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Is Golf Irrelevant Without Tiger?

8 Starts, only 48% of Rounds Under Par, 1 Top 10 Finish and ZERO Top 5's Yes that's Tigers 2011 Record so very good especially by his standards but that's just 's Tiger if it were anyone else the answer would be a no-brainer.

Maybe we need to go back to the Golf's beginning but Tiger's. That would be the 1997 Masters where he won by 12 strokes, with one of the best golf swings I have ever seen. How many people became Golf (insert Tiger) Fans that Sunday? They stayed tuned in because he consistently took his game & the game of golf to the next level. Nike who didn't even have a Golf Ball endorsed him in 1996 for $40m along with $20m from Titleist, unheard of sums of money especially to a Player who had just joined the Tour. He made headlines then and is still making them 15 years later.

Unlike the NFL I don't think there are many "avid" golf fans ie will watch almost any game for many different reasons, or will plan their weekend/evening around the game, let's face it many are Tiger fans or Phil fans who don't tune in unless these guys are in contention, just ask the TV Networks or more importantly the Advertisers. Golf is just not that kind of game where you can't watch the round if you know the score unless it's the Masters or the US Open many people will simply DVR it and watch it later if at all.

Even as we get ready for the "almost Major" the TPC this weekend the buzz is around Tiger be it the fact that he is playing (just announced today) OR the unflattering comments made by Bubba Watson (rarely in the news for his play) about Tiger. On a side why is the Press asking player's at last week's Wells Fargo Tourney what they think is wrong with Tiger, again the focus shifts from GOLF to TIGER.

Most players will agree that he has revolutionized the game with his stellar play and his ability to pull-off amazing shots not to mention his ability to increase Purses to the insane (vs the LPGA ) levels they are today and of course there are the huge endorsement deals. You could liken Tiger to Bill Gates both have helped make many millionaires around them Bill in software and Tiger in Golf because without him Purses would not be anywhere near current levels, for instance assuming most majors keep their purses near the same as last year the total for 2011 will be $288m! Breaking that down a top ten golfer between 1996-2000 earned just under $2.2m, the Purse at next week's TPC is $9.5m with the winner receiving around $2m. That has led some to say that Tiger could start a competing Tour " T3 The Tiger Tour" arguing that the Networks, Players and endorses would follow....interesting thought.

I don't believe anyone is BIGGER than their sport but there are a few athletes Michael Jordan comes to mind that become the sport ie people watch them first and their sport second, and I think that is where we are with Tiger. Unless other players can step up their game consistently Golf is in a very precarious position as the casual fan & Tiger fan will simply stop watching unless there is something compelling happening, case in point how many people were riveted last week watching the potential Rules violation by Padraig vs the asking?