The absence of Tiger Woods is being greatly felt at the Masters as players prepare for the golf major at Augusta National.
Woods, a 15-time major winner and five-time Masters champion, would have been at Tuesday's Masters Champions Dinner - hosted by top-ranked defending champion Dustin Johnson - if he were not at home recovering from a devastating car crash.
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The 45-year-old suffered a shattered lower right leg and ankle in the one-car crash near Los Angeles last month.
He underwent hours of surgery to repair the damage, a rod inserted into his tibia with screws and pins used to stabilise the joint.
Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy and second-ranked Justin Thomas have both visited Woods at his South Florida home since he left hospital last month.
"I went over and saw him a couple times last week," Thomas said on Tuesday.
"Try to go over a couple times during the week whenever I'm home and see him.
"We texted Friday morning, and he said it's kind of starting to set in. He's bummed he's not here playing practice rounds with us, and we hate it, too."
McIlroy visited last month and saw Woods in much better condition than he expected after seeing photos of the car wreckage.
"It was good to see him in decent spirits," McIlroy said.
"When you hear of these things and you look at the car and you see the crash, it's like, you think he's going to be in a hospital bed for six months. But he was actually doing better than that.
"I know he'd love to be here and I'm sure he's going to put everything he has into trying to be ready to play here next year."
McIlroy hopes to see Tiger back on the course
McIlroy said PGA players who live nearby such as Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Thomas "all have a responsibility to try to keep his spirits up and keep him going and try to get him back out here."
Woods, whose 82 US PGA titles are level with Sam Snead for the all-time win record, won the 2019 Masters for his first major title in 11 years to complete an astonishing comeback after multiple back surgeries.
But returning from a shattered right leg might be an even more astounding feat.
"Hopefully, if his recovery goes well, who knows, he could be back in 12 months' time," McIlroy said.
"He's always missed when he doesn't play in these big events and that doesn't change this week, whether it's to do with his back or his leg or whatever it is.
"I know he's at home and he's fully focused on the recovery process, and I feel like he's mentally strong enough to get through that.
"And once he does, broken bones heal, and he's just got to take it step by step."
McIlroy and Thomas are both predicted to contend when the Masters gets underway on Thursday.
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