an expectant father," says the perky blonde, waving a foam-covered
microphone in his face. "Are you ready for diaper duty?"
way you were raised by your father is the stuff of legend," says the
long-form writer with crumbs in his beard. "If your firstborn happens to be
a son, will you raise him to be a champion or take more of a laissez-faire
approach to child rearing?"
If, as Tiger likes
to say, "a day without adrenaline is a day wasted," then a day of
meet-and-greet must be pure hell. But those who chart his business course say
that Tiger is as competitive wearing a tie as he is in a Sunday-red polo.
"He's a real pro in either environment," says Cindy Davis, domestic
general manager for Nike Golf. "He has endless energy. Everything to Tiger
is an adventure."
That must be why
Tiger is partial to stunts. A few years ago he smacked balls off the helipad of
Dubai's 60-story Burj Al Arab Hotel. Another time he livened up a golf ball
commercial by shattering factory windows with precisely aimed five-iron
It is a stunt, in
fact, that has drawn a bevy of us faux-auditor types to L.A.'s Hawthorne
Airport. On Nov. 28, 2006, the press release promises, Tiger Woods will
christen Nike's squarish Sumo2 driver by hitting balls down the runway.
(Hoped-for headline: TIGER CRUSHES DRIVE�1,900 YARDS!) But when he finally
saunters out onto the pavement and starts launching rockets, there is a bit of
a letdown. A runway, it turns out, makes drives look less impressive than
usual, owing to the absence of a backdrop.
takes pains not to disappoint. Speaking from a stage in a vacant hangar, he
praises Nike across the board--"Now we are a leader in the golf
industry"--but concedes that he probably won't use the Sumo2 in
competition. "I do hit it farther, but I launch it a little too high."
( Nike recently recalled the driver after the U.S. Golf Association ruled that
some of the clubs exceeded the organization's testing limits.) He points to the
golf division's dramatic growth since 1996, the year Nike, Acushnet and
American Express plucked him off the Stanford golf team with $12 million of
inducements. "Back when we started," he says, "I think we had a red
shirt, a yellow shirt, a blue shirt and a black shirt." And gosh, when
Tiger beat Davis Love III in a playoff at the '96 Las Vegas Invitational, Love
was still using one of those clubs with a wood head and a steel shaft.
"We've come a long way," Tiger sums up, giving particular credit to
Knight, his billionaire mentor. "It starts from the top. We have a leader
that everybody's excited to work for."
later, as our gleaming white G5 banks over Catalina Island and turns tail on
the sun, the Nike executives toast each other and sink into their comfy chairs.
It will be a short, happy flight to Scottsdale.
You get too close
to Tiger and he disappears. . . .