Normally a golfer winning after two years is no big deal. The sport can be so beautiful, yet so cruel at the same time that many of the game’s greatest players go through long droughts before regaining that winning touch. But Tiger Woods is no regular golfer; he is the greatest golfer alive… not named Jack Nicklaus. So when Woods finally broke through with a win at the 2011 Chevron World Challenge in Thousand Oaks, California, it was cause for celebration and relief.
(Check out pictures of Tiger Woods’ win at the 2011 Chevron World Challenge from Day 1 to the finish)
Since winning the Australian Masters in late 2009, Woods has had a lot to deal with (which you can read about all here) off the course. This has led to a sharp decline in his golf game and more failed restarts and jumping off points than what we’re used to with Tiger. All you really need to know about how bad Woods has been at the game of golf and how poorly he has handled it at times can be summed up by his former caddy and village idiot Stevie Williams.
Through the rough times, Nike has been supportive of Woods and his many attempts to get back to winning form. After all, Nike (or more accurately, Nike’s boss Phil Knight) once upon a time signed a young Tiger to a then-insane five-year, $40 million endorsement deal before even winning a tournament. Today, Nike Golf is one of the top golf brands in the world (up to $800 million annually in sales) and Woods’ deal with Nike is now valued upwards for $30 million yearly.
In preparation for his latest comeback – this time from injury – Woods has been wearing a pair of Nike FREE golf prototypes designed by Tobie Hatfield, Nike’s design director. If you’re reading the last name and find it familiar, that’s because Tobie is Tinker Hatfield’s (aka the guy who designed all the good Air Jordans) brother. While Woods has often been pictured in the black version of the prototypes, he wore a white pair to the Chevron event this past week.
Tiger is a big fan of the Nike FREE tech and was very adamant about getting that on his feet during tournaments. It’s the first time FREE has been used on golf shoes and some have called it out for not looking like a traditional golf shoe but rather something you might see in a cross trainer.
Provided Woods keeps playing well in these experimental shoes, you can be sure that it will be available in one form or another sometime next year.
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