Par is five hours of sleep a night, and Woods is suffering the freshman blues. But what's funny is that even more than fellow Stanford student Fred Savage, Tiger Woods can slam shut every book on his shelf, skip every test, egg the dean's house at noon and still be set for life. This is because corporate golf wants to get its bar graphs on Woods very badly. He is as fresh and handsome as a soap ad. He has a Steinway smile that would make an orthodontist go broke. He seems to win every time he puts on his spikes. And, the best part, he is longer than Tolstoy. Stanford took calls from companies that wanted to start a line of Tiger Woods golf clothes and a line of Tiger Woods golf clubs ("Get your set of Tiger Woods today!"). The standard estimate of his value in the endorsement world is in the tens of millions of dollars, and that's just the beginning.
Many is the day when Tiger admits he'll be sitting in geophysics or art history class and thinking about what life would be if it weren't for all this damn character inside him. "Sometimes I'll be sitting there thinking, Dang, right now I'd be in Miami, getting ready for Doral, maybe playing a practice round with Greg Norman."
"Money can't buy us," Tida says proudly. What she and Earl want for Tiger is an education, the kind her parents got for her, the kind for which Earl holed up by himself in shabby hotels all across the Big Eight. "What he need money for?" she says. "If you turn him pro, you take his youth away from him."
And when he is done daydreaming of courtesy cars and corporate cash, Tiger Woods climbs back up on his resolve. "Money won't make me happy," he says. "If I turned pro, I'd be giving up something I wanted to accomplish. And if I did turn pro, that would only put more pressure on me to play well, because I would have nothing to fall back on. I would rather spend four years here at Stanford and improve myself."
You say this guy is how old?
I FULFILL MY RESOLUTIONS POWERFULLY!
All they really wanted to give him was roots and wings. At 18, they let him go.
By March, Earl and Tida had not gone to visit Tiger at Stanford, not once, not for a tournament, not for anything.
Dozens and dozens of people have begged Earl and Tida to call their son and set up interviews, autograph sessions, favors, audiences and deals, but they have not interceded once. "It is time for him to have his own life now," says Tida.
Some days, though, it gets a little lonely. Tida will wander down the hall in the cozy little house in Cypress, into Tiger's cozy little bedroom, and see the words from the subliminal tape still tacked up on the bookshelf. Tida made up a résumé of Tiger's golf accomplishments—listed by age—and has a stack of copies sitting on the tiny computer table for visitors. Nearly every wall and nearly every table is crammed with Tiger tracks: Tiger's awards, Tiger's photos, Tiger's trophies, hundreds and hundreds of them, swallowing the space from floor to ceiling, from window to door. But how will the great whole, the beautiful rose, do in a very big world without his two devoted gardeners?