WINDERMERE, Fla. – Tiger Woods and his wife, Elin, are expected to talk to police for the first time Sunday, breaking a two-day silence that has only fueled speculation about his early morning accident, why he left the house at that hour, where he was going and whether an argument preceded the crash.
Florida Highway Patrol spokeswoman Sgt. Kim Montes said the 911 call – made by a neighbor, not Woods’ wife, Elin – will be released Sunday, and troopers will return to Woods’ house when they report for duty about 3 p.m.
Sgt. Kim Montes, the patrol spokeswoman, said she expected troopers to return to Woods’ house when they report for duty about 3 p.m. She said FHP investigations into minor collisions don’t normally drag on for days, but this isn’t the first time that one has stretched on.
“It’s unusual, but I will say it’s happened before,” Montes said Sunday. “This is not the first time that we’ve gone back to get a statement from a driver. … We try and give the driver every opportunity to tell us their side of the story before we complete our investigation.”
Montes has said Woods is not required to give a statement, only his driver’s license, insurance and registration of the SUV, which was towed to a private yard with damage to the front and both back-seat windows broken.
She declined to speculate what charges or penalties Woods might be facing.
In its initial accident report, the patrol said Woods left his house, ran over a fire hydrant with his Cadillac Escalade and then smashed into a tree at 2:25 a.m. Friday. And Windermere police chief Daniel Saylor said Woods’ wife told officers she heard the crash from inside their home, and used a golf club to break out the back window.
Police first tried to interview Woods on Friday, only for his wife to ask if they could return the next day because he was sleeping.
As they headed to Woods’ $2.4 million house inside the gates of Isleworth on Saturday afternoon, FHP dispatch put through a phone call to troopers from Woods’ agent, informing them that Woods and his wife would be unavailable to talk until Sunday.
“I don’t know what was said,” Montes said Saturday. “I mean, (Friday) we understood, and that’s kind of normal. It is unusual that we haven’t gotten a statement. This just delays us to getting closer to the completion of the investigation.”
Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg, did not respond to a text message asking why Woods was unavailable.
“Every 10 seconds these days, people update their tweets,” said David Schwab, vice president of sports marketing firm Octagon. “People are just adding speculation and controversy. You need something to settle the ship. If he’s not able to do it, find someone to do it for him.”
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.
Woods is to host his Chevron World Challenge this week in Thousand Oaks, Calif., which benefits his foundation. Woods’ news conference had been scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, although it was not clear if he would still play, or even attend.
“We do not know if Tiger is playing; we are anticipating a great week of competition,” said Greg McLaughlin, the tournament director and president of his foundation.
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.”
Woods’ mother-in-law Barbro Holmberg also refused to address the matter.
“She doesn’t want to comment on private issues like these,” Holmberg’s spokeswoman Eva Malmborg said.
Aside from occasional criticism of his temper inside the ropes, Woods has kept himself out of the news beyond his sport. In an October posting on his Facebook account, Woods wrote, “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. …”
“He’s an iconic brand, the platinum standard,” said John Rowady, president of rEvolution, a Chicago-based sports marketing agency. “I find it interesting how he’s being attacked by so many sides after how gracious he’s been. But even the best of celebrities who try to do their best can be riddled with controversy.”