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Volume 23 No. 8
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Woods, Steinberg aim to reward existing partners

Tiger Woods and his agent, Mark Steinberg, shared an emotional moment after the Masters.
Photo: getty images
Tiger Woods and his agent, Mark Steinberg, shared an emotional moment after the Masters.
Photo: getty images
Tiger Woods and his agent, Mark Steinberg, shared an emotional moment after the Masters.
Photo: getty images

Since winning the Masters, the level of corporate interest in Tiger Woods has increased exponentially, but early last week, his longtime agent Mark Steinberg was focused on rewarding the sponsors who weathered the golfer’s tough times.

“We have a number of things in the works,” said Steinberg, a partner of Excel Sports Management, who has represented Woods for 20 years. He talked to SBJ briefly the day after Woods’ Masters win after sleeping about two hours the night before and was just starting to reflect on what the win might mean.

“Rather than what we are going to do going forward for future partners, to me, it’s about the existing partners,” Steinberg said. “The people who have stuck by him and given him the love and given him the respect he deserves. So we want to continue to give back to them.”

Immediately after the win, Nike posted a 52-second spot of Woods that went viral on social media. The video scrolled the words, “It’s crazy to think a 43-year-old who has experienced every high and every low and has just won his 15th major is chasing the same dream as a 3-year-old.”

Tiger’s partners

Brand (partner since)

 Nike (1996)
■ Upper Deck (2001)
■ Kowa (Japanese heat rub, 2011)
■ Rolex (2011)
■ Hero (India motorcycles, 2014)
■ Full Swing (2015)
■ Bridgestone Golf (2016)
■ Monster Energy (2016)
■ TaylorMade (2017)
■ GolfTV/PGA Tour (2018)

The footage included Woods celebrating wins and collapsing in pain and finally as a 3-year-old, saying, “I’m gonna beat Jack Nicklaus.” Nicklaus holds the record for most golf major wins with 18.

Steinberg last week brushed off questions of what, exactly, was next for Woods. “He didn’t need to win yesterday to create a story,” Steinberg said. “Yesterday just elevated the story.”

In September, Woods broke a five-year drought, winning the Tour Championship after undergoing four back surgeries, a DUI arrest, withdrawing from multiple tournaments and dealing with widespread speculation that he would never win again. After that win, Steinberg received about 1,400 emails and text messages and spent 2½ hours answering them.

That was nothing compared to the outpouring after Woods won the 2019 Masters. Augusta National doesn’t allow cellphones, but when Steinberg got back to his hotel room that evening he worked from 7:30 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. the next day answering all of the emails, texts and calls he received. That’s typical Mark Steinberg.

What wasn’t typical was how he reacted to Woods winning the Masters. Steinberg could be seen as one of the people, along with Woods’ two children, his caddie and his mother, hugging Woods and it looked like Steinberg didn’t want to let go. Asked if he cried, the agent said he did.

“My wife would tell you I don’t get emotional all that often, but I actually got emotional yesterday because he’s so deserving of this moment and his kids and his mother were so deserving of this experience,” Steinberg said.

OCTAGON REPS TWO WNBA DRAFT PICKS: Octagon is representing two players selected in the WNBA draft, Missouri guard Sophie Cunningham and Notre Dame guard Arike Ogunbowale, who has achieved fame off the court, including on “Dancing with the Stars” and an appearance on “Ellen.”

Ogunbowale was selected No. 5 overall by the Dallas Wings and Cunningham was taken No. 13 overall by the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA draft earlier this month in New York. Erin Kane, vice president of Octagon Basketball, is representing both players.

Octagon, as previously reported by SBJ, decided last fall to make a concerted effort to represent WNBA players. This is Kane’s first draft class.

“I was really focused from early on, on these two players,” Kane said. “Because this is my first draft class, I want to be very strategic and targeted about who I am working with. I want to help them realize all the things they want to do as basketball players, whether it’s in the WNBA, overseas, or the work they want to do off the court.”

Cunningham was Missouri’s all-time leading women’s basketball scorer and Ogunbowale was the 2018 NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player.

Liz Mullen can be reached at lmullen@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter @SBJLizMullen.