McDowell and McGinley fear fallout from Tiger's absence

Ryder Cup players Paul McGinley and Graeme McDowell hope Tiger Woods does not take too much time out of the game.

With sponsorship opportunities thin on the ground and tournaments struggling to maintain their million-dollar prize funds, the Irish duo know that Woods' presence on the fairways is absolutely key.

"If he doesn't return, it's a scary vision," McDowell said. "It's a very scary vision. We're under no illusion how prosperous we've been with Tiger Woods playing in our era. There are a lot of global stars on their way up. But they're not quite ready to replace Tiger."

TV audiences dropped dramatically when Woods was out of the game for eight months because of knee surgery. Now that the world No1 has decided to put away his clubs for an indefinite period following admissions of infidelity, the game as a whole will suffer.

McGinley said: "Tiger's main priority now has got to be sorting out the problems that he has and to rebuild his life. He can take as much time as he needs to get it right. But golf needs him back and sooner rather than later. At the moment, with the economic downturn and with competition for sponsors from so many other sports, golf has to have all hands on deck and Tiger is the biggest hand there is.''

McDowell echoed McGinley's sentiments at the Shark Shootout in Florida though he hinted that players like Rory McIlroy and Ryo Ishikawa would fill some of the void.

McDowell said: "At a time when the world is having a tough time economically, we don't need any more blows to our sport. With Tiger out, it's definitely going to have an impact

"I hope he can come back quick and give the game a big boost again. There are plenty of young players, not taking over for him but certainly coming in to give the game a huge boost. I think the game's never been healthier but we certainly need him back.

"There was all the speculation without Tiger saying much so it was good to hear him come out and give a bit of closure. Unfortunately, it will be a bit of a blow to have him out.

"How long is it going to be? Is it going to be three months? Is it going to be six months? Or is it going to be more?

"Every one of the players will be looking forward to him coming back. Tournaments are going to be easier without him in the field, obviously, but we certainly need him in the field."

McDowell and Boo Weekley shot a 7-under 65 in the second round of the Shark Shootout to share ninth place and trail leaders Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly by five shots on 8 under par.

"He gives events such a big boost. We hope he gets things sorted out and comes around quick. Golf needs him."