Tiger May Make $54M/Yr. Off Course

Wednesday, September 20th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

In what already is a record-breaking year for Tiger Woods, he has earned nearly $8.3 million with three events left on the PGA Tour. Starting next year, that won't even approach what's he's making off the course.

Woods will bring in about $54 million a year from endorsement deals he has with 12 companies, according to this week's issue of Golf World. It all starts next August, when his new five-year contract with Nike takes effect.

The magazine cited a variety of sources familiar with the contracts, which range from the $100 million Nike deal to a $10 million deal with the company that performed Lasik eye surgery on Woods a year ago.

Then there's the reported $1 million appearance fee when he plays overseas, a figure that could go up. Woods also plays a couple of unofficial events, like the Grand Slam of Golf and his own Williams World Challenge.

Such riches are nothing new for a 24-year-old who grew up in a middle-class home.

He signed a five-year, $40 million deal with Nike the day he turned professional in 1996. Since then, he has won 24 times on the PGA Tour, including the career Grand Slam.

``Money has never been important to Tiger,'' his father, Earl Woods, told The Associated Press. ``If it was, Tiger would have about five times, or maybe seven times, as many endorsement dollars as he does have. He'd be a hell of a lot richer. Obviously, it would curtail his development and affect his performance.''

Money hasn't done much to change Woods, who has raised the standards in golf. He became the first player since 1953 to win three straight majors, and already at age 24 has enough tour victories to achieve a lifetime exemption.

``Probably the single most thing I admire about Tiger Woods is he can sign a $100 million deal today and wake up tomorrow with the same desire to be the best in the world,'' Hal Sutton said Monday when told of the new Nike contract.

According to Golf World, Woods' biggest deals after that with Nike are with Buick, EA Sports and Asahi Beverages, each worth about $30 million over five years. He also has a five-year deal with American Express that the magazine said was worth $26 million.

Perhaps the greatest example of Woods' endorsement power is the deal with TLC Laser Eye Centers, which he signed in February.

Among the first golfers to have the Lasik surgery were Fred Funk and former PGA champion Mark Brooks.

Mike Biggs of Gaylord Sports Entertainment, which represents Brooks, once said he approached the company with the idea of a ``TLC team'' on the PGA Tour. The players involved would not have had such a high profile as Woods, and the proposal was not nearly as lucrative.

``We were told ... they had just turned a profit and could not justify spending endorsement money on a golfer,'' Biggs said. ``Six months later, we start hearing rumors about Tiger reaching a seven-figure deal with TLC.''

For $2 million a year, TLC gets nothing more than a testimonial from Woods about his experience with Lasik. No television commercials. No corporate outings. None of his time.

Where does the money go?

Earl Woods said his son puts the money earned from tournaments into a fund to build a house in Orlando, Fla. Some of the endorsement money goes to the Tiger Woods Foundation, which was created to provide more minority participation in golf.

``Many people want Tiger to design golf courses or take over joint-capital ventures,'' his father said. ``He doesn't need inherited problems. Nothing comes between Tiger and what he is supposed to be doing.''

As for the amount of money Woods will be making, his father saw no problem with that.

``Actors and actresses routinely make as much money or more by virtue of having a minimal talent of the ability to act, or play guitar and scream over a microphone with no trained voice,'' Earl Woods said. ``It's because they're entertainers.''