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Nike sticking by Woods despite off-course problems

Posted: February 25, 2010 11:40 a.m.
Updated: February 25, 2010 11:35 a.m.

FILE - In this Sept. 23, 2006, file photo, Tiger Woods, left, shakes hands with United States team captain Tom Lehman at the end of the foursomes match against Europe's Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley during the Ryder Cup in Straffan, Ireland. Television viewership will fall without Woods, but the networks that air the sport and the PGA Tou...

 
LONDON (AP) - Nike will continue to support Tiger Woods even though the world's best player has taken an indefinite leave from golf to deal with personal issues.

Nike brand president Charlie Denson said Thursday he does not want Woods back on the course until he sorts out his private life, which has been in the public spotlight since a bizarre car crash outside his Florida home last November revealed allegations of marital infidelity.

Woods issued a public apology last week and has sought inpatient treatment.

"Under the circumstances, the more he deals with the issues and the better he deals with them, the better off he'll be when he does return," Denson told The Associated Press.

The sports giant's $650 million golf sector has been one of the hardest-hit segments of its business during the global recession, but Nike is standing by Woods despite any damage done to its imagine by his high-profile transgressions.

AT&T and Accenture dropped Woods from their roster of sponsorships, and others like Procter & Gamble Co.'s Gillette and Swiss watch maker Tag Heuer de-emphasized him in their marketing.

"We've been supportive of Tiger since the story broke and we continue to be supportive," Denson said. "He's got issues he needs to deal with and he's dealing with them. We are looking forward to him getting back on the golf course."

Woods said last week that he spent 45 days in treatment and he planned to seek 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 very comfortable with where he's at, how he's dealing with it and we're looking forward to his return."

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