In the closed world of professional golf, discussing a fellow pro's private life is almost unheard-of. So much more the shock then for the beleaguered Tiger Woods when Jesper Parnevik, the Swedish golfer who introduced Woods to his future wife, Elin Nordegren, admitted that he'd misjudged the star's character and now regrets having ever been responsible for the relationship.
"We probably thought he was a better guy than he is. I probably need to apologise to her," said Parnevik, at a tournament in Los Angeles which Woods was, until very recently, meant to be hosting.
"When you're the world's best athlete, you should think before you do stuff ... I feel really sorry for Elin, since me and my wife were responsible for hooking her up with him." Referring to unconfirmed reports that Ms Nordegren, who Parnevik once employed as a nanny, had smashed Woods's car window with a golf club prior to the dramatic crash, he glibly advised her to "use a driver next time, rather than a three-iron".
Meanwhile, like a short-range putt that drops into the hole after first teetering tantalisingly on its rim, Tiger Woods flirted with absolute disaster yesterday but eventually suffered only a minor scare after one of his three alleged mistresses cancelled a press conference at which she was due to acknowledge publicly their "relationship".
Rachel Uchitel, the New York nightclub hostess, whose appearance in last week's National Enquirer was swiftly followed by Woods crashing his car into a tree after fleeing his Florida home in the wee hours of last Friday morning, called off what would have been one of the great media bunfights of recent times at just three hours' notice. She cited the ever-reliable "unforeseen circumstances".
Whether those unforeseen circumstances involved an unforeseen cheque, from either Woods or a news outlet, remains to be seen. Sources last night alleged that Ms Uchitel had been in touch with Woods on Wednesday night and that yesterday he agreed to pay her $1m (£600,000) to but her silence. Ms Uchitel has so far denied reports of an affair with the 33-year-old sports star, but when the press conference was first announced, her lawyer, Gloria Allred, promised to make "a statement about Ms Uchitel's relationship with Tiger Woods".
Reporters converging on the Beverly Hills office of Ms Allred, who often represents women who claim to have been wronged by major stars, shifted their attentions to Thousand Oaks, on the outskirts of Los Angeles, where the world's top golfers were competing in the tournament Woods had been due to host.
The willingness of Parnevik and others to go public suggests that Woods is losing the PR war. Sponsors have so far remained loyal, but he now has at least three alleged mistresses – Ms Uchitel, plus Jaimee Grubbs and Kalika Moquin, who both work in nightclubs – to worry about.
On Wednesday, after Ms Grubbs passed text messages and voicemails from Woods to a tabloid, which published them online, the golfer issued a statement admitting: "I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all my heart."
Whether the apology is accepted remains to be seen. Ms Nordegren, who has two children with Woods, has yet to reconcile with him publicly and could receive up to $300m in a divorce (although she is understood to have signed a pre-nuptial agreement guaranteeing her just $20m). The couple are reportedly communicating, in part via lawyers.Reuse content