Woods sponsors standing behind him for now

By Associated PressDecember 3, 2009, 6:02 am

Longtime sponsors are sticking with Tiger Woods – for now.

But the world’s most famous athlete, who offered a “profound apology” Wednesday following allegations of infidelity, might find new deals hard to come by, marketing experts say, and the loyalty of existing sponsors could be tested by any additional tawdry stories or his reluctance to address the issue publicly.

“Unfortunately for Tiger, the situation is not over,” said Bob Williams, CEO of Burns Entertainment and Sports Marketing, which represents companies looking to hire celebrities to sell their brands.

“The linchpin will be when he addresses the public for the first time,” Williams said, adding that will help companies determine how they feel about him.

Woods’ apology came in a statement on his Web site, after a cover story in Us Weekly magazine reported that a Los Angeles cocktail waitress claimed to have had a 31-month affair with the world’s No. 1 golfer. The magazine also published what it said was a voice mail – provided by the waitress, Jaimee Grubbs – that Woods left on her phone on Nov. 24, three days before his middle-of-the-night car crash outside his Florida home.

Woods did not offer details of any alleged relationships but said he had “not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves.”

Forbes estimated earlier this year that Woods was the first athlete to surpass $1 billion in career earnings, more than 80 percent of that coming from endorsements with companies such as Nike, Gillette, Gatorade and AT&T. Those are all long-term relationships, Octagon First Call’s David Schwab said, partners not likely to dump him at the first rough patch.

Nike, Gatorade and EA Sports all released statements Wednesday expressing their support or commitment to Woods, and Gillette said it had no plans to change its marketing programs. AT&T declined comment.

“These are people who are invested with him in his foundation, his golf courses, across the board. So they’re part of his family, too,” said Schwab, who also links companies and celebrities for branding opportunities.

In fact, cutting ties with Woods now could actually hurt a company, Schwab said.

“Brands look at how impactful a spokesperson can be for their for brand but also what the public outcry or public opinion would be,” he said. “If a brand drops him, there could potentially be negativity toward the brand for doing so.

“That’s why brands typically weather the storm.”

But companies that may have wanted to align themselves with Woods might rethink that – particularly companies whose target audience is women or children. Part of Woods’ appeal has been his pristine image, off the course as well as on, and events of the last week have tainted that, making him an easy target.

Jay Leno poked fun at Woods during his show Tuesday night. Spirit Airlines is trying to capitalize on his troubles, too, offering an “eye of the tiger” sale, which they’re promoting with a video that shows a tiger in a baseball cap driving an SUV into a fire hydrant.

Zeta Interactive’s “Zeta Buzz” mines more than 100 million blogs, message boards and social media posts to analyze the feelings of potential consumers. In the past, terms most associated with Woods were “Masters,” “golf” and “winning,” Zeta CEO Al DiGuido said. In the last week, that’s changed to “affair” and “cheat,” DiGuido said.

The tone of posts has also changed, he said. Before the car crash, 91 percent were positive. That’s now down to 74 percent. The volume also has skyrocketed. Zeta Buzz found 900 posts related to Woods on Tuesday; from midnight to noon Wednesday, there were 2,000, DiGuido said.

“As much as he wants to put this behind him, what’s happening now is the alleged scandal is starting to fuel the buzz, and it’s not positive for Tiger Woods,” DiGuido said. “The volume is continuing to grow and the negative side of it is getting more intense.

“It would be something that (if you’re a sponsor) you would watch pretty closely because it starts to take on a life of its own.”

It’s not just Woods who stands to lose. The Tiger Woods Foundation provides educational resources to disadvantaged children, with a $25 million learning center in Anaheim, Calif., and plans to build another in Washington, D.C.

“With respect to the sponsors and partners, they’ve shown a tremendous amount of support in us and this event, and they’ve been supportive of the foundation and they’ve been proud of the work we’ve done the past 13 years with more than 10 million kids,” Greg McLaughlin, foundation president and tournament director for Woods’ Chevron World Challenge, said this week.

“A lot of kids need our help and want our help, and we’re going to continue to grow our foundation and provide valuable services to these kids,” he said.

