McIlroy aims to make the most of Woods’ absence with Masters win

FORMER world No1 Rory McIlroy hopes to capitalise on Tiger Woods’ absence from next week’s Masters to win his first green jacket and begin a period of dominance.

Woods confirmed on Tuesday he would fail to tee off in Augusta for the first time since turning professional, following surgery on a pinched nerve in his back.

And McIlroy, favourite with the bookmakers to win his third career Major, is determined to make the most of the 38-year-old’s period on the sidelines.

“Golf’s a funny place at the minute. You are getting so many different winners and there are not as many guys dominating the sport like in the past,” McIlroy said.

“I’d like to establish myself as that sort of player and someone’s got to step up, so I’m trying to be that person and it would be a great place to start next week.”

Woods’ fellow American big-hitter Phil Mickelson is also an injury doubt for the Masters, which tees off next Thursday, having skipped yesterday’s pro-am at the Shell Houston Open with a strained side muscle.

But world No11 Matt Kuchar does not expect the event to be a turn-off for spectators.

“It’s the Masters, it’s still the greatest golf tournament,” said Kuchar, tied-second in 2012.

“Tiger attracts the most eyeballs, the most attention, but there are a lot of great players here. Certainly the Masters will not suffer.”