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Tour Confidential: Michelle Wie's Future, Golf After Tiger and Our Golf Broadcast Dream Teams

Tiger Woods
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Tiger Woods had surgery to repair a pinched nerve in his back on March 31st.

3.) The word from Notah Begay and Tim Finchem is that Tiger's timetable for return might force him to miss the U.S. Open as well. Golf.com's Josh Sens wrote this week that the golf industry could experience as much as a $15 billion "correction" if Tiger "lingers on the sidelines." What does it mean for golf that so many eggs are in the Tiger basket?

PASSOV: Is this "news" that golf is in trouble if Tiger's not in the picture? Have you checked television ratings for the past 15 years? Hey, golf was still awesome when Norman, Faldo, Seve and Price were going head-to-head in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The 1991 Ryder Cup was as intense as any golf event ever contested, and that was long before Tiger entered the picture. The game will prosper after Tiger's departure, period. That said, Tiger has proved to be a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon. He is the first player since perhaps Bobby Jones that grabs the attention of casual sports fans and makes them pay attention. People who say Tiger wasn't missed at the Masters are deluding themselves.

VAN SICKLE: The PGA Tour needs to wean itself from the Tiger factor just as the NBA had to adjust after Michael Jordan. I won't be surprised if Tiger plays no majors this year and doesn't come back until the 2015 season -- nothing good can happen from coming back too soon after back surgery. That said, the $15 billion-dollar figure seems ludicrously high. I'm not buying it.

SHIPNUCK: It's been like this for nearly two decades. Rory, Jordan, Bubba -- all of them can be stars and help move the needle, but there's only one Tiger. When he's done, golf will go back to being a boutique sport, as it's always been.

RITTER: It's becoming more clear by the month that Tiger is on the back nine of his career, so this is not great news. I wasn't surprised TV ratings were down for this year's Masters, but it was jarring to see just how drastically they tanked (Phil and Rory out of contention also undoubtedly hurt). It's a pivotal time for the game, and the "Tiger Effect" is one more reason why golf needs to get creative in making itself more accessible and enjoyable for the masses.

BAMBERGER: It means that we will rediscover what we've known all along. Golf was a great game before the Tiger era. It was a great game during the Tiger era. It will be a great game after the Tiger era. But it's not for everybody. Not even close.

4.) Miguel Angel Jimenez followed up his fourth place finish at the Masters with a three-stroke victory in his Champions Tour debut. Given his continued success on the regular Tours, is The Mechanic a potentially dominant senior tour player?

BAMBERGER: He's a potentially dominant regular Tour player.

VAN SICKLE: The Mechanic could have a nice run as a senior, but it won't happen this year. He's trying to make the Ryder Cup team. I don't see him playing a lot in senior events next year in the U.S. either. The purses and endorsements are a fraction of what is available to him on the big tours.

PASSOV: Senor Jimenez has long been my favorite player. He'll give me extra reason to tune into Champions Tour telecasts. I don't think he'll dominate. He seems too well-rounded, too distracted by life's pleasantries, to grind to the point where he would dominate.

SHIPNUCK: Not this year. He wants to focus on the Euro Tour in an effort to make one last Ryder Cup team. And I don't think he'll want to spend 25 weeks a year eating at Chili's in the American suburbs. So, bottom line, enjoy these cameos because I think they'll be a rare pleasure.

RITTER: Anyone else think the Champions Tour just got a little more … interesting?

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