Why did Tiger care so much? He knew Buick's objectives. The General Motors line of cars that most people associate with older, well-to-do drivers wanted to get back to the image it enjoyed in its heyday, when people aspired to own a Buick, says Pete Ternes, director of communications for the car line. A company endorser since 1999, Tiger
already had taken a keen interest in the company strategy. He educated himself about the line, made promotional appearances, and helped determine his role in television advertising. General Motors designed a concept car, the Buick Bengal, with Tiger in mind. The car won best-in-show honors at the General Motors auto show in January and at the New York Auto Show last spring.

"Tiger takes a very active role with us," said Ternes, "and he has from the beginning." Buick's agreement with Tiger is worth an estimated $20 million over five years.

Tiger also cared enough, some say, to skip a PGA tournament in deference to a sponsor. When he bowed out in May on the MasterCard Colonial in Fort Worth to play the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open in Germany, he not only earned a $2.5 million appearance fee (a practice prohibited in PGA Tour events), but he also contributed to lower ticket sales and television ratings for an event sponsored by MasterCard, chief rival to Woods' sponsor American Express. Coincidence? Woods isn't saying, but few people think so.

Though not commenting directly on Woods' German excursion, Judy Tenzer, spokeswoman for American Express, said the company, which pays Woods an estimated $5 million a year, is very happy with its association. Why not? Woods might be the ultimate expression of American Express' slogan, "Do More."

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The image of someone who will do more is one Woods and his advisers have carefully cultivated. After all, Woods has more at stake than any single person or company that he associates with. The companies he endorses are trying to sell more of their product. Woods is his product, and he wants it to be known worldwide.