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Golf hinges on Tiger

Does anyone watch golf if Tiger isn’t around? Would you? Would you watch if you knew he would be playing? I don’t watch golf, but I have occasionally stopped flipping the stations when I see Tiger swinging a club. Golf is in trouble and so is Tiger. Steve.

Personal or professional, business isn’t good for Tiger

By Steve Elling Senior Writer
May 25, 2011

During his 16 seasons on tour, Tiger Woods has been featured in a slew of TV commercials, including some that required actual acting, timing and theatrical chops. He has a Screen Actors Guild card.

OK, sure, he hasn’t filmed any acting lately for all the obvious reasons, because as a marketable commodity, even Nike can’t much use him at the moment. But that underscores the notion that’s about to be presented — he’s far too rusty to have pulled off what would have represented his greatest thespian effort ever.


Tiger Woods hasn't signed an endorsement deal since his scandal broke. (Getty Images)
Tiger Woods hasn’t signed an endorsement deal since his scandal broke. (Getty Images)

At a press session Tuesday outside Washington, D.C., Woods was asked about the state of his relationship with longtime agent Mark Steinberg and management agency IMG. The fading former world No. 1 looked his inquisitor in the eye and seemed sincere. 

For those who say that you can tell when Woods is bull-shooting us whenever his lips are moving, this would have been Oscar-worthy. Sure, guys have been known to bend the truth in Washington at times, but if Woods was speaking with a forked tongue, he should be the envy of truth-twisting representatives and senators from 50 states.

“I’m committed to both, with IMG, and Mark’s my agent,” he said, not batting an eye and seeming rather surprised the issue was broached.

So given the unblinking delivery, it’s hard to believe he knew what was coming later in the day, when Steinberg was put on waivers by IMG after his contract-renewal talks with the company abruptly broke down, according to reports.

Agents come and go, in all sports. It’s inside-baseball stuff, generally. Players sue agents. Agents sue players. Agents leave companies. Greg Norman and Jack Nicklaus left IMG. This development is different because of the timing, circumstances and protagonists. The Shark and Bear were at the top of their sports at the time.

It presents Woods with more nagging, niggling details to sort out as he tries to re-assemble a reputation and career that have corroded from the bottom up starting with his 2009 sex scandal. Now he is facing yet another big-money divorce — either from his agent and friend, Steinberg, or the management firm that helped put him on the marketing map and secured endorsement deals that made him the first billionaire earner in sports history.

“I’m very happy with both,” Woods said Tuesday.

Pick one.

It adds another layer to the upchucking upheaval in Woods’ personal and private lives, and in this instance, there’s crossover. Steinberg stuck by Woods at his lowest ebb as the stomach-turning scandal played out — sure, he had a financial stake in it — and is one of Woods’ few personal confidants. A divorce from IMG or Steinberg is going to potentially cut across all boundaries.

What’s next, Steve Williams quitting? Come to think of it, plenty of folks have noticed that the longtime caddie hasn’t been doing much whistling while he works for Woods lately, either, and was none too crazy when he was painted by a broad, bad brush when the scandal broke.

For the past 18 months, Woods hasn’t so much lived a life as endured a ginormous, endless distraction. Cops, lawyers, judges, disgraced Canadian doctors, waitresses, porn stars, swing coaches, tour disciplinary action and a career-long victory drought. The lines blur and they’ve become almost impossible to separate.

In his last start, Woods quit after shooting 42 over nine holes, citing aggravated knee, Achilles and calf injuries. Now he’ll need even more ibuprofen for the massive headache his management issue will certainly cause.

The latest falling domino adds another level of stress in an area where Woods is particularly vulnerable — his wallet. The nuances of the agent game are interesting, because while agencies often solicit and land endorsement deals for clients, companies often take the initiative, too. They make the first call, and big firms like IMG then match up the particulars of the prospective corporate endorsement deal with the best sports figure in its client closet.

Woods won’t be benefiting from any of those handout deals anymore. In fact, IMG negotiated his appearance fees, often at tournaments run overseas by one of IMG’s subsidiaries (incest layer duly noted). Woods’ last victory, 18 months ago at the Aussie Masters, came while he was receiving $3 million from a tournament run by IMG. His appearance-fee deal with Dubai has also reportedly expired, another revenue source that has dried up like spit in a desert.

