PGA Faces Life Without Tiger
Tour forced to sell sponsorships at cut rates
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 25, 2010 5:16 PM CST
In this Aug. 6, 2006, file photo, Tiger Woods acknowledges the gallery on the 17th hole after his putt for par at the Buick Open at Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club in Grand Blanc, Mich.   (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

(Newser) – As the PGA Tour season gets under way, it has become painfully clear how important Tiger Woods has been to his sport. With the megastar conspicuously absent, the Tour has been struggling to sell sponsorships and attract ratings. Three of this year's events still lack a corporate sponsor, and the Tour has secured as many as it has only by slashing prices. "It's a fairly tough conversation for the PGA Tour right now," says one insider. "Maybe the marketplace doesn't allow for million-dollar first prizes anymore."

Ratings for the first two Tour events have been sharply off from previous years' numbers. Tiger's absence highlights the fact that his star power has kept the Tour in good fortune despite declining overall interest in golf, the Wall Street Journal reports. Woods attracted blockbuster ratings, but overall audiences, and the number of Americans actually playing golf, have fallen during his prime.