Will more brands follow Rolex to Tiger?

By Randall MellOctober 5, 2011, 11:22 pm

News of Tiger Woods’ endorsement deal with Rolex bodes well for his bruised brand. But if he’s going to attract more sponsors, he’s going to have to start winning again.

Momentum appears to be swinging his way again in the corporate world with reports that he’s also in negotiations with Frys Electronics for another potential deal.

Forbes reported earlier this week that even with a diminished portfolio, Woods is still the world’s most valuable sportsman with a brand worth $55 million, which is $29 million more than the next athlete, tennis star Roger Federer.

Still, business analysts see Woods’ nearly two-year winless streak as the greatest obstacle to rejuvenating a portfolio that has lost five major endorsement deals since news of his marital infidelities broke almost two years ago.

Gillette, Accenture, AT&T, Gatorade and Tag Heuer all ended deals with Woods in the wake of his sex scandal.

Analysts see Woods’ slumping play hindering his search for a new sponsor for his golf bag more than any lingering concerns about his personal life. AT&T’s logo came off Woods’ bag shortly after news of the scandal broke. Woods has been playing with his foundation’s logo on the bag.

The Rolex signing, and Fry’s interest, loom as evidence big business is willing to bet Woods will return to the winner’s circle.

“The Rolex announcement is significant in that it’s not an endemic golf sponsor he signed with, not a golf club or equipment company, but a company in position to choose an athlete from almost any sport,” said Paul Swangard, managing director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon. “Tiger appears to have returned to the consideration set for those kinds of companies.

“Does it mean a bunch of other brands will come knocking at his door immediately? Probably not.”

Why not?

“His inability to come back and perform well limits his crossover appeal,” Swangard said. “So much of his success with brands like Gillette, with financial services companies, is really rooted in him being a world-class athlete and personality. Unfortunately for him, the news continues to center on how he’s not the player that he once was.”

Swangard points to NBA star Kobe Bryant’s strong rebound from personal scandal being tied to his continued athletic excellence.

“Kobe came out and scored 81 points in a game after the controversy, won NBA titles,” Swangard said.

Woods is teeing it up at the Frys.com Open this week in an attempt to win his first tournament since the JBWere Masters in Australia on Nov. 15, 2009. He's slipped to No. 51 in the world rankings.

Andrew Zimbalist, an economics professor at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., who specializes in sports says Woods appears to have done the work required to persuade most consumers he’s reformed his personal life, but his game still needs rehabilitation.

“It’s definitely the winning,” Zimbalist said of corporate restraint in investing in Woods again. “As long as he’s behaving himself sexually, I really believe most people are willing to forgive and forget, although you will always have those people who won’t. 

“What most people loved about Tiger was that he was a spectacular golfer who did remarkable things nobody else did, who was terrifically consistent, who was uncanny in his ability to enter a field of 150 players and finish first or second just about every time. That’s why we love sports. We love seeing people pushing up against the boundaries of human capability, of transcending limits and challenging the real dilemma we all have, which is our mortality. That’s what Tiger was doing. Now, he’s an average golfer.”

Average doesn’t excite corporations looking for spokespersons, but the potential Woods will rediscover his greatness intrigues companies like Rolex.

“They’re getting in early, so to speak,” said David Carter, executive director of USC’s Sports Business Institute. “They’re betting on the come, that he will rehabilitate not just his image, but his game, and that they’re getting in at a time when they’re part of the re-ascension to the top.”

And when they’re likely getting a discount rate.

“I’m an economist,” Zimbalist said. “What we believe as economists is that commodities, goods and services, have a price responsive to supply and demand. You can sell most goods and services, but the real issue is what people will pay.

“A big issue in this is we don’t know the terms of the Rolex deal. We don’t know if Tiger is getting paid $1. We don’t know what his obligations are. For me, there’s an unanswered question in this announcement. What is his market value now? We don’t know. The Rolex deal is a positive step, but is it a major step or modest step? Without knowing what the contract is, what his promotional responsibilities are, we can’t say how much of a rebound this is, but it is a rebound.'

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Ciganda, S.Y. Kim share lead in Shanghai

By Associated PressOctober 20, 2018, 9:28 am

SHANGHAI - Carlota Ciganda of Spain shot a 5-under 67 Saturday to share the lead with Sei Young Kim after the third round of the LPGA Shanghai.

Ciganda carded her fifth birdie of the day on the par-4 18th to finish tied with overnight leader Kim at 11-under 205. Kim shot a 71 with four bogeys and five birdies.

Ciganda is attempting to win her third LPGA title and first since the 2016 season, when she won two tournaments in a one-month span. Kim is chasing her eighth career LPGA win and second title of the 2018 season.

''I want to win because I didn't win last year,'' Ciganda said. ''I love playing in Asia. It's good for long hitters, playing quite long, so I'm quite comfortable.''

Full-field scores from the Buick LPGA Shanghai

Angel Yin also birdied the final hole for a 68 and was a further stroke back with Brittany Altomare (69), Danielle Kang (71) and Ariya Jutanugarn (71).

Yin and Altomare have yet to break through for their first LPGA win. A win in Shanghai would make either player the ninth first-time winner of the 2018 season, which would tie 2016 for the third highest number of first-time winners in a season in LPGA history.

''I love competing,'' Yin said. ''That's why I'm playing, right? I'm excited to be in contention again going into Sunday.''

Local favorite Yu Liu was seventh after offsetting a lone bogey with four birdies for a 69.

Paula Creamer also shot a 69 and shared eighth at 8 under with Minjee Lee (70) and Bronte Law (71).

The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

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Koepka's pursuers have no illusions about catching him

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:50 am

Ahead by four, wielding his driver like Thor's hammer, Brooks Koepka is 18 holes from his third victory in five months and his first ascent to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking.

