Golf balls, shirts and tickets: The financial impact of Tiger’s Master’s win

Golf balls, shirts and tickets: The financial impact of Tiger’s Master’s win

When Tiger Woods raised his arms in victory Sunday at the Masters, he knew the financial gain he would take in personally. The winner’s share increased to $2.07 million, up from $1.98 million in 2018, a number that was easily quantifiable.

FILE – In this June 15, 2008, file photo, Tiger Woods celebrates with his caddie, Steve Williams, after sinking a birdie putt on the 18th green, forcing a playoff against Rocco Mediate, during the fourth round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines in San Diego. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara, File)

Sportsbooks across the country also knew the financial impact the incredible win would have on them. Benzinga.com reported that sportsbook William Hill saw its biggest golf loss ever with a bettor winning $1.19 million on an $85,000 bet. Bloomberg reported that Westgate SuperBook lost $100,000 on a bet and FanDuel Sportsbook paid out $3 million from the tournament.

However, as it has been with any Woods win in the past, the financial impact goes beyond himself and gambling to his title sponsors, the tournaments he plays in and the brands involved with those tournaments. Quantifying that is not as easily determined, especially as it comes in one of the most notable wins in recent years.

But some of those brands are already starting to see a boost from Woods’ historic comeback and Masters win, and it starts with how many people watched his victory. According to CBS, the final-round coverage and encore presentation was seen by 37.2 million viewers, a 41 percent increase from 2018’s live-only coverage.

Those broadcast numbers, combined with reach on social media, can help brands and sponsors associated with the Masters start to figure out a value associated with this specific win.

Brian Kim is the general manager at GumGum Sports, a company that works with brands and companies to quantify that exact value through use of computer vision technology. The company is able to measure ad equivalency by determining how long brands are showing up in footage clips across television and a large ecosystem on social media and equating that number to actual dollars.

Although GumGum hasn’t yet analyzed this year’s Masters numbers for its brands, Kim said the early numbers are staggering. He estimates the effect of Tiger winning to be north of $550 million at the bare minimum, a $100 million increase over last year’s victory by Patrick Reed, which was tracked by GumGum in 2018.

A data point Kim mentions as evidence of the increase in value is a small sample size that reveals what has happened across the board by looking at two tweets from the Masters’ official Twitter account.

The Masters tweets out video of the final putt from the champion each year. Reed’s winning putt from 2018 has been viewed 393,000 times.

The same video of Woods this year, as of Monday morning, has been viewed 7.85 million times.

“That’s the social effect of Tiger winning, and that type of effect, one, shows the power of social media,” Kim said. “And that they [people] will continually view it and tune in, and that becomes a lasting effect back to brands on the value that they’re actually getting in return.”

In that particular tweet, Woods is seen rolling in his Bridgestone Tour B XS golf ball, one of his title sponsors who has also gained from the wave of excitement brought on by Tiger’s win.

The company doesn’t yet know whether its exposure in the Masters and with Woods will translate to long-term sales, but it is anticipating increases based on the consumer interest displayed already.

“We’re seeing, across the board, interest in stocking up on Tiger Woods’ golf ball,” Bridgestone president Dan Murphy said. “So we’re pretty excited to see the order bank starting to increase. I’d say for the specific models that [Woods] plays, we’re looking at 20 to 30 percent we can bump up the sales on that product.

“Who knows, time will tell if that’s optimistic or pessimistic, no one’s ever done this before.”

After the Masters, Bridgestone saw a 209 percent increase in engagement on Twitter, a 400 percent increase on Facebook and a 205 percent increase in website traffic as compared to last year’s Masters week.

That news saw Murphy standing on a desk at the company’s headquarters in Covington, Georgia, yelling, “We love Tiger Woods.” A display that was caught on camera and tweeted out on Bridgestone’s official account.

The company has even switched production lines to produce more of Woods’ model ball in anticipation of increased demand. Consumers can now purchase the same model Woods uses in tournament play, with “TIGER” stamped on the side of each ball.

That ball, the Tour B XS, will be made available to consumers later this week and has already sold out to the retailers who purchase directly from Bridgestone. The package the dozen balls is housed in will feature a commemorative wrap showing Woods with his fists in the air from his Masters win.

Bridgestone isn’t the only sponsor seeing an increase in projected sales and social engagement, either. TaylorMade, the company that produces Woods’ clubs, saw its website traffic double immediately after the win and has seen more than five times the normal engagement on social media the company sees during a post-victory weekend.

According to TaylorMade CEO David Abeles, the company sold more of the P7TW irons (Woods’ collaboration with TaylorMade) in the first seven hours following Tiger’s win than the first seven days following its presale launch on April 8, the Monday before the Masters.

That set, according to Abeles, is now in a temporary sold-out state, and TaylorMade has had to reforecast sales and production for the iron set to meet the demand for the clubs.

