Monday, March 31

A Masters Minus Tiger and Phil?

I ALWAYS LOOK FORWARD TO AUGUSTA, the year's second major (the Kraft Nabisco Championship is the first, as Hall of Famer Carol Mann pointed out on Facebook). But what kind of Masters would it be if Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson aren't in the field of 99?

Tiger Woods has back issues. (Allison)
The 2014 Masters tees off a week from Thursday on April 10. That's just 10 days away. Both Tiger and Phil are nursing injuries. The Green Jacket men (and two women) and the CBS people might be more than a little worried about "a tradition unlike any other." Because without Woods and Mickelson it will truly be unlike any other in recent years, and not in a good way.

Phil was bullish about his game last Friday at the Valero Texas Open. ""My speed is back, my back feels great, my body feels great and I'm able to hit the ball hard again," Lefty said.

Then, on Saturday, he withdrew from the tournament with a strained oblique muscle. Swinging hard with his driver to get ready for the Masters, Mickelson hurt himself on the 1st tee, his 10th hole of the day.

"I'm going to go back to San Diego for a couple days and have a doctor take a look at it," Mickelson was quoted as saying at GolfChannel.com, "but there's really not much you can do for a pulled muscle. I hope I'll be OK to play the [Shell Houston Open] but I just don't know."

Tiger's problems are apparently worse. His deal is a bulging disk that won't require surgery, according to an unnamed source as reported by Golfweek. The winner of 14 major championships is uncertain about whether he'll tee it up at Augusta.

"It's too early to know about the Masters," Woods said at his website. "I will continue to be evaluated and work closely with my doctors."

For the players, media and fans, no Tiger and no Phil would be a different kind of trip down Magnolia Lane. I'll make that trip if I have to, but it won't be the same.

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