FIFTEEN YEARS and
65 pro tournament victories later, Tiger, now 31, has a foundation with his
name on it. And a learning center. And a street ( Tiger Woods Way, Anaheim).
Last year he quietly took the helm of the Tiger Woods Foundation, which, since
its inception in 1996, has awarded more than $30 million in grants. He keeps a
close eye, as well, on the 14-acre Anaheim campus of the Tiger Woods Learning
Center, where in 2006 some 8,000 students, grades 4 through 12, enhanced their
public-school education by tackling subjects such as rocket science, software
design and crime-scene investigation. In November he hung out a shingle for
Tiger Woods Design, a golf course architecture firm.
In keeping with
his changed circumstances, Tiger lives large. He circles the globe in Citations
and Gulfstreams supplied by a sponsor, NetJets. When he wants to calm his mind,
he cruises the Caribbean on his 155-foot yacht, Privacy, which set him back a
cool $20 million. And while Tiger continues to reside with his wife, Elin, in a
relatively humble Orlando-area mansion, he flies to Jupiter Island, Fla., from
time to time to monitor developments at the 12-acre, $44.5 million waterfront
estate he bought last year. Workers will demolish the 13-year-old,
23,000-square-foot main house, but Tiger and Elin can bunk at either of two
guesthouses or chill out on the yacht, tied up at their private dock, while
they supervise construction of a domicile worthy of a neighborhood that Forbes
describes as "the world's most expensive zip code." Last year Golf
Digest estimated that Tiger had already earned roughly half a billion dollars
in endorsements and appearance fees on top of tournament winnings of $66
million over nine seasons. The magazine projected that by the end of 2010 Tiger
will become the first billionaire athlete.
guessing, aren't they?
Tiger and I,
talking in the conference room, dance around the net worth issue. (I think he's
too polite to ask.) . . .
He does speak
frankly about his fading youth and the impending demands of fatherhood.
"I'm not going to always play golf," he says, leaning forward.
"Eventually the body gives out, and you can't play anymore. But there are
other avenues you can take that will keep you competitive, keep you interested
and keep your mind working."
I nod, but I
wonder if he's putting me on. Tiger makes commercials for Buick, but he is not
an "avenues" guy. Tiger is more your helmeted speed freak in a
6,500-horsepower top-fuel dragster going 330 mph with header flames flying off
the manifold. Since he turned pro in 1996, Tiger has been racing due north
toward Jack Nicklaus's career record of 18 major-championship victories. If he
wins next week at the Masters, Tiger will have three straight majors, 13
overall and a chance, at the U.S. Open in June, to reprise his Tiger Slam of
But here is Tiger,
elbows on the table, working me like a cold-call broker. His business goal, he
says, is to get to "a place where my family can be financially secure."
His course-design work will be "a partnership between me and the owner of
the property; I'm trying to provide a product they'll be happy with." His
brilliantly successful endorsement deal with Nike, a multiyear contract
recently renewed for a reported $100 million plus, is about "providing
products that consumers will enjoy."
He sums up:
"We are in the providing business."
I wonder, for an
instant, if Tiger is trying to sell me a fixed-rate annuity.
depends on how much risk you want to take on," he continues, flattering me
with his use of the second person. "The things I do are very conservative.
They're one-offs here and there with people who are very good at what they