Play Golf Endorsement Ball

By Adam BarrMarch 9, 2001, 5:00 pm
It used to be we could be thankful professional golf was not like professional baseball. But there are some who say we can no longer claim such superiority.
Last year, Tiger Woods raised the bar into the clouds on the golf course. Over the past five years, he hasn't just raised the bar for endorsements; he's hung it on the international space station.
Remember Tiger's 'Hello World' debut in late August 1996? He signed a deal with Nike then that was said to be worth about $37.5 million over five years, at a time when few, if any, players were getting more than $2 million or $3 million per year from any one source.
Before that deal was up but after Tiger had shown beyond any doubt that he is the Real Deal, Nike gave him a five-year contract extension worth a potential $100 million.
That tide may float some other yachts, but some high-ranking industry executives see a downside. They fear we may have entered the era of (to use baseball's term) the market adjustment.
Take this David Duval-Titleist lawsuit. Duval left Titleist to endorse Nike products, even though he still had three years left in a five-year deal with Titleist. The reason, say sources close to International Management Group, Duval's handlers, was that Titleist reneged on a promise to feature Duval as the premier player on its staff once Woods had departed for Nike.
Of course, with the matter in litigation, Charley Moore, Duval's agent at IMG, won't confirm whether there was a clause in Duval's agreement allowing Duval to leave in that situation. But the existence of such an out or a 'marquee player promise,' in whatever form, is said to be a crucial issue in the case.
The idea of an escape provision came up in discussions between Titleist and Moore some months after Duval had agreed to his new deal in August 1998, say sources close to the situation. Titleist didn't mind this sort of clause in principle, said a source close to that company. Letters were exchanged on the issue, but Titleist says such a clause never became part of the Duval agreement.
But Titleist has claimed in its lawsuit that Duval - or rather his agents - tried to use that 'marquee player' gambit to exit his agreement early because Nike was in the mood to spend lots of endorsement money, and IMG wanted some of it.
The courts will decide if that's true, along with a bunch of other claims. (For example, why would Titleist spend $500,000 on a commercial with Duval last October if they weren't planning to make him a top endorser, asked one Titleist exec. IMG sources say there was no Duval-only commercial shoot, and certainly not for that kind of money.)
Of course, IMG denies Titleist's allegation. It also won't buy the theory that it was looking for a market adjustment for Duval in light of the money Tiger was getting. IMG sources also deny that the agency was jealous of the deal Titleist made to keep Davis Love III, who had been courted by Nike last year. The parties were characteristically close-mouthed about the numbers, but sources say Love got nearly $50 million for 10 years to stick with Titleist, and Duval was getting about $4.5 million for the first two years of a five-year deal.
IMG representatives have said that it's not just about money; it's about relationships. Indeed, sources say that Duval is not getting any more money at Nike than he did at Titleist. And we know he won't be the marquee swoosh-wearer.
Any of this sound familiar? A-Rod gets the gross national product of Liechtenstein. Jeter wants his piece, Nomar and Frank Thomas want theirs.and on and on. OK, golf endorsements don't approach the insane magnitude of baseball salaries. But one ranking industry executive has confirmed that since the Duval conflict arose, his company has received letters from players' agents essentially requesting early exits if their clients are not to be used as 'flagship' or 'marquee' players.
Agents have to do what's best for their clients. But a deal's a deal, right? That's true whether we're talking about the number of years in it or an escape clause from it.
Things have gotten so bad in baseball that some people see it as only slightly trustworthier than post-Watergate government. Many observers first reacted to news of Rodriguez's 10-year, $250 million deal with the quip, 'No way he'll stay for 10 years.' Baseball players are just expected to jump toward opportunity, no matter what the signed paper says.
With the parties so circumspect, we can't know for sure what David Duval and Titleist were trying to do. The outcome of their lawsuit will, it is hoped, reveal the parties' intentions. Duval has said that will happen.
But what about those other agents who wrote those early-exit-if-my-guy's-not-the-lead-dog letters?
If those letters are indeed out there, and if they say what they're purported to say in conflict with an agreement, let's hope they get filed where they deserve to be.
Getty Images

