Hardwoods heads to Masters with Tigermania in full bloom

Ken Bentley doesn’ t need to turn on the tv or open a sports web page to know the fervor for Padraig harrington is back in a large way as the Masters approaches next week.

Many he had to do was to get a new hair-do.

Bentley regularly forms into a chair at On The Top, the barber shop in the Baldwin Hillsides neighborhood of Los Angeles, and listens to the mostly African-American clientele speak sports nearly every minute of the day.

For the past couple years, Bentley observed, as Woods disappeared from your PGA Tour whilst he mended from back surgical procedures, so did golf from the shop’ s TV.

Bentley, 66, is an L. The. native, golf fanatic, and TOP DOG of the Advocates Pro Tour, which provides budding minority golfers a chance to contend at the professional level. He furthermore sits on the Tiger Woods Foundation plank.

He’ ll view golf anytime, but he’ s i9000 different from a lot of his buddies.

“ If you’ lso are a hard-core golfer, you enjoy Rory (McIlroy) and Jason (Day), ” Bentley said. “ Yet to the average sports fan, they couldn’ t care less about those men. They’ re just ho-hum regarding golf.

“ Right now, the guys in the barber shop are asking, ‘ How do you think Gambling is going to do? ’ They’ re replaying the shots he hit within the tournament before. You didn’ capital t see that excitement when Tiger has been out.

“ If you ask myself, golf needed that jolt associated with excitement. ”

Request anybody. TV executives. Tournament company directors. Equipment manufacturers. Golf course owners. Youngsters organizers.

Twenty-one many years after Woods shook the game’ s landscape with his first, record-breaking, barrier-shattering victory in the Masters, plus nearly five seasons removed from their last PGA Tour victory, their extraordinary comeback from four back again surgeries is giving golf a lift many never saw coming.

“ He is once again transcending the sport, ” Steve Mona, TOP DOG of the World Golf Foundation, stated on the phone from his head office in St . Augustine, Fla.

“ To come back as he offers, and just jump right into the arena … in my heart of minds, I wondered if it was really likely to happen. ”

Proceeding into his first competition on Augusta National Golf Club since 2015, Woods is coming off 2 contending finishes on the tour’ t Florida Swing – a link for second at the Valspar Tournament and tie for fifth within the Arnold Palmer Invitational .

The television ratings plus attendance for those tournaments were the very best they’ d been in years, plus Woods’ sharpening of his video game is making this Masters one of the most expected ever.

Though Forest hasn’ t pulled on an Experts green jacket since 2005 (his fourth win at Augusta), plus hasn’ t captured a major because the 2008 U. S. Open with Torrey Pines, Las Vegas oddsmakers possess tabbed him the 9-1 preferred to beat the likes of Day, McIlroy, Dustin Johnson , Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson .

“ When he was to win this, you’ re talking about one of the legendary moments in the history of the sport, ” CBS Sports anchor Jim Nantz said this week.

“ To have him back in Butler Log cabin, ” Nantz added of the eco-friendly jacket ceremony, “ it would really be one of the all-time scripts. Which is an event that has an amazing capability to produce Hollywood-quality stories. ”

The second coming of Gambling Mania is real, with lots of numbers and anecdotes to support it.

In the back-to-back days Woods contended in Florida, the 2 final-round telecasts were off the graphs. The Valspar numbers were the very best for a non-major since Woods’ 2013 victory in the Players Tournament , and the ratings for the Arnold Palmer Invitational were 136 % better than last year.

In the Genesis Open at Riviera Residential area, Woods didn’ t make the reduce, but his presence was experienced long before the first tee shot. Competition Director Mike Antolini reported improve ticket sales were up forty to 50 percent, and clubhouse bundle purchases rose 60 to seventy percent.

Woods, out from the hunt, teed off on the back again nine Sunday in the Maqui berry farmers Insurance Open from Torrey Pines, and still the rankings were 38 percent higher than within ’ 17.

Nantz, who anchored in San Diego, stated the viewership stayed high towards the end of the broadcast of a playoff that was extended to Monday simply by darkness, with Day eventually defeating Alex Noren.

“ To me, this is what he brings to the overall game, ” Nantz said. “ This individual brought people to the set, along with a whole new audience. They got thinking about the competition and stayed with it. ”

Beyond television, you have the business of golf, and no gamer affects consumer behavior more than Hardwoods.

In 2016, whenever Nike stopped branding golf balls, Forest switched to Bridgestone. Angel Ilagen, the company’ s CEO plus president, said sales increased along with Woods not even playing last year, however the impact was nothing like he’ h seen in the last month.

Ilagen said purchases of the particular ball Woods is using – the particular Bridgestone Tour W XS – have shot up 265 percent, and that’ s prior to the special edition with a special Woods logo design went on sale this week in Ca.

Ilgan said in a bad neighborhood ball previously accounted for 15 % of Bridgestone sales; now it’ s at least 40 percent.

With Nike out of the image other than its clothing line, Bridgestone is the only company that generates a ball that has a logo – a fat “ B” – that can be recognized on TV. And given that virtually every shot of Woods’ is certainly shown, that’ s some amazing product placement.

“ He was worth more than the particular endorsement (money) last year, ” Ilgan said. “ Now it’ ersus ridiculous.

