barring injury, she will be a force to be reckoned with on the LPGA Tour in years to come.
Farrell Evans: True. It's the right thing for her game but maybe the wrong thing for her overall development as a human being. But every great athlete probably gives up something to become a champion, regardless of age.
Bob Harig: False. She claims she wants to go to college in the U.S., and there is nothing wrong with that. We've seen plenty of examples of players turning pro early (Michelle Wie, Morgan Pressel) and success did not automatically follow. It is better if she waits.
Kevin Maguire: That’s a tough one, but I think she should turn pro because clearly she has the game to compete against the best players in the world. But if she didn’t turn pro after winning an LPGA Tour event last year with some big names chasing her down in the final round, I don’t suspect she will make the leap now. So I’ll go with false.
4. Two of golf’s biggest names (Luke Donald and Justin Rose) are making their 2013 PGA Tour debuts this week at Riviera. Thumbs up or thumbs down to waiting that long?
Michael Collins: Well, I'm picking Sergio Garcia to win this week, and he's making his debut as well. Should I be mad he got no love in the question? Thumbs up for all three. They're thinking big picture and late-season strategy. It could backfire, but I don't think it will.
Farrell Evans: Thumbs up. Donald and Rose are seasoned pros. They will be ready to play. Also, L.A. to Match Play to Honda is a nice three-tournament stretch to get sharp for the Masters.
Bob Harig: Thumbs up. This is the world that golf has made for itself. If the game insists on having what amounts to nearly a 12-month schedule -- and in the PGA Tour's case a very compact and busy one in July, August and September -- then it has to expect that some players are going to take a long break. And these guys are not alone. Graeme McDowell and Adam Scott have not played yet, either. Jim Furyk just got started. Guys need to take time off; it's the result of a hectic golf calendar.
Kevin Maguire: Thumbs up. The top global players, and both Donald and Rose clearly fall into that category, are now playing year-round schedules. Rose has made two starts on the European Tour earlier this year, so he’ll be somewhat fresh. As for Donald, you don’t win money titles on both sides of the Atlantic in the same year without knowing how to prepare.