Add them to the list. Despite assurances from Steinberg that deals were in the offing, Woods hasn’t signed an endorsement deal since the scandal broke, his course-design business hasn’t produced a single viable venue and the doorbell long ago stopped ringing. According to a source involved with several PGA Tour events, Steinberg has been actively shopping around the rights to Woods’ bag for $5 million, with the guarantee that Woods would play in the company’s tour event. The price was $8 million originally, the source said.

As the ash continues to fall around him, it’s worth reminding that as far as celebrities and athletes go, Woods is fairly loyal to the crew around him, which means if Steinberg wants to continue as his management mouthpiece, he’ll darned likely get the chance. Steinberg presumably knows where many of Tiger’s silicone-enhanced bodies are buried, after all.

But hanging his shingle as a solo act, or even as part of another firm, might have its pitfalls. Whether Steinberg can reel in the clients without the institutional might of IMG behind him will bear watching. He wasn’t selling Woods even with IMG’s muscle, and in golf circles, Steinberg isn’t exactly a universally beloved character given the heavy-handed manner in which he has handled Woods’ affairs over the years. That could cost them endorsement opportunities, too, assuming Woods ever gets his game sorted out.

When will the latter happen? That’s a million-dollar question of another kind, but given Tuesday’s latest shock to the system, later seems like a safer bet than sooner. Yes, those are contract terms I just gave you in writing.

It’s become head-spinning, and the spiral seems to have a distinctly downward arc. When the agents-of-misfortune development is added to the laundry list of personal, professional and physical issues he already faces, the guy who was once the best ever by a wide margin is now, in fact, more marginalized than ever.

For more from Steve Elling, check him out on Twitter: @EllingYelling

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Posted by on May 25, 2011 in Golf, Sports, Steve Farace


For “all” of you Golf fans

Quit nagging us! We already had a golf article this year! Anyway, here is an article from the LA Times for all you golf fanatics:

Sports Network

May 23, 201112:48 p.m.

Philadelphia, PA —

PGA TOUR – BYRON NELSON CHAMPIONSHIP, TPC Four Seasons Resort Las Colinas, Irving, Texas – The PGA Tour remains in Texas for the second step of its Texas Two-Step.

Last week, the Colonial was lucky enough to have an emotional victory from David Toms after the heartbreak of the week before at The Players Championship.

Toms isn’t in the field this week, but defending champion and Masters runner- up Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar and Sergio Garcia highlight the 2011 field.

Also scheduled to tee it up on Thursday is Jordan Spieth. You might remember him as the then 16-year-old amateur who was tied for seventh place after the third round last year. He is back in the field this year trying to atone for his two-over 72 on Sunday of 2010.

Day finished with a final round of two-over 72 one year ago. He ended at 10- under-par 270 to earn his first victory on the PGA Tour, but it didn’t come easy.

Day landed in the water on the 18th for the third time that week on Sunday, but escaped with a bogey.

Blake Adams needed a par on the last to force a playoff, but he also hit his second into the soup. Adams made a double-bogey that closed out a round of two-over 72. He shared second at minus-eight with Brian Gay (63) and Jeff Overton (71).

The ninth oldest tournament on tour — not including the majors — the HP Byron Nelson Championship, is one of only two events named for a player. The other event is the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which was known as the Bay Hill Invitational until 2007. Nelson has had his name attached to this event since 1968.

Golf Channel has the first two rounds before CBS takes over on the weekend.

Next week is the Memorial Tournament, Jack Nicklaus’ event. Justin Rose won the title last year, his first of two summer victories.


SENIOR PGA CHAMPIONSHIP – Valhalla Country Club, Louisville, Kentucky – The second major championship of the season in on hand for the Champions Tour at a semi-familiar venue.

Valhalla has hosted the 1996 and 2000 PGA Championships as well as the 2008 Ryder Cup.

One name has the most experience at Valhalla and a local connection.

