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Azinger: Players rather hit it like Jack at 38 than Tiger

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AUGUSTA, Ga. – At least until golf’s Big Three – Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player – get things started early Thursday with the ceremonial first tee shot, the buzz this week at Augusta National is about who is not playing.

Tiger Woods announced last week that he would miss the Masters for the first time since 1994 following back surgery and the state of the world No. 1’s health has been a central theme this week.

“The difference between Jack (Nicklaus) and Tiger (Woods) at 38 is when Jack was 38 everybody wanted to hit it like him. At 38 I don’t think many guys want to hit it like Tiger,” Azinger said. “That’s a huge distinction.”

Woods remains stymied at 14 major championships since the 2008 U.S. Open, while Nicklaus won major No. 15 when he was 38 on his way to 18 Grand Slam titles.