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Four-Ball: Who is affected most by PGA delay?

SPRINGFIELD, N.J. — In this weather-delayed edition of Four-Ball, our panel considers whether anyone will gain an edge after Saturday's delay, as well as Phil Mickelson's prediction of history in the making during the final 36 holes at Baltusrol Golf Club.

1. Who will Saturday's delay impact the most negatively? And positively?

ESPN.com senior golf analyst Michael Collins: Negatively — Marc Leishman. He has to come to the course and hit (hopefully) one putt at 7 a.m., then sit around all day waiting to definitely/maybe play Round 4. Nothing good will come from that.
Positively — Emiliano Grillo will have had all that adrenaline crash out of him waiting around Saturday, so Sunday he won't have the same high and low.

ESPN.com senior golf writer Bob Harig: It affects the leaders Jimmy Walker and Robert Streb the most negatively. They are the ones sleeping on the lead, playing well, and the last thing they want to do is think about this more. Streb, especially, has not had much success this year and likely wanted to get back at it. It might very well help Henrik Stenson, who is playing great but might be aided by the break after a hectic two weeks, including his Open victory.

As bad as the weather was on Saturday at the PGA Championship, the forecast for Sunday doesn't look much better. Andy Lyons/Getty Images

ESPN.com senior national columnist Ian O'Connor: — The contenders who haven't won a major are likely to get a bit more anxious the more this drags on. So that's bad news for Jimmy Walker, Robert Streb and Emiliano Grillo, and good news for Jason Day and Henrik Stenson.

ESPN.com senior golf writer Jason Sobel: It will impact the reputation of the PGA of America most negatively. I realize this question was probably hinting at the competitors, but these guys are used to playing stop-start-stop again golf on the PGA Tour. Traditionally, the PGA has a solid reputation for how it conducts golf tournaments, but this decision might lump them in with the USGA, for some observers. As for the positive effect, I think Kevin Kisner and Padraig Harrington, each of whom posted 65 and got into the clubhouse before the delay, probably had the greatest benefit.

ESPN.com senior writer Kevin Van Valkenburg: It has to hurt Robert Streb, who is coming off one of the best rounds of his career. You have to think he wishes he could get back out there and not sleep another night sharing the lead at a major. I think it helps Jordan Spieth, who actually hasn't putted great thus far and is only 6 shots back. If he can get aggressive on slow greens and gets his touch back, he could make a charge. His irons look sharp again.

2. Phil Mickelson said Saturday that a 62 will be shot at this PGA Championship. Agree or disagree?

Collins: Disagree. And Phil did the jinx on purpose. A bit of reverse psychology, like talking about a perfect game in the bottom of the sixth inning. You know there's no chance of it happening now, because anyone who gets close won't be able to get it out of their heads.

Harig: I don't agree but understand why Mickelson said it. There have been a number of low scores already, and the course is now saturated. Soft typically translates to easier. It wouldn't surprise me if it happened, but until it does, it is just hard to say that it is guaranteed.

O'Connor: Phil actually said a 61 is possible too, which is a Bob Beamon-like leap. Sure, a record 62 is possible on a soft and vulnerable course that gives the players a head start (par is only 70). But I'm guessing the golf gods will strike down Lefty, like they did at Troon, and bury his prediction in a bunker.

Sobel: Disagree. It's been 437 majors without one yet. The golf gods won't let it happen. Hey, he should know: His bid for 62 was denied by the higher powers.

Van Valkenburg: Disagree. That's typical Phil being Phil, saying stuff because he wants to entertain us, but also because he likes to make proclamations that could pass as wagers. There is a reason that no one has ever shot 62. The pressure when you're trying to make that final birdie is enormous. I'm not sure there shouldn't be an asterisk for 63s shot on par-70 courses, anyway. Making seven birdies with no bogeys isn't quite the same as making nine on a par-72.

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3. Fact or fiction: A Monday finish detracts from the tournament.

Collins: Fact. Remember the last Monday finish winner of the PGA Championship? It was Phil Mickelson here at Baltusrol in 2005. You didn't see it, and neither did I. You were working, and I was sleeping.

Harig: It's never ideal, but it is hard to say that the Monday finish diminished Zach Johnson's victory last year at St. Andrews or Mickelson's win here in 2005. Lousy weather and terrible spectating conditions take away from the tournament, but if there is a great finish, it doesn't much matter.

O'Connor: Fact, with an asterisk. I don't remember too many people complaining when Mickelson won on Monday here in 2005. Let's see who wins — and how. And let's just hope this thing doesn't finish on Wednesday.

Sobel: Fact. Obviously, it's better to have a Sunday finish for everyone involved. But there is a little part of me that believes a Monday finish, with all eyeballs in offices and schools around the world focused on the proceedings, sort of gives this tournament the attention it deserves.

Van Valkenburg: Fact. Even though this is a new era, where people can watch the broadcast on their tablets or phones while at work, they're going to be distracted, if they tune in at all. There won't be as many fans out at the course on Monday either, simply because a lot of them have to be at work or taking their kids to summer camp. It's hard not to blame the compressed Olympic schedule for this. We should be playing the PGA in mid-August, not July.

4. Rory McIlroy missed the cut. What's the state of his game right now?

Collins: Inconsistent. It feels like with Rory, he is either getting a backdoor top-10 or missing the cut in a major. That's not totally true, but it sure feels that way, especially in majors. I don't know right now that Rory can fix what he's got — a case of the "life." He'll recover from it someday, but right now it's a full-blown infection.

Harig: Disappointing. It's just hard to believe that a guy who drives it so beautifully can struggle like he has at times this year. Missing two cuts in majors in a season when you expect to win one just leaves a bad taste, and McIlroy now has a long eight-plus months until the Masters.

O'Connor: Rory is totally lost on the greens. All the great ones have to weather bad stretches in their primes, and I suspect he'll recover sooner than later. Given the Americans' luck at the Ryder Cup, I wouldn't be surprised if "sooner" means Hazeltine.

Sobel: Tee to green, he's Superman; on the greens, he's Clark Kent. He needs a new putter, a new outlook, a new guru — something, anything, to help him get the ball into the hole right now.

Van Valkenburg: There are two different camps when it comes to Rory: people who believe he'll be fine and any scrutiny he faces is a product of unrealistic expectations; and those who think he's in real denial about the mental scars he's giving himself on the greens and it's starting to become a problem. I think we're in danger of the latter becoming true. He looks mentally fried with a putter in his hand. The truth is, his wedge game is just as much of a problem. It's been mediocre for two years, but he gets away with it because his driver and mid-irons are so good. He needs to get some confidence back by hitting wedges to 10 feet again, not 30 feet.


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