Dubai Desert Classic: Figures up thanks to Tiger Woods' return

Published February 2nd, 2017 - 05:03 GMT
Dubai gripped by the Tiger Effect
Dubai gripped by the Tiger Effect

Organizers of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic are expecting record crowds of over 60,000 people this weekend, thanks to Tiger Woods’ return to the Majlis Course at the Emirates Golf Club. That would be up around 30 per cent from last year’s attendance of approximately 45,000 people when Tiger didn’t attend through injury. Ticket sales spiked 50 per cent year-on-year at the point that Woods’ participation was confirmed last month, and media applications are up 160 per cent from 95 to 250.

Hospitality has also sold out a week in an advance of the tournament, which is also the earliest that has ever happened.

“Tiger coming back is a good thing for golf in general and definitely good for Dubai, because regardless of how he plays he’s still the top sportsman in the world, and he still draws the crowd,” said Mohammad Juma Bu Amim, Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the tournament’s organisers Golf in Dubai.

“His appeal is so big here not just for golfers but for everybody who loves sport. It’s just one of those things: people want to come and see him.

“Gate sales online were over double last year’s [at the point when his participation was announced]. But don’t forget we’ve also introduced a 10 per cent discount so that also helps. It’s a combination, but he definitely has an effect.”

The European Tour has also released figures for TV audiences from the US and the UK that show the difference between 2014 when Tiger did play in Europe, to 2015 when he didn’t feature. Overall, it was a 93 per cent decrease year-on-year, with the biggest difference being in live TV viewership from the US where figures fell 210 per cent when Tiger wasn’t playing.

TV repeat viewership from the US also fell 105 per cent, while both live and repeat TV viewership from the US combined fell 133 per cent.

The UK posted a 24 per cent difference in viewership, a 49 per cent difference in highlights, two per cent in live viewership and 138 per cent difference in repeat viewership.

“It’s safe to say on behalf of Golf in Dubai that it’s absolutely clear even after a 15-month layoff Tiger is still the biggest news in golf, he’s had a massive impact,” added an official from Golf in Dubai.

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