Twitter: GeoffShac
  • The 1997 Masters: My Story
    The 1997 Masters: My Story
    by Tiger Woods
  • The First Major: The Inside Story of the 2016 Ryder Cup
    The First Major: The Inside Story of the 2016 Ryder Cup
    by John Feinstein
  • Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    by Kevin Cook
  • Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    by Jim Moriarty
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    by Dan Jenkins
  • The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    by Richard Gillis
  • The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event – A Complete History
    The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event – A Complete History
    by Martin Davis
  • Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf
    Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf
    by Kevin Robbins
  • Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Art of Golf Design
    The Art of Golf Design
    by Michael Miller, Geoff Shackelford
  • The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Lines of Charm: Brilliant and Irreverent Quotes, Notes, and Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
    Lines of Charm: Brilliant and Irreverent Quotes, Notes, and Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
    Sports Media Group
  • Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Golden Age of Golf Design
    The Golden Age of Golf Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
    Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
    Sleeping Bear Press
  • The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    by Geoff Shackelford

Whenever there is a carry offered, two things are essential. First there must be a way around for those who are unwilling to accept the risk, and there must be a definite reward awaiting the man who takes the chance successfully. Without the alternative route, the situation is unfair; without reward, it is meaningless.
BOBBY JONES

  

Monday
Nov302009

A Few More Woods Accident Stories-Monday Morning

FoxNews.com is refutting TMZ's claim of a warrant search for medical records with a quote from the Florida Highway Patrol's Chief of Affairs.

"We don't need a warrant to get records, that is incorrect," said Florida Highway Patrol Chief of Public Affairs Capt. Mark Welch.

However TMZ now reports that the warrant may be in a quest to obtain surveillance video footage or as they are now reporting, a continued quest for medical records after a morning visit to the hospital.

And SportsByBrooks notes that TMZ mistakenly claimed that Elin's latest story of driving out in a golf cart could not be possible since no cart was visible in crash scene photos, when in fact there was one visible.

Erin Geiger Smith contemplates the possible charges police could be investigating, narrowing it down to DUI, Filing a False Police Report or Domestic Violence.

Meanwhile Woods was criticized on most morning news shows for his Sunday statement and more writers are chiming in that he's taking the wrong approach to this.

Crisis manager Kevin Sullivan at Yahoo:

1. Don't delay. Hold your scheduled press conference Tuesday to kick off the Chevron World Challenge, which, since it benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation among other charities, makes it the perfect backdrop. Without going into every private detail, provide a sense of what led to the collision. Give an explanation, take a couple questions, and then move on to previewing the tournament and how it will benefit the work of your foundation.

2. If you have something to own up to, do it completely and you will be forgiven. Just ask Kobe Bryant.

3. If not, disarm the skeptics with your sense of humor. Gary Peterson of the Contra Costa Times had a suggestion: Say you were excited about a Black Friday sale and got carried away. Then give a sincere explanation.

George Vecsey in the New York Times:

This is a man who has never had the yips in public. But we are now witnessing his hooking and slicing his image straight into the rough, into the trees, into the drink.

 

Phil Mushnick in the New York Post:

It comes as thin surprise that Woods and Team Woods have been less than cooperative with authorities in the three days following his 2:25 a.m. domestic car wreck/whatever the heck happened. From the time he was 15, he was taught to beat the rules.

As a kid, identified as a can’t-miss pro, his father and the monolithic rep firm IMG teamed to circumvent USGA rules by funding Woods’ amateur career. IMG hired Earl Woods as a “talent scout” — with the tacit, Rumpelstiltskin-like agreement to deliver Tiger the instant he turned pro. Done and done.

U.S. PGA Tour rules disallow appearance fees. Team Woods beat that, too. It made multi-million dollar endorsement deals with several PGA tournament title sponsors, Buick, among them, thus, although Woods skipped many Tour events, his participation in his sponsors’ events was guaranteed.

Rex Hoggard finds one attorney who says Tiger is doing the right thing by staying silent.

As a rule, Samuel Kohrs, an Orlando-area criminal defense attorney, tells his clients to never give law enforcement officials a statement.

“People think they can talk their way out of things and they can’t,” Kohrs told GolfChannel.com on Sunday. “If they are going to arrest or charge you it will not matter what you say. If they aren’t going to arrest you nothing good can happen from (giving a statement).”

Kohrs has seen all of this before, sort of. Much of the way this has been handled by FHP is standard except for the repeated trips by officers out to Isleworth, the tony gated community where Woods lives.

“I’ve never had a client who said they didn’t want to talk and (officers) kept coming back,” Kohrs said. “It’s kind of weird.”

And legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin was interviewed by his network, CNN:

Toobin: Woods may not talk to them because there is possibly something unpleasant and embarrassing that he doesn't want to share with them, and he has that right. Based on what is publicly known, Woods has a public relations problem much more than a legal problem. He's arguably the most famous athlete in the world, and his team's overall strategy is a gamble that his general statement of responsibility won't be overtaken by events or other disclosures.

