"I guess you don't become billionaires by making bad decisions."
into a comfortable leather armchair on the G5, I stretch my legs and sip a cold
7-Up. The brown expanse of the Mojave Desert, 44,000 feet below, resembles an
unrolled bolt of tanned leather.
Tiger's talk about
risk and reward has left me vaguely discomfited. I think back to one of his
more memorable golf shots--the 213-yard six-iron from a fairway bunker that he
smacked over a guarding pond to 15 feet to beat Grant Waite on the last hole of
the 2000 Canadian Open. If you asked me to review that shot in a PowerPoint
presentation, I'd draw a graph with a flat reward line (because the $594,000
first-prize check meant nothing to Tiger) and a risk line as steep as Everest
(because his ball figured to make a splash before settling on the pond's murky
bottom). But I'd be misstating the risk, because Tiger knew he could pull off
That leads me to
ruminations on Nicklaus, who in his prime was famously strong yet paradoxically
cautious, an actuary in spikes. "To watch Nicklaus putt," I once wrote,
"is to watch a diamond cutter at work--three minutes of scrutiny and
analysis followed by a single sure stroke resulting in something
I share these
thoughts with Nike Golf president Bob Wood, who is sitting in the facing
armchair. Wood is an interesting man, an iconoclastic Californian who collects
vintage guitars and maintains an impressive wine cellar. He makes the pertinent
observation that Tiger, a fitness freak, embraces a diet of chicken breasts and
broccoli. "Only it's four chicken breasts and a bucket of
discipline, in other words, is not grounded in abstemiousness.
I am also puzzled
by Tiger's mention of "billionaires"--plural--not making bad decisions.
I assume he is close to Nike Sports founder and CEO Phil Knight, who ranks 69th
on the Fortune money list with an estimated net worth of $9.5 billion. But
Tiger also has the ear of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, vice president
and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai. Sheikh
Mohammed, who owns the famed Godolphin racing stables and whose family has a
reported net worth of $10 billion, outbid Chinese interests last year for the
honor of building the first Tiger Woods--designed golf course. The course,
dubbed Al Ruwaya (meaning "serenity"), will anchor an upscale
development featuring 20 homes and 300 luxury villas called Tiger Woods-- Dubai.
It's just one element of a gargantuan enterprise called Dubailand. Tiger's cut,
if you buy into the rumors, will be as much as $45 million.
It suddenly occurs
to me that Tiger, with his line about billionaires, might be talking about
It's a lovely day
at the Emirates Club. . . .
birds chirp, pile drivers hammer, tractors roar, construction cranes rattle,
saws whine, Dumpsters clang, trucks groan, and traffic on Sheikh Zayed Road
lays down an ambient layer of white noise. It's February 2007, the week of the
Dubai Desert Classic, and Dubai is growing. What was vacant desert on my last
visit is now a construction project to beggar the imagination. Dozens of
skyscrapers are springing up around the Emirates Club course. Twelve-lane
freeways coil in serpentine interchanges jammed with backhoes and