Rehabilitated Woods heading toward his second billion

Thu Dec 11, 2014 4:56pm EST
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By Larry Fine

(Reuters) - His goal of 18 majors is in serious doubt, but five years after his precipitous fall from grace a rehabilitated Tiger Woods is entering the next phase of his career heading toward making another billion.

Five years after driving into a fire hydrant in front of a neighbor's house in Isleworth, an accident that set off sordid tales of extramarital affairs and an exodus of sponsors, Woods returned to the exclusive enclave with high hopes restored.

Feeling fit after a break from the PGA Tour to deal with back pain, Woods, 38, swung freely at last week's Hero World Challenge but his game was rusty.

Off the course he flexed his fiscal muscles by announcing a new title sponsor for the tournament and a move of the event next year to promote his partnership in a lavish Bahamas resort.

"The second billion will be there for him," former CBS Sports president Neal Pilson, who now runs his own sports consulting firm, told Reuters in a telephone interview.

In 2009, Woods became the first athlete to reach the $1 billion mark in career earnings, according to a Forbes report issued two months before his personal life unraveled.

"That's long gone. That's over," Pilson said about issues that led to a loss of endorsements. "His personality, his looks, his contacts, his remaining skills and the emotional tie that people still have to Tiger is eminently marketable."

Woods, whose pursuit of Jack Nicklaus's record 18 majors has stalled since winning his 14th in 2008, unveiled his biggest endorsement pact in five years, a four-year deal with India-based Hero MotoCorp worth up to $8 million a year.   Continued...

Tiger Woods of the U.S. hits from a sand trap on the 12th hole during the second round of the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, August 8, 2014. REUTERS/John Sommers II