Invincible in Red: Tiger Woods and Nike at the Masters

Invincible in Red: Tiger Woods and Nike at the Masters

When Tiger Woods arrived on the final day of the Masters in 2019, it felt as if the sports world had stepped into a time machine. The 43-year-old golfer – 11 years removed from winning his last major tournament – ​​was fighting against a series of devastating injuries and an entirely new generation of competition, but with every perfect shot he was reminding the world that he is a What was the time?

The main thing, perhaps more than any other aspect of his game, was the fact that Mr. Woods looked exactly the same as he had in his other four wins at Augusta, the last of which was in 2005.

As he walked down the tree-lined path, his arms and chest were more muscular than they had been in his 20s, the pants were made a little more comfortable, but the uniform remained his uniform. On top of his head was a black cap with a white Nike swoosh. His pants, belt and shoes were all black. And his shirt was, of course, red.

In the book “Never Settle” by ESPN reporter Marty Smith, Mr. Woods is quoted as saying, “It goes back to my mother.” “My mother says my power color is red.”

When Mr. Woods managed to win his last Masters title, at least for now, it gave hope that his days as a major golfer were not over. But his comeback was cut short in 2021 due to a car accident, leaving him three major titles short of equaling Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18.

Now the reality of entering a decidedly different phase of his life and career – one in which he is more of a golf consultant to his son Charlie than an active golfer – was driven home with emphasis, this week. When Mr. Woods went Ended its 27-year-old relationship with Nike, That relationship, which lasted until 1997, a few months before his first win at the Masters, began with a $40 million bet by Nike on an eccentric individual who many correctly predicted would be that person. Which will revolutionize golf.

During his years with Nike, Mr. Woods continued to Experiment with different looks – on and off the course – and often featured its own TW logo instead of the company’s signature swoosh. But on Sunday, especially at the Masters, the uniform was the uniform.

In his first professional appearance at Augusta – he had played the Masters twice as an amateur – Mr. Woods became the youngest champion in the history of the tournament. in his Times Column Games, Dave Anderson asked several questions about the young golfer’s future. from them:

“Will his income, especially his $40 million Nike contract, dim the flame of his competitive desire?”

(I did not do it.)

Unlike 1997, when he ran away with the Masters title, Mr. Woods Faced some competition on final day of 2001 To win the tournament, David Duval and Phil Mickelson need to be stopped. And wearing a slightly darker shade of red, she did just that and captured her fourth consecutive major title.

With his third Masters win in a six-year period, Mr Woods had become so dominant that writers and rivals struggled to say anything about the moment, as their attention was focused on his achievements. could mean about his future, This win came so soon after his 2001 victory that his photos from the two tournaments are almost indistinguishable.

Mr. Woods struggled somewhat in 2005, at least by his own lofty standards, and his fourth Masters victory almost eluded him on the final day. His final victory proved satisfying in a whole new way. Going back to the bright shade of red and trading the dri-fit collarless shirts for polos, he and his game looked refreshed.

In an event considered one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the game, Mr. Woods’ incredible victory at the Masters in 2019 was set in motion with a series of events on the 12th hole of the final day that, among other things, A destroyer was also involved. Staring from Mr. Woods, who was dressed like it was 2005 and playing like it was 1997.

Bill Pennington wrote of Mr. Woods’ performance on the 12th hole, “It was much more than a golf hole.” “It was psychological drama, the moment a former champion reclaimed his dominance, and the kind of seminal moment that helps rewrite the history of a sport.”

Tiger was, at least briefly, Tiger once again. And his Nike uniform, as it did on so many other great days in his career, drove that point home to perfection.

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