Stop lying – even without Tiger Woods, you’ll still watch the Masters

AP Photo/Susan Walsh
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

On Tuesday, Tiger Woods made it official via Twitter – due to back surgery, he won’t participate in the 2014 Masters.

To ensure it wasn’t an April Fools joke, Woods added a statement on his website:

“After attempting to get ready for the Masters, and failing to make the necessary progress, I decided, in consultation with my doctors, to have this procedure done.”

Naturally, the hyperbolic world we now live in gave us plenty of wild responses. The Masters without Tiger for the first time since 1994 will be a disaster. The ratings will take a huge hit. Nobody will care who wins. The first major of the PGA Tour season won’t matter.

I have news for you, folks: It’s the Masters, and people will still care.

Woods wasn’t going to win the Masters this year, and that was evident well before he made his Tuesday announcement. The 38-year-old is hurt, and no matter how good you are, you don’t win the Masters while lugging around a bad back. Especially when you’re on a serious losing streak in majors, as Tiger has: He hasn’t won a major since 2008, according to a CBS Sports report, and more than 2,000 days have elapsed since then.

If you thought a pinched nerve was the one thing he needed to end that drought, you’re wrong.

(Also read: Braves make history on Opening Day)

Now, about those ratings. I don’t want to speak for all golf fans, but the Masters is the one event I’ll watch every year no matter who’s in and who’s out. We all know about the Tiger Effect – if Tiger competes, more people tune in – but we don’t know anything about the effect he has on the Masters. This is the first time he’s missed the tournament in his professional career, so there’s no telling what will happen to the ratings at this major, which tees off next Thursday.

But if this is still the Tradition Unlike Any Other, I suspect the Masters will Reject the Tiger Effect Unlike Any Other.

Yahoo’s Dan Wetzel wrote today that the secondary ticket market is already taking a hit, as Stubhub badge-sellers dropped prices significantly for the tournament after Tiger’s big announcement. However, I’d argue the primary ticket market should be studied instead, as those are the die-hard Masters fans that will attend the tournament every year, no matter who’s in it.

If that market takes a major hit, then maybe the Tiger Effect is real.

The funny thing about this argument is that Tiger has done nothing in the past six years to earn this discussion. He isn’t winning majors, and he’s getting older. His body is falling apart, and as I said earlier, he wouldn’t have been a favorite had he stayed in the field next week. Yes, he’s one of the greatest golfers of all-time, and he deserves plenty of respect for that, but that shouldn’t be the only reason why golf fans would watch the biggest tournament of the year.

So enjoy Amen Corner and the azaleas, even if Tiger isn’t lurking behind them this year.

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