I’m probably in the minority here and that is fine. But after watching The Open Championship at St. Andrews last weekend I have come to the conclusion that the PGA Tour doesn’t really need Tiger to win for it to be successful.
Ok, maybe it does if you are talking about ratings and casual fans watching on television. It has been almost two years since Tiger won a major. Seven major championships have come and gone without Tiger hoisting a trophy or donning a green jacket. But I would argue that golf has been more entertaining to watch without Tiger winning.
Think about it. Before the “Thanksgiving Scandal” the question going into each tournament wasn’t “who will win?” it was “how many strokes will Tiger win by?” Hardly something that is compelling to most casual fans. Sure it made his failures seem bigger than they were, but it still wasn’t that entertaining.
Now when you see a major coming up everyone asks “which Tiger will we see?” or “will Tiger finally win again?”. Those questions provide a much more compelling storyline if you ask me. Look at all the coverage Tiger got after the first round at St. Andrews. He was in the hunt. Just a few strokes off the lead, behind this kid from South Africa that no one had heard of. In fact, he was so unknown that when Louis Oosthuizen was introduced at the post round press conference, they introduced him with the wrong first name.
Sure you can say that if Tiger isn’t winning you don’t want to watch. Which in my opinion is what most golf fans say. This country has many fickle fans who will only watch when the big names are playing and winning. It’s a sad truth that most won’t admit. Trust me it goes further than golf. Just look at soccer. Even after the World Cup was here in 1994 it still isn’t a major sport in this country.
Back to golf and the argument at hand. Think about it. If Tiger is anywhere near the top of the leader board, everyone proclaims the return of Tiger. They watch the next day to see if he keeps it up. If he falters than they have to watch the third round to see if he can recover and put himself back in contention. And if he does that then they have to watch the fourth day to see if he can finish it off and win another major to get one closer to passing Jack and of course we can’t forget about keeping his #1 ranking.
The bottom line is that Tiger doesn’t have to win to make golf entertaining. If Tiger can stay competitive he will keep the casual fans interested and make the game worth watching. Maybe I’m in the minority but I will keep watching even if Tiger never wins again.