Tiger Woods has been on a comeback tour of sorts this golf season, but all that has been derailed with a 72 score so far at the Bridgestone Invitational.
This performance is troubling for his fans, but it's also bad for golf in general.
Anybody who watches a news broadcast or sports highlight show regularly can attest to the fact that golf tournaments get more airtime whenever Tiger Woods finishes near the top of a tournament leaderboard.
While the three tournament victories so far in 2012 are already the best result since 2009 for Woods, this kind of performance at Bridgestone almost should have been expected. Whenever Woods has finished in the top three of a tournament in 2012, the following performance at the next one has been disappointing.
After winning the Arnold Palmer invitational, Woods placed 40th in the Masters. After taking home the Memorial Tournament, he finished 21st at the U.S. Open. I could give a few more examples, but I think you get the point here.
That kind of inconsistency is a tease to the golf world. The sport saw a significant decrease in exposure and television ratings after Woods' two-year title drought in 2010 and 2011 and the PGA higher ups realize they need their big-name draw back on track.
This 2011 article by Mason Levinson of Bloomberg highlights the television audience drop PGA saw during its Championship tournament, which goes to show just how much the sport missed Woods.
The PGA Championship went down 14 percent in major-market television rating from 2010 to 2011, during which time Woods missed the cut and finished 28th over those two years.
The 2012 U.S. Open tournament saw a 29 percent increase from last year's tournament, in part due to the return to primetime. What also likely helped these ratings is the fact Woods entered this year's edition coming off a No. 1 finish at the Memorial.
Golf's television ratings simply do better when there's a chance Woods might be taking home a tournament title, so his current ranking of 45 at the Bridgestone doesn't help either player or sport.
People want to watch Woods, but only if he is relevant and in the title hunt. Golf doesn't want to see any more mid-20 or worse finishes for Woods, but that's what the sport is going to get this time around.
It should not surprise anyone if the remaining Bridgestone Invitational rounds see a ratings drop now that Woods is a non-factor for the championship crown.