Tiger Woods’s next video game for Electronic Arts Inc. will feature the option to play Augusta National Golf Club, a first for the home of the Masters Tournament.
EA Sports’ “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12” is scheduled to be in stores March 29, nine days before the start of this year’s Masters.
“For more than a decade, the Masters Tournament has been the most requested and coveted feature for the Tiger Woods PGA Tour franchise,” EA Sports President Peter Moore said in an e-mailed statement. “We’re thrilled to bring our fans this exciting opportunity.”
Proceeds that Augusta National receives from the game will go its newly formed Masters Tournament Foundation, which is designed to help develop programs that expand golf worldwide. Augusta National is a private, men-only club in Augusta, Georgia, that’s hosted the Masters since 1934 and counts Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates and Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Chairman Warren Buffett among its 300 members.
“EA Sports, Tiger Woods and the PGA Tour have developed an extremely successful franchise that responds to one of the popular entertainment choices of kids today,” Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne said in a statement. “We hope our inclusion will foster an appreciation for the history and tradition of the Masters and inspire the next generation of golfers.”
The partnership comes nine months after Payne said Woods “disappointed us all” by his marital infidelities.
A four-time Masters champion, Woods made his return to competitive golf at the 2010 tournament in April after taking a break of almost five months following his sex scandal. He and Elin Nordegren are now divorced after a six-year marriage.
Electronic Arts maintained support for Woods, while companies such as AT&T Inc., Accenture Plc and PepsiCo Inc.’s Gatorade brand ended sponsorships with the 14-time major champion. Redwood City, California-based EA is the world’s second-largest video-game maker.
Augusta National is No. 1 in Golf Digest’s most-recent ranking of the top U.S. golf courses. Under Payne, an Atlanta lawyer who headed the 1996 Olympics in that city, the club has slowly opened its doors to the public, allowing more live television coverage of the four rounds of the Masters and streaming news and video live on the Internet.
It’s among 16 courses included in the latest version of EA’s game, along with Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, California, and the Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland.
EA Sports used laser-scanning technology at Augusta National to provide an authentic digital representation of its tournament and par-3 courses. Designers spent three years making sure all trees, azalea bushes and undulations in each green were recreated down to the smallest detail, EA said.
“This is great for the sport and will connect a new audience with the Masters, a tournament I’ve been fortunate to experience since 1995,” said Woods, whose five-year reign as golf’s No. 1-ranked player ended in November after he failed to win a tournament in 2010.
The previous version of Woods’s game featured golf’s Ryder Cup competition for the first time.