January 25, 2010

The Tiger Woods effect hits the PGA in the pocketbook

Filed under: Media, Sports — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 12:36

Tiger Woods may be invisible at the moment, but the public reaction to his troubles appears to be contributing to further financial trouble for the PGA:

The troubles facing the professional-golf tour without Tiger Woods will be on display when the annual tournament tees off at the Torrey Pines course in San Diego this week: Ticket sales are down, fewer hospitality tents have been sold, and the title sponsor had to be lured with a cut-rate price.

It is a harbinger of what the PGA Tour may be without its most popular player. Three of the Tour’s 46 tournaments scheduled for 2010 don’t have a lead corporate sponsor, nor do 13 of next year’s tournaments. Television viewership of the first two events of this year’s Tour tumbled.

In past years, Mr. Woods, the game’s most popular player, usually skipped the first three tournaments and began play on the San Diego tournament’s seaside course, perched on scenic cliffs overlooking the Pacific. As Mr. Woods’s opener, San Diego became one of the highest-profile early events of each PGA Tour season. This year, Mr. Woods, caught up in a sex scandal, is on leave from the game, with no word on when he will return. Without his unmatched star power, the value of Tour sponsorships, through which companies cover most tournament prizes, could be sharply lower. And without a rich flow of cash from those sponsorships, the PGA Tour’s economic model is cracked.

This shows the danger inherent in having a single, iconic representative. If the icon stumbles, it has a severe knock-on effect.

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