MASTERS IN APRIL MISSING RED SHIRT
AUGUSTA, Georgia—from the dogwoods and their white blooms to thousands of azalea bushes bursting with purple and pink, all the april colors have returned to augusta national except for one. No red shirt.
Tiger Woods in his traditional Sunday color has become an indelible part of the Masters over the last 25 years. It dates to the practice round he played with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, after which Nicklaus suggested Woods might wind up with more green jackets than the King and the Bear combined.
So there is a big void this year. “You can't—especially at Augusta— you can't go there and not think about the guy,” two-time US Open champion Curtis Strange said. “Changed the game we knew basically in front of our eyes at Augusta."
The 1997 Masters—one year after Nicklaus made his bold prediction—remains a watershed moment in golf. Woods broke 20 records that week when he won by 12 shots as a 21-year-old in his first year playing as a pro. From there, he carried golf to a new wave of popularity and, because of television contracts that followed, made everyone around him richer.
The 2019 Masters was the perfect bookend. Four back surgeries, four knee surgeries, public embarrassment from his private affairs, and at 43 he overcame it all for his 15 th major, fifth green jacket and pure joy when he scooped his son into his arms.
He won the career Grand Slam three times over.
But the link was always Augusta.
Xander Schauffele was asked the first thought that entered his head when he plays the Masters. He has only played three times, but the answer came quickly.
“I see Tiger and I see red,” said Schauffele, a runner-up to him in 2019.
Woods’s absence is nothing new, only the circumstances. He first missed the Masters in 2014 when he had the first of his five back surgeries. He missed two other times (2016 and 2017) trying to heal from two others.
But there was always belief he would return, even when the pain in his lower back was so bad that he barely could walk at the Masters Club dinner for champions in 2017.