Tiger Woods' Golf Hiatus Amid 'Infidelity' Could Cost Him and the PGA Tour

The PGA Tour also backed Woods' latest move.

"We fully support Tiger's decision to step away from competitive golf to focus on his family," said a PGA statement, which the AP attributed to Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem. "His priorities are where they need to be, and we will continue to respect and honor his family's request for privacy. We look forward to Tiger's return to the PGA Tour when he determines the time is right for him."

Woods' absence will be a tremendous blow to golf. When he missed eight months last year after knee surgery, TV ratings fell by 50 percent.

Connell Barrett, who has written about Woods for Golf magazine, said the longer Woods is gone, the worse it will be for the PGA.

"The ratings definitely will be lower," Barrett said. "I imagine the galleries will be smaller. And eventually, if he stays off the tour for an extended time, the purses will be smaller. Because with Tiger Woods in the field, there's people, which equals more dollars."

Fellow golfer John Daly this week spoke bluntly of the prospect of pro golf without Woods.

"It would survive, but not to what it is when Tiger plays," Daly said. "Because of Tiger is why we're playing with so much money.

"They always say there's nobody better than golf [or better] than the game itself," Daly added. "But right now in these times, there is -- and it's him. And I hope he and Elin [Nordegren, Woods' wife] can get through it, stay together."

Woods, PGA Tight-Lipped as Scandal Explodes

The PGA's statement was its first public comment since Woods mentioned his "personal failings" on the Web Dec. 2, shortly after the circumstances surrounding his Nov. 27 car crash sparked a wave of reports claiming extramarital affairs.

Woods' own statements also have been sparse as scandal has swirled around him, and his use of the word "infidelity" Friday apparently amounted to his first public admission that he was unfaithful to Nordegren amid claims of at least 11 affairs reported in a variety of publications.

"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," he wrote Friday. "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."

Tiger Woods Seeks 'Privacy' Amid Reports of Prostitutes, Trip to Sweden

The announcement came after new reports that the golfer paid for sex with prostitutes and that Woods and Nordegren are considering an escape to Sweden to plan their next move. Swedish newspapers last week confirmed that Nordegren had purchased a $2 million home on an island off Stockholm, reachable only by boat.

"After much soul searching, I have decided to take an indefinite break from professional golf," Woods wrote. "I need to focus my attention on being a better husband, father, and person.

"Again," he added, "I ask for privacy for my family and I am especially grateful for all those who have offered compassion and concern during this difficult period."

Barrett said he was somewhat surprised by the extent of Woods' move.

"I'm not surprised that it's happened," Barrett said. "I'm a little bit shocked that were going to have Tiger Woods off the golf course indefinitely. But I think that it's something he had to do."

Neither Woods nor Steinberg offered a timetable for Woods' return to golf.

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