AUGUSTA, Ga. – The run-up to the Masters used to involve only one headliner.
Now, there are almost too many to name.
As Tiger Woods misses his second Masters in the past three years because of injury, it offers a chance for his peers to reflect on his impact and how the game has changed over the past two decades.
The most obvious? More players have a realistic chance to win.
As Adam Scott, who has played his entire career in the Tiger Era, said Tuesday: “We all just felt at times like we were playing for second.”
“It’s been well-documented leading into this Masters, there are probably 10, 12, 15 guys you could make a good case for that who have a real shot at winning this tournament, even with the standard of golf that high,” he continued. “Whereas before, when Tiger set the benchmark, Tiger controlled the outcome so much in some way. It didn’t always happen; he didn’t win every time. But he did, if he was playing on his game, and it was very, very hard to beat him.”
While Woods often entered the Masters (and every other major) as a prohibitive favorite, he hasn’t won here since 2005. Since then, both Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson have won multiple Masters titles, and this year, three players – world No. 1 Jason Day, defending champion Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy – all are 8-1 odds or better to win.
“Tiger Woods started our generation,” Day said. “I think our generation is so competitive, and we enjoy and thrive off that competitiveness. There’s not one guy out here that is dominating right now.”
Though there is no timetable for Woods’ return to competition, he will attend the Champions Dinner Tuesday in Augusta.
“I think we all appreciate what he’s done for the game of golf over the years,” Mickelson said. “We all miss him and want him back. He’s a big part of the game even when he’s not playing. … The Tour misses him. The game misses him.”