Tiger's Masters absence a big boost to McIlroy hopes of glory
Irish golfers have won all four of the Major Championships Tiger Woods has missed in the past 19 years.
That remarkable coincidence came into sharp perspective last night as Woods bowed out of next week's US Masters following microsurgery on a herniated disc on Monday.
Woods has been unable to play just four of the last 68 Majors, The Open Championship and US PGA in 2008, and the US and British Opens in 2011.
Padraig Harrington won at Royal Birkdale and Oakland Hills in 2008 to bring his tally of Major titles to three in 13 magnificent months as Tiger recovered from knee surgery.
Then Rory McIlroy prevailed in Tiger's absence at Congressional three years later and Darren Clarke lifted the Claret Jug at Sandwich the following month.
By skipping Augusta for the first time since making his Major debut there as an amateur in 2005, four-time Masters Champion Tiger brought into sharp focus the agony of recent months as he tried vainly to defy lower back spasms.
"After attempting to get ready for the Masters and failing to make the necessary progress, I decided in consultation with my doctors to have this procedure done," Woods revealed on his website. "This is frustrating but it's something my doctors advised me to do for my immediate and long-term health."
Woods will require rehabilitation and rest "for several weeks". He hopes to play again "sometime this summer".