Ok, so the headline is a little bit over the top. But don’t you know that a golf tournament without Tiger Woods is like a Thanksgiving without turkey?
Woods just revealed on his Web site that he plans to undergo season-ending, reconstructive surgery on his balky left knee, which would leave him out of the upcoming AT&T National, the British Open, the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup. Oh, and he won’t be competing for the FedEx Cup. (FedEx and Big Brown’s buddy UPS are now tied in the race for most disappointing sports sponsorships involving shipping companies. DHL, it’s your turn.)
Life will go on, and most of these tournaments have already sold their fair share of sponsorships and expensive hospitality packages. (Hospitality at the AT&T National is just about sold out, for instance.)
Where this will hurt is in regular ticket sales and TV ratings. ABC, which has the British Open, and CBS, which has the weekend of the AT&T National, are probably smarting because they now won’t be able to ride the great buzz coming from Woods’ U.S. Open win.
In today’s edition of the Los Angeles Times, NBC Sports spokesman Brian Walker is quoted as saying Woods’ presence in a tournament gives the network a 50 percent spike in ratings, even higher when he’s in contention.
As for ticket sales, expect a 15-25 percent drop, possibly even higher at the AT&T National, where the first-year buzz led to record sales last year.
To be clear, no one’s going to be losing gobs of money. They just won’t make as much as they’re used to.
But if the golf industry is looking at the big picture, it should be pleased that Tiger is apparently now focused on getting the knee to 100 percent. A healthier Tiger over the next 5, 15, and 30 years is better for everyone.