Tiger's absence felt amongst fans, players

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. Connie Buckley and her friends flew across the country from Philadelphia this week for one reason, and Tiger Woods isn't here.

"It's my 50th birthday, and it was on my bucket list, and he blew it," said Buckley.

When asked if Tiger owes her for her loss, she replied, "He has enough issues right now with women. I don't think I need to add to it."

British Open champion Stewart Cink is one of many A-list golfers playing in Tiger Woods' tournament at Sherwood Country Club, but for some, that doesn't soften the disappointment of Woods' absence or his admitted transgressions.

"He wants the best of both worlds, and he can't have that. He's a celebrity, and he has a lot of money, and he is used to being taken care of. Well, this was an incident that he can't get away from this," said Denise Viola.

"Do we really need to know? I guess that is the bottom line. Everybody likes to get into these celebrities' personal lives, and it's all fascinating and everything, but deep down, what does it really matter?" PGA golfer Steve Stricker said during a press conference.

In our exclusive Eyewitness News poll conducted by Survey USA, we asked, "Do you think Tiger Woods should lose endorsement deals over the incident?" Nineteen percent say he should lose endorsement deals, 74 percent say he should not and 7 percent aren't sure.

"I think the impact is going to be rather minimal. We've seen this before throughout sports. We have a guy here who has had a pretty impeccable track record to date. He has blue chip endorsements, he's one of the greatest athletes in the world, and more often than not, you get past these indiscretions," explained David Carter, a sports marketing specialist.

"I think his image is going to take a little bit of a shot. I'd like to see him come on TV and just pour it out a little bit and show us what's happened a little bit. I don't know if that will ever happen, but I don't think there is any question that he will bounce back. It's going to be hard on him for a while," said Stricker.

A couple players have admitted that they usually enjoy reading some of the celebrity gossip on tabloid magazines, but this time they said that it hit so close to home and they were stung by Tiger's stories, and it will be on their minds when they tee off Thursday morning in round one.

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