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Tiger cut off at the knees. I bet he’ll be back

Posted on 14 December 2009 | 11:12am

As visitors to our house will know, I have not one but six photos of Tiger Woods on the wall opposite the sofa in the kitchen extension where I do a lot of my work.

I bought them from a specialist sports photography agency which often has a stall at Lord’s cricket ground. Taken from behind, they look a little bit like paintings, and record the six stages of what is generally reckoned to be the perfect golf swing. Tiger addressing the ball, Tiger half way back, full backswing, downswing, strike, follow through.

It is therefore, for sports fans, a thing of beauty, and even though I am only an occasional golfer, I like to take the occasional close look at the swing of the master.

Looking at it now, the swing looks as perfect as ever. So studying the pictures in isolation, I feel no differently about him than I did before he became embroiled in his car crash and all that has followed.

But the difference between being a golfer, which is what most pro golfers are, and a global brand like Tiger, is that his golf is not seen in isolation. It is the core of the brand, but not all that it entails.

Accenture are also a brand. Tiger was a key part of their branding, which is why he is so often the first recognisable face you see when you step off an aeroplane.

I had a feeling the writing was on the wall as I walked through Heathrow after getting off a plane from Germany last week. There was Tiger, knee deep in rough, with a strapline suggesting it is always the next shot that counts.

It was a superbly placed piece of advertising, visible to all who were filing down  to the Customs Hall via an escalator. You very rarely see people laugh out loud at Heathrow, even in Love Actually. But this became an escalator of laughter and I thought … Mmm, Accenture won’t like that too much.

So they will have been investing a tiny fraction of the sums they invested in Tiger ($7million a year) to find out what their core customers think and then … ‘After careful consideration and analysis the company has determined that he is no longer the right representative for its advertising.’

So, another big blow to Tiger, and there will be more to follow, though none as great as the anger of his wife or the humiliation they have been feeling as the post car crash slow motion car crash has unravelled.

He is still the greatest golfer of all time. His six-frame swing remains a thing of beauty. I will keep it up there for now, and see how things are in the New Year. I have that famous picture of Diego Maradona taking on six Belgian defenders, which might look ok up there. It also shows that in sport, even when the mighty fall, there can be a way back for the really gifted. I have a feeling Tiger will find it. It’s just going to take longer than he might have thought as he hit the hydrant.

Ps. good to see the High Speed trains starting today on the commuter lines between Kent and London. Good also to see the commitment to expanding the high speed network in the PBR.

I was speaking at a rail industry dinner recently and there was near universal acclaim for the way Transport Secretary Andrew Adonis was seizing the initiative on rail. He has given real energy and zeal to an issue whose time, surely, has come. In fact, it should have come a long time ago, as it did in France and Japan for example.

  • Paul

    I agree that he will find a way back. I always find myself thinking of Kate Moss and *that* photo that was taken of her with a certain substance. At the time people said she was finished, her contracts terminated, but she came back, the contracts came back. Everyone loves a good come back.

  • Dick the Prick

    It’s certainly a shame that the lad went over the top – for some (like me) it was (and is a bit) booze & drugs, for others, gambling or sex or other vices whereby the first time is the hardest (morally or practically) and thereafter just a dilluted form of that initial escape. I guess as long as he stands by his kids and attempts to spare his wife any complications or conflict in her decisions now then we can’t hold him in any less esteem than we already did.

    As per his golf swing – i’m sure I read somewhere that he extends about 20% more than most people are physically able to – that he simply hits the ball harder, faster and (the biggie) with greater control than any of us chumps could handle.

    Tiger was never really in it for the money, granted, easy to say now he’s oh soooo minted but on the Saturdays when he was charging – good grief – it was a whirlwind.

    Is it that people expected too much? That golf is genteel and for him to act like a footballer is shocking. There’s the famous story about Sergio Garcia at the Ryder having hotel porters move his bed out of the room on the last day for comedy value. The meeja wanted their man and now they’ve got him. All a bit upsetting really but not as upsetting as my mum forcing me to do my GCSE’s and University & shit – I used to play off 6 when I was 17 – uurrrggghh – that could’ve been me but have to content myself with a quick fumble and the occasional Saturday night out!!

