In the wake of his bizarre car accident on Nov. 27 and the subsequent stream of tabloid revelations and accusations about Tiger Woods’ personal life, multiple big-name sponsors have dropped the golfer or dialed back their use of him in advertising. With another sponsor distancing themselves from Tiger Woods yesterday, it raises questions about the golfer’s own tournament, the AT&T National, and its relationship with the military.
Tiger is still featured on the front page of the event’s Web site, and there is still a link for military members to inquire about tickets (check back in April, it says). AT&T is still a sponsor of Woods, although a statement from the company said that it is evaluating its advertising relationship with Woods.
Since Woods started the tournament in 2007, he has used it to honor and celebrate the troops, distributing thousands of free tickets to service members. The son of a former Green Beret and Vietnam veteran, Woods has always professed great respect for the military and his dedication to those who serve has been commendable. At last year’s event, two wounded soldiers took the ceremonial first shot with Woods after the 101st Airborne Parachute Demonstration Team jumped in to deliver the balls. A select handful of troops were able to serve as caddies on one hole, while other troops were able to serve as honorary starters.
Well, a lot has changed since that tournament. The car accident, the allegations of serial adultery and apparently a pending divorce have flipped Woods’ squeaky clean image on its head. The general public is now viewing him in a less favorable light. Do service members feel the same way? Even if AT&T remains on board as a sponsor in 2010 and Tiger ends his ‘indefinite break’ from golf by tourney time in June, one has to wonder whether the military will continue to embrace Woods.