The Trouble with Tiger
Economics major Tiger Woods is taking 21 credits this semester as a sophomore at Stanford University, but last week the two-time U.S. Amateur champion was given a lesson in business law by the NCAA. Woods learned he cannot have dinner with Arnold Palmer—at least not when Palmer picks up the tab. While letting Palmer pay the check was a decidedly minor infringement of NCAA regulations, it resulted in Woods's being declared ineligible by Stanford. Though the ineligibility lasted just a day, ultimately it could lead to Woods's turning pro sooner than planned. For the first time Woods is hedging about staying four years. "I was pretty angry," he says. "I felt like I didn't do anything wrong. By having dinner and talking about things I wanted to talk about, I'm told I'm going to be declared ineligible.... It's annoying."
This is not the first time Woods has run afoul of NCAA rules. In April he was declared ineligible by Stanford after the university learned he had written Masters diaries for two golf magazines. He was reinstated in less than an hour in that instance.
Woods requested the dinner with Palmer while the latter was in nearby Napa, Calif., playing in the Transamerica at Silverado Country Club. It was there that the two ate on Oct. 5. When the check came, Palmer insisted on buying. Woods later mailed Palmer a check for his portion. Woods reported the dinner to Wally Goodwin, the school's golf coach, and Goodwin took it to Susan Burke, the Stanford athletic-affairs coordinator. Although Burke thought Woods had handled the situation correctly, procedure called for her to declare him ineligible until she received a confirmation from the NCAA that he had broken no rule. "This was so minor, so incredibly minor, that I knew it was going to come back fine," Burke says. Problem was, Woods was en route for El Paso to compete in the Savane All-America Classic (which he would win), and Burke was unable to reach him with news of his reinstatement for most of the day.
The episode bothers Woods and his parents. "Could this lead to Tiger turning pro? Hell, yes," says Tiger's father, Earl, who estimates his son's value at $25 million if he turns pro (others say his worth is about half that). "It can lead to a mind-set of 'I truly don't need this.' After all, Tiger is human, and if pushed far enough and consistently enough, he's going to react."
As for Palmer, he was incredulous that he had led Woods astray, and yes, he received and deposited Tiger's check for $25. The way things are going, Palmer ought to have considered framing it.
In four years Jerry Kelly has gone from a struggling Jordan tour player to the alltime single-season money winner ($188,878) in the short history of the Nike tour. The secret to Kelly's success? Playing from the women's tees.
When Kelly, 28, turned to master professional Bill Davis of Jupiter Hills Golf Club in Tequesta, Fla., in 1991, his lowest competitive round was 68, which doesn't exactly scare the big boys. Davis promptly moved Kelly to the red tees and made him a deal: If he could make more than nine birdies in a round from up there, the lesson was free. Anything less than nine and Kelly paid double.
"Some people have a mental block," says Kelly. "Say you've got it close for your sixth birdie and you're wondering when it's all going to stop. Instead, you should be thinking, Why not take it further? Playing from the reds gives you that opportunity."