3. Rory McIlroy showed signs of life in Korea, finishing second after a final-round 67, and Tiger Woods said he sees McIlroy “starting to put the pieces together.” Will McIlroy return to form in 2014?
LYNCH: He can't play much worse, so yes. He's likely always going to be a streaky player -- and many top teachers think he has a major swing flaw, dropping the club too far inside -- but with his professional and personal life on a more even keel, I'd expect him to perform much better in '14.
SHIPNUCK: He better. Every player has a down year, but two in a row is a career derailed. Of course, now there's gonna be an endless drip of juicy details about his lawsuit with his former agents, the trial being a torturous year away. Just one more in an endless series of distractions.
BAMBERGER: Tiger's comments are a way to suggest that the difference between winning and not winning is comprised of, at this elite level, "pieces." I don't buy that for him or for Rory. Rory's inability to win in 2013 is not a question of getting the pieces together. To win again, he has to get his head on straight, rekindle something missing. He didn't forget how to play golf. He lost his mojo, likely on a temporary basis. Shooting low scores anywhere, against any field, is the best thing a Tour player can do to get his groove back, and last week was a good step. My guess is Rory 's scores in 2014 will be closer to what they were in 2012 than 2013. As for Rory himself, he's a work in progress. I hope the business of golf doesn't impede the remarkable freedom with which he has at times played the game, because he's been a joy to watch.
PASSOV: Rory has unbelievable natural talent. Give him some time, let him sort out personal and management issues, and he'll be back.
VAN SICKLE: A swift kick in the pants in the form of adversity is good for any successful player. Rory had it all in 2012 and let it slip away for a variety of reasons, one of which surely had to be human nature. He was living his life and enjoying it, and golf wasn't the only thing in it. That's good. And now it's back to work, lad. He'll be back, eventually, but I don't know the timetable.
RITTER: I think so. He had a bad year, but it's not like the talent just disappeared. He's an easy choice for comeback player of the year in '14.
SENS: Yes. Too talented -- with too good a head on his shoulders -- for him not to.
4. The Shriners Hospitals For Children Open returned to Las Vegas this week without recent celebrity host Justin Timberlake. Do celebrity affiliations do anything the help the PGA Tour’s appeal and do you miss the days when entertainment stars were more closely associated with Tour events?
SHIPNUCK: I covered the first JT Open and it was a blast -- his very public involvement brought a ton of buzz to a tourney that desperately needs it. If golf as an institution is trying desperately to get younger/cooler it couldn't have a better ambassador than Timberlake. That the tournament and Tour screwed up this relationship is criminal.
BAMBERGER: Celebrity golfers don't mean much to the players anymore. When the players had more of hangout mentality -- and the stars of stage and screen did, too -- the whole thing worked. Now everybody's in a rush and the bar is empty and the most important celebrity in the game is Clinton. And even he has his hands full drawing talent to the old Hope event.
SENS: Players, not celebrities, make or break a tournament, and money, not celebrities, is what draws the players. Using celebrities to market golf in general has merit (Hey, look, Samuel Jackson plays golf. Maybe I should, too). Using them to build up a tournament, not so much. I do miss the quaint days when a celebrity host could stamp his or her name on an event. I also miss the days when gas was 33 cents a gallon. This is a corporate age, and there's no going back.
VAN SICKLE: The designated celebrity may attract a few more casual fans, although I don't know that Danny Thomas ever necessarily packed the house at Memphis or Sammy Davis Jr. in Hartford. Did Dean Martin even show up in Tucson? I don't remember if he did. But a good celeb adds a little pizzazz, which can't hurt. I wouldn't mind one or two celebs in golf tourneys -- if they're real celebs and not like, say, Mark Cuban or Amber from “Survivor.”
RITTER: Not sure if the stars specifically help the PGA Tour, but we live in a celebrity-obsessed society, and anything that makes golf seem cooler is a good thing. Celebrities can certainly improve the sport's image.
LYNCH: Celebrity affiliations probably matter more to tournament organizers, sponsors and local charities than to fans or viewers. It's not as though prime events are lining up to have Andy Garcia act as host -- only events that are already struggling take that tack. If it helps them, have at it. But since the worst golf viewing day of the year is the celebrity-sodden Saturday at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, I'm in no rush to see more reasons for celebrity coverage at Tour events.
PASSOV: I'm almost hopelessly nostalgic for the days of Bing, Bob and even Danny Thomas (hello, Memphis), but events like those are as outdated as wooden drivers.