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IT’S OFFICIAL! WOODS ANNOUNCES HE’LL GO PRO

SHARE IT’S OFFICIAL! WOODS ANNOUNCES HE’LL GO PRO

Tiger Woods made it official today: he's played his last competitive round as an amateur golfer.

Woods made the announcement in a statement released through the Greater Milwaukee Open, where he will play this weekend."This is to confirm that, as of now, I am a professional golfer," Woods said.

Woods declined further comment until a press conference Wednesday, saying he wanted to practice without distraction today in Milwaukee.

On Monday, an industry source told The Associated Press that the 20-year-old Stanford student had decided to turn professional this week.

Indications from the United States Golf Association, the PGA Tour and a major company wishing to sign Woods to an endorsement deal were that he would retain his amateur status. However, the industry source told the AP: "I think some of those people are in the dark."

Woods, who won an unprecedented third consecutive U.S. Amateur title Sunday, is the most heralded player to come out of the amateur ranks since Jack Nicklaus 35 years ago. And because times are different, Woods will receive endorsement riches never dreamed of by a golfer.

In addition to his enormous talent, Woods is extremely marketable because of his youth, good looks, intelligence and his ethnic background - his father is black and his mother was born in Thailand.

Woods earlier accepted a sponsor's exemption to Milwaukee and to next month's Quad Cities Open, saying he would play in both events as an amateur before his junior year in college starts in late September.

But after Woods won his third straight U.S. Amateur, there was little left for him to prove on the amateur level.

On Sunday, Woods was still hedging on his decision.

"I can't think of that right now," Woods said when asked about turning pro right after he defeated Steve Scott on the 38th hole. "I'll know better next week what's going on."

Earlier last week, Woods was offered a spot by the USGA on the American team selected to play in the World Amateur Team Championship in the Philippines.

Before the second round of stroke-play qualifying at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club, Woods told the AP: "I'll be there. I'm going."

Sources close to the situation told the AP that Woods was advised not to accept the invitation to the quadrennial event if it was likely he would back out. The sources said Woods gave a firm commitment to remaining an amateur through November.

Clearly, Woods has enormous talent and will eventually make a great pro. He also has the courage and determination to be a winner. But is the entire package there right now to compete?

Woods proved a lot in coming from 5-down to defeat Scott. Mostly he showed he can raise his game to a higher level when he needs it most.

But he also hit just enough bad shots at Pumpkin Ridge to raise concerns about the ability of his game to hold up over 72 holes of stroke-play golf.

An incredibly tough match-play golfer, Woods can click off the kind of three-, four- or five-hole bursts that can bury an opponent.

But he also has the kind of bad holes that cost only one hole in match play, but can kill a player in stroke-play tournaments.

And on the PGA Tour, he won't be playing against 19-year-olds.