I won a bet that Tiger Woods would not win the Masters this weekend.
That is because his rebranding would have been derailed if he had gone out there, automaton-like, and swept through the course to win his fifth green blazer. So he didn't.
The tournament was won by Phil Mickelson, one of the nicest guys on the tour who is coping with a family crisis which is not of his own making.
Even so, in the world of brands Tiger's remains on thin ice.
All of his sponsors will now be well-advised to back Mickelson who is only one green jacket behind the Woods Machine. The media will be well-advised to publish or broadcast lots of verbiage about Mickelson' exemplary personal life, struggles and career in order to change the topic.
Tiger, for his part, performed according to script. He showed up and behaved with dignity. This was after the first two steps were adhered to which was to hold a remorseful press conference, then to restrict interviews before his return to a couple of friendlies.
Where are those pecks?
Most importantly, for that money shot on the first day he dressed like a golf frump: A striped pastel golf shirt and semi-baggy pants. In fact, he strode onto the course looking like a clone of one of his portly entourage. This was in contrast to those shape-hugging shirts and beautifully tailored pants which displayed his football-player, buff physique.
The next move is to stay away for awhile for two reasons. The Masters was safe for him on this journey back to fame from infamy. It is a particularly classy event where the crowd and press are screened and restrained. The Enquirer or New York Post's sports guys were not invited.
But other tournaments are different, more of a free-for-all. Not a good idea.
The second reason is the public's memory is fickle and will gradually fade from memories of Tiger's misconduct to a vague recollection that he came in fourth at the Masters and a really nice person won instead.
As for his marriage, it's likely over unless he can promise her a Senate seat in New York State.
Frankly, I think the next step is intermittent absence from the game unless all variables (crowd, commentators) can be controlled. Then there may be a discreet press release about a "trial" separation and dates with some A-list movie stars to remove the odor of his proclivity toward prostitutes. Eventually, he will be able to woo back into his life Buick and Accenture and another green jacket.
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