- The Washington Times - Friday, December 15, 2000

Tiger Woods is not feeling the love from Tim Finchem.
Woods wants a hug and a kiss from Finchem, plus a tiny percentage of the PGA Tour's next television contract and more control over his likeness.
If Finchem is unable to meet these conditions, Woods plans to play in the Madagascar Golf Classic 48 weeks a year and devote the rest of his calendar to the Grand Slam events.
Finchem apparently is trying to figure it all out, struggling to resolve the particulars, the hug and kiss, the cut from TV and the issue of artistic control.
Oh, please.
To put it another way, big ego to big ego, Finchem needs Woods a whole lot more than Woods needs the PGA Tour. If that is too hard to digest, the commissioner might want to ponder the alternative of a Woods-free operation: dreary television ratings, smaller galleries and alarmed corporate sponsors.
Finchem undoubtedly does not want to peddle the Woods-free concept to television executives in the spring, when the PGA Tour begins negotiations on a new contract.
Woods has become the world's most popular athlete in almost an instant. He is the PGA Tour, at least the PGA Tour that has flourished in his reflection and is a beacon of trickle-down economics. Even the 20th-place finisher in a PGA Tour event rejoices in those ever-growing purses.
Woods earned $9.1 million this year, the best bargain in sports. He won three Grand Slam events, he made plenty of money for everyone, and he introduced the game to more and more youths.
Woods is the best there is, no debate, and is paid according to how he performs, one of the fairest notions in sports. A shortstop in baseball who might hit .250 next season landed a $252 million contract this week.
Woods makes his serious money in endorsements, upward to $50 million a year, with Nike, American Express, Titleist, Buick and Rolex.
Those companies are the soft spot in Woods' power grab. His sponsors do not want him playing in Europe and Asia 48 weeks a year. That means less hype and less overall interest, and that is not good for business. The more times Woods is captured on film in a cap bearing the Nike logo, the better the company honchos like it.
At least Woods is in a position to play this high-stakes game. Finchem is stuck. He can't lose his best player, he just can't, not when the PGA Tour is finally reaching a wider audience and transcending its country-club roots.
Finchem might as well swallow hard and do what it takes to become Woods' new best friend.
Finchem might as well head down to Woods' digs outside Orlando, Fla., and hang out with the petulant one. Go ahead, give Woods that hug and kiss. Offer to wash his vehicles. Remove the trash from his home on alternating days. Go out to the movies together. Your treat. Spend some quality time with your 24-year-old partner. Let him know that he is OK and you are OK, and isn't the PGA Tour stronger because of your efforts?
One other thing: Don't forget to laugh. Laughing is important, and in this case, Finchem and Woods can laugh all the way to the bank together.
As for Woods wanting two percent or thereabouts of the television revenue, that is an easy one.
So the PGA Tour keeps only 98 percent of a zillion dollars. That beats keeping 100 percent of a couple of dollars.
The precedent an athlete getting a piece of the TV pie is justifiable. Woods is special, the once-in-a-generation kind, and unlike when Jack Nicklaus came along, he benefits from the 24-7 media machine that chronicles his every feat in exhausting detail and promotes his and the game's interests.
Finchem and the PGA Tour are living well because of the Woods-inspired effect, and now is no time to tamper with it.
Woods does not need the money, certainly, and his stare-down with Finchem carries a trace of immodesty.
But Woods is not the first golfer to raise the subject. He is only the first who has the wherewithal to make the matter go in his favor.

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