x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Is tweeting Tiger Woods just being sociable?

Our columnist wonders about the strategic implications as Tiger Woods, the world’s No2 golfer, climbs aboard the Twitter bandwagon.

Tiger Woods, pictured during the US Open, has joined the ranks of sporting personalities using Twitter.
Tiger Woods, pictured during the US Open, has joined the ranks of sporting personalities using Twitter.

Tiger Woods must stick to 140 characters or fewer from now on.

No, not in his love life, but his tweeting. The world's second-best golfer has finally joined its second-best social networking site, Twitter. While it is not the first time Woods has succumbed to the charms of a cute little bird, at least Twitter's avian logo will not turn up on the Oprah Winfrey show, wearing platform heels and weeping: "He told me I was the only one!"

Still, that does not mean micro-blogging is a risk-free activity. With almost every passing day, another sporting figure puts the Twit into Twitter with an unguarded comment.

Of course, much of the "controversy" is harmless mischief fired into cyberspace by puckish scamps looking to cause a stir. The golfer Ian Poulter springs to mind.

Other Twitter-generated stories are embarrassing but harmless. Like Kevin Davies, the Bolton Wanderers striker who did little for the stereotypical image of footballers as pampered layabouts this week when he tweeted his followers to demand advice on how to work a toaster. (To be fair, the toaster should think itself lucky that Davies did not do what he normally does when frustrated by technical superiority, and lead with his elbow.)

A growing number of tweets, however, are embarrassing and damaging. Ask Lalit Modi, architect of the Indian Premier League, who caused a corruption stink by running his mouth off on Twitter and is currently being sued for an allegedly defamatory tweet about the New Zealand cricketer Chris Cairns. Ask Stephanie Rice, the Australian swimmer who lost a sponsorship deal with Jaguar after a homophobic tweet.

So the question must be asked: what is Tiger playing at? He is not a Poulter-esque scamp who craves attention, as is perfectly clear from the name of his yacht, the hue of his trousers and his favoured facial expression (Privacy, beige, scowl). Nor is he likely to follow the Kevin Davies route by telling us what a lovable duffer he is in the kitchen. Besides, if his toaster doesn't work, one may suspect it is because of the former Mrs Woods striking it with a five-iron last Thanksgiving - although only to rescue a piece of bread which was stuck inside, you understand.

Perhaps he wants to make like Lance Armstrong, who used to invite fans to impromptu cycle rides via Twitter? Oh yes, I can see that.

I don't want Tiger to be just like you and me. I want the old Tiger back - invincible, superhuman, all-conquering. And if he really wants to communicate with golf fans, then he should know that most would be happy with the occasional smile or tip of the cap as he walks down the fairway.

So bring that up at your next brand meeting, Tiger. Say a little bird told you.


England’s World Cup bid bodes well for an island and an invitation

England played two trump cards this week as the race to host the World Cup in 2018 becomes ever more frantic.

Firstly, David Cameron, the prime minister, personally buttered up Jack Warner, the Fifa vice-president, who is also a government minister in Trinidad and Tobago. “He [Cameron] said if there was anything he could do for Trinidad and Tobago, he will be prepared to do so,” Warner said.

One has to wonder how such a conversation might sound if it was secretly recorded by an undercover journalist and transcribed in shocked tones, with a suitably lurid headline. I guess one man’s bribe is another man’s international diplomacy.

The second weapon was the unveiling of Prince William as part of the team travelling to Zurich for the vote on December 2. With his mother’s good looks and his genuine love of football (he supports Aston Villa, presumably because the stands of Villa Park on match day offer a sense of peace and solitude he struggles to find in daily life), the Queen’s grandson would be a big hit at any time. But currently his star shines even brighter, as he has just announced his engagement.

That is probably why he made the poor girl wait for so long. I guess the plan is for Wills to drop some juicy hints to Fifa president Sepp Blatter – “What are you doing next June, Sepp?”, “Do you prefer chicken or salmon, Sepp?”, that sort of thing – until he can practically taste the wedding cake. It should not be too hard a sell. Blatter already acts like a royal so he’ll be half-expecting an invitation.

People say the British monarchy is a waste of money but this just goes to show they still have their uses. I bet the Russians are beginning to regret slaughtering all of theirs now.