Tiger Woods' sponsorship fears may kill off The National – his PGA Tour event
Tiger Woods could be facing the embarrassing prospect of seeing the PGA Tour event he hosts cancelled, because of the lack of a title sponsor.
Jay Monahan, the Tour’s commissioner, revealed here at East Lake on Tuesday – in the build-up to the Tour Championship which begins on Thursday – that unless a new deal can be agreed with Quicken Loans, or a replacement can be found, then the tournament might be dropped from next year’s calendar.
It would be a remarkable scenario. The game’s most famous player being unable to attract a backer for a fully-fledged Tour event in Washington DC, the nation’s capital And inevitably, many would view this as the latest sign of Woods’s diminishing status after any number of negative headlines; the most recent being his arrest for driving under the influence.
The National has been included on the Tour’s 2018 schedule but there is no venue listed. Monahan confirmed that the Tour had cancelled the contract with Congressional, the famous US Open course, which was due to stage the championship in the last week of June.
“We need to conclude those discussions with Quicken Loans, but you also need to maintain your flexibility,” Monahan said. “Because whether or not Quicken steps up, we need to have all our options in the event that sponsors are looking in a different direction, or we are going to take the tournament in a different direction.”
Woods has hosted The National, which benefits his charitable foundation, since 2007. Originally AT&T were the principal supporters, but in 2010 they dropped their individual sponsorship of the 14-time major-winner in the wake of his sex scandal. The telecommunications giant saw out its contract with The National, before it expired in 2013.
Quicken Loans came on board the next year but, as of yet, has failed to re-sign. John Feinstein, the celebrated US author who is contributing editor to Golf Digest, sounded certain that the reticence is down to the reputation of the fallen icon. “I don’t think corporations are lining up to make a deal with Tiger Woods right now, Feinstein said. “He’s damaged goods.”
It also has not helped that Woods has not played in the event since 2015 and was not even able to attend this year’s tournament following his arrest the month before. Woods was discovered to have five different drugs in his systems, including marijuana.
The 41-year-old checked into a clinic in June because of his reliance on prescription drugs. The last time he played competitively was January, since when he has undergone a fourth back operation.
His agent, Mark Steinberg, continues to remain upbeat, however. “The event, at this point, is not going away. I want to be clear about that,” Steinberg told the Washington. Post.
“We are looking for a title sponsor We have a number of good leads and are talking to them daily.”