Colin shares the reasons he thinks Tiger Woods is the most influential athlete of the last 30 years

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Colin Cowherd offers up his opinion on Tiger Woods ahead of the 2018 Masters. Find out why Colin thinks that Woods is the most powerful athlete of the last three decades.

- I want to start the show right now with this, though, is that golf purists would never want to admit this, but the sport's frankly not that popular. No, it's not really. Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer made their money on golf design. That golf course design, that's where they got rich. It wasn't on purses. You weren't making that much money on the course, even if you were great, pre-Tiger.

Then Tiger arrived and the world changed and guys got rich. Guys don't even have to play all the tournaments during Tiger's great 10-year run. They pick their spots. They play 12 tournaments, not 17, not 18. That's the elite guys. Everything changed. And then he left. And what happened to golf. So Tiger is even so far. It's not on television.

Here's a couple of numbers I want to give you that are unbelievable. According to the secondary ticket market, the average price to attend the Masters is $7,700, double last year's average price. Tiger, a non-factor. Here's a second one. According to Nielsen, network TV viewership increased 93% during the first four events this season where Woods finished inside the top 25. So you see a ticket spike, a TV ratings spike.

I'll just add another. Bridgestone Tires says golf ball sales are up 115%. Here's the facts about golf. It's slow. It's hard. It's time consuming and it's expensive. And Tiger is the only thing in the last 20 years that's given it any juice. Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth did not captivate anything but the most die-hard, ardent fans. When you increase business, TV ratings, merchandise, ticket sales, sponsorships by 100%, that is proof you are bigger than the sport.

I want you to think about this. Michael Jordan retired in 2002-2003. 10 years later, we had Shaq and Kobe. We had stars. And the TV ratings rebounded, and the league was healthy. We had another dynasty. When Wayne Gretzky retired, 10 years later Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, superstars, multiple, and growth.

When Joe Montana retired, 10 years later Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, NFL ratings up, growth, merchandise, tickets, on more TV networks. MJ, Gretzky, Montana. When Derek Jeter retired, a year later Yankees had Aaron Judge. Two years later they have Judge and Giancarlo Stanton.

In golf, Tiger disappeared for a decade. He is still the only guy, only guy, that drives TV ratings, ticket prices, and merchandise sales. A Harris Poll two years ago, when Tiger was a non-factor, 2% of American sports fans called golf their favorite sport.

On Monday, if Tiger wins the Masters, it will lead my show. If he misses the cut, I won't give the event a segment. Tiger Woods is, without question, in my 30 years of covering sports, the most powerful and influential athlete of my time. Michael Jordan is not only second, if it was a golf tournament he'd be 15 strokes off the lead. Good luck, Tiger. It's a better world when you're in it, playing, and winning.