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Golf: Famous friends shunned by Tiger

Associated Press
Charles Barkley says Tiger Woods changed his cell phone number the day after his car accident and is not talking to some of his famous friends.
On a show that airs Sunday on news network HLN, Barkley and filmmaker Spike Lee worry that Woods isn’t taking advantage of the invaluable advice that can only be offered by friends who are used to the spotlight.
“You should reach out to your celebrity friends when things go bad,” Barkley told The Associated Press in a phone interview Tuesday. “They’re the only people who understand what it’s like.”
Barkley appears on “With All Due Respect” with two other Turner Sports analysts, baseball Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley and longtime NASCAR driver Kyle Petty. Lee is one of the guests in the one-hour special during which the sports stars discuss a variety of topics.
Turner Sports and HLN are owned by Turner Broadcasting System.
“He’s insulated,” Lee said during the taping for the show. “If Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan can’t get to him, and those are his boys, then other people are making bad moves.”
Barkley said Tuesday he has not spoken to Woods since the Nov. 27 accident, which unleashed a series of events that resulted in him admitting to marital infidelity.
“I’ve been trying to get to him and can’t get to him,” he said. “It’s very frustrating.”
Barkley said he just wants to tell Woods, “Hey, man, we love you. If you need anything, pick up the phone.”
UPPER DECK
MILWAUKEE ó Sports card and memorabilia maker Upper Deck Co. said Tuesday it will continue its relationship with Tiger Woods.
The company, and its Upper Deck Authenticated collectibles division, said the two “look forward to his eventual return to the PGA Tour.”
Upper Deck CEO Richard McWilliam said in a statement the athlete and his family have the company’s full support.
Woods announced late last week he was taking an indefinite leave from public life and golf while he works to fix his marriage after multiple allegations of infidelity.
Since then, Woods’ sponsors have been weighing their options as the media firestorm surrounding Woods continues. Companies use celebrity endorsements to sell products and boost their image. But the propositions can be risky and expensive if a celebrity falls from grace.
According to new figures released Tuesday from TNS Media Intelligence, Woods’ top six sponsors have spent about $79.3 million on ads featuring Woods or his name through October this year.
RATINGS HURT
LOS ANGELES ó Tiger Woods isn’t the only one who is going to take a financial hit for his indiscretions. The broadcast and cable networks that count on him and his golf game for big ratings also will feel his pain ó at least in the near term.
Woods, who said he’s taking a break from golf to focus on his family after revelations about womanizing emerged in the wake of his Thanksgiving weekend car crash, is to golf what Michael Jordan was to basketball: a player bigger than the game.
The TV industry already got a taste of what life is like without him. Last weekend, he did not play in the Chevron World Challenge and NBC’s broadcast of the tournament saw its audience shrink by more than 50 percent.
Most hurt by Woods’ hiatus will be CBS, which carries the Masters, as well as the PGA Championship. NBC also will be stung because it has the U.S. Open. Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN carries the British Open, rounding out the sport’s four major tournaments. Time Warner’s TNT carries some PGA golf, and Comcast Corp.’s Golf Channel has the rights to early rounds of many events.
TIGER’S FAMILY
WELLINGTON, New Zealand ó Tiger Woods spoke of his commitment to his family during an interview screened in New Zealand on Tuesday that was conducted before his car crash and subsequent admission of several infidelities.
Asked in the interview “family first and golf second … always been that way?,” Woods replied: “Always. Always.”
He goes on to say that having a family ó he has two young children with wife Elin Nordegren ó “has been great, actually, the best thing that ever happened.”
The interview was conducted on Nov. 17 ó 10 days prior to the accident.

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