Tiger's Masters a sporting 'Moon landing': PGA chief

New York (AFP) –


Tiger Woods' epic victory at the Masters was a sporting equivalent of the Moon landing which has triggered a ticket frenzy for the PGA championship, PGA of America chief Seth Waugh said Tuesday.

Woods completed a fairytale comeback at Augusta on April 14, winning the 15th major of a career that had once seemed in irreversible decline after a series of lengthy injury layoffs.

Waugh said Woods' emotional win has triggered a new wave of perfectly timed Tiger-mania, as the PGA Championship tees off in its new May slot in the calendar in just over two weeks' time.

While tickets for the final two days of the May 16-19 championship at Bethpage Black had already sold out, Woods' victory had sent demand surging.

"Tiger, you know, he has impact, sort of the moon landing," Waugh said of Woods' Masters win. "It's not golf; it's where were you when, kind of stuff.

"The impact immediately afterwards was extraordinary in terms of ticket sales. We were basically sold out for the weekend, but the requests just poured in across the board in lots of ways."

Woods has already won a major at Bethpage black, triumphing at the New York course in 2002 when it hosted the US Open.

Waugh said he expected Woods' history at the course would also feed into the sense of anticipation as the tournament neared.

"We absolutely now know that the fan base will be cranked up and we hope that it will have the same effect that he had his first go-around on participation," Waugh said. "Hopefully we can ride not only the wave and excitement about watching him play, but others, you know, wanting to play. Hopefully that knock-on effect has a long-term effect."

Waugh said the PGA had opted to shift the championship from its traditional slot in August in order to better pace the season.

"We always felt there was this excitement that happened in April (after the Masters) and then a bit of a letdown from the golf calendar," he said.

Woods' Augusta victory had all but guaranteed the move would pay off, Waugh said.

"Couldn't be more excited. We think we made a great decision, but we'd rather be lucky than good...We thought it was smart; it looks brilliant, now," he added.