Tiger Woods brings the drama. No question the world’s best golfer positively impacts the game. Television ratings increase as more people watch golf when Woods is playing in the field.
Many sports pundits have contemplated golf without Tiger. The game felt Woods’ absence last year when he had undergone knee surgery, shortly after he won the 2008 U.S. Open in dramatic fashion against Rocco Mediate. Tiger’s comeback this year couldn’t come any sooner for the PGA. The game continues to be hampered by a deepened recession, while less people are playing golf and more courses are closing each year.
Enter the 2009 PGA Tour Playoffs, where a few players are in contention to win this year’s FedEx Cup, Tiger being one of them. The PGA first introduced this championship trophy in 2007, modeling it after a NASCAR-like points race to spur fan interest in the usually lackluster fall tournaments. The 2009 season will conclude this weekend at the Tour Championship being held at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. Tiger is favored to win the cup for a second time in three years. Expect anything less?
The PGA needs more initiatives like the playoffs to attract a new, younger audience to the game. Only a few players like Phil Michelson, John Daly and Sergio Garcia have the charisma to capture the interest of golf fans of all ages. Players today need to do more than just win however, and that isn’t easy. Personalities will drive new fans to the game.
Golf may fare better if it had more marquee players, just as Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Julius Irving captivated basketball fans. Golf needs more Tigers on tour, but that’s not going to happen any time soon.