Famous Golf Agent Opens Up About Tiger Woods' Lack of Social Skills in Firing Him

‘It was betrayal with a capital B.'- Norton said.

by Sead Dedovic
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Famous Golf Agent Opens Up About Tiger Woods' Lack of Social Skills in Firing Him
© J.D. Cuban / Getty Images

Hughes Norton was Tiger Woods' golf manager. At the time when the then-21-year-old Woods won the Masters, Norton became his agent. Thanks to him, Woods secured million-dollar contracts with giant sports companies worldwide. Despite all Norton had done for him, Woods decided that the two of them had to part ways. In "Rainmaker: Superagent Hughes Norton and the Money-Grab Explosion of Golf from Tiger to LIV and Beyond," Norton reflects, as the title suggests, on some of the most important names in the world of golf and the emergence of LIV Golf. In an interview with Mail Sport, Norton revealed more details about his separation from Woods. He feels that Woods betrayed him. Although they collaborated for 10 years, it seems that Tiger did not respect their relationship.

‘It was betrayal with a capital B. On a professional level, because I thought I'd done my job in spades. And on a personal level, because it was such a rejection of a relationship that we had built together for 10 years.’- Norton said.

He also revealed that Woods looked like a zombie, devoid of any emotions when he told him their relationship was over. This happened in September 1998. Norton was shocked, considering the approach of the then-young Woods. He expected Woods to provide some reasons for his decision and explain why he wanted to end the relationship. 

However, he later learned that Woods behaved similarly in relationships with everyone. Norton emphasizes that Tiger Woods is a completely different persona on the golf course and knows how to mentally dominate his opponent. When it comes to relationships with people outside the golf course and confrontation, Woods obviously lacks social skills.

Tiger Woods at the 11th Annual Magic Johnson Sports Star Dinner & Auction Benefiting The Muscular Dystrophy Association. Tiger i
Tiger Woods at the 11th Annual Magic Johnson Sports Star Dinner & Auction Benefiting The Muscular Dystrophy Association. Tiger i© Craig Jones /Allsport/ Getty Images
 

The solace I can take, which doesn’t provide much, is this: He was an equal opportunity zombie with relationships, his swing coaches, his lawyer, the guy negotiated the IMG representation deal, with caddies,’ he says. ‘When it's over, it's over.

It is the way he terminates relationships with everyone. Whether it's girlfriends, whether it's his former golf coaches. It's ironic, really. In a way he's so good at confrontation on the golf course. If he's playing you, he will beat your brains out every single time. But when it comes to confronting things like me and other people that are in his life, he has no social skills whatsoever. It's maddening, actually.’- he continued.

Norton's life took a sharp turn for the worse afterward. Two months later, he lost his job at IMG, which came as a complete shock to him. Things were moving quickly, and it seemed that Norton wasn't fully aware of all the developments. Through this book, Norton wanted to "vent out" all those negative emotions and reveal the true story. 

This golf agent emphasized that he had given his maximum to ensure Woods' career was heading in the right direction and that he continued to develop as a golfer. At that time, Woods was globally popular and attracted enormous attention. 

Tiger Woods during the semifinal match against Joel Kribel of Pleasanton, California at the 1996 U.S. Amateur Championship
Tiger Woods during the semifinal match against Joel Kribel of Pleasanton, California at the 1996 U.S. Amateur Championship© J.D. Cuban / Getty Images Sport
 

They didn't want the media to "destroy" him while he was still at the beginning of his career, so they aimed to limit Woods' communication with them as much as possible. Norton wanted to secure him a massive amount of money and do everything to ensure Tiger continued at the same pace in the future. 

Norton highlighted that during those years, Woods was as popular as some past music and movie stars like Elvis Presley.

Hughes Norton on cooperating with Greg Norman

Norton had the opportunity to collaborate with Greg Norman, who was also a globally popular star at the time. They parted ways in 1994, before Woods began to emerge on the big stage. Norton emphasized that after 11 years of collaboration, Norman wanted to turn a new page in his career and part ways with Norton. 

This golf agent was surprised at the time, but he understood Norman's decision more, considering that superstars usually want to make changes after some time, regardless of everything you do for them. 

Norton emphasized that he and Norman were great friends, and he felt sorry about everything. However, he pointed out that this situation cannot be compared to Woods', which he considers much more difficult and disturbing.

Greg Norman and Tiger Woods at Presidents Cup in 1998
Greg Norman and Tiger Woods at Presidents Cup in 1998© Jack Atley /Allsport/ Getty Images Sport
 

Norton surprised everyone by revealing that the LIV Golf idea was not Norman's work. Namely, he revealed that IMF founder Mark McCormack had already talked about a global tour. Based on the LIV Golf and PGA Tour conflict, this former golf agent revealed how he would handle things. He believes that the only option is to accept such contracts, given the huge money offered by LIV Golf.

Tiger Woods
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