TOO HOT TO HANDLE
Reporters, fans, businesses and charities all want a piece of
Tiger Woods. Every day. International Management Group, which
represents Woods, uses a recorded, 2 1/2-minute-long Tiger Woods
info line to handle the crush of queries, giving contacts for
almost every type of request. But not everything at Tiger Nation
runs like clockwork, and through no fault of his own, Woods has
found himself in three embarrassing situations.
The first involves two new Nike ads, featuring Woods, that
allegedly have the folks at Titleist in a tizzy. The ads--in one
Woods bounces a ball on his wedge and in the other he hits balls
to a Strauss waltz--don't specify what product is being
advertised. Woods endorses Nike apparel, but when it comes to
golf balls, he is under contract to Titleist, not Nike, which
began selling balls in January. Titleist has no comment, but
Woods's agent, IMG's Mark Steinberg, confirms there is a problem
when he says, "We're making sure that we come to an equitable
Embarrassment number 2: In January 1998 Woods and his father,
Earl, went to Manila for a golf exhibition and ended up in the
middle of a controversy that is the focus of a documentary
called The Golf War. The film chronicles a land dispute in the
seaside village of Hacienda Looc in which the Philippine
government is threatening to displace 7,500 peasant farmers so
it can build golf courses and a resort.
The 35-minute documentary has footage of Woods playing in the
exhibition and taking part in a photo op with Fidel Ramos, then
the president of the Philippines, the implication being that
Tiger endorsed the government's drive to build the courses. The
film shows Tiger and Earl being questioned, and they appear to
have little knowledge of the flap. Tiger acknowledges the
seriousness of the issues, but when Earl is asked how golf will
help Filipinos, he says, "I really have no opinion on that. I
The latest hit was Earl's alleged letter of recommendation for
Las Vegas businessman Frank Tutera, senior vice president of
casino marketing for the Rio Suites Hotel and Casino. Tutera's
ties to a high-priced madam have gotten him into trouble with
the Nevada Gaming Control Board, which might reject his license
application to work in a casino. During hearings last month, Rio
attorney Michael Bonner submitted a letter from Earl that Bonner
says vouches for Tutera's character and says Tutera would be the
director of a proposed Tiger Woods tournament in Las Vegas.
Tutera's friendship with Valerie Carp, who ran a $500-an-hour
call girl ring until she died of cancer this year, has figured
prominently in the hearings. Carp's date book tells of referrals
by Tutera and indicates that he was paid for them. Tutera, who
was asked by the board whether he inadvertently tipped Carp to
an undercover investigation in 1995, acknowledges that his name
appears in Carp's book but says that he didn't give referrals or
receive any payments.
Steinberg wouldn't say if he knew about Tutera's difficulties
with the gaming board or about his proposed involvement in
Tiger's tournament. He did say, "If you understood the
complexity of what we do on a daily basis, you would understand
that we have a great grasp on things."
Jack Rides, then WDs
DOUBLE TROUBLE FOR NICKLAUS
The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, according
to Jack Nicklaus's testimony last year in the Casey Martin
trial, was that the use of motorized carts would tarnish golf's
image and are not "part of the game."
Nicklaus was still playing golf last week at the Ford Senior
Players Championship in Dearborn, Mich., but for the first time
in his competitive career, he was using a cart. Because of pain
in his left hip, which was replaced on Jan. 27, Nicklaus, 59,
rode for half of the second round and the first nine holes of
the third. After rolling in a 25-foot birdie putt on the 9th
hole to go to three over par, however, he withdrew for only the
third time in his career.
Nicklaus says he will try to be back on his feet for next week's
U.S. Senior Open, in which the players must walk, per USGA
rules. He won't play in the British Open at Carnoustie the next
Although he hitched a ride in Michigan and could barely climb
the stairs to the locker room after his WD, Nicklaus insists his
position on carts has not changed. "I hate them," he says.
What do these players have in common?
Greg Norman finished second in Western Opens to each of them, in
'91, '92 and '93, respectively. Norman has said he'll skip this
week's Western and next week's Greater Milwaukee Open to play
golf with his 13-year-old son, Gregory.
Was John Daly correct in calling Pinehurst unfair?
--Based on 978 responses to our informal survey
Next question: Is Jack Nicklaus a hypocrite for using a cart in
a Senior tour event after testifying against Casey Martin and
cart use on the PGA Tour? Vote at golfplus.cnnsi.com.
Majors are getting harder to come by. With his victory two weeks
ago in the U.S. Open, Payne Stewart became just the second
player among the current top 50 in the World Ranking to have won
three majors. Only 19 of the top 50 have won at least one. Here
are the multiple winners and their major performances.
PLAYER RANK STARTS WINS
Nick Price 10 61 3
Payne Stewart 11 63 3
Ernie Els 7 28 2
Lee Janzen 34 31 2
B. Langer 36 65 2
Greg Norman 32 73 2
J.M. Olazabal 23 44 2
Mark O'Meara 6 62 2
Jonathan Byrd, Columbia, S.C.
In a three-week stretch, Byrd, a senior at Clemson, won the
Northeast Amateur at Wannamoisett Country Club in Rumford, R.I.,
and all four of his matches at the Palmer Cup in Chattanooga.
There he led a team of U.S. collegians to a 17 1/2-6 1/2 victory
over players from Great Britain and Ireland.
Pete Nilles, Pacific Grove, Calif.
Nilles, 51, won the Northern California PGA Senior Match Play
and five days later qualified for the U.S. Senior Open. An
assistant pro at Salinas Fairways Golf Course, Nilles beat Craig
Elliott 3 and 1 to win the match play, and he shot a two-under
69 to earn his Open spot at the sectional qualifier.
Ron Won, Irvine, Calif.
Won, 18, broke Tiger Woods's and Charley Hoffman's tournament
record while winning the Southern California high school title
last month. Won's six-under 66 at the SCGA Members' Club in
Murrieta bettered the old mark by a stroke. Won, who will play
at Stanford, won the title by three shots.
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