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Tiger Woods looks at his driver after hitting a shot during a practice round prior to the start of the 92nd PGA Championship on the Straits Course at Whistling Straits on in Kohler, Wisc. -- August 9, 2010 - 


Bill Radke: The PGA championship starts Thursday in Whistling Straits, Wisc. And for the first time in years, Tiger Woods is not the odds-on favorite. The problem is not his sex scandal, it is his golf. Marketplace's Mitchell Hartman reports on marketing a fallen and struggling icon.

Mitchell Hartman: When it comes to product endorsements, Tiger Woods is still the biggest name in golf. But when he ends a tournament at 18-over-par, like he did recently in Akron, Ohio, it could be a sign his star-power is starting to dim, says Webster University sports economist Patrick Rishe:

Patrick Rishe: He's become mortal.

And that may be his biggest problem. His sexual escapades didn't faze key sponsors like Nike and EA Sports -- they stuck with him. Rishe doesn't think they're ready to bail -- yet:

Rishe: Now, if he continues to play like this in 2011, then I think the murmuring is going to get a lot louder. And at that point, some of those corporations are going to be much more likely to drop him.

All the lousy chipping and putting could put pressure on golf itself, says Rishe. Woods' superhuman play has driven a surge the sport's popularity and TV ratings for more than a decade. With Woods off his game, fans may decide to turn off pro golf altogether.

I'm Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace.

Follow Mitchell Hartman at @entrepreneurguy