Tiger Woods is looking to reverse his recent decline on the golf course at the Frys.com Open in Northern California this week, but he’s already scored in his efforts to regain the endorsements he lost after his sex scandals.
Woods announced a new “partnership” with luxury watchmaker Rolex on his website Wednesday. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Rolex has a long history of sponsoring golf events and players, and counts Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler and Luke Donald among its celebrity endorsers.
The deal ends an endorsement drought for Woods, who lost many sponsors after his Thanksgiving night car accident in 2009 and subsequent sex scandals. AT&T, Accenture, Gillette, General Motors and Gatorade all ended their relationships with Woods in 2010. Watchmaker Tag Heuer did not drop Woods as a spokesman immediately after the scandals but did not renew its deal with Woods when it expired in 2011.
Prior to the Rolex announcement, Woods’s only new endorsement since 2010 was for a Japanese muscle ointment. He’s been struggling on the course as well, falling out of the top 50 in an injury-plagued season. In a written statement, Rolex officials expressed confidence in Woods’s playing future.
“Rolex is convinced that Tiger Woods still has a long career ahead of him and that he has all the qualities required to continue to mark the history of golf,” Rolex officials said in a written statement. “The brand is committed to accompanying him in his new challenges.”
Woods is also close to signing a deal for a logo on his golf bag, according to his agent Mark Steinberg. Woods carried the AT&T logo on his bag before his scandals. In an interview with journalist Thomas Bonk prior to the Rolex announcement, Steinberg said Woods still has many endorsement opportunities despite his bruised public image and his mediocre recent play.
“Within a week or so, we’re announcing a major deal that’s being finalized now,” Steinberg said. “And we’re going to have a golf bag deal in place. The business end is actually quite strong. You can call me an agent, but I’m a salesman. And there are opportunities.”
Woods will tee off at the Frys.com Open on Thursday at 3:10 p.m. Eastern time. It will be his first competitive round since the PGA Championship in August, where he missed the cut.