There was a headline that stopped me in my tracks. "Tiger Woods has back surgery, will miss the Masters."
Right away it started to set in. This could be the end of the Tiger we cheered for. The Tiger that made us all fist pump after a great putt.
It could be the end of golf as we know it.
This announcement is equally painful for CBS Sports executives. Their coverage of the Masters just took a major hit.
Seeing Woods and his powerful swing decay has not been easy to watch. At age 32, it was almost a sure thing that he would catch Jack Nicklaus with 18 major wins. Now six years later, Tiger remains four short, and the record is a universe away.
Golf has a major problem. It has stars, but it doesn't have the "star power" to be the talk around the coffee pot Monday morning with the entire office.
We've seen this before.
The NBA still hasn't recovered from Michael Jordan leaving the court. The 1998 finals, Jordan's last, NBC got an 18-point rating. It's never been close to that. In fact, three years later with ratings sinking, NBC gave up on the NBA. It hasn't done any better on ABC.
Last year's Masters went to a sudden death playoff, but ratings were 22 percent lower than the previous year when Tiger was stalking the lead.
There are still good stories to be told, but if Tiger's not the one writing history, the casual viewer won't watch. Someday Tiger will heal. But if he's not playing, I'm not sure the game will.
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