The absence of Tiger Woods leaves this years event wide open. There are few sportsmen on this planet that command the respect that is bestowed on Tiger Woods. The man is a phenomenon; he is the greatest golfer the world has ever seen, with charisma that represents a sell out crowd whenever he plays. He has already won the British Open three times and at the PGA he has triumphed four times. This year he has already won the US Open and was runner up at the Masters. His 2008 Masters performance in fact cave has his 5th runner up spot in Major tournaments alone. That is 19 top two performances. The more you look at Tiger's performances the more frustrated you become. He has had a total of 29 top ten finishes; to win 14 of them is ridiculous. It underlines the gulf between him and the rest and illustrates why his absence at Royal Birkdale is a ticket sales disaster.
His fellow professionals must feel his absence too. Some of them must be secretly dreading winning the 'Open' or the PGA, as any victory will always carry the caveat that 'Tiger' was not playing. No matter what slant any winner will put on his victory, it will always carry a hollow feel. Tiger's knee has got a lot to answer for!
So where does absence leave the British Open. Last year's Champion, Padraig Harrington, can always say that he won with Tiger in the field, he will be among the favorites to win again this year as will the man he defeated in that unforgivable play off, Spaniard, Sergio Garcia. Phil Mickelson, who by and large is a poor traveler, will start favorate for the Tournament, but he will be challenged for favoritism in the betting by Ernie Els and Vijay Singh, both past Open winners. What chance of a British Winner at Royal Birkdale? The last time it was played here, it was Mark O'Meara who won but we will always remember the exploits of a certain young British Amateur that year, Justin Rose. He was 17 years old and led after the first round, finally finishing in a magnificent tie for 4th place. These days of course Justin is a hardened professional and is ranked in the top ten of world golfers. Perhaps he might be the one?
Whoever wins, it will be essential to keep Tiger out of their thoughts, as his absence this year may be as meaningful as his usual presence! Tiger Woods will probably not appear in any bookmakers lists for the US Open Golf Odds or the Ryder Cup until he recovers.