Shamed golfer TIGER WOODS has been dropped by another sponsor - energy drinks brand Gatorade has cut their ties with the scandal-hit sports star. Woods is struggling to rebuild his career and reputation after he was caught cheating on his wife Elin with a string of mistresses.
Woods and former Swedish model Nordegren have been pursued by photographers in recent months after the shamed star's cheating ways were exposed in the National Enquirer.
The golfer made his first public appearance of the year (10) at a press conference on Friday (19Feb10), when he apologised to his business partners and employees and announced he was heading back to rehab for sex addiction therapy.
He also used to opportunity to attack the media for hounding his family while he was receiving treatment.
Woods raged, "Despite the damage I have done, I still believe it is right to shield my family from the public spotlight... My behaviour doesn't make it right for the media to follow my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter to school and report the school's location. They staked out my wife and they pursued my mum... Please leave my wife and kids alone."
The couple has not been snapped together since the affair scandal hit the headlines, and Nordegren was not present for Woods' press conference last week.
But they put on a united front on paper for the purpose of their daughter Sam, sending a personal apology to fellow parents at the Premier Academy in Windermere, Florida.
The letter, obtained by Florida's WFTV.com, reads, "We would like to share our appreciation for your support over the past several months and offer our personal apology for any inconvenience you are experiencing due to the increased media scrutiny surrounding our children. We truly understand how frustrating it can be.
"We hope that the paparazzi will find something better to do with their time in the near future. In the meantime, it is our goal to keep life as normal as possible for our children. We are sure that as parents you can appreciate that. For Sam, that normalcy means attending the school that she enjoys so much."
They signed off the note with, "Kind regards, Elin and Tiger Woods."
During a 15-minute press conference at TPC Sawgrass, the home of the Professional Golf Association Tour, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, the sportsman spoke to a select, invitation-only group of friends, peers and journalists.
With his mother seated directly in front of him and wife Elin Nordegren nowhere to be seen, a stoic Woods said, "Many of you in this room are my friends, many in this room know me, many of you have cheered for me, worked with me or supported me. Now, every one of you has good reason to be critical of me... I am deeply sorry for my irresponsible and selfish behaviour I engaged in."
Woods cheated on his wife with a string of mistresses. The National Enquirer exposed the first, Rachel Uchitel, in November, and the news of the golfer's infidelity prompted others - including porn stars and waitresses - to come forward.
He told those gathered at the press conference that he and Nordegren "have started the process of discussing the damage caused by my behaviour."
He added, "As Elin pointed out to me, my real apology to her will not come in the form of words. It will come from my behaviour over time."
Woods went on to apologise to his business partners and employees, accepting his behaviour was "a personal disappointment" to them, before adding, "I have made you question who I am and how I could have done the things I did. I'm embarrassed that I have put you in this position. For all that I have done, I am so sorry."
The press conference took an angry turn when Woods discussed the media's spotlight on his family following the news of his disgrace last year.
Addressing reports he crashed his car into a tree while attempting to escape an angry, golfclub-wielding Nordegren on Thanksgiving night last year (Nov09), Woods snarled, "Some people have speculated that Elin somehow hurt or attacked me on Thanksgiving night. It angers me that people would fabricate a story like that. Elin never hit me that night or any other night. There has never been an episode of domestic violence in our marriage."
He then defended his wife and praised her for her "enormous grace and poise throughout this ordeal."
Woods also attempted to explain how he justified his cheating ways to himself: "I knew my actions were wrong but I convinced myself that normal rules didn't apply... I thought only about myself... I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled."
He also apologised to parents who have used Woods as a role model for their kids, stating: "I owe all those families a special apology."
The sports star then briefly addressed the 45 days he spent in rehab from late December (09), explaining he was in "in-patient therapy receiving guidance for the issues I'm facing," adding, "I have a long way to go."
His anger reared up again as he reprimanded the media for hounding his family while he was receiving treatment, accusing journalists of making up stories about him. The defiant golfer raged, "Some people have made up things that never happened; they said I used performance-enhancing drugs. This is completely and utterly false.
"Some have written things about my family. Despite the damage I have done, I still believe it is right to shield my family from the public spotlight... My behaviour doesn't make it right for the media to follow my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter to school and report the school's location. They staked out my wife and they pursued my mom... Please leave my wife and kids alone."
Woods revealed he has returned to Buddhism in a bid to fix his problems, explaining he was raised a Buddhist and the faith's teachings had become useful to him in recent weeks - since the news of his infidelities broke.
He said, "Buddhism teaches that a craving for things outside ourselves causes an unhappy and pointless search for security; it teaches me to stop following every impulse and to learn restraint. Obviously, I lost track of what I was taught."
Woods closed the press conference by telling those gathered he was determined to save his marriage and look after his children after completing his rehab, adding, "I do plan to return to golf one day, I just don't know when that day will be. I don't rule out that it will be this year."
Refusing to take questions from the media, Woods asked his fans and friends to "find room in your heart to one day believe in me again," before stepping down from the podium and giving his mother a long hug.
