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Tiger Woods' sponsors accept his apology

By David Goldman, staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Tiger Woods' sponsors said they were pleased that the golfer issued a public apology for his infidelity on Friday and many said they were eager for him to return to the golf course.

Woods' major business partners, including Nike (NKE, Fortune 500), Gatorade, Gillette and EA (ERTS) have continued to support him since allegations of an affair first surfaced in late November. That support continued on Friday.

"Tiger has apologized and made his position clear," a Nike spokeswoman said. "Nike fully supports him and his family. We look forward to him returning to golf."

"We wish Tiger well as he works through these private matters," said a Gatorade spokesman.

And a Gillette spokesman said, "Tiger spoke today and addressed the issues he felt were most important. His words stand on their own. We wish him and his family the best."

Rounding out the words of support, EA Sports president Peter Moore said in a statement that the company was "supportive of his focus toward family and rebuilding his life."

"He remains one of the greatest athletes in history, and as a long-standing partner, we look forward to seeing Tiger back on the golf course when the time is right for him and his family," Moore added.

Woods did lose some sponsors along the way, including major ones like AT&T (T, Fortune 500) and Accenture. Gillette continued to sponsor Woods, but opted to pull commercials that featured the golfer. AT&T declined to comment for this story, and Accenture was not immediately available.

Tiger acknowledged Friday that he has done damage to his brand and his public image.

"My behavior has caused considerable worry to my business partners," Woods said. "For all that I have done, I am so sorry."

Still, recent market research shows that despite Woods' frequent appearances in the tabloids, consumers are still willing to buy products endorsed by the golfer.

According to research firm NPD, one-third of consumers surveyed in a recent study said their opinion of Woods has "significantly declined," but just 5% said they would cut back or eliminate purchases of products that Tiger endorses.  To top of page

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