AS GOLF BIDS TO BECOME AN OLYMPIC EVENT
Tiger Woods: A one-man stimulus package
By Alex P. Vidal
CHICAGO, Illinois — He has been described as “The King” by no less than his tormentor in last year’s U.S. Open in San Diego, California, Rocco Mediate.
“He’s the man, he’s the king, he’s it,” Mediate, who pushed Woods to 91 holes, was quoted by Sports Illustrated in its March 2 issue.
Mediate added: “Our Tour’s cool, bit it’s really cool with him. I guarantee you that he wins (the Accenture Match Play).”
Mediate is among those excited to watch the 33-year-old Woods play again at the Accenture Match Play Championship at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club near Tucson, Arizona after eight months of hibernation, when he underwent surgery for reconstruction of his knee.
Mediate and his fellow Tour pro players Robert Garrigus and Rich Beem believed that Woods, who appeared in a video footage of the game’s governing bodies that submitted a bid in February 2009 to the International Olympic Committee to include golf in the 2016 Summer Games, remains to be the Tour’s biggest attraction, calling him “something of a one-man stimulus package.”
“We’re going to bring some fans back,” said Beem, winner of the 2002 PGA Championship.
In the video’s opening footage, Woods pumped his fist. He told the audience in the closing scene that “he could not think of a better sport to make an Olympic event.”
“Having the Number 1 most recognized athlete in the world playing our sport certainly is something that makes (it) even more attractive for the Olympics,” declared Ty Votaw, the PGA Tour VP who doubles as the executive director of the International Golf Federation Olympic Golf Committee.
Woods’ comeback is expected to generate other business opportunities despite the demise of his endorsement deal with General Motors.
“On his bag, he will carry the logo of AT&T, the company that sponsors his tournament outside of Washington, D.C., over the Fourth of July,” Damon Hack wrote. “Nike, which manufactures Woods’ clubs, balls and apparel, is also planning to release a new commercial timed to his comeback at the Match Play.
According to Hack, the company has launched commercials to coincide with Wood’s victories, including at the 2005 British Open and at last year’s U.S. Open, his final tournament before undergoing surgery to rebuild his left anterior cruciate ligament.
Cindy Davis, president of Nike Golf, quipped: “We look at Tiger as if he’s making history every time he tees up. We do everything we can to capitalize on that energy.”
WOODS’ RETURN A MUST
Circumstances surrounding gold and the world beyond seem to cry out Woods’ presence, added Hack.
“The economy is tanking. The best player in baseball admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs. Golf sponsorship has become more risky amid falling television ratings and tightening purse strings,” he explained.
“Even in the calm after football season and before the basketball postseason, golf has had trouble making a dent–until now.”
Speaking of Woods’ return, Tommy Roy, executive producer for golf at NBC Sports, said: “To me, when you have what is going on in the country, people escape their troubles by watching sports story we have going right now.”
“He’s so likable in the way that he plays, it sucks you in,” Roy concluded.