Kuchar: Masters fine without Woods
American Matt Kuchar believes the Masters will not suffer in the absence of world number one Tiger Woods next week.
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Woods announced on Tuesday that he would miss the Masters for the first time in his career after undergoing surgery on a pinched nerve in his back.
That completed an unwarranted career grand slam for the 38-year-old, who had previously missed the game's other three major championships through injury, most recently the US Open and Open Championship in 2011.
"It's the Masters," Kuchar, who was joint eighth at Augusta last year, told a pre-tournament press conference ahead of the Shell Houston Open. "It's still the greatest golf tournament.
"We experienced a year without him. He is the centre of the PGA Tour sphere. He attracts the most eyeballs, the most attention, but there are a lot of great players out here and I think the Tour held on quite well, stayed pretty healthy, while he was absent.
"Certainly, the Masters will not suffer. It's definitely exciting. I think everyone wants Tiger to be healthy and playing well and in contention. I think most guys dream of taking Tiger down, battling him down the stretch at the Masters. We won't have that chance this year but we'll still have a chance to don a green jacket."
Former Open champion Stewart Cink agreed with world number 11 Kuchar, adding: "It will be a little different without him, but it's still a great tournament. We played, back in 2008, a lot of majors in a row without him and they were still great tournaments, and the Masters will be great.
"But it's kind of sad not to see Tiger over there because it's always exciting to see what he's going to do."
Augusta native Charles Howell added: "It's a shame any time anyone is injured, but especially Tiger. He's such a driving force for golf and he's fun to watch on TV. He's great for our sport and hopefully he comes back healthy.
"I think (the Masters) may be the one tournament that can still go on with the amount of media and fan interest, etc; but it still misses something when he's not there.
"We all know how important that golf tournament is to him, and winning majors, but if he elected to have surgery before the Masters, I think we all know his back must have been pretty bad and hopefully it's the right decision in the long run."
One of Woods' former coaches, Hank Haney, believes the 14-time major winner will have to adapt his swing when he does return to action.
"Knowing the way he thinks and reacts, he's going to find the easiest way that he can to swing with his back, which will probably mean he makes some changes to his swing," Haney told the Golf Channel.
"He'll make adjustments. He's good at that, he's not scared to change. He's not scared to try something different.
"The real question is, will he have the desire to practice, put in the work, and will his body allow him to do it? I think those are the two issues. If he gets out there and he has the ability to practice and he does put in the time, I don't have any doubt that he's going to continue to play great golf."