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.
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