Tiger Roars Again
Two years after his life and career came crashing Tiger Woods is a winner again. This time around, he did not mind his sex scandals, the divorce, the lost business deals and the numerous injuries to lift the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. It was his first PGA Tour victory since the scandal at the end of 2009 that turned out to be one of the greatest downfalls in sports.
And with the Masters only two weeks away, Woods looks more capable than ever of resuming his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus in the majors.
At least Woods is happy he defeated his archrival Graeme McDowell with a 2-under 70 and winning by five shots over. McDowell had defeated Woods in the 2010 Chevron World Challenge after a playoff. The win then added to an already great year for McDowell. His 2010 accomplishments also included the US Open, the Tavistock Cup and The Ryder Cup. It was the first time in his career Woods went winless in a calendar year.
Woods first step back was his capture of the Chevron World Challenge title in December 2011. It was his first golf tournament in more than two years and his first since capturing the Australian Masters title in November 2009. He narrowly defeated fellow American, Zach Johnson. But after about 30 months of Major PGA Tour defeat Woods is attempting to demonstrate that he can recover from his personal recklessness and professional fumbles. Woods, on the other hand, is trying to demonstrate that he can once again be the game’s biggest star. He is to ensure that all his effort in rebuilding his swing yet again with Canadian swing coach, Sean Foley has not been in vain.
Woods had reigned as golf’s number one for a record 623 weeks between 1997 and 2010, until his career stalled amid a slew of injuries and well-publicised reports of affairs that led to the end of his marriage. In October, he dropped out of the world’s top 50 for the first time in 15 years. But thanks to the Arnold Palmer Invitational title which has catapulted him to the sixth place in world golf ranking after a resounding victory.
Woods’ sponsors including: financial services firm Accenture; telecommunications company, AT&T; Gillette; Gatorade and PepsiCo took to their heels following his car crash which triggered a major personal scandal in 2009 costing him an estimated $35 million in annual income. However, sponsors are still queuing up to back the world former number one golfer. The year 2011 was Woods’ year of financial resurgence. Japanese company Kowa saw the potentials in Woods and decided to invest in him despite his downfall. Kowa announced in a press release that Woods would be used to pitch a heat rub intended to relieve muscle and joint pain. TV commercials starring Woods were subsequently launched in Japan. Three months later Woods found himself another sponsor. The Swiss-based watch maker, Rolex, announced it had signed Woods, who then fell to 51st in the world rankings. Rolex was convinced the golfer has a long career ahead of him and that he has the qualities required to continue to mark the history of golf.
Despite some of his sponsorship defections, Woods remains the world’s highest-paid athlete with earnings of $75 million during the 12-month ending in May 2011. Nike remains his biggest deal by far. The Swoosh announced last year that revenues for Nike Golf fell 4 percent over the past year to $623 million. Nike attributed the drop to the earthquake in Japan and not Woods’ fall from grace.
Can he ever hope to once again be the player who singularly dominated golf for more than a decade by dethroning Luke Donald, Rory Mcllroy, Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Steve Stricker from the top five? Or will his shattered psyche and tattered knee keep him from rising to the lofty heights he once scaled so effortlessly, with such tremendous flair? These questions would be answered if Woods can rise up to the occasion at the 2012 Master tournament scheduled to tee-off this week at the Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, Ga.