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Woods Says He Will Focus On Being A "Better
Husband, Father, And Person" During Break
LEAVING A HUGE HOLE: In L.A., Kraft & Pucin reported Woods' decision will "have the most immediate impact on the PGA Tour, which already has been losing sponsorships and is in desperate need of his drawing power as it prepares to begin a new season." Woods' break is "likely to have a devastating effect on TV ratings for golf, which is a stable of sports programming for the big broadcast networks." When Woods took an eight-month break from golf to recover from a leg injury after the '08 U.S. Open, "many events on the PGA Tour saw catastrophic ratings declines." Author John Feinstein said, "By himself, Tiger is probably 50% of golf. Will the PGA Tour fold up and go away? No. But they have some serious issues. There is a little bit of panic" (L.A. TIMES, 12/12). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Walker & Albergotti noted Woods' hiatus is a "serious blow to the sport of golf, which has relied on Mr. Woods's star power to drive television ratings and sell sponsorships" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/12). In Orlando, Josh Robbins noted Woods' departure will "deprive the tour of its top attraction at a critical time," as it copes with the "adverse effects of the nation's greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 12/12). In N.Y., Larry Dorman notes most of the Tour's "larger purses directly result from higher revenue from title sponsors, and the PGA Tour is in the midst of negotiating new deals with the sponsors of a dozen events that will expire by the end of 2010." So uncertainty about Woods' future will have a "negative impact on the negotiations" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/14).
Oberholser Believes Woods' Hiatus
Will Be A Huge Hit To The Tour
TRICKLE-DOWN EFFECT: In N.Y. Mark Cannizzaro wrote if Woods "isn't playing and TV ratings dip dramatically, more sponsors will pull out and that could lead to fewer events" on Tour. PGA Tour execs are "holding their collective breath right now for a speedy Woods return." Also, fans "can be sure that every player on the PGA Tour has his fingers crossed for the same, because Woods' presence lines everyone's pockets with money" (N.Y. POST, 12/13). Tirico said, “When you take the meal ticket of the Tour away from the Tour for a while, it will certainly damage the product.” Tirico: “We know the casual fans come to the TV when Tiger plays, … and that’s not going to be there. That hurts the sport, that hurts the Tour at a time when things are not great in general for sports." ESPN.com's Bob Harig: "Despite all that’s been going on, he’d have been a huge draw, and he will be whenever he comes back. When Tiger isn’t playing, it isn’t good for the PGA Tour. You saw that in the second half of 2008, when he missed all that time after his knee surgery” ("SportsCenter,” ESPN, 12/11). ESPN.com's Jason Sobel wrote Woods "might not be bigger than the sport ... but he is the biggest thing going right now -- in any sport -- and any tournament without his name attached to the entry list will fail to pique the interest of many casual fans" (ESPN.com, 12/11). In New Orleans, Peter Finney: "It's accurate to say professional golf has never been so one-man-top-heavy as it is right now" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 12/13). In West Palm Beach, Greg Stoda wrote the Tour "needs Woods more than Woods needs it" (PALM BEACH POST, 12/13). But NBC's Gary Koch said of Phil Mickelson, “The Tour can certainly heap it on him a little bit and make a big deal of the fact that Phil is so fan friendly” (“Shark Shootout,” NBC, 12/12).
Woods' Indefinite Absence Could Cause Change
To Ways Tournaments Market Themselves
BEST THING TO DO: CBSSPORTS.com's Steve Elling wrote under the header, "Despite Immediate Pain, Tiger's Sabbatical Best For All In Long Run." His hiatus at least "buys the tour some respite from what would have been an endless crusade for more Woods-related player reaction." Woods has "dragged the tour and its players into the mud with him." The "splatter and collateral damage had not yet been tallied, but it was palpable." Tournaments already had begun to "examine whether it was wise to use Woods' image in their marketing campaigns for 2010" (CBSSPORTS.com, 12/11). N.Y. Daily News columnist Mike Lupica admitted in the "short-run, golf is going to take a big hit." Lupica: "But that's part of his comeback. The comeback begins with people missing him, with people starting to mark time until he comes back whenever that is." He added Woods is "doing the right thing by going away because what he's doing now is he's changing the subject" ("Today," NBC, 12/14). GOLFCHANNEL.com's Randall Mell: "This won't help the Tour as it tries to secure a new TV contract and renew title sponsorships in a bad economy. Really, though, this may be a case of short-term pain that's well worth the long-term gain" (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 12/11).
