Tiger Woods’ comeback shows why golf on social media is a perfect storm

“I think a lot of people quickly forgot what he had accomplished in his career as he got injured and he was out for a while,” Jason Day said about Tiger Woods this week. “That’s just golf and that’s just life. Everyone lives fast now. Everyone wants instant gratification. That’s just how the world works.”

As the Masters comes into clear view, with tee-off this Thursday, the most traditional of golf’s majors will take place at a time when the sport is experiencing the full force of modern hype with an intensity which is new to the sport.

The return of Tiger Woods isn’t the only reason for it. Phil Mickelson is back to winning ways, whilst Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose and Jon Rahm are just some of the names leading a bloated and in-form cast of talent into what is without doubt the most eagerly anticipated golf tournament in years – perhaps ever.

And yet despite all of the other big names and the excitement which is generated by the sheer plethora of sporting talent on show, the return of Tiger might well be the main reason for the hype.

Maybe it’s because, in the social media age, Tiger Woods has rarely been the very best.

Since Twitter added vowels to its name and became its own standalone company, Woods has won four majors – between 2006 and 2008 – but the real power of social media to sport came after that. When smartphones could record and upload photos and videos in real time, when one stunning shot could be seen around the world, and when everyone wanted to show off to their friends and family, that’s when it really took off.

Now that Woods is back, golf’s greatest hype machine is now challenging at the top of leaderboards right when his ability to be hyped has never been greater.

Woods has yet to win during this latest comeback. When he was in contention at the Valspar championship a few weeks ago, however, Jordan Spieth commented that the atmosphere was akin to that of a major. The crowds were out and they were there to see Tiger. Indeed, they were there to film and capture images of him, and display their content as trophies on Instagram.

On the PGA Tour’s Twitter feed, you can follow the action more or less in real time with highlights clips posted just after each significant shot. Golf is a sport which lends itself to the social media age in a way that few might have thought. Even though a round can take four hours, each shot is a standalone piece which has the ability to thrill in good ways and bad. And it can be repackaged for social in an instant. It’ll only take 30 seconds to watch, too.

The latest Masters tournament this week could see the return of Tiger Woods to the top of a major leaderboard. What a way it would be to announce his comeback with victory in a major tournament he hasn’t won since 2005.

Woods hasn’t been there in the social media age. But with a triumph 13 years on from his last Green Jacket, Tiger could use the most traditional major of the year to propel the sport into thoroughly a modern frenzy. Even his mere presence has the potential to cause a Twitter storm.

About author

Chris McMullan
Chris McMullan 716 posts

Chris is a sports journalist and editor of Digital Sport - follow him on Twitter @CJMcMullan_

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