Tiger Woods has always been a private figure, achieving fame through his golfing prowess and not his personal life. That may all have changed this week — just as it did in Ireland a few years ago.
Driving away from his house at 2.25 a.m. Friday morning, Woods apparently bashed his car against a fire hydrant in the driveway.
The web is now alive with rumors there was no crash. It is alleged that Woods and his wife, Swedish former model Elin Nordegren, had argued about his involvement with another woman. Nordegren hit Woods’ car with a golf club following the row.
The National Enquirer put it subtly: “World exclusive: woman at center of Tiger Woods cheating scandal exposed!!” It goes on to say that since June, Woods has been having an affair with a 34-year-old New Yorker named Rachel Uchitel.
The magazine may not be the world’s most-reliable news source, but it has been right about cheating husbands before, as John Edwards knows.
The last time scandal attached itself to Woods he was in Ireland. Then, too, it was in relation to his wife, and Woods came quickly to Elin’s defense. During the 2006 Ryder Cup, which Ireland hosted, The Dubliner magazine published an article titled “Ryder Cup filth for Ireland.” The piece complained that the golfers’ wives could not keep their clothes on in public. It was accompanied by photos of Nordegren, apparently topless.
But the pictures were fake and Woods later sued The Dubliner. The couple received $183,350 in compensation (which they gave to charity) and an apology, when Trevor White, publisher of The Dubliner, admitted the article “was cheap, tasteless, and deliberately offensive. It was also completely untrue.”
The new scandal may not go away as easily. Daniel Saylor, the police chief who arrived on the scene at Woods’ mansion in a gated community in Florida, told reporters that Woods had cuts on his upper and lower lips and blood in his mouth, according to the Huffington Post. His wife was “frantic, upset," Saylor said in the Huffington Post report. "It was her husband laying on the ground.” Officers treated Woods for 10 minutes before an ambulance arrived.
A statement posted yesterday on Tiger Woods’ website is unrevealing: “Tiger Woods was in a minor car accident outside his home last night. He was admitted, treated and released today in good condition. We appreciate very much everyone's thoughts and well wishes.”
However, the fans’ reactions indicate they suspect that something is going on. More than 670 comments from supporters responded to the statement, many of them wishing Woods well, but some referring to the more-scandalous version of the story: “The TRUTH will set you free!!!!” one commentator says. “Don't ignore it or you will not find peace!”
Meanwhile gossip websites, the National Enquirer and other papers like the New York Daily News are picking up the affair story. A Daily News headline reads, “Tiger Woods said Elin Nordegren, not car crash, scratched face & chased him with golf club.”
And celebrity blog TMZ claims to have an inside scoop. “We're told he said his wife had confronted him about reports that he was seeing another woman. The argument got heated and, according to our source, she scratched his face up. We're told it was then Woods beat a hasty retreat for his SUV -- but according to our source, Woods says his wife followed behind with a golf club. As Tiger drove away, she struck the vehicle several times with the club.”
Even the New York Times is in on the action. An article in Friday’s paper was full of arch suggestion: “Whatever sent Tiger Woods motoring down the driveway at 2:25 in the morning, it's safe to say he wasn't trying to beat the crowd down to the local Wal-Mart on Black Friday.”
Woods may soon look on The Dubliner scandal during his stay in Ireland as part of the good old days. Back then, he gave a press conference outlining his feelings about the offending article. He said that Irish people were “fantastic” and had been immensely supportive. And he added, “My wife, we're in it together, we're a team and we do things as a team and I care about her with all my heart.”