Tiger Effect kicks into high gear for golf; NBC does big rating Sunday

I’m saying it: Tiger Woods is back. When you win 5 of the last 19 tournaments you entered, you’re back.

Now Woods might not be back-squared until he wins a major, but there is no denying that Woods is poised to have a big year. I mean, Woods took only 100 putts for 4 rounds. That’s insane. Sunday’s victory definitely put the buzz meter in overdrive for the Masters.

Once again, the ratings showed the Tiger Effect. NBC did a 4.4 overnight rating for Sunday’s final round in the WGC-Cadillac Championship. That was a nifty 42 percent increase over 2012, and the best Sunday for the event since 2006. It also was the same rating for Fox’s coverage of Kobolt Tools 400.

Only Woods can put golf on par with NASCAR.

No offense to Michael Thompson, winner of the Honda Classic, or any of the other lesser names who manage to win a PGA Tour event, but having Woods in the lead just elevates everything to a much higher level. Few athletes move the needle more than he does.

Bob Harig of ESPN.com offered this perspective of Woods’ game:

He won for the fifth time in 50 weeks, the second time in 2013 and narrowed the gap on No. 1 Rory McIlroy in the Official World Golf Rankings.

And let’s not get into the most ridiculous question in golf: Is he back?

Back to what? Woods is 37, and while he admirably talks about trying to be better than ever and is wired in a way that elite performers must be, those mortals among us must realistically acknowledge that such comparisons are unfair.

Who, in sports, is better at age 37 than 27? Do we really think he is going to duplicate the feats of 2000, when he won three majors (something accomplished only once prior in the game’s modern history)? And are we going to call him a failure if he doesn’t?

And yet, Woods might again be the best in the world.

“He’s been playing like this for quite some time,” acknowledged longtime rival Phil Mickelson, who tried to make a run at Doral but finished 5 strokes back in a tie for third. “All last year and this year now. He’s pretty strong. Playing at a pretty high level week in and week out it seems like.”

Also, on a side note, Rory McIlroy looked like Rory McIlroy again with a 65 Sunday, his best round of the year. If he rounds back into form, coupled with Woods’ strong play, it could be an exciting period for golf. To which NBC, CBS, and the Golf Channel say, thank you.





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