No one really expected Tiger Woods to be playing at Augusta National this week but it would have been nice to see him tee it up 20 years on from one of the most remarkable victories in the history of golf.
It comes as no surprise to hear that Tiger Woods will not be playing at this year’s Masters Tournament.
Plagued by back problems, Woods announced what everyone already knew, that he would not be playing in the 2017 Masters.
“Unfortunately, I won’t be competing in this year’s Masters. I did about everything I could to play, but my back rehabilitation didn’t allow me the time to get tournament ready. I’m especially upset because it’s a special anniversary for me that’s filled with a lot of great memories. I can’t believe it’s been 20 years since I won my first green jacket.
“I have no timetable for my return, but I will continue my diligent effort to recover, and want to get back out there as soon as possible.
“I’d like to pass along my regrets to Billy Payne, the Augusta National membership, staff, volunteers and patrons, that I won’t be there. I will be at the Champions Dinner and I look forward to seeing a lot of old friends.
“Augusta National has been a very important place to me and my family for over 20 years, and while I’m disappointed, it will be good to be back there Tuesday.”
There was some hope that Woods may have been a chance to play after his name appeared on the press conference list for next week, but it has since been reported that Woods has played very few golf shots since he withdrew from the Dubai Desert Classic in February and was never a realistic chance to play.
Woods however will be in attendance early in the week at Augusta National for the past-champions dinner and to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his first Masters victory; marking the day he announced his arrival to the world and changing the face of golf forever.
A 21-year-old Woods smashed the field to record a history-making victory in 1997, 12-strokes ahead of Tom Kite and in doing so became the youngest-ever winner of the green jacket, the first non-white player to win at Augusta and gave rise to a phrase that has haunted championship golf courses ever since.
‘Tiger proofing’ golf courses meant that many golf clubs scrambled to add yardages to their holes in order to combat the huge distances he was hitting the golf ball.
Huge interest from outside of the golf world saw Woods pair up with one of the world’s largest sporting apparel suppliers Nike, and huge sums of money pouring into the game – raising the game’s profile the weekly prize purse on the PGA Tour.
Golf and golf courses haven’t been the same since.
It’s amazing to think that despite the 12-stroke victory, Woods made the turn in round one at 4-over par. Nine holes later he was 2-under for the day thanks to four birdies and an eagle. After three rounds he was nine shots clear.
If you need a reminder of the historic week, here are some of Woods’ great shots from the 1997 Masters.