Mark Steinberg, agent for Tiger Woods, stands by his man

Tuesday April 6th, 2010
Most golf fans recognize Tiger Woods's swing coach, Hank Haney (left), but Mark Steinberg often blends into the background.
Fred Vuich/SI

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Mark Steinberg, Tiger Woods's agent, was one of the thousands of people who followed golf's No.1 ranked player around Augusta National on Monday. Along with British Open week, Masters week is one of Steinberg's busiest as the global managing director of IMG's golf division. He has many meetings scheduled with companies that flock here from around the globe.

But Monday was no ordinary day. Forsaking a hat or sunglasses, Steinberg walked outside the ropes in anonymity as his client played in public for the first time in months.

Speaking on the eighth and ninth fairways as fans walked by, Steinberg said that he was in Southern California when the car accident took place outside Woods's home in Windermere, Fla. He denied knowing that his client was having multiple affairs, and spoke with disbelief about the number of women who have come forward to say they had relationships with Tiger.

Companies like Accenture, AT&T and Gatorade have ended their relationships with Woods, and I asked Steinberg if he ever considered doing the same thing.

"I had to do a lot of soul searching about the whole thing," he said. Steinberg said that he spoke with his wife about the situation several times and that she helped him realize that he couldn't leave his friend in this situation.

At the same time, he was clearly not happy that his name has appeared in articles like a recent one in Vanity Fair. The magazine quoted one alleged mistress, Mindy Lawton, who said she told Steinberg that The National Enquirer had learned of her affair with Woods.

He told me that he chose not to come out and strongly deny what he said were false accusations because that would only keep the story alive. And, people would simply assume he was lying.

"I think that's why I have not come out and more aggressively defended myself."

Steinberg said that he has only gone to Las Vegas once with Woods on a trip that was not work-related. He said he doesn't know where his client is—and who he is with—24 hours a day. His job, he said, is to take care of Tiger's business interests—not his personal life.

When it comes to Woods's future business interests, Steinberg said there is no date circled on the calendar when he will start calling companies to explore new sponsorships.

"Endorsements will be dealt with when the time feels right," he said.

Woods echoed that sentiment in his press conference Monday afternoon. "Hopefully I can prove to the other companies going forward that I am a worthy investment, that I can help their company, help their company grow and represent them well."

When Steinberg's name starts getting mentioned in Fortune instead of Vanity Fair, he'll feel much happier.

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