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For Tiger Woods fans, the worst has come to pass.

In a statement released on his website, Woods revealed Friday evening that he will be taking an indefinte leave from the game of golf in order to spend time with his family and work on his marriage.

Here is the statement, in full:

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. 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.

I would like to ask everyone, including my fans, the good people at my foundation, business partners, the PGA Tour, and my fellow competitors, for their understanding. What's most important now is that my family has the time, privacy, and safe haven we will need for personal healing.

After much soul searching, I have decided to take an indefinite break from professional golf. I need to focus my attention on being a better husband, father, and person.

Again, I ask for privacy for my family and I am especially grateful for all those who have offered compassion and concern during this difficult period.

The significance of this to the game of golf cannot be overstated. Woods is one of the most dominant figures in the game, and his absence from any tournament cuts ratings in half.

More importantly, though, this statement is the first time in which Woods has used the word "infidelity" in public, apparently giving credence to the many rumors which have spread over the last two weeks about his extramarital affairs.

But while the statement answers one major question, it raises several others. Will Woods speak out on his indiscretions? Will he seek to rehabilitate his image publicly, or let time heal? And when will he play again? 

Woods was not scheduled to return to the golf course before the end of January. And, in fact, the golf season does not truly "begin" for most viewers until the Masters in early April, nearly four months away. Whether Woods will be ready for that is a question only he and his family can now answer.


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