Sunday
Nov292009

Woods Accident Clippings, Vol. 3**

Today's LA Times Special Section Front Page (click to enlarge)This should be the final Woods accident clippings edition but after reading various accounts, it appears the decision to avoid the police Sunday, hire a criminal defense attorney and offer an incomplete statement is only raising more questions both in the press and law enforcement circles.

TMZ.com is reporting that the Florida Highway Patrol apparently is focused on obtaining a search warrant to seize medical records from the hospital to determine if wounds Tiger sustained are consistent with a car accident or domestic violence. They also are getting conflicting stories:

One big piece of evidence showing probable cause ... sources tell us Tiger's wife, Elin Nordegren told FHP troopers she went looking for Tiger in a golf cart, came upon the accident and then used a golf club to break the window to gain entry. That's a very different story from what she first told Windemere cops shortly after the accident -- she never mentioned a golf cart. Nordegren told Windemere police she had walked out of her house, saw the crash, went back inside to get a golf club and returned to the vehicle.

Also startling from a media perspective was this series of questions posed by AP's Fred Goodall in the main wire story, most definitely not column setting:

Even with his first public comments on the 2:25 a.m. Friday accident, Woods left several questions.

— Where he was going at that time of the night?

— How did he lose control of his SUV at such a speed that the air bags didn’t deploy?

— Why were both rear windows of the Cadillac Escalade smashed?

— If it was a careless mistake, why not speak to state troopers trying to wrap the investigation?

golf.com's Michael Bamberger talks to several lawyers and concludes:

Tiger Woods's post-accident strategy, legal and otherwise, is now becoming clear: say as little as possible. And do whatever he can to make sure his wife, Elin Nordegren Woods, does the same.

And he shared this from attorney Bill Wallshein:

"The public is expecting the state to do a thorough job here," Wallshein said. "Woods is in a Catch-22." Had he answered investigators questions, Woods would have given information that he regards as private to, in essence, the public. He also would have opened himself to possible perjury charges had he made untruthful statements. But by not answering investigators questions, he risks increasing their desire to dig deeper. The bottom line, though, is that there are no serious injuries and only minor physical damage. The legal upshot will likely be nothing more than a traffic ticket.

No one nailed it better than Steve Elling in a must read column explaining why Tiger needs to confront this publicly, do it now and move on.

With every passing hour that he remains holed up and mostly unresponsive, public sentiment is turning against Tiger Woods, a guy with a Teflon image, a Q-rating that's off the charts and a public persona that has made him a role model to millions of impressionable fans.

The tide of sentiment is growing into a tsunami, even among the striped one's faithful.

It has come to this: Woods is being excoriated by visitors to his own website, where his evasiveness and stonewalling regarding the details surrounding his mysterious late-night car crash and alleged extra-marital relationship have turned the site into a free-fire zone

After sharing some of the more interesting site posts, Elling notes this about the Team Tiger support and response:

Woods employs an armada of managers, spokespersons and website writers -- more than any other sports figure I can think of. Off the top of my head, between his charitable foundation, personal spokesman, his IMG management and such, I can think of a half-dozen different founts of potential information at his disposal. Either they aren't giving him the counsel he seemingly needs, he's not listening, or he's getting bad advice and choosing to follow it.

And he makes several killer points to wrap it up, but none more powerful than this:

There are a trillion examples in sports where honesty, or at least some degree of full disclosure, has bought a prominent athlete some currency with the public. That path eventually led to forgiveness. Even for the likes of Kobe Bryant. Andy Pettitte came clean on the steroid front and survived just fine. They all faced the music, but Tiger is turning a deaf ear.

That said, Elling then points out in a blog post why it's unlikely we'll see Tiger this week at Sherwood.

Lawrence Donegan of The Guardian offers this about a possible appearance this week:

Whether or not he will be able to hold back the tide of speculation that has engulfed his carefully nurtured reputation over the last three days remains to be seen. He is due to make his first public appearance since the accident at a press conference on Tuesday in southern California, at his annual golf tournament, the Chevron World Challenge, at Sherwood country club.

In normal circumstances, his meeting with the media would concentrate on the event – it raises funds for his charitable foundation – and the state of his golf game but, assuming Woods does not withdraw because of his injuries, it now threatens to rival Michael Jackson's funeral as one of the most watched cable news events of the year.

James Corrigan on the email from tournament organizers still don't know Tiger's status for this week:

Organisers of the Chevron World Challenger admitted yesterday they were still in the dark as to whether Tiger Woods would be playing in California this week. And seeing as the world No 1 is the host of the event this was an unprecedented situation.

But then, the game of golf never has known anything like the furore created by The Great Tiger Car Crash Mystery.

