Gatorade drops Tiger Focus drink – a decision made last month that could be a harbinger of problems ahead. Sponsors will want Woods to say something soon to blunt rampant media speculation.
The froth of rumor and innuendo that has swallowed Tiger Woods's public identity could be nearing proportions that force his sponsors to reevaluate his value to them.
Gatorade will drop Tiger Focus, its drink linked with Woods, it announced Tuesday. But the decision was made before allegations of infidelity surfaced last month, and an industry publication reported the move before Woods's now-infamous car crash.
Still, it raises the specter of what Woods might face. With little prospect of the media's appetite for the story fading, pressure is building on Woods to offer a fuller accounting of his failures to blunt the salacious allegations now appearing almost hourly.
"What sponsors don't want to happen is what is happening now," says William Chipps of the IEG Sponsorship Report, a biweekly publication that provides analysis for sponsors. "He's letting the story spiral out of control. That's a roller coaster that his sponsors don't want to go on."
Just in the past 24 hours, that downward spiral has included his visiting mother-in-law being rushed to the hospital, reports of alleged prescription-drug abuse, and links to enough mistresses to field an entire baseball team.
All the while, Woods has said precious little – two posts on his website that made only oblique references to past "transgressions" and battered the media for nosing into this personal life.
His personal life may be his own, but his public persona is not, and Woods has allowed the public's perception of him – once bordering on reverential – to sink into the most sordid realms of rumor.
In days past, when he was known only as a golfer of incomparable skill, Woods was celebrated for his ability to manage a golf course. Whether in the midst of the fairway 80 yards from the pin or knee-high in a Scottish heath, his decisionmaking was uncanny – almost always the right club, the right line, the right tactic.