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Golfers Cash In On Success

Ron Sirak Associated Press

Winning a tournament means a lot more to a golfer than merely a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour. The breakthrough creates endorsement opportunities that can greatly reduce the financial pressure of playing on the tour.

The victory by Paul Goydos at the Bay Hill Invitational a year ago nearly quadrupled his off-course earnings, according to his agent, and put Goydos in position to take more risks on the course without fear of the monetary consequences.

“In terms of contract scale, the way the equipment companies see it, there are non-winners, winners, multiple winners, major winners and Tiger Woods,” said Andrew Witlieb of Integrated Sports International, the agency that represents Goydos.

“Since Paul won, he’s been able to secure three more corporate sponsors, including Tommy Armour, which is his anchor company, Black Ice, and Carlyle, his clothing company.

“At this time last year, he had very few corporate outings (worth thousands of dollars each) and none of those endorsement deals. I would say that winning tripled his off-course money, maybe quadrupled it.”

Goydos, who won $33,462 in the final two events of 1995 just to keep his PGA Tour playing card, got his initial victory in the right year. His new endorsement deals were signed after the emergence of Woods brought unprecedented attention to golf.

“Tiger has raised the bargaining position for everyone,” Witlieb said. “Before Tiger, if you were getting $125,000 a year for your equipment contract, now they are at $200,000. If you are remotely negotiable, you are going to get the higher number.”

And Goydos was more than negotiable. The former substitute teacher from Long Beach, Calif., is articulate, funny in an off-beat way and - like most golfers - a solid citizen with no concerns for off-course problems.

“The good thing about golfers is that they are all Grant Hill,” Witlieb said.

Goydos is also well-known to the media because he loves to hang out in the press room. In addition, he raised his profile with his role in John Feinstein’s best-selling book, “A Good Walk Spoiled.”

Witlieb and Goydos were able to parlay the breakthrough competitive year into an equally successful financial year.

He plays Tommy Armour Ti 100 irons and uses Callaway woods. The putter is from Odyssey putter, the ball is Titleist and he wears Carlyle apparel. The shoes are Footjoy and the hat says Armour.

One of his newest endorsements is Black Ice face coating, a substance he puts on his driver and 3-wood that Goydos says makes the ball go farther. The product from Black Ice Golf Co. in San Marcos, Calif., is a ceramic face coating and has USGA approval.

Witlieb said his client’s off-course success has also enabled Goydos to become a more daring golfer.

“A great example of that was that last year at Westchester,” Witlieb said. “He was under a tree on No. 18 where he could gamble and try to make birdie and go from 15th place to 10th, or fail and finish 25th. Or he could just protect 15th money.”

Witlieb said Goydos gambled, made the birdie and earned about $14,000 more than he would have if he had played it safely.

“Two years ago he couldn’t have taken that gamble and would just play it safe and make a par-5,” Witlieb said.

Goydos has started 1997 solidly, making the cut in seven of his eight tournaments and finishing fourth, seventh and ninth to earn $158,606.

The danger of his success, according to Goydos, was not losing sight of exactly who he was as a golfer.

“The biggest problem I had was I did have a big attitude after I won, an attitude of trying to win every week,” he said. “I think I got preoccupied with winning instead of playing well and putting myself in position and hoping to have a good Sunday. That’s my style, instead of trying to win on the first tee.”

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