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Big Bucks, Big News Follow Woods

May 30, 1997|THOMAS BONK

If there is anyone who still has trouble following the tracks Tiger Woods is making in his first full year on the PGA Tour, here is a hint: Follow the money.

Of course, this isn't exactly news, is it? Woods is the leading money winner on the PGA Tour ($1.36 million), but that's pocket change for this globe-trotting, golf-playing, combination

multinational corporation and gross national product in spikes.

If the numbers are true, they are staggering. Counting the $40 million from Nike, the $20 million from Titleist, the $13 million from American Express (originally reported at $30 million) and the $7 million from Rolex, Woods tops out right now at $80 million in endorsements. And it's not even June.

On Monday, he started earning the first third of an estimated $1.8-million fee that a billionaire lumber tycoon is paying him to play in a yearly charity pro-am at a club outside Pittsburgh.

And since we're talking appearance fees, you have to add the $480,000 Woods made when he played in a tournament in Thailand in February.

However, Woods is not merely about money, even if he collects huge piles of it. Whatever Woods does is news. The attention he gets is sort of overpowering. Woods estimates that he signs five autographs every time he stops at the service station to pump gas.

And on the golf course, every move he makes comes under heavy scrutiny. Last week at the MasterCard Colonial, Woods got his wrist slapped a little by Brad Faxon, who said Woods needs to cut out the habit of grading his performances.

Faxon hinted that Woods' popularity would dip in the locker room if he didn't. And who said golfers can't be petty? The problem was that Woods had won the week before at the GTE Byron Nelson even though he said he didn't have his "A game."

Now, pro golfers don't really like to hear they were beaten by somebody who didn't have to play that well to do it. Woods said he is through with the grade thing, but he said he had a good reason for the grading in the first place.

"I have to be honest," he said. "I have to tell the truth. You guys [reporters] ask me a question and I'll tell you straight up."

Paul Goydos said the issue is pointless.

"That's reality," he said. "You have to learn to deal with reality. I think Tiger can say whatever he wants. He may be the most famous guy in the U.S. right now. Maybe in the world. Who knows?

"Of course, you're talking to a guy who has been in contention twice in his whole life, so what do I know?"


He's back. That would be John Daly, this time the sober version, who showed up at this week's Memorial tournament in Dublin, Ohio, vowing to follow his after-care program to the letter.

Daly said he has been sober for two months and that he's taking it one day at a time after completing an eight-week treatment session at the Betty Ford Clinic.

"I was around alcohol my whole life," Daly said. "It's not the easiest thing to do. I started drinking four years after I started playing golf. And I started playing golf when I was 4. So that's kind of tough."

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported the tab for Daly's stay at the Betty Ford was picked up by Joe Hardy, a 74-year-old Pittsburgh lumber tycoon who had Daly, Woods and 31 other pros on Monday at a pro-am in Farmington, Pa. Amateurs paid $10,000 for the privilege of playing.

As for a potential rivalry with Woods, Daly said he is looking forward to one.

"He's 21, I'm 31, but I can learn from him," Daly said. "He's just phenomenal. Am I going to give him any advice? I'm going to get advice from him."

JAY HEBERT, 1923-1997

Jay Hebert, the 1960 PGA champion who died Sunday in Houston at 74, may best be remembered for something over which he had no control--his golf-playing brother, Lionel. But that's only part of the story.

Jay won the PGA Championship at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, three years after brother Lionel did it in 1957 at Miami Valley Country Club in Dayton, Ohio, the last year it was a match-play event. The Heberts are the only brothers to win the tournament.

Jay Hebert had a heart condition and had been hospitalized for nearly three months.

The Louisiana native was a player and teacher for 48 years and was on the Ryder Cup team in 1959 and 1961. He also was the non-playing Ryder Cup captain in 1963. Jay Hebert won five tour events in addition to the PGA.


Peter Jacobsen, a skilled mimic of golfers, was asked to imitate Woods. Jacobsen declined.

"If I could imitate Tiger Woods, I would do it every swing," he said.


How to lose a golf tournament, by David Ogrin: Make three bogeys on the back nine on the last day, which is what he did Sunday at the MasterCard Colonial won by David Frost.

How bad was it?

"I putted like a pig," he said.


Ogrin said being paired with Woods was extremely noisy, but fun. Ogrin compared the experience to being in the eye of a hurricane. It also reminded him of something else: "Like being in surround sound at the movies."


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