SBD/Issue 59/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Tawdry Tiger Scandal Hits PGA Tour At Difficult, Crucial Time

Will Woods Scandal Damage
PGA Tour's Wholesome Image?
The PGA Tour, which had "promoted its wholesome image as its biggest asset," now has a "tawdry mess on its hands" due to Tiger Woods' scandal, according to Doug Ferguson of the AP. Chicago-based sports marketing agency rEvolution President & CEO John Rowady said of the impact on the Tour of the controversy surrounding Woods, "What's interesting to me about this situation is that while its bad in the short term, for golf, on a global basis, it has moved from being a sport to having iconic, celebrity status, and a whole host of other people are now interested. And it may be a sport that is not prepared for that kind of publicity." But N.Y.-based Group Gordon Strategic Communications CEO Michael Gordon said, "There's no impact on the sport itself other than the fact its best asset is a little damaged right now." Golfer Padraig Harrington: "I would still say golf -- I know this may be saying it from inside the sport -- is constantly the No. 1 sport with the moral ethics and things like that. So I think we're in a very strong position going forward." Golfer Kenny Perry said the controversy around Woods will not "change our tour next year at all," though "only time will tell" (AP, 12/5). Perry said of the impact on Woods when he returns to competition, likely for the January 28-31 San Diego Open, "Is this really going to get inside his head a little bit and really going to mess with him? Are crowds going to verbally abuse him out there on the golf course? We don't know. I think the sponsors will hang with him. I don't think it's going to change our Tour next year at all" (USA TODAY, 12/7). Golfer Jim Furyk: "From the tour's perspective, obviously the tour would like to see him come back as soon as possible. He's got to think of his family first and himself first. When the time is right, he'll be back." In L.A., Jill Painter writes Furyk and other golfers are "going to have to carry the PGA Tour on their shoulders while Woods is gone." The timing is "tough for the PGA Tour," as "many of the tour's contracts with title sponsors are up for renewal this year." Also, the economy is "struggling and convincing CEOs to part with millions to sponsor golf tournaments is an unenviable task," but "then again scandals never happen at a good time" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 12/7). ran a special roundtable on the impact of the controversy on Woods, the PGA Tour and its ratings (, 12/6).

SCANDAL COULD TARNISH RECORD CHASE: In K.C., Jason Whitlock wrote the media coverage of Woods "will forever change the way the sports world is covered," and it also will have a "dramatic, negative impact on Tiger's pursuit of Jack Nicklaus' record for career major championships." Woods is going to face "severe harassment as he pursues Nicklaus' record of 18 major championships ... for allegedly cheating on his blonde-haired, blue-eyed wife." Woods' pursuit is "going to resemble" Hank Aaron's pursuit of Babe Ruth's home run record. His galleries "will be peppered with angry detractors who believe Tiger's infidelity makes him unworthy of holding golf's most prestigious record." There also will be a "contentious racial division as Tiger chases Nicklaus" (K.C. STAR, 12/6).

Attendance At Challenge About
The Same Even Without Tiger
TOUR MOVES ON:'s Bob Harig wrote no tournament officials at the Chevron World Challenge, from which Woods withdrew, would "say anything negative" about Woods, as that "would be crazy." But "surely there is disappointment, if not downright disgust." The show "awkwardly went on" at the tournament, which benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation, though the attendance was "in the same ballpark as it was two years ago -- about 65,000 spectators for the week -- when Woods played and won." That figure "could be due to the fact that many bought tickets expecting him to play," though fans were "offered a refund or a 20[%] discount next year" (, 12/6). Woods in a statement on his Web site thanked the "tireless, dedicated staff, board and volunteers who collectively produce this first-class tournament." Woods: "I am so grateful to them for their efforts, and I am sincerely sorry I was unable to fulfill my duties as host and player in this important event" (, 12/6).

RETURN COULD BE LUCRATIVE:'s Darren Rovell wrote while it is "not exactly known" at which tournament Woods will return to competition in '10, the "best guess is probably" the San Diego Open. Woods' potential return at the event "might help the tournament formerly known as the Buick Invitational land the title sponsor it has been looking for since General Motors' restructuring plans earlier this year resulted in it ditching its title sponsorships of golf tournaments." While tourney Exec Dir Tom Wilson "can't guarantee anything" to potential sponsors about Woods' return, "hinting at this being the tournament where Tiger makes his comeback could help him close the deal." It is "likely that this tournament will get the most media exposure a non-major has ever received." Joyce Julius & Associates VP/Research & Development Eric Wright said that a title sponsor would get $15-20M in "equivalent advertising from this year's event alone, thanks to at least 500 million impressions in North America from internet, print and radio coverage" (, 12/4). SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Jon Show writes if Woods were to return at the February 11-14 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am or February 18-21 Accenture Match Play Championship, it "might draw negative attention to AT&T and Accenture -- two of Woods' sponsors -- or could be viewed as a safe haven for his return." GMR Marketing Senior VP Ed Kiernan: "Given his existing association with the brands, I see his return at one of those tournaments as a natural" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 12/7 issue).

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