Frank Nobilo at Golf Channel also weighed in with some interesting thoughts on what this will mean for Tiger on the course (not much), of course (a lot) and this week (not sure).

Besides Tiger's statement (check out Deadspin's take on it) and the release of the 911 call Sunday and new images of the Escalade, the Florida Highway Patrol released a less-than-cheery-sounding statement.

But in keeping with the say-nothing theme, agent Mark Steinberg reiterated to CNBC's Darren Rovell that his client doesn't have to say anything and won't:

"We have been informed by the Florida Highway Patrol that further discussion with them is both voluntary and optional," Mark Steinberg, senior vice president and global managing director of golf for IMG, told CNBC.

"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."

And I know you were worried, but Tiger has Nike's full support:

"Tiger and his family have Nike's full support," the statement said.  "We respect Tiger's request for privacy and our thoughts are with Tiger and his family at this time."

Randell Mell tells us more on Tiger's attorney, Mark NeJame:

NeJame, whose name didn't emerge in the investigation until Sunday, appears to be more than a criminal defense attorney. He has proven an effective spokesman for clients under intense media scrutiny.

NeJame was described as “media savvy” by Orlando Weekly Magazine when it first ranked him among the 50 most powerful people in Orlando a few years back. When Orlando Magazine put him in its 50 Most Powerful People listing in 2005, it touted him as having a client list “that includes public officials who find themselves in hot water.”

This past year, NeJame represented Jonathan Speegle, who was accused of pushing his girlfriend, Nichole Hammond, to her death over a balcony at the Orlando World Center Marriott Resort on New Year’s Eve. All charges were dropped. NeJame once represented Cindy and George Anthony, the parents of Casey Anthony, who was charged with first-degree murder in the death of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee

John Hopkins of The Times contemplates Tiger's recent on-course issues and drops this tidbit:

Now, though, Woods is in the Age of Mystery and Scrutiny. The mystery surrounds his marriage, which is rumoured to have been in trouble for some months. There have been stories of confrontations when Elin has tackled her husband.

As for Rachel Uchitel, it was just your basic low profile arrival at LAX. Based on the National Enquirer's first response to her denials, attorney Gloria Allred, hired by Uchitel, is going to have her work cut out for here.

Finally, beyond the emotional and physical bruises this has inflicted on Tiger, The Times' Simon Barnes gets to the heart of why this is so intriguing to the public and why the incident is both revealing and potentially deadly to Woods' earning power:

But for a dozen years Woods has presented himself to the world, and been represented by just about everyone he has come into contact with, as someone from another order of being. He and those around him have conspired to hide his humanity.

Why should anyone do such a thing? Because there’s money in it, obviously.

Whatever you do, whatever you think, whatever you say, never, never, never rock the corporate boat.

That is what Woods has made himself: an expression of the central importance in life of the corporate dollar. So he has made his millions and the companies around him have made their billions — and it has all come about by presenting the world an illusion. A pseudo-Tiger, a false vision of a perfect being, so perfect that scarcely an atom of his real personality — any personality — is discernible.

Sunday
Nov292009

"Until Sunday, the only World Cup that Italy was accustomed to winning was on the soccer pitch."

A shame the World Cup didnt' get much attention but Sean Martin does offer this post on the Molinari brothers and their impressive win.

And my head is still spinning from Nick Watney and John Merrick's final-round,10-under-par ALTERNATE SHOT 62 to finish at -20-under and tie for seventh. Needless to say that was a tournament record for the grueling final round format.

Sunday
Nov292009

"Wind is the course's great defence."

Hey, they're playing golf this week on a breathtaking course...in Australia. (Sorry Sherwood.)

John Coomber reminds us of key holes at New South Wales and Ran Morrissett offers this excellent photo tour and design critique.

Sunday
Nov292009

Tiger: "This situation is my fault, and it's obviously embarrassing to my family and me."

Strongly worded statement. Doesn't address whether he'll play at Sherwood next week or why he is passing again on the Florida Highway Patrol interviews.


As you all know, I had a single-car accident earlier this week, and sustained some injuries. I have some cuts, bruising and right now I'm pretty sore.

This situation is my fault, and it's obviously embarrassing to my family and me. I'm human and I'm not perfect. I will certainly make sure this doesn't happen again.

This is a private matter and I want to keep it that way. Although I understand there is curiosity, the many false, unfounded and malicious rumors that are currently circulating about my family and me are irresponsible.

The only person responsible for the accident is me. 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.

This incident has been stressful and very difficult for Elin, our family and me. 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.


This AP story suggests that Tiger has hired criminal defense attorney Mark NeJame and that no other meeting has been scheduled. Here's Nejame's bio.

Sunday
Nov292009

Listen To The Tiger Woods 9-1-1 Tape

Very confusing as you can imagine when there's a shocking accident and at that hour. As always the operators are impressively calm and professional. Is there a part about midway through where we hear Tiger's mom, Kultida saying "What happened?" (I hope not for her sake, because no mother should have to go through that kind of scare.)

