To no one’s surprise, when Andy North, Curtis Strange and Paul Azinger got together for a pre-Masters conference call related to their television duties next week with ESPN, it didn’t take long for the subject to turn to Tiger Woods’ absence from Augusta.
Among the highlights of the hour-long conference call were:
- Strange on Tiger missing The Masters: “Quite frankly, I didn’t think he was going to be a big part of the picture anyway come the weekend, so I was already preparing for that.”
- Azinger on Tiger’s injuries: “The real irony here is that he’s arguably the most fit golfer who has ever played the game, and now he’s kind of at the mercy of an unfit body. Maybe not an unfit body, but a body that’s breaking down …
“He has not hit the ball very well and sometimes because you don’t feel well, you don’t hit the ball well. There’s probably not one player that would have said, going into The Masters, ‘I wish I hit it like Tiger Woods.'”
- North on a first-timer potentially winning: “I think they can because you look at this group of Harris English and Patrick Reed and some of the other guys who are coming there for the first time, they all hit it a mile. … I wouldn’t be surprised if one of these guys has a chance at the end.
“Is he going to win? Who knows? But … you get to the last nine holes of the event and you’d better have it all together because it’s a lot of pressure.”
And, who does each guy pick to win?
- Strange: “I like Rory McIlroy.”
- North: “(Phil Mickelson) drives down Magnolia Lane and the switch goes on and there’s no better place for him to play than there. And if his back is doing well, I think he’s going to be a threat before the week is up.”
- Azinger: “I would probably look at Adam Scott … (Sergio García would) be my dark horse pick.”