Given the sagging ratings at this year’s Masters – and pretty much every golf tournament in the last three or four months – we need to ask why the PGA Tour needs Tiger Woods so desperately. What does he bring to the table that no other player does?
“First of all, we’re a third-page sport,” CBS Sports golf analyst Gary McCord said on The MoJo Show. “We don’t exist on the first page or the second page. You can always find golf on Page 3, so we need a superstar. You need superstars. You found that out last week with Michelle Wie. The ratings went up 93 percent when she won and it got them to the first page in a lot of newspapers.”
“We need the same thing with Tiger,” McCord continued. “Tiger moves the needle more than anybody. Phil (Mickelson is) No. 2. And past that, we’ve got great players, but we haven’t got anybody that moves the needle. So when Tiger goes away, we can see a giant crypt that is now formed. The ratings have been awful for the last month, basically. It’s good to see him back, and eyes (are) now going back to watch golf on television to see what he’s doing.”
Indeed, Woods, who had back surgery in March, will play at the Quicken Loans National Championship at Congressional this week. Woods has not played competitively in almost four months.
“There’s a curiosity factor, obviously,” said McCord, who is eager to see how Woods manages his game. “I can’t wait. It’s going to be fun to watch to see if he changed anything. Does he go to a different kind of swing? It’s all going to be interesting.”
It’ll be especially interesting to see if Woods tweaks his back. The recovery time for his surgery can take six months or longer. Woods, 38, had surgery three months ago.
“He’s what we call a ballistic type player,” McCord said. “When he sets that thing at the top and goes, he goes. He’s a Ferrari. He puts his foot to the pedal and he goes. I haven’t seen Tiger dial it back much. We all remember at Barclays last year when he hit that shot and he went right to his knees and grabbed his back. I think that image is what everybody’s going to be looking for this weekend.”
They’ll also be looking – searching is more like it – for one great golfer to emerge from the pack of the very good.
“Our game is befuddled by the fact that there’s so many good players it’s really hard to get out there and take charge and get above these guys,” McCord said. “There’s always somebody playing well, and it just seems like it’s in short spurts. We’re used to Tiger just kind of manhandling everything, and now it’s just guys all over the place. No one can get their footing or get going for any kind of period of time that would be classified as consistent. So we look for that guy. Now we’re on Martin Kaymer, who’s the latest and the greatest. There’s a couple of guys who have been playing and playing well for awhile, but we always compare (them) to Tiger and it’s not right. He’s in another category.”