Tiger Woods, who rarely has shared anything about his personal life during a golf career that has made him the highest-paid athlete in the world, finally broke his silence Sunday about his car crash in the wee hours of Friday morning. The world’s No. 1 golfer said in a statement on his website Sunday that the accident — in which he drove his black Cadillac Escalade into a fire hydrant and then a tree in front of his next-door neighbor’s house near Orlando — was his fault.
Woods praised his wife, Elin Nordegren, for “courageously” pulling him out of the wrecked SUV. And apparently referring to reports in the National Enquirer two days before the crash that suggested he was having an affair, Woods said malicious rumors about him and his family were “irresponsible.”
His statement, however, did little to temper a storm of questions surrounding the incident. And for the third day in a row, Woods and his wife canceled a meeting with Florida Highway Patrol officers who want to interview them. FHP Sgt. Kim Montes said the move was “highly unusual” but that the couple were not required to give a statement.
The incident occurred outside Woods’ luxury home about 2:25 a.m. ET Friday, police said. Authorities said after Woods, 33, crashed his SUV into the neighbor’s tree, Nordegren used a golf club to smash a backseat window, gain entry to the vehicle and then pull out her 6-1, 185-pound husband.
Police reported that when officers arrived, Woods was lying on the ground with facial cuts, drifting in and out of consciousness.
“This situation is my fault, and it’s obviously embarrassing to my family and me. I’m human, and I’m not perfect,” wrote Woods, who has won 83 titles around the world, including 14 major championships, second only to the 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus.
“This is a private matter, and I want to keep it that way,” Woods wrote. “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.”
Left unanswered, however, are many questions. Where was Woods going at that hour? What caused the accident? And why remain quiet about it?
Some answers could come Tuesday, when Woods is scheduled to hold a news conference at the Chevron World Challenge in Thousand Oaks, Calif. The tournament benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation.