Woods taking golf break to repair family hurt by trysts (Roundup)
By Pat Reber Dec 12, 2009, 1:12 GMT
Out for now, Woods EPA/MONICA M. DAVEY
Washington - Tiger Woods, one of the world's most famous athletes, is taking an indefinite break from professional golf to 'repair the damage' he's done with marital infidelity, Woods said Friday on his website.
Woods, 33, said he had reached the decision 'after much soul searching' and that he needed to 'focus my attention on being a better husband, father and person.'
The Professional Golf Association (PGA) commissioner Tim Finchem issued a statement saying Woods' priorities were where they needed to be, and the PGA looked forward to his return, according to broadcast reports.
Woods normally draws huge crowds and TV viewers to every tournament he participates in. His absence was most recently painfully noticed during his months-long recovery from knee surgery in 2008.
'When Tiger isn't playing, it's not good for the PGA tour,' ESPN's golf correspondent Bob Harig said.
Woods, who was previously seen as a squeaky clean athletic role model, has been tainted by allegations of serial infidelities with as many as 10 women around the United States including various waitresses, nightclub hostesses and porn stars.
Woods has been the focus of tabloid inquiry since he crashed his car outside his house in the early hours of November 27 amid allegations of a massive fight between him and his wife, who apparently used a golf club to break the window on his car.
Since the accident, Woods has not been seen in public and he withdrew from his own tournament in Thousand Oaks, California, just days after the accident.
The earliest he had been expected to return was the Torrey Pines Tournament in San Diego, California, in late January. But Harig suggested Woods might be out longer, going from the tone of his statement Friday.
Woods for the first time admitted to having extramarital relations, using the word 'infidelity' for the first time Friday. In a previous statement, he admitted only to 'transgressions.'
'I am deeply aware of the disappointment and hurt that my infidelity has caused to so many people, most of all my wife and children,' Woods wrote. 'I want to say again to everyone that I am profoundly sorry and that I ask forgiveness.'
Woods said it may not be 'possible to repair the damage I've done, but I want to do my best to try.'
On Thursday, People magazine reported that Woods' wife Elin Nordegren, 29, may stay with the philandering golf superstar for the sake of the couple's two children, a two-year-old daughter and a 10- month-old son.
The report said that the Swedish model herself is a 'child of divorce' whose parents split when she was 6 years old.
'That's not something she's likely going to want to do to (her children with Woods) Sam and Charlie,' a close friend of Nordegren told People. 'She really believes in the importance of parents staying together.'
Other reports that Woods was offering his wife a huge financial inducement, said to be as high as 80 million dollars, if she agrees to stay married to him for several more years in a bid to rehabilitate his tainted image.
'I would like to ask everyone, including my fans, the good people at my foundation, business partners, the PGA Tour, and my fellow competitors, for their understanding. What's most important now is that my family has the time, privacy, and safe haven we will need for personal healing,' Woodsd wrote.
He asked for privacy for his family 'during this difficult period.'
Woods has had a phenomenal career, earning more than 1 billion dollars in his rapid 13-year rise, commanding huge fees for sports endorsements and revolutionizing sports marketing. He receives multimillion-dollar fees for putting his signature on new golf courses and runs a world foundation aimed at getting more young, disadvantaged people out on the greens.
Earlier this week, there were signs the money flow could slow. Television ads featuring Woods have stopped, although none of his multi-million-dollar endorsement contracts have yet been cancelled by the likes of companies like Nike and Gilette, according to ABC news.
Pepsi did confirm that it was discontinuing a Tiger Woods-branded energy drink, but the move had been announced before the scandal broke.