Dave Kindred: ‘The Masters Will Be A Lesser Tournament Without Tiger Woods’
Tiger Woods has missed majors before; he’s never missed the Masters.
Well, he’s missing this one.
Yes, the Masters, which kicks off at Augusta National this Thursday, will be without Woods for the first time since 1994.
What does this mean for the game?
“I think it means something to everybody because Tiger is one of (the) – if not the – most extraordinary golfers of all time,” Dave Kindred said on The John Feinstein Show. “There’s drama with him at every moment. His outsized talent has drawn outsized attention. As Arnold Palmer drew in a lot of fans, Palmer did it with his personality, his charisma. Tiger (does it) with his virtuosity. He’s just one of the great players of all time.”
Woods won his first major at the Masters in 1997. He opened with a 40 and won the event by 12 strokes.
“If he had never played another Masters, that Masters would still be legendary,” Kindred said. “It’ll be a lesser tournament without him, lesser drama. More people can win. Tiger might have won. It was just all of the familiar stories with him. Can he come back? Can he catch Nicklaus? We’ll miss that this year.”
What does this do for Woods’ odds of winning another major? Or his odds of catching Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships?
“He’s still got a chance to win another major; I think he’s got no chance to catch Nicklaus,” Kindred said. “I believed that three or four years ago. He was playing badly in majors. Really, the only time he was in contention was at Augusta. I don’t think that he can do it at all anymore.”
“I’m a Nicklaus guy,” Kindred continued, “but we never thought anybody would even threaten Nicklaus. And here came Tiger from ’97 to, what, 2004, maybe? He was the greatest player of all time. What he did in the ’97 Masters, nobody will ever do again – and certainly he won’t do it again. He’s a much different player now.”
Ten years ago, players would have been salivating at the chance to play in a Woods-less Masters. Now?
“I don’t think anybody goes into an event anymore fearing Tiger,” Kindred said. “There’s maybe 20, 25 kids – under 30 – who have beaten Tiger consistently. They know that he’s vulnerable now. Tiger has to play his A+ game to win tournaments. He’s capable of that. He won five last year (and is) still ranked No. 1 in the world. But the majors, I think, got into his head. I think in the majors he puts more pressure on himself than any other time, and it shows in his putting. He used to make every putt. He doesn’t do that now. Putting is the first thing to go with all the great players.”
While there will never be another Tiger, both Feinstein and Kindred feel Rory McIlroy, 24, could be the game’s next great, consistent threat.
“McIlroy can win any time,” Kindred said. “I think he’s a great kid, he’s a great talent, he’s a smart guy. I think he can win any week. Certainly he can win this week. I think he’ll be there in the end.”
Interestingly enough, Woods’ late father, Earl, predicted his son would win 14 majors – the exact number Woods has won.
“So maybe Earl knew more than we gave him credit for,” Kindred said.
Maybe, Feinstein countered, but Earl also said Tiger would be more important than Ghandi.
“Well,” Kindred said, “1-for-2, okay?”