file photo, United States team player Tiger Woods, right, is
joined by wife, Elin Nordegren, at the closing ceremonies
for the Presidents Cup in San Francisco, Calif. On his Web
site Friday night, Dec. 11, 2009, Woods announced that he is
taking an indefinite break from professional golf.
Tiger Woods is shifting his focus
from winning majors to saving his marriage.
Two weeks after Woods crashed his SUV
into a tree outside his Florida home, setting in motion a swift fall
that featured reports of rampant extramarital affairs, golf's
biggest star delivered a stunning development of his own. He
temporarily is walking away from the game that made him the first $1
"After much soul searching, I
have decided to take an indefinite break from professional
golf," Woods said Friday evening on his Web site. "I need
to focus my attention on being a better husband, father, and
It will be the second straight year
that the No. 1 player was on the sidelines.
A year ago, he missed eight months
while recovering from reconstructive surgery on his left knee. This
time, Woods is trying to repair a broken family, knowing this will
be a far more difficult comeback.
"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 said. "I
want to say again to everyone that I am profoundly sorry and that I
ask forgiveness. It may not be possible to repair the damage I've
done, but I want to do my best to try."
Woods and his wife, Elin, have been
married five years. They have a 2-year-old daughter and a
10-month-old son. The No. 1 player in golf has not been seen in
public since the accident.
Woods gave no indication when he
might return in what could be a pivotal year as he pursues the
record 18 major championships won by Jack Nicklaus. Woods, who did
not win a major this year, has 14.
The Masters, where Woods has won four
times, is April 8-11. The U.S. Open is at Pebble Beach, where Woods
won by a record 15 strokes in 2000, and the British Open returns to
St. Andrews, where he has won twice by a combined 13 shots.
"We knew before he was coming
back," said Steve Stricker, one of Woods' favorite players on
tour. "Now, we're not sure when he's coming back. But this
sounds good. I hope everything works out for him."
The PGA Tour supported the decision.
"His priorities are where they
need to be, and we will continue to respect and honor his family's
request for privacy," PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said in
a statement, the tour's first public comment since Woods mentioned
his "personal failings" and "transgressions" in
a Dec. 2 statement. "We look forward to Tiger's return to the
PGA Tour when he determines the time is right for him."
Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, told
The Associated Press that it was the right decision for Woods and
"The entirety of someone's life
is more important than just a professional career," Steinberg
said in an e-mail to the AP. "What matters most is a young
family that is trying to cope with difficult life issues in a
secluded and caring way. Whenever Tiger may return to the game
should be on the family's terms alone."
Craig Parry, who played a practice
round with Woods in Australia last month, said Woods brought the
problems on himself.
"What he did was totally
wrong," Parry said at the Australian PGA Championship.
"And he's got no one to blame except himself. You can look at
other people, but he's the one who's got to look in the
John Daly, who is going through his
third divorce, said he has been trying to reach Woods and "he
just didn't want to talk to anybody."
"I feel if there is anybody in
this world who could give him some advice ..." Daly said in
Australia. "I hope we get him back soon. They always say there
is no one bigger in golf than the game itself. But Tiger is."
Woods was out of action from July
2008 until the end of February this year, and television ratings
dropped 50 percent. The tour is trying to renew a half-dozen title
sponsors, and it is to begin negotiations on the next television
contract later next year.
As for Woods' corporate endorsements,
all have stood by him for now.
"Tiger has been part of Nike for
more than a decade," Nike said in a statement Friday. "He
is the best golfer in the world and one of the greatest athletes of
his era. We look forward to his return to golf. He and his family
have Nike's full support."
Meanwhile, Accenture no longer has an
image of Woods on the home page of its Web site. Earlier this week,
Woods standing amid cactus plants studying his next shot was among
three rotating pictures on the home page.
AT&T said it supported Woods'
"We are presently evaluating our
ongoing relationship with him," the company said in a
statement. Not only does Woods carry the AT&T logo on his golf
bag, the company is the title sponsor of his PGA Tour event over the
July 4th weekend.
Steinberg said it would be
"premature and inappropriate" to talk about Woods'
specific business relationships.
"Suffice it to say, we have had
thoughtful conversations and his sponsors have been open to a
solution-oriented dialogue," Steinberg said. "Of course,
each sponsor has unique considerations and ultimately the decisions
they make we would fully understand and accept."
Earlier this year, Woods became the
world's first athlete to surpass $1 billion in career earnings,
according to Forbes magazine. His sponsors also include Gillette,
Gatorade and Tag Heuer.
Woods last played a tournament Nov.
15 when he won the Australian Masters for his 82nd victory around
Stricker, who went undefeated as
Woods' partner at the Presidents Cup, said his leave was the right
"I think it's great that he's
going to put his family first and work things out," Stricker
said from Naples, Fla., where he is playing the Shark Shootout.
"Golf will always be there. He wants to make sure his marriage
is right and everything is good on the homefront. We'll sure miss
him on tour until he gets things taken care of."
Woods also indicated he would step
away from the work of the Tiger Woods Foundation, which has served
some 10 million children.
"There are millions of young
people who have truly changed their lives through the foundation's
programs, and millions more still counting on us for help,"
Woods said in a separate statement through his foundation. "I
am committed to them and to the foundation's excellent work, and I
know my staff will continue these efforts during my absence."