The Masters 2014: Butch Harmon reacts to Tiger Woods pulling out of Augusta
Last Updated: 03/04/14 4:44pm
Tiger Woods and former coach Butch Harmon
Butch Harmon admits it will be strange working on The Masters without having Tiger Woods in the field - after his former coaching pupil pulled out of this year's Augusta event.
Woods has been struggling with back spasms of late, and was forced to have surgery on a pinched nerve which rules him out of Augusta for the first time since 1995.
Harmon will find it strange not seeing Woods prowling around Augusta National when he takes his place as part of the Sky Sports commentary team, but it will also be a blow for the fans and the tournament itself.
"Since Tiger's record win in 1997 he has been a major part of the Masters at Augusta National," Harmon told Sky Sports News. "It's going to be strange to see a Masters contended without Tiger there.
"There's no doubt about it, it's a blow for all golf fans. We do the Masters on Sky and Tiger's a huge part of the coverage at all times so it's going to be very unusual to see a Masters without Tiger Woods.
"Having said that, the Masters is the Masters and it'll survive beautifully, but I think all of us who have followed Tiger Woods through his whole career know how much he loves Augusta National, he's won four times there and it's a course he feels comfortable on.
"And obviously he's not happy that he has to miss it but once again if he's made the decision to have surgery obviously it was needed and hopefully he comes back stronger after he rehabs."
Woods is never one to let injury stand in his way, so Harmon believes the surgery must have been necessary for him to continue his career.
"I think Tiger is looking at the longevity of his career and, if he tried to play, he could injure his back further. In the long-run, if this makes him healthier, then we'll see a stronger and better Tiger Woods come back when he is able. He hasn't won a major since the 2008 US Open and people will look at this injury as a (further) setback.
"But I think for Tiger, it's a positive step. He's had some problems with his back, he is dealing with it so he can come back and give 100 per cent effort when he is healthy."
"I think Tiger is looking at the longevity of his career and, if he tried to play, he could injure his back further. In the long-run, if this makes him healthier, then we'll see a stronger and better Tiger Woods ."
Harmon says players will react differently to not having Woods around for a while, and it will also be interesting to see how he responds when he returns.
"They'll have two schools of thought - obviously when you win a tournament you want to beat the best and Tiger Woods is the No 1 player in the world and has been forever.
"Then the other school of thought will be well, Tiger's not here so that gives us a better chance to win.
"But the bottom line is that we're all going to have to wait and see when he does come back. Knowing Tiger, he's chosen to have this surgery so he won't come back until he's ready and it'll be interesting to see how it goes from there."
Watch all four days of the Masters live on Sky Sports 4HD from 7pm on Thursday, April 10