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Sponsors back Woods

THOUSAND OAKS, December 3 – Sponsors Nike, Gatorade and Gillette stuck by Tiger Woods Wednesday after the world's first billionaire sportsman admitted to "personal sins" amid reports of alleged affairs.TIGER_WOODS_"Nike supports Tiger and his family," the sportswear giant said in a brief statement. "Our relationship remains unchanged."

David Carter, executive director of the Sports Business Institute at the University of Southern California, said the whiff of scandal was unlikely to damage Woods’ phenomenal power as a product pitchman.

"Fans tend to be very forgiving," Carter said. "As long as he stays out of trouble he’s likely to be forgiven."

That means, Carter said, that his corporate partners will forgive him as well.

"Tiger and his family have our support as they work through this private matter," a Gatorade spokeswoman told "Our partnership continues."

Gillette told that they too had not changed their marketing strategy because of the news.

In a statement posted on his website, the 33-year-old Woods apologized Wednesday for letting down his family, although he did not directly respond to allegations of extramarital affairs.

"I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart," Woods said, but added he did not want to elaborate on his shortcomings in public.

"Personal sins should not require press releases and problems within a family shouldn’t have to mean public confessions," he said.

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His comments followed days of rabid speculation in the wake of his one-car crash in the wee hours of Friday morning when he hit a fire hydrant near his home in an exclusive Orlando suburb and then crashed into a tree.

Woods was reported to have been briefly unconscious and was treated for facial cuts in hospital and released.

The golf star declined to meet with Florida Highway Patrol officers investigating the accident, for which he received a careless driving traffic citation.

He took the blame for the incident in a statement Monday on his website, but offered no concrete explanation as online celebrity gossip magazines alleged the accident resulted from a dispute between Woods and his wife Elin.

Carter said that Woods’ reluctance to talk was perhaps more damaging, as it allowed others to dictate the public dialogue.

"He has allowed other parties to dictate the timing of the story," Carter said. "He’s been playing defense. He needs to step up and get control of the timeline.

"Addressing a situation incrementally always proves to be problematic, either the media dig in other people come forward with facts or allegations."

That said, Carter noted that it was Woods himself who knew the most, and was therefore in a better position to decide what to say and when to say it.

"He knows more about what’s going on," Carter said. "He has great information, and we’re speculating."

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Woods missed an opportunity to meet the press and take on the issues in person when he skipped this week’s Chevron World Challenge, the elite event he hosts annually for the benefit of his charitable foundation at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks.

Woods has been criticized in some quarters for failing to make a personal appearance to address the allegations. Carter said that might not be necessary.

"He may not have to do that," Carter said. "It depends how much further this goes."

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