BREAKING NEWS: Tiger Woods no longer calling the shots?

When Quicken Loans says “Jump,” does Tiger Woods respond, “How high?”  My, how things have changed in five short years.  Look at the timeline:

November 2009 — Tiger Woods’s sex and PED-dispensing doctor scandals erupt.

December 2009 — AT&T drops their sponsorship deal with Woods.  AT&T decides to continue on as the title sponsor of the AT&T National golf tournament played each June in the Washington, DC, area.  This event is “hosted” by Woods

June 2012 — Tiger Woods wins the AT&T National.

June 2013 — Tiger Woods, as defending champion, skips the AT&T National, citing an elbow injury.

March 24, 2014 — Quicken Loans replaces AT&T as the title sponsor of the June event held in Washington, DC.  AT&T, who had already decided to leave the event and move to the Byron Nelson tournament held each May in Dallas, agreed to leave a year early so Quicken Loans could be this year’s title sponsor.

April 1, 2014 — Woods announces he will undergo surgery and miss the Masters and an unspecified number of other tournaments.

April 23, 2014 — Woods is doing light chipping and putting, according to his agent.

May 19, 2014 — Woods’s status according to the Washington Post:  “Here is what Tiger Woods can do: chip some, putt a little, and play first-person shooter video games with opponents from across the Internet, anonymously. […] Here’s what he can’t do: play catch with his kids or swing a golf club.”

June 17, 2014 — Woods’s agent announces Woods “feels better each day and is extending his swing as he progresses.”

June 20, 2014 — Woods announces he will be playing in the Quicken Loans tournament.

Now, let’s examine all this from the point of view of a business executive spending millions of dollars to sponsor a golf tournament.

AT&T got battered by Woods’s sex scandal (and Galea scandal) and dropped their sponsorship of him.  They gamely continued on as title sponsor of the DC event hosted by Woods.  Woods, the tournament’s host and biggest draw, repays their decency by skipping the event in 2013.

AT&T lets it be known that they are leaving the DC event for the Byron Nelson in Dallas.  Quicken Loans steps in to save the day.  Eight days after Quicken Loans agrees to sponsor the DC event Woods hosts, he announces he is getting back surgery and will be out for weeks or months.  Was Quicken Loans blindsided by this?  Would they have signed the title sponsorship deal had they known Woods was going to be out for an extended length of time, potentially beyond their tournament date?

Did Quicken Loans threaten legal action if Woods failed to play next week?  We are talking huge amounts of money, and if Woods and Steinberg hid news about Woods’s health from Quicken Loans, Quicken Loans may have been threatening to void the agreement.

Woods has very quickly gone from “light chipping and putting” to “extending his swing” to “let’s tee it up.”  Had Woods failed to play next week, it would have meant he missed “his own tournament” two years in a row.   This year would have been especially irksome, given that it was on Quicken Loans’ dime because they signed the deal a year early — thereby letting AT&T off the hook — and a mere eight days before Woods announced his surgery.

Quicken Loans is on the line for a lot of money, and they are well aware Tiger Woods’s expiration date is rapidly approaching.  Injury could end his career at any time, as could a revelation about PED usage.  His image is already in tatters, so another disclosure about his personal life would destroy what’s left of his marketability.  (Phil Mickelson — famed inside trader — has already passed Woods as golf’s top endorser.)  There is no guarantee Woods will be worth a penny to them next year.

My guess is that Tiger Woods had very little say in the matter of whether or not he was “ready to play” next week.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

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9 Responses to BREAKING NEWS: Tiger Woods no longer calling the shots?

  1. Nate says:

    I will take a nice LONG break from watching the ‘golf channel’, and I will definitely skip watching most of next week…This is now around the 4th time Eldrick has returned from injury right? So MULTIPLE times as viewers, we’ve already seen how the golf channel and media has handled this ‘return’ nonsense…..It’s just so over the top, and REPETITIVE, and ‘unprofessional’ that it’s just not worth watching……. Get used to endless camera STARES on one person’s face, and probably one hour of coverage of seeing one golfer WALKING down the fairway, or simply STANDING(yawn)……..Any idea on the demographics on the fair-weather fans, who do turn in when Eldrick is there?

    • lannyh says:

      You described it well. Golf coverage becomes unwatchable.

      As for the demographic, I plan to write about that soon. Once upon a time, golf coverage targeted players of the game, investors, and guys making business decisions, and their advertising showed that. Woods brought in viewers who don’t play golf, or care about golf, really. They were Tiger Woods reality show fans, and that was as far as it went. The golf media knows they require a lot of “care and feeding,” thus the constant fawning over Woods, the out-of-the-blue references, the push to define him as never-seen-before. They are trying to keep fans who don’t even like golf, remember. The media pounds on all their “love” and “hate” stuff. Like I recently wrote somewhere, today’s media (1) creates a personality, and (2) creates a conflict story about that person.

