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Ready for the post-Tiger Woods era on Tour? We might already be there

Tiger Woods, 2011 Masters
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Tiger Woods says he injured his left knee and Achilles tendon on this shot in the third round at the 2011 Masters.

Tiger Woods won't be playing at the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte this week because of an injury to his left knee and Achilles tendon that suffered at the Masters.

That's a setback for Woods who is still struggling to regain his form since his sex scandals and subsequent divorce. It also might be a setback for the PGA Tour, which sees higher TV ratings and gate receipts when Woods is in the field.

However, golf fans are getting accustomed to watching Tour events without Woods. Not counting the silly season or alternate-field events opposite majors and WCG events, the PGA Tour has held 129 tournaments since the beginning of the 2008 season. Woods has competed in only 40 of them (31%).

Of course, Woods doesn't play all PGA Tour events (nor does Phil Mickelson or many other top players). But in addition to the events he regularly skips, since the beginning of the 2008 season, Woods has had his knee operated on twice, withdrawn from a tournament with a neck injury, missed three months during a post-car accident/sex scandal hiatus from the game, and most recently has taken time off to rest his ailing knee and Achilles.

Of the 89 Tour events Woods has missed since the start of 2008, 48 of them have occurred while he was recovering from injuries or during his hiatus (54%).

When you look at the breakdown of events he's missed and his results, the signs look even more troubling for Woods.

2008
Total Tour Events: 37
Tour Events Woods Played: 6 (16%)
Wins: 4

In 2008, which might be one of the most impressive seasons any athlete has ever recorded, Woods missed 31 events (21 from his two knee surgeries, and 10 by personal choice).

Of the six events he played in 2008, here are the results: Buick Invitational, Win; Accenture Match Play Championship, Win; Arnold Palmer Invitational, Win; WCG-CA Championship, 5th; The Masters, 2nd; U.S. Open, Win.

2009
Total Tour Events: 37
Tour Events Woods Played: 17 (46%)
Wins: 6

In 2009, Woods had a more balanced schedule, playing 17 events and missing 20. Of the events he missed, seven were from his post-U.S. Open knee surgery recovery, and 13 were by personal choice.

Again, his results were impressive: Accenture Match Play Championship, T17; WCG-CA Championship, T9; Arnold Palmer Invitational, Win; The Masters, T6; Wachovia Championship, 4th; The Players Championship, 8th, The Memorial, Win; U.S. Open, T6; AT&T National, Win; British Open, CUT; Buick Open, Win; WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Win; PGA Championship, 2nd; The Barclays, T2, Deutsche Bank Championship, T11; BMW Championship, Win; Tour Championship, 2nd.

2010
Total Tour Events: 37
Tour Events Woods Played: 12 (32%)
Wins: 0

Woods lost the first three months of 2010 when he took a hiatus from the game following his Thanksgiving 2009 car accident and subsequent scandals. In total he missed 25 events in 2010, playing just 12 times. Of the events he missed, 13 were during his hiatus, three were following his neck injury at the Players, and eight were by personal choice. He didn't qualify for the Tour Championship. By his standards, his 2010 results were disappointing: Masters, T4; Wachovia Championship, CUT; The Players Championship, WD; The Memorial, T19; U.S. Open, T4; AT&T National, T46; British Open, T23; WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, T78; PGA Championship, T28; The Barclays, T12; Deutsche Bank Championship, T11; BMW Championship, T15.

2011
Total Tour Events: 18
Tour Events Woods Played: 5 (28%)
Wins: 0

Woods played his normal schedule for the first three months of the year until he injured his knee and Achilles at the Masters. He has not yet said if he will compete in the Players Championship next, but he was wearing a protective boot in Las Vegas last weekend, which is not a promising sign. If Woods misses the Players, he likely would not play again until the Memorial Tournament on June 2. That would make the Memorial his only start before the U.S. Open on June 16.

Famously, the 2008 Woods didn't need to play any warm-up tournaments to win the U.S. Open, but the 2011 Woods looks like a very different kind of player.

Next page: Tiger's complete PGA Tour tournament results, 2008-Present

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