Golf: Tiger takes record tumble in popularity

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The Independent Online

Tiger Woods has taken the largest rating plunge in Gallup Poll history as a result of the sex scandal that forced the world's first billion-dollar athlete to halt his epic golf career.

Even as sports memorabilia firm Upper Deck vowed Tuesday to stick by Woods, results of USA Today/Gallup and Washington Post/ABC News weekend polls show the US public has a harsh view on the 14-time major champion's infidelity.

More than a dozen women have claimed affairs with embattled Woods, who has admitted being unfaithful to wife Elin and said he will take a break from professional golf to work on being a better husband, father and person.

Woods had only a 33 percent "favorable" rating in a poll taken last weekend compared to an 85 percent mark in 2005 when the question was last posed, the 52-point plunge the largest since drops were first measured in 1992.

Gallup Poll managing editor Jeffrey Jones called the drop "definitely unprecedented" and said he has fallen below many of the usual lowest of the low - politicians.

In 2000, when Woods was winning the "Tiger Slam" of four majors in a row, his favorable rating peaked at 88 percent - the highest figure in poll history. The fall from that mark matches ex-President George W. Bush's all-time record.

"Unfavorable" marks for Woods in the same poll jumped from eight percent in 2005 to 57 percent, with 61 percent of women but just 53 percent of men grading Woods unfavorably.

USA Today/Gallup found 19 percent of those who responded would have a less favorable opinion of any product endorsed by Woods.

Nevertheless, Upper Deck Company joined Nike and video game maker Electronic Arts in supporting Woods, saying it will continue exclusive deals with Woods that began in 2001.

"Upper Deck will maintain its exclusive agreement with Tiger in both our sports cards and memorabilia categories and we look forward to his eventual return to the PGA Tour," Upper Deck chief executive Richard McWilliam said.

"Tiger and his family have our full support."

Global consulting firm Accenture dropped Woods on Sunday, the first sponsor to dump him. AT&T and Tag Heuer are reevaluating their Woods deals. Gillette, a Procter and Gamble brand, says it will pull Woods from ads during his hiatus.

The Post/ABC poll had 43 percent saying they view Woods unfavorably, with more than one in four saying their opinion of him was strongly negative.

Among women in the poll, 39 percent saw Woods as favorable to 45 percent unfavorable, while men were 46 percent favorable to 41 percent unfavorable.

Golf fans in the Post/ABC poll gave Woods a 62-percent favorable rating with 37 percent negative, indicating that within the golf realm, Woods might find a measure of support for both himself and possibly products he endorses.

Woods has hired Hollywood attorneys Lavely and Singer, with Marty Singer well know for taking on tabloids for celebrity clients, according to the National Law Journal.

The move could be aimed at reducing the tabloid and internet buzz over Woods since his cheating was first reported three weeks ago.