RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
And I'm Steve Inskeep. The Chevron World Challenge golf tournament will go on this week without its famous host. Tiger Woods, the world's top ranked player, will not attend the event that raises money each year for the Tiger Woods Foundation. Woods said on his Web site that he's unable to play because of injuries from a one-car accident last week.
This means Woods can stay in his Florida gated community away from curious fans and reporters and police. They want to know more about the crash that has plunged Woods into his first major controversy. NPR's Tom Goldman reports.
TOM GOLDMAN: Yeah, he swears like a sailor at times and he avoids taking political stands all too often. For the most part, though, Tiger Woods has crafted and maintained a squeaky clean image. No small feat, considering the global microscope he's been under for the past dozen years. But after what happened early last Friday morning, whatever happened, there are now definite cracks in that image.
(Soundbite of 911 recording)
Unidentified Woman #1 (911 Dispatcher): What's your emergency?
Mr. JARIUS ADAMS: I have someone down in front of my house. They hit a pole.
GOLDMAN: For Tiger Woods losing a major tournament is bad. Being fodder for the celebrity news and gossip Web site TMZ.com is probably a nightmare - from the tape on TMZ of the 911 call after the car crash to the ambush interview of the woman named in a National Enquirer article as having an affair with Woods.
(Soundbite of recording)
Unidentified Man: So you're going to meet Gloria Allred? How exactly do you know Tiger?
GOLDMAN: The woman has hired famed celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred. But beyond denying the alleged affair, she hasn't said anything further. Beyond a couple of statements on his Web site, Woods largely has been quiet as well, with police, who were denied access to Woods three times after the accident, and with fans, some of whom want to know more.
On the very Web site that's been Woods' refuge, one Tiger fan wrote: Unfortunately, it's very suspicious when you won't cooperate with the police, so for your sake, I hope you will choose to be honest about the whole ordeal to dispel any rumors that may be untrue.
Mr. BOB DORFMAN (Baker Street Partners): The fact is, he doesn't have to come clean.
GOLDMAN: Bob Dorfman is a sports marketing expert based in San Francisco.
Mr. DORFMAN: If you can imagine the worst case scenario, it would be: yes, it's true, he had an affair with somebody. He got into an argument with his wife, perhaps she chased him down the driveway with a golf club in her hand, and he was trying to escape in the car and crashed into a tree. It's all very contained in his family, on his property pretty much.
GOLDMAN: But what about Woods' responsibility to the corporations, whose endorsement contracts with Woods have helped make him the first billion-dollar athlete? David Carter, executive director of the University of Southern California Sports Business Institute, says Woods' corporate partners know about crisis management and the need for public silence when legal matters may be involved.
Mr. DAVID CARTER (University of Southern California Sports Business Institute): But again, these are his business partners. And you've got to believe that he and his management team have reached out to them and made those partners feel comfortable.
GOLDMAN: Which is why, Carter suspects, Nike and Gatorade have issued statements supporting Woods. Another sponsor, AT&T, had no comment.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Tiger Woods has turned over the documents everyone is required to present when they're involved in a vehicle crash. As the investigation continues, the highway patrol says it won't make any comments or provide speculation into the details surrounding the accident.
Tiger Woods won't play any more tournaments this year, meaning for a while at least he'll be out of public view - a comforting thought for a man who once said he liked scuba diving so much because, quote, �the fish don't know who I am."
Tom Goldman, NPR News.
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