“The feedback coming in after the win are, whether you’re going to play the iron or you want to collect the iron, the demand is increasing exponentially on a day-to-day basis,” Abeles said. “So there’s an incredible novelty around this iron because of the moment in time that it happened this past Sunday. Many consumers are looking at this not only to play, but to have a set because they will always remember where they were when Tiger won his 15th major and his fifth green jacket.”

That novelty and collectable aspect is in part because consumers can purchase the iron set exactly to Tiger Woods’ specs and own the exact irons Woods uses in tournament play, delivered in a decorative red and black box, triggering thoughts of Woods’ Sunday red shirt and black pants.

Allowing consumers to know Woods’ exact specifications on his signature set of clubs, and then purchase the clubs is a first for Woods and TaylorMade, and has helped drive demand for the product since the win.

“We certainly see a lift when Tiger plays well and we’re excited about that,” Abeles said. “I think over the course of the next 90 days, as we work through major championship season, as he continues to play well, no better way to start the golf season with him winning. And if he continues to win, which we believe that he has a very good chance to continue to win, as do our other players, we’ll continue to see the momentum build for our brand.”

Although Kim has not evaluated the exact numbers, he was comfortable saying that, of the $550 million he estimated was generated in value for brands, Nike would represent 20 to 25 percent of that figure.

That being said, the number itself could be priceless for the brand.

“This is kind of like the Colin Kaepernick or Serena Williams moment again for them, that it’s just them being part of a journey. Whether that’s worth $50 million or $100 million, the number to them doesn’t matter, it just matters that they’re part of this sports journey and their brand is associated to this moment actually happening.

“I don’t even think their marketing team and sponsorship team will care about it. Because it’s about that lifetime value they’re generating being associated with this.”

Nike might not care, but there has already been an impact from the tournament. Woods brought back his iconic mock turtleneck for this year’s Masters, and that version of the Nike Dri-Fit TW Vapor mock turtleneck is sold out on Nike.com in all colors but black, which is available only in small.

That shirt received quite a bit of attention on the broadcast as Woods had worn the mock turtleneck earlier in his career and was bringing it back once again at the Masters. Joyce Julius, a company that measures the scope of corporate sponsorships and brand placements, measured the shirt as getting 1 hour, 1 minute and 20 seconds of airtime on the live portion of the broadcast, or 17.4 percent of the entire broadcast length.

Eric Wright, the president and executive director of research at Joyce Julius, believes that number is significant, given how that shirt has become synonymous with Woods.

“There is a huge affinity for that shirt, and there is also a low-grade hatred of that shirt,” Wright said. “But everybody has an opinion on it and everybody is engaged on it, and that’s kind of what Woods is, too. He’s got his detractors, his critics, people that openly root against him, and then he’s got this massive fan base, too.

“But what you have is engagement. … If you’re a sports marketer, you want people talking about your person that you’ve chose to endorse your product, and that increases the volume and amount of conversation.”

Wright notes that there are typically three lightning rods for engagement spikes: Tom Brady, LeBron James and Woods. From an exposure standpoint, Wright says it is simply amazing to see the Woods factor rise to levels of when Woods was is in his prime, and potentially even higher if he can continue the success in future tournaments.

And those tournaments stand to gain from that, as well.

The Wells Fargo Championship, played on April 29 at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, has not yet gained a commitment from Woods, according to tournament director Gary Sobba, But the tournament is already anticipating an impact if Woods decides to play in the event.

“We are sold out of one premium inventory, we are sold out for the week and we’re sold out for Friday and Saturday, and we did choose to expand one of our premium areas, which we’ve never done before,” Sobba said.

Woods has committed to playing in the PGA Championship, though, and tournament director Scott Reid has already seen an increase in ticket sales for the tour’s next major, which is moving from August to May. It will be played at Bethpage State Park on the Black Course in Farmingdale, New York.

Reid believes the timing — the PGA Championship now takes place after the Masters — will certainly give the event a boost and will ride off the momentum of Woods’ win at Augusta National. But the PGA is looking big picture and thinking about the impact this could have on the game of golf in general, more so than the individual tournaments.

The goal of the PGA is to grow the game of golf, and having a figure such as Tiger Woods back in the spotlight is only going to help its chances at bringing in new players and attracting a younger crowd to the game.

“At the end of the day, Tiger helps that in such a big way in bringing people to the game that might not think about golf,” Reid said. “Tiger was the one who started to make golf cool for people, and having him back in that position going forward, I think the PGA as a whole is just excited for the opportunity for us to capitalize on our mission in bringing more people to the game.”

It’s difficult to predict that long-term impact and whether Woods can again influence the future of golf the way he once did.

But judging by the early returns on the Masters and his performance, it’s safe to say the potential is there, and the buzz has people once again talking about Woods as a monster figure in the financial aspect of the business.

“It’s great when your guy wins the Masters, that’s great,” Murphy said. “But when your guy wins the Masters and it’s Tiger Woods in maybe the biggest comeback in sports? That’s unbelievable, and we’re super fortunate.”