That's the warning sports marketing experts are giving in handicapping the marketability of two much-in-the-news golfers: bad boy pro John Daly and Tiger Woods, an amateur who's ineligible for endorsements.
Mr. Daly, 28, reportedly fought Aug. 28 with another golfer's father during the final round of the World Series of Golf, the latest in a spate of image-tarnishing episodes.
The same day, Mr. Woods, 18, captured headlines with a dramatic come-from-behind victory at the U.S. Amateur Championship, the first African-American to do so. The acclaimed prodigy showed a propensity for the sport at an early age, and was even profiled on the '70s TV hit "That's Incredible."
Mr. Woods will attend Stanford University this fall. His new coach, Wally Goodwin, received more than 20 calls last week from marketers seeking quickie endorsements, including offers from a blue jeans company, a leading golf club maker and at least two leading athletic footwear marketers.
Mr. Goodwin said collegiate rules forbid marketers and would-be agents from even making contact with Mr. Woods.
"They know better," said Mr. Goodwin, who nonetheless understands their excitement. "He's charismatic and talented. He's going to be phenomenal for the sport and for college golf."
The golf world and marketers, hungry for a young star, will keep an eye on Mr. Woods, especially considering Mr. Daly's recent troubles. He was suspended by the Professional Golfers' Association in 1992 after quitting a tournament in the middle of play. In 1993, he took time off to seek treatment for alcohol abuse.
"If he was naughty now and then it would be refreshing. But this is a classy, conservative sport, and this time he's gone too far," said David Burns, president of Burns Celebrity Sports Service, Chicago.
Mr. Daly signed a 10-year deal with Wilson Sporting Goods Co. in June, estimated at $30 million.
Wilson's acting general manager, John Rigatello, said he was looking into the latest incident as a matter of course but otherwise defended his endorser. At press time, Mr. Daly's agent and Reebok International, another company whose products Mr. Daly endorses, had not returned calls.