Here it is for download.

TMZ.com offers it here.

golf.com posts it here.

Saturday
Nov282009

Woods Accident Clippings, Vol. 2

Corey Dade and Reed Albergotti of the Wall Street Journal share new details about the 911 call:

Friday at 2:28 a.m., a neighbor of the Woodses was awakened by the sound of the crash and called 911, according to Jim Solomons, a spokesman for the Orange County sheriff's office. Mr. Solomons said the man, whose name hasn't been released, walked out of his home and saw Mr. Woods on the ground and visibly injured.

Mr. Solomons said the recording of the 911 call reveals that the neighbor "wanted help" and told the 911 operator that "there's a man on the ground."

A transcript of the 911 recording shows that the caller said Mr. Woods appeared to be unconscious but breathing as he lay beside his black Cadillac Escalade. Police arrived at 2:33 a.m.

Fred Goodall offers a few tidbits about the investigation including plans for investigators to return Sunday after being turned away again Saturday, and also the revelation that Woods is not required to speak to those investigators if he so chooses. AP also tracked down Elin's relatives:

In a telephone interview, Woods' father-in-law, radio journalist Thomas Nordegren, told The Associated Press in Stockholm that he would not discuss the accident.

"I haven't spoken to her in the last few ... " Nordegren said about his daughter, Elin, before cutting himself off. "I don't want to go into that."

Susan Jacobson of the Orlando Sentinel shares this new information about the car and which windows were broken by Elin with help from a golf club:

The 2009 Cadillac Escalade sustained $5,000 to $8,000 in damage to the front right and left, troopers said. The left and right rear side passenger windows were also broken out, but the FHP hasn't determined how that happened, Montes said.

TMZ.com continues to assert their theory from sources that "Tiger told a friend that his wife went ballistic at around 2:00 AM yesterday and scratched his face up -- all because of reports he allegedly had cheated on her. He left the house, started driving away and she attacked the SUV with a golf club," which led him to get distracted and hit the hydrant. They also note these reasons for the Florida Highway Patrol's continued interest:

If Tiger and his wife acknowledge she scratched him up, she could be arrested for domestic abuse. And, as we first reported, Tiger told his friend he had been taking prescription painkillers and that was why he seemed out of it after the crash. Although we're told there was no alcohol involved (and that seems to be the case), driving under the influence of painkillers could be a problem, if it's provable.

By the way ... one of the things the Highway Patrol wants to see is the marks on Tiger's face, and whether they are consistent with scratch marks or impact on a car. As we reported, there was no blood on the steering wheel, making the accident scenario suspicious. But if the marks indicate a human touch and they last for a few days, we're guessing Tiger will not show up at his golf tourney on Thursday.

TMZ also claims to have a source calling themselves a friend of Tiger--soon to be former friend--who recounts a Friday conversation in which says Elin had "gone ghetto" on him and that he had to run to Zales to buy a "Kobe special." (The story includes an explanation for those of you like me deficient in hipster speak.)

On the column side, the approaches vary but the theme is pretty simple: this is not Tiger's finest hour but with some shrewd PR management, he can put this episode behind him pretty quickly.

Art Spander writes:

When Tiger Woods was rolling along a few years ago, winning majors, winning minors, winning everything, the great Dan Jenkins predicted lightheartedly nothing could stop Tiger except an injury or a bad marriage.

No one is laughing any longer.

Jay Busbee at Yahoo writes:

It's not often that Tiger Woods gets outplayed. But it's happening right now.

In the hours since his early-Friday-morning accident, facts, innuendo and supposition have combined to put a minor one-car bump in a cloistered Florida subdivision onto front pages worldwide. Why? Because this story presses all the necessary buttons: celebrity, sex and violence. And if it's left to grow on its own, it's going to get much worse before it gets any better.

Jason Sobel at ESPN.com believes its time for Tiger to speak:

On this occasion, however, playing it close to the vest should only prove to be a disadvantage. He will not own an intimidation factor over his peers by clouding the facts; he will not garner any more lucrative sponsorship deals by remaining surreptitiously coy.

Instead, for perhaps the first time in his professional career, Tiger Woods needs to come clean.

Michael Bamberger believes if history is an indication, Woods won't be fessing up to anything soon.

He's never made any claims to sainthood. He never claimed to know God better than you or me, never claimed abstinence from adult spirits, never claimed to be leading a perfect life. Now we know he's not.

James Corrigan wonders about next week's tournament at Sherwood and writes:

What is certain is that if Woods does enter that media room, the awaiting throng will be bigger than for most majors. The galleries lining the fairways would likely swell just as much. In that sense, Woods would have done one hell of a job as the tournament promoter. Even for this spotlight-hogger, the focus would be unprecedented.

