Signed, sealed and delivered


After making golf a hot TV commodity, Tiger Woods is committing to play in made-for-TV events on ABC Sports. Woods agreed to play in four of the next five Skins Games and a prime time match each of the next five years under a deal with Walt Disney Co. announced Friday. Last month, the contract was described by Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg as a “creative golf package.” Steinberg was unavailable for comment Friday. Woods has played the Skins Game only twice, finishing third in 1996 and 1997. The Thanksgiving weekend event has been lackluster in recent years with few marquee players. On Monday, Woods and Annika Sorenstam will play against David Duval and Karrie Webb in the US$1.7 million “Battle at Bighorn” match-play event on ABC. It’s the third such program involving Woods. He lost to Sergio Garcia last August and beat Duval in 1999 in the first live network telecast of a golf event in prime time. The 2000 edition drew a 7.6 national TV rating, and the 1999 show drew a 6.9 (each ratings point represents about 1 million TV households). The final round of the British Open last weekend — which started at 8 a.m., when fewer people are watching TV — drew a 4.5 rating, 30 percent lower than last year. Ever since he won the 1997 Masters, Woods has been changing the way TV shows golf. His dominance, including four straight major championships, has lifted his sport’s ratings the way Michael Jordan lifted basketball’s. Two weeks ago, the PGA Tour agreed to TV rights contracts worth about US$850 million, an increase of nearly 50 percent from the old four-year deals.