- The Washington Times - Friday, November 10, 2000

Tiger Woods believes he is being exploited by Tim Finchem and the PGA Tour.
That is a good one.
As Woods sees it, the PGA Tour uses his likeness to promote and market the game, plus increase its profitability, and he has no say in it and is not compensated accordingly.
Of course, Woods is correct, as far as the assertion goes. Finchem, commissioner of the PGA Tour, uses the image of Woods wherever it is prudent, and he would be derelict in his responsibilities if he did not.
As Michael Jordan tries to resuscitate the vague impression of a basketball franchise in Tony Cheng's neighborhood, Woods has become the most popular sports figure in America, if not the world.
His appearance in a golf tournament is an event, regardless of the tournament's place in the pecking order. Woods could draw a crowd and television coverage if he elected to hit golf balls in a corn field during the middle of the night.
This is his power, and it is an incredible power, fueled in part by an insatiable 24-hour news cycle that grants the chosen ones an almost mythical, God-like position in the culture.
Woods probably would be upset if ESPN rarely flashed his mug shot on the screen or trivialized his achievements.
In a way, Woods sounds like all too many Hollywood figures who, after making the leap to star status, try to reclaim control of their images and manage the flow of information.
They seem to suffer from institutional memory loss. They seem to forget their part in it.
Hollywood types all too willingly play the public relations game as they advance up the food chain. They feed the monster. It is good for their careers, good for business.
But one day, almost inevitably, after progressing from being a nobody to somebody famous, they ask to pull the celebrity plug. They want to protect their privacy. They want more say in how they are portrayed.
Woods relinquished some control of his image after he agreed to become a member of the PGA Tour. He didn't mind how the PGA Tour marketed and promoted him in the beginning. He wanted his image and name out there, because it was good for business, his as well as the PGA Tour's, and he could trade off it to secure staggering deals with Nike and American Express.
He had no way of knowing then that he would become this commercial phenomenon, that he soon would be chasing Jack Nicklaus' career Grand Slam record, that he would so thoroughly distance himself from the pack.
His remarkable ascent defies the usual parameters, and however much potential he carried with him from Stanford, it is doubtful anyone envisioned his meteoric climb, not even Woods himself.
But he has done it, literally become bigger than the game itself, and now, after the fact, he covets the power, if not a percentage of the television revenue that goes to the PGA Tour.
Woods is the giant who looks small in this, who, in his next power grab, just might want to consider whether to charge ESPN by the highlight.
Woods does not need the PGA Tour, as his father made clear to the Associated Press.
"He can take his game to Europe, Africa, Asia or wherever he wants, and the world will follow," his father said.
That undoubtedly is true. Equally true in that threat is the lack of humility and the sense of community within the PGA Tour.
Part of Woods' appeal has been his ability to transcend the game's country-club nature. His gambit with the PGA Tour contradicts the perception. He is hardly one of the guys and never has been, but this pretense becomes harder to sell when he, at 24 years old, is trying to muscle the commissioner of his game.
This is the rich vs. rich, Woods vs. the PGA Tour, with corporate America stuck in the middle.
Woods has made his mark on American soil, and just guessing, but Nike and American Express probably wouldn't like it too much if their star client spurned the PGA Tour and relegated his U.S. appearances to the three Grand Slam events held here each year.
That wouldn't play too well from a marketing standpoint, as Woods undoubtedly understands, as does Finchem and the PGA Tour.
One side is waiting for the other to blink.

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