IS A TIGER GOLF'S KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR?
TIGER WOODS announced yesterday his intention to turn
professional, and will hold a news conference today to formally
announce his decision. Woods faxed a statement to officials of
the Greater Milwaukee Open that confirmed that "as of now, I am a
professional golfer." The N.Y. TIMES reported yesterday that
Woods would sign two lucrative endorsement deals -- a five-year,
$40M, pact with Nike, and a three-year, $3M, deal with Titleist.
A spokesperson at Nike said the company would reserve all comment
until's Woods news conference today. In Washington, Leonard
Shapiro notes Woods' "presence will help tournaments at the gate
and should have a direct effect" on network TV ratings, which
have been down slightly this year (WASHINGTON POST, 8/28). NBC
Sports golf analyst Johnny Miller notes Woods agreed to contracts
with Nike for about $8M annually and with the American Brands
division of Titleist golf balls and Cobra equipment for about $1M
a year (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/28). Former golfer and agent Vinny
Giles: "He could be the Michael Jordan of golf" (Joe Logan,
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 8/28). The PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER's
Timothy Dwyer writes Woods' pro debut "is the biggest sports
coming-out party in a long time" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 8/28).
The CHARLOTTE OBSERVER's Ron Green: "He has become one of the
brightest stars and most intriguing figures in golf, if not in
all of sport, not altogether because he has those titles but ...
[also] how he has that perfect nickname and how he makes us feel
we may be seeing something wonderful unfolding" (CHARLOTTE
OBSERVER, 8/28). In Chicago, Brian Hewitt notes, "Sports will
have an instant and transcendent icon." He also predicts Woods
will be invited to participate in the nationally televised Skins
Game in November (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 8/28). Woods is featured in
the current SI by Jaime Diaz. Woods: "I always said I would know
when it was time, and now is the time." After a reporter
suggested to Nike Chair Phil Knight that Woods has the same
charisma and flair for competition as Michael Jordan, Knight
said, "You bet your ass. Same deal" (SI, 9/2 issue). ESPN's
Charley Steiner: "The PGA Tour received an infusion of new blood
and charisma" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 8/27).