Time-out Tiger: What drove Tiger Woods off course?

As some sponsors cut the Woods image from their websites, David Randall looks at what drove the most popular golfer in the world off course
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The Independent US

The first day in Tiger Woods' new life as dutiful husband and non-golfer passed yesterday without any new ladyfriends emerging from the oak-panelled woodwork of his former frat-boy haunts. Twenty-four hours after he finally coughed to infidelity and announced an "indefinite" break from golf to see if he can save his marriage, the parade of enthusiastic debutantes claiming intimate encounters with the world's leading athlete seems to have stopped.

And, in keeping with this newfound, if rather enforced, domesticity, came news that his wife has bought a house on a Swedish island, which, as news agencies pointed out to non-geographers, is "only reachable by boat". There is now much speculation that the six-bedroomed house, on Faglaro, will be the venue for attempts to resolve issues within the Woods household. The couple's aim is seclusion, but with the Woods saga currently obsessing a good proportion of the literate world, certain newspapers and TV channels may, even now, be making inquiries with Swedish boatmen. The media are liable to see the stretch of water between Faglaro and the mainland as a challenge.

For all the sincerity of the mea culpa issued late on Friday, Woods has yet to publicly show his face since his middle-of-the-night drive away from his home was interrupted by a neighbour's tree. He had been due yesterday to be best man at the South Carolina wedding of his friend Byron Bell, the man who proved such an efficient travel agent for Woods' friend Rachel Uchitel. But Woods was expected to be a no-show, a sign that not only is he unready to brave the cameras, but also that his wife, Elin, may now have rather more say in the champion's itinerary than before. Golf insiders say they expect this, plus some extensive changes to the entourage that accompanies Woods on, and off, the course will be part of the terms upon which Elin will insist before her husband is allowed to tread the competitive fairways once more.

The great debate yesterday in golfing circles is what "indefinitely" may mean. Woods is the sport's biggest draw by far, and when he was absent with a knee injury last year, attendances at events, and viewers of telecasts, suffered big drops. He was due to take a lengthy Christmas and New Year break anyway, returning only in the final week in January, and some golf followers feel that two months should be sufficient to see if he can agree terms with his wife. This would, perhaps, mean a comeback in late February or early March in time to prepare for the Masters at Augusta. Others argued that a longer lay-off, missing a major championship or two as a demonstration of his contrition, would be needed – plus a sackcloth, ashes, and weepy appearance in a TV confessional.

His first tournament back, whatever the date, is liable to be something of a media feeding frenzy. This prospect certainly makes Augusta a tempting option, since the tournament is such a controlled event, with journalists invited not by publication, but by name. It is the kind of place, too, where one word out of place from the gallery would get the perpetrator frog-marched to the exit.

As far as what Woods himself has now defined as his major goal in life – "I need to focus my attention on being a better husband, father and person" – there was no shortage yesterday of psychologists, professional or amateur, offering diagnoses of what drove Woods to forsake the arms of his wife for those of a succession of less comely companions. "Sex addiction" seemed one of the most popular, a condition that is either affliction or post-facto excuse, depending on your perspective.

His fellow golfers were more thoughtful, ranging from the discreet sympathy of Greg Norman and Jack Nicklaus, to the emphatic views of Colin Montgomerie, who asserted that Tiger would not, when he returns, be the near-invincible player he formerly was. Craig Parry, a Florida neighbour and friend, was direct: "He's got no one to blame but himself," he said. "You can look at other people, but he's the one who's got to look in the mirror." It is measure of how far the demi-god of golf has fallen that among those willing to counsel him if required is US player John Daly, a man hitherto famed as much for his chaotic life off-course, as his stunning shots on it.

There are continued symptoms of jumpiness among Woods' sponsors. Nike is adamant that it remains on the champion's team ("We look forward to his return to golf. He and his family have Nike's full support"), but AT&T is "evaluating our ongoing relationship with him", Accenture dropped his image from its website, and Tag Heuer has told stores in Australia to remove posters that feature the golfer. Then, yesterday, Gillette said: "We will support his desire for privacy by limiting his role in our marketing programmes." Thus, presumably, protecting the great man from the hordes who regularly knock at his front door, and pester him for a razor.

