Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Omens good for Rory McIlroy at Augusta

Rory will be at Augusta but Tiger will not

On the last four occasions that Tiger Woods has not played in a major championship, Irish golfers have won the tournament. The Open and US PGA 2008 (Padraig Harrington), the US Open 2011 (Rory McIlroy) and The Open 2011 (Darren Clarke).

Interesting, eh?

Earlier this week an injured Woods pulled out of next week's Masters at Augusta. That's that then, the Green Jacket is coming to the emerald isle. Well, it might, but if it does it'll have little to do with Tiger Woods.

Once the best golfer on the planet, he had beaten most of his competitors before hitting his first drive. Not any more.

The aura has gone.

You could date the decline back to November 2009 when Woods, in his SUV, collided with a fire hydrant outside his house. Revelations quickly followed of affair after affair, eventually leading to a stomach-churning public apology and his divorce from wife Elin Nordegren.

He's won tournaments since but never a BIG one.

In 2008 a US Open triumph took his Major tally to 14, just four behind the record total of Jack Nicklaus. With every passing year, the likelihood of Tiger passing the Golden Bear decreases.

In his last nine majors Woods has missed the cut and finished 40th, 21st, 3rd, 11th, 4th, 32nd, 6th and 40th.

Had he been fit for Augusta, there's no guarantee he would have challenged at the top of the leaderboard.

If McIlroy, Graeme McDowell or Clarke win next Sunday, they'll have done it because they played great golf, not because Tiger wasn't there.

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