3. As a preview of the 2016 Olympics format, this week's World Cup at Royal Melbourne emphasized individual results over a team format, like a Ryder Cup-style two-man better ball. Is it better to reward individuals with Gold, Silver and Bronze over 72 holes of stroke play, or would you prefer a team format in the Olympics with countrymen paired together?
VAN SICKLE: With only 60 players in the field, and probably half of them ranked outside the top 100 in the world, an individual stroke-play format seems fairly silly. There should be more than 60 players and they should be 60 of the top players. If that's not possible, I'd rather see three- or four-person teams from 20 competitive countries play for a team title.
BAMBERGER: Well, it will never happen, but a team competition, for sure. Ideally, an amateur one. (A man can dream.) Otherwise, Olympic golf is just another tournament.
WALKER: With the wonderful exception of the Ryder Cup, golf is an individual sport, so I’m fine with stroke play at the Olympics. Team play would be too complicated with all the countries involved; it would be like turning the marathon into a relay race.
SENS: Team. We get enough me-me golf in the course of a regular Tour season. It's nice to see them playing for something bigger than themselves. Or at least acting like they are.
RITTER: My preferred format would be 36 holes of stroke play that narrows the field to 64 (or even 32), followed by head-to-head match play for the medals.
GODICH: If you want to attract the best players, you'd be best served making it an individual event.
PASSOV: I get that 72 holes of stroke play is the fairest way to reward a champion -- but it's not the most fun. I'd love to see the strategies embraced in a better-ball format (whether stroke or match play), and I'd definitely like to see the guys paired with each other, offering patriotic consult and support. Or how cool would it be to play it in a draw format, the way the NCAA men's golf now works? Maybe five guys on each team, with players paired off in match-play singles? It would be awesome to see Tiger and Jordan Spieth take on the Molinari brothers from Italy in the quarters, Sweden's Stenson and Karlsson in the semis and Aussies Day and Scott in the finals -- for instance -- for the Gold medal.
4. Caddie Steve Williams announced he'd be hanging up his bag and working a reduced schedule after the 2014 season. How has Williams helped Adam Scott since taking his bag in 2011? What impact does a caddie have at the highest levels of the game?
VAN SICKLE: It seems as if Stevie's arrival coincided with Adam playing a little tougher and finishing stronger. Coincidence? I don't think so. Obviously, Stevie made the key read on the playoff putt at Augusta. Outsiders can't fairly judge what impact caddies have at this level. It's knowing when to keep the player loose or focused or club down due to adrenaline, things we're not privy to.
PASSOV: Williams' combination of excellence and arrogance was likely the final piece in the puzzle that was Adam Scott. Williams' belief in Scott's abilities had to help Scott in a small but hugely significant way. He's been a different golfer -- maybe the most consistent in golf on big occasions -- and having a guy along as your partner who helped guide the era's greatest star to his biggest wins has to be reassuring. Caddies used to be very disposable and yes, I've heard the argument against any caddie ever being a Hall of Fame member ("he didn't hit a single shot"), but if a caddie can make a one-shot contribution, whether via a great read or as a calming presence, his contributions can't be overlooked at the game's highest levels.
RITTER: Hard to say exactly what Williams has done, but you can't deny that Scott's playing the best golf of his career. Maybe Stevie shared some tips on Tiger's work ethic or practice routine. Or maybe Williams has a way of making Scott more at ease on the course. At the highest level, I think the biggest contribution caddies make is providing that comfort level, but I'll defer to Bamberger for the final say.
BAMBERGER: Beyond the considerable mechanics of doing the job properly, the caddie helps the player combat loneliness and anxiety and other psycho-sporting disorders. If the player thinks the caddie is helping, the caddie is helping. Steve Williams has surely helped Adam Scott, Tiger Woods, Greg Norman and Raymond Floyd, but that doesn't mean he'd necessarily improve Zach Johnson or Jean Van de Velde or Jack Nicklaus.
WALKER: Scott plays with more of an edge since he started working with Williams and the wins have followed. How much a caddie helps depends on the player, but guys like Scott and Mickelson are more confident players because of their trust in their caddies.
SENS: Whether it's the Williams effect or not, Scott seems to walk the course with more swagger than he used to. Then again, a Masters win will do that for you. I don't doubt that Williams has had an impact. At that level, it's about intangibles. Having a guy who can keep you relaxed, in a good frame of mind, who understands your moods, when you want to talk, when you don't. Or so they tell me. Personally, I like a caddie who moves fast and tells good dirty jokes.
GODICH: No doubt Williams has had an impact on Scott. We rarely hear about those days when a caddie keeps his man in a positive frame of mind when all appears lost. But in the end the player has to hit quality shots -- and, of course, hole the putts.