Golf in shock as Tiger takes indefinite break

Updated: 12 December 2009 16:14 IST

The sport prepared for another spell without its biggest superstar as Woods' image continued to take a battering on Saturday.

Golf in shock as Tiger takes indefinite break


John Daly has dealt with his own marital problems and personal issues over the years, so he reached out to Tiger Woods as the accusations of infidelity piled up.

"He just didn't want to talk to anybody," Daly said.

These are tumultuous times for golf after Friday's announcement by its No. 1 player that he is taking an indefinite break to attempt to save his marriage following two weeks of allegations of extramarital affairs.

The sport prepared for another spell without its biggest superstar as Woods' image continued to take a battering on Saturday with fresh allegations in newspapers all over the world.

"I'm in shock over it all, a lot of our players are in shock," Daly said at the Australian PGA on Saturday. "I'm not happy with the way some of our players have responded - that's their way of getting back because they know they can't beat him at golf.

"They always say there is no one bigger in golf than the game itself. But Tiger is."

The game knows what to expect: Woods' absence from the PGA Tour for much of last season because of reconstructive knee surgery led to a drop in television ratings of 50 percent.

"Indefinite is a scary word," former U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy said. "That's not good for us. But I'm sure he'll get it worked out."

Craig Parry was finishing his third round at the Australian PGA when he heard about Woods' decision to step aside.

A friend of Woods who lives nearby in Windermere, Florida, Parry was hopeful the time off would be good for him and critical of the problems that led to his absence.

"What he did was totally wrong," Parry said. "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."

Parry caught up with Woods when they played the Australian Masters in Melbourne last month - Woods' final tournament before his car crash and subsequent accusations of infidelity. They played a practice round and the first two tournament rounds together.

"It's his personal life, so that's up to him if he wants to get his family life in order," Parry said. "It's a hard thing to come back from."

While Michelle Wie refused to comment at the Dubai Ladies Masters on what she said was a private matter for Woods, former top-ranked LPGA star Annika Sorenstam told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet she was saddened by the news.

"I think this whole thing is tragic," she said. "We used to train together, but both myself and Tiger have been very busy lately and therefore haven't seen, or heard from each other as frequently."

Daly, who has been married four times, cautioned Woods and his wife, Elin, to remain together for the right reason. He said Woods should consider a television interview to limit damage to his image.

German tabloid Bild continued to print salacious details on the scandal but said on its Web site that it hopes "Tiger is as successful as on the golf course" as he tries to repair his marriage.

"If I was him, I'd go to Oprah, I would get on her show, tell the truth and it doesn't matter what the media say any more, because it's all out in the open," Daly said.

Veteran British publicist Max Clifford agreed that Woods should .

"Hopefully he can go on something like Oprah, maybe even with his wife, to show that they're making a real go of it," Clifford said. "The clever move would be for him to say, 'I'm coming back when Elin tells me the time is right.'"

Woods has so far shown little sign of heeding such advice, preferring to communicate through carefully worded statements on his Web site.

And while his image has been tarnished, it remains to be seen how his game will be affected.

"For years to come he will be a figure of fun to comedians great and small," said Peter Allis, the BBC's chief golf commentator for more than 30 years. "We were told for years that his father stood by the side of the green throwing pebbles in buckets of water, shouting and blowing whistles to make him oblivious to all these noises.

"Now we have to see how strong his mind is."

Saturday's edition of Italian newpaper Gazzetta dello Sport featured a cartoon showing a golf bag containing six bare female legs in high heels and two clubs.

Woods is one of the world's most famous athletes. Earlier this year, he became the first athlete to surpass $1 billion in career earnings, according to Forbes magazine. His sponsors include Nike, Gillette, AT&T, Gatorade and Tag Heuer.

Tag Heuer could not be reached for comment on stories in Australia that it was removing advertising bearing Woods' image, while Nike, which signed a multiyear contract with Woods in 2006, is standing by the player.

"He is the best golfer in the world and one of the greatest athletes of his era," Nike spokeswoman Beth Gast said in a statement. "We look forward to his return to golf. He and his family have Nike's full support."

And it isn't just golfers who are thinking about Woods.

"One thing people don't understand is that we're human," Heat guard Dwyane Wade said in Miami. "You're not born with a menu on how not to do things wrong. You're going to make mistakes like every human being. It's just unfortunate that you're in the public eye so much and a lot of people get hurt by it."

Bobcats forward Stephen Jackson wished Woods the best.

"Sometimes you just got to take time out to reflect on what's more important, and that's family," he said after Charlotte's 104-85 loss in San Antonio.

Topics : Golf Tiger Woods
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