Tiger not out of woods yet

ORLANDO - Tiger Woods faced more fallout from his sex scandal as stunned rivals said they looked forward to his return after an indefinite break in his golfing career and sponsors pondered their future cooperation with the billionaire athlete.

ORLANDO - Tiger Woods faced more fallout from his sex scandal as stunned rivals said they looked forward to his return after an indefinite break in his golfing career and sponsors pondered their future cooperation with the billionaire athlete.

Woods announced on Friday he was taking a hiatus from professional golf and admitted he had cheated on wife Elin after reports that 10 women had claimed to have had sexual relationships with the 14-time major champion.

"It's a shock. It was most definitely a shock to everybody to hear what has been going on," third-ranked US golfer Steve Stricker said. "Hopefully he gets it straight. Staying away is a great thing to get his family life in order."

World No 1 Woods, who has a son and daughter with Elin, said he wanted to work on being a better husband, father and person.

Australian golf legend Greg Norman said those should be his priorities for now.

"It's not a good position to be in," Norman said. "He has to sort out his private life first and foremost. There's a lot of heartache for him. There may be some fallout. There are individuals who may have to change. The important thing is he gets it right and does what he has to do to get himself back out on the golf course. Tiger will come out of this."

A major concern is how a prolonged absence by the game's greatest player will hit the sport. Television viewership was down 50 percent when he was out with a knee injury and a tough economy has already cut into golf sponsorships.

Woods's sponsor Gillette announced on Saturday it would phase him out of advertisements while he takes a break from golf, calling it a supportive move.

"As Tiger takes a break from the public eye, we will support his desire for privacy by limiting his role in our marketing programmes," a Gillette statement said.

Accenture took down an image of Woods on its website and AT&T, which backs the PGA event operated by Woods's foundation, said it was evaluating its relationship with him.

But Nike, Woods's largest corporate partner, stood by him.

"He is the best golfer in the world and one of the greatest athletes of his era," Nike spokes- person Beth Gast said. - Sapa- AFP

X