What a year for Henrik Stenson
And after two straight wins, what are Adam Scott's chances for an Aussie slam?
And after two straight wins Down Under, what are Adam Scott's chances at the Australian Open?
Our scribes go head-first into those topics and more in this week's edition of Monday Four-Ball.
1. Henrik Stenson became the first player to win the Tour Championship and the season-ending European Tour event in Dubai in the same season. How do you rate this achievement?
Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: It's up there with Luke Donald winning the money and player of the year titles on both tours in 2011. It also puts a very large bull's-eye on Stenson's back going into the 2014 majors
Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Stenson's run during the late summer and fall is maybe the greatest feat of the year outside of Phil Mickelson taking the Open Championship.
Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: To win both those tournaments in the same year is impressive. But to also capture the PGA Tour's and European Tour's season-long titles shows the kind of roll that Stenson has been on. Just playing both tours presents its own challenges, but to emerge as the best on each requires a level of strong play and consistency that is underrated.
2. If there were a worldwide player of the year determined at this point, who would you have winning and why?
Collins: It's still Tiger Woods. His five regular-season PGA Tour wins far outweigh anything that's been done by anyone else. Then consider he was in serious contention at Augusta until the flagstick incident and had a chance on Sunday at Muirfield. World No. 1 remains just that.
Evans: Stenson would get the honor with his three worldwide wins and nine other worldwide top 10s.
Harig: Stenson understandably has given us pause, but the bottom line remains he had three victories this year, Tiger Woods had five. And Woods won two European Tour events (WGC-Doral, WGC-Bridgestone) while Stenson captured just one (Dubai). Adam Scott might make a stronger argument, considering he now has four worldwide wins, including a major championship -- although it has to be noted the fields in Australia are nowhere near the strength of the PGA Tour victories for Woods. The vote here would still go to Woods because of the overall body of work.
3. Adam Scott won for the second straight week Down Under and will go for the Aussie Slam in two weeks at the Australian Open. How do you rate his chances?
Collins: Better than most. Once he got that first win at home showing off that green jacket, the wins have kept coming. I will say it would almost be better for him if they didn't have a break between events, the way he's playing. (Scott is playing in this week's World Cup with Jason Day.)
Evans: Scott is arguably the best player in the world right now. It would be surprising to see him not complete the Aussie slam.
Harig: The Masters champ is on a roll and there is nothing to suggest he can't become the first player – and just second overall – since Robert Allenby in 2005 to attain the Aussie sweep. Still, as he showed on Sunday, when he coughed up a four-shot lead during the final round of the Australian Masters, nothing is guaranteed in a stroke-play golf tournament.
4. Harris English won the last official event on the 2013 PGA Tour calendar, becoming the sixth different player to win in the start to the 2013-14 season. What is your take on the new PGA Tour wraparound schedule?
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Collins: Of the six events that were played, only two were won by players casual golf fans would know: Webb Simpson and Dustin Johnson. Globally, it's great. Domestically for television ratings, it's a disaster. The tour wants to be global, though, right?
Evans: All of the events have had quality winners with great purses. What's not to like about that? But it would be great to have a longer offseason and for there to be more opportunity for Web.com Tour graduates to get into these fields that now for the first time give full FedEx Cup points.
Harig: Unless they scrap these fall tournaments altogether to give PGA Tour players and fans a true offseason – and that is highly unlikely – the concept of starting the season in the fall is fine. There are detractors, for sure, and issues to resolve such as playing opportunities for those coming off the Web.com Tour. But if you are going to play tournaments, they might as well count. You can bet the players who won over the past six weeks or performed well are quite happy to have a good head start on the new season.
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