Much has been speculated that the timing of today’s televised apology by Tiger Woods is at the very least insensitive towards his fellow PGA Tour golfers, and at most it’s a direct dig at Accenture, a former sponsor of his who just happens to be the primary sponsor of the PGA Tour Match Play tournament going on this week.

I’d say it’s the opposite. Tiger Woods is doing them all a FAVOR with his timing.

Ten days ago, who knew that the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship was actually happening this week?  Only the hardcore fans of golf who watch the sport regardless of Tiger’s involvement.  The ratings were going to be WAY down without Tiger’s involvement.  The only coverage of the event on a 90-minute edition of SportsCenter the day of the tournament’s first round was on the scrolling portion at the bottom of the screen.

Let’s be honest with ourselves.  The sports-watching portion of the American public doesn’t really care about professional golf, nor about Ernie Els or anyone else on the PGA Tour.  Not unless Tiger Woods is involved.  Even if Tiger is playing in a tournament, most people don’t care about a tournament until the final day or two.  The WGC-Accenture started on Wednesday, but if you want to watch any of the action prior to this weekend, you’d better hope you have the Golf Channel, because CBS isn’t going to air any of it until Saturday.

The chances are good that if you are interested in the first three days of a 5-day Match Play tournament, you are a regular Golf Channel watcher.  The chances are also good that if you do fit into that group, Tiger isn’t such a huge distraction from this tournament for you.  The Golf Channel doesn’t show it today until 2 pm, plenty of time to watch Tiger’s televised statements, talk about it, eat lunch, talk about it some more, and then take a nap and then tune in.

Professional golfers and hardcore golf fans need to take a step back and look at the facts.  The top four seeded golfers from this Match Play tournament have already been defeated, and no one’s talking about it.  That has nothing to do with Tiger Woods’ apology nor the Olympics, the Westminster Dog Show or MLB’s Spring Training.  It’s because people don’t really care about golf unless Tiger Woods is involved, which is why a single golfer didn’t get over $1,000,000 in winnings in any year prior to the early 90’s when Nick Price (my favorite golfer) did it for the first time.    Tiger Woods was the first golfer to ever earn $2 million in winnings in a single year in golf, which he accomplished in 1997 – a year when 18 players won over $1 million in earnings – twice as many as earned over $1 million the previous year.  In 2000, with Tiger Woods winning over $9 million on the PGA Tour, 44 other golfers won over $1 million from PGA Tournaments.

Tiger brings the attention of the public, and along with it the money.  Without him?  Golf is still a lucrative sport, but it’s nowhere near as popular.  The proof is in the $$$.