He then personally thanked family and friends seated in the front row of the press conference before exiting.
It was the disgraced sportsman's first public appearance since he went into hiding after announcing a hiatus from golf and public life following the news of his infidelity in November (09).
He resurfaced at a sex addiction clinic in Mississippi last month (Feb10) after a reported trip to South Africa.
Earlier this week (beg15Feb10) the embattled golfer announced he will face the press for the first time since his sex scandal hit the headlines last November (09).
However, representatives for Woods will choose which media outlets will be allowed to attend the conference, and they have insisted that no questions will be allowed.
The move has infuriated bosses at the GWAA, who have decided to keep their reporters away from the event following a vote by its board.
A statement from GWAA president Vartan Kupelian reads, "I cannot stress how strongly our board felt that this should be open to all media and also for the opportunity to question Woods.
"The position, simply put, is all or none. This is a major story of international scope. To limit the ability of journalists to attend, listen, see and question Woods goes against the grain of everything we believe."
Meanwhile, during a media briefing on Thursday (18Feb10) PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem confirmed reports the star has spent time in a rehab centre
He told reporters, "I don't know what his (Woods') plans are in terms of what he's going to say. I don't know what he's going to do after he finishes his rehab, you know, I think all of that is TBD (to be determined)."
Finchem later added that Woods had completed his time in rehab, and that he would discuss the issue at the conference, according to TMZ.com.
Hours after the sports star announced plans to face the media at a press conference on Friday (19Feb10), Woods was spotted teeing off at a driving range near his Florida home, surrounded by security guards, and then he was photographed jogging with his trainer.
The disgraced sportsman has remained out of the spotlight since news of his infidelities broke in November (09).
He resurfaced at a sex addiction clinic in Mississippi last month (Feb10) after a reported trip to South Africa.
Woods allowed himself to be photographed for the first time since November (09) - while out jogging in Florida on Wednesday (17Feb10).
The star attracted the attention of the paparazzi as he returned to the his home in the state - the place where he crashed his car into a tree following a heated row with his wife Elin Nordegren.
The incident led to a string of affair reports, prompting Woods to announce a hiatus from golf and then flee the family home.
The golfer's latest photo has fuelled speculation his marriage to former model Nordegren is over - he was not wearing his wedding ring in the shots.
The sportsman announced a hiatus from golf and went into hiding shortly after news of his many flings and infidelities hit the headlines in November (09).
Before his disappearance, he told the media he was keen to repair his fractured relationship with wife Elin Nordegren, and declared he needed to "be a better husband, father and person".
Two months later, and following a reported spell at a Mississippi sex addiction clinic, Woods is preparing to make a comeback - and he is expected to reveal his inclusion in the upcoming PGA Tour at Friday's press conference in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
According to his agent, Mark Steinberg, Woods will also use the opportunity to publicly apologise for his recent behaviour.
Steinberg tells TMZ.com, "This is all about the next step. He's looking forward to it."
A statement posted on Woods' website on Wednesday (17Feb10) reads, "While Tiger feels that what happened is fundamentally a matter between him and his wife, he also recognizes that he has hurt and let down a lot of other people who were close to him. He also let down his fans. He wants to begin the process of making amends, and that's what he's going to discuss."
Nightclub hostess Uchitel has never spoken of her alleged fling with the super-rich golf star since the claims were published in America's National Enquirer tabloid last November (09).
Since the initial allegations, more than a dozen women have claimed to have had extra-marital affairs with Woods.
And Uchitel impressed bosses so much during an appearance on tabloid news show Extra on Tuesday night (09Feb10), they snapped her up as a new correspondent.
She will report for the show on "nightlife hotspots", according to New York Post gossip column Page Six, but has no intention of talking about her alleged affair with Woods.
A source tells the publication, "She won't talk about Tiger, but she talks about how she wants to find a husband and have kids. She only has a few real friends left whom she trusts. She is alone a lot and spends time with her two dogs. She seems very vulnerable."
The sportsman has spent the last few weeks holed up at the Gentle Path clinic in Hattiesburg to deal with his infidelity issues after his cheating ways were exposed in November (09).
But he is on his way home to Orlando, Florida after leaving the facility with wife Elin Nordegren on Friday morning (05Feb10), reports RadarOnline.com.
The couple is now planning to spend time alone and work on repairing their fractured marriage after Nordegren allegedly changed her mind about filing for divorce.
TIGER WOODS' infidelity scandal hasn't harmed his earnings - the shamed golfer earned $64 million (£40 million) from endorsements in 2009, landing him at number one on Forbes magazine's list of top athlete brands. British soccer ace DAVID BECKHAM is a distant second with $18 million (£11.25 million).
The famous couple's relationship has been under the spotlight since last year (09) after a number of women came forward to allege they had affairs with the sportsman.
And since the news hit the headlines, the blonde actress admits she's been stopped by members of the public who confuse her with the shamed golf star's Swedish spouse.
Bell tells OK! magazine, "(The last time I was mistaken for Elin Nordegren was) yesterday. No, I am not Tiger Woods’ wife, but, yes, he is in trouble."