EA Sports Sticking With Tiger for PGA Tour Online Game

On his "It's in the Game" blog, Peter Moore, president of EA Sports, reiterated their commitment to beleaguered golfer Tiger Woods. The title of his post, EA SPORTS Moves Forward with Tiger Woods PGA TOUR Online Launch in January, confirms that, at least for their latest golf game, Tiger remains the front man. On the decision to stick with Woods, Moore wrote:
Our relationship with Tiger has always been rooted in golf. We didn't form a relationship with him so that he could act as an arm's length endorser. Far from it. We chose to partner with Tiger in 1997 because we saw him as the world's best, most talented and exciting golfer. We struck that partnership with the assumption that he would remain near or at the top of his sport for years to come.

That last part about remaining near or at the top of his sport seems to leave some wiggle room for EA Sports to readdress the situation down the road. The sudden fall from grace for Woods put brands tightly tied to him in a tough situation. While other sponsors could end their relationships, relaunching a line takes time. In the case of PGA Tour Online that's something they didn't have. As Moore wrote, "we have spent considerable time developing and testing this game; we're proud of it; and we are releasing it in open beta later this month.

It's simple economics; the show must go on. But for how long? There's a very real question of where video game golf (and the sport itself for that matter) stands without Woods. The days of Links and competition for the best golf game hinging on innovative mouse-swing inputs long since passed.

Moore wrote, "When we say 'It's in the Game', it is not just a tag line but a statement about the quality and authenticity of the game experience." As legendary a golfer as Woods may be, how long his personal leave from the sport lasts is anyone's guess. Golfers don't face the same limited time window to play professionally and Woods certainly has the financial security for an extended leave. Should it drag on or. worse yet, any allegations related to performance-enhancing substances prove true, that authenticity clause may come back up again.