Tiger Woods kicks off his 2014 PGA Tour schedule at a venue -- Torrey Pines -- that he has won on eight times as a professional.
Our scribes dive into those topics and more in the latest edition of Four-Ball.
1. Which aspect of Tiger's game this week will be the most crucial to earning his 80th PGA Tour victory?
Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: None. He's so comfortable on this golf course he wins with his B or C game. It's why he's won here 127 times (well it seems like it). This is just one of those places where if anything is off, Tiger can still figure out a way to beat you.
Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Tiger has won eight pro events at Torrey Pines, including the 2008 U.S. Open. He's won here on a broken leg and with at least five different golf swings since he took his first victory at the San Diego muni in the 1991 Junior World Championship. As long as he doesn't lose the mindset that he is the best ever on this golf course, he can't lose.
Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Driving. There's a lot that goes into winning, obviously. Putting well, good short game, etc. If those aspects are missing, it is always going to be tough to win. But for Tiger, getting the ball in play off the tee is key. It sets up everything else.
Kevin Maguire, ESPN.com senior golf editor: His putting. The flatstick saves golfers all the time when the rest of the game could be rusty. Woods might be striking the ball beautifully on a course he loves in Torrey Pines, but a hot putter cures all.
2. What did you learn from Phil Mickelson's performance in Abu Dhabi?
Collins: I learned it takes him only one competition day to dial in the new driver. I also learned that the saying "a tiger never changes his stripes" has two pictures of Phil next to it. One making a triple-bogey in a tournament, and another holding a trophy in a different event.
Evans: Phil's game is historically sharp at the beginning of the season. This tie for second with Rory McIlroy at Abu Dhabi just confirms that he will be very competitive in the events leading up to the Masters in April.
Harig: Not much has changed with Phil. You must take the bad with the good. He wouldn't be Phil if he wasn't trying to pull off the impossible shot; it is simply his personality. But big picture, it can't hurt that Phil got better each day in his first tournament of the year.
Maguire: That Mickelson continues to be wonderfully inconsistent. Phil The Thrill was in midseason form at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship when he took a triple-bogey, then birdied three of the last five holes to finish a shot behind the eventual winner, Pablo Larrazabal.
3. More impressive for Patrick Reed, three straight 63s or the fact that he barely hung on to win the Humana Challenge?
Collins: I don't care if you're playing on a par-70 course that's only 6,200 yards long, shooting 63 on three courses in three consecutive days in a tournament is just not easy. Even in perfect conditions and easy hole locations, there's a reason it had never been done before.
Evans: The three 63s are the most impressive aspect of Reed's week. Those amazing scores gave him a 7-stroke lead going into the final round that allowed him just enough cushion to hold on for his second career win. In Sunday's final round, Reed beat only 12 of the 84 finishers with his closing 1-under 71.
Harig: The three straight 63s. Even though those courses in the desert are the easiest on tour, he shot the lowest score each day, an impressive feat. And by doing so, it allowed him to have an average final round and still win.
Maguire: Hanging on to win. Granted, the 63s had never been done before, but watching the 23-year-old squirm yet gut it out down the stretch with major champions Zach Johnson and Justin Leonard staring him down will do the young Reed a world of good in what is sure to be a long career on the PGA Tour.
4. Fact or fiction: The Rory McIlroy ruling controversy was handled properly.
Collins: I'll say yes, but refer to my favorite Ron White album when talking about some of the rules in golf ... You Can't Fix Stupid.
Evans: Fact. McIlroy's foot was partially in the area of where he took a drop, which was a rules violation. The rules are in place to protect competition and the players. McIlroy should have known better.
Harig: Fact. In the end, McIlroy broke a rule that is quite basic. It was noticed by another caddie in the group -- which is how rules violations are supposed to be pointed out. But veteran caddie Davie Renwick (who wasn't able to stop McIlroy before the infraction occurred) waited until after the round but before he signed his card so as not to cause a distraction but to also assure he wouldn't be disqualified.
Maguire: Fact. The what-if scenarios will be coming out of the woodwork, but ultimately Richardo Gonzalez's caddie Dave Renwick did the right thing to protect the field and report the incident. Just think -- at least it wasn't a phoned-in violation and Rory ended up getting DQ'd. That would have been the worse-case scenario.