By petedirenzo
Thursday, June 19, 2008

There was a joke circulating in the locker room Wednesday at the TPC River Highlands, where several players on the PGA Tour learned that Tiger Woods was out for the year.

“The joke was that the purses just went up 18 percent,” Joe Ogilvie explained by phone after participating in the Travelers Championship pro-am. “But everyone had an uneasy smile when they said it.”

The smiles were uneasy because, though Woods’s absence means more trophies and money for everyone else, it also means less exposure for the game of golf. And what if Woods is hurt long term? Gulp.

“Certainly, he’s out for the year, probably 12 months, I’d assume,” said Ogilvie, a member of the PGA Tour’s policy board. “I doubt he’s back for the Masters. Four surgeries on the same knee means you’d have to expect that he gets a total knee replacement in five years, so you’re going to lose him for two years in the next six.”

Harrison Frazar said by phone, “Obviously, there is a lot of mixed reaction. There seems to be a lot more fear or concern by the powers that be with the Tour. They’re nervous and worried about what the fallout is going to be with sponsors. The sponsors are going to be disappointed that [Woods] isn’t there, but it’s a great opportunity for the local media and the Tour to look at new ways to spend time talking about new players and young players.”

Woods’s absence could also change the outlook for players trying to pad their major championship resumes.

“It does give a huge opportunity for guys like Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Adam Scott to show what they’re made of,” Ogilvie said.

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