Americans back Tiger Woods on U.S. Olympic team

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Tiger Woods' image may be tarnished after admitting to marital infidelities, but most Americans would support him representing the country on a U.S. Olympic golf team.

Sixty-nine percent of Americans polled by Seton Hall University said they would have no problem with Woods, on an indefinite leave from his sport, trying to win a medal for the United States when golf becomes an Olympic sport.

In October, the International Olympic Committee added golf to the Olympic schedule, starting with the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. Woods had campaigned for the sport's inclusion at the Olympics.

While 75 percent of men polled approved of Woods representing the United States at the Olympics, the rate dropped to 63 percent for women. Almost a quarter of respondents -- 23 percent -- said they would have a problem with Tiger playing for the U.S. team.

"Tiger still has work to do to win back the public," Rick Gentile, director of the Seton Hall Sports Poll, said in a statement. "But the Tiger camp should be pleased by the strong number supporting his being a potential member of the team."

Woods, 34, apologized last week to family and fans for cheating on his wife Elin and said he was continuing to get treatment. However, the most marketable figure in sports set no date for his return to pro golf after saying in December he would take an indefinite leave.

Thirty-nine percent of those polled by Seton Hall felt Woods was sincere in his apology, while one in four felt he was not. Sixty-eight percent felt satisfied with his statement and required no additional information from him.

Woods, who is believed to be the world's wealthiest sports personality, was estimated to earn about $100 million a year in endorsement deals before the scandal led AT&T Inc and Accenture Plc to drop him as a spokesman. Other sponsors, including Nike Inc and Electronic Arts Inc, have stood by him.

The Seton Hall poll of 760 adults 18 and older that were telephoned randomly was conducted this week by the Sharkey Institute. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)