SI Vault
 
Tiger 2.0
John Garrity
April 02, 2007
"I am, by nature, a control freak," Tiger says with a smile.
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
April 02, 2007

Tiger 2.0

View CoverRead All Articles
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

"I was majoring in econ, but the econ I was learning was your supply-and-demand curve, monetary policy. It was mostly math," he says. "I was never going to be an economic analyst or anything like that, but some of it is starting to become applicable now, as I start to get into the business."

I want to dazzle Tiger with some of my own financial acumen--how I bought Garmin at 17.50 and Apple at 21 before the split--but I'm afraid he might have heard that I drive a hail-damaged '94 Volvo. Instead I ask if he has ever sought business advice from Nicklaus, Palmer or Gary Player, the original Big Three of ancillary income. "I have not talked to them," he says.

I can tell, though, that he knows what I know--that the Big Three, while wealthy and widely admired in business circles, have found commerce to be a cruder and meaner game than golf. Nicklaus suffered losses to his bottom line and reputation in the late 1990s when his publicly traded Golden Bear Golf Inc. tanked because of accounting irregularities at a course-construction subsidiary. Palmer got dragged into ugly litigation in the late '80s when his partner in a chain of Arnold Palmer car dealerships was brought down on fraud charges, and again in '90 when homeowners near Florida's ritzy Isleworth community (where Tiger would later move) won a $6.6 million judgment against Palmer and his development partners over lakefront pollution and flooding. Player, too, has had setbacks, most notably with Gary Player Direct.com, an e-commerce company that lost millions in the dotcom fever of the late '90s. And while all three have ventured into the golf equipment business, none of their signature club lines has ever captured more than a tiny share of the U.S. market.

"It all depends on how much risk you want to take on," Tiger says. "Arnold has dibble-dabbled in a bunch of different things, but he's never put himself at complete risk, where the other two basically have. You can reap the rewards by doing that. Or you can get shelled." He shrugs. "Obviously, I don't go into much risk."

The next day, as we leave Scottsdale and continue our flight over the American heartland in the Nike corporate jet, I ask Bob Wood for an appraisal of Tiger Woods, businessman.

"Tiger is a sponge," he says. "He has an incredible memory, and he's had years to soak up information from people who work for large companies." Wood pauses, as if waiting for a presentation graphic. "Whatever he gets into, he gets into all the way. Right now, it's skiing. He's a nut for skiing, and every time I talk to him he knows more about skiing. That's how he is." He pauses again, letting me savor the mental image of Tiger in goggles pursuing his wife, an accomplished skier, down a black diamond.

"He's a complete control freak. He always wants to determine the outcome."

I nod.

"He's very comfortable in his own skin. He doesn't have a posse. He doesn't walk around with a bunch of yes-men."

I nod.

Continue Story
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11