Three aces make up for Woods' absence, says Montgomerie
Who needs Tiger Woods? That was Colin Montgomerie's message as the preparations began in earnest for the 80th Masters - without the 14-time major winner.
Woods announced late on Friday that his long-standing back injury meant that he would be missing Augusta for just the second time in 21 years. Montgomerie, however, believes that the rise of Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy has negated the blow.
"We're very fortunate that we have three guys coming into the first major as joint favourites for the first time," he said.
"There has always been one favourite, but now there's three. Isn't it great that we have those three, who have taken the game forward in a very professional manner on and off the course? We might have been really missing Tiger - but now we're not."
Mark Steinberg, Woods' manager, yesterday dismissed the rumours that his client would skip the whole season, saying: "I do expect him back this year. Absolutely."
Meanwhile, journeyman Jim Herman won the Shell Houston Open on the PGA Tour yesterday in what is the final event before the big guns arrive at Magnolia Lane for the Masters.
Herman had never won a PGA Tour event before, but the 15 under par victory will now see him tee it up with the heavy hitters in Augusta this week.
Playing the group ahead, Henrik Stenson pushed him all the way, but missed a birdie putt on the last hole which might have forced a play-off.
The Swede had to settle for second spot on 14 under. Dustin Johnson was third on 13 under.