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Masters may prove it’s time to drop Tiger

Going Long with Geisler

By Andrew Geisler

There is trepidation and excitement over Tiger Woods' return to Augusta National after missing last year's Masters due to surgery. The golf world still believes it needs Tiger, but this weekend, it will become crystal clear whether or not we will ever really get him back.

Woods, 39, hasn't played in public since early February when he withdrew at Torrey Pines. The week before, he missed the cut at the TPC Scottsdale after posting a 75 and an 82.

As if the Masters didn't provide enough storylines about our greatest golfers already, 75-year-old Jack Nicklaus aced the fourth hole at Augusta during the par-3 shootout. When his career appeared inert, Nicklaus, who won 18 majors for the most all-time, shocked the golf world at 46 years old when he won his final major at the US Open.

Before his career and personal life fell apart in 2008, Tiger looked like a shoe-in to break the Nicklaus record. Seven years later, he's never quite looked the same on a major Sunday. He still sits at 14 major titles.

Tiger's career looks dead now, but I'm using this weekend to give him one last shot. If he can still bring the magic, this weekend is the right time for him to show it. This could be his late resurrection moment.

Unfortunately, between his soap opera-like private life and lack of production on the big stage, it's more likely that Tiger misses the cut.

That doesn't mean golf is left as bad off as many think though. American sports, other than the NFL, which has its own set of issues, are increasingly becoming a niche affair. NBA and MLB ratings, though not in hockey territory, are not too far off that mark.

Golf can compete in that world with young talents like Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed. Rory McIlroy emerged as a real star last year.

But the yearning for Tiger in the sports media is going to end up as nothing more than disappointment.

This weekend, some will waste their time dreaming of the days when Tiger truly dominated. I'll take the other route and enjoy guys like Bubba Watson, winner of two green jackets, and Jason Day, maybe the best player on tour without one. This Masters could be Tiger's last day in the sun, but don't expect it.

Sports can survive without their stars. Golf is no different. Watching a guy stay on top is fun, but so is watching the next set battle to become the best in the next generation.

So maybe we shouldn't hope for Tiger's rebirth this weekend. Maybe we should just accept that it's over and enjoy the next contest for supremacy.

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