The Germans have long held an appreciation for fine automobiles, and so when Woods, 10 shots back at one point, went to Formula One mode on the weekend and left Michael Campbell standing in cement, they cheered wildly. Standing tied with the New Zealander at 19-under on the 13th hole, Tiger dunked a seven iron from 175 yards and broke the backboard, effectively ending the game and expanding the legend.
Tiger banked a better than two million dollar appearance fee on top of the winners check, and hes worth every deutsche mark because he never, ever fails to put on less than a great show. Unfortunately for the folks at venerable Colonial Country Club, that show doesnt play in Fort Worth, where the tournaments sponsored by MasterCard, a competitor of American Express, which Tigers paid handsomely to endorse. Will there come a time when appearance fees will be allowed on The PGA Tour? One official told me that its an idea most players would frown upon because its simply anti-competitive. The Tour is based on merit, with nothing guaranteed.
In the end, even with Tiger playing the odd event abroad, hes ultimately putting money in the pockets of fellow players because he continues to raise the profile of the sport. The next TV package is expected to jump from $650 million to better than $900 million, meaning the 125th ranked player on the money list might earn in the neighborhood of three quarters of a million in a year versus some $400,000 right now. Earlier this year when Tiger played Dubai opposite Doral, I asked Billy Andrade if he thought players were concerned that Tiger was in a sense competing against the PGA Tour.
Look, the winner here is going to collect a check for $810,000, he explained with a smile. I dont think anyones thinking about Dubai.
Obviously, Tigers helped to make life pretty cushy for everyone on Tour. So while players wont likely ever vote for appearance fees in the U.S. to potentially draw Woods to more tournaments, neither will they begrudge him the huge sums hes able to command on a global basis. Whats more, Tiger sponsors like American Express and Nike certainly benefit when he pushes their brands on a worldwide basis.
Is Woods tainted in any way when he eschews the historic venue like Colonial to chase the big dollars? Absolutely not. Business is business and the demand for Woods is intense. Perhaps when Woods deal with Amex expires someday, MasterCard will make a competitive offer. Is that not how capitalism works?
Weve heard often that to the victor go the spoils. And arent we reminded of that at the end of every Bond movie?