Tiger's Injury Worse Than Initially Suspected, Steinberg Leaves IMG

Splitsville? It was announced tonight that Tiger Woods' agent Mark Steinberg was leaving his position at IMG Sports.

An interesting day to be Tiger Woods. First he tried to blackmail reporters  at a press conference for the AT&T National into not asking about his injured ankle tendon, and then it is announced his long-time agent, and head of IMG’s golf division, is leaving the company. I spoke with someone close to the camp of Sean Foley, Woods’ Canadian swing coach, who said today that the injury to the golfer is worse than suspected. This person also suggested prior to Woods  start  at the Players Championship that the golfer wouldn’t make it out of the first round. Woods shot 42 on the front nine before withdrawing with an injury. The source makes sense — after all, it is hard to figure that Woods is going from wearing a boot on his foot to protect the injury to playing in a couple of weeks. But maybe I’m wrong — but this whole story about the latest Tiger injury doesn’t sit right with me.

Despite the concern, Woods said he’s trying to be ready for the AT&T, a tournament he hosts, though that’s a couple of weeks after the U.S. Open. He’s said he’ll be ready for the U.S. Open — but if he’s uncertain about playing a couple of weeks later, it raises some big questions:

As far as being ready for Congressional, I’m trying to do everything I can. All my docs have said it should be ready to go by then, should be good to go.
As far as the future of it, I’ve had four surgeries on it, so obviously it’s not what it was when I was little. I’m sure down the road it may be more difficult, but hopefully I’ll be in a cart by then on the Senior TOUR. But between now and then, I should be pretty good.

 So there were lots of questions about Woods’ ankle and his knee and then later in the day it surfaced that Mark Steinberg, Woods’ agent, had left sports marketing giant IMG. Woods apparently told the Associated Press that he was commited to both Steinberg and IMG, though I’m not sure how that would work.

You wonder where Steinberg might head next. Start his own agency? Join Wasserman Sports, which recently acquired SFX Sports and seems to be making a big push into golf at the same time IMG is reportedly backing away from the sport?

And what does this mean for IMG Canada, which saw the departure of top agent Chris Armstrong last year, along with golfers Stephen Ames and Chris Baryla? IMG’s former Canadian director Brad Pelletier also departed last year. Interestingly, IMG Canada’s top dog reported to Steinberg in the past.

Score’s Bob Weeks raises the question about whether Tiger is the next out of IMG. You have to wonder if he’d stick with Steinberg, the man who has apparently been behind the horrible communications strategy that was devised following Woods’ accident in November 2008 and the ensuing sex scandal.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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