Love or Hate Him, Tiger Woods Still Draws Big Crowds To Tournaments

Todd KaufmannSenior Writer IApril 16, 2010

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 11:  Tiger Woods celebrates after a birdie putt on the 13th hole during the final round of the 2010 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 11, 2010 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

He made his return at the PGA Tour's version of the Super Bowl and they came. He'll make his next stop in Charlotte, NC for the Quail Hollow Championship, one stop before The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, and believe me, they'll still come.

Tiger Woods is still the man that everyone comes to watch at any tournament he plays in. They come to see what he'll do next, and they come to see arguably one of the best golfers in the sport's history. Well, at least of my generation.

The last six months of his life have probably been the worst he's ever been through. They've been full of unanswered questions, heartache, a promising career crumbling around him, and a broken marriage. Only thing is, these were all of his own doing. He's got no one else to blame but himself.

He made the conscious decision to sleep with that many women, he made the conscious decision to spend that time with other women instead of going home and being a husband and a father.

You see, there are more important things in life that Tiger never realized. Whether it be the fact that he didn't understand where his priorities should be, or maybe it was just the fact that he didn't care. Whatever the problem was, these are all things that Tiger will have to deal with for the remainder of his life. These past six months have defined him as a person.

However, when he's on the golf course, his miraculous shots and unbelievable talent define him as an athlete. He is the Michael Jordan of the sport. Fans that would never watch a golf tournament before Tiger came on to the scene in 1998, now make sure they get to see this man in person.

While most would argue that the galleries would be just as big without Tiger playing in the tournament for no other reason than it is the Masters, and it is arguably the country's most famous course, I tend to disagree.

When Tiger is on the course, he has everyone's attention, including the players around him. They watch the leader board, hoping the roars they hear around the course aren't for Tiger making his usual run to the top. Don't think his fellow players aren't taking that extra glance at the leader board, or they aren't asking their caddies where Tiger is and how he's doing.

Most of us that were fans of the game, or played the game, long before this phenom came on the scene will still attend or watch a tournament for guys like Fred Couples, Ernie Els, and Tom Watson just to name a few. I grew up watching Fred Couples and he was a favorite of my late grandfather. For that alone, his memory will always be attached every time I watch Fred play.

I rooted for Watson, I wondered if Els would step up, and I've quickly become a fan of young Anthony Kim.

Make no mistake that there are other golfers out there that a lot of fans watch, not just Tiger. There were those of us that were excited to see Phil Mickelson win his third green jacket, and we were amazed at the back-to-back eagles on Saturday, not to mention a near third straight eagle.

We still have our favorites that we root for, but whether we love him or hate him, we still take a glance to see where Tiger is. It doesn't matter if we're rooting for him to lose or even fall flat on his face, we'll still look.

That's the kind of influence he has on the game. That's what he's done to the PGA Tour. He's brought more fans to the game, and more people have picked up the game because they've seen him play.

When Tiger finished at the Masters, he said he was going to take some time off and reevaluate things. Apparently, he didn't need long to evaluate anything, as he decided less than a week after his final round at Augusta that he would play in Charlotte at Quail Hollow.

As soon as that announcement was made, you can bet there were people clambering for tickets to the event to make sure they were there to possibly see what they've never seen before, but do so in person.

This is the "Tiger effect" on the PGA Tour. He brings people to the game and to the tournaments. It's the same reason visiting ballparks sold out to see Barry Bonds. While most of us outside of San Francisco hated the guy, we still wanted to see him, to show our displeasure, but somewhere in the back of our minds, we wanted to see history take place.

Tiger is only human, he's no different from any of us that play, enjoy, and have a love for the game of golf. There are those that may disagree with me and some that may say he is a "role model," but we'll have to agree to disagree on that point as well.

He made mistakes, he did things he shouldn't have, and it's going to cost him dearly. Not only has he lost the respect of fans, sponsors, and fellow players alike, but he'll have to explain all of this to his children one day. He'll have to answer the question as to why he and Elin are no longer together. The answer, "that's private," won't be an option then.

Whether we'll see the same Tiger we've seen over the years will probably go unanswered for quite some time. His focus won't be the same, his reactions won't be the same, and his personality won't be the same. No one goes back to being the person they were, publicly or privately, after these kind of life changing events.

But, besides all that, Tiger will still draw crowds to whatever tournament he decides to play in. They won't all be there to cheer him, by all rights most may be there to jeer him or try to discourage him, but they'll still come.

Because regardless of what he's done, he's still Tiger Woods, right?

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