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Tiger Woods Withdraws From Tournament

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Tiger Woods Withdraws From Tournament

Tiger Woods Withdraws From Tournament

Tiger Woods Withdraws From Tournament

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Tiger Woods withdrew Monday from his own golf tournament following injuries he sustained in a car crash near his home in Florida. Rumors have swirled about the crash and Woods' personal life since Friday's incident. In a statement, golf's No. 1 player said the crash was his fault, but did not elaborate.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

Tiger Woods isn't saying much these days, but on his Web site this afternoon, he's quoted as saying this, "I am extremely disappointed that I will not be at my tournament this week. I am certain it will be an outstanding event, and I'm very sorry that I can't be there." The Web site says Woods will not play due to injuries sustained in his one-car accident early last Friday morning. That accident is the topic of many a water-cooler conversation today. And we're now going to have a conversation with NPR's Tom Goldman about this.

Tom, Tiger is staying home in Florida, where the accident took place, and we won't see him on a golf course for a little while, I understand.

TOM GOLDMAN: Yeah, that's right, Michele. As you mentioned, he's dropping out of the Chevron World Challenge this week. It's an important tournament to him since it raises money for his foundation. As you've also said, his Web site says it's because of injuries. But it also allows him to avoid the media horde that's certain to descend on California and the tournament with the car crash story white-hot right now.

He also said on his Web site that he's shutting things down for the rest of the year. Woods will not participate in any other tournaments in 2009 and will return to action next year, the statement says. Now, rest of this year is only one month, but it does buy him time to heal the injuries he said he suffered in the one-car crash and also gives this growing scandal time to blow over - he hopes.

NORRIS: That one car crash took place in the very early hours of the morning on Friday. Ever since, there's been a steady stream of rumors and reports about what happened, what his wife did or did not do about his marriage. There's much that we don't know at this point. Tiger Woods has not said anything beyond that statement that you just referred to.

GOLDMAN: Well, actually, he had a statement yesterday. And what he has said through his Web site has been very controlled, which is consistent with how he's presented himself since becoming a global sports icon.

The statement Sunday - he spoke in generalities, nothing specific about the accident and its cause. He did take responsibility for the crash. He said it was his fault. And he hinted at something being amiss, some possible fallibility when he said, quote, I'm human and I'm not perfect. Now, whether that means he cheated on his wife, as the story in The National Enquirer said last week, we don't know without specifics from him or from the Florida Highway Patrol investigation that's currently underway.

NORRIS: Tom, Tiger Woods is more than just an athlete, he's also a brand and a pretty big one. Just how big is his brand? And what might this accident mean for his image?

GOLDMAN: Well, huge brand, perhaps the biggest. As far as his recognition, he's probably the famous single athlete on the planet. As far as his image with fans, we'll have to wait and see what happens when he reemerges in public. As far as his marketing image, early on it appears the money flow will continue from his endorsement deals.

So, both Nike and Gatorade have released statements saying they're standing by their man. One other company I had contact with, AT&T, however, had no comment.

NORRIS: Just quickly, what's the next step in terms of the legal maneuvering?

GOLDMAN: We'll wait for the completion of a Florida Highway Patrol investigation and see what that says. Also, it should be noted that the woman alleged to have had the affair with Woods has hired Gloria Allred to represent her. She's a well-known celebrity lawyer. Describes herself as the most famous woman attorney in the nation, and things rarely stay quiet when she's involved.

NORRIS: Thank you, Tom.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome.

NORRIS: That's NPR's Tom Goldman.

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