According to the Associated Press, both Woods and retired Annika Sorenstam are free to leave IMG with Steinberg. He could hang out his own shingle. Or move to a competitor such as Creative Artists Agency and take Woods with him as a client.

Steinberg’s contract was up in June. In an e-mail, he said he’ll discuss his future plans when he feels “comfortable.” IMG spokesman Jim Gallagher would only say Steinberg’s no longer with IMG.

Woods has been an IMG client since turning pro in 1996. The worldwide firm is expanding into U.S. college sports, China and India, and could easily swallow the financial loss of Woods. But it could hurt the brand of IMG, which has golf in its DNA. The 50-year company was founded on a handshake between golfer Arnold Palmer and agent Mark McCormack.

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