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Golf Australia Express : GA Express 210
D OESN’T time fly when you’re having fun? It certainly does when that fun includes a boatload of tournament victories, an endless procession of broken records and an even longer line of extramarital affairs. It’s been 20 years since Tiger Woods consigned the rest of the PGA Tour to second-rate status for well over a decade by announcing he’d be turning professional, and plenty has changed in that time. And while he’s cost plenty of players the chance to win a major, those same players have the former world No.1 to thank for many of the luxuries they now enjoy each and every week on Tour. Here are some of golf’s biggest changes since Tiger turned pro in 1996. GAME-changing. There’s no other way to describe the immediate impact that Woods had on the sport, despite the fact that he’d never won a tournament. At the time, there was reportedly not a single endorsement deal in golf that paid a player more than $5 million annually. Woods blew that barrier away instantly, with a Nike clothing deal that netted him US$6.5 million per year, as well as a $7.5 million signing bonus. Then there was Titleist, who coughed up $3.5 million per year for him to use their balls and clubs. Today’s top players have Woods to thank for single-handedly raising the bar of expectation when it comes to adding extra zeros onto endorsement deals. IT’S easy to forget that Tiger’s career crossed paths with our own greatest golfing export, Greg Norman. When Woods went pro, Norman was in the middle of amassing a record 96-week stint in the world No.1 spot that began in June 1995 and ended in April 1997. That record is now dust, of course, with Woods first having smashed it between 1999 and 2004 when he racked up 264 weeks at the top, and then improved on that mark with a 281-week reign between June 2005 and October 2010. We’ll never say never, but it’s a mark that’s never going to be bettered. Woods also owns the record for most consecutive cuts made with 142, and holds or shares the record for the largest margin of victory at three of the four majors. THE ENDORSEMENTS THE STREAKS
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