Tiger Boosts More Than Just His Game
There was nothing like a Sunday when Tiger Woods, in that red shirt, stalked the golf course and grabbed victory after victory.
You know about the 14 wins in majors, his appeal, his dominance.
But over the last five years, beset by personal problems and back issues, Woods was a non-issue. His rare starts in tournaments were followed by early exits. And while the PGA Tour hatched new young stars such as Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed (among plenty of others), the crowd yearned for the defining presence of Tiger Woods.
Tiger’s second-place finish Sunday in the Valspar Championship, in which he missed forcing a playoff in the final round by a missed putt on the 18th hole, showed his value to the Tour, to the sport and to those who love watching the game played at an extraordinary level.
The third round of the Valspar, which has never been confused with a high-profile event, earned a TV rating up 181 percent from the year before, with Woods one shot off the pace. Sunday’s 5.11 national rating was the highest for a PGA Tour broadcast, (excluding majors) since the 2013 Players Championship, won by Woods. It was also the highest rated golf broadcast other than the Masters since the PGA Championship in 2015 (5.14).
Golf was already exciting with the emergence of the 20-somethings. Woods, at 42, is almost a senior presence. The others grew up watching him play. But they are making their marks, and his has long been indelible.
For golf, this intersection could relaunch a sport that is fine on TV but losing out in participation. A hungry Tiger is a fierce sight indeed.
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