The U.S. Open began Thursday without three-time champion Tiger Woods, who will sit out the tournament for the first time since 1994, due to injuries to his left knee and left Achilles tendon. Woods's golf game has yet to return to winning form since the sex scandal that led to his 2010 divorce. Still, his absence is disappointing fans, and threatening to hammer the Open's TV ratings. Is golf worth watching when Tiger Woods isn't on the course?
It won't be the same without Tiger: Face it, says Tony Manfred at Business Insider. Without Tiger, golf "lacks a transcendent athlete," "a crossover star who forces the mainstream to care about the outcome of a golf tournament." When he's on the links, you've got all the "good/evil, favorite/underdog dichotomies that are such a huge part of following sports." Without him, all you've got is a bunch of guys playing golf.
"Without Tiger (or anyone of note), golf is losing its grip"
The Open is still worth watching: Expect some great golf, even without Tiger, says Mike Haas at the Pekin Daily Times. "Each of the last 10 majors has seen a different winner, and most of them have come from behind on the last day." The U.S. Open is a pressure-packed "tournament where anything can happen and will," and fans would have to be crazy not to tune in to see if some youngster emerges to fill Tiger's shoes.
"No Tiger? No problem in wide open U.S. Open"
Get used to it: "This tournament is the official start of the post-Tiger Woods era," says Tim Kawakami at the San Jose Mercury News. Through his "absence or mediocre play," Tiger just isn't going to be "the most important factor in any tournament any more." The world will miss "the drama he used to provide," but this is the way it is. Just as greatness eventually slipped away from Jack Nicklaus, Muhammad Ali, and Bjorn Borg, it has slipped away from Tiger Woods, and it isn't coming back.
"It's the official beginning of the post-Tiger Woods era"