You can either love him, or hate him, but Tiger Woods still drives professional golf. Most players on all of the world Professional Golf tours, with a few exceptions, have learned to play in his group, and he is not the intimidating factor he once was, but when all is said and done, he continues to be the gasoline that powers golf. He still possesses the “It” factor that moves the needle.
Professional golf and the television networks know that when they carry a tournament, you and I, who are dedicated golf fans will be watching whether Tiger is in the field or not. In normal situations, because I also write about Nascar, I will tune in the race, and check the golf tournament during commercials. I am the same during Football season. I will watch a game, and check the scores periodically.
The whole procedure changes when Tiger is playing. Now It has to be a very good race, or game for me not to tune to the golf, and check the race or game during commercials. If Tiger is on, or atop the leaderboard, then it’s the golf tournament full time.
When Tiger Woods is in contention, it brings the casual fans to the TV. The casual fans are people who may, or may not play golf, but watch tournaments occasionally. With Tiger in the lead, that brings everybody. No one else in golf can do that. Rory McIlroy is quickly gaining star appeal, but number one, he isn’t American, and number two, he hasn’t won 14 major tournaments. Check back in a couple of years and we’ll see if he is able to move the needle the way Tiger does.
Back in March, during March Madness, Tiger proved his status. CBS/Turner, who broadcasts a lot of golf, including The Masters, and were then carrying NCAA Basketball. NBC was carrying the Bay Hill Classic, and Tiger was winning his first tournament in over 30 months. Guess who lost out on this one? Woods carried NBC to a 4.8 overnight rating, which translates to 4.8 % of 56 markets were tuned in. Kentucky blew out Baylor, and the CBS rating was down 29% from the previous year.
CBS’s coverage for the AT&T National, which is Tiger’s tournament, and he happened to be winning, drew a 4.6 overnight rating, which was up 188% over the previous year when Nick Watney was winning the tournament. The Saturday coverage drew a 2.2 overnight, which again was up almost 70% over the previous year.
So when you think golf can exist without Eldrick Tiger Woods, like my mom used to tell me when she was mad, you can think again. I personally love to see the young talent come along, especially the American talent like Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson and Webb Simpson, but until they can totally dominate this game like Tiger did for over a decade, we are going to have to wait. So when you watch the next tournament that includes Tiger, and you hear fans yell “You Da Man” after he tees off, you will know they are right. He is the man.
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