Tiger Woods: Just How Badly Does Golf Need Him Back on the Leaderboard?

John BurkeContributor IJune 9, 2011

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 05:  Tiger Woods speaks to the media during a press conference during a practice round prior to the 2011 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 5, 2011 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

The game was around long before a young kid named Tiger Woods burst onto the scene. And there is no doubt it will be around for a long time after Tiger's days are done. 

With that said, the PGA Tour thrives with Tiger. It will survive without him. But there is a big difference between surviving and thriving. 

Tiger brings unprecedented attention to the game.

The huge purses? The seemingly never-ending supply of sponsors? The fans who come out to every event?

Tiger is a big reason.

In 1996, Robert Gamez finished 125th on the money list, making just over $314,000. Pretty good living, right?

Fast forward 15 years. Last year, Webb Simpson finished 125th on the money list. In the process, Simpson made over $650,000.

While not the only factor, Tiger is a HUGE factor purses and earnings have doubled.

Lets face it: Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar and Steve Stricker are all great players. But if you think they bring the attention Tiger brings to the game, you are dead wrong. 

People turn on the TV when Tiger plays, people turn off their TV and go play themselves when these other guys are in the hunt. 

Even with Tiger's "transgressions," people are still interested. Heck, they even be more interested. 

From here on out, you will have two types of fans tune in to watch golf. 

First, there will be those that are "Tiger Woods fans." These are the guys that want Tiger to do well. The guys still cheer for him like nothing has changed. 

Then, there are the "golf fans." These are the guys who cheer against Tiger. The guys who hate it when he does well.

When Tiger announces he will play in a tournament now, all of these fans will tune in. In the process, they boost ratings, bring more money to the game and allow these guys to make putts for crazy money.

The reason?

You guessed it, Tiger Woods.

Sure, the game and tour will survive without Tiger. There is no doubt about that. 

But I want golf to thrive. And for that to happen, golf needs Tiger.