Bridgestone CEO: Tiger Woods investment has already paid off for us

Tiger Woods signed with Bridgestone to play its golf balls in late 2016 after Nike decided to get out of the ball- and club-making business. Since that time, Woods has played exactly three rounds publicly.

He has undergone another back surgery -- this one a fusion surgery -- and got a DUI for apparently mishandling some of his prescription medication. And still, Bridgestone CEO Angel Ilagan said the company is pleased with the endorsement of Woods.

"The payoff has already occurred for us, Ilagan told Yahoo recently. "His endorsement value is what's really important for us. He picked our ball as the best ball out there. This is just added gravy for us if he plays.

"I don't think the big-time athlete really has an impact (on endorsements) -- unless they transcend the game, such as Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan," he added. "If they don't transcend the game and they can't reach out and become somebody that people listen to and believe in, it's not something that makes any value. Their play alone is not sufficient enough to create financial gains for an equipment company or sports company." 

It seems Ilagan includes Woods in that Jordan-Ali group, and he probably should. But it's tough to reconcile Woods, you know, not really playing golf with the idea that it doesn't even matter to begin with. Bridgestone has pumped Woods hard on its social media channels, but is that enough for what they're paying him (reportedly between $1-2 million per year)?

When it came time for this generations greatest golfer to pick a new golf ball, he picked the #BestBallEver

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Maybe Ilagan is right. Maybe it only matters that in the post-Nike era of golf balls, Woods chose Bridgestone. Of course, he's also being paid to choose Bridgestone. Still, it doesn't seem like any amount of money Woods could be paid would be enough to offset him playing the best ball for him.

Here's just after the Bridgestone announcement last December.

Shortly after the Nike announcement, Woods's agent, Mark Steinberg, asked Bridgestone to send Woods a shipment of Tour B330 and Tour 330-S balls. (Woods's management team also requested balls from other brands.) Woods conducted trials in relative seclusion -- representatives from the manufacturers were not on-site to capture data such as ball speed, spin or launch angle.

In the fall, representatives from Woods's team informed Bridgestone of the Tour B330-S's "success and performance" and that the testing process would continue in tournaments. (Consuegra estimates the company shipped 48 to 60 dozen balls to Woods for testing since August.) Earlier this month Woods teed up the Tour B330-S at his event in the Bahamas, where he finished 15th in the 17-player tournament but led the field in birdies with 24. The two sides reached an agreement shortly thereafter.

I see what Ilagan is saying. That really is a boon to have Woods say "yep, this one is the best ball in the world," but it would also be a huge plus to the company if Woods was able to come back this November and play well at the Hero World Challenge and beyond. Heck, it could be considered a coup if Woods can play at even 60 percent of what he once was.

CBS Sports Writer

Kyle Porter began his sports writing career with CBS Sports in 2012. He covers golf, writes poetry about Rory McIlroy's swing, stays ready on Tiger watch and loves the Masters more than anyone you know.... Full Bio

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