Ian Monk: A Tiger no longer burning so bright

Tiger Woods has been at the centre of the biggest PR disaster ever to engulf a sporting hero.

Ian Monk
Ian Monk

In a world that makes absolute demands on those designated and paid as role models, his credibility and maybe his career lie in tatters.

His belated and curiously de-personalised confessional statement with references to 'transgressions' and 'personal sins' sounded as if it had been written by a sub-committee including a vengeful wife and members of a religious sect.

The refusal of most sponsors to voice support looks damning. Commercial relationships built on unattainable ideals of purity, invincibility and heroism touched by deity look set to implode.

Woods' continuing invisibility is exacerbating the catastrophe. When he does reappear, perhaps the most pressing question will be whether he can summon his single-minded focus through the flashlights and the sniggering on the fairways and at press conferences.

Ultimately, it could be the jokes that sink the whole enterprise. 'The best a man can get' sits pleasingly in rhyme with its brand. It loses its allure when applied to an icon who appears to have taken the quest far beyond the realms of shaving. The old musical hall repartee of 'Have you got the time?' 'Yes, if you have the money... ' probably won't bring a smile at Tag Heuer.

And that's without the birdies, the wrong lay, and the hole-in-one gags.

One problem is that golf doesn't do bad boys. The sport has never spawned a McEnroe, a Botham or a Jordan (Michael). There is no blueprint for marketing one.

Crucially, Woods' PR team, probably through the reticence of its client, has not been able to get a hold on the story to calibrate the number of hostile witnesses queuing up to kiss and tell.

There is no clear definition of the extent of the damage, and thus no chance of creating a damage limitation strategy based on a sustainable version of the truth.

Sadly, where once there was a Tiger, Tiger burning bright, there is now a bonfire of revelation consuming the image of the world's most bankable sportsman.

Ian Monk is founder of Ian Monk Associates and a former executive at the Daily Mail and The Sun

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