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October 29, 2013

Electronic Arts parts ways with Tiger Woods

SAN FRANCISCO — Electronic Arts Inc., the second- largest U.S. video-game publisher, has announced that Tiger Woods will no longer be associated with its golf title.

The maker of "Tiger Woods PGA Tour" made a mutual decision with the golfer to end their 15-year partnership, Daryl Holt, a general manager for EA Sports, said Monday in a blog posting that showed screen shots of its next version.

"We've always been big fans of Tiger and we wish him continued success in all his future endeavors," wrote Holt, who said the company will continue to use the PGA Tour name.

Sports games, including "Madden NFL" and "FIFA Soccer," are among the company's top-grossing titles. Electronic Arts began selling "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14" in March, along with a historic Masters edition.

John Reseburg, a spokesman for Redwood City, Calif.- based Electronic Arts, didn't immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

The stock has risen 71 percent this year as new CEO Andrew Wilson repositions the company from primarily a maker of packaged titles into one that sells more of its products on the Web. Electronic Arts reports fiscal second-quarter results today after the New York close.

Woods, 37, hasn't won a major title since the 2008 U.S. Open. In 2009, he lost endorsement deals with AT&T, Accenture and TAG Heuer watches following a marital scandal. Electronic Arts said at the time that the negative publicity didn't affect sales.

Electronic Arts also has agreed to stop making college football games after settling a lawsuit brought by former players from the National College Athletic Association who said they weren't being compensated for their likenesses.

In July, Woods signed his fourth golf endorsement deal with Nike Inc., the world's largest sporting-goods company. Woods has endorsed Nike's products since turning professional in 1996 and re-signed with the company in 2001 and 2006.

Woods, who's No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking, was voted the U.S. PGA Tour's Player of the Year for the first time in four years last season. He won five titles and led all players with $8.6 million in prize money. It was the 11th time he's won the PGA Tour's Player of the Year award since he turned professional.

Woods has 79 career PGA Tour victories, three shy of Sam Snead's record of 82, and his 14 major championship wins are four behind the record held by Jack Nicklaus.

In March, Golf Digest magazine said Woods earned $77 million off the course in endorsements in 2012, while Sports Illustrated reported Woods's 2012 earnings at closer to $40 million. Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, has called such rankings inaccurate.

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