Oh, Tiger, what have you done? How can the masses watch next weekend’s Tour Championship without you?
Woods’ exclusion from next week’s FedEx Cup finale is sure to drop television ratings faster than El Tigre’s clubhead speed.
Even in the wake of his public scandal, Tiger draws.
And, boy, does he draw.
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Tournament officials overseas paid $2 million in appearance fees during the height of Tigermania’s hold over the golfing world (2000) just to have the world No. 1 play in their tourney.
The revenues generated with large galleries and added eyeballs on TV sets more than made up for the price tag Tiger commanded back then.
Now, he’s still the reason casual golf fans tune in to watch that week’s PGA Tour stop.
And without him at the Tour Championship, commissioner Tim Finchem has to be clamoring for a new way to tweak the FedEx Cup playoff formula.
The playoff race was practically invented as a way to get more fans watching golf’s fall schedule.
Let’s face it, once the calender flips to September, casual observers shift their focus to football as the college and NFL seasons get into full swing.
And the real playoff races in Major League Baseball also limit who is going to watch a regular PGA Tour tournament.
So the Tour went ahead with the FedEx Cup idea, and voila, we’re about to close this year’s race with one notable exception.
It seemed like this was the year when the so-called playoff race was going to be intriguing for the casual golf fans.
Tiger slowly was gaining traction with his game each week, playing well enough over the Labor Day weekend to earn a tie for 11th in the Deutsche Bank Championship and give fans the hope that he’d vault his way into the top 30 for a spot in the Tour Championship.
But Woods didn’t do enough at the remodeled Cog Hill in the no-such-thing-as-a-cut BMW Championship last week.
Each and every week during his run, Tiger was on the outside looking in and needed a strong showing to make the following week’s eligibility requirements.
Woods provided the high drama — even without winning — that golf desperately seeks week in and week out as the economy has hit the sport harder than an errant tee shot finding a spectator in the gallery.
Without him, the PGA Tour big-wigs are left scratching their heads for ways to make money off the less-marquee names.
Guys like Matt Kuchar, Charley Hoffman and Dustin Johnson (winners of the three FedEx Cup tournaments this year) are great golfers, and their talents should spark interest in TV sets across the country, but they don’t.
Until Woods returns to his pre-scandal form, the PGA Tour and the FedEx Cup will continue to lose their luster.
Jason Dill, sports reporter, covers golf for the Herald and can be reached at 745-7017.