Slug is GOLF-CHAMPIONS/By Kevin Fylan and Tom Pilcher

Tiger Woods's decision to take an indefinite break from golf will be a real worry for a sport that has relied on the drawing power of the world's best player for so long but it might prove to be a necessary first step on the player's own road to redemption.

"He'll figure it out -- we've always been a forgiving society," major record holder Jack Nicklaus said before Woods announced his decision to take a break.

Well, even a forgiving society likes to see a little contrition and the tone of the statement Woods put out on Friday was certainly much more contrite and conciliatory than the spiky defence of his right to privacy in his only previous comment.

"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.