By Rob Hamilton / 92-9 The Game / CBS Local Sports
So Tiger is out.
What does that mean for the Augusta National and our friends 2 hours to the east?
Tiger announced 10 days out from the tournament that he would not play in the 2014 Masters.
Sad to say I’m missing the Masters. Thanks to the fans for so many kind wishes. http://t.co/Ofbre9VHEL
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) April 1, 2014
The fact that he announced that 10 days out does not bode well for the tournament’s ratings.
When Tiger wins tournaments the Nielsen Ratings go up. Plain and simple statistics. Since 1997, Average Nielsen ratings for golf tournaments win Tiger wins are 2 points higher than when he doesn’t. Might not sound like much, but two points in the Nielsen ratings translates to HUGE money for the tournament and the network.
So right about now, the fine folks at CBS Sports (a division of our parent company CBS), are probably thinking the worst.
Don’t get me wrong, The Masters is STILL The Masters. It will still pull great ratings, but nothing on the scale of what it does when Tiger Woods walks out onto that first tee at Augusta National.
A poll conducted by SportsBusinessDaily.com in 2012 asked TV viewers who they’d rather see when watching a golf tournament. Woods garnered 53% of the vote, Rory grabbed 15% and “everyone’s favorite lefty” Phil grabbed 7%.
For Augusta, GA it presents a different set of problems. I lived in Augusta for eight years. The presence of Tiger Woods in that little city takes things up a notch. More people come into the city than have badges for the tournament anyways, but even more people come in to try and get a practice round badge to just get out on the course and watch Tiger hit it a few times.
I used to ask people standing in line outside the gates on Monday and Tuesday afternoon trying to buy practice round tickets from people as they exited in mid-afternoon, “Just want to go in and check out the course?” 90% of the people responded, “Oh no, I wanna see if I can catch a glimpse of Tiger”.
There is much more of a circus mentality in Augusta when Tiger Woods plays The Masters.
When he doesn’t, you can feel it.
Augusta will feel it next week. There will will be a LOT of great golfers there and they’ll be playing at a level we can’t even begin to comprehend.
And they’ll be answering 100’s of questions each day.
Most of them will be, “What’s it like to play knowing that Tiger isn’t out here?”