What could the PGA Tour’s 23-year-old two-time major winner and proverbial “future of golf” possibly be talking about last week at the Hero World Challenge when he said “it is really exciting for us and for golf … He can truly help get the numbers back up in golf,” while referring to a 4o-year-old # 898th ranked player in the World teeing it up after a fifteen-month layoff?
Like defining good real estate, the question can be answered in three parts: ratings, ratings, ratings! And, as Matt Yoder writes in a “Breaking News Bulletin” at the sports blog Awful Announcing: “Tiger Woods is good for golf ratings.”
How good? As reported by Geoff Shackelford at Golf World magazine, the numbers are “staggering.” Take a look at the increases in viewer ratings from last year’s Hero World Challenge compared to last weekend’s tournament played in the Bahamas:
Thursday: .86 rating, up 190% versus last year. The opening round of the tournament proved to be the most-watched Round 1 this year since The Open Round 1 in July.
Friday: .45 rating, up 200% versus last year.
Saturday: 1.59 rating, up 92% versus last year.
Sunday: 1.08 rating, up 54% versus last year.
Not only did the golf tournament’s ratings receive a boost by the return of the 14-time-major winner, the pre-tournament TV ratings skyrocketed as well. The Golf Channel, which covered at least part of the tournament each day, saw their weekend lead-in coverage soar up 162 percent and 126 percent respectively.
So barring no further injuries the “Tiger-effect” should continue to keep network executives, fans, and tour players happy and at the edge of their seats when Woods tees it up again. So far the golf icon hasn’t announced exactly when that will be. Some speculate Woods may begin his 2017 schedule tying up his spikes for the European tour. Tiger’s agent Mark Steinberg told ESPN, “I’ve been in conversations with a couple of overseas tournaments early in the year.’’
Other tournaments that might work well for Tiger are the Abu Dhabi Golf Classic and the Dubai Desert Classic, which Tiger won in 2008.
The winner of 79 PGA tournaments–second only to Sam Snead who owns 82–told The Golf Channel on Sunday that he definitely wants to add some regular tournaments to his schedule beyond the Major championships. Certainly, Woods will rigorously prepare for The Masters, the U.S. Open, the British Open, and the PGA Championship throughout 2017, providing he can sustain his apparent good health. Needless to say, you can bet the sponsors and networks hope for a healthy Tiger too and that his performance at the Hero is an omen for things to come this season on the PGA Tour.