Tiger Woods is slated to tee it up at the Farmers Insurance Open this Thursday. This will mark his first official PGA tournament since his latest back surgery last April. The tournament is played at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, California. Tiger has won an astonishing 8 times here as a member of the PGA Tour.
Tiger will be returning from his 4th back surgery. We’ve seen this story multiple times over the last few years. Golf and sports fans around the world watch with anticipation at the possibility of getting a glimpse of the old Woods, the man who dominated golf unlike anyone we’ve ever seen. We are then given the same unfortunate story where he plays in a few tournaments only to have reoccurring back problems and then heads back (no pun intended) to the sidelines to try and heal the chronic problem.
There’s still a lot at stake for Mr. Woods, if he can find a way to come even close to his old form. He’s been stuck on 14 major victories since 2008. This is second to only Jack Nicklaus who holds the record with 18.
He’s also second in career wins on the PGA Tour with 79, trailing only Sam Snead who had 82. In fairness to Woods he has 329 career starts on tour while Snead had 585. To put that in perspective, Tiger Woods has won 24% of his career starts on the tour..or almost 1 of every 4 starts.
It might be unfair to expect Woods to ever regain his elite form and catch Nicklaus’s 18 Major Championship victories, but I don’t think it’s out of the question to see Woods get a victory on the tour this year (yes I’m drinking the kool-aid but this comeback feels different then the last few years).
The return of Tiger goes far beyond his stats and career achievements. I can’t think of a single athlete who means more to the popularity of a sport than Woods.
I’m a golf junkie. I can promise that you won’t meet a person who has more knowledge about the PGA Tour than myself. I follow it week in and week out, and can spit out a random fact about 90% of the golfers on tour.
Unfortunately golf’s popularity has been in a downward spiral the last few years. Last year the final round of the PGA Championship drew it’s lowest overnight TV rating since 2008.
Last year’s final round of the Masters, which is the biggest event in the sport drew its lowest overnight TV rating since 2004. Not coincidentally Tiger Woods didn’t play in any of the Majors last year. He’s obviously been sidelined for the last few years, and seen his game decline even when described as “healthy.”
Back in December when he played in the Hero World Challenge, an exhibition event that hosts 18 golfers, TV ratings for the event opened some eyes. It was the highest rated PGA event of the 2017-2018 season to date and had very similar ratings to the final event of the 2016-2017 season “The Tour Championship.” This was very impressive for an exhibition tournament during the beginning of December.
As Woods continued to rise to the top of the leaderboard on Friday afternoon, my phone continued to light up with text messages from friends (many of them casual golf fans)…
“Here comes Tigerrrrr”
“Tiger is gonna win the Masters I’m telling you now”
“uhhhh ohhhh MJ he’s backkkk”
“His swing looks more comfortable than it ever has the last few years”
Several snap-stories that I viewed during that Thursday and Friday were videos or pictures of friends at work with one monitor displaying their work duties.. and other screen streaming Tiger’s round.
The event had 22.4 million streamed minutes, the second most of any NBC Golf Event in the entire calendar year of 2017.
This is the power that Tiger Woods holds over the world of golf. Many casual fans can only name a few golfers after Tiger. Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Rory Mcilroy, Dustin Johnson, and Justin Thomas would be the ones that come to mind.
It’s a shame that the golf’s popularity is in the decline, because the tour is filled with more young talent than it has had in years. Seven of the last eight major championship winners marked the first time they have won a major tournament.
Tiger’s latest return will give us a chance to see this young talent on the tour and introduce the nation to a new set of young superstars that people will begin to follow. This excites me as PGA Tour Junkie. The sport deserves more popularity and attention.
At the end of the day though, no one can captivate, excite, and thrill people like Eldrick Woods(his first name is Eldrick not Tiger). Almost everyone wants him to succeed, whether you’re a die-hard golf fan, casual golf fan, a golfer on the tour, or just a fan of sports. If Tiger’s good, it’s better for everyone and has the entire sports world buzzing.
There are roars on a golf course… and then there are Tiger roars. Here’s to hoping we get at least one more moment like the 72nd hole putt that forced a playoff at the 2008 US Open. I’ve watched this countless times. It still never gets old and always gives me the chills… SOUND ON AND GO TIGER!