Tiger Woods: The sound of silence

Will Tiger's popularity suffer in the wake of his bizarre car accident?

“Tiger Woods, please say it ain’t so!” said Gregory Boyce in the New York Examiner.com. The world’s greatest golfer has long been living a charmed life, earning an estimated $100 million a year in endorsements alone and basking in the affection of his gorgeous Swedish wife, two children, and an adoring public. But then came his bizarre car accident last week. At 2:30 a.m., Woods bolted out of his Florida home, stepped on the gas in his Cadillac Escalade, crashed into a fire hydrant, and careened into a tree. His wife, Elin Nordegren, smashed two windows of the SUV with a golf club, supposedly to extricate her husband, who sustained facial cuts and bruises. But few people are buying that story, said George Diaz in the Orlando Sentinel. Attention quickly shifted to a recent claim in The National Enquirer that Woods has been carrying on an affair with an extremely attractive nightclub hostess. And though the alleged mistress issued a denial, there is feverish speculation that Woods’ facial scratches and bruises actually were the result of a run-in with a very angry wife.

If Woods wants to salvage his reputation, “he needs to start talking—and fast,” said Jenice Armstrong in the Philadelphia Daily News. A second woman came forward this week, saying she has text messages and a voice mail proving she had an affair with Woods. Rightly or wrongly, his millions of fans feel entitled to an explanation, and his billion-dollar value as an endorser of Nikes and other products may be at stake. Woods did issue a statement acknowledging that he is “not perfect,” but hasn’t said where he was going in the middle of the night, or why he refuses to speak to police. Until Woods stops acting “like a man who has something to hide,” said George Vecsey in The New York Times, it’s safe to assume that he does.

He may also have a good legal reason to keep his mouth shut, said Hanna Rosin in Slate.com. Under Florida’s gender-neutral domestic-violence laws, Woods’ wife “would be led out of their mansion in handcuffs” if he admits she physically attacked him. Florida authorities are seeking medical records from the hospital to see if his injuries are consistent with a fight instead of a car accident; it’s possible Nordegren could be charged with aggravated battery. So Woods faces a real dilemma. Lying to your spouse may be despicable, but lying to the police is a crime.

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