New Delhi: The continued commercial appeal of Tiger Woods was endorsed this week, with golf’s world No 1 making an appearance in India reckoned to be worth a seven-figure dollar sum.
Woods’ first visit to India involves the playing of an exhibition match on Tuesday at the Delhi Golf and Country Club. He was due to feature alongside Shiv Kapur, one of India’s most high-profile players and someone who is sponsored by the Hero Motor Group, the company behind Woods’ visit.
Woods was also set to officially open a set of apartments that have been named after him. The 14-times major winner flew to India after playing in last weekend’s Dubai Desert Classic, in which he finished in a tie for 41st — his worst ever finish in the event.
“I don’t know,” said Woods when asked what he expects from his Indian trip. “I have never been there. This will be my first time so it will be fun. Then I will head back home to see my kids.”
Although it has not yet been confirmed, Woods is expected to skip the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship at the end of this month.
Adrian Flaherty, the promoter of the Dubai tournament, insisted the Woods allure remains strong. “I don’t think it ever wears off.” Flaherty said. “The guy brings everything, the whole ballgame, to the tournament.
“I don’t think the novelty ever wears off here. I think he is by far the biggest and one of the greatest athletes that’s ever been in this country. Everyone is always pleased to see him.”
Kapur was similarly effusive about the significance of Woods’ Indian debut. “Tiger’s visit to India is going to make a huge impact and there is a big buzz already not only in Delhi but the whole country,” Kapur said.
“I know the members at my club are very excited and there is going to be people climbing all over the walls just to get a glimpse of Tiger.
“But the interest he will generate even in his short visit is not just from a golf perspective but basically he is one of the biggest celebrities in the world and, with him coming to India for the first time, is going to generate a huge amount of interest in golf.
“As everyone knows, cricket dominates sport in India, so for at least one day, the world’s top golfer is going to steal all the attention away from the Sachin Tendulkars and Virender Sehwags, and it’s all going to be about golf and Tiger Woods.
“So I really don’t see any downside in his visit, and I can only see an upside with more attention to golf with Woods coming to India it can only increase the fan base.
“All the members and juniors at Delhi Golf Club will be watching with enormous interest and, while it will not be open to the media, it’s all about promoting the game, Delhi Golf Club and golf.
“Tiger’s already had such a big impact on golf in India because seven or eight years ago, we never saw young kids in India taking up golf and now in India those playing the game are getting young and younger and that’s predominantly due to Tiger.
“So his visit to Delhi and India is going to generate huge spin-offs.”