Tiger's tale will be an expensive epic

AT&T Inc said on Dec. 31, 2009 that it has terminated its sponsorship agreement with Tiger Woods....

AT&T Inc said on Dec. 31, 2009 that it has terminated its sponsorship agreement with Tiger Woods. (REUTERS/Hans Deryk/Files)

RICHARD POWERS, GUEST COLUMN

, Last Updated: 1:11 PM ET

It was always going to end this way -- why should we act surprised?

The news that Elin Nordegren is planning to divorce her husband, Tiger Woods, was the only plausible end game for the recently crowned athlete of the decade. And with the news that Elin is with her family while Tiger toils away on his yacht, the only real negotiations are taking place between their lawyers.

As speculation surrounds the coming legal rounds, Tiger will soon resume his other rounds -- of golf. The suggestion that he was planning an indefinite leave of absence from the game was as ludicrous as it was unimaginable. Did anyone really think that Tiger would put on hold, his quest to rewrite the record books as he chases Jack Nicklaus's record of 18 major championships?

The notion of him travelling the world with Elin and the kids in tow, to ensure his fidelity was a pipe dream at best. In addition to his extraordinary skills as a golfer, Tiger has been successful because of a single trait common only to those who achieve the greatness that their skill set has provided them -- focus and the ability to screen out distractions.

Despite the vow "for better or for worse," Tiger's sole purpose in life has been the attainment of the one record that still eludes him. Nothing was going to come in the way of that. Scandal, divorce, health issues -- Tiger Woods has and will continue to put aside such distractions and eventually eclipse Nicklaus' amazing accomplishment.

LONELY EXISTENCE

How would it have played out otherwise? It would have been a very lonely existence for Tiger and his family on the tour. Who would they socialize with? Every relationship that Tiger has had since joining the tour is now in question, from Elin's viewpoint at least. Do you think his long-time caddie, Steve Williams, is getting a Christmas card from Mrs. Woods this year? Not very likely. Despite his comments that he was unaware of his boss' philandering, it doesn't make a lot of sense. They have been together since 1999 -- 10 years -- and to suggest that he knew nothing sounds as hollow as Seargent Schultz in Hogan's Heroes --"I see nothing."

The tale of the Tiger has been sensational news, from the car crash to the body count --14 when we last looked. The 9/11 attacks commanded front page news for approximately 20 days. Tigergate passed that with stories of his pending divorce and subsequent additions to his dating portfolio. And that was before news of his sponsors ditching him so that he can sort out his personal issues arose. Accenture, AT&T, Tag Heuer and Gillette have all taken a bogey on Tiger.

The media needed something -- climate change and demonstrations in Copenhagen can make for pretty boring leads after a few days. People want to read about the lives of the rich and famous -- and other than the Italian PM's failed block of a statuette, the news has been pretty thin. Thank goodness for Tigergate.

In marriage, Tiger Woods is not unique and he is certainly not the first professional golfer to stray -- think John Daly.Kobe Bryant and the list goes on. Recent statistics reveal that "24% of American men ages 45-60 say they've cheated at some point in their marriages" -- and that's only the ones who admitted it. It just makes sense that there would be some professional athletes in the mix.

This story is not going to end nicely. Tiger and Elin will split and it will cost him tens of millions in the settlement. His dalliances already have cost him somewhere in the range of $50 million US in sponsorship income and that figure will climb.

Richard C. Powers is the associate dean and executive director of MBA and Master of Finance program at the Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto


Photos