The ratings for the Masters back up my argument. The final round earned a 7.8 rating Sunday afternoon (by the way, a 7.8 rating means that 7.8 percent of American households tuned into the Masters). Keep in mind that final round included a highly likeable Bubba Watson winning his second Masters title in three years.
The ratings were down 24 percent from last year’s Masters finale, in which Adam Scott beat Angel Cabrera in a playoff. That’s right, a playoff round in one of the most cherished golf major tournaments generated little interest in the viewing public.
Here’s more. One of the highest ratings for the Masters in the last 10 years was Tiger’s last win in 2005, which got a 10.3 rating.
So the moral of the story is this: no Tiger (or Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy) in contention means low-ass ratings for golf tournaments.
Allow me to take this a step further. Tiger is the only athlete in recent memory (the last 10 years) where sports fans – casual or otherwise – literally stop what they are doing to tune in to see him in action. Ever since Tiger won the Masters in dominating fashion in 1997, he had single-handedly drove several new viewers to golf. Hell, I never gave two damns about the sport until Tiger started dominating.
As his sponsorships grew to mammoth values (Nike, Titleist and Cadillac are among his biggest), so did tournament purses for his fellow golfers. You think there were as many multimillionaires on the PGA tour before Tiger came along? I didn’t think so.
Tiger’s dominance has also made him a transcendent athlete in all of sports. He and his brand is recognized worldwide. In my opinion Tiger is the second-most popular athlete in the world after Michael Jordan.
Love him, like him, loathe him, or hate him – y’all have to give Tiger his props.
Woods is off to the worst start of his career. He tied for 80th at the Farmers Insurance Open, tie for 41st at the Dubai Desert Classic, then withdrew from last week’s Honda. Then yesterday Woods shot a 6-over-par 78 at Doral’s Blue Monster course to tumble out of contention at the WGC-Cadillac Championship and drop into a tie for 25th, nine strokes behind winner Patrick Reed (by the way, congrats to Reed on his third win on the PGA Tour).
To quote legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi, “what the hell is going on out here!”
I know that the back issues that caused Tiger Woods to withdraw from a tournament a week ago flared again Sunday, but I think this is more of a mental thing with Woods. I’ve already mentioned his pathetic finishes to start the 2014 golf season. For just the eighth time in his career, Woods failed to make a birdie during a round on the PGA Tour.
The combination of those terrible finishes and failure to make birdies in a round sounds more than a damn back problem to me.
If I were Woods, I would take some time off before participating in the Masters next month. If his back is giving him problems, he should rest his back so he could get his swing back. I think the rest would pay him more dividends mentally. No golfer worth his expensive golf clubs would want to go into Augusta, GA in a funk.
So memo to Tiger: take a break, rest your back, and get your mind right. Your pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’ major wins record depends on it.
Sergio Garcia was feeling good heading into the weekend.
He was near the top of the leader board of The Players Championship, aka “The Fifth Major” at the end of Friday. He moved into the top spot heading into Sunday’s final round. In fact, Garcia led Tiger Woods by one shot.
Speaking of Tiger, Garcia hurled a few verbal shots at Tiger along the way.
Garcia suggested that Woods could have shown better judgment in pulling a club from his bag early in their third round, telling NBC during a two-hour weather delay that he felt the timing of Woods’ action distracted him. Never mind the fact that Woods, surrounded by spectators, would have had a hard time seeing Garcia play his shot, and it’s unlikely he would expect a reaction just because he took a club from his bag.
Garcia later said that Woods is not the nicest guy in the world. Check out his quote:
“I’m not going to lie, he’s (Woods) not my favorite guy to play with. He’s not the nicest guy on tour.”
*Sidebar: oh boo-friggin’-hoo Sergio*
Then Garcia added in an interview with the Golf Channel: “It’s good for both of us. We don’t enjoy each other’s company. You don’t have to be a rocket engineer to figure that out.”
So, one would expect Garcia to man up and back up that talk during the final round of The Players Championship right?
While Garcia hung in with Tiger for the majority of the final round, he melted down when it counted the most: on the last few holes. In fact, Garcia shot a quadruple-bogey 7 after hitting his first two shots into the water on the 17th hole. As a result, Garcia went from being tied with Woods for the lead to finishing six shots behind at 7-under par.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call SOFT.
Garcia had a chance to finally stare down and beat Tiger at a big-time – albeit not major – golf tournament. Garcia would have had some valuable momentum heading into the US Open with a shot at winning his first major golf tournament.
Instead, Garcia is left to mope around and think about what could have been. I wouldn’t be shocked if he loses the US Open and comes up empty AGAIN at a major tournament.
I should have known that Garcia could not have stood a chance of closing the deal on the final day The Players Championship. The cowardly lion from the Wizard of Oz has more courage than Garcia.
Tiger Woods took an improper drop on the 15th hole during the second round of the Masters at Augusta National on Friday when his approach shot hit the pin and bounced back into the water. The problem was that not only did Woods did not know that he violated a rule, but neither did his playing partners nor the official who was present on the 15th hole.
But the viewers who watched the improper drop knew and somehow notified the golf officials at Augusta. Only then did the officials say, “you know what, we need to revisit that improper drop no-call”. That led to the overnight drama where the officials went from disqualifying Tiger to docking him two strokes.
In case you all are still clueless as to why Tiger was not disqualified, a player can have penalty strokes added afterward when facts were not reasonably presented at the time of scorecard signing. Again, since Tiger – nor his playing partners and the official present – did not know of the violation, he was penalized two strokes.
