It’s called the “Tiger Affect” and it is the fact that if Tiger Woods is near the top of the leader board then interest, and of course, TV ratings surge.
Take the Players Championship held back in May for example. Woods took a break after playing in The Masters in April and was back on the course a week prior to The Players for the Wells Fargo Championship, where he was non-factor. He barely made the cut at the Players Championship, which is considered golf’s fifth major. Woods then played brilliantly on Saturday’s third round to surge up the leader board. It would’ve been a miracle to catch Webb Simpson in the fourth round, but fans tuned in just the same as Woods wound up finishing 11th. The ratings for the final round were the highest they’d been since 2013, when Tiger Woods won the tournament.
Whenever Woods is in the hunt, including back-to-back top-ten finishes at the Valspar Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational back in March, the viewers are there to watch. In fact, those two events and the Players Championship garnered the highest ratings of the season.
Golf has hung in there in recent years without Tiger Woods dominating the PGA Tour as he dealt with back issues and surgery. Players like t Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson have all become household names in their own right. The LPGA, too, has grown in popularity as folks get to know the likes of Inbee Park and Lydia Ko.
But it’s Tiger Woods on the PGA Tour that folks want to see; and they’re waiting for him to win. Most surmise that will happen eventually but golf doesn’t come as easy for Woods as it used to. Back surgery will do that to you but also is the fact the aforementioned golfers, who are likely influenced by Woods, are also in their prime while Woods, who is 42, is on the cusp of middle age.
Could Woods also be on the cusp of a PGA Tour victory? And could it come on the grand stage that is the U.S. Open that runs from June 14-17 at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, New York (on Long Island), which will be the second major of the season? What a platform for this to happen and what a sports story this would be.
The bottom line is that Tiger Woods’ comeback is being watched by many, and with every tournament that he makes the cut and is in contention the eyes will fall upon him. Of course it all depends on his health, but his improvements are far from unnoticed and the PGA is hoping it comes sooner rather than later.