Woods Leaves PGA in Economic Limbo

FILE - In this Aug. 25, 1996, file photo, Tiger Woods throws his arms into the air in jubilation as he ties his match with Steve Scott on the 35th hole of U.S. Amateur championship at the Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in North Plains, Ore. On his web site Friday night, Dec. 11, 2009, Woods announced that he is taking an indefinite break from professional golf. (AP Photo/Jack Smith, File)
AP Photo/Jack Smith
Today, the watchmaker Tag Heuer said it is re-considering its sponsorship deal with golf's number one player. CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker has more now on the economic limbo created by Woods self-imposed exile from the game.

Before the sex scandal, Tiger Woods was at the top of his game. Now his career seems in freefall. His bizarre accident and admission of infidelity crashing headlong into his perfectionist image - an image that has made him the first billion dollar athlete.

In addition to tournament earnings - $23-million his last full season before his knee injury - Tiger pulls in another $110 million annually in endorsements, including a $30 million a year Nike, $5 million a year from Gillette and $24 million a year from videogame maker EA Sports.

"Tiger Woods is a very unique character in the world of corporate sponsorships, because he crosses over into so many different demographics," said David Dusek of Sports Illustrated's golf group.

But Sunday, Accenture, a business consulting firm few had even heard of until it tied its name to Tiger Woods, became the first sponsor to drop him. The company that spent $21 million on advertising so far this year - most featuring Woods - says he is "no longer the right representative." Sports agents say expect others to follow Accenture's lead.

"Once a major blue chip company does leave it provides the cover for getting out the door, not unlike the first person who leaves a party," agent Dave Carter said.

For now, his other sponsors are sticking with him. AT&T and luxury watchmaker Tag Heuer both say they are evaluating their relationship with Woods. Nike, whose golf equipment, marketed around Woods, brings in $800 million a year says, "We look forward to his return to golf."

Perhaps no one is looking forward to Tiger's return more than the sponsors of the San Diego Open, formerly the Buick Open, at Torrey Pines - the first PGA tour event of the year Woods usually attends.

"It is somewhere between 15 to 25 percent additional income from those tournaments that have Tiger versus those that don't," said Tom Wilson of the San Diego Open.

Without Tiger, Torrey Pines stands to lose op to $500,000. The Tiger Effect is profound. When he started playing in 1997, the PGA purses totaled just $70 million. Today they're $270 million. Tiger affects broadcasters, too, including CBS Sports - which airs Torrey Pines, the Masters and 19 other tournaments - and NBC Sports, which broadcasts 10, including the U.S Open.

The year Woods' bad knee kept him away from golf, an average of just 2.4 million viewers tuned into golf tournaments, down almost 50 percent from the year before.

"Tiger Woods has meant ratings on television. Tiger Woods has meant an enormous increase in prize money," Dusek said. "For golf, Tiger basically put big-time golf on the map."

But the fear in the sport is that the golden man of golf, Tiger Woods' Midas touch might be tarnished forever.