He's BA A-a-Ck: Tiger Woods Is Talk of Texas Masters Champ Rejoins Tour, Puts His Spin on All the Hype

Article excerpt

Two miles from the TPC at Four Seasons Resort, home of the GTE Byron Nelson Classic, one comes across a sign that is the first sure-fire indication that Tiger Woods is in the house: "Sold Out."

Life after the Masters, after Fuzzy, after Michael, after Oprah, after Tyra Banks, after worldwide spontaneous combustion, begins anew for Woods this week. And the world - at least the world of golf - now beats to the rhythm of his drum.

"(Arnold) Palmer was Thomas Edison," said Mark McCormack, head of Inter national Management Group, which manages Woods. "Tiger is Bill Gates." The impact Woods has had on this game, this community, this tournament is staggering. Consider: Organizers are expecting more than 300,000 spectators in Irving over the weekend. In the 30-year history of the tournament, the Byron Nelson has not come close to selling out before. In the midst of Tiger-mania, the PGA Tour announced a new television deal earlier this week that will double purses over the next few years. By 2002, each tournament winner will get a check for $500,000, and even a third-place finisher will make more than $200,000. "That's amazing," said Woods' manager, Hughes Norton. "Just think about what that is going to do in terms of giving kids an alternative. The athletes are going to say, `I think I'll play golf.' Combined with what Tiger is doing, that's going to have quite an impact." At an ordinary municipal golf course on Sunday, Woods conducted a youth clinic that drew so much attention, it had to be closed to the public. More than 4,000 kids, as well as their parents, showed up to see Woods swing for the first time since his record-setting win at Augusta National. This sports-crazed area, which worships college football, adores Cowboys, loves Rangers and even likes its stumbling Mavericks, has gone stark-raving mad over golf's young Moses. "Where's Brian Epstein when you need him?" Norton said, referring to the deceased manager of the Beatles. On Tuesday, Tiger came down off the mountain to address the media and make sense of it all. He discussed the issues that have affected his life over the past few weeks. In a 45-minute conference, he circled the bases and talked about the changes in his life. Here are some of the highlights: About the hype: "You would not believe. It's been amazing. I've had to learn the magic word of `No' and to say it as nice as possible. But it's hard because people still, I think, in my opinion, fail to realize why I'm out here. "I'm out here to try to win tournaments, and sometimes they want me to either schmooze with these people, do interviews, sign tons of autographs, take pictures with their kids. That's great and all, but I can't lose sight of my main objective, which is winning." About turning down an invitation to appear with President Clinton on the anniversary of Jackie Robinson's debut in baseball, two days after the Masters: "For one thing, I had planned my vacation already; it was already set. And, two, why didn't Mr. Clinton invite me before the Masters? That didn't happen, and as soon as I won, he invited me. I think it would have been best if he'd have asked me before, with all the other athletes that were involved." About the ton of mail he has received since the Masters: "What's been amazing is the reception that I keep getting from all these people saying what they felt as I came up No. …


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