By Nick Harris
16 March 2010
Tiger Woods’ return to competitive golf on 8 April at The Masters, confirmed today on the player’s website, will be greeted with relief by TV companies anticipating record viewing figures, but it has yet to have a discernible effect on ticket prices on the secondary market.
Woods is the highest earning sportsman in history and widely regarded as the most naturally talented player of all time, but he hasn’t hit a ball in competition since winning in Australia in November.
The 34-year-old’s private life descended into chaos late last year, and his much anticipated return will be one of the most scrutinised events of 2010. But while The Augusta National Golf Club has already been inundated with extra requests for media accreditations – all of which will be politely declined – a public scramble to see Tiger’s re-appearance has yet to materialise.
“If there was going to be a mad rush for tickets, we think we would have seen it already but it’s pretty flat,” said a broker at one major American ticket agency.
All tickets from official sources have been sold out for months, meaning secondary market tickets and corporate packages are the only way to get in now. But there has been no surge of interest, yet.
Sportingintelligence surveyed a random sample of ticket brokers operating in the UK and in the US after news of Woods’ return was announced, and has found one-day passes available as cheaply as $300, plus a $53 booking fee – for a total of $353, or £232 – for the final day’s play at The Augusta National on Sunday 12 April.
That was the single cheapest deal. Four-day packages are typically available in the $2,500 to $4,000 bracket, but the salient point is there has been no rise as a result of Woods’ confirmed involvement.
UK-based golf fans can still find deals available with authorised travel firms ranging from £2,749 for two days’ play (flights and hotels included) to £4,595 for the entire tournament. Again these prices are static.
Woods’ return will certainly be welcomed by broadcasters: his participation could double ratings in “ordinary” circumstances, let alone at a time when he is arguably the most scrutinised person on the planet.
Woods said in a statement on his website: “The Masters is where I won my first major, and I view this tournament with great respect. After a long and necessary time away from the game, I feel like I’m ready to start my season at Augusta.
“The major championships have always been a special focus in my career and, as a professional, I think Augusta is where I need to be, even though it’s been awhile since I last played.
“I have undergone almost two months of inpatient therapy, and I am continuing my treatment. Although I’m returning to competition, I still have a lot of work to do in my personal life.
“When I finally got into a position to think about competitive golf again, it became apparent to me that the Masters would be the earliest I could play. I called both Joe Lewis and Arnold Palmer and expressed my regrets for not attending the Tavistock Cup and the Arnold Palmer Invitational. I again want to thank them both for their support and their understanding. Those are fantastic tournaments, and I look forward to competing in them again.
“I would also like to thank the Augusta National members and staff for their support. I have deep appreciation for everything that they do to create a wonderful event for the benefit of the game.”