Woods, who backed out of the tournament after the accident, again pleaded for privacy in his statement Wednesday, saying “problems within a family shouldn’t have to mean public confessions.” But that’s not going to be good enough, the marketing experts said.

Questions will continue to be asked until Woods himself answers them, they said. And the longer he goes without facing the public, the more fans and consumers will question the faith they had in him.

 “Sponsors are going to listen to the people who buy their products,” said Michael Gordon, CEO of Group Gordon Strategic Communications in New York. “If he handles it well, and he still has the opportunity to do that, he can put this to bed. Currently, the way he’s handling it is failing.

“The language in the statement is perfect,” Gordon added. “But he needs to come out and humanize it and say those words and answer a handful of tough questions on the subject. The more he avoids direct media contact, he creates more scrutiny of the situation.”

AP Golf Writer Doug Ferguson contributed to this report.

 

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Chamblee: Like Tiger in '13, Mickelson should've DQ'd self

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 19, 2018, 2:46 pm

Two days after Brooks Koepka left Long Island with the U.S. Open trophy, the third-round antics of Phil Mickelson are still garnering plenty of discussion.

Mickelson became a lightning rod of opinion after he intentionally hit a moving ball on the 13th green Saturday at Shinnecock Hills, incurring a two-shot penalty but not a disqualification. In the aftermath, he explained that he made a conscious choice to take the penalty to avoid playing back and forth across the crispy putting surface, and he tied for 48th after a final-round 66.

Speaking Tuesday on "Morning Drive," Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee shared his view that Mickelson would have been well-served to disqualify himself ahead of the final round. He also compared it to Tiger Woods' incident at the 2013 Masters, when he took an incorrect drop and, like Mickelson, received a two-shot penalty but not a disqualification.



"I think Tiger, at least it's my opinion that his year would have been less distracting if he had done so," Chamblee said. "And I think the same of Phil Mickelson. If he had withdrawn from the championship and said, 'Look. This is a little sketchy. It didn't play out the way I thought. I've given it some thought and it's in the best interest of the championship that I withdraw.'"

Chamblee added that Mickelson's antics were "really distracting" on a day filled with drama as the USGA lost control of course conditions, noting that Mickelson and playing partner Andrew "Beef" Johnston were the only tee time where both players failed to break 80 despite the difficult conditions.

But having had time to review the situation and having surveyed a number of peers, Chamblee is as convinced as ever that Mickelson made a mistake by showing up for his final-round tee time.

"What Phil did, I haven't run into a single person that hasn't said he deserved to be disqualified," Chamblee said. "Under any interpretation, a serious breach - if gaining an advantage is not a serious breach, I don't know what is. And he clearly said he was gaining an advantage and doing it for strategic reasons."

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Norman to pose in ESPN's 'Body Issue'

By Grill Room TeamJune 19, 2018, 2:05 pm

Professional golfers have, from time to time, appeared in ESPN's "Body Issue," which features athletes strategically posed in the nude. The list includes: Belen Mozo, Carly Booth, Gary Player, Camilo Villegas, Sandra Gal, Christina Kim, Anna Grzebien, Suzann Pettersen and Sadena Parks.

And now, Greg Norman.

Modesty has never been an issue for Norman, who has an affinity for posing without a shirt (and sometimes without pants) on his Instagram account.

He joins a list of athletes, in this year's edition, ranging from professional wrestlers (Charlotte Flair) to Olympians (Adam Rippon) to WNBA stars (Sue Bird). Click here for a full list of the athletes to appear.

 

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DJ listed as betting favorite for The Open

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 2:00 pm

With the U.S. Open officially in the books, oddsmakers quickly turned their attention to the season's third major.

Minutes after Brooks Koepka holed the winning putt to successfully defend his title at Shinnecock Hills, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook published its first set of odds for The Open. Jordan Spieth, who opened at 14/1, will defend his title as the tournament shifts to Carnoustie in Scotland for the first time since 2007, when Padraig Harrington defeated Sergio Garcia in a playoff.

Joining Spieth at 14/1 is 2014 Open champion Rory McIlroy, but they're both listed behind world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Johnson, who was a runner-up at the 2011 Open at Royal St. George's and just finished third at the U.S. Open, opened as a 12/1 betting favorite. Koepka, now a two-time major winner, is listed at 20/1 alongside U.S. Open runner-up Tommy Fleetwood.