SEEING SOME LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL: NBC’s Dan Hicks: “I think for the very first time through this whole ordeal there seems to be a little light at the end of the tunnel for perhaps closure on this whole saga. ... It seems like we might be able to move on here in the not so distant future” (“Shark Shootout,” NBC, 12/12). ESPN.com's Harig noted the drama surrounding Woods in recent weeks was the "elephant in the room at Woods' Chevron World Challenge" earlier this week. The story "isn't going away, but at least it is now on a path to ... somewhere" (ESPN.com, 12/12).
Arnold Palmer Invitational Seen As Possible
Event Tiger May Target For His Return
MIGHT BE OUT FOR A WHILE: In N.Y., Hank Gola noted if Woods does not return for The Masters, "he will certainly be back for the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach" in June (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/12). In West Palm Beach, Andrew Abramson noted Woods can "expect rough treatment from the tabloid British press" if he returns in time for July's British Open at St. Andrews (PALM BEACH POST, 12/13). The AP's Jim Litke wrote if Woods does not play in The Masters, "it becomes possible to imagine him letting the rest of the season go." Woods already has won majors at both Pebble Beach and St. Andrews, so he "might rarely have a better chance at the calendar Grand Slam" (AP, 12/12). ESPN’s Mike Tirico: “Any thoughts as to putting a dartboard on a calendar and try and figure out when that would be would be pure guessing and somewhat irresponsible” ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 12/12).
DON'T SHOOT FOR ANOTHER GREEN JACKET: In Augusta, Scott Michaux wrote coming back for The Masters "would be a grave public relations mistake" for Woods. The gesture would "seem hollow if he resurfaced in time to pursue a grand slam," and he instead "makes a statement if you take that entire notion off the table by skipping the Masters and the Players and writing off at least half of the season" (AUGUSTA CHRONICLE, 12/13). In Charlotte, Scott Fowler: "How long is the break? I really hope Tiger doesn't know. If he does -- if he's already penciling himself in for the 2010 Masters in April as usual, for instance -- that's very cynical" (CHARLOTTEOBSERVER.com, 12/11).
Woods Could Become Bigger Target
To Hecklers When He Rejoins Tour
PONDERING A PERMANENT VACATION: In Dallas, Tim Cowlishaw wondered, "What if Tiger Woods never comes back?" It would be an "awful thing for the game of golf and the world of sports." Woods leaving golf "at the prime of his career would be far more damaging to his sport" than Cavaliers F LeBron James leaving the NBA or Cardinals 1B Albert Pujols retiring from MLB. Golf would "be forever tarnished if he walked away from the game" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 12/12).
Ogilvy (l) Among The Golfers Who Believe
Woods' Break Will Be Bad For The Sport
MAKING THE RIGHT CALL: Tom Watson yesterday said, "Golf is going to have a hard time, probably, but we'll come through this. I like what Tiger had to say about his issue, and I think he's got to make amends with his wife" (K.C. STAR, 12/14). Steve Stricker said, "Golf is always going to be here and hopefully he gets his life straight at home and comes back. Because we need him back here as well. We all know what he does for excitement levels, purse levels, TV audiences. It all goes up when he's here, so we need him here, too" (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 12/12). Stricker added, "It's great that he's going to put his family first and work things out. Golf will always be there. He wants to make sure his marriage is right and everything is good on the home front. We'll sure miss him on tour until he gets things taken care of" (AP, 12/12).
LIFE GOES ON: Chris DiMarco said, "Contrary to what everyone believes, the Tour will go on. Anytime you take the greatest competitor of all time out of the game, though, it will miss him" (PGATOUR.com, 12/12). Stricker said, "There is definitely a difference when he's at an event and when he's not. We'll manage, though. There are a lot of other great players in this game and a lot of other great storylines." Boo Weekley: "The Tour isn't all about Tiger. There are 200, 300 guys out here playing to make a living like he did. It ain't just about one player. He ain't bigger than the game" (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 12/12). J.B. Holmes said the Tour "did fine" when Woods took an eight-month break to recover from a leg injury after the '08 U.S. Open. Holmes: "The tour's still going to be here. Different from last time, we don't know when he's coming back. With the knee, we kind of had an idea, but you just never know" (NAPLES NEWS, 12/13).
