It appears the tradition of Tiger Woods making a pit stop in the Middle East to begin his season will come to a close.
According to a report from the U.K.-based Telegraph, tournament organizers at both the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship and the Omega Dubai Desert Classic no longer feel it is financially feasible to offer Woods appearance money, which the report estimates to be between $2-3 million.
"Of course Tiger is still a huge name, but those tournaments are not prepared to bust their budgets any more, or at the very least spend their entire budget on one man," a European Tour source told the Telegraph. "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.”
The news comes on the heels of Forbes' annual report on the most valuable individual brands in sports, which was led by NBA star LeBron James - marking the first time since 2007 that Woods' was not atop the list.
Woods made his first appearance in Dubai in 2001, and he won the event in both 2006 and 2008. He switched his Middle East venue to Abu Dhabi in 2012, when he tied for third, and he returned there in 2013, missing the cut by a shot. Last year, Woods teed it up in Dubai to commemorate the event's 25-year anniversary, finishing T-41.
The report notes that all is not lost for Woods on the appearance fee front: he was offered $4 million to play in the inaugural America's Golf Cup later this month in Argentina and another $4 million for a pair of one-day corporate events in China, all of which he opted to decline as he continues to recover from a lingering back injury.
After an injury-plagued season this year, Woods' schedule for next year remains unknown beyond a return at his Hero World Challenge in December, which will mark his first competitive start since the PGA Championship.
Next year's tournament in Abu Dhabi is slated for Jan. 15-18, opposite the PGA Tour's Sony Open, and the Dubai event will be Jan. 29-Feb. 1, opposite the Waste Management Phoenix Open and one week before the Farmers Insurance Open, an event Woods has won seven times and one that typically marks his first U.S.-based start of the year.