Bill Elliott of the Guardian reviews Tiger's various bouts with the media and feels like he finally has an explanation for Tiger's recent on-course attitude:

There is, however, another fact to be inserted and it is this: in 2009 Woods, returning after several months off, recuperating from a major knee operation, has been a strange amalgam of surliness and discontent. Often in the past he has appeared sulky when events have not bent to his will on this course or that; on occasion he has been ill-tempered; but this year there has been something else and it has been hard to pin it down.

And notes this about his relationship with the media:

Of course, the more he tries to manipulate the agenda while his advisers suppress much that would be innocently interesting about such a high-profile personality, the more the media seize on titbits and gossip and often get it wrong. So we are now in a vicious circle and one that can only end in tears. Whether this is that time is unclear. It just might be. Whatever happens, Woods knows that he has unprecedented power as a sportsman.

David Walsh in the Times chalks much of the negative press to this point on lousy IMG crisis management:

Even Woods’s polished agent, Mark Steinberg, and the finest minds at the IMG management company will have their work cut out to spin this story in a way that enhances the reputation of their most famous client. IMG has played no small part in presenting the hugely talented Woods as a man in control of his world.

Randell Mell sums up the view of many on Saturday's decision to punt:

Woods may have an innocent explanation about what happened, but his declining to meet with Florida Highway Patrol officers for a second consecutive day on Saturday only fuels speculation that does Woods no service.

This is Woods’ nightmare.

No matter how innocent his explanation as to what happened early Friday morning may be, he’s enduring a media onslaught the likes of which he’s never seen. In fact, it rivals anything golf has ever seen.

Larry Dorman and Liz Robbins of the New York Times talk to crisis management experts and not surprisingly, they aren't impressed with the Team Tiger/IMG response so far.

Woods may have an innocent explanation about what happened, but his declining to meet with Florida Highway Patrol officers for a second consecutive day on Saturday only fuels speculation that does Woods no service.

And on a lighter note, The Times ends their main story (titled "Crouching Tiger, hidden hydrant") with the various jokes floating around the web:

Perhaps Tiger should have used a driver

That’s the first time Tiger Woods has failed to drive 300 yards

Tiger Woods drives into a water hazard

After a wayward drive, Tiger Woods found water before nestling behind a tree.

Tiger Woods crashed into a fire hydrant and a tree ... he couldn’t decide between a wood and an iron.

I find it’s a nightmare driving at 2.05am: sometimes you can’t see the Woods for the trees.

Tiger Woods has been dropped by Gillette after admitting that his crash was the closest shave he had ever had

U tell yr wife everything? My wife thinks I’m at the office. I tell her I’m playing golf when I’m with another woman

Apparently, the only person who can beat Tiger Woods with a golf club is Elin.

Tiger’s wife went for him over a birdie.

What was the second worst part of Tiger’s car accident? The police found the driver in the trunk.

Tiger Woods owns several cars; it’s a shame that he got a hole in one

Here's ESPN's latest report filed by Tom Rinaldi:

Saturday
Nov282009

Big Names Weigh In On Woods Accident

Okay, maybe that was a bit of a stretch when we're talking Lee Janzen and Inga Hammond, but before we hear from those two giants of pop culture, credit Steve Elling for tracking down Tiger's neighbors/friends John Cook and Charles Howell.

Cook said he was across the street from Woods’ house on Saturday morning, hitting balls on the driving range, when Woods’ housekeeper was spotted walking the family’s pet dogs.

“I talked to her for a moment and all she was that he was OK,” Cook said.

Other than that, details have been nil. Cook said he spoke with the director of Woods’ charity and got precious little enlightenment, either. Cook’s phone call to Woods wasn’t returned, he said.

“I have no more of a clue what happened than anybody else,” Cook said. “I think his phone probably blew up.”

Hal Boedeker at the Orlando Sentinel managed to get Inga Hammond on the phone and the Golf Channel anchor clearly is thinking about the next time she has to face Woods.

"Everyone needs to give Tiger Woods the benefit of the doubt in this situation," Hammond said. "He's not one of those athletes who has been in trouble before either with the law or his sport. He's really been a model citizen."

And this is line of the weekend so far:

WFTV talked to golfer Chris DiMarco about what had happened to Woods. "Everybody thinks about what would get them out of their house at 2:30 in the morning," DiMarco said. "Obviously, 2:30 in the morning, nothing good is going to happen anyway. So I can only speculate. I don't think I've ever left my driveway at 2:30 in the morning. Even if it's a fight or whatever, there's a couch."

And saving the best for last, Lee Janzen talked to the Orlando Sentinel's Jeremy Fowler and offered his profoundest insights:

*On what Tiger might have been doing in his car so late:
"There's some speculation (around the club) that since he doesn't always sleep well, he might have been going to workout. Sometimes he gets up really early to workout in the clubhouse. It's hard to tell at this point. He's not the type to go out late and be irresponsible or anything like that."

