The Tiger Woods saga is getting weirder by the day

By Rex HoggardNovember 30, 2009, 5:09 am

WINDERMERE, Fla. – On a chamber-of-commerce, picture-perfect central Florida Sunday Tiger Woods’ options, legal and otherwise, became much more cloudy.

Among the seven satellite trucks and dozens of media types lined up along Conroy-Windermere Road, questions wildly outnumbered answers, particularly after news surfaced that Woods dismissed another request for an interview from the Florida Highway Patrol and the release of the 911 call made by a neighbor the night of Woods’ now-infamous fender-bender.

The emergency call, which lasts a little over 4 minutes, sheds little light on what happened early last Friday morning and for the third time Woods declined to clarify himself with officials. Instead, the world No. 1 enlisted the services of Mark NeJame, a high-profile Orlando criminal defense attorney who is perhaps most famous for representing the parents of Casey Anthony.

“The traffic crash remains under investigation and charges are pending,” was the e-mail response from FHP spokeswoman Sgt. Kim Montes.

There will be a rush to judgment. Always is. Call it guilt by association. If Woods has nothing to hide why not spill the story? Why put a hired gun on retainer? Why give officers the Heisman when a simple explanation will clear all this up?

That, of course, is naïve.

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 getting weirder by the day.

In the same lunar cycle golf again finds itself sullied by the same brush that taints other sports and once again it appears as if the smoking gun is wanting by comparison.

Earlier this month we learned Doug Barron had become the first to violate the PGA Tour’s performance-enhancing drug policy. Baseball has Barry Bonds and a cartoonish-looking mad scientist named Victor Conte. Golf has a 40-year-old journeyman with a medical history that would flummox Dr. House.

Basketball has Kobe Bryant’s well-documented legal woes. Golf has Woods careening off a fire hydrant, a tree and now the mainstream press. Lost amid the rush to judgment is the fact that the only thing Woods appears guilty of right now is an aversion to fire hydrants and an explanation of Friday’s events that’s not sitting well with the assembled media masses.

Either way, both cases make it clear that golf is increasingly being held to a higher standard.

Truth is, at worst Woods could be charged with reckless driving, a misdemeanor, although Kohrs said these type of minor accidents are most often negotiated down to careless driving, a moving violation that carries a fine, a ticket and four points on your driver’s license.

As for the “rest of the story” – you know the one that surfaced in last week’s National Enquirer and suddenly has more shelf life than a pack of beef jerky – the curious public should get used to disappointment.

The man who named his yacht “Privacy” has no plans to divulge to the FHP or anyone else what occurred before his 2:30 a.m. accident, and he shouldn’t have to.

“This is a private matter and I want to keep it that way,” read Woods’ statement on TigerWoods.com Sunday afternoon. “Although I understand there is curiosity, the many false, unfounded and malicious rumors that are currently circulating about my family and me are irresponsible.”

On Saturday, New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica wrote that, “If (Woods) can win the U.S. Open on one leg, he can stand up on this one.”

As far as Woods’ wayward driving goes, agreed. When celebrities large and small run afoul the laws of the land there is, to pinch a buzz word, a public option. Had Woods been drinking, which FHP makes clear he wasn’t, or under any influence the public’s curiosity is justifiable. Yet given the current state of the FHP investigation that verdict is days, if not weeks, away.

As for Woods’ personal life, that is between the world No. 1, his wife, Elin, and perhaps a few CEOs (Nike, Gatorade and AT&T come to mind) who are financially vested in one of the world’s most lucrative images. Not Lupica or anyone else.

Note: Golf Channel will air a Golf Central Special on Tiger Woods Monday at 7 p.m. ET, where golf insiders sit down and discuss everything regarding the Tiger Woods car-crash saga.

Related content:

9-1-1 audio
Photos from the crash
Woods' statement
Mell: Tiger's nightmare

Getty Images

Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
Getty Images

Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

Getty Images

Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.


Updated Official World Golf Ranking


There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

Getty Images

Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.


Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”