Kenny Perry, who is still winless on the Champions Tour, is from the Louisville area and he lost a playoff for the 1996 PGA Championship. He famously waited in the broadcast booth instead of hitting balls and eventually lost to Mark Brooks, who is also in the field this week.

Perry also made it clear in 2008 that his single goal for the season was to participate in that Ryder Cup near his home. He made the team, played well and is back almost three years later for a Champions Tour major.

Tiger Woods won the 2000 PGA, but he clearly isn’t old enough for this tournament.

Last year, Tom Lehman survived an odd playoff for his first major on the elder circuit. At Colorado Golf Club, Lehman found the fairway off the tee on the first playoff hole while Fred Couples and Peter Senior drove left of left. Lehman made a routine par and walked off with the title.

Lehman also captured this season’s first major and in an oddly similar fashion to his Senior PGA title. Mr. Senior was the victim again and Lehman did it with a par, although this time it was on the second extra hole.

Steve Pate, a two-time U.S. Ryder Cupper, is making his debut on the Champions Tour this week.

Golf Channel has the telecast on Thursday and Friday, then NBC has Saturday and Sunday.

Next week is the Principal Charity Classic, which was won by Nick Price in 2010.


BMW PGA CHAMPIONSHIP – Wentworth Club, Surrey, England – The best field of the week belongs to the prestigious BMW PGA Championship.

Seven of the top-10 golfers in the world are on hand starting Thursday. The only omissions are the three Americans in the top 10 – Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker and Matt Kuchar. (Notice Tiger Woods is no longer in that group?)

Lee Westwood is still No. 1. Luke Donald had yet another chance to ascend to the top, but lost to Ian Poulter at the Volvo World Match Play Championship on Sunday.

Martin Kaymer, reigning U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlory, Paul Casey and Masters winner Charl Schwartzel are also signed on for on play.

Other than the majors, the World Golf Championships events and the season- ending Dubai World Championship, this tournament offers the largest purse. It’s considered the flagship of the tour, but it was a lesser-known player that walked off with the title in 2010.

Simon Khan shot a five-under 66 on Sunday and erased a seven-shot deficit to get his second European Tour win. He finished at six-under 278 and beat Donald and Fredrik Andersson Hed by a shot.

Khan became the first sponsor’s invite to hoist the trophy and with the first- place check of almost 750,000 euros, he moved from 153rd in the season-long Race to Dubai, to seventh.

Golf Channel will bring you all of the action for the four rounds.

Next week is the Wales Open at The Celtic Manor Resort, site of the 2010 Ryder Cup. McDowell won that title before winning the U.S. Open and capping off his season with the decisive point at said Ryder Cup.


BRAZIL CUP – Itanhanga Golf Club, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil – It may only be a two-day tournament with unofficial money, but there are plenty of interesting storylines this week.

Suzann Pettersen won the Sybase Match Play Championship on Sunday and moved to No. 2 in the world rankings. She’s on hand this week, as is the woman she defeated in the Match Play final, Cristie Kerr.

Also, Rio De Janeiro is hosting the Olympic return of golf in 2016 and with 14 different countries represented in the field, we might see some of the same golfers in five years.

Last year, Meaghan Francella finally defeated Mariajo Uribe in a six-hole playoff to secure her second LPGA victory. Both return are expected to be on hand, while 2009 HSBC Brazil Cup Champion Catriona Matthew also is set to compete.

There is no television coverage this week.

Next week is the ShopRite LPGA Classic in Galloway, New Jersey. Ai Miyazato won last year’s title.

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Posted by on May 24, 2011 in Golf


Is Tiger Woods Still the Best?

By Steve Farace

Tiger Woods skated around the question when asked if he is still the best. His answer? “When I get my swing dialed in?” He went the route of answering a question with a question, which is always the perfect way to duck and cover when you are asked a question that you really don’t want to answer. Tiger hasn’t won a tournament since 2009 when he won the Australian Masters. I mean did we really expect his answer to be no? Would your answer be “no” if someone asked you if you were the best at what you do? I don’t think so. 

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Posted by on March 17, 2011 in Golf, Sports

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