Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tiger Woods' dad "speaks" in New Nike ad

Tiger Woods is making his long-awaited comeback later - as Nike broadcast a new TV commercial that could cause more controversy for the world's top golfer.

The sports giant's stark black and white ad was aired on prime-time TV across the US on the eve of the Masters. It uses the voice of Woods' late father, Earl, and suggests that the golfer feels he has let him down with alleged marital indiscretions.

A recording of Earl, who died in 2006, asks his son: "Tiger I am more prone to be inquisitive. I want to find out what your thinking was. I want to find out what your feelings are, and did you learn anything." Nike was one of a handful of Woods' major sponsors not to distance themselves from him when the scandal about his private life broke at the end of last year.

It comes as Woods is due to tee-off at the Masters in Augusta - his first tournament for five months. The star was treated to a warm reception from fans and fellow players during three days of practice on the prestigious Georgia course. He appeared relaxed and more open with the public, even signing autographs for a group of children on Wednesday, in contrast to his image as cold and aloof before the scandal broke.

But his smooth return to competitive action was threatened by an unusual broadside from the chairman of the famously discreet Augusta club. Billy Payne told reporters: "It is not simply the degree of his conduct that is so egregious here, it is the fact that he disappointed all of us and, more importantly, our kids and grandkids. Our hero did not live up to the expectations of the role model we sought for our children."

Organisers of the Masters are wary of potential stunts by some of the women who claim they have had affairs with Woods. One of them, Joslyn James, is planning to appear at a strip club in Atlanta this week. The National Enquirer has also reported on another alleged fling involving the daughter of one of Woods' neighbours, Raychel Coudriet, 22.

The golfer has confirmed his wife Elin will not be attending the four-day tournament.

But former pros have been more forgiving. Ex-Open champion John Daly - himself no stranger to headlines of the wrong sort - told Sky News: "Once he wins again, which I think could be this week, and gets to playing as he used to, he will be fine."

Meanwhile, ticket touts, known as scalpers in the US, say prices have rocketed. The sellers are barred by local law from making a profit on tickets and have to stay a designated distance from gates. But one said he expects a four-day pass with a face value of a few hundred dollars will sell for around £9,000.

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