Tiger Woods’ absence, due to his long-term back injury, could cost the golf industry $15 billion, according to a leading director in media services.
Woods has not played golf since the World Golf Championships in March earlier this year and missed the US Masters for the first time in his professional career last fortnight.
As such, golf has suffered badly in terms of spectator interest. The initial signs at the Masters were not encouraging – as viewing figures on the opening day were the worst since ESPN started covering the event in 2008.
And things did not get any better as the event went on, with interest in golf’s most coveted major at its lowest point for a considerable amount of time – eventually resulting in the worst TV viewing figures since 1957.
Now golf.com has reported that Woods’ absence, combined with the decreased interest it creates in the sport, is likely to cost the golfing world a whopping $15 billion.
They reported: “According to Brad Adgate, senior vice president and director of research for Horizon Media, a New York-based media services company, the 25-30 percent ratings drop we're accustomed to seeing at Tiger-free events threatens to translate into similar percentage losses across the board.
"Adgate and other analysts say it's impossible to a put a precise price tag on Tiger's absence. But if we do the math and arrive at a ballpark number in a golf industry valued at around $68.8 billion, it pencils out at roughly $15 billion."
To blame the poor viewing figures on the 39-year-old’s absence from the competition would be slightly misleading, though. Although it played a major role in the significant decrease in viewers, the fact that Bubba Watson cruised to success on the final day meant that the, generally, tense and thrilling finale that the Masters gives us, was not to be seen this year.
But the bad news for golf is that Woods’ return does not look particularly imminent. The 14-time major winner had initially said that he would return to playing in a few weeks, before he went under the knife to correct the pinned nerve in his back, but that now seems overly ambitious.
Indeed, his close friend and former PGA tour player Notah Begay has said that Woods is unlikely to return before the second major competition of the year, the US Open, which commences on June 12th.
The worry is that a similar type of injury has kept other golfers out for over a year, too, and if this is the case with Woods then the predicted $15 billion loss will be sure to increase further.
Woods, however, remains focused on his return and has announced that he wants to be playing again by the summer. The first competition that he may be seen again at is the Open Championship. This starts on July 12th and the golfing world will be praying that he is there.
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