MUNICH, Germany Many of the top European golfers were surprised and disappointed at Tiger Woods' absence for the rest of the season, and amazed at how he gutted his way to another U.S. Open triumph despite needing knee surgery.
Several players at the BMW International Open said Thursday that playing the majors won't be the same without the imposing presence of Woods, the world's top golfer. They also fear television ratings and fan interest will plummet in his absence and they will miss trying to beat him.
"It is a big deal, no Tiger at the British Open, U.S. PGA, the Ryder Cup," said Graeme McDowell. "The best player in the world by a long way is not going to be there. It will take away from the atmosphere disappointing."
Woods revealed Wednesday he has played for at least 10 months with a torn ligament in his left knee, and suffered a double stress fracture in his left leg two weeks before the U.S. Open. He will have season-ending surgery, knocking him out of the final two majors and the Ryder Cup.
Bernhard Langer said losing Woods would put the Americans at a disadvantage against Europe at the Ryder Cup on Sept. 19-21 at Valhalla, outside Louisville, Ky. Langer captained the European team four years ago when it won by a record nine points.
"As a captain I would love to have him on my side if he can't play I think it's for the worse," Langer said. "Hopefully he will recover real soon."
The two-time Masters champion said the Ryder Cup has become such an unusual and huge event that fan interest will remain without Woods. But Langer said other tournaments that were on Woods' schedule could face a loss of television ratings and crowds.
Woods won his 14th major at the U.S. Open, where he went 91 holes on a leg that got worse over each of the five days, finally defeating Rocco Mediate on the 19th hole of a playoff.
"It was even more impressive now, his win in the U.S. Open, although he could have won one-legged," said American John Daly, who has been playing in European tournaments. "It is a blow to all the fans who follow him. The sponsors, the money, wouldn't be where it is if it wasn't for him."
Ross Fisher got a firsthand look at Woods when they were paired in the final round at the 2007 Dubai Desert Classic. He finished fifth, while Woods tied for third.
"To go out and win with a knee injury like that is phenomenal," Fisher said. "It just shows how mentally strong he is and what a great golfer he is. To hear he is not going to play for the rest of the year is a massive blow to golf. You want to play against the best."
Colin Montgomerie, who hasn't won a major despite topping the European Tour eight times, said winning the British Open or PGA in Woods' absence will not diminish the accomplishment of whoever hoists the trophy.
"In four years' time you won't know if Tiger Woods was playing or not," he said. "Everybody is disappointed he won't be at the Open or PGA or other world events. We wish him well and we realize now with him not playing the power one individual has in the game."