Golf Digest Cover

December 10, 2009 by  

Tiger Woods3Golf Digest Cover:It’s like missing a three-foot putt on the 72nd hole with a one-shot lead.
The timing couldn’t be worse.
Golf Digest, the premier magazine about the game, features a photo illustration of Tiger Woods and U.S. President Barack Obama on the cover of the January issue.

The magazine, which began landing in subscribers’ mailboxes earlier this week, was printed in mid-November, well before the world’s best player crashed his Cadillac Escalade outside his Florida mansion, touching off a sex scandal involving a long list of alleged infidelities.

“We’re a monthly magazine with monthly deadlines,” spokesperson Bret Hopman responded in an email Wednesday. “The January issue went to press almost two weeks before Tiger’s accident.”

While it’s certainly a case of bad timing for Golf Digest, the same might also be said for the PGA Tour.

Already reeling from the impact of an economic slump that was particularly tough on the auto industry, which had thrown its money behind a host of tournaments, the pro tour can ill afford to have its most marketable player falling out of favour with fans and sponsors.

There are reports that up to a dozen PGA Tour events might not have title sponsors for the 2010 season.

“We are losing sponsors and we need more players to get involved,” Pat Perez, the defending champion of the Bob Hope Classic, said this week at media day for the January tournament, which is no longer backed by Chrysler. “We need the top players to play more.”

Woods, the best player and the biggest draw, remains in hiding. When he was on the shelf for the second half of the 2008 season after reconstructive knee surgery, there was a decline in TV ratings and tournament attendance, which impacts PGA Tour sponsorship.

And, given the unseemly nature of the recent allegations about Woods, it’s unclear what kind of longer-term impact there will be.

“Certainly hope you will have a lot less coverage of Tiger,” Pat Schmidt from Indiana wrote in an online letter to the editor of Golf Digest. “He may know golf but he doesn’t understand fidelity, nor does he seem to understand that with the kind of money he takes in, he owes the paying public an honest answer.”

Gina Ragsdale of Los Angeles said Woods “lied, promoted false branding and capitalized on these untruths.

“In my eyes, his reputation is forever tarnished,” Ragsdale’s letter continued. “He is simply not who we thought he was.”

It appears those sentiments might be spilling over to corporations paying Woods to back their products.

PepsiCo Inc. is dropping Gatorade Tiger Focus, which is named after Woods, although it insists the move is part of an overhaul of its sports drink brand rather than scandal fallout.

Nielsen Co. reports numerous ads featuring Woods have been pulled from prime-time TV slots on big networks and cable channels.

Woods’ ranking on the so-called Davie Brown Index, which measures the appeal of celebrities to consumers, has slumped from sixth to 24th since the crisis began.

And California congressman Joe Baca on Wednesday said, “In light of the recent developments surrounding Tiger Woods and his family,” he will not push ahead with plans to honour the golfer with a Congressional Gold Medal, which is the highest award Congress has to honour civilians for achievements and contributions to society.

It all adds up to a lengthy plummet from the sports summit that led the editors at Golf Digest to run the illustration of Woods as a caddy for the U.S. president on the magazine’s cover and suggest there were “10 tips Obama can take from Tiger.”

“Woods is a good role model … because he has always been able to pull himself together after setbacks,” the article says. “Woods never does anything that would make himself look ridiculous.”

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