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The Man Behind Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods
CNBC.com
Tiger Woods

If you think Tiger Woods is a busy man, imagine what it's like to be his agent.

For 11 years, that has been the responsibility of Mark Steinberg, who is IMG's Global Managing Director of Golf.

Forget everything that happens on the golf course, what happens off of it is dizzying, as the sport's world most valuable endorser gets pitch after pitch. Steinberg says Woods gets "dozens" of pitches a week and Steinberg says all of them are read.

"They are important to the people that are sending it," Steinberg said. "So we need to take it seriously and pride ourselves on getting back to each one."

For a consumer products company to have a shot to land Tiger, they usually have to promise him an upfront fee and also give him a piece of sales.

"Part of his Nike deal is licensing, part of his EA Sports deal is licensing, part of his Upper Deck deal is licensing, Gatorade is strictly a licensing deal," Steinberg said. "Do I think we could engage in any further licensing only deals? I do. I could see that growing internationally in years to come. But right now we're pretty content with out group of partners that we have right now."

Many agents look at endorsements in categories. So since Tiger's Buick deal was mutually severed, you'd think Steinberg would be looking for a car deal. But Steinberg says it doesn't work that way.

"We don’t just look at what the next category is going to be," Steinberg said. "It has got to be the right category, but it has got to be the right company, it has got to be be the right fit, it has got to be a global brand and it has got to be an image that fits the image and the brand of Tiger."

Television networks also know that there's no one more valuable than Tiger. When Tiger is in the hunt on Sunday, ratings double almost without exception, leading some media members to dream up the idea that Tiger should start his own tour to get a bigger piece of the pie. But Steinberg says the idea of Tiger going on his own or asking the PGA Tour for more money, besides his rightful playing share, is a fantasy.

"Never had one conversation about it," Steinberg said. "Tiger is on record saying that he's not bigger than the game of golf. I don't think that's the right way to go."

*PROGRAMMING NOTE: You can watch the entire interview with Mark Steinberg tonight on CNBC REPORTS: LIVE FROM THE US OPEN" AT 8PM ET.*

Tiger's business empire is also growing thanks to a golf course design business. Courses are currently being built in North Carolina, Mexico and Dubai, though the latter has been delayed due to the recession. That doesn't mean Steinberg's client is giving up on growing a business that has worked out for Greg Norman and Jack Nicklaus.

"Most importantly, Tiger needs to be involved with a fabulous piece of property, something that’s going to represent him very well," Steinberg said. "So the business is growing to grow from three. But you’re not going to be seeing three per year. Tiger’s going to be hands on, he’s going to be doing the way he does everything else in his life. So he’s going to do it only in a way that he can balance it."

This week, Forbes estimated that Woods earned $110 million, the most money of any athlete over the last year. Some media members have speculated that Woods could become the first athlete to make $1 billion in winnings and endorsements by next year. If you're looking for Steinberg to confirm that timetable, forget about it.

"I don't have a corkboard in my office ticking things off," Steinberg said. "I don't know where we are."

Steinberg said the only metric the two discuss is Tiger's 14 major championships and the four more he needs to tie Jack Nicklaus' record.

"Eighteen majors, that’s what we talk about," Steinberg said. "The billion dollar athlete doesn’t even register."

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