Golf

Golf to survive without Tiger

2009-12-17 21:16
Tiger Woods (AFP)
Chicago - The head of the US professional golf tour on Thursday applauded Tiger Woods' decision to take a break from the game while he deals with a sex scandal, but said golf and the tour will do "quite well" financially without him.

"We lost Tiger in 2008 for most of the year when he was out with an injury. We move forward," PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem told CNBC in his first interview since the scandal engulfing the world's No. 1 golfer came to light.

Woods, 33, last week admitted to infidelity in his marriage to his Swedish wife Elin Nordegren as allegations of multiple extra-marital affairs rocked his life and career.

The golf icon, who is believed to be the world's wealthiest sports figure, said he would take an indefinite break from pro golf to try to save his marriage.

"I don't know what that time frame is and frankly I'm not concerned about that," Finchem said. He added he had no idea when Woods would return, saying it could be weeks, months or an "extended period of time."

Woods' popularity has plummeted over the last two weeks as a parade of up to 13 women, including at least one porn star, came forward to say they had had flings with the married father of two. The allegations emerged after Woods was involved in a minor car accident at his Florida home.

Finchem said he had not spoken to Woods since the scandal broke.

"Everything about this story with Tiger has included a fair amount of hyperbole and on the business side of the equation that's certainly been the case," Finchem said.

"Without Tiger for a period of time, we will perform quite well," he added.

Nevertheless, when Woods was recovering from leg surgery over eight months last year and early this year, TV ratings for golf tournaments without Woods fell almost 50 percent and attendance suffered.

Recent polls by USA Today/Gallup and Washington Post-ABC News show Woods' favourable ratings plummeting, which has led some sponsors to distance themselves from him.

Woods was estimated to earn about $100m a year in endorsement deals before his unwelcome troubles. However, on Sunday, Accenture Plc said it was ending its six-year sponsorship deal with the golfing icon, the world's first billionaire athlete.

Procter & Gamble's Gillette has said it will limit the use of Woods in its marketing and AT&T Inc and Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer, a unit of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, have said they are evaluating their relationships with Woods.

On the other hand, Nike Inc, Berkshire Hathaway's NetJets unit and Upper Deck have recently said they have no plans to end their deals.

Read more on:    tiger woods
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