Tiger impersonators are hurting, too

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(AP) — Herme Chua got booed. Canh Oxelson is no longer getting the best tables at restaurants, and will have to wait longer to pay off those student loans from Harvard.

Think Tiger Woods is having problems? Try being one of his lookalikes.

“A lot of people just don’t want to be associated with Tiger right now,” Oxelson said.

For Oxelson and Chua, that means a steady flow of extra cash has dried up. The exposure of Woods’ double life is hitting his doubles right in the wallet.

“I had to turn down a job that would have paid pretty well,” said Chua, aka Tiger 2. “It was an adult nightclub that wanted me to go to six cities in six nights. But I’m active in my son’s school and help coach a track team. If the kids ever found out I was helping to promote adult nightclubs, it wouldn’t be appropriate.”

Imagine if the real Tiger had such moral reservations. Chua would probably still have some work now.

Instead the Tiger Woods impersonation business is hurting almost as bad as the real Tiger Woods business. For the faux Tigers, Woods’ comeback in the Masters can’t come soon enough.

“I’m rooting for him,” said Oxelson, who goes by the monicker Tigersdouble. “Of course I have financial reasons for that.”

The life of a Woods lookalike isn’t what it used to be, even in Southern California where Woods was raised and where Oxelson and Chua ply their trade. Before Woods’ sex scandal broke, they could pick up some extra cash by making appearances at anything from birthday parties to golf outings.

It wasn’t terribly difficult work, as long as they dressed the part. And the uniform was always the same — black pants, red shirt and black hat with the Nike swoosh.

Chua was getting 10 to 20 gigs a year, a nice supplement to his day job as a database administrator. He parlayed his look into a small part in the comedy “Parfection,” due out later this year, and made a recent appearance on the “Maury” show.

“The audience actually booed me,” he said. “That was something new and different. Normally you get a positive reaction but because of the scandal it’s been a lot of negative.”

Oxelson knows about that. He had a part lined up in a commercial he believes was for Gatorade and a big convention show in San Diego, but both were called off when the scandal broke.

Meanwhile, the looks he gets while out and about in the Los Angeles area have changed.

“People yell things out at me, like ‘Hey, Tiger, how about all those blondes'” Oxelson said. “Sometimes I yell back, ‘Blondes have more fun’ or something like that. It’s all in fun.”

Oxelson said he used to get great tables at restaurants because people thought he was Woods. Once he was at a restaurant with friends looking at pictures of himself dressed like Woods when a woman came up with her son thanking him for what he had done for black people and golf.

“I couldn’t say I’m sorry, I’m not Tiger Woods,” he said. “She’s not going to believe it, especially with me looking at all the photos dressed like Tiger.”

Oxelson, dean of students at a private high school, began his life as a Tiger double about 13 years ago. The idea came after he was at the AT&T tournament at Pebble Beach and people kept asking if they could have their picture taken with him.

“I figured I could pay for my graduate school at Harvard by doing lookalike stuff,” he said. “It takes a while to pay off a Harvard education but as long as I kept getting events it was good.”

The future is more uncertain, just as it is for the real Tiger. Both Oxelson and Chua say they were shocked and disappointed by the scandal, but are hoping Woods can somehow salvage his reputation down the road.

Oxelson, who once worked with Woods on a commercial, said he still believes resembling the most famous athlete in the world has been worth it, though it can be a little disconcerting at times.

“I go to the mall or something and people look at me even if I’m not dressed like Tiger,” he said. “I never know why. Are they looking at me because they think I’m like Tiger Woods or is it maybe because I have a sign that says ‘kick me’ on my back? You never know.”