Tiger’s early morning crash leaves many questions
ORLANDO, Fla. – Tiger Woods was injured early Friday when he lost control of his SUV outside his Florida mansion, and a local police chief said Woods’ wife used a golf club to smash out the back window to help get him out.
The world’s No. 1 golfer was treated and released from a hospital in good condition, his spokesman said. The Florida Highway Patrol said Woods’ vehicle hit a fire hydrant and a tree in his neighbor’s yard after he pulled out of his driveway at 2:25 a.m.
Windermere police chief Daniel Saylor told The Associated Press that officers found the 33-year-old PGA star lying in the street with his wife, Elin, hovering over him.
“She was frantic, upset,” Saylor said in a briefing Friday night. “It was her husband laying on the ground.”
She told officers she was in the house when she heard the accident and “came out and broke the back window with a golf club,” he said, adding that the front-door windows were not broken and that “the door was probably locked.”
“She supposedly got him out and laid him on the ground,” he said. “He was in and out of consciousness when my guys got there.”
Saylor said Woods had lacerations to his upper and lower lips, and blood in his mouth; officers treated Woods for about 10 minutes until an ambulance arrived. Woods was conscious enough to speak, he said.
“He was mumbling, but didn’t say anything coherent,” Saylor said.
The Florida Highway Patrol said alcohol was not involved, although the accident remains under investigation and charges could be filed.
Woods was alone in his 2009 Cadillac when he pulled out of his driveway from his mansion at Isleworth, a gated waterfront community just outside Orlando, the patrol said.
Woods’ injuries were described as serious in the patrol’s report, though his spokesman, Glenn Greenspan, issued a statement that Woods was treated and released.
Left unanswered was where Woods was going at that hour. Greenspan and agent Mark Steinberg said there would be no comment beyond the short statement of the accident posted on Woods’ Web site.
Asked at an evening news conference if the couple could have been arguing, Saylor said he had no knowledge of that. The couple, married five years, have two children.
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 AP.
“I resent my reputation is getting completely blasted in the media,” she said during a telephone interview late Friday. “Everyone is assuming I came out and said this. This is not a story I have anything to do with.”
Uchitel said she was in Melbourne two weeks ago with clients and never saw Woods the entire time she was there.
A representative of the National Enquirer declined comment.
Patrol spokeswoman Sgt. Kim Montes said the accident was being investigated as a “traffic crash.”
“We don’t believe it is a domestic issue,” she said.
Woods, coming off a two-week trip to China and Australia earlier this month, is host of the Chevron World Challenge in Thousand Oaks, Calif., which starts Thursday. He is scheduled to have his press conference Tuesday afternoon at Sherwood Country Club. Steinberg said he did not know if Woods planned to play next week.
The Florida Highway Patrol said tapes of the 911 call won’t be released until they can be reviewed, probably Monday at the earliest.
The accident report was not released until nearly 12 hours after Woods was injured. Montes said the accident did not meet the criteria of a serious crash, and the FHP only put out a press release because of inquiries from local media.
Montes said the patrol reports injuries as serious if they require more than minor medical attention. Air bags in the SUV did not deploy.
Two troopers tried to talk to Woods on Friday evening, but his wife said he was sleeping and they agreed to come back Saturday, Montes said.
She said charges could be filed if there was a clear traffic violation, although troopers still do not know what caused Woods’ SUV to hit the hydrant and the tree.
Damage to the front of Woods’ SUV was described as “medium” by Saylor.
“Not real extensive, but not real light,” he said.
Woods rarely faces such private scrutiny, even as perhaps the most famous active athlete in the world.
He usually makes news only because of what he can do with a golf club. Few other athletes have managed to keep their private lives so guarded, or have a circle of friends so airtight when it comes to life off the course.
His wife was awarded a $183,250 settlement and an apology from an Irish magazine that published a fake nude photo of her, and Woods received a $1.6 million settlement in a lawsuit against the builder of his yacht – named Privacy – for using his name and photos of the boat as promotional material.
Woods is approaching $100 million in career earnings on the PGA Tour, and Forbes magazine reported that combined with endorsements, appearance fees and golf course design, he has become the first athlete to top $1 billion.
Woods’ $2.4 million home is part of an exclusive subdivision near Orlando, a community set on an Arnold Palmer-designed golf course and a chain of small lakes. The neighborhood, which is fortified with high brick walls and has its own security force, is home to CEOs and other sports stars such as the NBA’s Shaquille O’Neal.
Woods has won 82 times around the world and 14 majors, becoming the first player of black heritage to win a major at the 1997 Masters when he was 21. He attended the Stanford-Cal football game last Saturday, where he tossed the coin at the start of the game and was inducted into Stanford’s sports Hall of Fame at halftime.
He won six times this year after missing eight months recovering from reconstructive surgery on his left knee. Even though he failed to win a major, Woods said he considered this a successful year because he did not know how his knee would respond.
– Associated Press writers Tamara Lush and Lisa Orkin Emmanuel in Miami and AP sports writer Fred Goodall contributed to this report.
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