Mixed reaction to Nike's creepy Tiger ad

In what has to be one of the oddest ads in the history of television, Nike debuted Wednesday night a creepy, 30-second Tiger Woods commercial that features the fallen sports star solemnly staring at the camera while listening to a grim voiceover of his dead dad, the New York Post reported Thursday.

In a telling sign of how badly bruised the golf great's image remains, Madison Avenue's onetime wunderkind keeps mute throughout the commercial.

Instead, the voice of Earl Woods -- who died in 2006 -- is summoned from beyond the grave to quiz his skirt-chasing son.

"Tiger, I am more prone to be inquisitive," his father begins the commercial, which is shot in black and white. "I want to find out what your thinking was. I want to find out what your feelings are."

Then he poses the question his son was surely asked in sex rehab. "And did you learn anything?" he asked.

The golfer seems on the verge of tears, blinking his famously wandering eyes several times. The ad ends with the camera silently fading to a Nike emblem. It was not clear how Nike produced the audio.

The commercial aired on ESPN and the Golf Channel on the eve of Woods' return to competitive golf in Thursday's opening round of the Masters.

"I think it's totally brilliant for Tiger, because it does all the rehabilitation for him and he doesn't have to say a word," said Adweek critic Barbara Lippert. "He just has to stand there and look blank."

She said it was smart for Nike to play its most powerful weapon: the dad card.

"In sports, in general, there's a reverence for dads who created a champion -- even if this is where Tiger learned all his cheating ways. We hold dads in reverence because we think we can create our own champion, our own little Tiger," she said.

But Dana Alden, who teaches marketing at the University of Hawaii, says the ad might be just too weird.

"There are more traditional ways of mending a public perception than this," he said.

"It's confusing. I don't know if people will automatically know that's his dad talking. I think they run the risk of viewers coming away confused or making their own interpretation of what the message is."

At Merrion Square Bar and Restaurant on the Upper East Side, local sports fans weren't particularly impressed with Woods' return to his other great talent -- shilling products.

Andy Luttner, 29, didn't know what to think after seeing the spot.

"I didn't think it made sense," said Luttner.

Brad Breckerstron called the ad "interesting marketing."

But admitted it was far from persuasive.

"I wouldn't run out and buy sneakers [because of it]," he said.

And Nathan Stanley, who works in advertising, said the ad seemed like an attempt to address the problem head on.

"This is their attempt to portray what everyone is thinking, but to put it in a familiar context since it's coming from his dad," he said.

In response to queries regarding the ad, Nike issued a brief statement saying, "We support Tiger and his family. As he returns to competitive golf, the ad addresses his time away from the game using the powerful words of his father."

The sportswear giant was one of the few sponsors to stick with Woods after his squeaky-clean image was unmasked following a series of disclosures by a string of mistresses.

Woods, who had been the No. 1 moneymaker in sports, lost big-bucks endorsement deals with major firms, such as Gatorade, Accenture and AT&T.

Analysts said the sex scandal cost him $35 million in endorsements.