"SNL" Addresses Woods Scandal With Skit
Including Impersonation Of Tim Finchem
PLAYING IN A NEW FOURSOME: The opening skit of the show featured Sudeikis portraying South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, Bill Hader portraying U.S. Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) and Will Forte portraying former U.S. Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) in a C-SPAN segment to "Discuss Media Coverage of Tiger Woods' Affairs." Sanford: "Over the last two weeks, our national media has engaged in an orgy of coverage of professional golfer Tiger Woods and his alleged extramarital affairs. The coverage has been excessive, it has been lurid and it has completely overshadowed coverage of our extramarital affairs." Ensign: "Like Tiger Woods, we have broken our marriage vows, but in addition, as elected officials, we have also violated the public's trust. It's a pretty big deal, yet it seems the media couldn't care less." Edwards: "I had a love child" (“SNL,” NBC, 12/12).
Woods Served As An Ongoing Punchline
Throughout Saturday's "SNL" Episode
MORE LATE-NIGHT LAUGHS: ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Friday said, "A few hours ago on his Web site ... Tiger Woods announced that he will take an indefinite leave of absence from golf. It's a shocking announcement. His fellow golfers are calling it the best Hanukkah ever. Golf is not what he needs to quit. That's like an alcoholic quitting Scrabble. At least when he is golfing, the wife can keep an eye on him, right? ... The only way Tiger Woods I think gets out of this whole thing is somehow during his leave of absence, he finds and kills Osama bin Laden" ("Jimmy Kimmel Live," ABC, 12/11). NBC's Conan O'Brien: "Sources are now saying that Tiger Woods has confessed everything to his wife and she has agreed to stay with him if he takes some time away from golf. Tiger said, 'That's okay because golf was starting to cut into my time with the ladies'" ("The Tonight Show," NBC, 12/11). CBS' David Letterman: "We finally heard some good news about the climate. Scientists now have noticed a chill over Tiger Woods' house" ("Late Show," CBS, 12/11).
GET USED TO IT: The GLOBE & MAIL's Joe Friesen notes while Woods was "once a subject of appreciative awe, he is now fodder for run-of-the-mill ridicule." DailyComedy.com has 574 Woods jokes, and Nielsen IAG measured "more than 20 instances through December 7 where a joke on a late-night talk-show paired Mr. Woods with one of his sponsors" (GLOBE & MAIL, 12/14). Golf analyst Peter Alliss said Woods "will be a figure of fun to comedians for years to come" (LONDON TIMES, 12/14).
Stern Says Legalized Betting On NBA
Games "May Be A Huge Opportunity"
CURIOUS TIMING: In N.Y., Mitch Lawrence wrote for Stern to “even broach the subject now is ridiculous,” and he “made a mistake, at the very least.” Lawrence: “He’s not clear of the Donaghy mess, just because he shook up his officiating hierarchy and hired a former U.S. prosecutor to look into the way the refs go about their business.” However, it is possible Stern made the comments “to send up a trial balloon and see what kind of reaction he’d get” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/13). SPORTINGNEWS.com’s Bethlehem Shoals wrote the fact Stern is even thinking of the idea of accepting legalized betting on NBA games is “pretty remarkable.” Shoals: “This might be the worst thing to talk about in the wake of Tim Donaghy’s recent media blitz, or in some crazy way the best possible form of damage control" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 12/11). Meanwhile, in Milwaukee, Don Walker wrote Stern's "candor is remarkable," as there are not "many commissioners in professional sports who would be willing to talk about gambling" (JSONLINE.com, 12/11).
STERN ON OTHER TOPICS: The NBA’s CBA expires after the ’11-12 season, and Stern in the SI.com interview noted the NFL, NHL and MLB also face labor negotiations during the same general time frame. Stern: “The potential expiration of all four leagues at the same time should send shudders up the spine of lots of people involved with our industries. Everyone has a different set of relationships, and some require opt-outs and whatever. But that would be the apocalyptic scenario." He said all the leagues are “worried” about what multiple work stoppages would mean to the leagues' television partners. Stern: “We're all working -- in our own ways, unrelated to the others -- to see whether we can make a deal this time." Meanwhile, SI.com’s Thomsen noted Stern “did not come across as a commissioner looking forward to retirement.” Stern: “I just read that [MLB Commissioner Bud Selig] is going out. He’s 75 now; he’ll be going out at 78. I’m a kid. I’m 67” (SI.com, 12/11).