Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tiger Woods Mea Culpa Fails To Explain Crash

Golf superstar Tiger Woods took responsibility for an "embarrassing" late-night car crash, but declined to tell his story to police even as he lashed out at "unfounded and malicious rumors."

Tiger Woods, 33, posted a statement on his website Sunday saying he was solely responsible for the accident outside his Florida home, which left him with facial cuts, some bruises and a welter of unwelcome publicity.

"This situation is my fault, and it's obviously embarrassing to my family and me," the 14-time major golf champion said. "I'm human and I'm not perfect. I will certainly make sure this doesn't happen again."

But Tiger Woods again declined to speak to Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) troopers, who had expected to talk with him as part of their investigation into the accident.

Officers, who were turned away on both Friday and Saturday, were to meet Tiger Woods at his home and discuss how his car came to hit a fire hydrant and then a tree near his two million-dollar home in the suburbs of Orlando.

Instead, FHP spokeswoman Sergeant Kim Montes said troopers who arrived at the house were met by Woods' lawyer Mark Nejame, who said Tiger Woods would not be meeting with them on Sunday.

"It has not been rescheduled," said Montes, who said the crash remains under investigation and could still result in charges. Under Florida law Tiger Woods is not obliged to give a statement.

"Mr. Woods' attorney provided the troopers with Mr. Woods' driver's license information, registration and current proof of insurance as required by Florida law," Montes said.

Authorities have already said alcohol wasn't a factor in the crash. Montes said that investigators wanted to give Tiger Woods an opportunity to give his version of events.

Early FHP reports that Tiger Woods was seriously hurt sparked worldwide interest. Even as it became clear Tiger Woods was not seriously harmed, speculation swirled as to why he was leaving his house at 2:25 in the morning and how he came to crash just after exiting his home.

Tiger Woods chose not to address those questions.

"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.

Leading the speculation, the celebrity news website reported that a dispute between Tiger Woods and his wife, former model Elin Nordegren of Sweden, was at the center of the incident.

By the website's account, Nordegren confronted her husband about tabloid reports that he was having an affair with a New York club hostess.

"The only person responsible for the accident is me," Tiger 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."

The FHP released a recording of a 911 emergency call in which a shaken neighbor of Tiger Woods tells dispatchers that a black Cadillac Escalade hit a tree outside his house.

"I have someone down in front of my house," says the caller, who is not identified and never mentions Tiger Woods by name. "I see him, he's laying down."

During the call, a woman yells out in the background "What happened?"

The neighbor responds that he has police on the line to report an accident. Not long after, the poor telephone connection is lost.

Daniel Saylor, police chief of the Orlando suburb of Windermere, has said Woods' wife used a golf club to smash out a rear window to help extricate him after she heard the crash from inside their home.

"This incident has been stressful and very difficult for Elin, our family and me," Tiger Woods said. "I appreciate all the concern and well wishes that we have received. But, I would also ask for some understanding that my family and I deserve some privacy no matter how intrusive some people can be."

Tiger Woods is one of the best-known athletes in the world. According to Forbes business magazine, he is the first athlete to break through the billion-dollar earnings mark.

He and Elin have been married for five years and have two children, daughter Sam Alexis, born in 2007, and son Charlie Axel, born in February.

At age 25, Tiger Woods won the US Open, the British Open, the USPGA and the Masters on a roll to make him the first simultaneous holder of all four major championship titles.

Tiger Woods is scheduled to play his last tournament of 2009 next week, when he hosts the Chevron World Challenge in the Los Angeles suburb of Thousand Oaks.

The annual event benefits his charitable foundation.

Tiger Woods was scheduled to hold a news conference there on Tuesday, and organizers said Sunday they had not been notified of any change.

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