Tiger Woods' first agent recalls 'zombie-like' firing by golf superstar: 'Betrayal with a capital B'


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Hughes Norton, Tiger Woods’ first agent, is ready to spill on a grudge he’s had since he was fired decades ago by the golf superstar. 

As Woods broke into professional golf at the ripe age of 20 in 1996, Norton was there to assist him, especially when it came to endorsements. He was key in getting deals for Woods with Nike and Titleist, which were worth $60 million that year. 

Norton was a golf superagent with many stories around the game, and his new book, “Rainmaker,” details them, including his relationship with Woods. 

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Tiger Woods watches the ball fly during the Los Angeles Open in Los Angeles, California.  (Gary Newkirk /Allsport)

And more specifically, how that relationship ended. 

Norton was fired in 1998 by Woods, and his agency, IMG, fired him two months after that. 

He recalled that meeting with Woods in his book, where he said the star golfer’s eyes were “zombie-like” as he let his agent know he would no longer be working for him. 

TIGER WOODS ‘DISAPPOINTED’ AFTER WITHDRAWING FROM GENESIS INVITATIONAL DUE TO ILLNESS

“It was betrayal with a capital B,” Norton told The Daily Mail.

“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.”

Woods’ golf journey since turning pro has had many peaks and valleys, but Norton says that “expressionless” face that he saw him have during the firing meeting has been used with everyone else since. 

“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 who negotiated the IMG representation deal, with caddies,” Norton wrote in his book, per the Mail. “When it’s over, it’s over.

Tiger Woods golfing

Tiger Woods of the United States plays his shot from the 13th tee during the second round of THE PLAYERS Championship on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on May 11, 2018 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

“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.”

Woods’ personal life has been in the public eye for decades, including his scandal with ex-wife Elin Nordegren in 2009, in which he had multiple affairs while married. 

His most recent relationship with Erica Herman ended with her trying to sue him after he allegedly tricked her into leaving the home they shared so he could move her stuff out. Herman ended up dropping the lawsuit after being defeated in court on numerous occasions. 

On the course, Woods has won 15 major titles and 82 PGA Tour events, which is tied for the most all-time. During his career, he’s been through three caddies before walking the Genesis Invitational this year with Lance Bennett. Mike “Fluff” Cowan (1996-1999), Steve Williams (1999-2011) and Joe LaCava (2012-2023) were with him over the years. 

Tiger Woods golfing

Tiger Woods of the United States plays a shot from a bunker on the tenth hole during a practice round prior to the start of the 2018 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 3, 2018 in Augusta, Georgia. (Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

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Woods is expected to be playing at this year’s Masters despite bowing out of the Genesis Invitational due to illness. 

Meanwhile, Norton’s book is set to release on Tuesday. 

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