Lincicome grouped with two rookies in Barbasol

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 17, 2018, 9:54 pm

Brittany Lincicome will tee it up with a pair of rookies when she makes her first start in a PGA Tour event Thursday at the Barbasol Championship at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, is scheduled to go off the 10th tee at 9:59 a.m. ET in the first round with Sam Ryder, 28, and Conrad Shindler, 29. They’re off the first tee Friday at 2:59 p.m. ET

Lincicome will become just the sixth woman to play in a PGA Tour event, joining Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie.

“The first three or four holes, I’ll be a nervous wreck, for sure,” Linicome said.



Getty Images

Lincicome thrilled by reception from male pros

By Randall MellJuly 17, 2018, 8:31 pm

Brittany Lincicome wondered how PGA Tour pros would greet her when she arrived to play the Barbasol Championship this week.

She wondered if there would be resentment.

She also wondered how fans at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky., would receive her, and if a social media mob would take up pitchforks.

“I can’t stop smiling,” Lincicome said Tuesday after her first practice round upon arriving. “Everyone has been coming up to me and wishing me luck. That means a lot.”

PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, husband of LPGA pro Gerina Piller, welcomed her immediately.

Other pros sought her out on the practice putting green.

She said she was also welcomed joining pros at a table in player dining.

Fans have been stopping her for autographs.

“It has been an awesome reception,” said Dewald Gouws, her husband, a former long-drive competitor. “I think it’s put her much more at ease, seeing the reception she is getting. There’s a lot of mutual respect.”

Lincicome, 32, wasn’t sure if she would be playing a practice round alone Tuesday morning, but when she made her way to the first tee, Domenico Geminiani was there, just about to go off.

He waved Lincicome over.

“He said, `Hey, Brittany, do you want to join me?’” Gouws said. “Come to find out, Dom’s a pretty cool guy.”

Geminiani made it into the field as a Monday qualifier.

“The two of us were both trying to figure things out together,” Lincicome said.

Keene Trace will play to 7,328 yards on the scorecard. That’s more than 800 yards longer than Highland Meadows, where Lincicome finished second at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic last weekend. Keene Trace was playing even longer than its listed yardage Tuesday, with recent rains softening it.

Nicknamed “Bam Bam,” Lincicome is one of the longest hitters in the women’s game. Her 269.5 yard average drive is 10th in the LPGA ranks. It would likely be dead last on the PGA Tour, where Brian Stuard (278.2) is the last player on the stats list at No. 201.

“I think if I keep it in the fairway, I’ll be all right,” Lincicome said.

Lincicome is an eight-time LPGA winner, with two major championships among those titles. She is just the sixth woman to compete in a PGA Tour event, the first in a decade, since Michelle Wie played the Reno-Tahoe Open, the last of her eight starts against the men.

Lincicome will join Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Wie in the elite ranks.

Zaharias, by the way, is the only woman to make a 36-hole cut in PGA Tour history, making it at the 1945 L.A. Open before missing a 54-hole cut on the weekend.

What are Lincicome’s expectations?

She would love to make the cut, but . . .

“Just going to roll with it and see what happens,” she said. “This is once in a lifetime, probably a one-and-done opportunity. I’m just going to enjoy it.”

Lincicome grew up playing for the boys’ golf team at Seminole High on the west coast of Florida. She won a couple city championships.

“I always thought it would be cool to compete against the guys on the PGA Tour,” Lincicome said. “I tend to play more with the guys than women at home. I never would have gone out and told my agent, `Let’s go try to play in a PGA Tour event,’ but when Tom Murray called with this opportunity, I was really blown away and excited by it. I never in a million years thought I would have this opportunity.”

