A story broke in the world of tennis this afternoon: tennis great Roger Federer was withdrawing from the Paris Masters Tournament one day before his opening-round match.
Why does this matter to the golf world?
Well groups of fuming tennis officials have promised to start taking the necessary steps to make sure that tennis stars like Federer don’t have the chance to pull out of tournaments they headline because they’re fatigued ever again.
It’s one of many problems the tennis world has had recently with stars such as Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Andy Roddick deciding to leave with little notice. Until just recently, the problem was only hurting the tennis world; however, that was before the golfers on the PGA Tour decided to hop into a new problem that is leaving sponsors and officials wondering what they can do to stop players such as Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, in the PGA’s case, from not keeping their word.
Last year Phil Mickelson made headlines at the end of the season for all the wrong reasons. Lefty, a favorite of many fans, decided a week prior to the season-ending Tour Championship that he wasn’t going to be participating in the prestigious event.
It wasn’t a surprise this season when Mickelson again decided to shut down his game after the Ryder Cup and forego the Tour Championship. Mickelson missing the Championship wasn’t a big loss for the event that boasts the top 30 money winners on Tour. But that was before Tiger Woods decided to pull his version of a Roger Federer and skip the big event.
And what was his reason for skipping the event? Try the same reason every athlete has given lately: fatigue.
The loss of Mickelson was going to be a substantial one to ABC’s television numbers on Saturday, but with the loss of Woods now, ABC might as well consider this another regular Tour event.
While ABC will suffer with television ratings all week without two of the top three golfers in the world, television won’t be the one that gets hit the worst – you can leave that title to the PGA Tour.
Few people know it, but television ratings are just a small portion of how the Tour makes money. They also make revenue from the tickets they sell to their events, as well as the merchandise and vendor food that is purchased throughout the week.
Think about the pandemonium that goes through a city the week before an event with Tiger Woods in the field. You have the local media, national media, booked hotels, and rabid fans who want nothing more than a glimpse of the greatest player in the world.
The fact of the matter is, is that without Mickelson and Woods, the Tour is left with a semi-warm product few want to watch.
If you want a real answer as to the impact of Woods, try asking Britain how popular he was. Woods alone during the British Open and WGC Championship helped the national economy increase almost $317 million during his time in Britain.
That is a number that major tournaments like the Tour Championship can’t afford not to have. Not only is the field only 30 players, but without two of the worlds best, you leave yourself in a very bad position.
Say all you want about it being OK for golfer and tennis players like Woods and Federer to pull out of events when they please; but it you think that their impact on the event isn’t astronomical, well then you better think again.
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