NEW YORK (
) -- In an interview
today, the PGA Tour Commissioner said that
leave of absence will not have a significant impact on its TV ratings and financial performance.
Case in point: Last year Woods was sitting on the sidelines of the game for most of the year, recovering from a knee surgery; and in that time, the PGA had a record year on "a lot of fronts," the commissioner, Tim Finchem said.
Among those fronts: the PGA had raised $125 million for charity and performed "quite well" even without Woods playing in the PGA's top tournaments. During the interview even he pointed to new star players the PGA Tour was able to bring in last year, including Anthony Kim and Camillo Villegas.
"As a matter of fact, the top six performing tournaments on the PGA Tour in terms of net revenue for charity, which is an indication of their financial strength -- Tiger hasn't played in any of those six in the last five years ... we can move forward without him," Finchem said.
Finchem said that he was going to announce some additional corporate sponsorships in a press conference today.
"Let me just make this point," Finchem told
"If you look at the cumulative audience that Nielsen measures in 2007, 2008 and 2009, it was 26 million per event of people tuning in in 2007; the same number in 2008 when Tiger was out half a year, and up some in 2009, where our ratings were up."
Still, despite the positive spin that Finchem is attempting to place on the loss of Woods, Finchem acknowledges that the world's number one golfer has been "a huge bonus" for the PGA because he's brought in so many "soft viewers."
Reports seem to indicate that Woods' absence and personal woes will cost the PGA Tour, television networks such as
, and merchandise vendors like
some $220 million or more in lost revenue, according to
Without him, tournament crowds could shrink by as much as 20% according to organizers; TV audience may drop by 50% according to Nielsen data; and TV advertising could fall by 40%, according to Aaron Cohen, chief media negotiating officer at New York-based ad agency Horizon Media Inc.,
-- Reported by Andrea Tse in New York
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