Tiger Woods makes a comeback at a second-tier event today – but at least his income levels have returned to their sporting predominance.
Woods has not played since missing the cut at the USPGA Championship. That is a lay-off of 54 days, the longest he has gone without competition when he has not been going through some form of rehabilitation.
Ranked outside the world's top 50, Woods' stock has never been lower. In golfing terms, that is. The last few days has shown an upturn in his commercial value. First, Forbes, the influential business magazine, kept the 14-time major winner at the top of its "sports brand" standings with a yearly worth of £36m, some £19m more than his nearest rival, Roger Federer. And then yesterday, Woods landed his first major sponsor since the sex scandal broke two years ago.
In this time, five endorsers left without being replaced, but at last Rolex have filled the gap left by watchmaker desertees, Tag Heuer. The announcement was well-timed, coming on the eve of his appearance at the Frys.com Open, alongside the likes of Jim Renner and Colt Knost. However, he is teeing it up in San Jose not just to raise his ranking or ensure his match-fitness for the end-of-season Presidents Cup but also because his camp are close to a sponsorship deal with electronics firm Frys.
Said Woods's manager, Mark Steinberg: "The business end is actually quite strong. We like dynasties and we also like underdogs. Tiger is as good a dynasty as there's been – and you might say he's an underdog."
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