Tiger Woods is out of the Masters. Surgery for a pinched nerve will keep Tiger from competitive golf until sometime in the summer, at least.
That should make no golf fan happy. Even Tiger’s detractors should miss him. He makes any tournament more interesting.
Here’s one reason why.
The most recent winners on the PGA Tour are Steven Bowditch (Texas Open), Matt Every (Arnold Palmer Invitational), John Senden (Valspar Championship), Patrick Reed (Cadillac Championship) and Russell Henley (Honda Classic).
I’ve heard of John Senden. Sort of. The rest of those guys?
Now, in the weeks before that, Jason Day, Bubba Watson and Zach Johnson won.
But golf has a little bit of a star-power void. The next generation of stars has been a little slow to develop.
Nineteen golfers have won the last 21 majors. Phil Mickelson, Tiger’s contemporary, and Rory McIlroy are the only two-time winners.
If the final two Masters pairings on Sunday are McIlroy, Mickelson, Day and Justin Rose, then the grass will be awfully green at Augusta. But if the final two Masters pairings are Steven Bowditch, Matt Every, Patrick Reed and Russell Henley, it might as well be the Greater Greensboro Open.
Even though Tiger hasn’t won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open, he’s remained competitive. Especially in the Masters. Tiger last won the Masters in 2005. His Augusta finishes are tied for third, tied for second, second, tied for sixth, tied for fourth, tied for 40th and tied for fourth. That’s eight top-six finishes in his last nine Masters.
Augusta was awfully good to Tiger (four green jackets), and Tiger was awfully good to Augusta. Or at least to CBS.
The best thing about the Masters, compared to the other majors, is the annual certainty of big names on the leaderboard. The U.S. Open can produce anonymous champions. So can the British. And the PGA.
But the Masters, even if a Charl Schwartzel or Trevor Immelman wins, almost always is good for a big name or four in contention.
And now a big name, the biggest, will miss the Masters. And we will miss Tiger Woods.