Tiger Disappears, Back by Augusta?

What does the word “indefinite” mean? Websters lists it as “having no definite limits.”

I think it means: “I’ll skip that event that used to be the Buick and won’t play before Augusta,” or “I’ll make like Hogan and play six events this year.”

But why is he bothering? That’s what I’ve been wondering. How does one reconcile with one’s spouse over something so indescreet, so tawdry and so public? “Yes dear, I did it with porn actresses, waitresses, party hostesses, all while you were carrying and giving birth to our two lovely children. But I love you and want you to stay with me.”

I don’t see it. Maybe I don’t have that sort forgiveness — or simply don’t know anyone who does. And this story that Elin has bought an island only accessible by boat — if that’s what you need to keep the Tiger off the prowl, maybe things need to be reconsidered.

No one is going to buy this. Is Tiger simply leaving the tour to take media training for an indefinite period so he and Elin can look authentic and contrite in public?

That’s the personal side — this whole exercise seems like a waste of time, especially when divorce lawyers are reportedly involved. Of course, Tiger’s legendary focus  would certainly not be there if he came back to play in coming weeks — but given how indiscreet he’s apparently been, even he can’t be shocked at this turn of events. The number one question I get about this is, “How did he expect to keep this hidden?” That’s a valid point.

Anyway, onto the golf element of this story:

  • The sponsors will all have morality clauses in their contracts that Tiger has violated, so they could dump him if they want. But if they do, they won’t get another shot at him later on, which is probably what they are trying to weigh out. The question is what value Tiger has to sponsors after this is concluded (or however this concludes)? Will he continue to be a great pitchman, or will people see him as permanently damaged goods?
  • What is the state of the PGA Tour following Woods disappearance? Phil Mickelson is obviously the game’s biggest star who will actually be playing the game, but is anyone prepared to step up? Rory McIlory or Rickie Fowler? A young gun making a run would help distract from Woods’ departure, but they won’t make up the ratings difference, at least in the short term.
  • Golf was already struggling on television when Woods didn’t play. What happens if the indefinite leave becomes something more than “until Augusta?” What happens to Tim Finchem’s bonus if he takes off until 2011? I don’t think this is about to happen — but what is the damage to PGA Tour sponsors if he does? How many will be standing if the leave lasts 12 months or more?
  • What happens to Woods’ camp? EPSN columnist Rick Reilly said Woods needs to clean house, that Steve Williams, Mark Steinburg and everyone involved with him needs to go as they were complicit in the whole sex scandal. They knew about the women, Reilly argues, and therefore have to be fired.  “If he wants to keep his wife, he has to get a new agent, a new caddie and some new friends,” Reilly wrote. “It’s hard to believe all this went on without their help or knowledge. How can she see them as anything but enablers?” “What people fail to realize is I [just] work for Tiger Woods,” Williams told the newspaper. “I live in New Zealand, I travel to and from New Zealand to caddie for Tiger Woods. I am not with him 24/7. Whilst I am a very good friend of his … I don’t know what he does off the course. When he is not competing, I am back in New Zealand. I have no knowledge of what he is doing. I am an honest person. I had no knowledge of what was going on. If I did, I would say I did.” Does anyone buy that? Most caddies pick up their players in the morning, drop them off, hang out with them, know what they did the night before? Williams is on a salary of more than $1M a year — which makes him basically an indentured servant. Now he’s trying to say he didn’t know the score. The bullshit meter isn’t buying that one.
  • How bad are things when John Daly feels he can relate to you?  ‘I’ve tried to get hold of Tiger and his manager, but he just didn’t want to talk to anybody,’ Daly said.’I feel like if there’s anybody in this world – after what I’ve gone through, the ups and downs – I might give him some advice. They always say there is nobody bigger than the game of golf, but right now in these times there is, and it’s him,’ he added.
  • If Tiger does stay away, what are the implications for his charge on Jack’s 18 majors? Interesting that Jack said marriage and children might change things for Tiger. Doubt he had this in mind….

And finally:

  • Does this accelerate the rumored filming of “Tiger’s Wood?” I ask because I was out with some golf buddies the other night and we came up with a sure-fire script over a few pints of Guiness. So if you’re involved in the production of this film and happen to be reading…

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

13 CommentsLeave a comment

  • RT,

    Do you reallly think that Tiger and his crew would agree to “morality clause” in any of these agreements?

    I doubt that when you are the most desirable endorser in the world that they would entertain that….really??

    The would probably say…take it or leave it..this is freaking Tiger Woods

    Just my thoughts

  • Reality check

    I would be surprised if the present endorsement contracts do not contain morality clauses.

    They are commonplace.

    Good article RT

  • Divorces after the kids get thru the holidays.

    He then takes up with Rachel who he has strong feelings about and, if he does, that will make coming back to the Tour difficult.

    I think he may really be gone for awhile and I think the tabloids will watch his every move for many years to come….he has finally become a celebrity (poor sap).

  • I tend to agree with Reality Check.
    Tiger’s people would not have agreed to a morality clause.

    Dick Kirkpatrick is right it is common place for most personal contracts but this is/was TIGER WOODS.
    Hell, I have had them in my contracts but I couldn’t demand them to be excluded.

  • As the PR pundits have been saying for some time, Tiger can re-build his image but he needs to do it on two fronts 1) He actually has a transformation in his attitude and commitment toward his family and 2) He confronts his public personally in front of the camera, with empathy, contrition, and transparency.

    Hiding behind website postings, pleading for privacy, and trying to control the message and process is futile. He needs to give up control, something he has never done and probably something he cannot do.

    One could argue that successfully re-building his image will be far more difficult for him than producing record setting performances on the golf course.

  • Tighthead, who knows but Tiger was in the drivers seat. Could have been a simple escape clause with early termination payment.

  • While I have never dealt with a celebrity of Tiger’s magnitude, I have been closely involved with many celebrity merchandising and sponsorship agreements—and a morality clause has always been a must.

  • Sure they may be able to dump him….but they are paying…so does it really hurt tiger in the long run and has he ever been motivated by money??

    Wait until Tiger doesn’t show up for the Accenture Match play and see if they think it was a great idea. For Christs sake…Bill Clinton gets paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to be a key not speaker and the guy got a hummer in the oval office.

    You really think Tigers dream team of agents and staff or entourage would accept a deal with clauses??? Really…put yoursef in their position….they turn down thousands of deals, so they probably tell you what the deal is and you decide if you want in. Sure it is a bit of risk but the guy was ultra squeeky clean for thirteen years.

  • Here’s my prediction on the rebuilding of Tiger’s image. Sometime early in the new year we will see a big sit down, tell all interview with Barbara Walters, Oprah or someone like that, in which Tiger admits he’s a sex addict, thereby turning what used to just be disgraceful behaviour into a bona fide disease for which he his seeking treatment. In addition, he will claim an addiction to the painkiller vicodin (after knee surgery) impaired his judgement and fuelled his sex addiction, leaving him powerless to fight back. America loves a big mea culpa and will welcome him back after a suitable time in therapy / rehab.

    From a PR standpoint, it would be helpful if Elin played a part in that whole pageat but frankly I fnd it unlikely. The Swedes are very liberal about divorce and not so lenient about airing dirty laundry in public and I can’t see her first ever interview with Tiger going down like this. My guess is he’s on his own.

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