Loyalty Is Job 1 in Tiger Woods’s inner circle

Pat McMahon Contributor

Tiger Woods, a self-acknowledged control freak, insists on loyalty as a fundamental quality in employees, associates and friends. Just how much Woods values allegiance was summed up by his father, Earl, in an interview shortly before he died.

“Loyalty is No. 1 to Tiger,” Earl Woods said in a biography of his son. “You’re loyal or you’re history.”

In one of his first moves after turning pro in 1996, Woods fired the director of his foundation, John Merchant, a prominent lawyer and the first African-American member of the U.S.G.A. executive committee. Two years later, he fired his first agent, Hughes Norton of International Management Group, who had assembled Woods’s $120 million endorsement portfolio. The next year, he showed the door to his caddie Mike Cowan, known as Fluff.

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