Tiger Woods winning the Masters will have a huge, positive impact on golf

April 15, 2019

As the sun sets on another memorable Masters, it is time to comprehend the enormity of Tiger Woods winning again at Augusta National, and how his victory can rejuvenate worldwide interest in golf ...

The Tiger Woods impact on golf, and sport, is arguably the biggest of any athlete worldwide. The interest levels in the sport dipped alarmingly when Woods was struggling to walk while dealing with the back issues that he feared could end his career.

But the decision to undergo spinal fusion surgery paid off, extended his career, and his return to full-field PGA Tour action at the Farmers Insurance Open in January last year was greeted with widespread fanfare, and possibly a sigh of relief for those involved in golf media and broadcasting.

The effect was immediate and longstanding, and fears that he would struggle to compete again at the highest level were soon eased when he pushed Paul Casey all the way at the Valspar Championship.

Woods set the pulses racing higher when he led The Open midway through the final round at Carnoustie before being pipped to the post by Francesco Molinari, and he would have won the PGA Championship had Brooks Koepka not performed like Brooks Koepka in a major.

And, six weeks later, viewing figures suddenly peaked at prime-time Tiger levels when he stormed to his first PGA Tour win in five years at the Tour Championship in Atlanta, and the memories of thousands of fans accompanying him down the final fairway will last for a long time.

That proved he could win again, but another major? After a wait of close to 11 years? Surely that would be a tough ask, particularly at long and physically-punishing Augusta National, where he had slipped into a Green Jacket four times but not since 2005.

For the first 11 holes of Sunday's final round, it looked as if he would be denied again by a seemingly unflappable Molinari, but when the Italian found water at the 12th and double-bogeyed, Woods sensed this would be his chance, and he took it.

It's been a long time, too long, since we've heard the "Tiger roars" on the back nine on Masters Sunday, but three birdies in four holes lifted him two clear of the field and the noise levels were off the scale. And one of the best sights in the galleries was seeing a significant number of younger patrons who were nowhere near old enough to remember the Tiger roars that willed him to his 2005 win.

And when he tapped in the winning putt, the jubilation that ensued guaranteed dramatic images which will adorn the majority of the back pages of every major publication in the world, and a fair few front pages as an added bonus.

Social media went wild and, having Tiger Woods as the top trend on Twitter - this time for all the right reasons - was a sight many were sceptical would happen again. That's another box ticked for enticing the younger generation to take an interest in the sport.

Modern-day golf at elite level has unprecedented strength in depth, with the debate over who is the best golfer on the planet changing opinions on a weekly basis. But what was proved beyond any doubt over the last week in Georgia is that Tiger Woods remains the most popular golfer on the planet.

Heads of state, A-list celebrities and genuine sporting superstars - including Jack Nicklaus - were quick to express their admiration and their unbridled joy in seeing the world's most famous and inspirational sportsman end his lengthy quest for major No 15.

The adulation was evident in every corner of the Augusta National property, from the media to the members, from the staff to the players - even Francesco Molinari was impressed, whether he admitted it or not!

Golf has been in good shape with the current crop of outstanding talent, but there is - and probably never will be - another character like Tiger Woods who can take the game from good shape to "absolutely booming".

The fallout from this momentous victory will rumble on for far longer than perhaps any major championship over the last 10 years, and ardent fans will now relish the prospect of the chase for Jack's 18 majors being back on … and some.

Many of those that place themselves in the "casual golf fan" category would have grabbed a cold beer, settled in an armchair and watched Woods notch another historic moment in his stellar, and often eventful career. Some of those may only watch golf when the Big Cat is in contention, but whether that's right or wrong is an argument for another day.

Like it or loathe it, golf needs a fit, healthy, happy and successful Tiger Woods. He's back, properly back, and sport as a whole will be better for it. The result of the 83rd Masters Tournament might prove to be one of the most seismic in history.

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