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Tiger Woods EA Video Game Is Boosted by Augusta National Setting

Electronic Arts
Electronic Arts Inc.'s new game, seen in a screengrab, was two years in the making. Photographer: Electronic Arts Inc. via Bloomberg

Tiger Woods’s video game from Electronic Arts Inc. was boosted to the best first-week sales in its 14-year history by the gaming debut of Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters Tournament.

EA, the second-largest video game publisher in the U.S., said “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters” sold approximately 225,000 units from March 29 through April 5. That’s a 17 percent increase from the series’ previous first-week record set in 2007, the Redwood City, California-based company said yesterday in a news release.

The inclusion of Augusta National this year was aimed at boosting sales for EA and increasing the popularity of golf and the Masters among a younger audience. Sales of Woods’s namesake video game dropped by almost two-thirds last year.

“We expected fans to be excited about the Masters and for sales to be up significantly,” said Peter Moore, president of EA Sports. “We’re pleased that they are.”

The initial sales figures are from the week preceding the Masters, which was won by Charl Schwartzel of South Africa. Woods tied for fourth at the season’s first major championship, which is held in Augusta, Georgia.

Woods hasn’t won a tournament since November 2009, slipping to No. 5 in the world rankings. He divorced last year after acknowledging extramarital affairs that also cost him sponsorships with Accenture Plc, AT&T Inc. and Procter & Gamble Co.’s Gillette. EA has maintained support for Woods, a 14-time major champion.

Augusta National’s Debut

The popularity of the new version of Woods’s game is due in part to Augusta National, the 79-year-old private club that’s No. 1 in Golf Digest’s ranking of the top 100 U.S. golf courses. Play is limited at the club to about 300 members such as Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates and Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Chairman Warren Buffett, and their guests.

Moore estimated that fans have played almost 2 million rounds of the video game version of Augusta National in the past two weeks. The course was laser-mapped for the game, allowing it to be recreated within 6 millimeters of accuracy, and programmers spent almost two years on its design.

Electronic Arts fell 11 cents yesterday to $19.74 in Nasdaq Stock Market trading.

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