While I am glad that the officials at the Masters did not disqualify Woods, I’ve got one thing to ask: what other sport allows a viewer to influence crucial decisions like that?
When a call is missed in other sports, it ends there.
For example, in football holding penalties go un-called all the time. Like John Madden once said, there is holding on every play. And when we viewers noticed those holding calls, we cannot influence the officials into make the correct call by clogging up their voice mails. As I said before, it ends there.
When a shot is taken before the buzzer is disallowed in an NBA game, a viewer is not going to call David Stern to get him to change his mind. Hell, anyone who knows Stern knows that cat is stubborn as a damn mule – but I digress…
And remember that incorrect call in Major League Baseball that cost a certain pitcher a perfect game with two outs in the ninth inning? As many people railed against MLB commissioner Bud Selig for not overruling that call, that didn’t make Selig change his mind – as he shouldn’t have.
What’s done is done on the field of play. Officials cannot retroactively go back and change calls like that.
What the PGA does not realize is that it has opened Pandora’s Box. Will viewers of future major golf tournaments be able to influence officials into reviewing golfer’s mistakes? Will other golfers feign ignorance when approached with a similar rule violation as Tiger’s and not get disqualified?
All I know is that the PGA needs to do a better job of letting golfers know when they are violating a rule. And even when a violation goes unnoticed, it should be just that – unnoticed.
Golf has become quite relevant again.
Now before I continue, my last comment was not to insult golf as a sport. I like golf. I just like it a lot more when Tiger is involved and is competing for the win on the last day of any golf tournament.
While I am not a fan of Tiger Woods the person, I love Tiger Woods the player (golf player, that is). And guess what, many golf fans (and sports fans in general) love Tiger Woods the golfer. People want to tune in to see a dominant player in ANY sport. Don’t take my word for it – the ratings for golf tournaments over the last few seasons illustrate my point.
At any rate, Tiger’s win makes the upcoming Masters golf tournament the more interesting. It’s always a good thing for golf to have its best player – and yes, I know that Rory McIlroy is TECHNICALLY the top-ranked player in the world, but come on now – playing well and winning a big tournament heading into its first major golf tournament.
Sure there are three more tournaments before the Masters – one of which is Arnold Palmer Invitational where Tiger historically plays well and is the defending champ. However, Tiger’s win will give the sports media and us fans something to crow about leading up to the Masters.
As for Tiger, I am seeing a new, rejuvenated golfer. Not only is he finally healthy, he appears to have his confidence and dare I say… “swag” back. And it’s not like he coasted against also-rans. Tiger beat the likes of McIlroy, Steve Stricker, Adam Scott, the underachieving Sergio Garcia, Phil Mickleson, Bubba Watson, and Webb Simpson – all of whom have either won major titles or won other tournaments throughout their careers.
The more I type, the more excited I am heading into next month’s Masters. I want to see how Tiger is going to respond after a disappointing season.
There was a lot of blame to go around. The Americans just couldn’t get it done in singles match play. Phil Mickelson gacked up a lead to Justin Rose in singles match play. U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson lost to Ian Poulter.
And then there was Tiger Woods. He missed a 3½-foot par putt on the 18th hole, and then conceded a par to Francesco Molinari of about that length to halve their match, which gave the Europeans the victory. In fact, he lost ALL of his matches in this year’s Ryder Cup.
There is something about Woods and Ryder cup competitions – he just does not do well in them. He has lost 14 Ryder Cup matches heading before this weekend, which is the fourth most all-time among the Americans.
And who could forget that disastrous pairing of Woods and Mickelson?
There is a reason Woods does not do well in Ryder Cups. Ryder Cup competition relies mostly on teamwork.
For that reason, golfers who may not do but so well in singles competition excel in the Ryder Cup. Think Sergio Garcia, Colin Montgomerie and Justin Leonard. Woods has never been the most collegial nor teamwork-oriented golfer on tour, and it rears its ugly head in Ryder Cup competitions.
And it’s not necessarily a bad thing. After all, that’s what makes Tiger Tiger. He thirves on intimidation, not collegiality.
Some people want to use Woods’ Ryder Cup failures to ding his legacy. I don’t think that’s fair. I mean, sure the Ryder Cup is a big deal in a lot of circles. But I think it’s a mere footnote to the majors and tournaments Woods has won over the years.
Woods is still the greatest golfer in the world – Ryder Cup notwithstanding.
Big news from Augusta, Georgia!
Augusta National golf club, the world-renown golf club which hosts The Masters (arguably the Super Bowl of golf tournaments) admitted two females into their membership for the first time EVER. Two two women in question? None other than former bank magnate – and good friend of Martha Stewart – Darla Moore, and …wait for it, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
I am glad that Augusta National admitted women into its membership. Too bad it happened in the 21st century.
Look, I am not mad at the folks at Augusta National for how they run their business. It is a private club, and can conduct business as it sees fit.
Just don’t look for me to shower Augusta National with rose pedals for admitting women into its club. Keep in mind that this is the same golf club that did not allow minorities into its membership until 1990. And we all remember that spat between Augusta and former chair of the National Council of Women’s Organizations Martha Burk in 2002.
Again, Augusta National is a private golf club that can do what it wants whenever it wants. Just don’t expect anyone to praise it for doing the right thing 30 years too late.