Love him or loathe him, Tiger Woods' return to form is good for golf

Tiger Woods’ Return To Form Good For Golf

Never mind the return to form, just having a fit Tiger Woods back on our screens is good for golf. True, he’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but his contribution to the game over the last 20 years has been colossal.

Just last month, the final round ratings at the Quicken Loans National, where Woods finished in a tie for fourth, were up 92% on 2017. This was no isolated increase, either. Of the 20 rounds on broadcast television in America, all-but-one has posted an increase in ratings.

In March, when Woods finished in a tie for second at the Valspar Championship, Sunday’s ratings were up an incredible 193%. It’s known as “The Tiger Effect” and as frustrating as the relentless Woods coverage can be for the ‘Tiger haters’, he’s pure box office.

It’s all good news for the commercial bigwigs, of course, but how how is “The Tiger Effect” good for the game? In its rawest form, a televised Tiger equals more bums on seats watching – and more bums on seats equals more interest in the game as a whole, surely?

It’s not an easy one to measure but it stands to reason that for viewers, especially impressional youngsters with a thirst for anything involving a ball, it provides an extra stimulus to go out and play.

The extent of Woods’ influence may split opinion, but nine-time Major winner, Gary player believes today’s stars owe a great deal to the American. “Tiger Woods is responsible for these guys playing for a million every week,” Player told the press ahead of The Open. “To a large degree, I don’t think you can not go back in history and see the different eras, what they’ve all contributed to this wonderful sport.

“But I think Tiger is what’s captured the young people, which we need in this game desperately at the moment. If he can bring this, it enhances the game and brings more young people into the game.

“He brings more people, the sponsors are delighted, the public are delighted, you media are delighted because you are still in awe of him, you still write all these articles in awe of him, which he deserved, 14 Majors.”

It’s hard to disagree with Player. Still, for some, Woods can only be credited through gritted teeth. Separate the off-course Woods to the playing one, and it makes it easier.

Tiger Woods' Return To Form Good For Golf

Tiger Woods at the 147th Open Championship, Carnoustie [R&A via Getty Images]

From an early stage, Woods has made no secret of his quest to eclipse Jack Nicklaus’ record Major haul of 18, and the cocoon in which he was raised has more than played its part in developing a coldness in his character.

His flaws are somewhat irrelevant in terms of what Woods has brought to golf. It’s why Player wants to see Woods return to the winner’s circle this week. “I think Tiger Woods will win another tournament, and I hope he will win another Major because we desperately need him to do that for the sake of the game.”