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What does Tiger Woods' absence mean for the Masters?

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It isn't spring until the Masters, but what's the Masters without one of the biggest stars in golf? Tiger Woods announced Tuesday he would be sitting out of the annual Augusta, Ga., tournament this year following his recent back surgery to repair a pinched nerve. 

The 38-year-old Woods made the announcement on Twitter and on his personal website, saying the microdiscectomy procedure — which took place Monday in Park City, Utah — was a success, but he'll have to sit this one out. The release read, in part, "The goal is for Tiger to resume playing sometime this summer. The repetitive motion from golf can cause this injury, and Woods could have sustained further damage if he had continued to play." (Via TigerWoods.com)

Just in case you were wondering whether this is some elaborate April Fools' prank by Woods, think again. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Jeff Schultz tweeted that Woods' management says his upcoming absence is for real. 

>> Read more trending stories

As several sports writers pointed out, this is the first Masters Woods has missed in his professional career, having appeared in 19 tournaments and winning four green jackets. A golf writer for ESPN points out this will be the fifth majors tournament Woods will miss because of an injury. 

"There's been a lot of chatter about his ability to play at the level he's played at for so long. The vulnerabilities that have come with age." 

Despite Woods not having won a Masters tournament since 2005, a Forbes writer says Tiger's surgery could also leave CBS hurting. 

He writes that Tiger's first two wins at Augusta, in 1997 and 2001, netted Nielsen ratings of 14.1 percent and 13 percent of average households tuning in, respectively. 

When first-time winner Bubba Watson won his jacket in 2012, CBS averaged 8.1 percent of households, which was 22 percent lower than the previous year when Woods was in the action. (Via Flickr / Top Pro Golf Clubs)

Ratings aside, a USA Today writer says majors tournaments are just more fun with Woods, saying the four he's missed in his professional career turned out to be "duds" — his words, not ours. 

Still, there's a good amount to look forward to with the 2014 Masters. 

Sporting News cites the LVH SuperBook, which has Rory McIlroy, last year's winner Adam Scott and Jason Day leading all contenders with the best chances to win. 

Maybe we'll see another shootout! Who could forget 2013's dramatic finish with Scott taking on and beating Angel Cabrera in sudden-death playoff action? (Via Augusta National)

And although Woods rival and golf great Phil Mickelson sat out of the Valero Texas Open last week with a pulled muscle, there's still a chance he could lace up and go for his fourth green jacket. (Via Callaway Golf Company)

The Masters Tournament in Augusta, Ga., begins April 10. 

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