The face of Golf’s Patron Saint is everywhere, yet he has only one public appearance since crashing his SUV outside his Windemere, Fla. mansion on Thanksgiving night after an explosive argument with wife, Elin Nordegren, the gold-digging Swedish nanny who came to the US in search of fortune and fame, and now has both beyond her wildest dreams.
From nanny to trophy wife, Elin Nordegren’s life goal is complete. On October 5, 2004, she captured and married Tiger Woods, the global legend and the most revered athlete on the planet. Let’s set the record straight: Mrs. Woods has had nothing to do with Mr. Woods’ 64 worldwide wins, 56 PGA Tour victories, 14 major championships, 10-time Player of the Year and AP Athlete of the Decade honors. And that’s from just 2000-2009!
It appears Elin Nordegren, Team Tiger and the media are especially focused on the $99 million he earned in 2008, and the estimated $90 million he pulled down in 2009. If Tiger Woods was a public company on Wall Street, he would rank in the Fortune 100, since so many rely on his unprecedented ability to generate huge wealth, and profit, for himself and those who do business with him.
Since that fateful dust-up with Elin on November 26 Tiger has been ripped, trashed, lampooned and harassed in all sectors of life. The greatest rainmaker in sports history is getting lambasted harshly by slackers who don’t know a bogey from a Kettle One martini. When you’re the most recognizable athlete on the planet, what’s wrong with having a girlfriend or two or three? It’s lonely when you’re on the road 25 weeks. When curvy, silicone-chested beauties throw themselves at you at every turn, who could resist the temptation?
History shows that powerful politicians and athletics have extramarital affairs: from John F Kennedy to Bill Clinton, from Carl Yastrzemski to Michael Jordan. So what’s the big deal with Tiger having a few post-golf rendezvous’ from an outstanding selection of bimbos? All, I’m sure, with fine intentions of helping Tiger break Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors. Makes me wonder if Tiger is on his way to break another (unofficial) record held by basketball’s Wilt Chamberlain, who claims to have slept with 10,000 women!
Impressive, but probably unattainable, even by Tiger standards! Tiger’s only 34, and in his prime, but will have to step it up a bit; only 19 bimbos have public claims to sleeping with the golf icon, all who have been paid to say “I slept with Tiger.”
Will Tiger recover? Yes, Tiger will recover nicely. Tiger might have to scrape by on $40 million this year, instead of $90 million. I predict Tiger will be in the final pairing at Augusta on Sunday afternoon April 11; that he will be wearing a fifth Green Jacket later that day; and that a record worldwide TV audience will be watching the Masters golf tournament. Reminder, Tiger is in his prime!
Life, as Tiger Woods used to know it, has changed over the past few months. Woods’ was once the consummate salesman; smiling from ear to ear, hawking everything from razor blades to SUVs. These days his face conjures up images of late-night spins and spinouts, hurtling golf clubs, wives scorned and mistresses coming out of the woodwork. Given the soap opera-like publicity, Woods’ brand is significantly tarnished among advertisers. A public figure of his magnitude can’t portray himself in an impeccable, squeaky-clean way for so long, only to plunge into sordid, sleazy affairs.
December was a bad month for Team Tiger, who won six times last year, and earned $10.5 million coming back from major reconstructive knee surgery. Consulting firm Accenture, Buick, AT & T and Gatorade dropped Tiger Woods – and Tag Heuer, Nike and EA Sports have put him on ice because of his tarnished reputation. Tiger, despite his indiscretions, is not the only sports institution suddenly starving for sponsorship dollars. Corporate marketers are antagonistic toward sports endorsements since drug cheating, thuggery and sleaze have taken their toll in all pro sports.
Tiger’s transgressions will quickly be forgotten when he steps on the No. 1 tee at Doral or Bay Hill in March. Woods will return with a vengeance! The PGA Tour needs him more than Tiger needs the Tour right now. I suspect his pride and ego took a hit with all the tabloid drivel, but Tiger Woods’ swagger, attitude and mental toughness will rule the fairways again, as they have dominated the past decade.
We are talking about the greatest golf talent ever! This much, at least, hasn’t changed!
(Tom Gorman, a member of the Golf Writers Association of America, International Network of Golf and Golf Travel Writers of America, is a Boston-based freelance golf writer.)
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