Golf — mastersThursday, April 10, 2014
Tiger Woods missing but not forgotten
AUGUSTA, Georgia — Tiger Woods is missing the Masters for the first time in 20 years, but the 38-year-old US player still commands attention at Augusta National, site of the year’s first major championship.
The four-time Masters winner, stuck on 14 majors for the last six years in his quest to surpass the record 18 won by Jack Nicklaus, is sidelined after undergoing surgery for a pinched nerve in his back.
“We miss Tiger, as does the entire golf world,” Augusta National chairman Billy Payne said in his State of the Masters news conference yesterday. “He is always a threat to make a run and do well and win here at Augusta National.”
Woods, number two on the all-time majors list, had played in every Masters since his first appearance as US Amateur champion as a 19-year-old in 1995.
Reigning champion Adam Scott of Australia said Woods would be sorely missed at the 78th edition of the stately event conceived by the legendary Bobby Jones.
“It’s a big loss for the tournament any time a world number one is not going to play. It’s a huge loss,” said Scott, who became the first Australian to win the Masters after a thrilling sudden-death playoff duel against Argentina’s Ángel Cabrera. “But, as every year here, this event produces something special no matter what. It’s not going to involve Tiger this year, but it will involve someone else and it will be a memorable event anyway.”
Woods’s longtime rival Phil Mickelson said it would feel strange not having Tiger to gun for.
“It’s a weird feeling not having him here, isn’t it?” said three-time Masters winner Mickelson, who last year notched his fifth major title by winning the British Open. “He’s been such a mainstay in professional golf and in the majors. It’s awkward to not have him here. I hope he gets back soon.
Rory McIlroy, the 24-year-old Northern Irishman rated a co-favourite with Scott for this year’s green jacket, said the absence of Woods would be felt right from the start.
“Having Tiger in a tournament definitely creates more buzz, more of an atmosphere,” said two-time major winner McIlroy, considered by some the heir apparent to Woods as the dominant player of his generation. “I think people will miss him at the start of the week but by the end of the week, when it comes down to who is going to win the golf tournament, there’s going to be a worthy winner and it will produce a lot of excitement.”