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Tiger has no plans to drop Titleist says agent

Just because Tiger Woods likes the Nike Golf ball and is trying it out this week on the European Tour doesn't mean he plans to switch -- nor will it affect his relationship with Titleist, his agent said tonight from Germany.

Woods is using a Nike Tour Accuracy in the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open, where he was four strokes out of the lead after two rounds. It's the first time in 98 tournaments as a pro -- and first time since he was 13 -- that he has not used a Titleist in tournament play.

He is under contract with Titleist to play its clubs and balls, but the deal was renegotiated last year after Titleist complained that Nike was using Woods to promote its ball.

"The purpose was to clean up any problems that might have existed, and address any future issues that could come up, and address those contractually," said Mark Steinberg of IMG. "Because Titleist has always been about doing what's best for Tiger, and always looking out for his best interests."

Titleist officials have said they would have no comment.

Woods also is reworking his contract with Nike, which is expected to at least double the five-year, $40 million package that expires next year. He wears Nike clothes, shoes, and the logo on a hat, the most visible billboard in golf.

But money has never been an issue for Woods, his father said from California.

"He's his own boss," Earl Woods said. "He'll do what's right and what's best for him. But he'll be responsible for the people who have helped him. Tiger is very loyal to Titleist, because Titleist was there all along."

Woods said he has been testing the Nike ball for a couple of months while practicing at home in Florida and said he would switch only if "it's viable."

Steinberg said Woods called Titleist chief Wally Uihlein on Monday to tell him he was going to test the Nike ball this week.

"He's curious," Steinberg said. "He's under contract with Nike for other products, and he was testing their product out. The only way to test it is in a tournament. That doesn't mean he's switching. The relationship with Titleist will remain strong."

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