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Can Lefty keep rolling at Firestone?

7/29/2013 - Golf

The golf world saw a 36-hole leader bolt a PGA Tour event because his wife went into labor and another player shoot 59 but couldn't close the deal for a win. Just your average week inside the ropes as our experts debate the biggest topics in the game in this week's installment of Monday Four-Ball.

1. Which do you give the better odds: Phil Mickelson inside or outside the top 10 at this week's WGC-Bridgestone Invitational?

Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: Much better odds he finishes outside the top 10. Fourteen times he's teed it up in this event and only five top-10s, with his last one coming in 2008. And this is just practice for the PGA Championship for Phil as much as Bridgestone doesn't want to hear it.

Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: The 43-year-old, five-time major champion easily notches a top-10 this week. While it's been five years since Phil had a top-10 in Akron -- a tie for fourth in 2008 -- he is playing some of the best golf of his Hall of Fame career right now. Mickelson loves to play the week before a major. It was just a few weeks ago that he won the Scottish Open and then the Open Championship. Firestone gives him an opportunity to repeat this winning formula.

Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Outside the top 10. Phil is playing nicely, but his attention will be more focused on next week's PGA Championship. And he's had just a single top-10 at the Bridgestone in the last 10 years.

Kevin Maguire, ESPN.com senior golf editor: Outside the top 10. Mickelson isn't called "Phil the thrill" for nothing. Although his major win at Muirfield was of course impressive, it's too easy to struggle to get up to that level again. With the PGA Championship the week after Firestone, I'd call this a trap game if Lefty played team sports.

2. True or false: RBC Canadian Open champ Brandt Snedeker will break the streak and become a FedEx Cup champ who actually qualifies for the Tour Championship the year after winning the $10 million.

Michael Collins: True. Sneds was in such good form early in the year only to get hurt. Now that he's gotten back to playing good golf, expect him to not only make it to the Tour Championship but maybe even (hold your breath) defend?

Farrell Evans: True. Based on his present point total, he is likely assured of making it into the final 30 that get to the Tour Championship.

Bob Harig: True. In fact, it is all but a lock at this point that Snedeker will qualify for the top 30, given his place in the standings now.

Kevin Maguire: True. Even with the points reset at the start of the playoffs prior to the Barclays, Snedeker's high standing after his victory in Canada makes it highly unlikely that he wouldn't tee it up at East Lake in late September.

3. Who has the better shot to eventually overtake Tiger Woods as No. 1 in the world ... No. 2 Phil Mickelson or No. 3 Rory McIlroy?

Michael Collins: That's easy. The guy who's got two wins including a major this year! I think Mickelson might actually be at a place mentally where he believes he's the best in the world. Funny thing is, he might just be the best right now. If he wins the PGA Championship, there's going be a great argument between Phil's Phans and Team Tiger.

Farrell Evans: At 24, McIlroy has years to catch Tiger. Mickelson is 43 and running out of time to get one of the few things that has eluded him in his career -- No. 1 in the world. Mickelson and McIlroy also need some help from Tiger, who doesn't appear to be falling off anytime soon.

Bob Harig: Mickelson, only because he is closer right now and doesn't have as many ranking points that he will lose. Unless McIlroy starts posting some good tournaments, he is going to fall farther behind because he had such a strong stretch to end 2012 -- and the points he received from four victories during that run will be reduced.

Kevin Maguire: Lefty owns the hot hand after his triumph at Muirfield, but at 43 and having never been No. 1, I'd go with McIlroy. The Northern Irishman's form has been nothing short of dreadful all season long, but it was around this point in 2012 that he turned it up a notch and captured a second major by a whopping 8 strokes.

4. Officials who run the PGA Championship are letting fans pick the pin placement on one hole during the final round of the tournament. Thumbs up or down on the move?

Michael Collins: Thumbs up! Talked to a golfer who at first was upset by it until I told him there were only four hole locations to choose from. Then he was on board, too. I love it because if your favorite golfer chokes on the hole you chose, their loss is your fault. I know, the little devil that whispers in my ear jumped down and started typing.

Farrell Evans: Thumbs up. It's good for fan participation and education about what goes into course setup. But it shouldn't become a trend in the sport. Course setup should be left to the championship and competition committees.

Bob Harig: Thumbs up. It's not like they can put the pin anywhere on the green. They are being given four choices, determined in advance by the PGA of America's setup man, Kerry Haigh. It obviously would not be out of the question for Haigh to pick one of the spots on his own, so why not let the fans do it?

Kevin Maguire: Thumbs down. Quirky PR ploys are great for run-of-the-mill tournaments, but to do it for a major? That just reeks of desperation. Most golf fans look at the PGA Championship as the least popular of the four majors, and this would do nothing to dissuade anyone of that opinion.