And my favorite:

On Tiger's as a person dealing with the wreck:

"He's an overcomer. He's played with practically a broken leg before, so he'll get through this."

An overcomer?

Saturday
Nov282009

"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..."

File this one under Facebook-postings-we'd-like-to-take back.

A reader noted the above entry on Tiger's Facebook page, which was in response to a reader email question posted back on October 14th. The entry was also featured on his website.

Saturday
Nov282009

"The Florida Highway Patrol has received information that Tiger Woods and his wife were not available to be interviewed by state troopers, as we had previously scheduled."

A news release from the Florida Highway Patrol. They don't sound pleased:

The Florida Highway Patrol has received information that Tiger Woods and his wife were not available to be interviewed by state troopers, as we had previously scheduled.  This announcement came from his agent.  Troopers were asked to return tomorrow (November 29th).   This is still an ongoing crash investigation.  The 9-1-1 tapes provided to FHP investigators from the Orange County Sheriff’s office have not been reviewed by the investigating trooper.  Once that has been done and we determine whether or not it is pertinent to our case, I will advise you when those will be released.  (They will be sent via email when they are released).  Please remember there is no specific timeline on when that will occur.  The Florida Highway Patrol is the sole agency investigating this traffic crash. The Florida Highway Patrol will not address any other statements that have been circulating throughout this incident, unless those statements were made specifically by this agency.  Currently, there is no other information to be released.  At this time, there is no press conference scheduled.  I will send out all future updates via email.  Thank you for your patience, I have received numerous inquires.  If there is a media outlet that would like to be added to the list, please send me an email.
 
Sgt. Kim Montes
Public Affairs Officer
Florida Highway Patrol

It should also be noted that in the emailed release, the sentence "This is still an ongoing crash investigation" was in bold.

Saturday
Nov282009

Police To Release Woods Accident 911 Tape Sunday

According to the latest wire report, it sounds as if the Florida Highway Patrol wants to wash their hands of this ASAP:

Authorities say they won't speculate on what happened before Tiger Woods crashed his luxury SUV, and they expect to release 911 tapes from the accident Sunday.

Florida Highway Patrol spokeswoman Sgt. Kim Montes said Saturday that investigators are only looking into the incident as a traffic crash. She says investigators are "trying not to get on the rumor mill."

Here's an ESPN/Tom Rinaldi report from this morning that includes clips from the Windermere Police Chief talking about what his officers saw:

Saturday
Nov282009

So Much For Tiger's Escalade...

I thought these things were Sherman tanks?

These images from Orlando's WFTV Channel 9 tell us one thing: do not mess with a tree.

Saturday
Nov282009

"Plenty left to explain"

Steve Elling follows up with a blog post clarifying the dilemma facing the Florida Highway Patrol and the Woods clan today when they meet around 3 p.m. EST to discuss yesterday's accident.

This was of note...

And FHP was late to the accident site. That meant the Windermere officers were the lone police authorities to see Woods at the scene. Saylor's officers told him there were no signs he was drinking based on, “first indications of his breath, and talking to him and the way he was acting."

Not that the conversations were lengthy, since Woods was bleeding from the mouth. “He was conscious enough to be able to speak a little bit," Saylor said.



Asked what Woods said, Saylor added: "Nothing. He was mumbling, that was it.”

Saylor and Montes explained the jurisdictional overlap. Windermere police responded even though it was out of their jurisdiction because of a mutual-aid agreement with the Orange County Sheriffs Department. The sheriff’s department doesn’t handle minor traffic accidents, and handed off to FHP, Montes said. By the time FHP arrived, Woods was gone.

The FHP dropped by Woods’ house later on Friday for a follow-up talk about the incident, but his wife Elin said he was sleeping. As a courtesy, they agreed to return Saturday.

Friday
Nov272009

Woods Accident Clippings, Vol. 1

Henry Pierson Curtis and Willoughby Mariano of the Orlando Sentinel expanded on their earlier reporting and write:

Tiger Woods' wife used a golf club to smash a window of his Cadillac Escalade and get her injured husband out of the SUV after he crashed into a fire hydrant and tree early Friday morning outside his Isleworth mansion, Windermere Mayor Gary Bruhn said.

In addition, a call report compiled by the Orange County Sheriff's Office and obtained by the Orlando Sentinel indicated Woods was unconscious but breathing when officers arrived on the scene. Woods was unconscious for about six minutes.

Yet there was this from Doug Ferguson's initial story:

Woods spokesman Glenn Greenspan said the golfer was treated at Health Central Hospital and released in good condition. The accident report classified Woods' injuries as serious, but patrol spokeswoman Kim Montes said troopers consider the injuries serious if they require more than minor medical attention.

Out here in kick-back California when an accident victim reportedly loses consciousness from any hint of a head injury, they're required to undergo intensive medical evaluation for a significant period of time. Is it different in Florida?

