Senior Staff Writer
Sports fans are buzzing as rumors swirled that Tiger Woods was flying into Augusta, GA for an early practice round. Tiger’s return to golf’s biggest stage put the Tiger effect on full display as patrons were anxious to get their first look at the game’s greatest since his car accident in February 2021.
Tiger’s return to Augusta National grounds amplifies excitement going into Masters week. Yes, people get excited about the game of golf. Well, that is, when they are talking about Tiger Woods.
The Tiger effect is similar to the celebrity effect in marketing. If the Big Cat competes, ratings, attendance, and publicity skyrocket. No athlete moves the meter quite like Tiger. According to Golf Digest, when Tiger returned for the 2018 Open Championship, TV ratings increased 38%; when he returned for the 2018 PGA Championship, ratings increased 69% from the previous year. Adversely, when Tiger missed the 2014 Masters, the tournament experienced the lowest ratings in ten years.
Fans are captivated by Tiger’s presence on the golf course; he is the definition of must-see TV. It does not matter what kind of fan you are of the sport of golf, and there is no question that Tiger is the reason golf is front-page news.
The exposure has followed Tiger from his early days as a junior into his unprecedented amateur career and onto his historic professional career. In his 26 year career, Tiger has been on a tear since turning professional in 1996, winning over twenty percent of his starts on tour and holding world number one for 683 weeks. In addition, he consecutively held the number one position for more than five years, from 2005 to 2010. However, one question remains: Will he ever reach Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships?
Early on, it was clear that if anyone was going to catch Jack, it was Tiger. However, injuries, surgeries, and a complicated life off the golf course have stalled the pursuit of eighteen majors. Nevertheless, these adversities have laid a dream script for Tiger to complete the most remarkable comeback in sports history for the second time. Tiger’s victory at the 2019 Masters tournament was instantly a contender for one of the great comeback stories in sports history. After four major back surgeries, a shocking DUI charge, and reaching rock bottom, Tiger climbed from the depths and claimed his fifth green jacket.
In February 2021, Tiger endured one of the worst injuries of his career in a car accident in Los Angeles. Police reports state the crash was caused by excessive speeding, approximately twice the speed limit of 45mph. Tiger was left with severe injuries in his right leg that required multiple surgeries with the possibility of amputation. The surgeries were successful; however, in regards to his return to golf, Woods publicly announced that he would never be able to play a full schedule, only a few tournaments here and there. The pattern of Tiger’s career: success, set-back, resurgence. We are in the resurgence phase.
The question headlining the 2022 Masters tournament is: “Can Tiger Woods do it again?”