LONDON — 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
image 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
"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."