Back in the rough: Tiger Woods dropped from his own video game

Any hopes that Tiger Woods may have had of drawing a line in the sand under a year of personal and professional crises have been dashed by the news that his image is so tarnished that he will not feature on the cover of the latest instalment in his eponymous computer game.

When it is launched in North America on March 29, the main edition of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters will be decorated with a shot of the yellow flag of the Augusta National Golf Club, home to the Masters Tournament, the first time that Woods has been excluded from the cover art. His face will only be seen on the premium version.

Electronic Arts, the publisher of the game, insists that the move should not be seen as a consequence of the adultery revelations, marital breakdown and dismal performance on the green that have made 2010 so unpleasant for the former world number one. Pete Moore, the president of EA Sports, accepted that it had been a "difficult year" for Woods, but said that any insinuations that his company was backing away from a 13-year relationship from the pro were "not the case whatsoever".

EA is one of the backers that remained loyal to Tiger Woods after various sexual allegations made the golfer's personal life front page news in 2010, destroying a carefully constructed family man image.

The placement of Northern Irish rookie Rory McIlroy, seeded number six at the time, next to Woods on the cover of last year's release of the game was seen by some fans as the future master of golf tapping on the shoulder of his predecessor. The move coincided with a dramatic fall in sales of the game, which some analysts have attributed to golf going out of fashion as a result of Woods' travails.

Woods will be relieved that EA Sports has at least retained faith in his name as a brand for their gold title. In the last year he has lost several lucrative sponsors, including Gillette, AT&T, Accenture, and Gatorade.

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