The last time Tiger Woods played the Honda Classic, he hadn’t even won a U.S. Amateur yet. It was 1993, and the tournament was held at Westin Hills G&CC in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Tiger missed the cut. Still, there’s good reason to like Tiger’s chances when he rejoins the Honda field at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., in a couple of weeks. Speaking with the Palm Beach Post, Tommy Roy, NBC Sports’s top golf producer, noted:
“…I think this golf course is right in his wheelhouse.
“If you look at the stats through the years, the leaders always play the Bear Trap well. Those three holes [Nos. 15-17] require cut shots most of the time, depending on the wind, and that's playing right into Tiger's strength with the power cut that he's playing. The other factor is that he always putts well on Bermuda greens.
"It would seem this golf course is almost perfect for him."
Finchem on the Tiger Effect The Honda will benefit from Tiger’s presence, but Tim Finchem continues to preach that TW’s not essential to the success of the Tour. Earlier this week the commish told Jill Painter of the L.A. Daily News:
"It's always good to have everybody play. Tiger has gotten into a schedule that in his mind works, and we have a great respect for that. It stands out when the best player over the last 15 years doesn't have a tournament on his schedule. Tiger Woods is bigger than life.
"People are surprised to learn Tiger plays in one of three events on average. And yet, over the last 15 years, all of our tournaments have grown. While it's nice [if Woods plays], it's not fundamental."
Mr. Commissioner, you might want to see these numbers The Tour may not flat-line when Tiger stays home, but as has been well documented, TV ratings suffer. Matt Yoder at awfulannouncing.com underscored that point by delving deep into the ratings of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, which enjoyed a huge boost with Charlie Wi Tiger Woods in the mix last Sunday.
It's only one tournament examined in a vacuum, but the ratings data from Pebble Beach tell an interesting story. Here are the numbers since 2000 of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am (thanks to the acclaimed person behind TVSportsRatings, whoever he or she is) with the total average number of viewers for CBS's weekend coverage and what it means for the PGA Tour…
2000 4.12001 5.9 2002 4.5 2003 4.1 2004 4.1 2005 5.0 2006 3.3 2007 3.6 2008 2.9 2009 1.6 2010 1.9 2011 2.9 2012 5.7
A few takeaways from those numbers…
*Tiger Woods made his first appearance this year at Pebble Beach for the early season tournament since 2002. Woods played at Pebble Beach in 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2012. The average number of viewers for those 4 tournaments was 5.05 million, including a Monday finish in 2000 (thus the low 4.1 number). The average number of viewers for the 9 tournaments Tiger didn't play at Pebble from 2003-2011? Just 3.27 million. That's an increase of 54% for Pebble Beach when Tiger has played since 2000.
…As long as the PGA Tour is so utterly dependent on Woods for ratings success, how can they expect to be healthier without Tiger's presence? Even in 2012, it's a question the PGA Tour is still seeking an answer to.
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