By Steve Czyrny
Tiger Woods has had incredible success at the Masters throughout his career. Since 2000, he has only missed the top 20 once (2004). Winning three times (2001, 2003, 2005), and finishing in the top 10 every year except 2003, there are more people than Woods that are hoping that success continues. Television executives for CBS and ESPN would love it if Tiger regained his earlier form and competed at Augusta.
Last year, ratings for the Masters went up 47% for just the first round! The ratings for the 2011 season have shown improvement even without Woods competing but there is no question that he adds a tremendous amount of value. This shows that even when he is in the field, how much the PGA depends on Woods. Typically ratings are about 50% less when he is not participating in the tournament.
Also, look for more and more sponsors to get involved with the PGA. Perhaps no other sport depends on sponsors as much as golf.
With the Master’s set to tee off tomorrow, there will be plenty of people watching Tiger; even ESPN.com has a “Tiger Tracker” link on their golf website. Pretty incredible for a guy who hasn’t finished inside the top 15 all year and is currently 52nd in the money list.
There is no doubt how much of an impact Woods has on the sport. In 2002, there were almost 11 million people who watched the US Open (the same year Woods won and also won the Masters). In 2004, just over 6 million watched the US Open. It is no coincidence that that was the year Tiger was having issues with his swing and did not win a single major.
Perhaps no other athlete in history is as important to his own sport as Woods. Last year, it seemed as if on every news channel people were talking about his issues off the course, and if he will ever wear a green jacket again. On a course that Wood’s has had some of his most consistent and dominating success, and given that he has shown some signs of improvement the last few tournaments, there are many people that are hoping he will be in one of the final groups teeing off on Sunday. You can believe that Tiger is not the only one.