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Monday February 5, 2007

Woods, Federer, Henry announce deal with Gillette


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP): Keeping a beard at bay has never been a problem for Tiger Woods. 

"I can't grow one,'' Woods said Sunday. "My friends razz me about it.'' 

A few hours after finishing third at the Dubai Desert Classic, the American golfer teamed up with 10-time Grand Slam tennis champion Roger Federer and France soccer player Thierry Henry to announce a deal with Gillette that would put the trio in TV commercials around the world. 

Woods, Federer and Henry each posed for photographers with shaving cream, something Woods doesn't have to use all that often. "I started (shaving) a little late. My stubble didn't quite grow in,'' said Woods, his face red and windburnt from a sandstorm earlier in the day. "My dad showed me how to do it and I tried to do it just like him. I got foam all over the place.'' 

Gillette executives declined to say how much the athletes will be paid. But Chip Bergh, Gillette's president of global grooming, said each of the trio could afford to buy his own razors. 

"But if Tiger called me up and said 'I need some razors,' I'd send him some,'' Bergh said. 

Bergh said Gillette identified 100 athletes that it would consider hiring to market its razors. The company then used market research to narrow its list to Woods, Federer and Henry. If any of the three had rejected Gillette's offer, Bergh said there were some "Plan B'' athletes, but he declined to name them. 

Bergh said Gillette selected the trio not just because of their success in sports or marketing prowess, but because each embodies "true sporting values'' and was a good example off the field. 

"I just love going out there and competing against the boys, and I try to beat their brains in,'' Woods said. "I love the competitive rush. I've loved it ever since I was a kid. I couldn't live with myself without giving it my all.'' 

Despite the new endorsement deal, Woods doesn't plan to start his day with a shave. "There's no way I'm going to get up early in the morning and shave. I've got to get up and go,'' Woods said. "I always shave at night.'' 

Federer also has shaving issues. The Swiss champion said he "plays it by ear'' and shaves when the mood strikes him. Federer said he once grew a beard because he worried that the act of shaving might cost him a title. 

"I was a bit superstitious at my first Wimbledon. I had a bit of a beard,'' he said. 

Woods and Federer have become friends over the past year and developed a tongue-in-cheek rivalry. Both are considered the best in their sport, but it's tough to say which is the better player. 

Woods has an advantage: He's won all four major golf tournaments while Federer is still missing the French Open. 

"I've got a few months to prepare. You've got to believe it's possible,'' said Federer, who then suggested that his feat is tougher to achieve than Woods'. 

"Of course all four of those are on grass, whereas I have to play some on a hard court,'' Federer said, laughing. 

"There we go,'' Tiger responded. 

Woods and Federer said they hoped to spend more time with Henry, perhaps when the trio begins shooting razor advertisements that are supposed to air later this year. 

Woods was in Federer's box last year to watch his U.S. Open victory. A few months later, Federer walked the course with Woods at a golf tournament in China. Federer strolled the course again Sunday in Dubai. 

"Getting to know Roger has been pretty cool. We see sport on so many different levels the same way,'' Woods said. Federer said he'd started playing a bit of golf on courses in the United States and in Switzerland. 

"I don't play that much golf but I do hope to get Tiger to teach me,'' Federer said. Henry, for his part, said he admired the two men but had trouble watching golf. "I would stay up really late to see Tiger play,'' Henry said. "Sometimes _ I have to be honest _ I did fall asleep.'' 

Asked whether he would like to try golf or tennis, Henry said he couldn't imagine himself playing such a slow-moving game like golf. He said his mind would start to drift. 

"I would be thinking about my house and wondering if everyone is OK, or thinking it's too cold,'' the Arsenal striker said. "I don't know if I could hold the club properly.'' 

Woods has made no secret that he has only a passing interest in soccer, and that doesn't include playing it. 

"All that running and never touching the ball that often is just not for me,'' Woods said. 

But both still had praise for Henry. 

"I think Thierry is the best striker in the world,'' Federer said.

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