The tournament isn't over. No one is handing him the trophy and updating the OWGR website just yet. But it will likely take some combination of a meltdown and low round from someone in the chase pack to prevent a Koepka coronation Sunday in South Korea.

Thirteen under for the week, the three-time major champion will start the final round four shots ahead of his playing partners, Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, and five ahead of six more players at minus-8.

As is his nature, Poulter figures to be undaunted. The 42-year-old is fresh off a Sunday singles victory over Dustin Johnson at the Ryder Cup and in the midst of a career renaissance, having broken a five-year winless drought earlier this year. In one sense, it's Europe vs. the United States again, but this isn't match play, and Koepka, a guy who doesn't need a head start, has spotted himself a four-shot advantage.

Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos

"Tomorrow I'm going to need to make a few birdies. Obviously Brooks is in cruise control right now and obviously going to need a shoot a low one," Poulter conceded. "Do what I'm doing, just enjoy [it]. Obviously try and make as many birdies as I can and see how close we get."

Perez, in the group at 8 under par, isn't giving up, but like Poulter, he's aware of the reality of his situation.

"We're chasing Brooks, who of course obviously is playing phenomenally," he said. "A lot of the long hitters now when they get in contention, they hit that driver and they're really hard to catch. I'm not worried about it too much. It's going to be harder for me tomorrow than him, so I'm going to try and go out and just do my thing, hit some shots, hopefully hit some close and make some putts and we'll see. I don't expect him to come backwards, but hopefully I can try to go catch him."

Gary Woodland, also 8 under par, summed up the predicament best when he alluded to Koepka's perhaps advantageously aloof demeanor.

"You obviously want to get off to a good start and put pressure on him as soon as you can," he said. "You know, Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much, and he's playing so good, so you're going to have to go out and post a number."

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Koepka has his chance 'to earn' his way to No. 1

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:09 am

There won't need to be any wonky math involved. He won't have to settle for finally reaching the the top via some kind of mathematical reset while he's sitting at home on the couch (or more likely working out in the gym).

No, Brooks Koepka on Sunday in South Korea will have a chance to ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking the way every player would most want to - with a victory.

On the strength of a bogey-free round of 5-under 67 Saturday, Koepka will enter the final round of the CJ Cup four clear of Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, with six more players five behind.

The tournament is Koepka's to lose, and so too is the No. 1 ranking. So long as Justin Thomas doesn't somehow defend his title from 12 shots back, Koepka can supplant Dustin Johnson atop the rankings with a win or a solo second-place finish.

Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos

"It was something I wanted to do. I always wanted to become World No. 1 in a week that I was playing," Koepka said Saturday. "I thought like I could really earn it and not have a week off where it just so happens that you bump up. No, it would be very special, and to do it here would be nice and hopefully get to world No. 1 and cap it off with a win, I don't think there would be much better."

It would be a fitting end to this breakthrough year for Koepka, who successfully defended his U.S. Open title and then added his third major victory at the PGA Championship en route to claiming the PGA Tour's Player of the Year Award. Oddly enough, considering his status a three-time major winner and an impending No. 1, this would be Koepka's fifth Tour victory but only his second in a non-major; his only regular Tour win to date was his first, at the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

"My confidence has always been pretty high," Koepka said. "Anytime you can win three majors you're going to be feeling pretty good about yourself. To do what I've done over the last two years has been special, but I'm looking to build on that."

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Koepka ahead by four, with No. 1 ranking in his grasp

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 5:48 am

Following a closing birdie and a third-round 67 at Nine Bridges, Brooks Koepka will take a four-shot lead over Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy into final round of the CJ Cup. Here's how Koepka separated himself from the field in South Korea.

Leaderboard: Koepka (-13), Piercy (-9), Poulter (-9), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-8), Cameron Smith (-8), Jaime Lovemark (-8), Pat Perez (-8), Gary Woodland (-8), Chez Reavie (-8)

What it means: Koepka is in search of his fifth PGA Tour victory and – believe it or not – only his second non-major. The three-time major champion’s only other win came all the way back in February 2015, at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. One off the lead to start the day, Koepka opened with eight straight pars and birdied Nos. 9 and 10 to take the outright lead at 10 under par. He added three more circles at 14, 17 and 18 to close out a bogey-free round of 5 under and go ahead by ahead by four. He'll be chased on Sunday by Piercy, a four-time PGA Tour winner who won the Zurich Classic earlier this year alongside Billy Horschel, and by Poulter, who ended a five-year worldwide winless drought back in April and is coming off a 2-2 performance at the Ryder Cup, with a Sunday singles victory over current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Speaking of which, unless Justin Thomas finds a way to win this tournament from 12 back, Koepka will for the first time ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking with a win or a solo second-place finish.

Round of the day: After contending last week at the CIMB, Shubankhar Sharma rebounded from opening rounds of 74 and 75 with a nine-birdie, 8-under 64 to move up 45 spots into a tie for 26th through 54 holes.

Best of the rest: Four players – Rafa Cabrera Bello, Ted Potter Jr., Jason Day and Brendan Steele – shot 7-under 65 Saturday. Day played his first four holes in 2 over and his final 14 in 9 under.

Biggest disappointment: The only previous winner of this event, world No. 4 Justin Thomas entered the week with a chance to take back the No. 1 ranking with a successful title defense. But rounds of 73-70-72 have him 1 under for the week. Thomas played his back nine in 1 over Saturday with six pars, a birdie, a quadruple bogey and a closing eagle.

Shot of the day: Koepka flying his tee shot 330 yards to the front edge of the green at the par-4 14th and going on to two-putt for birdie.