Video game giant Electronic Arts Sports is moving forward with plans to introduce a Tiger Woods online game, the company has said.
EA Sports President Peter Moore admitted the decision will likely "create attention and further speculation" about Woods, 34, who has been romantically linked to at least 14 women.
In a blog post late Monday, he explained the company's decision to stand by the disgraced golfer.
"Our relationship with Tiger has always been rooted in golf. We didn’t form a relationship with him so that he could act as an arm’s length endorser. Far from it. We chose to partner with Tiger in 1997 because we saw him as the world’s best, most talented and exciting golfer. We struck that partnership with the assumption that he would remain near or at the top of his sport for years to come," Moore writes.
"By his own admission, he’s made some mistakes off the course. But regardless of what’s happening in his personal life, and regardless of his decision to take a personal leave from the sport, Tiger Woods is still one of the greatest athletes in history.
"At EA SPORTS, we make authentic sports simulations. When we say 'It's in the Game,' it is not just a tag line but a statement about the quality and authenticity of the game experience. Tiger Woods PGA TOUR Online is truly representative of that rallying cry, and a game that all of us at EA SPORTS are proud to be delivering this month to sports fans around the globe," his post concludes.
Moore also said the game had been tested with more than 75,000 players for the last eight months.
"We're proud of it," he added, "and we are releasing it in open beta later this month."
So far, Woods has lost deals with Gillette and the consulting firm Accenture. AT&T also announced that it was ending its endorsement deal, and Gatorade said it will discontinue its Tiger Focus sports drink line. Luxury Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer recently announced it is re-assessing its relationship with the golfer.