Ferguson later followed up with a more detailed story:

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.

A quartet of reporters for the Wall Street Journal--accompanied by a graphic showing the accident route--sounded a bit skeptical of the Elin-grabs-185-pound-man-from-wreckage tale:

"She said, 'I had to take a golf club and break the window to get him out,'" the police chief said. He said a window was broken at the rear of the SUV, but that he couldn't explain exactly how she managed to remove Mr. Woods, who was taken to a local hospital.

They are even more skeptical at Deadspin:

That's why she smashed the back window of the SUV — the gallons of water violently gushing into the vehicle could have killed him instantly had she gone through the front windshield or tried to, you know, get Tiger to unlock the driver's side door. She needed to climb through the back, grab her 200lb. husband by the collar and drag him to safety. Time was of the essence.

A GolfDigest.com staff report also raises this point:

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.

Saylor said his responding officers did not hear anything about an alleged argument between Woods and his wife.

"Right now we believe this is a traffic crash. We don't believe it is domestic issue," patrol spokesman Sgt. Kim Montes said.

TMZ says the description of the events is fiction and that the Woods wounds were caused by a domestic dispute, with the whole Mutual of Omaha ad tale featuring Elin rescuing a semi-conscious Tiger a total fabrication:

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.

We're told Woods became "distracted," thought the vehicle was stopped, and looked to see what had happened. At that point the SUV hit the fire hydrant and then hit a tree.

We're also told Woods had said during the conversation Friday he had been taking prescription pain medication for an injury, which could explain why he seemed somewhat out of it at the scene.

The Sentinel report notes that the Woods' have not spoken to accident investigators from the Florida Highway Patrol yet:

FHP troopers arrived at the Woods' home early Friday evening to talk to the golfer, FHP spokeswoman Kim Montes said. Woods wife told them Woods was resting and asked them to return Saturday morning. They agreed.

"People's health comes first," Montes said, noting that it is routine to agree to return to conduct an interview.

The sheriff's office would not identify who dialed 911, and emergency audio tapes were not available on Friday.

No matter what happened, it appears Tiger is going to be okay and the frightening early reports were incorrect. As expected, several journalists noted that the timing of the accident was either cruelly coincidental or linked to tabloid reports. Lawrence Donegan in The Guardian:

The accident involving the famously private man – he named his yacht "Privacy" – came on the day that allegations about his private life were published by the supermarket tabloid, the National Enquirer. Nordegren is a former model from Sweden and the couple have two children, Sam, aged five, and Charlie, aged two. He is due to travel to California next week to host his own event, the Chevron World Challenge. That now seems unlikely.

Steve Elling for CBSSports.com:

In a 24-hour span that landed Woods on the front of the gossip and metro sections for all the wrong reasons, he was accused of cheating on his wife in a front-page tabloid headline, then crashed his car into a tree a few yards from his Isleworth mansion early Friday morning at 2:25 a.m.

If that's what Thanksgiving is like, give him 364 days of playing alongside Phil Mickelson anytime.

Mark Reason reviews the last few months of Tiger's life and asks:

What's eating Tiger Woods? For the past few months he has been flouncing around tournaments like a spoiled child. Now he has left his house in the early hours of the morning and had a stand up row with a fire hydrant and a tree. We knew Tiger's driving was wayward these days, but he usually manages to at least stay on the property.

There are now bound to be questions about Tiger's private life. Tiger's entourage has maintained a stiff upper lip, but if all is well at home, where was Woods off to in the early hours of Friday morning? That's the question that Tiger will now have to answer.

And Bob Harig for ESPN.com:

A lot of questions remain unanswered right now, some that certainly raise eyebrows given the time of day of the accident, the varying reports of damage to Woods' car, the report his wife, Elin, had to smash a window to get him out of a car in which the airbags did not deploy.

So far, in a pro career that dates to 1996, the only hint of scandal involving Woods usually has centered around his propensity to use profanity on the golf course.

Whether or not this turns into anything more is unclear, but the entire scenario is but another example of what a big deal Woods is in the game, and how much it is altered if he is not around.

And as for the woman at the center accusations of having an affair with Woods, The New York Daily News communicated with her via Facebook and they write:

Uchitel, a former party planner who has worked as a VIP hostess at swanky nightspots, denied it in a message sent to The News from her Facebook account.

"There is NO relationship with tiger these girls quoted in the story are not being truthful," she wrote.
"I resent my name being slung thru the mud."

The Enquirer story - and a similar story in Star - quoted a woman named Ashley Samson and said she was friends with Uchitel and passed a polygraph.

"I did not say those things to those 'sources' and im not friends with ashley simpson or whatever her name is," Uchitel insisted.

Waggle Room's Ryan Ballengee also talked to Rachel Uchitel, who denied the National Enquirer story:

Uchitel and I spoke on the phone on Friday evening to get her side of the story concerning the Enquirer article despite "not [being] supposed to talk much about this yet."

