ratings disaster if Woods misses Masters, say experts
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[March 18, 2017]
By Frank Pingue
(Reuters) - The Masters, with its famed
azaleas, precisely manicured greens and towering trees is bigger
than any one golfer, even Tiger Woods.
With the first major of the year three weeks away, Woods is still
nursing an ailing back and his chances of teeing it up at Augusta
National, where he is a four-time winner, do not look promising.
Even if Woods does play, his chances of making the halfway cut and
playing on the weekend appear bleak.
But sports industry analysts say an absence of Woods from Augusta
National will not have nearly as much of an impact as in 2014 when,
as the world's top-ranked golfer, he missed the Masters for the
"Everybody knows the course. It's just so gorgeous and there's so
many famous holes there that people can't wait to see," Bob Dorfman,
a sports marketing expert at Baker Street Advertising in San
Francisco, told Reuters.
"So as long as it's competitive and you've got a couple of big-name
players in there on the weekend I think they are going to get solid
The absence of Woods from the Masters would once have been a ratings
disaster but it appears the golf world, helped by some likeable
players atop the world rankings and the continuing competitiveness
of gallery favorite Phil Mickelson, has grown accustomed to him
When Woods, as world number one, missed the 2014 Masters while
recovering from back surgery, ratings for CBS's weekend coverage was
8.6 million viewers, the lowest since 1993 when 7.9 million viewers
in the United States tuned in before Woods burst onto the scene.
Now ranked 734th in the world and a creaking shadow of his former
self, Woods, who has missed the last four majors and six of the last
12, no longer strikes fear in fellow golfers but still has the
potential to generate healthy ratings.
"The thing is he still bumps the ratings. If he's playing, and if
he's in the final group on the weekend he definitely still makes a
difference," said Dorfman.
"People are maybe not expecting him to win anymore
but there is still an excitement and hope that he is going to do
well on one side. One the other side it's 'gee let's watch and see
what happened to this guy.' There's a curiosity about how far he's
[to top of second column]
Tiger Woods of the U.S. tees off on the eighth hole during the third
round of the inaugural Turkish Airlines Open in the southwest city
of Antalya November 9, 2013. REUTERS/Umit Bektas/File Photo Picture
Supplied by Action Images
Woods made his return to the PGA Tour in January after an absence of
17 months and promptly missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open.
He shot an opening-round 77 a week later in Dubai before withdrawing
due to a back spasm. He has since withdrawn from a handful of
tournaments to focus on further rehabilitation on his back and his
return date is uncertain.
But with or without Woods, the Masters offers something many golf
fans simply cannot resist, a tradition-rich tournament played on the
same course each year that signals the start of spring for most of
"We're dealing with a unique property, tradition unlike any other.
And while 10 years ago our audience would be surprised if Tiger was
not playing I think given his history over the last year and a half
that the audience would be pleasantly surprised if he does play,"
former CBS Sports president Neal Pilson told Reuters.
"The young professionals who have collectively taken Tiger's place
-- Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Dustin Johnson, among others --
certainly have a following and they will bring a substantial
audience to Augusta whether or not Tiger plays."
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Andrew Both)
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