Golf: Tiger cancels meeting for third time
WINDERMERE, Fla. ó Tiger Woods canceled yet another meeting with state troopers but, for the first time, talked about his car crash on his Web site, saying it was his fault, that his wife acted courageously and that remaining details were private.
The statement was posted about an hour before troopers were to meet with the world’s No. 1 golfer at his home inside the gates of Isleworth. A meeting was not rescheduled.
In a tape of a 911 call released Sunday, two days after the accident, a neighbor told dispatchers that a black Cadillac Escalade hit a tree and “I have someone down in front of my house.”
Woods’ neighbor never mentions the golfer by name, and the call is inaudible at several points because of the bad connection.
“I came out here just to see what was going on,” the neighbor, who was not identified, told dispatchers. “I see him, and he’s laying down.”
One woman is heard in the background yelling, “What happened?”
In his statement, Woods took responsibility for the accident.
“This situation is my fault, and it’s obviously embarrassing to my family and me,” Woods said. “I’m human and I’m not perfect. I will certainly make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Woods said it was a private matter, and he wanted to keep it that way. What he failed to address was where he was going at that hour.
“Although I understand there is curiosity, the many false, unfounded and malicious rumors that are currently circulating about my family and me are irresponsible,” he said.
Windermere police chief Daniel Saylor has said Woods’ wife, Elin, used a golf club to smash out a rear window to help him get out of the SUV when she heard the crash from inside their home at 2:25 a.m. Friday.
“The only person responsible for the accident is me,” Woods said. “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.”
Sgt. Kim Montes of the Florida Highway Patrol said Woods’ attorney, Mark Nejame, informed the patrol that Woods would not be meeting with troopers Sunday afternoon.
“It has not been rescheduled,” Montes said. “He’s not required by law to give us a statement, and we’ll move forward with our investigation without it.”
Mark Steinberg, Woods’ agent at IMG, said in an e-mail Sunday:
“We have been informed by the Florida Highway Patrol that further discussion with them is both voluntary and optional. Although Tiger realizes 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.”
Police first tried to interview Woods on Friday, but his wife asked if they could return the next day because he was sleeping.
As they headed to Woods’ $2.4 million house inside the gates of Isleworth on Saturday afternoon, FHP dispatch put through a phone call to troopers from Woods’ agent, informing them that Woods and his wife would be unavailable to talk until Sunday.
The accident came two days after the National Enquirer published a story alleging that Woods had been seeing a New York night club hostess, and that they recently were together in Melbourne, where Woods competed in the Australian Masters.
The woman, Rachel Uchitel, denied having an affair with Woods when contacted by The Associated Press.
Los Angeles attorney Gloria Allred confirmed she was representing Uchitel when she was reached by the AP on Sunday.
“She is with me in L.A.,” Allred said later in an e-mail to the AP. “We plan to meet and then we’ll decide on the next step, which we do not plan to announce to the press.”
Uchitel arrived at Los Angeles International Airport late Sunday morning, where she was met by Allred and escorted out of the baggage claim area and into a black car. Uchitel did not speak to reporters except to ask that she be left alone.
Woods is to host his Chevron World Challenge this week in Thousand Oaks, Calif., which benefits his foundation. Woods’ news conference had been scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, although it was not clear if he would still play, or even attend.
“We do not know if Tiger is playing; we are anticipating a great week of competition,” said Greg McLaughlin, the tournament director and president of his foundation.
Aside from occasional criticism of his temper inside the ropes, Woods has kept himself out of the news beyond his sport. 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. …”
“He’s an iconic brand, the platinum standard,” said John Rowady, president of rEvolution, a Chicago-based sports marketing agency. “I find it interesting how he’s being attacked by so many sides after how gracious he’s been. But even the best of celebrities who try to do their best can be riddled with controversy.”
AP Golf Writer Doug Ferguson in Jacksonville, AP Sports Writer Tim Dahlberg in Las Vegas and Associated Press writers Linda Deutsch in Los Angeles, and Lisa Orkin Emmanuel and Sarah Larimer in Miami contributed to this report.