AUGUSTA, Ga. – OK, so Tiger Woods isn’t at the Masters. It’s the first time since 1994 that the game’s biggest draw won’t play Augusta National. But that doesn’t mean that he’s not a hot topic.
Here’s a smattering of comments from top players Tuesday about Woods’ absence this week:
Adam Scott: “It’s a big loss for the tournament any time a world No. 1 is not going to play. It’s a huge loss. But it’s the nature of sports, and guys get injured and it’s an unfortunate timing for that. And you know, like I said, it’s going to be missing the top player in the game.
“But, as every year here, this event produces something special no matter what. It just has a way of doing it, and it’s not going to involve Tiger this year, but it will involve someone else and it will be a memorable event anyway.”
Rory McIlroy: “Having Tiger in a tournament definitely creates more buzz, more of an atmosphere. You know where he is on the course by the crown and the gallery that follows him.
“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.”
Phil Mickelson: “It’s a weird feeling not having him here isn’t it? He’s been such a mainstay in professional golf at the majors. It’s awkward to not have him here. I hope he gets back soon.
“I hope he’s back for the other majors, and as much as I want to win and I know how great he is and tough to beat, it also makes it – it makes it special when he’s in the field and you’re able to win.”
Justin Rose: “It’s a shame for the tournament. I know that people are very excited to watch him play golf. Win, lose or draw, he’s a very big draw for the game. People are eager to see how he’s going to chase down Jack Nicklaus in every major championship. That’s a countdown to that.
“Obviously for him on a personal level, it’s never nice having to watch the tournament when you’re banged up and hurt a little bit. So no doubt it will just fire him up even more for the rest of the year.”
Henrik Stenson: “We all know his record around here. When he’s playing well, he wouldn’t be your No. 1 pick to have breathing down your neck on the back nine at Augusta would he?
“Of course he’s going to be missed at this event and he would’ve been one of the challengers whether he’s playing his absolute best of playing average. You would still not count him out around this golf course.”