Tiger Woods was the No. 1 golfer in the world when he emerged bruised from a car accident outside his home on Thanksgiving night 2009, and his reputation was tarnished by his subsequent admission of marital infidelities. Now, after two years of injuries, lackluster play and damage control, he appears to be turning a professional corner.
Woods is no longer ranked in the top 50, but he has gradually improved his game, helping the United States win the Presidents Cup in Australia last weekend. He has also worked to repair his public image.
Rolex, the watchmaker, and Fuse Science, a sports nutrition start-up, had enough confidence in Woods to sign sponsorship deals with him. Although the details were not released, they replace only a fraction of the income Woods lost when AT&T, Accenture, Gatorade, Gillette and others cut ties with him. And at his peak, he might not have entered these partnerships, branding experts say.
In return for putting the Fuse Science name on his golf bag in next week’s Chevron World Challenge, Woods will get an undisclosed stake in the company, which has about a $40 million market capitalization and little brand recognition. The Rolex sponsorship is worth far less than Woods used to command, a golf agent and marketing experts said. Yet the new deals are a sign that the scandal’s effect has subsided and that Woods is slowly regaining the form that made him the world’s wealthiest and most recognizable athlete.
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