It would not be a surprise if even more authors are taking the time to chronicle the life of Tiger Woods. Being a self-confessed golf fanatic, I thought it would be appropriate to provide a brief documentary insight into the man that became a brand, and a living legend!
The story of Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods is one of the few that is celebrated in the golfing world and now even attracts the non-golfing communities. I started playing the game in secondary school, and I had the pleasures of being called “Tiger” since the name was synonymous with golf. Before playing the game, I started reading golf books and magazines, the man would always be mentioned on almost every golf reading material. If it was not his swing, it was another victory, he was breaking records of the then golfing heroes.
Like any other sport, golf also has multiple brands from equipment, apparel and accessories. I have always known Tiger wearing Nike until today. Nike Inc. started sponsoring Tiger in 1996, as he turned professional. With victories rolling in, Tiger became a household brand and Nike started a bespoke range for him. The TW brand was birthed. Nike Golf then capitalized on that move by commercializing TW in the retail space. In 2013 he signed a whooping $100million deal with the brand.
More high value endorsements came knocking on the door, from Tag Heuer with a wrist watch, AT&T branded on his golf bag, just to list the few visible ones. Tiger’s net worth was close to $1billion and he was ranked the richest sportsman to date.
Like the saying goes, “how thy mighty falls”, the golfing community witnessed the downfall of golf greatest player in the modern history. First were his extra marital scandals, which led to some of the brands that endorsed him terminated the contracts with immediate effect. That was followed by multiple injuries, from back, leg to knee. I’m sure a lot is already raising their eyebrows, as to how does one get injured in golf. Well it happens more often than one would expect, especially when playing competitively.
The man took time off from competitive golf, missing all four majors in one year. Moving down the rankings from being the world’s number one for the longest time in the history of professional golf, he dropped to 1199 in the world. Television ratings suffered a heavy blow with Tiger’s absence in competitive golf. It was so bad, golfers hardly had conversations of golf playing on TV, even golf courses seldomly tuned into golf channels.
Golf lost popularity to a point that golfers would rather watch other sports on TV even when there was a major golf tournament playing, all because of one man. It was like saying the Pope is retiring and suddenly Christians stops believing. Even fellow golfers could feel his absence as the numbers of people coming to watch them play dwindled.
The last time Tiger won a tournament was in 2013, winning the Players Championship. Since then he was faced with intermittent injury hoes, which he even told his family and close friends that “I’m done”. Almost everyone began to throw in the towel as they lost hope in Tiger making a return to golf. Even the media wrote him off, saying he should make it official, adding that even age is no longer on his side.
It went from bad to worse as he even got arrested, on DUI charges. After he accidentally crushed his car, it was found that he was driving under the influence (DUI) of prescribed drugs. The media siezed another opportunity to drag the man’s name deep in the mud and made him look like a criminal.
Analysts predicted that Nike Inc. would also bail out on him after that recent act. Nike Golf continued making the TW merchandise and surprisingly, it was still selling. Nike discontinued making golf equipment, which was another blow to the Nike fans. Rumour says it’s because their biggest ambassador was not playing, and sales took a bit of a knock. Nevertheless, in 2018 the brand had the highest number of wins from professional golfers on both the European and PGA Tour, including all four majors.
Eventually, Tiger made a comeback on the tour and he looked fierce. More so, he was playing with ease with no signs of tension nor pain. Tiger, when interviewed, was asked if he still believes he can beat Jack’s 18 majors record and Sam’s 82 career wins, and confidently said yes.
That journey resumed in 2018 when he tied second at the Valspar Championship, his top five finish since 2013. Later in the year he came close to winning a major but fell two shorts and came second, at the 2018 PGA Championship. It was after that tournament that the tiger faithful were resurrected. Talk about saving the best for last, he became victorious again at the season ending Tour Championship, recording his 80th career win.
Fast-forward to 2019, nothing spectacular took place with the opening tournaments of the season, as he was warming up for the first major of the year. The US Masters came, and another testimony of greatness was written in the stars. Nike Golf had believed in the man that they even brought back the same mock turtleneck shirt he wore in 2005, when he last won the tournament. And history repeated itself as Tiger clinched his fifth Masters Tittle and his first major since 2008, winning the US Open.
The story of Tiger can be relatable to a lot of us in our personal journeys to success. A quote from another legend, “golf is the closest game to the game we call life. You get good breaks from bad shots, your get bad breaks from good shot, but you still have to play the ball as it lies” – Bobby Jones. Moral of the story, whatever you may be going through, NEVER GIVE UP! Nike couldn’t have said it better, “NEVER STOP CHASING YOUR CRAZY DREAM”, “Just Do It”.
Until next time…