It was an early Friday morning when Tiger Woods was unconscious, laying in the street. His then-wife, Elin Nordegren, was hovering over him, “frantic and upset”. The back window to his Escalade was smashed open by a golf club, the front bumper taken off by a run in with a fire hydrant. Woods was in and out of consciousness.
The onslaught of news surrounding his extramarital affairs came pouring in; Woods’ life as the top golfer in the world seemed only downhill from there. But that was 2009 and, for the subsequent decade, Woods would go on to battle scandal after scandal, surgery after surgery, sidelined and observing as golf searched for its next king.
Ten years later, Woods is back and has reclaimed his throne.
Now a fifteen-time Masters champion, Woods is on track to break Jack Nicklaus’ record of winning eighteen Masters- a record that will immortalize him as the greatest professional golfer of all time.
It was a long way to the top for Woods after his spectacular 2009 descent. Before 2009, Woods almost single handily boosted golf’s popularity among minorities and helped the golf industry boom.
In Woods’ absence, golf saw a significant decline in viewership and businesses associated with Woods, like Nike, suffered serious setbacks.
“In the nearly 11 years between major wins for Woods, in which he was revealed to be a serial adulterer, pleaded guilty to reckless driving, had four back surgeries and didn’t even enter a major for two years,” wrote New York Times sports reporter Kevin Draper, “numerous segments of the business of golf struggled.”
“As an endorser who at one point was collecting some $50 million a year in sponsorship deals, Woods had what marketing experts call a “golden halo effect,” Tim Derdenger, professor of marketing and strategy at Carnegie Mellon’s business school told the Times. “Initially, people wanted to buy products associated with Woods because they aspired to identify with him. Those deals largely went away after Woods’s sordid 2009, but if the halo effect returns, so will the sponsorships.”
As Woods let out a triumphant roar after sinking his putt, winning the final round of the 83rd Masters on Sunday, the Nike symbol on his famous red golf shirt caught every photograph. The endorsements, it seems, aren’t going anywhere.
Although Woods basked in the glory of his win, his words after the tournament would lead one to believe he isn’t that concerned with immortalizing himself as the greatest pro golfer of all time.
“I’m sure that I’ll probably think of it going down the road,” Woods said, referring to Nicklaus’s eighteen victories at golf’s four major tournaments. “Maybe. Maybe not. But right now, it’s a little soon, and I’m just enjoying 15.”
By Ryan Nickerson
Photo Credit: David J. Phillip, The Associated Press