Woods missing but not forgotten at the Masters

Wed Apr 9, 2014 1:49pm EDT
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By Larry Fine

AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Tiger Woods is missing the Masters for the first time in 20 years, but the 38-year-old American 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 on Wednesday. "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 U.S. 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 Angel Cabrera.

"But, as every year here, this event produces something special no matter what. It just has a way of doing it. 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.   Continued...

U.S. team member Tiger Woods reacts as he misses a putt on the first hole as he plays with teammate Matt Kuchar against the International team of Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel during the Foursome matches for the 2013 Presidents Cup golf tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio October 4, 2013. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes