The 2014 Masters tournament is in uncharted territory as it tees off on April 10. For the first time in two decades, Tiger Woods will not be on the Masters leaderboard or field, due to his latest injury. Even in years where Woods wasn't a contender, he was the biggest storyline at Augusta no matter what -- so now the tournament needs other big names and stories to spice up the leaderboard.
Technically, golf has already gotten used to Woods not being around when a major is on the line. He still hasn't won one since 2008, and has fallen well short of the leaderboard by the final Sunday more often than not. Nevertheless, Woods has come closer at the Masters over the last several years than in any other major, so Augusta is that much more vulnerable without him.
The fact that no one has stood up to take Woods' throne over the years is more evident than ever now. Since he stands to miss several more months and a few more majors this season, and is further away than ever from threatening Jack Nicklaus's major record, the PGA needs different story lines and star power to get by in the long term.
For the short term of the 2014 Masters, the best thing it needs is big names and new potential stars on the leaderboard. Phil Mickelson threatening for a fourth green jacket would help, especially since he would match Woods' four. Adam Scott winning a second straight Masters would also be a boost, as would Rory McIlory getting back into form.
More often than not, however, little known names have won majors and Masters in Woods' absence. Since Woods won his last green jacket in 2005, the likes of Zach Johnson, Trevor Immelman and Charl Schwartzel have prevailed at Augusta. Will the 2014 champion be someone that few see coming as well?
For the moment, fans and the PGA are looking to the biggest stars other than Woods -- and the biggest potential stars in a post-Woods era -- to fill the gap at the Masters. The accompanying list details the most high profile golfers left at Augusts, as well as those who could be household names by Sunday afternoon.
Scott to repeat?
Adam Scott: The 2013 Masters champion is the latest potential 'next big thing' after Woods and Mickelson. A second straight Masters triumph for Scott could give golf just the new superstar it needs to market.
McIlroy to return to glory?
Rory McIlroy: The two-time major champion has become one of the most unreliable big names in the PGA. McIlroy can blow out the field at a major in one moment, and collapse to the bottom of a leaderboard in the next -- so which McIlory will show up at the Masters?
Mickelson still lurking
Phil Mickelson: Just when it looks like Mickelson is ready to fade away, he comes back with a vengeance -- like he did when he nearly won the 2013 U.S. Open and actually won the 2013 British Open. A fourth green jacket would put Mickelson further up the Masters pantheon, and actually match Woods' four.
Watson to recapture jacket?
Bubba Watson: Watson made a splash by winning the 2012 Masters, yet has been fairly quiet since then. Taking a second green jacket would push the hype back up for him.
Reed ready to break through?
Patrick Reed: Reed is 23 years old and has won two PGA events already this season. Golf needs a new generation of stars and major champions, so Reed would certainly fit the profile with a Masters win.
Dustin Johnson: Johnson has climbed up the ranks of the best players never to win a major. However, he's never had a top 10 finish at the Masters.
Walker to continue big season?
Jimmy Walker: Walker has actually had the biggest season of any PGA player to date, winning three tournaments and topping the FedEx Cup leaderboard. Will the 36-year-old keep it going at the Masters?
Dufner looks for second straight major
Jason Dufner: Dufner broke through with his first major title at the PGA Championship last August. No one has won two majors in a row since Pádraig Harrington in 2008 -- while Woods was sidelined with an injured leg.
Garcia tries yet again
Sergio Garcia: Garcia has been the biggest tease of the PGA for over a decade, especially in majors. Will he ever get that elusive first major championship?