When an offbeat bursts onto the sports scene, it usually causes a global media earthquake that shakes every corner of the planet and generates an inevitable attraction for the discipline they practice. It is not possible to think about the definitive expansion of the NBA without the figure of Michael Jordan or in the boom that Spanish football experienced with the rivalry Messi-Cristiano. This is what began to happen in the late ’90s in the golf with the appearance of Tiger Woods– His talent revolutionized the game and produced more interest than ever. His impact was so great that the PGA Tour he bet a plenary session on his figure for a long time and it served him to take his sponsorship contracts and TV rights to unsuspected levels. But in recent years they have had to start preparing the ground for a world without it.
All golf fans sighed in relief when the legendary American player came out alive from the serious car accident he suffered in Southern California that caused him to undergo surgery. He had to undergo complex surgery on his right leg to correct the severe injuries who suffered in the foot, ankle, tibia and fibula.
His rehabilitation will be long and he will hardly be able to compete again, but in truth Tiger Woods He was already in the final stretch of his fantastic sporting career and this accident could be the definitive cause for his retirement. Beyond his huge comeback in 2019, when he made one of the sport’s most shocking returns by winning his fifth Augusta Masters, his first major In 11 years, his absences or poor results in several major tournaments during the last decade became common currency. The cut failed in almost half of the majors who has played since 2014 and only finished in the top 15 three times in 27 events. It also lowered its average number of tournaments played per year. In his first decade, he played an average of 19 events per year. But in the last decade it only averaged 11 tournaments per year out of a total of 46 that the Tour has. Anyway, has never played more than 21 contests in a year on the PGA Tour, but they were enough to set the pulse.
Paradoxically and necessarily, the man who made the circuit great is no longer the focus of broadcasts and marketing campaigns. Woods turned pro in 1996 and the following year he surprised the world after winning the prestigious Augusta Masters with solo 21 years, becoming the youngest person to win a major, with the greatest difference in strokes and the lowest score. From then on, golf grew by leaps and bounds, everyone benefited from a player who gave this sport the opportunity to fully exploit its commercial side.
When in April 1997 he put on the green jacket being a young African American of great potential, Woods earned less than half a million dollars. Eight years later, when he won the same tournament for the fourth time, he obtained more than USD 10 million. That 2005, finished as the highest paid athlete in the world according to the magazine Forbes, with USD 87 million in profit. It was his talent that triggered the figures and revalued all kinds of awards. In 2019, excluding sponsorships, more than 100 players on the professional circuit earned at least USD 1 million. He made everyone rich, something unthinkable two decades ago.
But physical problems began to appear, added to the scandals in his personal life and other road accidents, and a PGA Tour who was in the clouds had to prepare for landing. The fire of Tiger Woods it began to fade and there was no alternative but to promote a new breed of players. There is currently no star of his caliber, but there are six different countries represented in the Top 20 of the ranking, with an average age less than 29 years. The last eight majors they were won by different players.
It is known that none of the current stars generates the impact that Woods he knew how to play golf. Nobody will be able to generate that effect that only he guaranteed if one Sunday afternoon he was in the fight for the title. For example, in the PGA Tour Championship 2018, when Tiger finished second behind Brooks Koepka, the TV audience increased 69% compared to the final round of the previous year. And although the protagonists themselves recognize it, they strive to make a competitive product.
“There is a different atmosphere when Tiger plays in a tournament than when he’s not playing. Even if the 20 best players in the world play, if he is not there, you can tell the difference, ”said the Spaniard. Jon Rahm, current number 2 in the world, in an interview with Golf Channel in the preview of WGC Workday Championship. “He is not Superman. It is inevitable that one day he will not be a part of this, it will be something that the golf circuit will have to deal with.. I think everyone should be grateful that he is here, that he is alive, that his children have not lost their father, “he added. Rory McIlroy, former world number 1 and an influential voice among current circuit members, at a press conference for this tournament. McIlroy was 7 when Woods won his first major championship, which undoubtedly was a great inspiration for its beginnings.
To their 45 yearsWith several surgeries on his back and the recent operation on his right leg, his wish is to return to the professional circuit. “If there is any way that he can continue playing, he will”, a source close to Woods to the magazine People. However, the winner of 15 majors He was already living his lowest hours and this setback in his life could be decisive for his future. The car crash after a year in which only garnered a Top 10, and that was before the pandemic. When golf resumed its activity, he waited another month. Played only seven events since July and never made the Top 35. He was one trophy out of 83, which would make him the single most winning player of all time. Now share the record with Sam Snead. But no one was counting on his accident. And in the PGA Tour, where they got used to not having their king in fullness in recent times, they could already prepare a final goodbye.