The game goes on without Woods, though not quite the same

Sun Apr 3, 2016 10:11am EDT
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By Andrew Both

AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - It is often said that no one person is bigger than the sport, but 14-times major champion Tiger Woods comes pretty close in golf to being an exception to the rule.

With Woods sitting out the Masters for only the second time since his tournament debut in 1995, the focus, as it should be, will be on those players who are competing at Augusta National.

But until the four-times Masters champion officially retires from competition, there will always be a feeling that a Masters without him is like a party being held without its most interesting guest.

The last time Woods skipped Augusta National was two years ago, when the final round ratings on U.S. television were the lowest in 50 years. Hardly a coincidence, one would think.

Woods, 40, has not played competitively since last August. He underwent a microdiscectomy on his lower back in September, and had a follow-up procedure a few weeks later.

His recovery has been slow at best.

"It will be radically different than 2014 when he was fresh off regaining his number one ranking," former PGA Tour winner Frank Nobilo told Reuters about the absence of Woods at this year's Masters.

"He had been a feature in seven of his previous eight starts at Augusta and his physical issues weren't truly known. At 38, he was still the game.   Continued...

Aug 15, 2015; Sheboygan, WI, USA; Tiger Woods hits his tee shot on the 16th hole during the continuation of the second round of the 2015 PGA Championship golf tournament at Whistling Straits. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports