Tiger’s PR Silver Bullet: The WM Phoenix Open
As I watch two golfers race to the 16th green (instead of the caddies . . . meh) at the Phoenix Open, I can’t help but wonder how my boy Tiger and his management team continue to whiff on what could be his most valuable PR move. Why in the holy Scott Hoch is Tiger not playing in this tournament?!
Let me back up. Let’s acknowledge right off the bat that I am a card-carrying fanboy, second only perhaps to @GCTigerTracker himself (who is that guy?!). When Tiger is in contention, my weekend gets a whole lot more fun. Years ago I wrote a post predicting Tiger’s inevitable reclaiming of the throne, and I have ridden the highs and lows ever since. But while every facet of his being has been wrought over, time and again, by journalists far more credentialed than I, it’s about that time to check in on the State of the Tiger and explain why playing in the Waste Management Phoenix Open would be the equivalent of a public relations silver bullet. I’ll make this quick:
– Tiger’s public image suffered immeasurable damage when he was busted for infidelity, duh. But, it was always understood that the American public is generous with athletes who can start winning again. Tiger did that . . . not to the level that would eradicate all Tiger haters, but enough so we all felt it was safe to make him the main dude again. Nowadays, if anybody in your living room starts claiming they hate Tiger because he was a scoundrel who cheated on his wife, you can comfortably write that guy off as a huge dork. So I would argue that this is no longer Tiger’s problem.
– Other people have had issues with Tiger all along because he just didn’t have enough personality. I could never entirely disagree with that premise, but would stand my ground with stories of Tiger supposedly being funny as hell on the driving range, a good trash-talker, yadda yadda. Well, a few years have passed and Tiger still hasn’t really wowed anyone with winning charm, humor, or even just some downright sincere human-ness. It’s a lot to ask of a guy under that kind of a microscope (especially when he wants to just win some damn majors and end the discussion), so I still don’t hold it against him, but I can see where the façade is sprouting leaks.
– In other words, his only remaining image problem is that nobody can safely propose that he’s a good dude who’s just caught up in the business. At this point, from the perspective of the American sports consumer, it seems like it’s just been too damn long for this guy to NOT show us some love. And what better way to endear yourself to the masses than to yuk it up at the Waste Management Open? Aside from pulling a Daly and chain-smokin’/motorboatin’ his way through a Hooters, I can’t think of one. It would be the perfect nod to the everyman.
– Keep in mind, I’m not asking him to ditch his Dubai trip to play in the B.C. Open. I’m talking about the tournament where he did this (crank volume up):
Holy shit!!! It’s old, but seriously, this still blows most other golf moments away. That dude is basically the Darth Vader of that place on the merits of this highlight alone. Why the hell isn’t he going back every year?!