Nike sticking by Woods despite off-course problems


LONDON – Nike will continue to support Tiger Woods even though the world’sbest player has taken an indefinite leave from golf to deal withpersonalissues.

Nike brand president Charlie Denson said Thursday he does not wantWoodsback on the course until he sorts out his private life, which has beenin thepublic spotlight since a bizarre car crash outside his Florida home lastNovember revealed allegations of marital infidelity.

Woods issued a public apology last week and hassought inpatient treatment.

“Under the circumstances, the more he deals with the issues and thebetterhe deals with them, the better off he’ll be when he does return,” DensontoldThe Associated Press.

The sports giant’s $650 million golf sector has been one of thehardest-hitsegments of its business during the global recession, but Nike isstanding byWoods despite any damage done to its imagine by his high-profiletransgressions.

AT&T and Accenture dropped Woods from their roster ofsponsorships, andothers like Procter & Gamble Co.’s Gillette and Swiss watch makerTag Heuerde-emphasized him in their marketing.

“We’ve been supportive of Tiger since the story broke and we continueto besupportive,” Denson said. “He’s got issues he needs to deal with andhe’sdealing with them. We are looking forward to him getting back on thegolfcourse.”

Woods said last week that he spent 45 days in treatment and heplanned toseek additional therapy. He did not say when he’ll return to the course.

“We’ve been in touch with his camp,” Denson said. “We’re verycomfortablewith where he’s at, how he’s dealing with it and we’re looking forwardto hisreturn.”