No Tiger? No problem.
“There was all this publicity about Masters ratings were off,” PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem told ESPN. “The Masters is a great tournament, they had a great rating. It’s just that when Tiger plays, it’s higher.”
The “great rating” for this year’s Tiger-less tournament included the lowest mark ever for a non-holiday Sunday round, a Firday 1.5 rating down from a 2.5 the previous year, and a drop from 4.2 million viewers for the opening round in 2013 to 2.5 million viewers in this year’s opening round.
The Players Championship plays on this weekend without Tiger, who looks highly unlikely for the US Open, as well. “As for my return to golf,” Tiger confessed earlier this week, “I really don’t know. I’m doing everything I can and listening to my doctors and working on a strength program, and then we just have to see how my back is. Some people heal up in three months, some people take four months, some people take longer. I just don’t know.”
Finchem claims Tiger’s absence provides the PGA “a real advantage” in cultivating younger stars. “When Tiger is in a tournament, I don’t care what tournament it is, he dominated the media focus, and that’s fine,” Finchem told ESPN. “But the negative to that is that the young players coming up don’t get the kind of attention that they need to develop and become athletes that the fans really recognize. So it holds back the development of our stars.”