Tiger Woods' Golf Hiatus Amid 'Infidelity' Could Cost Him and the PGA Tour
"Indefinite break" from golf over "my infidelity" could mar massive cash flow.
Dec. 12, 2009— -- With a roster of high-profile endorsements, Tiger Woods became the first athlete to earn $1 billion -- so his planned break from golf to deal with the fallout from what he admitted was "my infidelity" could fuel a major financial hit.
There are signs some sponsors already are wavering.
Today, Gillette said that, for now, it would be phasing out Woods from its ads.
"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 in a statement.
And though AT&T endorsed Woods' decision to step back from golf, the company noted Friday, "We are presently evaluating our ongoing relationship with him."
In addition, the consulting firm Accenture quietly removed Woods from its Web site.
Bob Garfield, a columnist for Ad Age magazine, speculated on what advertisers might do if the scandal continues.
"Some of them are gonna go, 'We spent a lot. We put our brand at stake. The brand is at risk. We love you Tiger, but you're history,'" Garfield said.
"This is the greatest fall from grace, in my opinion, of anybody in sports history," ABC News sports consultant and USA Today sports columnist Christine Brennan told "World News" Saturday. "Tiger was such a cultural icon, crossing over from sports into society in such a big way."
Woods seemed to acknowledge on his official Web site Friday evening that he expected a tough road professionally, as well as personally, as a result of his decision "to take an indefinite break from professional golf" in order to repair his marriage.
In his statement, he asked his associates "including my fans, the good people at my foundation, business partners, the PGA Tour, and my fellow competitors, for their understanding."
The Woods team has been in touch with Woods' sponsors as the scandal has swirled around him, said Mark Steinberg, Woods' agent.
"Although there has been considerable inquiry about Tiger's sponsorships, it would be both premature and inappropriate to comment on the status of specific business relationships," Steinberg said in a prepared statement. "Suffice it to say, we have had thoughtful conversations and his sponsors have been open to a solution-oriented dialogue. Of course, each sponsor has unique considerations and ultimately, the decisions they make we would fully understand and accept."
Nike and EA Sports late Friday suggested they are making no changes regarding their relationships with Tiger.
"Tiger has been part of Nike for more than a decade," Nike spokeswoman Beth Gast said. "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."
"We respect that this is a very difficult, and private, situation for Tiger and his family," read the statement from EA Sports. "At this time, the strategy for our Tiger Woods PGA Tour business remains unchanged."
Though it was "limiting his role" in ads, Gillette also offered a measure of support.
"In the midst of a difficult and unfortunate situation, we respect the action Tiger is taking to restore the trust of his family, friends and fans," the company's statement said. "We fully support him stepping back from his professional career and taking the time he needs to do what matters most. We wish him and his family the best."
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