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SBD/Issue 64/Leagues & Governing Bodies
Tiger On Hiatus: Woods Taking Indefinite Break From Pro Golf
Published December 14, 2009
|Woods Says He Will Focus On Being A "Better
Husband, Father, And Person" During Break
LEAVING A HUGE HOLE: In L.A., Kraft & Pucin reported Woods' decision will "have the most immediate impact on the PGA Tour, which already has been losing sponsorships and is in desperate need of his drawing power as it prepares to begin a new season." Woods' break is "likely to have a devastating effect on TV ratings for golf, which is a stable of sports programming for the big broadcast networks." When Woods took an eight-month break from golf to recover from a leg injury after the '08 U.S. Open, "many events on the PGA Tour saw catastrophic ratings declines." Author John Feinstein said, "By himself, Tiger is probably 50% of golf. Will the PGA Tour fold up and go away? No. But they have some serious issues. There is a little bit of panic" (L.A. TIMES, 12/12). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Walker & Albergotti noted Woods' hiatus is a "serious blow to the sport of golf, which has relied on Mr. Woods's star power to drive television ratings and sell sponsorships" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/12). In Orlando, Josh Robbins noted Woods' departure will "deprive the tour of its top attraction at a critical time," as it copes with the "adverse effects of the nation's greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 12/12). In N.Y., Larry Dorman notes most of the Tour's "larger purses directly result from higher revenue from title sponsors, and the PGA Tour is in the midst of negotiating new deals with the sponsors of a dozen events that will expire by the end of 2010." So uncertainty about Woods' future will have a "negative impact on the negotiations" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/14).
Oberholser Believes Woods' Hiatus
Will Be A Huge Hit To The Tour
TRICKLE-DOWN EFFECT: In N.Y. Mark Cannizzaro wrote if Woods "isn't playing and TV ratings dip dramatically, more sponsors will pull out and that could lead to fewer events" on Tour. PGA Tour execs are "holding their collective breath right now for a speedy Woods return." Also, fans "can be sure that every player on the PGA Tour has his fingers crossed for the same, because Woods' presence lines everyone's pockets with money" (N.Y. POST, 12/13). Tirico said, “When you take the meal ticket of the Tour away from the Tour for a while, it will certainly damage the product.” Tirico: “We know the casual fans come to the TV when Tiger plays, … and that’s not going to be there. That hurts the sport, that hurts the Tour at a time when things are not great in general for sports." ESPN.com's Bob Harig: "Despite all that’s been going on, he’d have been a huge draw, and he will be whenever he comes back. When Tiger isn’t playing, it isn’t good for the PGA Tour. You saw that in the second half of 2008, when he missed all that time after his knee surgery” ("SportsCenter,” ESPN, 12/11). ESPN.com's Jason Sobel wrote Woods "might not be bigger than the sport ... but he is the biggest thing going right now -- in any sport -- and any tournament without his name attached to the entry list will fail to pique the interest of many casual fans" (ESPN.com, 12/11). In New Orleans, Peter Finney: "It's accurate to say professional golf has never been so one-man-top-heavy as it is right now" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 12/13). In West Palm Beach, Greg Stoda wrote the Tour "needs Woods more than Woods needs it" (PALM BEACH POST, 12/13). But NBC's Gary Koch said of Phil Mickelson, “The Tour can certainly heap it on him a little bit and make a big deal of the fact that Phil is so fan friendly” (“Shark Shootout,” NBC, 12/12).
Woods' Indefinite Absence Could Cause Change
To Ways Tournaments Market Themselves
BEST THING TO DO: CBSSPORTS.com's Steve Elling wrote under the header, "Despite Immediate Pain, Tiger's Sabbatical Best For All In Long Run." His hiatus at least "buys the tour some respite from what would have been an endless crusade for more Woods-related player reaction." Woods has "dragged the tour and its players into the mud with him." The "splatter and collateral damage had not yet been tallied, but it was palpable." Tournaments already had begun to "examine whether it was wise to use Woods' image in their marketing campaigns for 2010" (CBSSPORTS.com, 12/11). N.Y. Daily News columnist Mike Lupica admitted in the "short-run, golf is going to take a big hit." Lupica: "But that's part of his comeback. The comeback begins with people missing him, with people starting to mark time until he comes back whenever that is." He added Woods is "doing the right thing by going away because what he's doing now is he's changing the subject" ("Today," NBC, 12/14). GOLFCHANNEL.com's Randall Mell: "This won't help the Tour as it tries to secure a new TV contract and renew title sponsorships in a bad economy. Really, though, this may be a case of short-term pain that's well worth the long-term gain" (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 12/11).
SEEING SOME LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL: NBC’s Dan Hicks: “I think for the very first time through this whole ordeal there seems to be a little light at the end of the tunnel for perhaps closure on this whole saga. ... It seems like we might be able to move on here in the not so distant future” (“Shark Shootout,” NBC, 12/12). ESPN.com's Harig noted the drama surrounding Woods in recent weeks was the "elephant in the room at Woods' Chevron World Challenge" earlier this week. The story "isn't going away, but at least it is now on a path to ... somewhere" (ESPN.com, 12/12).