Why the PGA Tour Needs Tiger Woods
Why the PGA Tour Needs Tiger Woods
By Vaughn Wilson/Capital Outlook Golf Contributor
With certainty, the folks at the PGA Tour office would cringe at this headline. But, the news is good for the tour. Eldrick Tiger Woods is back on tour. He is making another effort at resurrecting his career as one of the best golfers of all times. With a thrilling second place finish at the Valspar Championship this past weekend, the semblance to a Tiger of a different time was witnessed over the weekend.
Failed attempts have fallen short of the glory of the career that peaked in 2000-2002, where he virtually turned the golf world on end. He wasn’t the first to do so. The great Sam Sneed was a transcending golfer. Arnold Palmer and “Arnie’s Army” certainly had the star power of the PGA Tour. It was passed on to Jack Nicklaus, a golfer that faced adversity in unseating “The King.” Nicklaus, known as the “Golden Bear” remains at the top of the heap, winning 18 majors and catapulting his star power into business ventures including golf clubs, course design and consulting.
Between Nicklaus’ last major win at the Masters in 1985 and the historic victory by Woods at Augusta National in 1997, several golfers made a name for themselves, but none reached quite the dominant status of the aforementioned superstars.
Woods’ career is well documented. He has broken several PGA Tour records during his historic career. He is even credited with some unprecedented feats. During the peak of the era he played during, the ratings of golf, especially majors, were competing with football and eclipsing NBA basketball. In fact, Woods’ Sunday charges were pulling such large audiences that the NBA changed playoff games to the evening, to not compete against the juggernaut in sports.
Tiger charging down the course on the final day of a major was not only major in the television era, but it was the beginning of the social media craze. While tournaments were going, social media interaction was its own market. Play-by-play accounts, fan analysis and event golf purists were frantic during tournaments.
In addition, the evolution of digital high definition television made the game interactive. Several times, PGA Tour officials found themselves considering rulings as emailed or “Tweeted” to them. Fans became so engulfed that they would contact the PGA Tour if they thought a ball was not marked correct, calling for stroke penalties.
Woods, a master pitchman, even brought an industry with him. Folks who had never seen golf were tuning in to see what all the hoopla was about. Those curious onlookers often became fans.
Like a bolt of lightning, it all came to a halt. After a hiatus due to his divorce, Woods was plagued with injuries, thwarting comeback efforts. Lingering issues with his knee and back sent Woods into an involuntary remission of play. After a series of starts and restarts and surgeries, here we are…at a great time for golf.
Golf is very healthy right now, maybe in a better position than ever. Young stars have each other to feed off. Jordan Spieth, Ricky Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas and a band of others are playing some amazing golf.
This new generation of golfers grew up watching Woods and focused on taking the mantle as they made the tour. They all want the crown. While majors, Fedex Championships and the establishment of their own legacies are in full effect…
… there is the issue of Woods.
Unfortunately, in many of the general public’s eye, until they beat Woods head-to-head on a consistent basis, there will always be an asterisk of the transition of power.
To my point, Woods being on tour is great for the PGA. Commissioner Tim Finchem has done a masterful job of promoting the tour in the post-Woods era. The interest will return of those who weren’t actually golf fans, but sports fans with the return of Woods. This will give this talented group of young guns the opportunity to face Woods…something they desired since they were teens. Though this isn’t THAT Tiger Woods, it is Tiger Woods nonetheless. Pure golf fans would love to see if Woods will return to a resemblance of his younger self or be outdriven by 75 yards and missing cuts or not hanging with the new generation of PGA Tour stars.
As my headline says, Tiger Woods is back and the players on the PGA Tour want him there.