James Lawton: The very ordered life of the world's No 1 sporting icon


One small car crash in a rich cul-de-sac of Florida was last night causing a convulsion throughout the whole world of sport.

Reports that Tiger Woods had sustained facial injuries while driving one of his fleet of cars, a Cadillac, into a fire hydrant and tree a few yards from his home in the small hours of yesterday morning invited many more questions than they answered. The most insistent one coming from those who know the world's No 1 golfer best asked what he was doing leaving home at a time when most Americans were sleeping off their Thanksgiving celebrations.

Tom Callahan, biographer of the 33-year-old many believe is the finest golfer of all time, said: "Everything about the story is odd. Tiger Woods is not a drinker and is someone who has always displayed extraordinary control. Police say charges are pending but have ruled out alcohol. There is all kinds of speculation, but that's all it is for the moment."

Some of that speculation has attached itself to recent US tabloid newspaper reports of some marital unrest but Woods, who earlier this month won the Australian Open – his sixth tournament win of the year after being out of the game for eight months following reconstructive surgery on his left knee, has maintained his usual businesslike front.

Until, that is, the leakage of crash details last night. A spokesman for Woods confirmed he was treated in hospital but allowed home. No doubt there will be huge pressure for an explanation of circumstances which in the fiercely ordered life of the world's richest sportsman could only be described as bizarre. The Irish golfer Darren Clarke, who knows Woods well, was once asked if he knew any of the Tiger's secrets. "No," said Clarke, "he keeps his thoughts like his wallet ... tight shut."

The world of golf, though, will be hugely relieved to learn that a career that has brought 14 majors has not been impaired by serious injury.