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
Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg, had no comment on AT&T’s
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
Consulting firm Accenture dropped the athlete two weeks ago,
saying he was “no longer the right representative” of the
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
AP Golf Writer Doug Ferguson in Honolulu contributed to this