Buick catches a ride with Tiger Woods

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Tiger Woods would rather have a Buick.

The General Motors Corp. division is said to have signed a sponsorship agreement that will pay the world's No. 1 golfer $10 million to $15 million over the next two years.

Mr. Woods will have the word "Buick" emblazoned on his bag when he plays in the U.S. (and the names of other GM vehicles when he plays in other countries). In addition, he is expected to play in six of the eight Buick-sponsored events on the PGA Tour in 2000 and 2001. He is also likely to appear in ads for Buick.

The automaker could not be reached for comment, nor could International Management Group, which handles Mr. Woods' business affairs. But in an interview earlier this fall, Anthony Derhake, brand manager of golf for Buick, said the company was looking for new golfers to represent the carmaker, and that Mr. Woods was among those being considered.


Signing the golfing phenom "really does two things for the company," said Jim Andrews, editorial director of IEG Report, a newsletter that tracks corporate sponsorship. "One, it associates Buick with an athlete who is at the top of his field. Nobody is better than Tiger right now, and he is about as close to perfection as a golfer can be, which isn't a bad message to be sending to potential customers.

"Secondly, it helps to change the image of Buick cars. Traditionally, they have been thought of as an older person's automobile, as your father's car but not your own."

The bidding for Mr. Woods' bag began in mid-October after Titleist announced it had renegotiated its endorsement deal with the golfer. Though terms were not disclosed, Titleist gave up the bag-and is believed to have cut its previous annual outlay of $4 million annually at least in half. It renegotiated following a dispute over Nike's use of Mr. Woods in ads; Titleist believed the ads left the impression Mr. Woods endorsed Nike golf balls.

Mr. Steinbreder is a senior writer for GolfWeek.

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