Though some are still speculating that Tiger Woods will return to the PGA tour in time for the Masters this spring, the golfer himself gave no indication of any timeframe regarding his return to the sport during his televised mea culpa Friday morning. That’s likely not the news Golf Channel wanted to hear, though the network’s official stance is that even without Tiger, life on the links goes on.
“When Tiger doesn’t play in the events that we’ve known him to play in the past, we know ratings are affected-at times as much as 40 percent,” Golf Channel said in a statement provided to B&C. “We have been through similar circumstances when his father passed a few years ago and when he missed time due to injury in 2008 and 2009.”
While Tiger is a one-man boon to golf ratings, he typically plays between 14 and 15 events a year even when healthy. That’s a small percentage of all the PGA Tour events. Golf Channel maintains that while ratings spike in events in which Tiger plays, they don’t drop precipitously from week-to-week when he isn’t. “Our core audience of fans will still be watching,” the network said. “We just won’t realize the upside from the casual fans Tiger brings in.”
The network also added: “Tiger is a force in our sport, but golf doesn’t go away without him.” To those casual fans, that might be news.