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Report: GM unlikely to lay off Tiger

Despite General Motors’ sales slump, the car company appears unlikely to lay off one of its most high-profile workers, Buick-endorser Tiger Woods, according to Bloomberg News. Tigerbag_300 Bloomberg reports that Woods’s agent Mark Steinberg has started talking to General Motors about extending Woods’s endorsement deal with Buick past 2009. Woods appears in commercials for the car company, as well as other promotions (like last week when Woods caddied for a Buick sweepstakes winner at Torrey Pines). Woods also has a large Buick logo plastered on his bag, and he rarely misses a tournament that has “Buick” in its name. That's no small bonus since tournaments without Tiger are treated like minor league baseball games: Great fun and “man, you can really get close to the players,” but not the real thing. Buick, which has had an endorsement agreement with the world's No. 1-ranked golfer since 1999, has no plans "right now'" to scale back its golf sponsorships, [GM marketing manager Larry] Peck said in a telephone interview. The company's stock has dropped more than 74 percent this year, to $6.19 at yesterday's close, and GM has cut 53,000 union workers since 2005.Because of that, Steinberg said in a telephone interview that he wants to find out if it "makes sense to continue" beyond 2009, when the contract expires."I want to see where they are, and they want to see where we are," Steinberg said.He added that he wouldn't call his initial talks with Peck "a renewal conversation.""It was an early conversation about the relationship and when we might begin to talk about if it makes sense to continue and whether there will be an extension," the agent said. "That's the best way to put it. We haven't started any conversations about the future."Peck said the company has no desire to sever its ties with Woods, who recently topped BusinessWeek magazine's list of the "Most Powerful People in Sports." Neither General Motors or Woods's agent would disclose how much Buick pays Woods. Sports Illustrated estimated that Woods’s yearly income in 2007 was $127 million, with $105 million in endorsements and almost $22 million in tournament winnings.
(Photo: Robert Beck/SI)

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by Kevin Cunningham