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Tiger Woods drops out of tournament

A spotlight shines on Tiger Woods of the U.S., as he leaves a pre tournament press conference in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2009, ahead of the Australian Masters golf tournament. (Rob Griffith)
November 30, 2009 9:22:49 PM PST
Tiger Woods still isn't talking. Now he's not playing, either.Woods withdrew Monday from his own golf tournament, citing injuries from a car crash near his Florida home. His decision comes as questions continue to mount regarding what exactly happened in the wee hours of the morning last Friday - questions that most certainly would have been asked of him had he played.

The world's No. 1 golfer posted a statement on his Web site saying that unspecified injuries prevented him from playing in the Chevron World Challenge. He had been scheduled to hold a press conference Tuesday for the tournament, which he hosts annually for a small, invited, field.

"I am extremely disappointed that I will not be at my tournament this week," Woods said. "I am certain it will be an outstanding event and I'm very sorry that I can't be there."

Tournament officials said fans who bought advance tickets with the hope of seeing Woods could get refunds beginning next week. Those who keep their tickets will get a 20 percent discount when they buy them next year.

Woods sustained cuts and bruises when he crashed his SUV into a fire hydrant and a tree at 2:25 a.m. Friday, outside his home in an exclusive, gated community near Orlando. He was treated at a hospital and released, and has not been seen in public since.

By skipping the tournament, Woods will escape the TV cameras and a horde of media seeking more details about the smashup. The tournament was to be the last of the year for Woods anyway, and he did not say when or where he would make his return next year.

The first tournament of the 2010 PGA Tour is the SBS Championship in Hawaii, an event for winners from the previous year, beginning Jan. 7, but Woods wasn't expected to be there. He's more likely to play at Torrey Pines in San Diego the week of Jan. 25.

Woods released a statement Sunday saying the accident was his fault and asked that it remain "a private matter." But with the Florida Highway Patrol still investigating and the media in full pursuit, Woods may not get his way.

Woods even faced questions from fans who left comments on his Web site. Most voiced support for him, but some said he should address the questions about his own actions and those of his wife, Elin Nordegren, before and after the accident.

Woods hasn't answered questions from Florida troopers, either, turning them down three days in a row when they came to his house.

Four cars were parked in Woods' driveway Monday, but no lights appeared to be on inside. A new fire hydrant had already replaced the one that Woods plowed into. A dirt hole and an orange barricade remained in the old hydrant's place.

Linda Adams, Woods' neighbor, confirmed to the Orlando Sentinel that someone in her home other than her husband, Jerome, called authorities.

The Associated Press called the Adams home Monday and asked to speak to the Adams' son Jarius, who's believed to have made the call. The woman who answered the telephone told a reporter to call back later in the day. When the AP called back Monday evening, attorney Bill Sharpe answered and said he was representing the family. He said there was no comment at this time, but said a statement might be made Tuesday.

Woods, who both hosts and plays in the Chevron World Challenge, was there last year even though he couldn't play because he was recovering from knee surgery. His absence this year will be the first since the tournament - which has only an 18-player field - began in 1999. He was replaced by Graeme McDowell.

Only a few players were at Sherwood Country Club late Monday afternoon. Padraig Harrington was on the golf course and didn't get word until later that the host was not going to be there.

"It would be a nice opportunity this time of year to go head-to-head with him, but it's not to be," Harrington said.

He said Woods' absence would be felt all week, until the back nine on Sunday when the focus probably will shift to who's winning the event, and the $1.35 million prize.

Though he cited injuries from the accident in withdrawing, Woods didn't specifically say what those injuries included. The neighbor, who called 911 after Woods ran over the hydrant and hit a tree, said he was unconscious and lying outside his SUV. His wife told Windermere police she used a golf club to smash the back windows to help him out.

"This is a private matter and I want to keep it that way," Woods said in a statement Sunday, his first since the crash. "Although I understand there is curiosity, the many false, unfounded and malicious rumors that are currently circulating about my family and me are irresponsible. ...

"I appreciate all the concern and well wishes that we have received," he said. "But, I would also ask for some understanding that my family and I deserve some privacy no matter how intrusive some people can be."

The reference to "false, unfounded and malicious rumors" may have involved a story published last week in the National Enquirer alleging that Woods had been seeing a New York nightclub hostess, and that they recently were together in Melbourne, where Woods competed in the Australian Masters.

The woman, Rachel Uchitel, denied having an affair with Woods when contacted by The Associated Press. On Sunday, she flew to Los Angeles and was met by high-profile attorney Gloria Allred at the airport.

Still, even the release of the 911 tape and Woods' statement failed to answer several basic questions about the accident:
- Where he was going at that time of the night?

- How did he lose control of his SUV when it wasn't going fast enough to deploy airbags?

- Why were both rear windows of the Cadillac Escalade smashed?

- If it was a careless mistake, why not speak to state troopers trying to wrap the investigation?

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Tiger Woods statement:

As you all know, I had a single-car accident earlier this week, and sustained some injuries. I have some cuts, bruising and right now I'm pretty sore.

This situation is my fault, and it's obviously embarrassing to my family and me. I'm human and I'm not perfect. I will certainly make sure this doesn't happen again.

This is a private matter and I want to keep it that way. 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.

This incident has been stressful and very difficult for Elin, our family and me. I appreciate all the concern and well wishes that we have received. But, I would also ask for some understanding that my family and I deserve some privacy no matter how intrusive some people can be.

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