San Martin (California): Tiger Woods, whose skill as a pitchman made him the first USD 1 billion athlete before his infamous sex scandal, has signed his first major endorsement deal since his 2009 fall from grace.

Woods announced a sponsorship contract yesterday with Swiss-based Rolex, a deal coming two months after the 14-time major golf champion was dropped by rival watchmaker Tag Heuer.

After his secret sex life was disclosed in revelations that led to his divorce from Elin Nordegren last year, Woods was dropped by several major sponsors, multiple mistresses
making him poison to the Madison Avenue sales staffs that once hailed him.

Accenture, AT&T, Gatorade and Gillette as well as Tag Heuer had dropped endorsement deals with Woods in the wake of the scandal.

Earlier this year, Woods signed his first endorsement contract since the scandal with Japan's Kowa Company Limited to endorse a heat rub in Japanese markets.

But Rolex marks a return of big names in sport sponsorships to Woods, who is chasing the all-time record of 18 major titles won by Jack Nicklaus.

"Rolex is convinced that Tiger Woods still has a long career ahead of him, and that he has all the qualities required to continue to mark the history of golf," a Rolex statement said.

The news came as Woods played a practice round ahead of Thursday's start of his playing in the US PGA Open.

Woods had been in talks with the event's electronics firm sponsor about a deal earlier this year.

Woods has not had a sponsor on his golf bag since AT&T dropped him nearly two years ago but he might have a new sponsor on the bag in time for next month's Presidents Cup in

Woods, who has not won any title since his sex scandal erupted almost two years ago, fell out of the top 50 in the world rankings for the first time in 15 years this week when he slipped to 51st.

The last time Woods won a title was at the Australian Masters on November 15, 2009. He has not won a major title since the 2008 US Open.

Woods suffered left knee and Achilles tendon injuries at the Masters last April and missed much of the season. Until this week, Woods has not played a PGA event since missing the
cut at the PGA Championship in August at Atlanta.

The remaining schedule for Woods this year includes this week's event, the Australian Open, the Presidents Cup with his US teammates and December's Chevron World Challenge, a
Southern California charity benefit event for Woods' foundation.