Tiger Woods taking ‘indefinite’ leave from golf
Tiger Woods is shifting his focus from winning majors to saving
Two weeks after Woods crashed his car into a tree outside his
house, setting in motion a swift fall that featured reports of
extramarital infidelities, golf’s biggest star made a stunning
He announced he is temporarily walking away from the game that
made him the first $1 billion athlete.
“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 person.”
It will be the second straight year that the No. 1 player will
spends a long period sidelined.
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
“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
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
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
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 on the matter. “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 his family.
“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, a near neighbor and friend who played a practice
round and two competition rounds with Woods in Australia last
month, said Tiger 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
John Daly, who has been married four times and knows a thing or
two about bad publicity, said he had tries to reach Woods but “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.
Woods’ corporate sponsors 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 was among three
rotating pictures on the home page.
AT&T said it supported Woods’ decision.
“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 whether the sponsors will end their 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
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
Woods last played a tournament Nov. 15 when he won the
Australian Masters for his 82nd victory around the world.
Stricker, who went undefeated as Woods’ partner at the
Presidents Cup, said his leave was the right decision.
“It’s great that he’s going to put his family first and work
things out,” Stricker said. “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
Woods also indicated he would step away from the work of the
Tiger Woods Foundation, which has served some 10 million
“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.”
Associated Press Writer Dennis Passa in Coolum, Australia,
contributed to this report.