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30 Nov 2009 07:15
Tiger Woods tried to end the whirl of speculation surrounding the car crash outside his home in Florida three days ago, saying the accident was “my fault” and praising his wife, Elin Nordegren, for acting “courageously” in coming to his aid when she saw he was injured.
In a carefully worded statement on his website, the golfer, whose celebrity is matched by his desire for privacy, did not specifically address allegations that have been published in the US following the incident in the early hours of Friday, when he crashed his Cadillac 4x4 into a fire hydrant and then a tree. He described the reports as “irresponsible”.
“This is a private matter and I want to keep it that way.
Although I understand there is curiosity, the many false, unfounded and malicious rumours that are currently circulating about my family and me are irresponsible,” he said, hours before he was due to meet officers from the Florida highway patrol.
It emerged shortly after that a Florida-based criminal defence lawyer, Mark NeJame, acting on behalf of Woods and his wife, had contacted police to cancel that meeting—the third such time an attempt by law enforcement officials to meet the couple to discuss the accident had been denied.
Woods, who was reportedly left with cuts and bruises to his face after the accident, said on Sunday he was “feeling pretty sore”.
“This situation is my fault, and it’s obviously embarrassing to my family and me.
“The only person responsible for the accident is me. My wife, Elin, acted courageously when she saw I was hurt and in trouble. She was the first person to help me. Any other assertion is absolutely false.
“I would also ask for some understanding that my family and I deserve some privacy no matter how intrusive some people can be.”
His agent Mark Steinberg told CNBC: “We have been informed by the Florida highway patrol that further discussion with them is both voluntary and optional.
After Woods crashed outside his home on private estate near Orlando it was reported he was rescued by his wife, who smashed the vehicle’s rear window with a golf club to gain entry. But there have since been a series of extraordinary claims in the US media, most of them from the “celebrity gossip” website TMZ, alleging the golfer’s injuries may not have been sustained as result of the car crash, that the couple were allegedly involved in a domestic argument, and that as the golfer drove away from his home his wife struck the car several times with the golf club. It was subsequently alleged that a dispute between the couple may have arisen as a result of the publication of claims in the National Enquirer magazine that Woods was having an “affair” with a New York nightclub hostess, Rachel Uchitel.
Uchitel travelled to Los Angeles on Monday to meet Gloria Allred, one the most visible and voluble “celebrity” lawyers in the US. Whatever plans Allred has for her client, they are unlikely to chime with Woods’s hopes that this affair disappears from the front pages and cable news networks as quickly as possible.
“Although Tiger realises that there is a great deal of public curiosity, it has been conveyed to FHP that he simply has nothing more to add and wishes to protect the privacy of his family,” he added.
The appeal for people to respect his privacy, and the condemnation of those whom he believes have been intruding upon it, was to be expected from Woods. Despite being the world’s most recognisable athlete, with all the influence that status bestows, he has also steered clear of any subjects, politics and race issues being the most notable, that might be described as controversial.
Very little is known of his private life beyond the fact of his marriage to Nordegren, the daughter of a Swedish politician, and that the couple have two children, Charlie, aged two, and Sam, seven months.
In an October posting on his Facebook account, Woods wrote, “I’m asked why people don’t often see me and Elin in gossip magazines or tabloids. I think we’ve avoided a lot of media attention because we’re kind of boring.”
Whether or not he will be able to hold back the tide of speculation that has engulfed his carefully nurtured reputation over the last three days remains to be seen. He is due to make his first public appearance since the accident at a press conference on Tuesdaytomorrow in southern California, at his annual golf tournament, the Chevron World Challenge, at Sherwood country club.
In normal circumstances, his meeting with the media would concentrate on the event—it raises funds for his charitable foundation—and the state of his golf game but, assuming Woods does not withdraw because of his injuries, it now threatens to rival Michael Jackson’s funeral as one of the most watched cable news events of the year. - guardian.co.uk
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