Tiger Woods: Why We Still Should Root for Golf's Greatest

Marc RothContributor IIAugust 5, 2011

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 10:  Tiger Woods lines up a putt on the 13th hole during the final round of the 2011 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2011 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Even if you don't like golf, the person you think of when you hear the word "golf" is Tiger Woods.

Every person in this country knows who he is. He's a great golfer and a controversial person. If you don't respect him because of his off-the-course issues, then think again.

Tiger joined the PGA Tour in 1996, quickly becoming one of golf's best. He won PGA Player of the Year 10 times—five in a row from 1999-2003. Woods has collected $94,728,667 from playing. He's won 71 career events and played in 271—that means he's won 26.2 percent of the tournaments he's played in. At over 25 percent, he's won more than one out of every four tournaments played.

25 percent seems to be a common trend with Tiger. In 56 majors, he's won 14. That puts him second on the list of majors won, four behind Jack Nicklaus. If Woods were to continue his win-rate of 25 percent—one a year—for the next four years, he'd be tied with The Golden Bear for the most majors, ever.

Nicklaus won his 18th, and last, major at 46 years, 2 months and 23 days old. Tiger won his most recent major at 32 years, 6 months and 16 days old, three years and four days before Nicklaus did. If Tiger's win-rate slows down, which it inevitably will, he still has 11 years to tie, or beat, Nicklaus for the most majors ever won.

These statistics could be difficult to swallow all at once, but basically it all means that Tiger is really good at golf. He even won the 2008 US Open on one leg.

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However, in November of 2009, news broke about Tiger's numerous affairs. Mentally and physically, he has endured a lot through his career—first his father Earl Woods died in 2006, then he tore his ACL, had surgery, and double stress-fractured his leg, and lastly, his wife divorced him.

Recently, he went through physical therapy and fired caddy Steve Williams, and he says his health is no longer an issue.

Viewers watched golf just to watch Tiger. Millions of people waited to see what such a talented and exciting player was going to do next. Yet when controversies broke about his life off the course, people decided to look at him differently.

When Tiger took some time off from golf, viewership dropped by over 30%. Sales of EA Sports' Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 went down 50% to 60% worldwide since 2009, according to video game analyst David Cole. And now in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: Masters, he is not even on the cover—he was replaced by a picture of the Masters flag. How much more will sales drop now?

Clearly, Tiger doesn't just play golf, he is golf. By not playing, interest in professional golf goes down, TV networks take a hit and video games don't sell—Tiger is the "invisible hand" of the golf industry.

Remember Brett Favre? Or Kobe Bryant? And A-Rod? They're all still looked at as some of the greats and they've had some pretty embarrassing things exposed about them off the court or field. If Peyton Manning was found to be cheating on his wife, even though he will potentially be the best QB ever, would you not root for him anymore?

Remember, what he does in his private life does not have any reflection on his stats and how he can be the greatest to ever play golf. If he hasn't done anything personal to you, and you used to be a Tiger fan, then why aren't you anymore?