Tiger continues to lie low

Superstar pulls out of Chevron World Challenge after car crash

ORLANDO, Florida: Golf superstar Tiger Woods withdrew Monday from a tournament to benefit his charity foundation as he continued to lie low more than three days after a car crash that has caused a media storm.In a statement on his website, Woods said he would miss the Chevron World Challenge that opens tomorrow in suburban Los Angeles due to injuries suffered in the one-car accident early Friday morning near his Florida home.

Authorities discovered Woods dazed and on the ground, fading in and out of consciousness, and took him to a nearby hospital with facial cuts and bruises.

The Golf Channel, citing unnamed sources, reported that doctors had advised Woods not to travel due to headaches and soreness.

Woods, 33, was not specific about his injuries in his latest statement.

“I am extremely disappointed that I will not be at my tournament this week,” Woods said. “I am certain it will be an outstanding event and I’m very sorry that I can’t be there.”

Woods also called off a press conference scheduled for yesterday at the tournament, ending hopes he might use it to offer more details about the crash and seek to end a flurry of media speculation.

The 14-time major winner, four shy of the all-time record set by Jack Nicklaus, has refused to speak with police regarding the accident.

Police charges remain possible from what Woods called an “embarrassing” crash that resulted in his vehicle smashing into a fire hydrant and a tree and sustaining major damage.

Woods praised his wife Elin in a Sunday statement, saying she “acted courageously when she saw I was hurt and in trouble” and “was the first person to help me.”

But in the absence of more details, speculation has swirled about the accident, the most notable of what Woods has called “unfounded and malicious rumours” involving him fleeing in the vehicle from an attack by his wife.

The incident comes as gossip reports claim Woods was having an affair with a New York showclub hostess who was in Australia at the same time as Woods was competing there this month.

Speculation includes a scenario where Woods’ wife, a Swedish model, confronted him and chased him with a golf club and smashed in the rear windows of the vehicle as Woods tried to flee, causing him to lose control.

Woods has denied that his wife was anything other than helpful, saying in his Sunday statement that “any other assertion is absolutely false.”

Website TMZ, which follows celebrity news, reported that the Florida Highway Patrol was seeking a warrant to access Woods’ medical records from the accident to check that they were sustained in a crash.

Police would need evidence of probable cause to obtain such permission to examine his records, something unlikely to be obtained without cooperation from Woods or his wife. A police statement said only that no official comments about the probe have been made by authorities and the investigation continues.

Woods is not obliged to speak with police, who said that an attorney representing Woods provided the golf star’s driver license information, proof of insurance and vehicle registration as required under Florida law.

Woods 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.

The 18-man Challenge field includes South Korean Yang Yong-Eun, who defeated Woods in a head-to-head battle to win this year’s PGA Championship, becoming the first Asian man to win a major title by denying Woods a 15th major crown.

“We support Tiger’s decision and are confident the strong field and excellent course will provide an exciting week of competition,” said Greg McLaughlin, president and chief executive of Tiger Woods Foundation.

Woods also missed the 2008 tournament while recovering from knee surgery. Woods received support from sponsors Nike and Gatorade on Monday, but some advised him to be more forthcoming about the incident.

“He is not going to get out of this scandal until he has something to say,” Amanda Alvaro of Toronto public relations firm Narrative Advocacy Media told CTV.

“He needs to tell the story clearly, and he needs to tell it again and again… All of that credibility he had built up is falling away.” — AFP

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