But whatever jitters there may be about his ability to shift financial services, expensive watches, and shaving requisites, the public's appetite for him and his doings – wayward and otherwise – seems unquenchable. In the week before his nocturnal drive with Elin allegedly following in his slipstream, club in hand, Woods's website had 11,000 unique visitors. In the week after it, there were 488,000. Yahoo! said searches for him on its site had increased 4,000-fold in the past 30 days. And it ain't over yet.

Some of the alleged mistresses ...

Veronica Siwik-Daniels, 39

Under her screen name Joslyn James, porn star Veronica Siwik-Daniels has starred in a string of films such as 'Porn Star Brides' and 'Big Tops 2'. She has the word "orgasm" tattooed on her inner thigh, and according to the sports blog Deadspin, has had liaisons with Woods in Las Vegas, on and off, for the past three years, and has told friends of "the freaky shit Tiger dug in bed".

Cori Rist, 31

The 'New York Post' claims that Cori Rist met Woods at a Manhattan nightclub called Butter last year, after which a six-month fling ensued. Rist has not commented on the allegation, but her ex-husband, Neil Santos, claims to have records of wire transfers from the golfer to her bank account.

Rachel Uchitel, 34

The first of Tiger's alleged birdies to make headlines, Rachel Uchitel works as a nightclub "hostess". In plain English it means she arranges nights out for wealthy people. For a living. She has consistently denied a sexual relationship with the golfer, and told 'OK!' magazine: "I'm not a home wrecker, gold digger, tramp, whore ..."

Jamie Jungers, 26

The setting: a VIP room in a Las Vegas nightclub in 2005. Lingerie model Jamie Jungers crossed paths with Tiger. A two-year dalliance ensued. "It became more and more of an actual relationship," she told NBC's 'Today' programme.

Kalika Moquin, 27

As marketing manager of the Bank nightclub, at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, Kalika Moquin has looked after Woods on his trips to the City of Sin since 2006. Several supermarket magazines claim that their relationship extends beyond the strictly professional. But Moquin insists those reports are "completely untrue".

Jaimee Grubbs, 24

This Las Vegas cocktail waitress has properly cashed in on her fling with Woods. Their voicemail and text message exchanges were shared with the world this week. "I did feel guilty that he was spending his time with somebody that isn't his wife," Jaimee Grubbs told the TV show 'Extra' of their affair, which began in 2007 and ended last month. "But you know, he never mentioned her ...."

Holly Sampson, 36

Erotic actress Holly Sampson has appeared in 85 porno movies, but do not go calling her immoral. She admits she slept with Woods on his stag night in 2004, but boldly denies this amounts to adultery. "I'm no home wrecker," she claimed this week.

Mindy Lawton, 33

Mindy Lawton served lunch to Tiger and his wife, Elin, one afternoon in 2007, at a pancake restaurant in Orlando. The old devil got hold of her phone number, and a three-month affair ensued. "On a scale of one to 10, I would give him 12," she said of his bedroom performances, claiming they once met for sex in the car park of a local church.

Profiles by Guy Adams

Tiger's unmasking: 'I regret those transgressions'

27 November: Woods crashes his car into a tree near his home at 2.25am. Reports say his wife bravely used a golf club to break a window and rescue him. US gossip websites say the incident may be connected to a National Enquirer report alleging an affair with nightclub hostess Rachel Uchitel.

29 November: Woods issues statement: "Although I understand there is curiosity, the many false, unfounded and malicious rumours that are currently circulating about my family and me are irresponsible." Yet another attempt by police to interview him and his wife are denied by the couple.

30 November: Woods withdraws from his own charity tournament in California.

1 December: Charged with careless driving. Fined £164.

2 December: Jaimee Grubbs, 24, claims she had a 31-month affair with Woods after meeting him in 2007. A third woman, Kalika Moquin, 27, a Las Vegas club promoter, is linked to Woods. He releases a statement: "I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart."

3 December: Swedish golfer Jesper Parnevik says he owes Elin Nordegren an apology for introducing her to Woods.

4-11 December: Flurry of claims made by other women alleging a fling with Woods.

8 December: Sports drink firm Gatorade becomes the first company to drop its endorsement of Woods.

10 December: Lawyers for Woods obtain injunction banning publication of any photos or videos showing him naked or having sex. His legal team point out that the order "is not to be taken as an admission that any such photographs exist". Rachel Uchitel denies in print she is a "home wrecker" or "tramp".

11 December: Woods says he is taking an "indefinite break" from golf and apologises for his "infidelity".

Yesterday: It is announced that Elin Woods has bought an island home in Sweden.

Sarah Clark

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