Get well fast, Tiger

Get well fast, Tiger
Tiger Woods takes a drop after hitting his ball into the water on the third hole during the second round of the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral on March 7, 2014 in Doral

There won't be a Tiger on the prowl at the magnificent Augusta National club this week, stalking past azalea-ringed greens and plotting a course around Amen Corner.

The patrons - yes, that's what the fans who flock to the first Major of the year are traditionally known as - will find it strange.

Them, and the millions around the world who tune in on TV, will be disappointed because for 19 seasons, golf's most fearsome winning machine of the modern era was always swinging at the Masters.

After surgery to repair a painful back, world No. 1 Tiger Woods will not be vying for a fifth Green Jacket this year.

Former US Open winner Michael Campbell does not think Woods will be badly missed at Augusta, but believes there will be a negative impact on the game if the 14-time Major champion is out for a long time.

Speaking to The New Paper yesterday, New Zealand's Campbell (above) said: "I don't think the Masters would be a lesser event without Tiger this time around, because he's not been in great form.

"But, in the long run, if Tiger is out, the sport will naturally be effected in terms of sponsorship and fan interest.

"People love champions; dominant champions, no matter the sport. When Michael Schumacher and Roger Federer were at the top, their sport thrived."

Campbell has duelled with Woods and witnessed his magical drawing power up close, after the Kiwi captured the 2005 US Open title at Pinehurst, beating the American, who finished two strokes behind in second place.

Woods, 38, may need three months to get back into the game.

That does not bode well for the sport, according to Campbell, who is in Singapore to co-host the "Fox Sports at The Masters".

As important as Woods is to the sport, however, Campbell, 45, insists the golf phenomenon cannot be regarded as the "greatest", until he breaks Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 Majors.

There are many who feel, because of the depth in the modern game and the constant whirr of the production line churning out talented and fearless young guns, Woods' standing as the pre-eminent golfer in history makes sense.

But Campbell insisted: "He won't be the greatest of all time if he doesn't break that record.

"Can he do it? Well, records are meant to be broken, and he still has time to reach 19 Majors."

Woods' last Major victory was the US Open in 2008.

Already, he has had four surgeries on his left knee, had trouble with both Achilles, suffered from elbow, wrist and neck trouble and now has the most daunting injury for a golfer: the back.

Woods has defiantly predicted he will be back and as good as ever, Nicklaus also predicts he will break the record, and Campbell added: "If Tiger can stay healthy, I reckon he's got 10 more years of good golf in him.

"But, he's had several surgeries since, so it's hard to say."

This article was published on April 9 in The New Paper.

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