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Tiger Woods' Popularity Apparent Again

Monday, 26 Mar 2012 | 10:59 AM ET
Tiger Woods holds the trophy after winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge.
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Tiger Woods holds the trophy after winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge.

In the days after life started unraveling for Tiger Woods, it was hard to ever see the light.

Hard to believe that he didn't alienate the masses.

Hard to believe that he'd ever be marketable again.

Seven months after the scandal that saw woman after woman come forward to talk about their affairs with the golf star, Marketing Evaluations, which produces the famous Q Scores, said its data showed that 39 percent of sports fans saw Tiger in a negative light compared to 15 percent before the scandal.

"The speculation is that it's not going to get better soon, if ever," Marketing Evaluations' Steven Levitt said at the time.

Accenture and AT&T dropped him. Gatorade and Gillette didn't renew him.

And while there might have been some part of the general population — the casual fan who didn't watch golf except to root for Woods — that left the game, Tiger didn't lose much.

As Woods closed in on his first PGA Tour victory in 924 days yesterday at Bay Hill, I asked my Twitter followers if they were rooting for him to win.

More than 87 percent of people who voted (878 total votes) said they were rooting for Tiger. My guess is if I took that poll before Thanksgiving 2009, I might get slightly more fan support but only a percent or two.

I called Tiger's fall "Nixonian" at the time and I stand by that. As a person, he took a huge hit.

But many prominent pundits took it a step further — as they did with Kobe Bryant, as well — to say that so many wouldn't root for him again.

Others said that it would take a streak of huge wins to get him back with the public.

Tiger might not be as popular as he once was, and it will be hard to achieve the same level of marketability.

Yet this morning, I can't help but think how many were cheering for him yesterday; and the ratings, amidst competition from Elite Eight games going on at the same time, will prove that math.

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com

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