Our View: What does Tiger Woods’ return mean for golf?


Tiger Woods is back on the PGA Tour. But what does his return mean for the sport of golf?

Since 2009, the legendary golfer has floated in and out of the game plagued by injuries and personal problems. Last May, Woods was arrested in Florida for a DUI and traded jail time for community service. He made his return at the Hero World Challenge looking like his old self, hitting fairways, draining putts and out-driving some of the longest hitters on tour.

Woods last win came in 2013, which seems like an eternity ago. In the last two tournaments, he has made the cut and been at the top of the leaderboard at the end of Sunday. Recently, Woods finished second behind Englishman Paul Casey at the Valspar Championship.

What seemed odd was that Woods appeared in newspapers and on television for finishing second. In sports, nobody focuses on the second; it has always been who wins. This is evidence of how much he means to the sport and how excited fans are that he is back. Even though he isn’t winning, the game of golf and the economy it supports, is.

Tournaments are setting attendance records every week when Woods is the field. Golf fans know when Woods is healthy and playing well, and they want to catch a glimpse of his once-in-a-generation talent. Not only do fans at the tournament benefit from his return, but television networks are also seeing a spike in ratings.

Before Woods’ return, golf had the lowest television ratings they have ever seen. Last year, the Masters Tournament had the lowest ratings in 13 years, and the PGA Championship had its lowest ratings since 2008. Both of these tournaments are part of the four majors in golf which are similar to the Super Bowl or World Series.

Golf fans are just not as interested with the current field when Woods is not present. When he was in contention at the Masters Tournament in 2013, ratings shot up 26 percent from the prior year. Ratings tanked the following year when he did not play.

Woods is the biggest draw for people who follow golf on television. His return has sent a shockwave through the sport. The Tiger hype is back and in full effect.