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Teeing Off: How important is Tiger Woods’ popularity?

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Welcome to Teeing Off, where Devil Ball editor Jay Busbee and head writer Shane Bacon take a day's topic and smack it all over the course. Suggest a future topic by writing jay.busbee@yahoo.com, or hit us on Twitter at @jaybusbee and @shanebacon. Today: new reports continue to show how negatively the public views Tiger Woods. Our question: does that really matter?

Busbee: So there's a report out this week that Tiger's Q scores--the statistical measure of his popularity--continue to remain in the range of Michael Vick and Ben Roethlisberger, both of whom were either accused or convicted of far worse "transgressions" than Woods ever committed. Fully 50 percent of all respondents to the survey had a negative impression of Woods. Big softball here for you, Mr. Bacon: What's it going to take for Tiger to get a more favorable Q rating?

Bacon: WIN GOLF TOURNAMENTS!!!! Seriously, though, Tiger has to be Tiger soon, or his stock will continue to fall. Think of Tiger as Blockbuster. A company with a strong hold on the movie renting business years ago, technology (and in this analogy, youth and international players) turned the once strong company into an afterthought in our ways of watching entertainment. Now, Blockbuster is selling whatever it can in its stores to try and turn a profit, just like Tiger is doing whatever he can to his swing to be successful. If Tiger can win again, and win a big tournament (I think one is in Augusta in the next month or so), it'll change all of this. Kobe Bryant won a championship, and his image turned. Ben Roethlisberger made a Super Bowl, and people rooted for him again. When Tiger is in contention at the Masters again, life will seem normal, and people will get behind him once more.

Busbee: Were you surprised by the amount of negative perception of Tiger? It's still 50 percent. That seems pretty high. Maybe we're a moral nation. Or, since winning will change that figure in a heartbeat, maybe not.

Bacon: I'd have to say I am still amazed that people haven't let up on the guy yet, but I bash the guy on a daily basis, so I guess I'm part of that problem. It seems we love our stars until they screw up, hate them, and then love them again when they turn it around. Tiger is an example of the first two, and we're still waiting for the third to ring true. Here is a question for you: How fast will the sponsors start running back to Camp Tiger when he wins a major? At Usain Bolt speed, or just Carl Lewis speed?

Busbee: At sportswriters-claiming-Tiger's-back-when-he-shoots-one-decent-round speed. I do have to give the Woods camp credit for holding out for the top-shelf sponsors; you know there are phone-card and cash-for-gold companies who've been appealing to Tiger to come shill for them. (Though Tiger hawking phone cards would've been fun to see.) Look, you and I both know the simple truth is that no matter how much people bray about how much they hate Tiger, and they will, the silent majority will come right back to watch him once he gets back in contention. And it all begins this week at Bay Hill.

All right, your turn. Still got a negative perception of Tiger? What's going to change your mind, if anything? Go!

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