After a well-earned break over the holidays, the Tiger Woods scandal and associated revelations industry returned to work last week, refreshed and full of renewed vigour with rumours of plastic surgery, rehab clinics, well-aimed 9 irons and more large blonde ladies of a certain stamp.
So far, only one piece of verifiable information has emerged: that the golfer who took "indefinite leave" from his career to focus on "being a better husband, father and person" has been dropped by a sponsor, the phone company AT&T. All other reports are based on rumour and conjecture. Therefore, and mindful of readers' need to remain fully briefed on the marital bust-up of the new decade, here, together with our assessment, are six of the best:
He's in an Arizona rehab clinic!
The paparazzi website X-17 claimed last Tuesday that Woods had checked into an addiction centre to seek treatment for a "sexual compulsion". It quoted a "source" close to the golfer saying he hopes the public will forgive his adultery if he blames it on a psychological illness. The report led to speculation that Woods is also being weaned off painkilling drugs that were prescribed to ease a bad back he suffered last season.
Verdict Arizona boasts just two clinics that might cater for a celeb of Tiger's standing: the Cottonwood in Tucson and the Meadows in Phoenix. X-17's inability to identify which one suggests its "source" isn't exactly copper-bottomed.
He's had plastic surgery!
An email that went viral after being published on the blog of veteran sportswriter Furman Bisher claims that Tiger's wife Elin discovered illicit texts on his mobile when he left the device at his Florida home. On his return, it claims Mrs Woods attacked him with a 9 iron, causing severe damage to his face. The email, which Bisher says came from a "trusted source", contends that he's since had reconstructive surgery, again in Arizona.
Verdict The story is undermined by police reports, which record the golfer suffered no injury more disfiguring than a puffy lip.
He's living with Rachel Uchitel!
The TV show Entertainment Tonight told its millions of viewers that Woods spent Sunday afternoon "holding hands and mingling with 300 other partygoers inside a private mansion in Palm Beach" before adjourning to a local nightspot. The show added that Woods and Mrs Uchitel, who was the first of his alleged mistresses to be identified, have been together for the past fortnight aboard Privacy, the golfer's ironically named yacht, which is said to be moored in a discreet harbour.
Verdict ET is a well-respected show. But it won't remain that way if it expects viewers to believe that a painfully reclusive man would parade his controversial mistress in front of several hundred revellers, without anyone stealing a picture.
He's on the run from the law!
A month after it broke news of Tiger's extramarital activities, the National Enquirer claimed a further "scoop" with the revelation that the FBI and IRS are considering launching an investigation into his finances. Agents wonder if the golfer's company or charitable foundation illegally used funds to pay for his girlfriends to travel around the world with him.
Verdict Nothing the Enquirer says about celebs can ever be entirely dismissed. But nor can it be entirely trusted, either.
He's in the Bahamas!
People magazine reckons Woods spent Christmas cruising the Caribbean aboard Privacy, which it claims left Palm Beach the previous weekend. In support of the theory that he's in the Bahamas, it claims that the boat has a 12,000-gallon fuel tank which "gives it a range of 4,000 miles".
Verdict The high seas seem an unlikely place for Woods to vanish since, as Princess Diana showed, yachts are liable to be tracked down. Privacy would also need to make a refuelling stop – a move that would have increased its risk of being spotted.
He's seeing divorce lawyers!
Mrs Woods might have bought herself a home on a private island in her native Sweden, but she's been staying instead at a £5,000-a-night ski chalet near Chamonix, where photographers have snapped her sans wedding ring. Friends say she's using the holiday to "start afresh".
Verdict Probably true. Divorce is one of precious few news lines where "sources" are supported by photographic evidence.
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