Friday, April 9, 2010

Woods shows his appeal despite his troubles

So, the power of Tigers Woods remains. First day viewership for the Masters was up something like 47%. Maybe ESPN owes him something. While his personal matters got in the way of his professional career, his professional career is back on center stage. Never mind his personal life.

And for golf enthusiasts watching Tiger is what matters. Oh, it was fun to see Tom Watson and Freddie Couples do well the first day. They are the classy types of golf professionals who make their money playing golf each week. Even at their “age” they have the ability to play a course such as Augusta National and do very well, at least for a day.

It’s never out of the realm of possibility that players such as Couples and Watson could win another Masters, but it’s not probable unless the better of the younger golfers fold. The Masters, the US Open, the (British) Open, and to some extent the PGA Championship are endurance—physical and mental—tests. And that’s left up to the younger veterans.

And Woods, despite all the talk about not playing or practicing very much the last 144 days, has as good a chance to win this week as anyone. He’s sticking to his word about his approach: not getting upset; not worrying about the fans; playing calmer; nothing flamboyant; taking a steady approach to the tournament. Taking Woods against the field would have been a terrific bet.

While what Woods did to his wife and children was disgusting, he remains the top draw for golf television viewership. For the Tour to achieve the success level it requires to keep television networks paying and viewers tuning in, Woods must be on the course. My guess is that many who several weeks ago said watching Woods this week was not on their list of things to do were among the 47% increase in TV audience.

That percent will only grow as the Masters progresses through Sunday’s finale.

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