  • Martin

    Greatest of all time?

    Nah!! Check your facts Al – that will be Jack Nicklaus with still more majors under his belt.

    And a true gentleman

  • George Hallisey

    No lose for Accenture. It’ll take a while for the posters to come down. Meanwhile global exposure for ending a deal. The brand branding by dumping on another brand

  • Frank Wall

    Beckham … dead in the water after the sending off against Argentina … and after Rebecca Loos … and when he left Man U … NOT. People like to see people built up, knocked down, and then come back

  • Harsh Harry

    I keep thinking something bad is going to happen to Roger Federer. Thierry Henry’s handball, Tiger’s crash and burn … things always happen in threes and RF is the third of the Gillette trio

  • Em

    The problem is the deliberateness with which the Woods brand itself was created. Some bland race-less (I mean, Cablinasian?) blank image for anybody to project themselves onto. Dude set himself up.

    I have far more sympathy for the imperfections of a Muhammad Ali who stood for more than sports, a human being with opinions and intelligence, not some corporate-ready construct worth over one billion. Ali was a man who compromised his entire life for his beliefs. Woods screwed his career by screwing around. Compare and contrast.

    You mention the humiliation TIiger is enduring but I’d hoped you would spare sympathy for the humiliation and pain his wife and children are suffering. They may not be sports gods (this blog’s archive reveals how much sports gods mean to you) but Woods’ wife and children are the real victims here.

    Speaking through his agent Woods says he’s upset at Accenture for dropping him. I must say I can’t begin to contemplate that level of arrogance. Such arrogance is the sort of distorted sense of self that enables one to win.

  • olli issakainen

    They say there is not such a thing as bad publicity. These
    celebrity obsessed days all publicity is good (as long as your name is written right!).
    A Finnish professor of history has said that in the old days things were different. If, for example, someone was caught for stealing, he was isolated outside the community for the rest of his life. Nowadays the punisment for breaking morale codes is two weeks humiliation in the media, and then it is back to business as usual.

  • Andrew Williams

    Mentioning Adonis and his handling of railways will connect with voters (despite Labour’s poor commitment to railways under New Labour). Selling the positives rather than focusing on the negative attack on the Tories will be key if Labour are to have a chance, otherwise Labour will make the same mistake the Tories made in 1997 with their ‘danger’ posters.

  • Alina Palimaru

    I second Em on this one.

  • Alan Quinn

    Adonis is a good transort minister and didn’t mess about taking failing train companies back into public ownership, it should be remembered that we took the failing Railtrack back too.

    What we really need is the high speed trains going all the way up to Scotland via the West Coast Line and repeated on the east of the country. It would be even better if the trains were made over here instead of imported from Japan.
    Sadly AC you dissapoint me having a picture of that little sod on your wall (hopefully it has cross hairs on his head). Maradonna was a cheat and a junkie, he will never be remembered with the same affection as Pele, Charlton, Moore, Beckenbauer or Cruyff.
    Pity that Terry Butcher never found out that he handballed it until after the post match doping test.

  • gary Enefer

    Dear AC

    All these contracts have a morality get out clause. I hope Tiger will feel relieved now the curse of perfection has been broken. A spectactular fall from grace but at least he can get on with real life now.

  • C Burke

    I’m glad I’m not Mrs Woods but I still think Tiger is an ok guy. He screwed up… he’s not alone there.

    Lord Adonis – now there is a good guy.
    He is a really decent politician. Can’t praise him enough. Adonis’s focus is not just on rail and the other bog standard modes of transport.
    He recently said “Nothing we are doing is more important than promoting cycling at the local level.” His US equivalent, Ray LaHood, made similar comments – “I am committed to investing in programs that encourage bikes to coexist with other modes and to safely share our roads and bridges…Bicycles are a critical part of a cleaner, greener future in American transportation.”

    Adonis even passed on the ministerial car… can’t imagine Dave Cameron doing that.

  • Liz

    The reason the electorate “has not sealed the deal” with Cameron is that they “sealed the deal” with Blair. They got their fingers burnt then and are not so easily swayed now. However, Brown has had it – and with Cambell taking over from McBride in invective – will make it more so.