General Motors to end deal with Tiger Woods
Woods, a global icon in sports with his 14 major championships, has been carrying the Buick logo on his golf bag for the last nine years and still had one year left on his contract.
But General Motors Corp. was looking to cut costs and hoard cash while trying to survive the worst sales downturn in a quarter-century. And it said Monday the worlds No. 1 golfer wanted more time for himself, especially with a second child on the way.
Timing is everything, said Larry Peck, golf marketing manager for Buick. Weve had such a great partnership with Tiger. Its hard for us to walk away from that. But this frees up time for him. And it sure frees up a lot of money for us.
The endorsement deal, believed to be worth at least $7 million a year, was to expire at the end of 2009.
Woods has endorsed GM products around the world and mainly has been seen in Buick commercials as the company tried to give the nameplate a more youthful image. Peck said during the launch a few years ago of the Enclave that its research showed 78 percent of consumers who bought the SUV previously had not been Buick owners.
We attribute awareness of our product to Tiger, he said.
Buicks U.S. sales have dropped 54 percent from 2000, the first full year Woods worked with GM, to 2007, according to Wards AutoInfoBank. The brands global sales, however, rose 17 percent during that span, according to GM. Buick is particularly popular in China.
The average age of the brands buyers also dropped. Around 2001, the average age was in the low 70s, but it has since fallen to 66 for Buick sedans and 53 for the Enclave.
GM has been making dramatic cuts in advertising as it tries to conserve cash. The nations largest automaker spent nearly $7 billion more than it took in last quarter and has warned that without federal help, it may reach the minimum amount of cash required to run the company by the end of the year.
Mark LaNeve, GMs vice president for North American marketing, said GM and Woods started discussing an end to the deal earlier this year, and it had nothing to do with the Detroit Three automakers quest for $25 billion in federal loans.
But GMs statement said the decision was made as part of the search for budget efficiencies during a difficult economy for General Motors.
Woods agent at IMG, Mark Steinberg, said the decision to end the relationship one year early was absolutely mutual.
It was a combination of things, Steinberg said. Tiger was looking to gain some more time, and certainly it was an opportunity for GM to reduce its spending with everything going on.
Buick said last week that it would be cutting back on its deal providing courtesy cars at PGA Tour events.
GM is so concerned about costs that it cut advertising during the 2009 Super Bowl, although it still plans to sponsor the NFL and likely air ads before and after the game. GM also has pulled out of the Oscars and Emmy Awards in 2009' the first time in more than a decade it is not running ads right before, during or after the two events.
U.S. automakers, the single largest category of advertisers, cut their ad spending 18 percent to $1.37 billion in the second quarter compared with the same period in 2007, according to TNS Media Intelligence in New York.
Foreign automakers also are trimming their spending on advertising in U.S. markets, with a 5.4 percent cut in the second quarter, for an overall 11 percent drop in U.S. auto ad spending to $3.27 billion, the 12th quarterly dip in a row.
Woods has carried only two logos on his bag since he turned pro in August 1996. He was with Titleist through 1999 until Buick won a bidding war for its brand on a bag that gets more television time at tournaments than any other golfer.
Woods has not played since season-ending knee surgery after winning the U.S. Open, and he is not expected to return until next year, most likely in early March, depending on his recovery.
Steinberg said he would expect there to be some exposure on the bag when Woods next plays.
Ive got a few ideas, and were in the process of working through that, he said.
Buick remains the title sponsor of two PGA Tour events ' the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines, which Woods has won six times, and the Buick Open outside Detroit, which Woods has won twice.
Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, GolfChannel.com writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:
The Monday morning headline will be …
REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.
RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.
MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.
JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.
Who or what will be the biggest surprise?
HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.
LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.
BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.
COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.
Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?
HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.
LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.
BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.
COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.
What will be the winning score?
HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.
LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.
BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.
COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.
Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty
Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.
Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.
This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):
While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:
Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.
McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.
Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.
“It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”
McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.
“Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”
He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.
Height of irony: Phil putts in front of 'rules' sign
A picture is worth 1,000 words and potentially two strokes for playing a moving ball under Rule 14-5 but not Rule 1-2.
Phil Mickelson has been having some fun during his Open prep at Carnoustie hitting flop shots over human beings, but the irony of this photo below is too obvious to go over anyone's head.
Mickelson also tried tapping down fescue two weeks ago at The Greenbrier, incurring another two-shot penalty.
And so we're left to wonder about what Phil asked himself back at Shinnecock Hills: "The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’”