Tom Murray, the president of Perio, the parent company of Barbasol and Pure Silk, invited Lincicome to accept one of the tournament’s sponsor exemptions. Lincicome represents Pure Silk.

Lincicome said her desire to play a PGA Tour event is all about satisfying her curiosity, wanting to know how she would stack up at this level. She also wants to see if the experience can help take her to the next level in the women’s game.

As a girl growing up, she played Little League with the boys, instead of softball with the girls. She said playing the boys in golf at Seminole High helped her get where she is today.

“The guys were better, and it pushed me to want to be better,” Lincicome said. “I think playing with the guys [on the PGA Tour], I will learn something to take to LPGA events, and it will help my game, for sure.”

Lincicome has been pleased that her fellow LPGA pros are so supportive. LPGA winner Kris Tamulis is flying into Kentucky as moral support. Other LPGA pros may also be coming in to support her.

The warm fan reception Lincicome is already getting at Keene Trace matters, too.

“She’s already picked up some new fans this week, and hopefully she will pick up some more,” Gouws said. “I don’t think she’s putting too much expectation on herself. I think she really does just want to have fun.”

Getty Images

Stunner: Inbee Park steps aside for Int. Crown

By Randall MellJuly 17, 2018, 4:00 pm

There was a big surprise this week when the LPGA announced the finalized lineups for the UL International Crown.

Rolex world No. 1 Inbee Park won’t be teeing it up for the host South Koreans Oct. 4-7 in Incheon.

She has withdrawn, saying she wanted another Korean to be able to experience the thrill of representing her country.

It’s a stunner given the importance the LPGA has placed on taking the UL International Crown to South Korea and its golf-crazy allegiance to the women’s game in the Crown’s first staging outside the United States.

Two-time major champion In Gee Chun will replace Park.

"It was my pleasure and honor to participate in the first UL International Crown in 2014 and at the 2016 Olympics, and I cannot describe in one word how amazing the atmosphere was to compete as a representative of my country,” Park said. “There are so many gifted and talented players in Korea, and I thought it would be great if one of the other players was given the chance to experience the 2018 UL International Crown.”

Chun, another immensely popular player in South Korea, was the third alternate, so to speak, with the world rankings used to field teams. Hye Jin Choi and Jin Young Ko were higher ranked than Chun but passed because of commitments made to competing in a Korean LPGA major that week. The other South Koreans who previously qualified are So Yeon Ryu, Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim.

Getty Images

Na: I can admit, 'I went through the yips'

By Rex HoggardJuly 17, 2018, 3:35 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following his victory two weeks ago at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier, Kevin Na said his second triumph on the PGA Tour was the most rewarding of his career.

Although he declined to go into details as to why the victory was so gratifying at The Greenbrier, as he completed his practice round on Tuesday at the Open Championship, Na shed some light on how difficult the last few years have been.

“I went through the yips. The whole world saw that. I told people, 'I can’t take the club back,'” Na said on Tuesday at Carnoustie. “People talked about it, 'He’s a slow player. Look at his routine.' I was admitting to the yips. I didn’t use the word ‘yip’ at the time. Nobody wants to use that word, but I’m over it now so I can use it. The whole world saw it.”

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Na, who made headlines for his struggles to begin his backswing when he found himself in the lead at the 2012 Players Championship, said he asked other players who had gone through similar bouts with the game’s most dreaded ailment how they were able to get through it.

“It took time,” he said. “I forced myself a lot. I tried breathing. I tried a trigger. Some guys will have a forward press or the kick of the right knee. That was hard and the crap I got for it was not easy.”

The payoff, however, has steadily arrived this season. Na said he’d been confident with his game this season following a runner-up showing at the Genesis Open and a fourth-place finish at the Fort Worth Invitational, and he felt he was close to a breakthrough. But being able to finish a tournament like he did at The Greenbrier, where he won by five strokes, was particularly rewarding.

“All good now,” he smiled. “I knew I was good enough to win again, but until you do it sometimes you question yourself. It’s just the honest truth.”