Tiger Woods is back.
Perhaps not at the top of the leaderboard as of yet, but definitely back to dominating the spotlight. A healthy Woods in contention has driven ratings sky-high early this season with his recent stints at the Valspar Invitational and then Arnold Palmer Invitational drawing record viewership and coverage for non-major events. The fans and media attention explode for any tournament where Woods is at the top of the leaderboard. The big question for the golf industry is whether sponsors will return to Woods like the fans. That question remains open to debate.
Woods was one of the most valuable and marketable athletes in the world before he lost major sponsorships with AT&T, Gillette, and Gatorade in the wake of his 2009 sex scandal. Woods has also had struggled with injuries and had his reputation further take a hit last year with his arrest for an alleged DUI. According to FASTCOMPANY.com, companies could still sniff around sponsoring Woods due to his universal name recognition. However, major sponsors are unlikely to capitalize on Tiger anytime soon.
“We test him often, and there is still a very significant lack of trust and likability, in terms of the general population,” Matt Delzell, managing director of The Marketing Arm/Davie Brown Talent, told FASTCOMPANY. “It’s an interesting balance we don’t see with a lot of athletes, where people want to see him perform well because it adds excitement to the sport, even for casual golf fans. But no one is looking at these numbers and saying, ‘This is a guy I’ve got to attach my brand to.’ The numbers don’t justify that, especially the kind of money he’d be asking for.”
One place where Woods does great is in Las Vegas. The sportsbooks have had a golf-betting reawakening with the reemergence of Woods, per Golf.com. Woods has yet to win a tournament and shown he has staying power, but the money keeps on flowing to the sportsbook on the 14-time major champion.
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