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GOLF / THOMAS BONK

More Green Than Greens for Woods

September 10, 1996|THOMAS BONK

So just how did the first two weekends go for the Tiger Woods Golf-Ball Wrecking, Fairway-Splitting, Flagstick-Chasing Birdie Revue and Traveling Economic Impact Report?

Well, we know he cashed a check for exactly $2,544 when he tied for 60th at the Greater Milwaukee Open, then finished 11th at the Bell Canadian Open and won $37,500. Woods had a hole in one on the last day at Milwaukee and gave the ball to a fan. He also was on television so much, it seemed as though he had his own show.

For those of you keeping score at home, Woods now has won $40,044 in two weeks, which puts him 204th on the PGA Tour money list. Charlie Rymer is 125th with $129,748, and John Maginnes is 150th with $99,343. There are six weeks left for Woods to earn his 1997 PGA Tour Card by finishing in the top 125 on this year's money list, or to finish in the top 150 and enjoy an unlimited number of sponsors' exemptions into 1997 tournaments.

All in all, it's hardly a bad start for the $43-million man, a 20-year-old who forgot his checkbook when he was asked to pay the $100 registration fee for his first pro tournament.

Butch Harmon, Woods' coach, offered to lend him the money so he could kid him about it, but Woods decided a lifetime's worth of ribbing wasn't worth it, so he retrieved his checkbook.

No one really has any reservations at all about Woods as a golfer. But now that the bank notes have started to settle, it's probably not too surprising that a great deal of the attention Woods has received is about money.

The sums seem to be getting bigger. Hughes Norton of IMG said Woods' deal with Nike might be worth as much as $60 million, not the $40 million that has been reported.

Add it up and that sure was a big Tiger tab Nike picked up for the first two weeks of its endorsement deal with Woods.

A three-page display ad in the Wall Street Journal that appeared the first day of the Milwaukee event cost more than $350,000.

Then there was the 30-second television spot shown on ABC that cost the sponsor $250,000 to have it seen over the weekend, according to an industry source. The same ad cost Nike $10,000 each time it was shown during ESPN's four days of Canadian tournament coverage.

Reaction to the ad probably is going to be mixed. In the spot, Woods said there are still courses in the U.S. that he is not allowed to play because of the color of his skin, a claim that is borderline preposterous. Given his popularity, it's extremely doubtful there is any course in this hemisphere that Woods wouldn't be allowed to play just by picking up the phone.

Although the spot was entirely in character with Nike's in-your-face, aggressive, confrontational approach to marketing, it seemed entirely out of character for Woods. After all, he has gone out of his way to downplay the issue. And then to show up at his first professional tournament with the message that golf is racist seemed like an odd housewarming gift.

Woods also raised a few eyebrows when he announced that he was moving to Florida because he no longer could stand the smog and traffic in Southern California and oh, yeah, because there's no state income tax in Florida. Here's a 20-year-old who just made deals worth at least $43 million and he's moving out of state to avoid taxes?

For what Woods is paying his management team, maybe he should be getting better advice.

*

Much was made of Woods' hastily arranged, seven-event playing schedule after turning pro, but the Associated Press reported that Woods was given a sponsor's exemption to play the coming Buick Challenge five months ago--in April--in case he decided to turn pro.

Before the U.S. Open, Woods said he planned to play in only two pro events before the beginning of Stanford's fall quarter, at Milwaukee and at the Quad City Classic.

*

With its ratings generally rolling in the same direction as a downhill putt for the last 10 years, it wasn't exactly a shock that Woods got an invitation to play in the $540,000 Skins Game Nov. 30-Dec. 1 at Rancho La Quinta--especially since IMG has a hand in the proceedings.

With Woods, John Daly, Fred Couples and Tom Watson as a foursome, it may be the most compelling of the 14 Skins fields. The first two Skins Games in 1983 and 1984 featured Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Watson.

*

The top moment in golf is . . . what?

A blue-ribbon panel of golf experts will decide just that from a list of 25 in the "MasterCard's Best of the Best in Golf," but Tom Watson already has made his choice: Bobby Jones winning the Grand Slam in 1930.

"That's got to be it right there," said Watson, who is on the list twice himself with his 1977 British Open victory at Turnberry and his 1982 U.S. Open triumph at Pebble Beach.

Other top moments include Gene Sarazen's double eagle in the 1935 Masters, Ben Hogan's victory in the 1950 U.S. Open at Merion, Arnold Palmer's victory in the 1960 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills, Jack Nicklaus' Masters victory in 1986 and Ben Crenshaw's victory at Augusta in 1995.

Golf Notes

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