WINDERMERE, Fla. — Moments after pulling out of his driveway in the middle of the night, Tiger Woods drove his SUV over a fire hydrant and into a tree, causing injuries that sent him to the hospital to be treated.
The investigation of that mysterious crash has moved much more slowly.
Woods added to the suspense Saturday when for the second straight day, the world’s No.1 golfer was unavailable to speak to the Florida Highway Patrol. State troopers are looking for answers about the accident in which the Windermere police chief said Woods’ wife, Elin, used a golf club to smash out a rear window and help him get out.
Police first went to his $2.4 million house inside the gates of Isleworth on Friday, only for Woods’ wife to ask if they could return the next day because he was sleeping.
As they headed to Woods’ house Saturday afternoon, FHP dispatch put through a phone call to troopers from Woods’ agent, informing them that Woods and his wife would be unavailable to talk until Sunday.
“I don’t know what was said,” Sgt. Kim Montes, the patrol spokeswoman, said Saturday. “I mean, (Friday) we understood, and that’s kind of normal. It is unusual that we haven’t gotten a statement. This just delays us to getting closer to the completion of the investigation.”
Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg, did not respond to a text message asking why Woods was unavailable.
Sunday could deliver two bits of information — what Woods has to say about the accident or perhaps the 911 tapes that FHP said it would release once authorities have reviewed the call.
In its initial accident report, the patrol said Woods left his house, ran over a fire hydrant with his Cadillac Escalade and then smashed into a tree at 2:25 a.m. Friday. And Windermere police chief Daniel Saylor said Woods’ wife told officers she heard the crash from inside their home, and used a golf club to break out the back window.
The silence has only fueled speculation of what happened, why Woods left the house at that hour, where he was going and whether an argument preceded the crash.
“Every 10 seconds these days, people update their tweets,” said David Schwab, vice president of sports marketing firm Octagon. “People are just adding speculation and controversy. You need something to settle the ship. If he’s not able to do it, find someone to do it for him.”
The FHP continues to investigate the crash as a traffic accident, refusing to get caught up in rumors.
Montes said Woods is not required to give a statement, only his driver’s license, insurance and registration of the SUV, which was towed to a private yard with damage to the front and both back-seat windows broken.
“We still are going to move forward with our crash investigation,” she said.
More than two dozen media and a cluster of TV trucks were camped outside the gates of Isleworth, an exclusive subdivision near Orlando that’s set on an Arnold Palmer-designed golf course and a chain of small lakes, on Saturday, watching for any developments. A couple of tourists even stopped by and took pictures.
Woods’ news conference for the Chevron World Challenge, the tournament he hosts that benefits his foundation, had been scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. It’s unclear whether he would still play, or even attend the event in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
“We do not know if Tiger is playing; we are anticipating a great week of competition,” said Greg McLaughlin, the tournament director and president of his foundation.
In a telephone interview, Woods’ father-in-law, radio journalist Thomas Nordegren, told The Associated Press in Stockholm that he would not discuss the accident.
“I haven’t spoken to her in the last few … ” Nordegren said about his daughter, Elin, before cutting himself off. “I don’t want to go into that.”
Woods’ mother-in-law Barbro Holmberg also refused to address the matter.
“She doesn’t want to comment on private issues like these,” Holmberg’s spokeswoman Eva Malmborg said.
Aside from occasional criticism of his temper inside the ropes, Woods has kept himself out of the news beyond his sport. In an October posting on his Facebook account, Woods wrote, “I’m asked why people don’t often see me and Elin in gossip magazines or tabloids. I think we’ve avoided a lot of media attention because we’re kind of boring. …”
“He’s an iconic brand, the platinum standard,” said John Rowady, president of rEvolution, a Chicago-based sports marketing agency. “I find it interesting how he’s being attacked by so many sides after how gracious he’s been. But even the best of celebrities who try to do their best can be riddled with controversy.”