Here's a look at the first edition of odds, with The Open just five weeks away:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

14/1: Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy

16/1: Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas

20/1: Brooks Koepka, Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama

40/1: Phil Mickelson, Branden Grace, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Marc Leishman

50/1: Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Tyrrell Hatton

60/1: Matt Kuchar, Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Ian Poulter, Francesco Molinari, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Matthew Fitzpatrick

80/1: Tony Finau, Zach Johnson, Thomas Pieters, Daniel Berger, Xander Schauffele, Bubba Watson, Shane Lowry

100/1: Charl Schwartzel, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker

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Golf Channel, Loch Lomond Partner on Claret Jug Tour Ahead of 147TH Open

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJune 18, 2018, 9:35 pm

Award-Winning Independent Scotcb Whisky Sponsoring Tour to Select U.S. Cities; Will Include Special Tastings and Opportunities for Fans to Engage with Golf’s Most Storied Trophy

Golf Channel and Loch Lomond Group are partnering on a promotional tour with the Claret Jug – golf’s most iconic trophy, first awarded in 1873 to the winner of The Open – to select U.S. cities in advance of the 147TH Open at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland. Loch Lomond Whisky’s sponsorship of the tour further enhances the brand’s existing five-year partnership with the R&A as the official spirit of The Open, initially announced in February.

“We are proud to partner with Golf Channel to support this tour of golf’s most iconic trophy,” said Colin Matthews, CEO of Loch Lomond Group. “Whisky and golf are two of Scotland’s greatest gifts to the world, and following the news of our recent partnership with the R&A for The Open, being a part of the Claret Jug tour was a perfect fit for Loch Lomond Group to further showcase our commitment to the game.”

“The Loch Lomond Group could not be a more natural fit to sponsor the Claret Jug tour,” said Tom Knapp, senior vice president of golf sponsorship, NBC Sports Group. “Much like the storied history that accompanies the Claret Jug, Loch Lomond’s Scottish roots trace back centuries ago, and their aspirations to align with golf’s most celebrated traditions will resonate with a broad range of consumers in addition to golf fans and whisky enthusiasts.”

The tour kicks off today in Austin, Texas, and will culminate on Wednesday, July 11 at the American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe one week prior to The Open. Those wishing to engage with the Claret Jug will have an opportunity at one of several tour stops being staged at Topgolf locations in select cities. The tour will feature a custom, authentic Scottish pub where consumers (of age) can sample Loch Lomond’s portfolio of whiskies in the spirit of golf’s original championship and the Claret Jug. The Claret Jug also will make special pop-up visits to select GolfNow course partners located within some of the designated tour markets.

(All Times Local)

Monday, June 18                    Austin, Texas              (Topgolf, 5:30-8:30 p.m.)

Tuesday, June 19                    Houston                      (Topgolf, 5-8 p.m.)

Wednesday, June 20               Jacksonville, Fla.        (Topgolf, 6-9 p.m.)

Monday, June 25                    Orlando, Fla.               (Topgolf, 6-9 p.m.)

Wednesday, July 4                 Washington D.C.        (Topgolf, 5:30-8:30 p.m. – Ashburn, Va.)

Monday, July 9                       Edison, N.J.                (Topgolf, Time TBA)

Wednesday, July 11               Lake Tahoe, Nev.       American Century Championship (On Course)

Fans interacting with the Claret Jug and Loch Lomond during the course of the tour are encouraged to share their experience using the hashtag, #ClaretJug on social media, and tag @TheOpen and @LochLomondMalts on Twitter and Instagram.

NBC Sports Group is the exclusive U.S. television home of the 147TH Open from Carnoustie, with nearly 50 live hours of tournament coverage, Thursday-Sunday, July 19-22. The Claret Jug is presented each July to the winner of The Open, with the winner also being given the title of “Champion Golfer of the Year” until the following year’s event is staged. The Claret Jug is one of the most storied trophies in all of sports; first presented to the 1873 winner of The Open, Tom Kidd. Each year, the winner’s name is engraved on to the trophy, forever etched into the history of golf’s original championship. It is customary for the Champion Golfer of the Year to drink a favorite alcoholic beverage from the Claret Jug in celebration of the victory.