Tiger’s popularity in Middle East heading south
By Stephanie Wei under Tiger Woods

No more love in the Middle East for Tiger?

It appears to be the end of an era for Tiger Woods and his former love affair with the Middle East, where tournaments paid a couple of million dollars each year in appearance fees for the former world no. 1 just to play in their events. Apparently that will not be the case in 2015, according to The Telegraph’s James Corrigan:

The organisers of both the Abu Dhabi Championship and Desert Classic will not be shelling out the estimated $2m-$3m which Woods requires to make the trip. And although the position of the Dubai competition is complicated by the fact it is sponsored by a rival watch company to the one which endorses Woods, it is believed they would not have been willing to meet the demands for the presence of this undoubted sporting icon.

The only times in the last decade where Woods didn’t make a stop in the Middle East was in ’09 and ’10 when he was recovering from knee surgery and scandal, respectively. Besides that, it was somewhat of a tradition for Woods to play one of his first tournaments of the year either in the United Arab Emirates or Abu Dhabi. But times are a’ changing.

A Tour insider told The Telegraph: “Of course Tiger is still a huge name, but those tournaments are not prepared to bus their budgets any more, or at the very least spend their entire budget on one man.

“There are other players of big interest now, not least Rory McIlroy. In these market conditions, at those prices, Woods does not represent the value he once did. In fairness, he has been there a lot and the novelty has worn off.”

Woods isn’t short of global suitors willing to play the millions his appearance fee commands. Earlier this year, it was reported that Woods would receive $4 million for playing in the America’s Golf Cup in Buenos Aires this month, as well as another $4 million for playing in two one-day corporate events in China. However, after his failed comeback from back surgery, Tiger decided to lay down the clubs and rest until playing in his own event in Florida in December.

There’s a growing sense that Woods isn’t worth the gargantuan appearance fees when form doesn’t seem to be a guarantee any longer. He finished T41st in Dubai earlier this year and missed the cut in Abu Dhabi in 2013.