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Tiger leaves IMG, stays loyal to agent

Tiger Woods, left, with his manager Mark Steinberg during during the pro-am for the Quail Hollow Championship in 2010.
Tiger Woods, left, with his manager Mark Steinberg during during the pro-am for the Quail Hollow Championship in 2010.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • American golfer Tiger Woods decides to stay with his agent Mark Steinberg
  • Steinberg, former head of golf at IMG, does not renew contract at management company
  • Woods had been with IMG since he turned professional in 1996
  • Former world No. 1 battling to be fit for this month's U.S. Open at Congressional

(CNN) -- Tiger Woods has split from the management company which has helped him become one of the world's wealthiest sportsmen since he joined it at the start of his professional golf career back in 1996.

The former top-ranked player announced on Monday that he will be staying with his longtime agent Mark Steinberg, who has left IMG after his contract expired.

"Staying with Mark Steinberg. Total confidence in him," Woods wrote on social networking website Twitter.

"Excited about the next stage in my professional life. Fond memories of Mark McCormack."

Staying with Mark Steinberg. Total confidence in him. Excited about the next stage in my professional life
--Tiger Woods
RELATED TOPICS
  • Golf
  • Tiger Woods
  • Steve Stricker
  • Vijay Singh
  • PGA Tour

McCormack founded IMG, one of the world's leading sports management companies, but died in 2003.

Sliding Tiger drops out of golf's top ten

Woods' endorsements have been handled by Steinberg since 1998, but the golfer's declining fortunes have reportedly led to his agent's departure from IMG.

Woods has not won a tournament since the end of 2009, and the scandal about his marital infidelities that broke after that resulted in the loss of some lucrative sponsorship deals.

The 35-year-old has dropped to 15th in the rankings, struggling this year with injuries, but he still earned $70 million in 2010 from his existing deals according to Golf Digest.

Harmon expresses fears for Woods' career

Sports Business Journal and the New York Times both reported that Woods' reduced earnings meant that IMG could no longer afford Steinberg's salary.

IMG has instead promoted Guy Kinnings and Robbie Henchman, its senior vice-presidents in Europe and Asia Pacific respectively, to be co-heads of its golf division.

Woods is battling to be fit for this month's U.S. Open, a major tournament he has won three times, due to ongoing leg problems he suffered at the Masters in April.

He had to pull out of last month's Players Championship after only nine holes when he aggravated his injuries -- his only on-course action since finishing fourth at Augusta.

Meanwhile, Steve Stricker won his 10th PGA Tour title on Sunday as he finished a shot clear at the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio.

The 44-year-old triumphed for the first time this season as he saved par from bunkers at 16 and 17 then bogeyed the last hole to head off fellow Americans Brandt Jobe and Matt Kuchar, who finished strongly with seven-under-par 65s.

It was his first top-10 finish in 11 visits to the event at Muirfield, hosted by golf legend Jack Nicklaus, as he held his nerve despite a two-hour weather delay.

Former world No. 1 Vijay Singh, who tied for 37th as he also closed with 65, may miss the June 16-19 U.S. Open at Congressional after the veteran Fijian failed to show at a qualifying event.

The 48-year-old, a three-time major champion, has played the past 67 of golf's four main tournaments.