Admit it, golf is more fun when Tiger Woods is back

Sunday was one of the biggest days of the year for college basketball with teams and fans waiting to see if they had been selected for the NCAA Tournament. There were even games on that came down to the wire, with an automatic berth in the Tournament on the line.

Yet, if you were on Twitter or other social media, there was just as much, if not more, chatter and discussion about the Valspar Championship. Not because Paul Casey mounted an incredible charge to win the tournament (it’s true!), but because one Tiger Woods was in contention and very much a threat to win the damn thing months after having spinal fusion surgery.

With regards to Casey, who played amazingly and deserved to win, nobody will remember that he won, but will always recall this tournament as the one where Tiger was officially back. He came up just one shot short of forcing a playoff, leaving a lengthy birdie put on 18 short, but brought with him everything golf had been longing for since his career went in a tailspin.

The crowds at the event were huge, discussion on Twitter was rampant after every birdie, and I’m sure the TV ratings for the event will be massive, which is even more impressive when you take in what was going on in college basketball.

Which is all to say, golf needs Tiger to be back, and golf is a hell of a lot better when he is. Again, no offense to Paul Casey, but unless Paul Casey makes that charge at a major, he probably isn’t drawing in extra viewers on TV or to the course. But Tiger being in contention does that. People you didn’t even know were golf fans were tuning in Sunday to see if Tiger could complete the rally and win the damn thing.

The crowd Sunday was wild, any good shot he hit was met with roars of approval from the fans, that birdie he dropped from 45 feet on 17 had the cameras shaking. Again, no offense to Paul Casey, but he doesn’t bring that kind of juice to the game. There’s a reason they didn’t make Paul Casey PGA Tour on PS2 growing up.

Even when young guys like Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, or Dustin Johnson would go on runs, it just didn’t bring people in the way Tiger did, and has so far in his return.

Tiger being back means there are more eyes on TV, more fans at the course, more people going out to try golf, and that means more chances for players to get recognized. Yes, NBC and others will show every last shot Tiger hits, but if you are in contention, you’re also being shown, and maybe being talked about as a guy who took down Tiger.

But Tiger is also a lightning rod for debate, which golf needs. There is a big group that LOVES him (this site included) even after his sexual transgressions. Let’s be honest, what he didn’t is nothing compared to what other athletes have done. Don’t get me wrong, cheating is bad and his wife had every right to chase him down with a 9-iron, but if you’re going to shun and chase off every athlete who cheats on their wife, buddy, there are going to be no athletes left. And there are those who hate him, who watched his putt on 18 and were just hoping it wouldn’t go in so they wouldn’t have to watch him in a playoff, or read all about him this week.

And after a strong showing that saw him tie for second at a legitimately tough course, with deep field, and tough winds, all anyone could think after was, “Man, The Masters is going to be amazing this year.”

Even when young guys like Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, or Dustin Johnson would go on runs, it just didn’t bring people in the way Tiger did, and has so far in his return.

So love him or hate him, and yes he probably does get too much coverage for doing nothing (like during his first couple failed comeback attempts, this site included), having Tiger back is the best thing that could happen to golf. And everyone from PGA Tour executives, TV executives, event organizers, and right on down to golf courses will tell you the same.


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