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Page last updated at 17:29 GMT, Tuesday, 15 July 2008 18:29 UK

Filling Tiger's shoes

By Rob Hodgetts & Mark Orlovac
BBC Sport at Royal Birkdale

Tiger Woods
Woods can leave other golfers feeling as though they are playing for second place

For the first time since 1994, a certain Tiger Woods will be missing from the list of names taking part at the Open.

The absence of the world number one, ruled out for the rest of the year with a knee injury, has been a huge talking point ahead of this week's 137th Open at Royal Birkdale.

Woods has won the prestigious Claret Jug three times and his absence throws the championship wide open.

Here's what the golfing world makes of a Tiger-less championship.

Phil Mickelson
"It will have a negative effect on television ratings and fan interest. But it opens the way for players to come through and win tournaments they might not have won. If you look back at Jack Nicklaus's 18 majors or Tom Watson's eight, I don't look back at the field they played, I just look back at the tournaments they've won."
World number two and three-time major champion Phil Mickelson

Sergio Garcia
"It doesn't matter. With all due respect, the Open is bigger than any of us, even Tiger Woods. If Tiger or I happen to never play golf again, the Open will still be played. Nobody is bigger than the tournament itself. If I manage to win the Open this week, I'm not going to worry that Tiger was not there - I'll still have the Claret Jug, which is the most important thing."
Spain's Sergio Garcia, runner-up at the 2007 Open

Justin Rose
"You could pretty much have guaranteed that at some stage the name of Woods would have been on the leaderboard and probably late on Sunday. But really it's one less player to beat and that is the simple mathematics of it. Winning a major would always be sweeter should you beat him down the stretch but you have to look at it as an opportunity. Winning a first major would be an incredibly special moment, no matter who you beat."
Justin Rose, Europe's 2007 Order of Merit winner and world number nine

Peter Alliss
"It's a sadness not to have him playing. It's like going to a concert and finding the main man isn't performing as he's got laryngitis - the stand-ins are very good but it's just not the same. I think there will be a few people breathing sighs of relief and it should give them an added boost and confidence that he isn't competing.

"It shouldn't detract from the championship, whoever wins will still be a good champion. Tiger hasn't won every championship he has ever played in; there are moments when people have won when he's been in the field."
BBC Sport golf commentator Peter Alliss

Lee Westwood
"Tiger's absence does not really change my mindset at all. It's not something I've thought about. Part of professional sport is being fit. It happens in other sports, why not golf? We should be talking about the tournament rather than somebody that's not here. This is the biggest tournament in the world. It's bigger than one golfer."
England's former European number one Lee Westwood

Colin Montgomerie
"The door is a little more wide open than it has been in the past because Tiger is not playing. And it's given a lot of players in form the opportunity of winning a major that possibly they wouldn't have felt as confident of before. Without him, someone is going to win these couple of majors, and it's not Tiger Woods. How often can you say that?"
Eight-time European number one Colin Montgomerie

Ernie Els
"The game of golf will live on past Tiger Woods, and past whoever the next best player will be after Tiger. Although we will miss him, the game of golf is there and the Open will be played whether Tiger is there or not, and I think that's what we've got to realise.

"On the other hand, the best player of this generation is not there and whoever is going to win next week is going to have to answer questions of 'do you think you would have beaten Tiger if he was here?'"
2002 Open champion Ernie Els

Peter Dawson
"Tiger would be the first to agree that the Open is bigger than any one player, and I'm sure we can look forward to another memorable week at Birkdale. Funny enough, I sense some excitement. It's sad that he won't be there. But now I think people wonder who's it going to be."
Royal & Ancient chief executive Peter Dawson

Tom Watson
"I'm sure it will be diminished some when the top player isn't there, just like in anything, any sport. As Tim Finchem said when he was asked about Tiger's hiatus away from the Tour: 'It's time for the other players now to step up, see who's got it'."

"Winning is hard to do when Tiger is around. But it's foolish to suggest that there should be some sort of asterisk set against the champion because Tiger is not here."
Tom Watson, eight-time major winner

Jim Furyk
"As a player, I'm not really worried about who is here or who is not. I've got enough to worry about whether my game is in shape, hitting the ball well, whether the course suits me and getting it around the course. Whether he is here or not doesn't matter. In 20 years' time, they're not going to say the winner here was the Open champion in 2008 but Tiger Woods wasn't there. No-one is going to care."
2003 US Open champion Jim Furyk

Mark O'Meara
"Even as great as Tiger Woods is and as much of a fan as I am of Tiger's, I think even he would have to admit that no player, no matter who it is, is bigger than the game itself, not even Tiger.

"We've been blessed to witness something very special that's come along in the game. He hasn't missed a major since 1997. He's going to be missed, there's no denying it. I know how badly he wants to be playing here."
1998 Open champion Mark O'Meara

Steve Stricker
"I enjoy paying attention to him when he plays, to see if he can do it again. We're watching history all the time. It's amazing what he's done. But when you don't have to worry about him, that's good. Because if you're in contention and he's there, it's going to be more difficult to win. He doesn't throw away many opportunities."
World number eight Steve Stricker

Paul Goydos
"The aspects of professional golf are a number of different things, and one of them is that you're healthy. So when you read that maybe these next two majors need an asterisk, well, then we need to put an asterisk next to all 18 of Jack Nicklaus's. Because Tiger didn't play in any of those."
PGA Tour player Paul Goydos

Rod Pampling
"Any of the top-10 players have got some scar tissue from Tiger. And they'll feel a bit of relief that he's not there. You still have to post the lowest score but for sure they'll be more confident than they normally are. Tiger not being there has got to be a small relief."
Australian Rod Pampling

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