Woods' confidence as a businessman and Nike's confidence in him as more than just another athlete seem to have run on parallel tracks. Nowadays, Kelly says, Tiger meets every week to look at new Nike Golf products, and Steinberg is in frequent e-mail or phone contact, talking about Tiger's opinions on the colors, fabrics, and styles. His suggestions, and his thumbs up or down, go a long way toward determining which ones will finally reach the marketplace.
Likewise, Tiger listens to Nike about other endorsements he's considering. The company was widely fingered as the impetus behind a scaling back of an agreement with Disney. Early on, Tiger was considering a deal to promote Disney's theme parks, as well as help boost ratings at Disney-owned ABC and ESPN by playing in special made-for-TV events. Nike reportedly didn't want the Disney name to outclass its association with Tiger, so the package ended up being all about the exhibition appearances, with no pitching of theme parks involved.
"We would like him to concentrate on a few endorsements that are top-quality," Kelly told The Dallas Morning News last year. "We have him head to toe."