The Wide World of Sports: The Tiger Factor


Parker Abate

Parker Abate, Columnist

Throughout the history of sports, there have been numerous players who affected their respective sports in several ways. When I think of the NFL, I think of Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas, Lawrence Taylor, Jim Brown, Barry Sanders, Walter Payton, Jerry Rice, Tom Brady, and Peyton Manning. When pondering about professional baseball, names like Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Cy Young, Nolan Ryan, Jackie Robinson, Pete Rose, Barry Bonds, Randy Johnson, and Alex Rodriguez come to mind. Basketball brings up names like Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James. Professional hockey causes me to think of Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr, Mario Lemieux, Mark Messier, Alexander Ovechkin, and Sidney Crosby. Lastly, soccer spurs the figures of Pelé, Ronaldinho, Cristiano Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane, and Lionel Messi.

I could also think of a handful of  athletes who have affected these sports throughout history. But when I think of golf, the greats like Gary Player, Jack Nicklas, and Arnold Palmer pop into my head for a second for two.

Then, one name really stands out. Eldrick Woods, or most commonly known as Tiger. Tiger Woods has affected the game of golf more than any other athlete in any other sport.

Golf can be hard to watch for some people. Saying that, many people around the world find a TV on a Sunday afternoon in order to watch Tiger compete if he is in the final round of any given tournament. It is also proven that when Tiger makes the cut to play into the weekend, TV ratings and ticket sales skyrocket. According to, when Tiger announced that he was playing at the 2015 Wyndham Championship, an extra 50,000 tickets were sold. With thousands of people still waiting to buy tickets, the course officials in Greensboro had to stop selling tickets because they did not have enough resources to accommodate more fans.

Another compelling stat about this year’s Wyndham Championship deals with the media: Before Tiger announced participation, the course had one moderately-sized room for the media. After his statement that he would be playing, the course expanded to three separate media rooms and an isolated interview room.

Any person who watches the news is aware of the issues Tiger has experienced off the field that have clearly affected his game. He has also been injury prone, having a different nagging injury each year since 2008. Despite this, Tiger still always has the largest crowd of any player. did a study regarding the four major championships in golf and its relation to differences in TV ratings when Tiger is winning as opposed to when he is doing poorly. There is an average difference in rating of about 1.5. That is an extra 1.5 million households  tuning in to watch Tiger when he is prevailing or on top of the leaderboard. This is what is known as the “Tiger Effect” or “Tiger Factor.” Wherever Tiger is, people will be watching.

Tiger Woods hopped onto the PGA Tour in 1996. That year, the total purses (prize money) on the PGA Tour were $101 million. This means $101 million was given out that year was split among all golfers, depending on individual success. In 2008 (the last time Tiger won a major tournament), those purses totaled $282 million, according to Roger Pielke, Jr. did a study in 2014 on how much money Tiger has made other players, literally. Because the purse has increased over $180 million, 10 golfers have made an additional $15 million that they would not have made if the purse did not increase this much. This purse comes from ticket prices and merchandise sales, which most people in golf credit to Tiger. So not only has Tiger affected the Professional Golf Association as an organization, but all of the golfers surrounding him as well.

Unless a sports news outlet is going over golf tournament results, a great majority of the time, when golf is mentioned on television or in the paper, it is about Tiger. Yes, there are great golfers from the past and golfers in the present, such as Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, who are bound to be great, but the numbers of fans watching, tickets sold, media present – not to mention interest in golf –  are always much greater when Tiger is in action. This, ladies and gentlemen, is The Tiger Factor.