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Tiger has PGA Tour by the tail

November 11, 2000|By Dan Spears

Tiger has PGA Tour by the tail



Stop the world, folks. Apparently, Tiger Woods wants off.

No, the $54 million he'll make for 2001 won't be enough. Not only does Woods want to dominate the PGA Tour on the fairway, but he wants control of the highrise as well. Think Bill Parcells in soft-spikes and a blood-red polo on Sundays.

According to an exclusive interview that came out Friday, The Striped One is furious - not with his bad putting over the last three weeks - but with Commissioner Tim Finchem and his cronies, who have got a "monopoly'' on Woods' marketing and promotional purposes inside the best golf tour in the world.

To a point, Woods' argument makes sense. He should have the right and ability to decide who's going to plaster his face on whatever milk carton he chooses. For him to use the word monopoly is rather ironic, though, considering he's essentially owned the tour on the way to $9 million in prize money for nine cruise-control wins, including three majors. It's a dominance that Woods shrewdly turned into a $100 million deal with The Giant Swoosh.

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But Tiger got fussy that he didn't have control of where his smiling mug was being placed by the PGA Tour and its sponsors, so he retaliated by running to his own little band of businessmen.

His exclusive ripping came, conveniently, in Golf World magazine, a subsidiary of Golf Digest, which doles out some serious cash for a monthly tips column from Tiger.

He goes on to say that while his marketing possibilities are being curtailed, he doesn't need a cut in the tour's new television deal, which will be negotiated this winter. Never mind that Woods' mere presence ups a tournament's ratings by 40 percent if he shows up, and doubles them if he's got a shot to win. Never mind, indeed - because Woods is already raking it in from CBS, whose cbs.sportsline.com provides the networking for his official website and fan club, www.clubtiger.com.

On top of that, Woods doesn't like the fact that Finchem calls him only to play in tournaments on his tour. He says the two don't have much of a "rapport.''

Well Tiger, for most of the working stiffs in a company with 200-plus employees, one of the field guys isn't going to just walk into the CEO's office, plop into a chair and say, "Yo, how's it shakin', bossman?"

Granted, he's no stockboy or mail clerk, but when you get right down to it, Tiger's still just a contracted employee of the PGA Tour.

"I believe in what I believe in," Woods said in the Golf World interview. "I understand the whole picture. What amazes me is how much the public doesn't understand."

The public doesn't understand $54 million a year. The public doesn't understand celebrity. And Tiger Woods is a celebrity.

You know it. I know it. Woods' father tells us we should know it.

Tiger knows it. Yes, he's a celebrity for being able to turn 35 acres of grass into a billiards table, but he's a celebrity nonetheless. And he's got the Screen Actors Guild card to prove it.

Yes, that's the same SAG card that's gotten him into an awful lot of trouble. Tiger conveniently crossed the guild's picket line, going to Canada this summer to film a commercial for another of his shills, Buick. It's the one with him chucking golf clubs like javelins and arrows in the Olympics. Cute spot. Highly illegal.

"They were adamant we shoot this," said Tiger agent Mark Steinberg. "We didn't mean any harm."

Well, the tour really doesn't mean any harm, either. Plus, it did its work legally. It was part of the deal when he signed to play on the PGA Tour. If he lived up to all his own hype, there was this possibility. He did. It is.

Now Tiger wants that changed, or he's going to take his precious Nike golf balls and go home.

The PGA Tour should say fine. Don't the commericals say most of them play Titleist anyway?

Dan Spears is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail.

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