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Will anybody watch 2014 U.S. Open in golf without Tiger Woods playing?

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The 2014 U.S. Open in golf is taking place this week for the 114th time in its history, but will anybody be watching without Tiger Woods playing?

Tiger Woods is still recovering from back surgery he had on March 31, 2014, to repair a pinched nerve, and for the second time in his career (he also missed the 2011 Open due to injury) he is not playing in the U.S. Open.

Will anybody watch 2014 U.S. Open in golf without Tiger Woods playing?

The question will anybody watch the 2014 U.S. Open in golf without Tiger Woods playing is a facetious question. Of course some people will be watching the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst this week, but how many people will not be paying attention because of Tiger Woods' absence?

I've been a big golf fan since I was a kid in the 1970s, long before Tiger Woods came along. I've watched every U.S. Open in golf on TV since probably 1975, the year Tiger Woods was born. I will watch the 2014 U.S. Open for sure, and will keep watching the U.S. Open for years to come whether Tiger Woods is playing or not.

But there are many people, millions of people, who only watch golf because of Tiger Woods. Tiger has brought an incredible number of people into golf, even if only casually to watch him play on TV.

The TV ratings numbers completely back that up. Without Tiger Woods playing, the TV ratings for the 2014 Masters golf tournament plummeted to the lowest levels since 1993, before Tiger Woods was on the scene.

The ratings have not gotten any better since. The 2014 Players Championship, played in mid-May, drew just a 2.6 Sunday rating, the lowest rating for the tournament in 15 years. And the 2.6 rating was less than half the rating for the 2013 Players Championship (5.7), which Tiger Woods not only played in, he won.

Back in the mid-1990s, when Tiger Woods was just starting to play golf professionally, I was delivering USA Today papers to businesses, a hotel, and vending machines as a second job to earn extra money. After Tiger won the Masters in 1997, I sold every single paper I delivered the Monday morning after. So did most other USA Today vendors.

The USA Today noticed, and when the 1997 U.S. Open rolled around they gave all of us 30% more papers than usual. And we sold all of them too. The paper then started giving us 50% more papers than usual every time Tiger Woods played in a major, and we usually sold almost all of the extra papers.

All the other USA Today vendors and I used to cheer Tiger Woods like crazy because he was great for our business. I used to joke that if Tiger would just play in a major every week I would be able to retire in a few years. He had that big an impact on people's buying habits with the USA Today paper.

So will anybody be watching the 2014 U.S. Open in golf at Pinehurst this week without Tiger Woods playing? Some people will be watching, but it's a pretty good bet the U.S. Open will have the lowest TV ratings it has seen in many years without Tiger Woods teeing it up this week.

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