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Nike extends contract with Tiger

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In the immortal words of Dan Hicks, “Expect anything different?”

When Tiger Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg, confirmed to the media on Wednesday that Nike had re-upped (for an undisclosed dollar amount and length) its sponsorship agreement with Woods, the reaction was decidedly drama-free.

Obviously, it’s big news any time a sport’s biggest athlete signs a new endorsement deal, especially one as lucrative as Woods’ surely is, but did anybody really expect Woods to continue his march toward history emblazoned in anything other than his signature swoosh?

No other golfer is as synonymous with one of his sponsors as Woods is with Nike. From the moment he signed with the company when he turned pro in 1996, the two have ridden the ups-and-downs of Woods’ career as an inseparable tandem.

The Swoosh was there for (and capitalized on) the highs associated with 14 major championships and 78 PGA Tour wins, but more importantly (to Woods and his team) the Swoosh was there for the lows, when nobody else was. Once one of the most marketable athletes in the world, Woods found many of his multi-million dollar sponsors (Gatorade, Gillette, AT&T, Accenture) seeking to end their relationship with him following the much publicized 2009 scandal, but not Nike — the Swoosh never wavered.

Love it or hate it, that’s how Nike does business. They “believe in the athlete,” but not necessarily the man or women that exists behind that athletic façade. Heck, they even spelled it out for us in plain English. Anybody remember this commercial?

[youtube id=”R8vh2MwXZ6o” width=”620″ height=”360″]

Where other companies get queasy at the prospect of being associated with an athlete of questionable character, Nike sees it as a marketing opportunity. In the business of advertising — where turning heads is paramount — Nike has caused its fair share of consumer whiplash by attacking these issues head-on.

In some cases, we’ve seen this brashness work out poorly for Nike. Most notably in this notorious 2001 spot, where the company throws its full support behind Lance Armstrong’s ill-fated innocence campaign:

[youtube id=”MIl5RxhLZ5U” width=”620″ height=”360″]

Whereas with Woods, one could argue that it was because, and not in spite, of the uniquely bold way in which Nike choose to reintroduce a post-scandal Woods — having him stare unflinchingly at the camera, while his deceased father’s voice performs a ghostly soliloquy filled with questions and dripping with disappointment — that some members of the consumer audience forgave him as quickly as they did:

[youtube id=”5NTRvlrP2NU” width=”620″ height=”360″]

However, despite that grand re-entrance, it did seem like Nike became a little bit more careful in the way in which it marketed Woods for the first couple years following the scandal. Gone were the days of Woods’ omnipresence, instead of being the lone star in the solar system he shrunk into part of the constellation. As Woods slipped from view, Nike start pumping guys like Paul Casey, Charl Schwartzel and Anthony Kim, hoping that their stretches of good to great play could carry the Swoosh while Woods rebounded.

You see, while Nike is many things both good and bad, the one thing it is not (as its namesake implies) is a loser. While Woods was still wearing the same Nike clothes and swinging the same Nike clubs, he wasn’t doing the one thing that made him most valuable to the company: winning.

Obviously Woods has rebounded in a big way since then, winning seven official events over the last two years, and that’s why you’ve started to see him pop up more frequently in your magazines and television sets. He’s been a part of big campaigns for his new athletically inspired shoes in both 2012 and 2013, and helped Nike push its new Covert driver even though he eschewed it until this week. And he even aided the company by appearing in the ad to welcome the man Nike ordained destined to dispose of him in the future, Rory McIlroy. The fact is, now that Woods is winning again, it’s clear that Nike is able to utilize him more and in doing so they can attempt to further eradicate the scandal from the public consciousness.

The two parties agreeing on a new sponsorship deal should not come as a surprise, but how Nike chooses to utilize Woods during the duration of that deal might. If Woods’ major drought continues, his injuries continue to pile up and he finally decides to let someone else win at Doral, Bay Hill, The Memorial and Firestone, then we could witness the rapid succession of McIlroy, but I’m not betting on it. Woods has shown he still has a lot left in the tank and if he can somehow breakthrough this week at Muirfield, then his comeback will officially be complete.

In other words, Woods would do well to heed the controversial advice that him and his sponsor seem to wholeheartedly agree on: “Winning takes care of everything.”

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Jack McAuliffe is an aspiring golf everything: writer, agent, marketer, even player…really he just needs a job. He also runs TheGolfDog.com and you can follow him on Twitter at @ElNino22.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Tom Jones

    Jul 24, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    PAID TO LOOSE?

  2. PKMJr

    Jul 23, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    It seems to me that Nike spanked Tiger considerably when they reduced the amount of money he earned for his endorsement. If memory serves me correctly, wasn’t it something like a reduction by 50%?

  3. TD

    Jul 23, 2013 at 11:52 am

    Awesome news, Rory needs to get the boot.

    • ACGolfwrx

      Jul 25, 2013 at 10:23 am

      Um? They can’t built a driver for Tiger or Rory. 2 best in the world and they can’t keep there balls on the fairway!!

