Tiger Woods: This Time It’s For Real
As Tiger Woods looked to be on the cusp of winning his first PGA Tour tournament in more than four years, media coverage and interest in the game soared over the past weekend.
Woods finished tied for second at the Valspar Championship, but the ‘Tiger Effect’ meant that Woods reportedly received far more than his fair share of media coverage from Thursday through Monday morning than any of the winners of the four previous tournaments.
TV ratings figures released yesterday show that Woods has lost none of his pulling power with viewers flocking to watch his miraculous return to the game.
The numbers revealed the largest TV golf audience since the 2013 Players Championship – a tournament won by Woods himself. It was also the highest non-Masters ratings since Jason Day won the 2015 PGA Championship in an epic battle with Jordan Spieth at Whistling Straits.
It’s a no brainer that Woods brings excitement to the game. We are left in awe of the vast shot-making arsenal at his disposal and which sets him apart from any other pro on tour.
Tiger Woods (Credit: PGA Tour)
Clocking an impressive 129.2 mph swing speed with a drive over the weekend (the fastest recording of a tour pro this season on the PGA Tour) and smashing drives with precision over traps to find tight fairways, Woods now knows where his ball is going and has in the process put to rest any doubts about fitness.
Add to that mixture shot making from left-right high draws, stinger 3-woods from the tee, which no other player can shape, and monster putts from 40 feet, we are all thinking Tiger Woods is back to being Tiger Woods.
Woods tees it up this week at Bay Hill, where his won eight times. There have been athletes who’ve made extraordinary comebacks before and the golfing world is awaiting another. Woods will win again and you should never doubt a player that’s won 79 PGA Tour events and 14 major championships.
After four back surgeries and at 42-years-old, we have no idea or any understanding what he’s being through. Yet we can marvel at his return and those who doubted it should eat their words.
The game needed Woods to return, the fans wanted it and dare I say many of the players wanted it including this week’s winner, Paul Casey, who suggested at a media conference during the tournament that if he couldn’t win, he would love to see Tiger back in the winner’s circle.
Woods draws crowds like no other player in the sport can, drives TV ratings through the roof, and still has an effect on his competitors like no other player does. If it were not for Woods, many professionals would not be sitting on their healthy bank balances, having enjoyed the spin-off effect in prizemoney that was injected into the game solely because of him.
Anyone who didn’t live through the Tiger-era can only guess as to how dominate he was in the game. Just last week one of the best players of the new generation of players under 25 surpassed the number of cuts Woods amassed in his entire career so far.
Woods went through a period from February 1998 through until May 2005, yes over 7 years, where he made the cut in every tournament he entered on the PGA Tour. If you’re doing the maths at home, that’s an almost unfathomable streak of 142 consecutive tournaments without missing a cut.
This week’s field at the Bay Hill is strong with Jason Day, Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood, Rickie Fowler, Hideki Matsuyama, Rory McIlroy, and Bubba Watson all entered. It will test Woods and give the golfing world the best indication so far as to where exactly his game is at.