Tiger Woods isn’t playing in this week’s U.S. Open at Brookline Country Club outside Boston, his battered right leg at the moment unable to withstand the rigors of major championship golf. But that doesn’t mean his presence won’t be seen and felt, in ways big and small, all across the sport, even as he sits at home.
A quarter-century after Woods’ seminal breakthrough victory at the 1997 Masters, his effect and grip on the game remains enormous.
While Woods’ impact on golf is in many ways immeasurable, there are, however, a few that can be pinpointed. There is the entire generation of players he spawned — just one player in the top 10 of the World Ranking is above the age of 30, and that’s Rory McIlroy, who is 33 and grew up idolizing Woods. There are the tremendous riches that he has brought to the sport, his star power sending tournament purses and TV revenue to unforeseen levels. And then there is the one thing that he actually did not change: the color of the game.
Including Woods, there are only four black players (Harold Varner III, Cameron Champ, Joseph Bramlett are the others) on the PGA Tour, and there’s little sign of those demographics changing anytime soon.