Could Irish Eyes Smile At Augusta?


With Tiger Woods withdrawing from next week’s Masters at Augusta, Irish golf fans will be tingling with anticipation. If history is anything to go by, then one of the Irish players will be the first from this country to don the famous green jacket. The last four majors that Tiger didn’t tee it up in were all won by Irishmen. The 2008 British Open was won by our very own Padraig Harrington, he followed this by claiming the PGA title later in the same year. In 2011 Rory McIlroy decimated a tiger-less U.S. Open field and in the same year Darren Clarke ended his major drought with a win at the British Open. With Clarke and McIlroy already in the field for the trip down Magnolia Lane, they both will try and fine tune their games for this years first major by competing in Houston this week. Harrington will be joining them in Texas but knows that only a win will allow him to extend his unbroken run of majors to thirty four, his exemption from his two major wins in 2008 now expired. The other Irishman in the Masters field are Graeme McDowell who is taking a break this from action this week after his exploits representing Europe in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last week. As the highest ranked of the Irish, Rory McIlroy may have the best chance and he has gained much experience since his Masters back nine collapse in 2011 but McDowell too may have a say.

The 78th Masters field will go ahead without Eldrick Tiger Woods. He has been ever present at the tournament since he first competed there as an amateur back in 1995. It also completes a ‘slam’ that he would rather not have completed, he now will have missed all four majors through injury. Woods is the proud owner of four of the coveted green jackets that the winner of the Masters receives and it was at Augusta back in 1997 that Tiger gripped a hold of the golfing world and shook it for all he was worth. That year he ran out a 12 shot winner and with that victory he gained a fear from other players that would help him on his way to fourteen majors in total. ‘I’d like to express my disappointment to the Augusta National membership, staff, volunteers and patrons that I will not be at the Masters. It’s a week that’s very special to me. It also looks like I’ll be forced to miss several upcoming tournaments to focus on my rehabilitation and getting healthy’, a statement from Woods read. It is proposed that he may be back in action, ‘sometime this summer’. He had a microdiscectomy this week in an effort to alleviate the back spasms that have curtailed his season to date. He may well be looking to the future but time seems to be running out for Tiger to surpass Jack Nicklaus’ major haul of eighteen. Next weeks Masters will be his fifth major to miss since 2008 and with the U.S. Open to be staged at Pinehurst No. 2 on June 12th – 15th closely followed by the British Open at Royal Liverpool on July 17th – 20th, it may be the case that Woods next opportunity to add to his major collection could well be the PGA Championship. There is no guarantee that he would have won anyway but his absence does provide more hope for others. So the Masters begins on April 10th without the world number one but it will still have Rae’s Creek and Amen Corner and with a Hail Mary or two maybe an Irish winner can prevail, the green jacket would be fitting after all.

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