Tiger’s Falling Star


When we hypothesized in June about Tiger Woods’ comeback after his dalliances, followed by his public mea culpa, we noted that it would take a few tournament wins for the world’s most accomplished golfer to regain his stature. Well, at the moment, things aren’t looking so good for Tiger, or for Tiger-related products, according to Bloomberg.

Woods has failed to win even one tournament this year, and his ranking has dropped to 83rd on the PGA Tour’s money list. Combine this with news of his divorce being finalized yesterday, and Woods’ celebrity status appears to be plummeting. Despite healthy sales of golf apparel, for example, the Nike Tiger Woods line is not faring as well.[more]

Laura Dowdy, the clothing buyer for Roger Dunn Golf Shops, tells Bloomberg, “Apparel is hot right now. Everything — Adidas, Puma, Nike — except the Tiger brand.”

According to CEO Martin Hanaka, in Golfsmith’s 76 stores, Tiger Woods apparel was down 7.5% in the first half of this year compared to a year earlier, even as total golf apparel sales rose 11% during the same period. “The Tiger effect has been negative this year,” says Hanaka. Online retailer Gold Discount Superstore reported a decline for the brand as well.

Sports business professor Patrick Rishe of Webster University (St. Louis, Missouri) tells Bloomberg, “Before, [Woods] was a champion. He conveyed discipline and consistency. Now he’s lost that aura of perfection, on and off the course, and there’s no way Nike can create that aura again.”

David Martin, head of the global golf practice at Interbrand, adds, “The challenge to Nike is that we’ve never seen Tiger Woods weak before, and it’s completely antithetical to what his brand is. Some athletes can ski off into our memory as stars, but for Tiger, unless he gets it together this winter and starts winning, his career trajectory is a double-black diamond.”

His sponsors are hoping Woods is adept on the slopes, in that case. Indeed, some analysts think Tiger still has something left. Mark Lamport-Stokes of Reuters admits that Woods has not had a win in nine starts but writes, “It could be, however, that the finality of his divorce from his Swedish wife Elin will help him practice and play competitive golf more freely with his mind now less prone to wander, quite literally, off course.”

Tiger has a chance to prove he still has his stuff at this week’s Barclays Classic in New Jersey. If he falls short there, hope will dim even further for a rebound.