124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

The Loop

Woods' circle of famous friends shrinking

August 04, 2011

New caddie? Check. New management? Yep. Even new shoes? You got it. But does Tiger Woods have a new set of buddies as well? It appears that way.

Charles Barkley spoke out Wednesday about his relationship with Woods on ESPN New York 1050's "The Mike Lupica Show." The former NBA great now considers Tiger a former friend.

"You think you're friends with a guy. You talk to him once a week for 15 years. You're like, this dude is my friend, we do things, we have fun together," said Barkley, who is now a popular basketball analyst for TNT. "I haven't talked to him in two years and I'm wondering what the hell is going on."


Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Barkley pinpointed Woods' infamous car accident on Thanksgiving night in 2009 as when contact was cut off. He has said in past interviews that he tried to reach out to Tiger following that, but the 14-time major champion didn't return his messages and changed his phone number.

What was behind the timing of Barkley addressing Woods and their deteriorating friendship? The fact that Tiger fired caddie Steve Williams, another Barkley bud.

"It's been very frustrating to watch everything that has transpired," said Barkley, who also denied the rumors that he and Michael Jordan were bad influences on Woods. "And getting rid of Steve Williams was probably the last straw for me."

But it seems Barkley isn't the only part of Woods' shrinking high-powered circle of friends. Sports Illustrated reports that Tiger's much-publicized friendship with tennis legend Roger Federer is also a done deal.

As they dominated their respective sports at a historic level, the two shared a respect for each other that went well past simple congratulatory text messages. Their playful commercials for Nike and Gillette helped advance their brands, but they also enjoyed showing up to events to watch the other in action.

With Woods' personal life such a secret, it's tough to say his reasoning for these fallouts and whether or not they are a part of him trying to start over after a scandal that changed everything about his life. One sure thing? Don't expect Barkley or Federer to be following him down the fairways in Akron this week.

-- Alex Myers

Follow on Twitter: @AlexMyers3