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Tiger Woods Taking Indefinite Leave From Golf

Tiger Woods said Friday he is taking an indefinite leave from
golf to work on saving his marriage, using the word "infidelity"
for the first time in a statement posted on his Web site.
"After much soul searching, I have decided to take an
indefinite break from professional golf," Woods said. "I need to
focus my attention on being a better husband, father, and person."
Woods and his wife, Elin, have been married five years and have
a 2-year-old daughter and 10-month-old son.
The announcement came two weeks after a car accident set in
motion a shocking downfall for the world's No. 1 player, and
included sordid allegations of numerous extramarital affairs. One
woman even shared a voice mail she said Woods left her two nights
before his Nov. 27 accident.
Woods hasn't been seen in public since the accident.
"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."
The PGA Tour said it supported the decision by its biggest star.
"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" on
Dec. 2. "We look forward to Tiger's return to the PGA Tour when he
determines the time is right for him."
The announcement by Woods raised the possibility, depending on
how long he stays away from the game, that he could miss the
Masters for the first time since he played as an amateur in 1995.
The tournament is April 8-11.
One of Woods' favorite playing partners also said it was the
right thing to do.
"I think it's great that he's going to put his family first and
work things out," Steve Stricker said from Naples, Fla. "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."
It will be the second straight season the PGA Tour begins
without its No. 1 player, although this is different. A year ago,
he was out of golf for eight months while recovering from
reconstructive knee surgery, and television ratings dropped 50
percent during his absence.
"We knew before he was coming back," Stricker said. "Now
we're not sure when he's coming back. But this sounds good. I hope
everything works out for him."
Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, told The Associated Press that he
supports Woods' decision to take time off for 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."
Addressing the subject of Woods' sponsors, Steinberg said that
"it would be both premature and inappropriate to comment on the
status of specific business relationships.
"Suffice it to say, we have had thoughtful conversations and
his sponsors have been open to a solution-oriented dialogue," he
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 include Nike, Gillette, AT&T, Accenture and
Tag Heuer.


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