Woods taking indefinite leave from golf

By Doug FergusonDecember 13, 2009, 5:02 am

Tiger Woods is shifting his focus from winning majors to saving his marriage.

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 announcement.

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.”

As a result, Gillette, one of Woods’ major sponsors, will phase him out of its advertisements while he repairs his personal life.

“As Tiger takes a break from the public eye, we will support his desire for privacy by limiting his role in our marketing programs,” Gillette said Saturday.

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 difficult comeback.

“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.”

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 14.

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 him.”

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 the mirror.”

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.

As for Woods’ corporate sponsors, most 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 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 also include Gillette, Gatorade and TAG Heuer.

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 care of.”

Woods also indicated he would step away from the work of the Tiger Woods Foundation, which has served some 10 million children.

“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.

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 12:55 pm

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Friday, Day 2 (Times ET)

1:30-8:20AM (Watch): On a rainy Friday morning at Carnoustie, Rory McIlroy shot 69 to reach 4 under, while Zach Johnson fired a 67 for the early lead. Click here or on the image below to watch.


Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.

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Fleetwood, with his fancy umbrella, fires 65 on Day 2

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 12:34 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tommy Fleetwood looked like an Open rookie when he set out on Friday under gray skies and a cold, steady rain.

Because the Englishman doesn’t have an equipment sponsor he made a quick turn through the merchandise tent for an umbrella – but at least he didn’t have to pay for it.

“We stole it,” he laughed when asked about his Open-brand umbrella. “We got one given for free, actually. We didn't steal it. We don't always carry an umbrella. So it just so happens this week that we've got a nice Open Championship [umbrella]. It looked quite nice, the yellow and the course.”


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


It was Fleetwood’s only rookie move on Day 2 at Carnoustie, posting a flawless 65 to move into an early tie for second place at 5 under par.

Fleetwood holds the competitive course record at Carnoustie, a 9-under 63 he shot last fall during the European Tour’s Dunhill Links Championship, but given Friday’s conditions and the difficulty of this course during The Open, his 65 on Friday might have been better.

“It's not a course record, but it's pretty good,” said Fleetwood, who was stroke behind leader Zach Johnson. “If you went out, you wouldn't really fancy being 6 under out there. So I think that's a good indication of how good it was.”

It was a dramatic turnaround for Fleetwood on Friday. He said he struggled with his ball-striking, specifically his tee shots, on Day 1, but he was able to turn things around with an hour-long session on the range following his opening round.

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 10:15 am

Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.


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McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:53 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.

McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.

But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.

Said Harmon:

“Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.

“This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”

McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.

“Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”

McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.