Big Ratings, Record Attendance, Woods-Garcia Feud At The Players A Boost For PGA Tour
With Tiger Woods “doing what he does best -- playing superbly and being the sport’s top mover of the needle on multiple levels -- The Players was close to being the biggest hit of the 2013 PGA Tour season so far,” according to Garry Smits of the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. The event was “topped in terms of national interest only by Adam Scott winning his first major championship” at The Masters in April. The “record-breaking crowds" for The Players "were apparent: 173,946 people flocked to the TPC Sawgrass Players Stadium Course, a single-week record since accurate crowd counts began” in ‘07. Since the infrastructure of the tournament was “expanded this year to allow for more tickets available, it’s a safe bet that also was the most fans at The Players since it moved to Ponte Vedra Beach” in ‘77. Tournament Exec Dir Matthew Rapp said, “We didn’t just set records. We obliterated them.” Smits notes Jacksonville's WTLV-NBC earned a 6.5 local rating on Saturday and 10.1 for the final round on Sunday, up 25% and 31%, respectively. NBC Sports Golf Producer Tommy Roy said, “There’s no question that the energy from a large crowd infuses the energy in a broadcast. The shots illustrating how large the crowds were looked very good on TV and the feud between Tiger and Sergio [Garcia] was another huge reason that we did well on Sunday” (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 5/14). Golf Channel’s Frank Nobilo said he believed the spat between Woods and Garcia is "what made this championship so palpable this year.” Nobilo: “Very rarely do players actually speak out on either what they think about who they are playing with or the state of their game. We got it, basically, coming backwards and forwards” ("Golf Central," Golf Channel, 5/13).
LET'S GET READY TO...: In L.A., Bill Dwyre writes the Woods-Garcia “dust-up just might do for golf what Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan did for skating -- make it interesting beyond its core fan base.” The PGA Tour is “no longer merely a parade of boring thirtysomethings with vanilla personalities in logo shirts, smiling a lot while hitting little white balls over perfectly manicured landscapes.” Now there is “Tiger in the red corner and Sergio in the blue.” This is “manna from heaven for a sport that gets little attention from the younger set.” Tim Finchem “is the commissioner of the tour, but you can almost feel the groundswell to bring on Vince McMahon” (L.A. TIMES, 5/14). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said Garcia is "jealous" of Woods and he "blames Tiger for not realizing all the expectations that were put on him." He added, "What I like is you know how Tiger sort of doesn't like Phil (Mickelson). He actively dislikes Sergio. Sergio actively dislikes him, and I like that" ("PTI," ESPN, 5/13). Golf Channel’s Tom Abbott said, "It was fun to listen to these two players going at it. It’s not that big of a deal is it? It’s two athletes who are great at their sports, but it’s fun to hear it in the media” (“Morning Drive,” Golf Channel, 5/14).