Masters will miss Tiger Woods, says Augusta National chairman Billy Payne

USA TODAY Sports

Tiger Woods will miss the Masters for the first time in his professional career and Billy Payne, for one, hopes the winner of four green jackets will return in fine form in 2015. Former players took to Twitter to respond to Woods' announcement.

Billy Payne, the chair of Augusta National Golf Club who has in the past chastised Tiger Woods for his off-course behavior, Tuesday said the Masters will miss the four-time winner of the green jacket.

"Tiger was gracious in keeping us updated of his condition and making us aware of his decision," Payne said in a statement, according to the Augusta Chronicle. "We wholeheartedly offered our best wishes for his immediate and long-term recovery."

With Masters Week kicking off on Monday, Payne will have to make do with such notables as defending champion Adam Scott, 2012 titleholder Bubba Watson, and two-time majors winner Rory McIlroy to carry the load at Augusta. The grand poobah just hoped that he would have the 14-time major champ (who will, barring event-canceling circumstances befalling the two closest challengers, Scott and Henrik Stenson, lose his No. 1 world ranking after the men’s first major of the season comes to a close) stalking the fairways next year.

"Tiger will be in our thoughts and will be missed by our patrons and all of us at the Masters Tournament next week," said Payne. "He is one of our most decorated champions and we look forward to his healthy return in 2015 and beyond."

Twitter, as one may imagine, blew up in the wake of Woods’ announcement.

Other former players also weighed in on Tiger’s condition, with at least one hoping the news was a seasonal prank.

Golf Channel analyst Aaron Oberholser noted that women’s world No. 2 Suzann Pettersen will miss this week’s Kraft Nabisco Championship with her own bad back.

Oberholser also suggested that Woods’ condition was related to his gung-ho workout regimen, a controversial issue among Tiger watchers.

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