AT&T is latest to end Tiger Woods sponsorship

AT&T Inc. said Thursday it would no longer sponsor Tiger

Woods, joining Accenture in dropping support for the world’s top

golfer, who’s taking a break from the sport to focus on his

marriage after his admitted infidelity.

The phone company hasn’t used Woods’ image extensively in

advertising, but its logo appeared on his golf bag. That deal had

been billed as a “multiyear” agreement when it was signed early

in 2009, after Buick ended its endorsement one year early because

of its financial woes.

Woods has also been the host of the AT&T National PGA Tour

event since it started in 2007. Tour spokesman Ty Votaw said that

since Woods is on indefinite leave from professional golf, he will

not serve as host for the 2010 event. However, his Tiger Woods

Foundation will continue to be the beneficiary of the AT&T

National, under a contract that runs through 2014, Votaw said.

AT&T said it would continue to sponsor the event.

Woods won the 2009 AT&T National in July at the

Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md. The AT&T National

is moving to Aronimink Country Club outside Philadelphia the next

two years as Congressional prepares to host the 2011 U.S. Open.

AT&T has also been the presenting sponsor of the annual

Tiger Jam concert event in Las Vegas, but that contract has

expired, according to AT&T spokesman Michael Coe.

AT&T, which is based in Dallas, did not comment on its

reasons for dropping Woods, or how much the relationship was

worth.

Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg, had no comment on AT&T’s

decision.

Woods’ image has taken a beating since a Thanksgiving holiday

car accident at the golfer’s Florida home was followed by an

admission of extramarital “transgressions.” Most of Woods’ $100

million in annual earnings has come not from tournament winnings

but from companies that wanted to be associated with his

persona.

Consulting firm Accenture dropped the athlete two weeks ago,

saying he was “no longer the right representative” of the

company’s values.

Gillette, a unit of the Procter & Gamble Co., also has said

it won’t air ads for its razors that include Woods or include him

in public appearances.

Swiss watch maker Tag Heuer, a unit of luxury goods empire LVMH

Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, also said that it would “downscale”

its use of golfer Tiger Woods’ image in its advertising campaigns

for the foreseeable future.

Electronic Arts Inc., which puts out the “Tiger Woods PGA

Tour” series of golf video games, has not said what its plans are

for the franchise. The company did not immediately return requests

for comment Thursday. Nike Inc. and PepsiCo Inc.’s Gatorade are

other big sponsors that haven’t severed their ties.

Meanwhile, the Florida Highway Patrol confirmed on Thursday that

troopers met with Woods on Dec. 1, four days after the accident

outside his home, to deliver a $164 citation for careless driving.

The meeting was earlier reported by WESH-TV in Orlando, Fla.

In an e-mail to The Associated Press, FHP captain Mark Welch

said Woods was “polite” and “only said, ‘Yes Sir.”’

“The only injury that troopers observed was a bump and cut on

his lip, which was consistent with the crash investigation,” Welch

said.

AP Golf Writer Doug Ferguson in Honolulu contributed to this

report.