So much for keeping the faith.
Well-heeled Middle Eastern tournament sponsors once promised Tiger Woods everything short of the moon to bring his game and his fame to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, but those days are over, according to a report in The Telegraph.
James Corrigan writes that Woods, who hasn't won a major since 2008, is no longer compelling enough to command the type of appearance fees he's come to expect, and as a result the 14-time major winner won't be starting 2015 in the desert.
The organizers of both the Abu Dhabi Championship and Desert Classic will not be shelling out the estimated $2m-$3m which Woods requires to make the trip. And although the position of the Dubai competition is complicated by the fact it is sponsored by a rival watch company to the one which endorses Woods, it is believed they would not have been willing to meet the demands for the presence of this undoubted sporting icon.
Woods is not without suitors, Corrigan adds, citing reports of multi-million-dollar offers from tournament organizers in Buenos Aires and China. Still, the golfer's longtime Middle East cash cow appears to be a thing of the past. According to an unnamed tour source:
“There are other players of big interest now, not least Rory McIlroy. In these market conditions, at those prices, Woods does not represent the value he once did. In fairness, he has been there a lot and the novelty has worn off.”
Woods struggled before undergoing back surgery this year, and may have come back too soon after it — he elected to sit out the Ryder Cup. He is expected to return to competition at the Hero World Challenge at Orlando's Isleworth Golf and Country Club, Dec. 4-7. This is the tournament's first year at Isleworth, Woods's old home course, after leaving Southern California.