      Nuf said…

  4. Pingback: 2014 NIKE DRIVER REVIEW

  5. aaron

    Jul 19, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    Whether good or bad they do stick behind their sponsorship….I bet Paula Deen wishes they sponsored her!

  6. Airbender

    Jul 18, 2013 at 10:35 pm

    Go Tiger…

  7. guru

    Jul 18, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    Maybe they can design a driver he can play!

  8. Jamie

    Jul 18, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    Winning. Fixes. Everything.

  9. Pingback: Link to GolfWRX Article

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Golf's Perfect Imperfections

Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: The best drill in golf (throwing the club)

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If you are struggling with weight shift, clearing your hips, or have issues freeing up your golf swing, then what you want to do is start chucking that golf club. No joke! In this podcast, we will explain how to properly throw the golf club from a safe area and the results will be absolutely transformational.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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Opinion & Analysis

Ways to Win: A New No. 1 – How Justin Thomas overcame a poor putting performance

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In the final tuneup before the PGA Championship in San Francisco, many of the world’s best teed it up at Memphis’ TPC Southwind in the WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational. The final day showcased a stacked leaderboard and plenty of volatility, but in the end, it was Justin Thomas who came from four back to win for the third time this year. This was a quick bounceback after a letdown at The Memorial just a few weeks ago. Winning on the PGA Tour certainly takes stellar play and, typically, a little luck like Thomas’ pulled drive on 15 that skirted off a cart path, over a bridge and into prime position for a late birdie. Had that tee ball found the hazard instead, this article would likely be about Brooks Koepka and his late charge.

Golf is a game of misses and taking advantage of good breaks. That is not to take away from JT’s week of stellar ball striking. He finished the week first in Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green and second in Strokes Gained Approach. That’s no surprise for the new number one in the world. What is surprising is how poorly Thomas putted throughout the week. It is extremely rare for a PGA Tour winner to lose strokes to the field with the putter, but that is exactly what Thomas did.

In Ways to Win, it is rare that we highlight Short Game as a differentiating factor for winners. That is typically because to excel in the short game, one has to miss quite a few greens. When you miss greens, it’s hard to score. However, Justin Thomas was able to consistently get himself out of difficult situations, minimize damage, and turn bogeys into pars throughout his four rounds.

If you want to be an elite player, you can’t do it with your short game alone. It sure comes in handy on those off days, though. Just how good was Thomas’ short game? He finished fourth for the week in Strokes Gained Around the Green and got up and down inside 75 yards more than 80 percent of the time (including several clutch up and downs late on Sunday). His touch was particularly crucial, given that his putter wasn’t really cooperating.

Again, it is very rare for a PGA Tour winner to lose strokes with the flatstick. Typically the winner is the best putter out of the best ball strikers, but not so this week. Thomas only three-putted twice for the week. However, he lost strokes to the field from three out of nine distance buckets that we analyzed using V1 Game’s putting breakdown.

In four other buckets, he was almost “net zero” in strokes gained with the putter. He only gained strokes with the putter from inside six feet. Making short putts is certainly a big key to golfing success. That is why short misses are highlighted in V1 Game’s post-round analysis: missing short putts is a quick way to compound errors. Thomas is not an elite putter by any means, but he is typically solid in the clutch.

V1 Game makes it easy to keep track of personal bests and track progress in a tournament. Any stat that the PGA Tour gives can be recreated with V1 Game. Here are some quick stats for Thomas’ week using V1 Game’s Personal Bests feature:

Total Score: 267
Best Round: 65
Worst Round: 70
Longest Drive: 347 yds
Longest Holeout: 28 ft
Most consecutive holes without a bogey: 24
Scrambling Streak: 9 in a row
Holes without a 3 putt: 20
Most birdies in a round: 6

Thomas certainly played well when it mattered, resisting the urge to look at a scoreboard throughout the final round and focusing on the job at hand. His patience paid off with his 13th victory in a young career. Short game play is a fantastic equalizer and a great tool for any golfer’s bag. However, Thomas really separates himself with ball striking.

The best way to improve your short game is to miss fewer greens, like JT. For most amateurs, short game practice should focus on eliminating mistakes, such as “two-chips” when you do miss the green. Once you can consistently get on the green and have a putt to get up and down, focus should shift to the long game. Tee to Green play is where the game’s best separate themselves from the weekend warriors.

V1 Game can help you with each of these items.

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On Spec

On Spec: Talking Kirkland wedge, LPGA Tour, and teased irons from TaylorMade & Mizuno

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In this episode of On Spec, host Ryan talks about the recently discovered Kirkland Signature wedges on the USGA Conforming list, as well as what recently spotted TaylorMade and Mizuno irons may have in store
Also with the LPGA Tour back in action, Ryan also discussed why it is a good idea to check out how LPGA players gap their bags compared to players on the PGA Tour.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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