For the first time since 1996, TIGER WOODS is not ranked among the Top 100 golfers in the world, according to the Official World Golf Rankings updated the first week of April. Injuries and poor play have plagued the biggest name in golf over the last few years, so the 39-year-old Woods falling out of the Top 100 rankings was bound to happen eventually.

Still, like MICHAEL JORDAN floundering for the Washington Wizards in the early 2000s or Jack Dempsey struggling to get his groove back after a three-year hiatus from boxing in the early 1920s, Woods is a former sports icon with a fingertip grip on his former years. These rankings are a gut punch to an all-time great, but his recent announcement that he will play in the 2015 Masters tournament in Augusta shows that he is not ready to accept his drop-off as a permanent one.

That, frankly, is a good thing for both the PGA and TV advertisers. Last year’s Masters put up the lowest TV ratings (8.6 million viewers in 6.4 million homes) since 1993, and it is no coincidence that Woods was not involved in that tournament. Despite an ever-increasing influx of bright young stars, Woods is still one of the sport’s main draws, so the fact that he is back in the field this spring should mean significantly improved ratings for the most important golf tournament of the year.

Of course, it is impossible to know just how much of a boost he will give viewership because there is no guarantee he will make it past the first round. Even Fox Fox Sports, the network that won a 2013 bid to air U.S. Golf Association events through 2026, has spent the last several months wondering if they were ever going to get their money’s worth in that deal. With young stars like Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, there is a lot to like about the future of golf, but Fox made their TV deal hoping they would see Woods return to relevance. Thus far, he has not.

The extended absences due to various injuries certainly has not helped, as the ratings historically have struggled when Woods does not play. During his peak years—1999 to 2006—ratings typically fell about 25% when Woods was not participating in a given tournament. Even with rising stars to help the golf world prepare for life after Tiger, a lot of people are scared that the numbers may permanently drop to where they were before Woods emerged onto the scene.

“The majors will always be major and get a decent following because they’re always fascinating,” said Bob Dorfman, executive creative director of Baker Street Advertising, in an interview with the New York Times back in February. “It’s the other tournaments that are going to suffer a lot more without having a Tiger Woods playing on the weekend.”

Even though Woods has not won a Masters since 2005, fans still tune in to watch him every time he participates in the tournament because he always seems to be in the hunt. In fact, from 2006 to 2013, he finished lower than 6th place only once and was the runner-up twice. Despite all of his struggles, when healthy he comes on strong for the tournament that matters most to viewers.

And that is what matters most to the networks and advertisers. It is a more fan-friendly television event with Woods in the field, even if it has been a decade since he last slipped on a new green jacket.