Wed, Dec 16, 2009 - Page 19 News List

Nike boss backs Tiger, while alleged mistress apologizes

AFP , ORLANDO

Tiger Woods won backing on Monday from the head of key sponsor Nike, while one of the golf star’s alleged mistresses apologized to his wife Elin for the pain she had caused.

Woods became the first US$1 billion athlete thanks to endorsements that have started to vanish even as the world’s top golfer said he will take an indefinite break to work on personal issues.

The chairman of Nike, which has backed Woods since his 1996 professional debut, told Sports Business Journal in remarks published on Monday that he believed the storm would blow over the 14-time major winner.

“I think he has been really great,” Phil Knight said. “When his career is over, you’ll look back on these indiscretions as a minor blip, but the media is making a big deal out of it right now.”

His comments came after technology and management company Accenture said on Sunday it was ending six years of ties to Woods because he was “no longer the right representative for its advertising.”

Gillette said on Saturday it would phase Woods out of advertisements during his break from golf, calling it a supportive move.

Knight called the admitted infidelity by Woods “part of the game” in the industry of endorsements and said when it comes to building brands around athletes, “There is always a risk.”

The latest gossip-page fodder in the icon’s epic meltdown came when former alleged mistress Cory Rist appeared on the Today show, apologizing to his wife Elin and saying Woods portrayed his marriage as falling apart in 2006.

“I understood that things were very difficult at home, not what we thought they were on TV,” Rist said on the US show. “According to him, things were rough and they were going to separate.”

“He said, ‘We’re on the outs,’ but she was pregnant and they had to get through that,” Rist said.

Rist said her relationship with Woods began in June of 2006, barely a month after the death of Woods’s father and golf mentor Earl.

Woods’s first child with Elin, daughter Sam, was born a year later. The couple’s other child, son Charlie, was born 10 months ago.

At least a dozen women have reportedly claimed to have been lovers of Woods. The New York Post reported on Monday that a 13th woman, Julie Postle, was named by an ex-boyfriend as having had a Woods fling.

“I don’t know how he had the time to have so many women in his life,” Rist said. “I don’t think he’s an honest man.”

She apologized to Elin Woods, who has purchased land on an island in Sweden but has given no public indication whether or not she is willing to stay married to Woods in the wake of his infidelity.

“I can only imagine the pain she is feeling now and I’m sorry,” Rist said. “I’m sorry for her pain. I hate that I’m a part of it.”

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