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Global management consulting firm Accenture has become the first major sponsor to cut all ties with Tiger Woods, the surest sign yet that weeks of new sex scandal allegations have wrought irrevocable harm to the champion golfer’s once squeaky-clean image.
"After careful consideration and analysis, the company has determined that he is no longer the right representative for its advertising," Accenture said on its website in breaking off their 6-year relationship with Woods on Sunday.
The news comes two days after the world's No. 1 golfer announced he would take an "indefinite break from professional golf" to help repair his broken family.
The golfer announced his departure from the PGA world on his Web site Friday as he copped to the long-rumored whispers of "infidelity" and pledged to "repair the damage" he'd caused among his loved ones.
Two of Woods' big-name sponsors, AT&T and Gillette, said they would re-evaluate their relationship with the star PGA golfer, though they stopped short of cutting all ties as Accenture had.
Major Woods sponsor Gillette said it would honor the golfer's request in the statement for "privacy" by "limiting his role" in their marketing campaign, officially dumping Woods from its ads early Saturday morning, The Associated Press reported.
AT&T said it was reconsidering its relationship with the star, a former public and media darling who fell from grace after a car crash unraveled rumors of a bevy of mistresses and a hidden life.
Woods' other major moneymaker, Nike, said Friday that Woods and his family had their "full support" and that the athletic company anticipated the star's "return to golf."
The PGA tour also threw its support behind Woods, saying it would open its arms to Woods "when he determines the time is right for him" to return.
The cloud of scandal that's followed Woods for weeks began to form after Thanskgiving, when Woods had a car crash outside his Florida home that led to speculation about affairs and marital problems. Woods denied interviews with police three times, causing questions about what could've caused the crash -- prompting Woods' alleged mistresses to come out of the woodwork and cop to their reported affairs.
The mea culpa posted Friday is the first time Woods has acknowledged stepping out on his wife, Elin Nordegren. A string of women, including porn actresses, have come out to claim they have slept with Woods, who has two children.
"After much soul searching, I have decided to take an indefinite break from professional golf. I need to focus my attention on being a better husband, father, and person," says the statement, which the embattled athlete posted on his Web site Friday, nearly three weeks after the mysterious car crash that began the Woods media frenzy.
"I would like to ask everyone, including my fans, the good people at my foundation, business partners, the PGA Tour, and my fellow competitors, for their understanding. What's most important now is that my family has the time, privacy, and safe haven we will need for personal healing," Woods' statement reads.
"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. I want to say again to everyone that I am profoundly sorry and that I ask forgiveness," reads the statement, posted on tigerwoods.com. "It may not be possible to repair the damage I've done, but I want to do my best to try."
Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, told the AP he supported his client's decision to step away from the game. "The entirety of someone’s life is more important than just a professional career,” Steinberg said in an e-mail. “What matters most is a young family that is trying to cope with difficult life issues in a secluded and caring way. Whenever Tiger may return to the game should be on the family’s terms alone.”
Earlier this year, Woods became the first athlete ever to eclipse the $1 billion mark in career earnings, according to Forbes.
Steinberg said "it would be both premature and inappropriate to comment on the status of specific business relationships."
“Suffice it to say, we have had thoughtful conversations and his sponsors have been open to a solution-oriented dialogue,” he said. “Of course, each sponsor has unique considerations and ultimately the decisions they make we would fully understand and accept.”