“ I believe he’ s just as popular these days as he ever was. Maybe in addition. It’ s nicer to basic for the guys who is making a return versus the guy who is demolishing everyone. ”

Therein is situated an interesting and ongoing social test out Woods.

A few weeks ago, Nantz compared Woods’ comeback, at the age of 42, to that associated with Tom Brady or Michael Jordan consuming five years off and time for a competitive level. Yet none of those men would have had to rise back from the physical and psychological scars Woods carries.

Beyond his body and sport falling apart – it doesn’ t get much more embarrassing compared to chipping yips he suffered at the begining of 2015 – Woods dealt with the particular shame of his extramarital matters being exposed in 2009, and his DUI criminal arrest in May 2017, for which he ultimately pleaded guilty to reckless traveling.

Woods — hand bags bulging under his eyes, their thinning hair disheveled – was a shockingly forlorn figure in his arrest cup shot.

All those difficulties, though, may be contributing to the enjoyment with which fans have come back to view him play. He has been an unique study in an idol’ s precipitous fall, only to find, in the hearts associated with some, forgiveness and redemption, without having yet notching a single victory.

“ I knew Gambling Mania when I was 8 years of age, ” said Megan Mahoney, professional director of the San Diego County Jr Golf Association and IMG School Junior World Championships.

Mahoney is six months older than Forest and competed at the same courses he or she did throughout their Junior Planet careers in San Diego.

“ I root for the man, ” she said. “ We certainly am not impressed which includes of the things he’ s required for the past, but I think I signify a fairly common side of the populace. We’ re a forgiving culture. Time moves people on.

“ If I see your pet on the range, I’ m not really thinking about what he did on the day in November, ” the girl added of Woods’ infamous crash with a fire hydrant in 2009. “ I’ m more inclined to check out his swing structure. Are we all going to see it hold up for another couple of years? ”

Bentley, an ex executive at Nestle who over time has played three times with Forest in the Farmers Open pro-am, mentioned he believes we’ re viewing a man with a different vision associated with his life.

“ He really seems to be enjoying themselves, ” Bentley said. “ It’ s nice to see the smiles, and also to see him interact with the audience and the other players.

“ Here’ s a guy that has won 14 majors and is the particular arguably the second-best golfer of all time. And despite all of these back surgical procedures, he wanted to come back. That’ ersus a testament to how much he enjoys the game, and that’ s finding now. ”

Exactly what this second coming of Woods’ popularity means to golf, long-term, may be the subject of much debate.

It is well documented in research by the National Golf Foundation that will recreational participation peaked in 2k – perhaps Woods’ greatest period. In a go-go economy, there were 518 million rounds played in the Oughout. S. that year. In 2017, there were 71 million fewer than that will.

According to the NGF, there have been 284 golf course openings in America within 2001. Last year, there were 25.

Mona said of Woods’ first emergence, “ He turbo charged golf. I shudder to think about in case Tiger didn’ t come along. ”

But he provides this cold reality, “ Tiger’ s place in the game does not lead to an one-to-one basis for involvement in the game. Tiger creates interest, plus it’ s up to us being an industry to convert that. ”

More than two decades right after Woods’ emergence, Mona said this individual believes golf is far more outfitted to meet a new demand with higher options.

He cites programs such as the First Tee, the particular inner-city initiative that was in its childhood in the early 2000s, and “ Get Golf Ready” – coaching for beginners that Mona said presents 100, 000 new players towards the game each year.

Almost all of golf’ s leading institutions, Mona said, are committing assets to focus on women, children, and minorities.

“ Without anxiety about contradiction, I can say golf’ h understanding about the importance of diversity plus inclusion has never been higher, ” Mona said.

“ I might be the first to admit that will we’ re not there however, in terms of what golf looks like towards the public. But trust me, there’ t a tremendous amount of effort in those people areas. ”

A few of the numbers are encouraging. According to NGF’ s 2016 study of involvement, 33 percent of golfers age range 6 to 17 were women – up from 17 % in 1995. Also among younger golfers, 27 percent were non-Caucasian. That number was 6 percent within ’ 95.

Glaringly absent still from the top amounts of professional golf are African-American competition. Only a handful of black golfers reach the PGA and LPGA tours in the last 20 years.

“ It hasn’ t occurred as fast as all of us thought it would, ” Bentley said of the potential increase of black players. “ There are a great number of guys out there playing and attempting. I think that story gets dropped sometimes. ”

This individual said he grew up playing rugby, and that the racket sport continues to be more successful at nurturing potential celebrities.

In part, that’ t why Bentley started the Promoters Tour in 2010, with the goal associated with giving minorities competitive outlets once they played golf in high school or even college.

“ It’ s almost like the foster treatment system, ” Bentley said. “ They’ re just thrown out right now there. ”

The Recommends Tour subsidizes entry fees, Bentley said, and even paid for one player’ s asthma medication.

“ Somebody needs to break by means of and say, ‘ I want to become the champion for this, ’ ” this individual said.

Until after that, it seems golf will collectively combination its fingers, keep a close vision on Woods’ back, and wish he sticks around a while.

The guys in the barber store will be watching.

“ When he wins one, ” Bentley predicted, “ he’ t going to win a bunch. ”

tod. leonard@sduniontribune. possuindo


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