The Florida swing got off to a very interesting start this week as the world No. 1 withdrew at the Honda Classic. Was it just another stage in the education of 23-year-old Rory McIlroy or will there be a bigger fallout?
Plus, Michael Thompson earned his first PGA Tour win as Geoff Ogilvy kept his hopes alive of making the Masters field in April. Our scribes tackle those topics and more in this week's edition of Monday Four-Ball.
1. What should Rory McIlroy do next after his WD at the Honda Classic?
Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: Rory should go have that tooth extracted immediately. I talked to my dentist and he said trying to play through it for four days would be a huge mistake. It would likely be healed in two days, so if he had it done Monday morning, he'd be good to go by Wednesday. If it's more than the tooth, this could be a problem.
Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Rory got the big new Nike contract and No. 1 billing, but right now he's near the bottom of the money list and things don't look bright with his game. He should play every week until he finds some confidence.
Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: When he meets the media at Doral, he simply needs to explain himself and then move on. McIlroy has handled adversity quite well in the past, and there's no better example than the aftermath of the 2011 Masters. The guess here is he'll do the same with this.
Kevin Maguire, ESPN.com senior golf editor: How about a Harlem Shake video? OK, really, I think only an X-ray of impacted wisdom teeth would silence the dental doubters. It'll be interesting to see how the world No. 1 handles his news conference at Doral, but I don't expect much more than a reiteration of what he said in his statement about dental problems and the hopes that he's feeling better this week to play all four rounds at Doral -- which would equal his full-round total so far in 2013.
2. Are Rory McIlroy's issues more mental or physical?
Collins: Let's just say, for argument's sake, the tooth is fine. It's 50/50 mental versus physical. His swing is different from last year, which might be a cause of testing so many clubs and "settling" on the ones that were the closest to what he had. That, in turn, causes a mental issue in trust. You can't play good golf if you're trying to match your swing to your equipment.
Evans: It's mostly mental when you're that talented. Rory can blame his miserable play on his golf swing or a wisdom tooth, but he's not right in the head.
Harig: Although he talked about not being in a proper mental state after withdrawing on Friday, it is more about his physical skills. Not due to injury, but simply having to do with his golf swing. It's off right now. And he has admitted this. It happened to him last summer as well.
Maguire: It's a bit like the chicken and the egg. Did any mental questions (new contract/clubs, tons of pressure as the world No. 1) start the downward trend or did physical things (swing problems, dental issues) surface first? It's really a toss-up, as both are so intertwined in the game of golf.
3. What does Michael Thompson's win -- after making only one cut all year -- say about the PGA Tour in 2013?
Collins: It says that there are no accidents on tour. No one who gets to the PGA Tour got "lucky." Anyone, any week, can win. It's a testament to how good and how closely packed these guys are skills-wise.
Evans: Thompson's win just confirms that a guy who had trouble breaking 80 in his previous start at the Northern Trust Open could win on one of the toughest courses on tour. Everybody out there can play.
Harig: This is golf nowadays. Thompson went from one FedEx Cup point to 501 in a single week. Guys find their form and aren't afraid to win and then might fall back out of form again. That is why so many different players have chances to win each week. And perhaps why we've had nine different winners in nine weeks.
Maguire: Two words: wide open. Anything is possible as we have three first-time winners in the first nine weeks of the PGA Tour season. Thompson is no slouch -- he did finish second at the 2012 U.S. Open -- but did anyone, even he, think this was possible after his best finish this year was a T-78 at Torrey Pines?
4. True or false: Geoff Ogilvy will tee it up at the Masters in April.
Collins: True. This week was the hardest. Knowing that playing well could get you in the top 50, mentally, is a very difficult burden. For proof, see Ernie Els trying to play his way in the Masters last year or Charles Howell III this year. Or check out Phil Mickelson's stats when he could've become world No. 1. Playing well when you have to is really hard, even at this level.
Evans: It's hard to say. Before his second-place finish at the Honda Classic, Ogilvy had missed four consecutive cuts.
Harig: True. He just moved to 47th in the world after finishing second at the Honda Classic. And with a WGC event this week that he's now qualified for, he's got a great chance to move up some more and solidify his position.
Maguire: True. He jumped into the top 50 in the world rankings with his second-place finish at the Honda Classic, but he needs to stay there for roughly another month to get that invite to Augusta. Or he could get a win between now and then. That would do the trick. The confidence Ogilvy regained after a woeful West Coast swing early this season will only help the 2006 U.S. Open champ get his game going as he heads to Doral this week for an event he won in 2008.