Woods leaves organisers in the dark over playing plans

Rumours surrounding car crash are 'irresponsible', says Woods as charity event looms
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The Independent Online

Organisers of the Chevron World Challenger admitted yesterday they were still in the dark as to whether Tiger Woods would be playing in California this week. And seeing as the world No 1 is the host of the event this was an unprecedented situation.

But then, the game of golf never has known anything like the furore created by The Great Tiger Car Crash Mystery. After Woods and his wife, Elin Nordegren, yesterday once again declined to be interviewed by the Florida Highway Patrol about the accident at 2.28am on Friday morning – which saw him plough his Cadillac into a fire hydrant outside his home – the intrigue only intensified. Woods released a statement last night accepting responsibility for the crash and calling the speculation "irresponsible".

But at Sherwood Country Club they were facing their own wait for answers as he made no mention of his immediate plans. "We do not know if Tiger is playing," said Greg McLaughlin, the tournament director and president of Woods's foundation. "We are anticipating a great week of competition."

From a pure sporting point-of-view the many thousands of fans who have already paid up to $875 to watch the 18-man invitational were praying his facial injuries and concussion did not stop him from teeing it up in Thursday's first round.

In any normal circumstances they probably wouldn't; after all, Woods famously won the 2008 US Open while in agony with a knee injury. But with the world's press desperate to pose their own questions to the 33-year-old the Chevron World Challenge would be a golf tournament only in name. In reality, it would a media frenzy, with Woods in the eye of the storm.

This is what Woods and his advisors were having to mull over. Originally he was due to fly from Orlando today and give a press conference tomorrow. Perhaps he still will. Certainly he will not want to let down his charitable foundation which draws such revenue from the event.

Woods must weigh up the embarrassment caused by a no-show. Last year he turned up in Thousand Oaks merely in a promotional role (he was still recovering from his radical knee surgery). While some in the game regard the World Challenge as an irrelevant end-of-season dollar fest, Woods has always taken it seriously. And has urged the authorities to. Furthermore, Woods has often said that his foundation matters more to him than anything other than his family.

It would not only be journalists quizzing Woods. The range is also abuzz with speculation. Chris DiMarco, Woods' Ryder Cup team-mate, said yesterday: "Everybody thinks about what would get them out of their house at 2:30 in the morning. Obviously, 2:30 in the morning, nothing good is going to happen. So I can only speculate. I don't think I've ever left my driveway at 2:30 in the morning. Even if it's a fight or whatever, there's always the couch."