      If you sent me to a political seminar and told me to entertain a crowd, all I’d have to do is pick a “star” and troll with some kind of angle. “Sarah Palin: How America wasted her untapped potential.” Think that’s a divisive enough angle? Or, “President Obama and Nancy Pelosi: A modern-day Churchill-Roosevelt.” Or anything praising Rush Limbaugh or Al Sharpton (as long as the audience didn’t recognize you were trolling them). Because, do you think people follow politics because they care about policy issues? No, they love to scream how “stupid” and “lazy” and “evil” other people are, and how corrupt are the political leaders who cater to them. The more they dumb down the coverage, the more viewers they get. Dumber viewers, yes, but more of them.

      I don’t think people like you and me matter much because while we may cut down on our viewing, we still follow the real golf. Maybe we follow it in after-the-fact stories online or in newspapers, but we don’t completely leave. And more than likely, true golf fans follow some of the Woods Only crap just to mock it. The Woods Only crowd will be gone for good if they don’t cater to them nonstop, so the media does any and everything to cling to them. (Also, I imagine our crowd isn’t near as susceptible to advertising.)

      When it comes to online articles, comments drive a lot of views. People leave a comment, then check back 10 times to see if someone responded. When people respond quickly, it snowballs. (That’s the entire MO of websites like the Huffington Post. It’s a well-known and laughed-about fact that the majority of the people there only read the headline, then post. People very commonly make comments that clearly indicate they didn’t read an article.) So while you and I see banal arguments between idiots, the websites see page views.

      Oh, well, I’ve rambled enough. We might as well call up Rush Limbaugh and Al Sharpton and ask them to increase the intellectual level of their shows. It ain’t going to happen. The good thing about golf coverage, though, is that it WILL eventually get better. When Woods leaves, and it won’t be long now, coverage will improve. With politics, it’s never going to improve, because they will always maintain the hate/love divide of liberals/conservative and Dems/Repubs and the 100 other ways they have to divide people.

      I don’t mind when the golf media covers Woods when he is a story. This return is a story. Of course, they’ll go overboard. But what really annoys me is how they try to “keep him alive” when he’s not the story. There can be a broadcast of a tourney he never won, and never played in, and yet every three minutes, Woods’s name will be mentioned. That’s not an accident. Their broadcasts are scripted the same way local news “banter” is scripted.

      • Nate says:

        The AT&T tournament theory is interesting…When money is involved, we know unusual stuff can happen…..Personally, I thought that Eldrick would definitely want to play in the next British Open, mainly because he won it the last time….Also because he knows he’s now only 6 majors till he reaches the age of 40(he knows he’s running out of time)….Now whether or not he’s doing some steroids/peds to get healthy quicker, time will tell……

        On a lighter note, what will the over/under be on how many times these moron announcers will talk about Eldrick’s ‘back problems’ every time he miss-hits a shot? And this excuse will be going on for about THE REST OF HIS CAREER…..Again, going by the previous injuries, and how long they KEPT talking about them with poor shots ect……So we already know what to expect….

        And finally, it’s all about separating myth vs reality, and I don’t think the media knows how to do that, nor do they want to….It’s the equivalent of kids thinking there is still a santa claus, when they are kinda getting too old for that kind of nonsense…….Some folks will forever want to think it’s 1997, when in my opinion the PGA sucked for a long time, with a lack of depth, and a bunch of ‘has beens’ still teeing it up….

  2. Henny B says:

    Well said Lanny. I keep telling myself to just be patient, it will all be over soon. I am a bit leery though, how did he go from “light chipping and putting to teeing it up?” Its as if God Almighty himself came down and healed him. Makes me wonder. No other person on planet Earth is more excited right now than Johnny Miller. Lol

  3. kando53 says:

    I would generally have scoffed at this notion, but after going over the sponsorship timeline, and Quicken’s new and sudden overnight Tiger pimping tourney commercials, all centered solely around him, maybe there is some truth to this, lol.

    • lannyh says:

      Yeah, I was surprised that his surgery was announced just eight days after Quicken Loans signed on the dotted line. Also, I looked at the field earlier today, and there are, counting Woods, 6 of the top 25 players. That’s pretty darn weak! A tourney at Congressional, site of majors? In the DC region? I grow more and more convinced they forced him to play. Even the mainstream golf media is saying things like, “He didn’t want to let sponsors down” and “Sponsors are harder to come by for him now.”

      • kando53 says:

        Well, it will be interesting to see how it plays out. I think his typical first entry would be a no-cut tourney, if one was available, but as this is a traditional tourney he may simply plan to make an appearance, not worry about making the cut, and say adieu after two rounds, thereby helping sponsors, but not over stressing the back, etc. The again, if he makes the cut with such a weak field he can just put it on rehab cruise control for the weekend, and take whatever points come his way. The manner in which ranking points are handled these days may also have come into play since he won this event two years ago, and those points will be rolling off his ranking next week if not defended, if I have that correct.

  4. Nate says:

    It’s also VERY possible, that we’ve been fed a bunch of lies, in that he ‘just started chipping’ ect…..This would makes it seem more ‘AMAZING’ to the media ect, if he’s basically able to hit regular shots….Eldrick is probably healthy and has been playing golf for a while—no really….However, when you are trying to write a story about Superman or Spiderman, you don’t have them JUST get out of bed and watch tv……You make a bs story about overcoming unbelievable pain and odds ect……..Myth over reality, once again…

  5. Pingback: Wednesday Thoughts (in progress, more to come) | Lanny H Golf

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