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Woods takes indefinite leave from PGA to work on marriage

Tiger Woods is shifting his focus from winning majors to saving his marriage.

Two weeks after Woods crashed his SUV into a tree outside his Florida home, setting in motion a swift fall that featured reports of rampant extramarital affairs, golf’s biggest star delivered a stunning development of his own. He temporarily is walking away from the game that made him the first $1 billion athlete.

“After much soul searching, I have decided to take an indefinite break from professional golf,” Woods said Friday evening on his Web site. “I need to focus my attention on being a better husband, father, and person.”

It will be the second straight year that the No. 1 player was on the sidelines.

A year ago, he missed eight months while recovering from reconstructive surgery on his left knee. This time, Woods is trying to repair a broken family, knowing this will be a far more difficult comeback.

“I am deeply aware of the disappointment and hurt that my infidelity has caused to so many people, most of all my wife and children,” Woods said. “I want to say again to everyone that I am profoundly sorry and that I ask forgiveness. It may not be possible to repair the damage I’ve done, but I want to do my best to try.”

Woods and his wife, Elin, have been married five years. They have a 2-year-old daughter and a 10-month-old son. The No. 1 player in golf has not been seen in public since the accident.

Woods gave no indication when he might return in what could be a pivotal year as he pursues the record 18 major championships won by Jack Nicklaus. Woods, who did not win a major this year, has 14.

The Masters, where Woods has won four times, is April 8-11. The U.S. Open is at Pebble Beach, where Woods won by a record 15 strokes in 2000, and the British Open returns to St. Andrews, where he has won twice by a combined 13 shots.