Uchitel vehemently and patently denied the allegations made in the Enquirer piece.  In fact, Uchitel told Waggle Room that she spoke to the Enquirer for the piece - and her quotes were not published.

"My quotes were not even run [by the Enquirer]," Uchitel said.  "Their story was not even close to the conversation that we had."

The New York City native is the Director of VIP services for Pink Elephant, a company that specializes in the nightclub scene in the Big Apple.  Uchitel told me that the story runs contradictory to what her job entails.

"As part of my job, I have to keep many secrets about celebrities, so for [the Enquirer to report] me as going around telling people about something like this doesn't make sense."  Uchitel added, "I'm not that big of an idiot."

Uchitel also talked to two more publications to deny the accusations and it was the New York Post who reminds us that it was Uchitel who so tragically is remembered for photographs on 9/11 in search of her missing fiance.

Friday
Nov272009

Tiger Story: Okay, This Is Spiraling...

...CNN reporting that the Windermere Police Chief is claiming that Tiger was "in and out of consciousness" yet they released him immediately and in good health?

The chief is also claiming that Elin broke the back window of the SUV to help pry him from the car even though the Orlando Sentinel reports there was hardly any visible damage to the car?

 

Friday
Nov272009

Tiger Accident Reporting: Who Goofed, I've Got To Know!

Okay here's what we know: 

Tiger has a minor accident at 2:25 a.m. EST and is transported to the hospital soon thereafter.

AP sends out a breaking news alert via text noting serious injuries and charges pending around 2:30 p.m. EST, a full 12 hours after the accident.

Here's the headline on their first story and text:

Tiger Woods injured in car accident outside his Fla. home; highway patrol says charges pending

And the story itself:

Turns out, the report is seriously flawed and Tiger has a cut or cuts, no bruises and was released shortly after treatment.

GolfDigest.com noted the time elapse between accident and news:

The accident happened at 2:25 a.m., though the FHP did not release the accident report until nearly 12 hours later.

Unfortunately, the first and more serious report goes out on wires, text messages and is even scene in Times Square, reports a reader.

Now, when I get such an alert from AP I expect it to be a fairly conservative approach to the reporting, particularly that many hours after the accident. They clearly based their story on the accident report and with little on-site reporting and no comment from authorities or Tiger's company.

It would be easy to blame AP for jumping the gun, but here we are at 5:15 EST and only now do we have a posting on his website that was also seen on CNN:

From Health Central Hospital and Tiger's Woods' office:

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.

So was this "scare" and minor story gone awry a product of...

A) jump-the-gun reporting by AP?

B) a slow and unorganized response from Team Tiger?

C) the holiday with top reporters and Team Tiger members simply vacationing and unable to respond more quickly and efficiently?

Either way, a strange series of events. 

Friday
Nov272009

Tiger "Seriously Injured" In Car Accident***

Ugh. Details are sketchy but obviously, we hope he's going to be okay soon.

Thursday
Nov262009

"Does this mean the first Dubai World Championship was also the last? Given the news of Nakheel's financial problems, the only plausible answer is yes."

Hard to disagree with Lawrence Donegan's well-reasoned prediction that all things Dubai-hearts-golf are just about over in light of Nakheel's latest financial status update.


Thursday
Nov262009

“It’s become more of a holding tank for PGA Tour veterans"

Jim McCabe takes a tough look at the Nationwide Tour's eligibility rules and wonders what can be done to give younger players the developmental opportunity that defined the tour's original purpose.

Trouble is, it’s tough to get out there when the eligibility is so stacked against newcomers. For proof, Hambric pointed out that of the 26 categories for “Nationwide Tour” eligibility, nine of them (No. 6, 7, 13, 14, 15, 19, 20, 21, 22) start with the words “PGA Tour.”

No wonder so many see the Nationwide Tour not as a young man’s playground, but a PGA Tour veteran’s second home.

“But everytime the PGA Tour meets to change the rules, it becomes less of a developmental tour,” Hambric said.

And...

In the days following the second-stage heartache, disappointment has worn off and reality has taken hold for talented players such as Stanley, Lovemark, Van Sickle, Woltman, and Chappell. Where do they go from here? The multitude of Nationwide Tour categories are not theirs; they are for the PGA Tour veterans. Instead, they must turn to an assortment of options – the minitours, Monday qualifiers, Canada, sponsor exemptions, even overseas, or maybe a little of everything.

“In essence,” Hambric said, “you’ve got to build your own tour.”

That’s because the one the PGA Tour built for them many years ago is broken.

Thursday
Nov262009

"There was a time when the U.S. seemed unbeatable in the World Cup."

Garry Smits reminds us that it wasn't long ago the U.S. sent its top players to the World Cup, something I thought about while watching round 1 and noticing that most other countries sent high-profile teams (nothing against Nick Watney and John Merrick, fine Americans they are).