Sunday, November 29, 2009



November 29, 2009

With speculation continuing to swirl about Tiger Woods’s car accident outside his mansion early Friday morning, Florida Highway Patrol investigators were scheduled on Sunday to speak to the golfer and to release a tape of the 911 call made by a neighbor reporting the incident.

The Florida Highway Patrol went to the gated community where Tiger Woods lives, but investigators were told he was unavailable

Sgt. Kim Montes, a spokeswoman for the highway patrol, the lead investigators, said in a statement Sunday morning that troopers would interview Woods after they report to duty at about 3 p.m., more than two days after the accident. She added that no news conference was planned.

Woods was not required to speak to the police, The Orlando Sentinel reported. When police officials showed up at the athlete’s home in Windermere, Fla., near Orlando, on Friday, his wife Elin told them he was sleeping. On Saturday, Woods’s agent, Mark Steinberg, scheduled the interview for Sunday.

“It’s unusual, but I will say it’s happened before,” Sgt. Montes told The Associated Press. “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.”

Sgt. Montes told The Orlando Sentinel that Woods had not been given a breath test or a blood or urine test. But she said such tests would not be conducted unless a trooper had probably cause for doing so, such as the finding of a liquor bottle in a car or the smell of alcohol on a someone’s breath.

Wood crashed his 2009 Cadillac Escalade into a fire hydrant and a neighbor’s tree as he was backing out of his driveway early Friday morning in the gated community of Isleworth, an Orlando suburb where many high-profile athletes live. He sustained cuts to his upper and lower lips and was left unconscious for some time, according to an incident report. He was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where was treated and released in good condition.

But subsequent reports indicate that his wife had to smash a car window with a golf club in order to get Woods out of the car.

According to experts who advise high-profile athletes and celebrities, every hour that passes without word from Woods may prove damaging to his image by allowing an online rumor mill to produce conjecture and opinion.

“I think the next 24 hours are critical that Tiger addresses this publicly,” Steve Rosner, the founder of 16W Marketing, who represented former Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor, said on Saturday. “I understand it’s a personal matter, but because of who he is in the sports world, not only domestically but worldwide, I think it would help for him to put in his own words what transpired.”

Mike Paul, the founder of MGP & Associates, a public relations firm, said on Saturday that more than 3,200 stories were published worldwide in electronic or print form in the 36 hours after the incident.

“My advice to Tiger is pretty simple,” Paul said. “Own it, say it yourself, say it yourself with full conviction and responsibility and get it out of the way.

“You have an opportunity to change rumor and innuendo into truth. Moving past fear and doubt — that’s something they did not do well during the first 24 hours.”

The interview on Sunday could determine whether charges will be filed. Among the unanswered questions are why Woods was leaving his home at that late hour and where he was going, the circumstances of his wife’s presence at the scene, and how he sustained his injuries.

On Saturday, Sgt. Montes told the news media in an e-mail message: “We will not be addressing any rumors or other scenarios. If our investigation takes us in a different direction, we will let the media know.”

Woods, 33, was lying on the street unconscious near his vehicle for nearly five minutes, according to an incident report released by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, which received the initial 911 call from an Isleworth resident.

Woods and his 29-year-old wife of five years have two children, Sam Alexis, 2, and Charlie Axel, born in February. The couple married in October 2004.

Much of the speculation in the news media about the cause and nature of the incident stemmed from reports from the Windermere, Fla., police chief, Daniel Saylor, who said Friday that Woods’s wife used a golf club to break the rear window of the S.U.V. to help extricate Woods.
Chief Saylor told reporters that when officers arrived on the scene, Woods was “drifting out of consciousness.” He was taken to the hospital 23 minutes after officers from the sheriff’s office arrived and was later released.