A flurry of sponsorship deals in 2013-15 placed Tiger Woods in the £1.25m-a-year slums of the sport’s wealthy elite, even as he returned to the top of the sport. But the 41-year-old is poised to become one of the true financial forces again after signing on as the star attraction at a golf tournament in December.
While the $5m events featured half the world’s top 100 golfers, they were so large – usually round four hours long – that many would be entirely unsuitable for a man of Woods’ size and game. At better courses, though, the prize money has been generous. In 2012 the ASB Classic in New Zealand had a winner-take-all purse of $9,000, and Woods played the first two rounds of that tournament on a medical exemption.
The event was just one of a series of small tournaments staged in New Zealand by Richard Power, the only television network to show the world’s premier athletes. The following week, Tiger made his New Zealand TV debut. He set the 72-hole course record – of 64 – and teamed up with Steve Williams to take the team’s fourball title. “It was my first time seeing Tiger Woods tee off in an international tournament, so to have him on our team was a pretty fantastic achievement,” Williams said in a report.
Others players and sponsors had included Muirfield Village and Congressional in the US and Wanchai Golf Club and Shenzhen Golf Club in China.
In December, Woods will play the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii, an event featuring the best players from the last five years of PGA Tour money lists.
“This is one of the best golf events in the world, and I will be ready when the tournament comes around again. We’ll see how I’m feeling come December,” he said.
Woods is one of three major winners to return to competing after a gap of more than a year – Phil Mickelson (the British Open) and Ernie Els (the PGA Championship). Only Tiger (2001) has won more PGA tournaments after a gap of more than a year.