When Tiger Woods Caused Viewing Figures To Skyrocket At The Valspar Championship

The former World.No 1 added the Valspar Championship to his schedule six years ago - and it caused quite a ratings boost

Tiger Woods Valspar 2018
Tiger Woods in action at the 2018 Valspar Championship
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When Tiger Woods burst onto the scene as a professional in the mid 1990s, viewing figures were transformed. In the modern era, no one had had the power to affect audiences like the 15-time Major winner. He was, and still is, box office.

Woods has missed many a tournament throughout his career as a result of injury, which has been the nightmare scenario for broadcasters and sponsors. One particular event six years ago showed the power of the ‘Tiger Effect’.

Rewind the clock to early March 2018, and the American was searching for his first victory since 2013. Various injuries had been troubling Woods, and in April 2017, the-then 42-year-old underwent lower right back fusion surgery.

In January the following year, he made his long-awaited return to full-field PGA Tour events. A tied 23rd finish at the Farmers Insurance Open suggested that he was still very much capable of challenging for titles, and there was a certain tournament at Augusta National just around the corner.

Still, he needed “reps”, a phrase Woods has used many times throughout his injury-plagued career.

So, in an effort to get his game in shape for the Masters, Woods opted to play the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club in Palm Harbor, Florida, a tournament that he hadn’t played in before.

Tiger Woods 2018 Valspar Championship

Tiger Woods is the player everyone wants to see in action at the 2018 Valspar Championship 

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Fans have always been eager to know when and where Woods will be teeing it up, and his decision to play the Valspar for the first time caused a lot of excitement, not least for the PGA Tour and its sponsors.

“To be honest with you, I only got two rounds in in LA [2018 Genesis Open] missed the cut there,” he said, when asked why he had chosen to add the tournament to his schedule.

“After playing Honda and really feeling good about it, I wanted to push myself in my practice sessions, which I did, pushed myself in the gym a little bit and I can handle two weeks in a row.

“I did it in LA, I did it in Honda even though I didn't play four rounds at L.A, but I got in two and I can handle two weeks in a row. So that's one of the reasons why I'm here.”

With rounds of 70, 68, 67 and 70, Woods ended up finishing in a tie for second, and the man wearing his Sunday red gave NBC and Valspar a massive boost. In fact, it drew the largest television audience for any non-Masters event since the 2015 PGA Championship.

It was also the highest network television audience for a non-Major since the 2013 Players Championship, which was won by Woods.

There will be no such boost for Valspar this week. Woods has played just one tournament so far this year, the Genesis Invitational, an event he was forced to withdraw from after suffering back spasms and flu like symptoms.

Michael Weston
Contributing editor

Michael has been with Golf Monthly since 2008. As a multimedia journalist, he has also worked for The Football Association, where he created content to support the men's European Championships, The FA Cup, London 2012, and FA Women's Super League. As content editor at Foremost Golf, Michael worked closely with golf's biggest equipment manufacturers, and has developed an in-depth knowledge of this side of the industry. He's now a regular contributor, covering instruction, equipment and feature content. Michael has interviewed many of the game's biggest stars, including six world number ones, and has attended and reported on many Major Championships and Ryder Cups. He's a member of Formby Golf Club.