When Tiger Woods' Black Cadillac SUV slammed into the tree, it not only spelled the end of Tiger’s marriage, but also the potential end of golf for mainstream viewers.
Golf now looks to avoid going down the same path as boxing did when they could no longer book matches with the names of Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield.
One could argue that no other sport has one athlete meant so much to, other than Woods' presence in Golf. But it’s not only his presence, it was his ability to dominate the game.
While some may argue that Michael Jordan had the same impact on the NBA, when he left, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan collectively filled the void, and the league cracked a record cable deal with ESPN and TNT. Not to mention the ESPN sports machine pumping NBA highlights on Sportscenter for half of the day.
Golf doesn’t have this type of exposure.
When Tiger Woods took his “leave of absence,” it was kind of like the sport was a balloon that someone jammed a needle into in the middle of the night. His temporary departure caused a lot of talk in the Golf world, keeping the sport in the limelight even if it was in light of a negative situation.
However, Tiger Woods has yet to rebuild his image—he has yet to even come close.
Nobody is warming up to Tiger Woods after his “transgressions.” It’s as if his quality of perfection that his character brought to the game was tied to his spectacular performances.
LeBron James has a much better chance of rebuilding his fan base than Tiger Woods.
Woods attracted a different type of crowd. He attracted not only the upper elites and businessmen who watch golf, but he also attracted the average fan. Many of his fans were attached to Tiger’s former squeaky-clean image and his likeness to not involve himself with any wrongdoings.
With this image tarnished, he has yet to draw back the people who looked so highly upon him because of his top-notch game and character.
While nobody will ever be able to question the pure greatness of Tiger Woods and his 14 majors, if he doesn’t end up at the top of the food chain again, golf may end up as an alternative for poker and bowling for weekend TV watchers.
By the way, who is Lee Westwood?